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 forms a roughly rectangular block, nearly 4 miles in length from north-west to south-east and 2 miles broad. On the south-west its boundary is for the most part the road from Warwick to Banbury, and on the north-west a small stream. Parallel with this stream and ½ mile east of it the Roman Fosse Way cuts across the parish, passing, near its northern point, through an approximately rectangular earthwork, with traces of a formidable ditch round it, which was probably a Roman camp or fortified village. (fn. 1) The country is open and undulating, rising from 210 ft. on the west to just over 400 ft. on the east.
The church stands in the east of the parish, by itself, with the site of the manor-house to the north of it. This, which seems to have replaced the medieval hall towards the end of the 17th century, was a classical building of three stories, (fn. 2) said to have been designed by Inigo Jones. It was pulled down in 1802, the only relic left being a gateway in the south wall of the churchyard, of red brick with rusticated round arch and flanking pilasters that support an entablature and pediment. Inigo Jones is said also to have designed the picturesque windmill, standing on an arched foundation, on Windmill Hill, above the large mill pool of the water-mill. The water-mill and the pond called the Mylne Pool are referred to in 1554, (fn. 3) and both it and the windmill in 1689. (fn. 4) Just south of the mill pool at Chesterton Green is the small group of buildings, including a few timber-framed cottages with thatched roofs, which constitutes the nearest approach to a village. (fn. 5)
Kingston Manor, ½ mile south-east of the church, is an L-shaped house of stone, of which the south-west wing was built in the 16th century. It has low sixlight mullioned windows, and a massive projecting chimney-stack with four diagonal shafts.
CHESTERTON was one of the vills given in 1043 by Earl Leofric to his foundation of the priory of Coventry and confirmed by Edward the Confessor. (fn. 6) By 1086, however, the monks held only 1½ hides here, (fn. 7) and even this seems to have been alienated soon afterwards, as no more is heard of it. At the time of the Domesday Survey there were three other estates within the vill; one held by Turchil, (fn. 8) one by Henry de Ferrers, (fn. 9) and third and largest, 3 hides, by Richard the Huntsman, or the Forester. (fn. 10) William the Conqueror had given threequarters of the vill of Chesterton to this Richard 'Chineu' to hold by the serjeanty of keeping the royal forest of Cannock. (fn. 11) Richard's daughter married William Croc, and their son Walter Croc had succeeded to the bailiwick and lands of Richard 'Chienewe' by 1130. (fn. 12) Apparently Walter was succeeded by a brother William and he by a son William. (fn. 13) This last William Croc was hanged, but the king gave his lands to his sister Margery, who married Robert de Brock. (fn. 14) Their daughter Margery married Hugh de Loges, who succeeded Robert in 1195–6; (fn. 15) she survived her husband (fn. 16) but was dead before 1232, when her son Hugh held the serjeanty, (fn. 17) as he still did in 1246. (fn. 18) Between these dates Hugh had been thrown into prison for having taken a stag; by payment of a fine of £100 he recovered his lands, including Chesterton, though he lost the bailiwick of the forest of Cannock. (fn. 19) In his old age Hugh made a grant of the manor of Chesterton to the Knights Templars without licence from the king, who therefore seized the manor and in August 1267 restored it to Hugh's son Richard for a payment of 120 marks, on condition that he should honourably maintain his said father, who was so old and weak that he was non compos mentis. (fn. 20) Richard had served with Ralph Basset of Drayton in the Baronial forces against the king in 1265, when his lands in Chesterton, worth 20s., were seized; (fn. 21) he had been with 'the disinherited' in the Isle of Axholme, (fn. 22) but had made his peace with the king early in 1266, (fn. 23) and redeemed his lands from Thomas Corbet in 1271. (fn. 24) He established his claim to view of frankpledge and the assize of bread and ale at Chesterton in 1285, (fn. 25) and died in 1293, holding the manor with some 220 acres of land and meadow (leased for a term of years to Mr. Guy de Tillebrok) and rents from 29 free tenants and 1 customer. (fn. 26) His son Richard de Loges died in 1300, seised of the manor, leaving a widow Elizabeth and a daughter, also Elizabeth, aged 4. (fn. 27) The custody of the land and heir of Richard was granted in 1301 to Nicholas de Warrewyk, (fn. 28) who married her to his own son Nicholas. (fn. 29) Elizabeth died in 1315 and, as she had issue, the manor remained to her husband. (fn. 30) In 1334 Nicholas, with the consent of his son John, settled his interest in the manor on John de Saunderstede and Elizabeth his wife (who was the widow of Richard de Loges), with reversion after their deaths to the said John de Warrewyk and the heirs of his body. (fn. 31) John de Warrewyk, who took the name de Loges, died in 1349 (fn. 32) and, as his son John, who was living in 1343, (fn. 33) had evidently predeceased him without issue, his heir was his daughter Eleanor, who had married John son of William de Peyto; the manor accordingly passed to her on the death of John de Saunderstede in 1353. (fn. 34) In 1350 a grant of free warren at Chesterton had been made to John de Saunderstede and his (second) wife Margaret for life, with remainder to the future holders of the manor. (fn. 35) Sir John Peyto outlived his wife and died in 1396, when the manor, then valued at £5, passed to their son William. (fn. 36) He settled it in 1406 on himself and his wife Joan, (fn. 37) who after his death married Sir Robert Corbet and died in 1418, when their son Sir William Peyto inherited it. (fn. 38) Sir William played a prominent part in the war with France and was captain of the bastille before Dieppe, where he was taken prisoner in 1443. (fn. 39) In 1449 his wife Katherine had licence to mortgage his manor of Chesterton towards his ransom; (fn. 40) and in 1451 he mortgaged it to Drew Barentyn and others for £300. (fn. 41) He died in 1464, (fn. 42) leaving a son John, who rebuilt the manor-house and adorned it with a quantity of heraldic glass, figured by Dugdale. (fn. 43) John Peyto died on 14 August 1487, and his son Edward died just a month later, leaving a son John, aged 9. (fn. 44) The manor was then held of the king as 1/20 knight's fee; 42 virgates, worth 20 marks, had been settled on Godith (Throckmorton) wife of Edward Peyto, who survived him, and the remainder consisted of 5 messuages and 6 virgates, also worth 20 marks. (fn. 45) This John died in 1542, (fn. 46) leaving a son John, who went mad in 1553 (fn. 47) and died in 1558, having settled the manor on his son Humphrey at his marriage with Anne daughter of Basil Fielding. (fn. 48) Humphrey's great-grandson Edward married Margaret daughter of Sir Greville Verney (fn. 49) and their granddaughter Margaret Peyto, the last of the line, died in about 1772, leaving Chesterton to her relative John Verney (subsequently Peyto-Verney), Lord Willoughby de Broke, (fn. 50) with which title the manor has descended.
William Croc gave to 'Broun his servant' 4 virgates in Chesterton, which Broun gave to the Knights Templars, (fn. 51) among whose possessions they were recorded in 1185 as 'of the alms of William Croc', 1 virgate being then held by Eve widow of Brun. (fn. 52) This Broun, or Geoffrey le Brun, had a daughter Constance who married Henry de Brock, (fn. 53) whom Geoffrey fitzStephen, Master of the Templars, enfeoffed in these lands (fn. 54) and who also received from Henry II a grant of all Brun's lands to hold by serjeanty of keeping in repair the hedge of Teddesley in Cannock Forest. (fn. 55) Henry seems to have been succeeded about 1214 (fn. 56) by his son Robert de Brock, who died in 1242, when custody of his heir (his son Robert) was granted to the Abbot of Evesham. (fn. 57) On the death of this Robert in 1264 without issue the Brock estates seem to have been divided between the descendants of his two aunts, daughters of Henry de Brock; one of them was mother of Walter de Elmsdon and the other of Gilbert le Harpour, who in 1279 held lands in Chesterton in purparty with the said Walter. (fn. 58) Later a division seems to have been made by which Walter retained the Teddesley serjeanty (fn. 59) and Gilbert the estate in Chesterton, where he (or possibly his father) had acquired another virgate from Hugh de Loges before 1251. (fn. 60) Gilbert le Harpour died in 1304 seised of this 'manor' of CHESTERTON, containing a capital messuage, 8 virgates of land, with meadow, pasture and rents, to the total value of £6 11s. 6d., all held of the king by serjeanty, except a plot 80 ft. by 40 ft. held of the Knights Templars at a rent of 4d. (fn. 61) His heir was his son Robert le Harpour, who died in 1312, when the estate is not called a manor and is said to be held by knight service. (fn. 62) He left a son John, aged 3, and a widow Isabel, to whom dower was assigned, (fn. 63) the custody of the other 2/3 of the lands during John's minority being granted to the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 64) This John's son John in 1351 sold his estate to William Peyto, (fn. 65) after which it was absorbed into the main manor.
The ½ hide in Chesterton among the estates of Henry de Ferrers in 1086 was held of him by Wazelin who also held at Harbury. (fn. 66) In 1203 Isabel de Say widow of Ralph de Boscherville sued Robert son of Odo for a knight's fee in Harbury and Chesterton as part of her dower. He replied that his father had held it and that on his death it passed to his elder son William and then to the latter's daughter; she being under age Earl Ferrers took the fee into his hand as overlord, and when she died he gave it to Robert. (fn. 67) Robert's father was Odo son of John who in 1166 held of William, Earl Ferrers, one of three fees held in the time of Henry I by William de Boskerville, father of Ralph. (fn. 68) The suit was compromised, and Henry de Picheford and Burga his wife, daughter and heir of Ralph de Boscherville, agreed that Robert and his heirs should hold of them and of the heirs of Burga. (fn. 69) Accordingly in 1242 we find Odo de Herberbire (presumably son of Robert) holding of Ralph de Picheford under Earl Ferrers. (fn. 70) This Odo's son Robert in 1279 granted to the abbey of Combe his tenement and fee in Harbury and Chesterton, which included the homage and service of Gilbert le Harpour for 2 hides in Chesterton. (fn. 71) Apparently, however, Robert's successor retained rights here, as when Gilbert le Harpour died in 1304 he was holding 4 messuages and 4 virgates in Chesterton of Geoffrey Oede of Harbury, (fn. 72) as did Robert le Harpour in 1312. (fn. 73)
In 1281 Eustace de Hacche obtained a grant of free warren in his demesnes in Chesterton, (fn. 74) and when he died in 1306 he was holding land here of the heir of Richard de Loges by rent of 5s. (fn. 75) His widow Avice conveyed 10 messuages, 8 virgates, and a mill in Chesterton and Harbury to their daughter Julian and her husband John Hansard. (fn. 76)
Turchil of Arden gave 1 hide in Chesterton to the Abbey of Abingdon, to which house William I confirmed it. (fn. 77) In the Domesday Survey Turchil's lands include 1 hide held of him by the abbot and a second hide, on which were 5 English knights, held by the abbot 'in pledge', or on mortgage. (fn. 78) When Henry, Earl of Warwick, acquired Turchil's estates he claimed this property, but confirmed the gift for 1 mark of gold. (fn. 79) Abbot Faritius (1100–35) exchanged Chesterton to Anskitel of Tadmerton for his Oxfordshire property of Tadmerton, but as the latter had to pay geld for 5 hides whereas Chesterton paid on only 1 hide, Anskitel gave the abbey the tithes of his demesnes here. (fn. 80) Anskitel then held Chesterton with [Bessels] Leigh in Berks. by the service of 2 knights, (fn. 81) and the two estates descended together. William de Leigh held 2 fees of Abingdon in 1166. (fn. 82) Sir Robert de Kyngestune seems to have held this estate c. 1200, (fn. 83) perhaps through marriage with Felice de Leigh, (fn. 84) whose son William, mentioned in 1220, (fn. 85) held 1 knight's fee in KINGSTON of the Abbot of Abingdon in 1242, (fn. 86) and was dealing with land in LITTLE CHESTERTON, the alternative name of this part of the vill, in 1247. (fn. 87) Thomas de Leigh appears to have succeeded by 1251 (fn. 88) and held Kingston in 1279, (fn. 89) but from 1261 to 1297 a Roger de Leye was dealing with lands in Kingston which he held in right of his wife Maud. (fn. 90) In 1294 Roger and Maud conveyed to William de Lye a messuage and 1 virgate of land with the appurtenant villeins, (fn. 91) and in 1296 other lands and rents here. (fn. 92) This William was apparently son and heir of Thomas de Leigh and was succeeded by John de Leigh, (fn. 93) who in 1339 settled the manor of Kingston on himself and his wife Hawise and his own heirs. (fn. 94) This John had a grant of free warren for his demesnes here in 1332, (fn. 95) in which year he and Thomas de Leigh (said to have been his brother) (fn. 96) were two of the largest taxpayers in Kingston. (fn. 97) He was living in 1348, (fn. 98) at which time he had two sons, William and Roger. (fn. 99) They must have died, perhaps in the Black Death, without issue, as John's daughter Katherine, wife of Sir Thomas Bessels, was his heir (fn. 100) and, as a widow, held the manor in 1380. (fn. 101) She died in 1406 (fn. 102) and her heir was her son Sir Peter, (fn. 103) who died seised of the manor, held of the Abbot of Abingdon, in 1425. (fn. 104) As he left no issue it should have passed to Robert Cranford, son of Margaret daughter of Alice sister of Peter's grandfather John de Leigh, (fn. 105) but Sir Peter seems to have settled it on trustees, (fn. 106) and in or before 1447 the manor was sold to Richard Verney, (fn. 107) after which it descended with the manor of Compton Verney (q.v.). When Sir Richard Verney died in 1490 it was said to be worth £20 and to be held of the Abbot of Abingdon by rent of 20s. (fn. 108) It was still called a manor in 1574 (fn. 109) and 1617, (fn. 110) but in 1634 after the death of Sir Richard Verney (fn. 111) and of John Verney in 1638 (fn. 112) it was described as a capital messuage with lands belonging to it; the title of manor had, however, been revived by 1741, when John Peyto Verney was lord, (fn. 113) but during the 19th century it seems to have been amalgamated with Chesterton.
In 1220 Simon de Sancto Mauro held 9 virgates in Little Chesterton, (fn. 114) and in 1247 Nicholas de Sancto Mauro paid 10 marks to William de Leigh for an acknowledgement of his rights in this estate. (fn. 115) Nicholas was followed by Laurence (fn. 116) and he, in 1297, by his son Sir Nicholas de Sancto Mauro, (fn. 117) who married Ellen daughter and coheir of Alan la Zouche and died in 1316, holding 80 acres of William de Leigh and leaving a son Thomas, aged 9. (fn. 118) His widow Ellen evidently married Alan de Charleton, and Thomas de Sancto Mauro in 1338 conveyed the reversion of this property in Kingston after Ellen's death to James de Wodestok, who next year transferred it to John de Leigh and Hawise. (fn. 119)
The earliest feature is the south doorway of the nave, c. 1310–20, but it is possible that the thick north wall incorporates some of the original 12th-century nave, although there are no details of that period. From the easterly positions of the north and south doorways it is probable that the nave was subsequently lengthened about 10 ft., perhaps late in the 14th century, when the north wall was buttressed and provided with new windows.
The chancel was added or rebuilt c. 1330. It was made slightly narrower than the nave; whether it had a chancel arch or not is uncertain. It is of three bays: there is some distortion in the plan of the easternmost bay, which is widened outwards against the east wall and has an unpierced north wall thicker than the remainder; this suggests also a lengthening, probably of the same late-14th-century period. The roof is of late-15th-century date and for some reason, probably weakness, the south wall of the nave had to be entirely rebuilt to carry it. New and larger windows were made, but the early-14th-century south doorway was saved and provided with a porch. The west tower is an addition or rebuilding of c. 1600. There have been modern restorations, the most thorough being carried out in 1862.
The chancel (about 36 ft. by 16½ ft.) has a modern east window of three lights and tracery. In each side wall are two windows of c. 1330, each of two trefoiled pointed lights and a quatrefoiled spandrel in a twocentred head with an external hood-mould with headstops. The two south windows retain their original moulded jambs and arches, including moulded edges to the internal splays, all with three-quarter hollows. The coeval priests' doorway has finely moulded jambs and two-centred head and hood-mould, all of rather weather-worn Hornton stone. The walls are of small coursed and squared rubble work. The east wall has a low-pitched gable with pinnacles over the apex and kneelers. The north wall has one original small buttress, probably marking the original east end, and two deep ashlar-faced buttresses of later date, one between the windows and one at the east end. The south wall has a diagonal buttress at the east end, which is built against the south wall instead of being placed equally on the angle.
Near the east end of the south wall inside is a modern triangular recess and sill in the normal place for a piscina: it has been fitted with the cinquefoiled ogee canopied head of a 14th-century image niche with a ribbed vaulted soffit and crocket enrichment.
The nave (49 ft. by 17 ft.) has two late-14th-century north windows in the east half, each of three trefoiled lights and tracery in a four-centred head: the eastern has vertical tracery and the western reticulated tracery; both have old hood-moulds. The north doorway, west of them, is a plain 14th-century doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head: it has a hood-mould with returned stops. It is now walled up, with a War Memorial set in the recess.
The north wall is of rubble work and has deep buttresses dividing it into three unequal bays, the widest middle bay containing the western window and doorway. West of the doorway there is a change in the texture of the masonry and many larger stones are included. The buttresses form a narrow unpierced western bay, indicating the later lengthening. At the west end is a massive wide buttress, probably altered when the tower was added. All the buttresses are patched with brickwork. The wall is about 3 ft. thick.
The thinner south wall is ashlar-faced externally and has a moulded plinth. In it are three wide late-15thcentury windows, each of three plain four-centred lights under a square head with sunk spandrels and a moulded label. The buttresses, smaller than those on the north side, forming two equal bays east of the porch are of the same period. The westernmost and a little of the nave wall are of the smaller masonry of the west tower. The south doorway, between the middle and western windows, is of c. 1310–20. It has moulded jambs and pointed head, of which the middle hollow is enriched with ball-flowers connected by wavy running stems.
The roof is of low pitch and extends without break over the chancel and nave. It is of nine bays with nine trusses, including one against the tower. The beam over the break between the nave and chancel is chamfered and has remains of painted twisted ornament on the west face. The trusses over the nave have moulded beams and stiffeners on moulded solid brackets and wall-posts on which are cut small shafts with capitals and bases. They all rest on plain stone corbels. The three trusses over the chancel are modern copies. The parapets are embattled.
The low tower (12¼ ft. square), of the 16th or early 17th century, is of two stages with walls of coursed and squared small rough ashlar, with a chamfered plinth and embattled parapet. At the west angles of the lower stage are diagonal buttresses. A former round-headed doorway from the nave is now hidden by a monument. The west and south walls have narrow windows with three-centred heads and below the west is a modern doorway. The bell-chamber is lighted in the north, south, and west walls by windows, each of two segmental-headed lights under a square head.
Reset in the south wall of the nave above the porch is part of a 15th-century reredos. It has three niches, divided by V-shaped pilasters with crocketed finials, and three-sided canopy heads with crocketed gablets. In these are three figures of men wearing gowns and long mantles and bowing to the east, the easternmost lower than the others, and all apparently offering gifts. Their heads have been destroyed. They may represent the three Magi or three worshipping saints. They are set in a square recess with a moulded frame which includes a space east of the figures (not a niche like the others).
The porch is of masonry similar to the south wall of the nave and has a four-centred entrance in the gabled south wall. The unpierced side walls have stone benches. Above the entrance is a 17th-or 18th-century sundial with an inscription: 'See and be gone about your business.'
Below the east splay of the south-east nave window is a 15th-century piscina with moulded jambs, having chamfered stops, and a trefoiled ogee head. The projection of the sill with a hexagonal bowl is cut away.
The font has a 13th-century tapering round bowl with a moulded top edge, on a moulded base which has been raised on another stone and has had its lower edge chamfered. The two ancient staple-rings are still used with an iron cross-bar to lock down the modern flat cover if required.
There are three memorials at the west end of the nave to members of the Peyto family. The earliest against the south wall is to 'Humfrey Peyto', died 30 March 1585, and Anne (Fielding) his wife , date not filled in. It has their recumbent alabaster effigies, the man in armour of the period, his head resting on a helmet: at his feet is a lion. The woman is richly dressed and wears a ruff and a long chain or necklace crossing many times on her breast. A small dog rests on the foot of her skirt. Both have their hands in prayer holding Testaments. The base is divided into panels by engaged twisted pilasters and has eight shields of arms of Peyto and other quarterings, including two in circlets inscribed with the motto manv domini mvnitvs svm. One has supporters of two nude men. The inscription is in raised 'black letter' around the top moulding. On the wall above the tomb are two wide recesses; one with the figures of six sons, the second a child in grave-clothes, the third and fifth in civilian dress, and the other three in armour. The other has four daughters. Above them are their names 'John, John, Basill, William, Richard, & Humphrey' and 'Goodeth, Ann, Dorothy, and Margery' and their blazoned shields of arms. The fourth and sixth sons have impaled coats and the daughters' arms are impaled by others.
Against the north wall is the monument of William Peyto, 1619, and Eleanor (Aston) his wife, 1636, with their white marble busts on a pedestal set within a round-headed recess that is flanked by pilasters below a small curved pediment. This is surmounted by a larger pediment on which is an achievement of the Peyto arms. This monument was executed by Nicholas Stone in 1639 at a cost of £150. (fn. 120)
The west monument is to Edward Peyto 1643 and Elizabeth (Newton) his wife. Their white marble busts are set on a pedestal flanked by shafts of dark marble with white Corinthian capitals and bases supporting an entablature and pediment with an achievement of arms. In the floor is an inscribed slab to Edward Peyto 1658.
Richard the Forester, the Domesday tenant of the manor, founded the church and endowed it with land worth 2 marks; and his son-in-law William Croc gave it to the priory of Kenilworth. (fn. 121) The right of the canons was disputed on several occasions; Richard I is said to have presented one Eustace to the living in 1194, when the manor and serjeanty were in his hands with the heir of Robert de Brock; (fn. 122) Hugh de Loges, who had married the said heir, claimed the advowson in 1199; (fn. 123) in 1257 Henry III claimed that it belonged to the serjeanty, but the canons proved their right to it, as confirmed to them by Henry II. (fn. 124) Richard de Loges in 1276 granted the king the next presentation, but again the prior proved that it belonged to his house. (fn. 125) In 1284 Roger, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, bought the advowson from Kenilworth, (fn. 126) and in 1291 the church was valued at £16. (fn. 127) Bishop Walter de Langton, executor and formerly treasurer of Edward I, was granted licence in 1318 to assign the church of Chesterton to some ecclesiastical body for a chantry or other pious works for the good of King Edward's soul; (fn. 128) and when he died, in 1321, without having done so the licence was renewed to his successor Roger de Northburgh in 1326. (fn. 129) Nothing, however, was done about it until 1412, when Bishop John Burghill granted the advowson to the Vicars Choral of Lichfield and ordained a vicarage. (fn. 130) Vicars were apparently presented until, at least, 1468, (fn. 131) but in 1473 the vicars were allowed to appropriate the vicarage and serve the church by a curate; (fn. 132) so in 1535 the Vicars Choral were receiving £9 0s. 8d. from tithes and offerings appropriated to them in Chesterton (fn. 133) and were paying to the dean and chapter a pension of £6 13s. 4d. from the church, (fn. 134) which was then served by a stipendiary priest, who was paid 106s. 8d. yearly in cash. (fn. 135) The benefice was still a curacy, valued at £8, in the gift of the Vicars Choral in 1763; (fn. 136) but by 1781 the patronage had been acquired by Lord Willoughby de Broke, (fn. 137) and by 1806 it had become a perpetual curacy; (fn. 138) it is now a vicarage, in the gift of Lord Willoughby de Broke.