A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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The main part of the parish is bounded on the north by the Thelsford Brook, which flows west and southwest into the River Avon. It is crossed at Thelsford Bridge by the road from Kineton, running through the parish northwards to Warwick, a little above the point where this road is joined by another from Charlecote village. Between the road junction and the bridge is the site of the priory of Thelsford; of the buildings there are no remains above ground, but there is at Wasperton Manor House a stone coffin found on the adjacent Thelsford Farm. This farm-house has some remains of 17th-century timber-framing. On the Avon, slightly below the point where the Thelsford Brook enters it, is Charlecote Corn Mill, presumably on the site of one, if not of both, of the two mills belonging to the manor in 1086. (fn. 1) Here the Avon flows due south through Charlecote Park, where it turns at a right angle, flowing west and dividing Hunscote, the southwestern portion of the parish, from Hampton Lucy. (fn. 2)
The country is flat, lying mostly between 130 ft. and 150 ft. above Ordnance Datum, open, and crossed by two streams, which join the Avon within the park, where one of them is dammed to form a lake. The soil is a rich loam, lying on gravel and sand, and much of the land is under grass. In the park is a noteworthy avenue of lime trees.
Charlecote Hall, the earliest of the great Elizabethan houses, was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Lucy in 1558 on the site, it is said, of an earlier building. It is of the typical Elizabethan plan, a half-H with the wings extending to the east. The east front of the main block has a twostoried porch-wing set rather south of the middle to give direct access to the south end of the great hall that occupies about two-thirds of the main block and rises two stories.
A large parallel wing covering about three-quarters of the original west front was added in 1833, containing the dining-room, library, &c., and there is another modern wing extending to the south containing the servants' quarters. The walls are of brick with stone dressings to the windows and at the angles. At the four corners of the original building are three-quarter octagonal turrets with leaded ogee cupolas and weather vanes. There are moulded stone plinths and moulded string-courses marking the two upper floor-levels. There are gable-heads on all faces—three to the east front of the main block, two to the inner face of each wing, three to the outer faces, as well as at the ends. There have been repairs and alterations at many different periods so that little of the original diapered brickwork of 1558 is seen except on the sides of the porch-wing and the north elevation of the south main wing. All the gables have plain copings and short diagonal pinnacles at the apices, and between the gables are pierced stone parapets of lattice and other patterns with panelled standards. The stone windows are mullioned and transomed in the two lower stories: the shorter three-light windows in the gable-heads have moulded labels.
The great hall has a modern tall bay window with a pierced parapet, flanked by two-light flat windows, all rising higher than the other ground-floor windows, and there are modern two-storied bays dated 1852 at the east ends of the wings. The fire-places are all set in the outer walls of the three main ranges and the chimney-stacks have tall and slender octagonal stone shafts, all restored.
In the front of the porch wing there is much more elaboration then in the rest of the building. It is stonefaced and has an open balustrade on which are two figures of beasts (bears) (fn. 3) squatting upright on their haunches and holding tall staves. The round-arched entrance has enriched spandrels with the initials T.L. and has on both sides of it pairs of Ionic pilasters supporting an entablature. Flanking the window of the upper story are pairs of Corinthian shafts supported on enriched consoles and carrying an entablature. The window, of two lights with a transom, has a moulded architrave with carved brackets below the sill. Above it is an enriched frieze and below it between the consoles is an achievement of the Elizabethan royal arms with lion and dragon supporters. On the south wing is a later sundial.
The parts of the original west front that are not covered by the modern range show brickwork of the late 17th century and later periods and the windows, &c., are of modern stone-work. The interior is apparently all of 18th- and 19th-century remodelling and decoration, probably chiefly of 1852–3. The great hall has a coloured fire-place of Classic design, with Doric pilasters carrying an entablature, and an oak dado painted with coats of arms. In the windows is a good deal of heraldic glass, some of the shields being dated 1558. The ceiling is a four-centred barrel-vault carried on corbels and having moulded ribs and carved bosses at the ridge.
About 80 yds. east of the porch is the gatehouse, also built of brickwork with stone dressings. It is probably a little later than the original house; the bricks are of a lighter tint and are slightly larger than those of the south wing and there is no diaper patterning. Its general design follows that of the house: it has similar angle turrets on the east front, of three stories, the main part being of two, with a pierced parapet having oval radiating patterns and enriched carved posts dividing it into bays. The lower story has middle round-headed archways with moulded imposts and key-stones. Above the eastern is a three-sided oriel window with an achievement of arms in an enriched panel below the sill, and on either side of it and the lower archway are two-light windows. All the windows have stone jambs, mullions, and transoms. The turrets have small twolight windows and the southern is provided with a clock in the top story. The carriage-way between the two archways is vaulted in two quadripartite bays, the ribs springing from corbels and having pendants at the intersections. The side-walls of the passage have each an elliptical-headed doorway (with a nail-studded door) between two half-round recesses that have shell-heads. The side rooms have each three windows in the outer walls, that to the west of three lights; in the west angles are splayed fire-places. Cut off from the north room is a staircase. The upper story has a large chamber, lighted by the bay and other windows, and a small north chamber. The doorway to the latter has a late-16thcentury panelled door in an original frame. The roof is covered with lead. The low garden wall flanking the gatehouse is pierced in a pattern similar to that of the parapet. The solid walls on either side of the garden between the house and gatehouse are surmounted by urns, and against the house are gateways with posts with moulded caps and pierced pinnacles.
The stables south-east of the house are of L-shaped plan. The north arm, running east and west, has original diapered brickwork; the other arm, running southward and pierced by a carriage archway, is of later undiapered brickwork.
The pillars of the entrance to the drive on the village-road side are of stone and brick and are surmounted by modern figures of boars. The entrance is a little way south of the parish church, which is on the west side of the road.
The village is small, lying on the road to the north of the church. On the east side opposite the park are three buildings of the farm-house type with remains of timber framing of c. 1600 with repairs and alterations of later brickwork. The northernmost, containing the estate offices, is a long low building, mostly brickfronted, but preserving a little framing in the front and back walls and in the gabled ends. In the front is an original porch with stop-moulded posts and lintel to the entrance and open sides with pierced shaped flat balusters. At the south end is a heavy projecting chimney-stack of brick with two diagonal shafts.
The next is also a long building with a slightly projecting gabled wing in front at the north end, of late16th-century framing, and some later 17th-century framing. The third is of nearly similar framing with plain chimneys and it has an outbuilding on the roadside of 17th-century framing.
CHARLECOTE was held under Edward the Confessor by one Saxi, as 3 hides, and was included in 1086 amongst the possessions of the Count of Meulan. (fn. 4) It passed to the count's brother, Henry de Newburgh, Earl of Warwick, and the Earls of Warwick held the overlordship of half a knight's fee in Charlecote until at least 1407. (fn. 5) After that date there is no further reference to their overlordship. Some time before 1186 Henry de Newburgh enfeoffed Thurstan de Montfort of Beaudesert and of 'divers other fair Lordships' including Charlecote. (fn. 6) The mesne lordship descended in this family with Beaudesert (q.v.) and passed to the Botelers of Sudeley, of whom the manor was held in 1415 by service unknown. (fn. 7) In 1492 it was held of the Botelers' coheirs John Norbury and Edward Belknap; at this time the manor was worth £10 and was held by service of fealty and 4d. rent at Michaelmas. (fn. 8) This mesne lordship is last mentioned in 1525, when the manor was said to be held of the heirs of Sir John Norbury and Sir Edward Belknap. (fn. 9)
Walter son of Thurstan de Charlecote in 1203 obtained a charter confirming to him and his heirs all his lands, rents, and tenements, including the vill of Charlecote which he had acquired by grant of Henry de Montfort and of Alice de Harcourt widow of Robert de Montfort, (elder) brother of Henry. (fn. 10) Dugdale asserts that this Thurstan was a younger son of Thurstan de Montfort. Walter married Cicely, (fn. 11) who was probably a member of the great baronial family of Lucy of Cumberland, as their son was Sir William de Lucy. (fn. 12) This William farmed the hundred of Kington at 40s. in 1220, (fn. 13) and in 1222 had a confirmation of his right thereto, then said to have been granted to him by Henry II and confirmed by John. (fn. 14) In a renewal of the grant made in 1225 William is styled brother of Master Stephen de Lucy. (fn. 15) He founded the Trinitarian Friary at Thelsford, (fn. 16) and in 1235 held ½ knight's fee in Charlecote of the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 17) or rather, as is more accurately stated in 1242, of Peter de Montfort under the earl. (fn. 18) He married Maud, one sister and coheir of John Cotele of Broughton (Hants), (fn. 19) and was succeeded in 1250 by his son William. (fn. 20) This William married Amice daughter and heir of William de Fourches (fn. 21) and was succeeded about 1260 by their son Fulk, (fn. 22) who forfeited his estates for opposing the king in 1264, but recovered them under the Dict of Kenilworth. (fn. 23) He also paid Peter de Montfort 200 marks to commute the rent of £10 by which the manor had been held to an annual render of a pair of gilt spurs or 4d. (fn. 24) Fulk in 1279 held the whole manor of Charlecote, except 6 virgates called Hullelond, (fn. 25) and in 1285 he asserted his right to various liberties set forth at length in the charter of 1203 granted to his great-grandfather Walter, under which, however, view of frankpledge could be held in his court but only in the presence of the king's bailiff. (fn. 26) He died in 1302 seised of the manor and leaving a son William, aged 26, (fn. 27) who in 1312 settled one half of the manor on himself and the other half on himself jointly with his wife Elizabeth, with remainder in each instance to his son William. (fn. 28) It was probably the elder William who was lord of the manor in 1316, (fn. 29) but the younger who was the largest taxpayer in Charlecote in 1332. (fn. 30) The latter Sir William, who took part in the battle of Crécy in 1346, (fn. 31) died about 1360, his widow Elizabeth dying in 1361, when their eldest son Thomas was only 9. (fn. 32) Thomas died in or before 1370 and was succeeded by his brother William, (fn. 33) who came of age in 1374. (fn. 34) Sir William Lucy died in 1401, (fn. 35) and his son Sir Thomas, who was in bad health and had to be excused from fasting in 1414, (fn. 36) died in 1415, leaving a son William, aged 13, and a widow Alice (Hugford) who shortly afterwards married Richard Archer of Tamworth. (fn. 37) William died seised of the manor in 1466, (fn. 38) as did his son Sir William in 1492. (fn. 39) The latter's son Edmund died some four or five years later and was buried beside his mother Margaret Lucy in the Lady Chapel of the monastery of Thelsford, (fn. 40) where he was joined in 1514 by his widow Joan, then widow of Richard Hungerford. (fn. 41) Their son Thomas, knighted in 1512, (fn. 42) married Elizabeth (Empson) widow of George Catesby, (fn. 43) who subsequently married as her third husband Richard Verney of London. (fn. 44) Sir Thomas died in 1525 and was in turn succeeded by William Lucy. (fn. 45) During the lifetime of this William Lucy, John Foxe the martyrologist visited Charlecote and subsequently told a friend that he had derived much satisfaction from his visit to that family. After resigning his fellowship in 1545 Foxe was given temporary employment by William Lucy as tutor to his son Thomas, (fn. 46) who succeeded in 1551. (fn. 47) Thomas Lucy rebuilt the manor-house in 1558. He was knighted in 1565, being 'dubbed in his own house', and sat in the Parliaments of 1571 and 1584 as Knight of the Shire of Warwick. (fn. 48) It was this Sir Thomas Lucy whose deer Shakespeare is often said to have stolen in 1585 and whom the dramatist is sometimes supposed to have caricatured in the character of Justice Shallow. Sir Thomas died on 7 July 1600, and was succeeded by his son Thomas, (fn. 49) who died in 1603. His son Sir Thomas married Alice Spenser and died in 1640. His eldest son Spencer (fn. 50) in 1646 compounded with the Parliamentary Committee of the Commonwealth for the possession of his lands, (fn. 51) but died without issue, and Charlecote passed successively to his two brothers Robert and Richard and to Richard's son Thomas. Thomas was succeeded by Davenport Lucy, son of another brother Fulk, and he died unmarried in 1690. (fn. 52) Davenport's two brothers George and William, and George and Thomas the two sons of their brother Fulk, were in turn seised of the manor, and all died either unmarried or without issue. (fn. 53) On the death of the last of these in 1787 it passed to the Rev. John Hammond a grandson of Alice Lucy, who was a daughter of Fulk the younger brother of Spencer Lucy. The Rev. John Hammond assumed the name and arms of Lucy on 9 February 1787. He died in 1823 and was succeeded by his son George, who died in 1845, and who in turn was succeeded by his son William. It then passed to William's brother Henry Spencer Lucy, who died in 1890, and then to the latter's daughter Ada Lucy who married in 1892 Sir Henry Ramsay Fairfax, who assumed by royal licence the name of Lucy, so that she became Lady Ramsay Fairfax-Lucy. (fn. 54)
The overlordship of ½ knight's fee in HUNSCOTE was held by the Earl of Warwick in 1235, (fn. 55) and it continued to be so held until 1400. (fn. 56) In 1279 it was held of the earl by Theobald de Verdon and of Theobald by Margery de Cantilupe. (fn. 57) Of Margery it was held in two portions: ⅓ fee by William de Stafford, consisting of 1 carucate of land held by Henry de Erdinton; and another ⅓ fee held directly of her by the same Henry and William de Bladintone, who are called lords of Hunscote. (fn. 58) In 1316 Theobald's son Theobald de Verdon held it as ¼ fee, (fn. 59) and as such it was assigned in 1344 to his daughter and coheir Margery and her husband Mark Husee, (fn. 60) after which no more is heard of this mesne lordship. Margery de Cantilupe's rights, here and in Avon Dassett (q.v.), passed to her son Walter, who was lord of both vills in 1316. (fn. 61) He probably sold to Michael de la More, who held the ¼ fee in 1337 (fn. 62) and had been the largest taxpayer in Hunscote in 1332. (fn. 63)
Part of Hunscote had been held in the 12th century by one Ralph and Margery his wife (probably in her right); their eldest son Richard dying without issue it passed to his brother Hugh, to his son Thomas, and to Thomas's son William de Ludington. (fn. 64) William carried on a prolonged suit against Walter fitzRalph for 2 virgates in Hunscote, which ended in 1230 in favour of Walter, (fn. 65) who had previously sold the land to Thomas de Erdinton (fn. 66) (d. 1218). Apparently Thomas subinfeudated William de Norfolk therein, and he leased it to Gervase de Wauton. (fn. 67) In 1262 the 2 virgates which had belonged to William were held by Nicholas de Norfolk and Isabel his wife. (fn. 68) This estate, or part of it, perhaps passed to Isabel, wife of John de Wauton (who died in 1277), (fn. 69) and subsequently of Henry le Foun, and became attached to the manor of Walton Deyvill. (fn. 70) In 1279, however, one of the lords of Hunscote was William de Bladintone; (fn. 71) in 1332 William and Ralph de Bladynton were taxpayers, but the smallest, in Hunscote; (fn. 72) and in 1368 John de Bladynton claimed ½ virgate there as heir to his brother William, but his legitimacy was in doubt. (fn. 73)
In 1279, as already stated, (fn. 74) Henry de Erdinton held ⅓ fee of William de Stafford. In 1307 his son Henry settled a messuage and 5 virgates in Hunscote on himself and his wife Joan, with remainder to their son Giles. (fn. 75) The estate descended in the family, and in 1405. Margaret widow of Sir Thomas de Erdinton was said to hold from Sir John Stafford (fn. 76) of Bromshill ⅓ of the 'manor' of Hunscote in dower; (fn. 77) when, however, her son Thomas died in 1433, the property was described as a messuage and lands held of Humphrey Stafford of Hook, (fn. 78) as it was on the death of Thomas's wife Sibyl in the following year. (fn. 79)
Thomas Moston is said to have been styled lord of Hunscote about 1432, (fn. 80) and he was holding a manor there six years later. (fn. 81) This and the Erdinton property were probably soon afterwards acquired by one of the Lucys, as in 1492 Sir William Lucy died seised of the manor of Hunscote, held of William Stafford, (fn. 82) from which time it continued to descend with the main manor of Charlecote.
In 1221 the Prior and Convent of Coventry obtained papal confirmation of various estates including Hullande in Charlecote. (fn. 83) This is presumably the ¼ knight's fee held of the Prior of Coventry by William de Lucy in 1242; (fn. 84) but in 1279 Fulk de Lucy held all the manor of Charlecote except 6 virgates called Hullelond, of which Richard de Raggele held 4 virgates. (fn. 85) No later connexion with Coventry is known.
The parish church of ST. LEONARD was entirely rebuilt in 1851 and consists of a chancel, north chapel, north organchamber, nave, and tower south of the chancel. The walls are of ashlar and the nave and chancel are vaulted. The tower is octagonal in the upper part and is surmounted by an octagonal stone spire. The only piece of re-used construction appears to be the roof of the organ chamber. This has a barrel-vaulted ceiling with panels, moulded ribs, and carved bosses of the 15th century, probably from the former chancel.
The furniture is modern, including the font, but there is a second font probably of the 12th century. It is of flower-pot shape and has a moulded base 4 in. high. The top bears the marks of former staples for the lid.
In the north chapel are the ancient memorials of the Lucy family. (fn. 86)
The earliest is an altar tomb against the east wall with alabaster recumbent effigies of Sir Thomas Lucy, died 1600, and Lady Joyce, 10 February 1595(6), daughter of Sir Thomas Acton of Sutton, Worcestershire. He is represented in armour, but the sword on his left side has lost its blade or scabbard. The lady lying behind him has the typical Elizabethan dress. They are on separate plain slabs on the tomb and no doubt the lady's effigy is of earlier execution than the other; and the tomb seems to have been differently arranged formerly, as the part below the lady's effigy is modern. The west front part has a beaded moulded capping of alabaster and a fluted frieze and below it is divided into two bays by alabaster and marble panelled pilasters. The bays are panelled in dark marble and in front of them are the kneeling effigies of a son in armour, and a daughter: the low base on which they are placed has a moulded capping and plinth. At the ends of the tomb are plain panels. The inscription, to Lady Joyce only and composed by Sir Thomas, is fixed on the east wall on a black marble tablet enframed in alabaster, between panelled pilasters enriched with foliage ornament in low relief. Above it is an alabaster entablature and a central achievement with the painted arms of Lucy impaling Acton in a circular cartouche with strap ornament. Below the tablet is an apron with a winged death's head.
Against the west wall is an uninscribed monument, presumably to the second Sir Thomas Lucy, 1605. On a shelf is his recumbent effigy in armour of the period with his head resting on a cushion and the Lucy crest near his feet. The base has the kneeling effigy of his wife in a widow's hood and the kneeling figures of six sons and eight daughters. The monument has no canopy. Against the wall are two round-headed recesses above an enriched frieze with a middle console or bracket, over which is a cherub astride of a skull. The entablature has a frieze of dark marble, otherwise it is of alabaster and breaks forward a little above the cherub to support a painted shield of arms, and the cornice breaks forward over that. The whole entablature is brought forward at the ends as wings that are carried in front by Corinthian shafts of dark marble with gilded capitals and bases. Over each wing, and in the middle against the wall, are upstanding cartouches of the Lucy arms. On the shelf outside the shafts are alabaster obelisks. Each bay at the back has a dark panel which was probably painted with the now missing inscription.
Against the north wall is the largest of three monuments, to another Sir Thomas, died 1640, and Alice (Spencer of Claverdon) his wife. It has two beautiful effigies in white marble, probably by Schurman. The knight is represented in a half-raised position reclining on his left elbow, dressed in armour and wearing the falling ruff of the period: he has a pointed beard. The lady's effigy, very richly dressed, is in a recumbent position behind him. The base is panelled. The figures lie below a heavy canopy with Corinthian shafts of white and coloured marbles and, above, an achievement of arms. The back has three panels, the middle with the Latin epitaph. The eastern bays represents a library of books some of which are labelled (Horace—Homer II. 1579–Virgil Æn.—Cato—T.L.—and 'Winters Ayres'). Over the books is a cartouche of arms. The west bay has a pictorial scene in low relief showing Sir Thomas in civilian dress mounted on a horse, with a thatched house, &c., in the background. The cartouche above has the arms of Lucy impaling Spencer.
The church of Charlecote was given to the friary of Thelsford by Sir William de Lucy in 1214, (fn. 87) and was appropriated to the friary in the same year. (fn. 88) It seems to have been originally a chapel dependent on the church of Hampton Lucy and paid a yearly pension of 20s. to the church of Wellesbourne, which was given to the canons of Kenilworth Priory. The right of Kenilworth to this pension was confirmed in 1241, (fn. 89) and it is duly recorded as payable in 1291, (fn. 90) but the friars subsequently disputed the payment. A decision in favour of Kenilworth was given in 1327, (fn. 91) and the 20s. was still being paid by Thelsford in 1535. (fn. 92) The value of the church is not stated in 1291, but in 1341 it was given as £2 13s. 4d., (fn. 93) and in 1535 the rectory was farmed at £4 13s. 4d., (fn. 94) and the vicarage was worth £6. (fn. 95)
About the middle of the 13th century Robert, Prior of Thelsford, made over the advowson of the vicarage to Fulk de Lucy, (fn. 96) and it descended with the manor until early in the reign of Henry VII, when Sir William Lucy gave it again to the friars of Thelsford, his son Edmund confirming the gift. (fn. 97) After the Dissolution William Lucy acquired the Thelsford property, the site in 1543 from the grantees William Whorwood and William Walter, (fn. 98) and the advowson presumably from the Crown at some date before 1551, when he died seised thereof. (fn. 99) The advowson and rectory have since descended with the manor.
The Rev. William Lucy by will dated 28 January 1723 gave to the poor of Charlecote the yearly sum of £5, to be distributed by his heir or trustees every Christmas to poor housekeepers of the parish. The endowment of the charity now consists of a rentcharge of £5 per annum.
The Rev. John Lucy by will dated 2 July 1821 gave to the Trustees of the Charity of the Rev. William Lucy the sum of £5 annually for the benefit of the poor of the parish. This rentcharge is distributed annually with the other.