A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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The parish is separated on the north from Combrook by the Dene Brook, and part of its eastern boundary is formed by another stream, which turns west to run half-way across the parish and then north to flow into the Dene Brook. It was probably on this stream that stood the two mills, worth 11s., mentioned in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 1) In 1226 Maurice le Boteler granted to the Prior of Studley 20s. rent from the two mills, then leased by John de Tisho (who had sublet them to Richard de Kinton at 2 marks). (fn. 2) One mill belonged to the manor in 1279, (fn. 3) but after this there appears to be no reference to any mill here. At the point where the stream turns north is a mound called the Round Hill, and ¼ mile north of it, adjoining the village, is another known as the Bank; both are marked on the 6-in. O.S. map as tumuli.
The village, mostly along the road to Kineton, contains a few cottages with stone walls and thatched roofs which may be of the 17th century but have no distinctive features. At the north end of the village West Mead House, alleged to have been the original manorhouse, (fn. 4) has been rebuilt but retains stone gate-posts of the late 17th century, having moulded capitals with ball finials.
The country is open, lying mostly at elevations between 270 ft. and 300 ft., the highest ground being at the south-east corner, where Herd Hill rises to 390 ft. The chief road runs from east to west, from Kineton to Pillerton Hersey, and was laid out in 1771 when the parish was inclosed, 32½ yardlands containing 1,139 acres being affected. (fn. 5)
The manor of Marston, which had been held under the Confessor by Baldwin, was in 1086 held in demesne by Hugh de Grentemaisnil. It was rated at 10 hides and had attached to it two burgages in Warwick; there were also two Frenchmen tenants there. (fn. 6) When Hugh bestowed on the abbey of St. Evroul two-thirds of the tithes of all his demesnes he also gave the monks 16 villeins to take charge of these tithes, and of these one was at Marston. (fn. 7) Robert, Earl of Leicester, acquired the Grentemaisnil estates from Hugh's son Ives (fn. 8) and evidently enfeoffed Ralph le Boteler in this manor, which therefore became known as BUTLERS MARSTON. It descended with Oversley in Arrow (q.v.) (fn. 9) and was held of the Earl of Leicester as 2 knights' fees by William le Boteler in 1279. (fn. 10) His son William held it of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, in 1298 as 1 knight's fee, his tenants being bound to attend the earl's view of frank pledge. (fn. 11) When this William died in 1334 he was holding only a moiety of the manor, (fn. 12) but in 1343 his son William settled the manor on himself with remainder to his son William and his wife Elizabeth, (fn. 13) whose daughter and heir Elizabeth married Sir Robert Ferrers. The manor then passed with Oversley to the Nevills and Gascoignes and was sold by Sir William Gascoigne in 1537 to Thomas Cromwell. (fn. 14)
On the attainder of Thomas Cromwell the manor came into the king's hands and was granted in 1542 to Richard Fermour and Anne his wife, (fn. 15) the grant being renewed in 1544 to them and their son John. (fn. 16) They in 1550 conveyed the manor to King Edward VI, (fn. 17) who granted it in 1553 to Peter Temple and Thomas Lee, (fn. 18) who split up the estate and sold parcels of it to various persons; (fn. 19) the site of the manor and the demesnes and some 17 yardlands of copyhold they sold to John Woodward, (fn. 20) who was already tenant there, (fn. 21) and he died in 1555 seised thereof. (fn. 22) His son Richard died in 1557, (fn. 23) and his son John conveyed the manor to his brother Thomas, (fn. 24) whose son John in 1618 sold it to William Loggin of Swalecliff (Oxon.). (fn. 25) He died in 1635 (fn. 26) and the manor remained in the family (fn. 27) until 1753, when William Loggin, clerk, Samuel Cobb and Grace his wife, and William Draper conveyed it to James Wright. (fn. 28)
Certain manorial rights in Butlers Marston seem to have become attached to Eatington, as various members of the Shirley family appear as lords of the manor between 1718 and 1764. (fn. 29) James Wright is so called in 1752, and in 1791 Mary Woodward is termed lessee of the manor. (fn. 30) Apparently this family recovered the estate, as in 1850 Mrs. A. L. Woodward and Miss Woodward were living at the manor-house and were said to be ladies of the manor. (fn. 31) In 1936 William Faulkner was lord of the manor. (fn. 32)
In 1202 Ralph Boteler granted to Henry Mallore 7 virgates in Marston, with the 7 villeins holding them, (fn. 33) and in 1279 these 7 virgates were held by Ralph de Ardern of John Mallore, who held of William Boteler. (fn. 34)
In 1535 Pinley Priory possessed tenements in Butlers Marston which produced 7s. in rents; (fn. 35) and in 1544 a messuage here which had belonged to the nunnery was granted to William Sheldon. (fn. 36)
The history of the development as shown in the fabric itself has been much confused by modern restorations and repairs, but the nave probably marks the original 12th-century or earlier nave and doubtless had a chancel. The earliest apparent addition was a narrow south aisle of mid-late-12th-century date and of this the arcade of three bays survives. The chancel seems to have been rebuilt or enlarged in the 13th or 14th century, perhaps both, but there is very little evidence left in the architectural details. The aisle was widened in the 14th century, and the west tower added in the 15th. The nave has a 17th-century roof; the others are modern. The side walls of the chancel were refaced externally, if not mostly rebuilt, in the 18th century. The various repairs culminated in a restoration in 1872 which was drastic, perhaps of necessity because of earlier alterations; it included the entire rebuilding of the north wall of the nave, the renewal of the chancel arch, &c., and the provision of new roofs.
The chancel (about 25½ ft. by 15 ft.) has an east window of three trefoiled lights and net tracery in a two-centred head. It is all modern except the inner splays of rubble with angle dressings and the chamfered rear-arch of the 14th century. In the middle of the north wall is a single trefoiled ogee-headed light under a pointed main head, also modern but with ancient rubble splays and rough splayed and pointed rear-arch which may be of the 13th century. The courses are generally smaller than those of the walling. In the south wall is a modern doorway to the vestry, and patching above it indicates a former south window. West of it is a modern archway.
The east wall is built of 14th-century dark brown stone except for several courses of squared grey-white rubble below the window, probably earlier masonry re-used. It has remains of a chamfered plinth of the dark brown stone. The gable-copings and diagonal buttresses are modern. The north wall has several lowest courses of the brown stone above the remains of the old chamfered plinth, but above these all is of 18th-century facing of coursed and squared grey-white stone. Below the window is an inscribed stone WT 87 (probably for 1787). At the eaves is an older hollowed string-course. The south wall is similar, but has only one original brown base-course, and no plinth is visible. Internally the wall faces are of approximately coursed grey-white squared rubble, with many larger stones in the east wall. The south wall has larger roughly dressed square stones as re-entering quoins against the east and west walls. Large squared stones a little below the wall-plates mark the former stone corbels for a three-bay roof, now cut back to the wall-face.
The high-pitched gabled roof of three bays is modern and is covered with tiles. The chancel arch is modern: the inner order of the pointed head is carried on corbel capitals. South of it is a 15th-century narrow rectangular squint; it is 21 in. high and the sill is 4 ft. 8 in. above the nave floor, but filling in of red brick shows it was formerly 2 ft. lower.
The nave (about 41½ ft. by 19½ ft.) has three modern north windows, each of two trefoiled lights and tracery. The wall is modern, of grey-white coursed rubble with some old brown stones re-used; the buttresses, that are older than the windows, divide it into three bays. The thickness, 3 ft., indicates that it was probably of the 12th century before rebuilding. The east wall has been stripped of its plaster and is roughly coursed squared rubble. Above the east gable is a restored sanctus bell-cote but no bell.
The mid-late-12th-century south arcade is of three 12¾ ft. bays. The two pillars—c. 29 in. diameter—are cylindrical, without visible bases. The responds are of the same peculiar treatment as those at Shotteswell and Tysoe churches, with shallow arcs of about 7-in. projection instead of half-rounds. The eastern has a large torus-moulded base on a high square subbase. The western is a much lower chamfered base on a square sub-base. The capitals, only 7 in high, change from round to square, their hollowed undersides, except the westernmost, being carved with a series of plain palmate leaves. The abaci are grooved and hollowchamfered. The two-centred arches are of one square order with small voussoirs and have plain square hoods on both faces. On the aisle side immediately above the arcade is an ovolo-moulded oversailing string-course of about 6 in.-projection to the greater thickness of the original wall. All is of a lightish brown stone.
The low-pitched roof is probably of the 17th century, but has modern wall-plates and boarding. It is divided into three bays by chamfered cambered main beams (partly repaired) which are carried on modern wood corbels carved as angels with shields. The purlins, ridge-pole, and most of the stop-chamfered common rafters are ancient but the carved bosses on them are modern. On the east face of the tower are the lines of the earlier high-pitched roof.
The south aisle (c. 9½ ft. wide) has unpierced east and west walls. In the south wall are two squareheaded windows. The eastern is a wide one of four lights with jambs and head of two chamfered orders and an external label of 14th-century form with return stops. It is of a chocolate-brown stone and may be a 17th-century alteration and widening of a 14th-century window. The other, close to the west end, is of two narrower lights in yellow-brown stone and has a label of late-15th-century type that probably dates the window. The south doorway is of the 14th century and has ovolo-moulded jambs and pointed head and a hood-mould of the same section as that of the wide window, all of brown stone.
The south wall is of approximately coursed greywhite squared rubble, perhaps of the 17th century, but just below the sill level is a rough brown stone stringcourse or very high chamfered plinth which is obviously earlier. Three small ancient buttresses of brown ashlar with chamfered plinths level with the main stringcourse divide the wall into two bays. In front of the doorway is a small and shallow modern porch. The west wall is of squared irregularly coursed small white stones, but about 1½ yds. from the south wall of the tower is a broken vertical seam, north of which most of the masonry is of the more ancient yellow-brown stone, probably 12th century. The coping has ancient stones. The lean-to roof is modern.
The west tower (about 11 ft. east to west by 10 ft.) is of three stages with plain weather-courses, a moulded and chamfered plinth, and an embattled parapet with returned copings to the merlons: the parapet stringcourse has various carvings of human faces, small animals such as a rat and a rabbit and, on the east face, a lion passant. In all but the east face are spouts. The walls are faced externally with coursed yellow ashlar; inside they show coursed and squared white rubble. At the angles are diagonal buttresses up to the bell-chamber stage. The tower is not central with the nave, and while the south-east buttress is carried partly by a splay corbel in the south-west angle of the nave, the north-east buttress has its two east faces projecting from the west wall of the nave and carried on three courses of corbelling.
The lofty narrow archway to the nave is of a darkishgrey sandstone; both pointed head and responds are of two chamfered orders, but at the springing-level is an impost mould about 16 in. high, the top vertical face being in one splay but the curved under-side fashioned to the double chamfers. It is continued along the west wall as a string-course.
In the west wall is a window of two trefoiled lights below a segmental-pointed head with an external hoodmould having volute or disk stops. The splays are of white ashlar and it has a segmental rear-arch. The second stage has north and south loop-lights and the bell-chamber has windows similar to the lower west window with the addition of a transom, below which the lights have similar trefoiled heads.
The font, of the 15th century, is octagonal; it has a wide bowl panelled on each face with a quatrefoil in a square and with a hollowed underside. The stem is slender and each face has a trefoiled panel. The base is moulded.
The pulpit, dated 1632, is set in the north-east angle of the nave and is of octagonal plan: it shows five faces, of which four are panelled with round-headed arches on enriched pilasters and upper carvings of foliage in low relief. At the angles are small round shafts carrying a frieze and cornice. The north-west face (towards the north wall) is plainer except for the frieze.
In the chancel floor is a stone slab concealed by quire-stalls, showing part of an incised long cross-stem and half-round bow-base possibly medieval. There are several floor slabs to members of the Woodward family of the 18th and 19th centuries.
There are five bells: the treble of 1662; the second is medieval inscribed: '[S]ancta Katerina ora pro nobis'; the third and fourth by Henry Bagley 1652; and the tenor with a Latin inscription: 'Vox d[omi]ni ihū xp[ist]i vox exultacionis et salutis.' (fn. 37)
The communion plate includes a large cup, without hall-mark and apparently foreign, and a paten of 1750. (fn. 38)
There was a priest, implying a church, at Marston in 1086. (fn. 39) The church of Marston was given by Ralph le Boteler to the Abbey of Alcester when he founded that house in 1140. (fn. 40) It was valued at £8 in 1291, at which time the Prior of Ware (Herts.) had tithes in the parish worth 13s. 4d., (fn. 41) these representing the grant made by Hugh de Grentemaisnil to the abbey of St. Evroul, (fn. 42) of which Ware was the chief English cell. In 1465 Alcester was reduced to the status of a priory and cell of Evesham Abbey, (fn. 43) which therefore acquired the patronage. The rectory had been appropriated at an early date, certainly before 1268, (fn. 44) and the endowment of the vicarage consisted in a sum of £8 3s. 4d. in 1535, (fn. 45) when the rectory was farmed for £17. (fn. 46)
After the Dissolution the advowson was retained by the Crown until 1553, when it was granted, with the rectory, to Thomas Reve and George Cotton, (fn. 47) who sold to Richard Woodward in 1553. (fn. 48) The advowson remained in this family (fn. 49) until 1609, when John Woodward and Alice his wife conveyed it to Richard Abraham. (fn. 50) Richard and William Abraham were dealing with the rectory and advowson in 1611 (fn. 51) and 1634. (fn. 52). In 1683 and 1686 John Newsham and his sons Thomas and Charles were dealing with the advowson, (fn. 53) and in 1719 Thomas Newsham, senior and junior, and William Newsham, junior, conveyed it to John Bowdall, (fn. 54) but probably only for a settlement, as Thomas Newsham was apparently patron in 1761. (fn. 55) Charles Henry Talbot presented in 1770, (fn. 56) and by 1789 the advowson had been acquired by the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, (fn. 57) the present holders.
William Loggin by will dated 20 July 1635 gave 20s. a year for ever to be paid out of his parsonage and rectory of Ettington to the poor of Butlers Marston. The rentcharge now issues out of Witfield Farm and Swalcliffe Farm in Ettington and is applied for the benefit of the poor of the parish.