A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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On the east and south the parish boundary coincides with that of the counties of Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. The western boundary is formed by a small stream running south from Fenny Compton Hill, on the other side of which another small stream, running north and east, forms the northern boundary of the parish. A road from Banbury to Coventry runs northwards through the centre of the parish, and ¼ mile west of its highest point (570 ft.) lies the village of Farnborough. Here, to the west and north of the church, are some ten yellow stone cottages, including the Butchers' Arms Inn, mostly with thatched roofs; two of them have 17th-century mullioned windows with labels, and doorways with four-centred heads. Separated from the village by a small road from Banbury to Fenny Compton is Farnborough Park and the Hall, which has an 18th-century yellow stone front and slated roofs. Round the Hall are Sowerland Pool and a number of other ponds. The country is undulating, mostly between 400 ft. and 500 ft., and there are several plantations and small blocks of woodland.
A certain amount of re-grouping of estates in this parish for the purpose of inclosing land by mutual consent when Sir George Ralegh was lord of the manor early in the 17th century apparently resulted in the loss of 13 houses and 200 acres of arable. (fn. 1)
In 1086 the Bishop of Chester held 3 hides in FARNBOROUGH which had been held before the Conquest by Stori. (fn. 2) In some way this passed to the family of Say of Richard's Castle and the overlordship descended in that honor. Margaret daughter and heir of Hugh de Say married as her third husband William de Stuteville, who in 1235 had three holdings in Farnborough—a knight's fee, ¼ fee, and 3 virgates of land held as ¼ fee. (fn. 3) In 1287 these were held of Robert Mortimer, (fn. 4) grandson of Margaret de Say by her second husband Robert Mortimer, (fn. 5) and in 1305 by Maud widow of Robert's son Hugh. (fn. 6) Hugh left two daughters as his coheirs and the Farnborough fees were assigned in 1309 to the elder, Joan, and her husband Thomas de Bykenore. (fn. 7) Joan subsequently married Richard Talbot and their grandson Sir John died in 1388 seised of 1 fee and 1/20 fee. (fn. 8) His estates were divided between his two sisters, (fn. 9) of whom Philippa evidently received Farnborough, as in 1397 the manor was held of her husband Sir Matthew Gournay in her right. (fn. 10) In 1400, however, the fee appears in the hands of the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 11) but in 1407 it was held by Elizabeth widow of Sir Warin Larchedekne, the other sister of the last Sir John Talbot. (fn. 12) The latest reference to the overlordship is in 1546, when the manor was held of (John Dudley) Viscount Lisle as of the honor of Richard's Castle. (fn. 13)
In 1212 the fees of the honor of Richard's Castle included ¼ fee in Farnborough held by Herbert de Muchegros, and 1/8 fee held by Robert de Mongumery. (fn. 14) The main manor, however, seems to have been granted, as 1 knight's fee, to Jordan de Say, presumably a relation of the overlord. He was living at the beginning of the reign of Henry III (fn. 15) but was dead by 1221, when his widow Julian held land in the vill. (fn. 16) Thomas de Say who held the fee in 1242 (fn. 17) was probably son of the said Jordan and father of the Jordan who was lord of the manor in 1279 (fn. 18) and died in 1305. (fn. 19) His son and heir, also Jordan, was lord of the manor in 1316 (fn. 20) and in 1322 sold the manor to John de Rale, or Ralegh, (fn. 21) a member of the famous Devonshire family. In 1342 this Sir John de Ralegh of Charles (Devon), with the consent of his son John, settled the manor on the latter's eldest son Thomas and his wife Elizabeth daughter of Robert de Evesham in tail. (fn. 22) For greater security releases of their rights in the manor were obtained shortly afterwards from Amice widow of Jordan de Say and Thomas his son and heir, (fn. 23) and also from John de Ralegh, rector of West Buckland. (fn. 24) The younger John had married Roese, a sister and coheir of Walter de Helion, (fn. 25) and was dead by 1348, when an inquiry was ordered concerning the rape of Roese widow of John de Ralegh at Farnborough. (fn. 26) In 1352 William fitz Aer released to Thomas de Ralegh all his rights in the manor of Farnborough, (fn. 27) but what those rights were does not appear. Thomas died seised of the manor in 1397, leaving a son Thomas, then aged 17, (fn. 28) presumably son of his second wife Agnes, who shortly afterwards married Thomas Wakelyn. (fn. 29) The younger Thomas died in 1404, his heir being his son William, who was then under one year old (fn. 30) and died in infancy and was succeeded by his sister Joan. She is said to have been married first to Gerard Braybrook (fn. 31) and secondly to Edward Bromflete, or Brounflete. In 1427 Edward settled on himself and his wife Joan in tail male 2/3 of the manor of Farnborough and the reversion of the other ⅓, held in dower by Joan (daughter and heir of the last Lord Astley) widow of Thomas de Ralegh and then wife of Reynold, Lord Grey of Ruthin. (fn. 32) After Joan Bromflete died without male issue, her husband Edward made an agreement in 1450 with her cousin William Ralegh that he should retain the manor for life, after which it should revert to William. (fn. 33) It then descended in this branch of the Ralegh family (fn. 34) until 1684, when John and Henry Ralegh, with certain other persons probably acting under the will of George Ralegh who had died the previous year, sold the manor to Ambrose Holbech. (fn. 35) In this family (fn. 36) it has remained for more than 250 years, the lord of the manor in 1936 being Ronald Herbert Acland Holbech.
In 1317 it was stated that Walter, Prior of Clattercote (Oxon.), acquired a messuage and 80 acres of land in Farnborough from Jordan de Say the elder, lord of Farnborough, and his tenants long before the Statute of Mortmain, namely 50 years or more ago. (fn. 37) This is presumably the 'moiety of the manor of Farnborough called Bekerynges Part', extending into Avon Dassett, Wormleighton, and Shuckborough, which was held of the Prior of Clattercote by Thomas Bekeryng when he died in 1426. (fn. 38) His father Thomas had obtained the estate by marriage with Joan daughter of Richard de Stonley; she leased it for life to John Eskhed, who had died in 1395 holding half a messuage and land in Farnborough, then said to be held of Richard's Castle. The younger Thomas then took possession, but was evicted by the guardian of John Eskhed's infant son Thomas (fn. 39) and had to bring an action to recover it. (fn. 40) Thomas Bekeryng's heir was his daughter Alice wife of Sir Thomas de Rempston, and they left three daughters, of whom the eldest, Elizabeth, married John Cheyney. (fn. 41) It was presumably through her that Sir Thomas Cheyney was holding a 'manor' of Farnborough at the time of his death in 1514; (fn. 42) it was held of Sir Nicholas Vaux (who was descended from Elizabeth, eldest daughter of John Talbot of Richard's Castle and wife of Sir Warin Larchedekene (fn. 43)) and had been settled on Sir Thomas Cheyney's daughter and heir, Elizabeth, for her proposed marriage with Thomas son and heir of Sir Nicholas.
In 1242 Nicholas de Say held ¼ knight's fee in Farnborough. (fn. 44) Nicholas, who may have been a younger brother of the Thomas who held the whole fee (see above), left a daughter Avice who married William de Halton, or Hauton, (fn. 45) and in 1247 they came to an agreement about 60 acres of land in Farnborough, by which half was assigned to them and the other half (of which the component pieces are described in detail) was divided between William de Sockburgh and Sybil his wife and William Botild and Julian his wife. (fn. 46) Avice seems to have been remarried, to Hugh de Donesden, by 1256 and was still living in 1262. (fn. 47) The ¼ fee, consisting of 2 carucates of land, was held in 1287 and 1307 by 'the heir of William de Halton'. (fn. 48) That heir was Avice's daughter Margery, who, as widow of Philip de Fillongle, in 1315 sold her lands to John de Ralegh. (fn. 49) He seems to have married Joan widow of Roger de Grey, (fn. 50) who in 1296, as a widow, had acquired 120 acres in Farnborough from John son of Simon de Sumerton and Margaret his wife, in whose right he held it. (fn. 51) Then, in 1322, as already shown, John de Ralegh bought the main manor and consolidated his estates.
In 1242 Walter de Oclinton held 1/20 knight's fee in Farnborough. (fn. 52) This is presumably the 1/16 fee, consisting of ½ carucate, held in 1287 by Henry Mile. (fn. 53) He occurs in 1290 as acquiring 4 messuages and 98 acres of land, in approximately equal portions, from three parties, presumably coheirs: Alice daughter of Anthony de Ratheby, Thomas de Belested and Hawise his wife, and John de Twengham and Agnes his wife. (fn. 54) By 1307 the 1/16 fee, then described as 2 virgates, was held by Walter le Norable (?). (fn. 55) A Walter le Onorable had acquired 1 virgate here from William de Halton and Avice in 1249, (fn. 56) John Honorable bought 28 acres from Walter de Wynthorp and Margaret in 1290, (fn. 57) and he or another John was one of the chief taxpayers in the vill in 1332; (fn. 58) Walter le Honurable and Alice his wife conveyed a messuage and 2 carucates to Ralph de Bereford in 1339, (fn. 59) after which no more is heard of the family or of the fractional fee, except that in 1388 Sir John Talbot was said to have died seised of 1/20 fee here. (fn. 60)
The chancel, nave, porch, and lower part of the tower were mainly of the 14th century, but proof of the 12th-century origin of the church is provided by the re-used remains in the chancel arch and south doorway. The proportions suggest that the nave is on the 12thcentury lines, but the chancel is obviously an enlargement. There are signs that the porch may have replaced an earlier one. The upper part of the second stage of the tower is presumably dated by the stone inscribed 1611. Several 18th- and 19th-century alterations and rebuildings have obscured the history of the development of the medieval plan. (fn. 61) A north transept was added in 1839, the chancel repaired in 1858, and the north aisle built in place of the transept in 1875 by Sir G. G. Scott, who also added the bell-chamber and spire, provided a new nave roof, and did much other restoration. (fn. 62) There are several sketches of the church showing its appearance before the later alterations.
The chancel (about 35 ft. by 17 ft.) has an east window of three cinquefoiled ogee-headed lights and foiled net tracery in a two-centred head with an external hood-mould having head-stops, and a chamfered twocentred rear-arch. It dates from c. 1340 but has been much renovated.
In the north wall are two windows; the eastern of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in the two-centred head; it is all modern. The western, of two similar lights, has a square head with an external label having head-stops: the stonework outside between the heads of the lights is trefoiled as blind tracery, all of the 14th century. The grey stone jambs of one chamfered order and the wide splays may be earlier. The two windows in the south wall are respectively like those opposite: the eastern is modern. (fn. 63) Beneath the western is a blocked, rectangular, low-side window. Between the windows is a blocked much-repaired doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head, cut later at the apex with an ogee-point.
On either side of the east window is a rectangular locker of modern or retooled stonework. Under the east splay of the south-east window and partly formed in its ledge is a restored piscina with hollow-chamfered jambs and pointed head with a hood-mould.
The walls are of coursed yellow rough ashlar. The chamfered plinths and buttresses are modern, as is probably all the wall facing except the south wall. The roof has a modern panelled wagon-head ceiling and is covered with stone tiles.
The chancel arch has been rebuilt and is all modern except the late-12th-century outer order in the west face of the two-centred head: this is square with zigzag ornament on face and soffit, meeting at the angle to form lozenges enclosing pyramidal centres, excepting the first on the north side, which has a ball centre.
The nave (about 49 ft. by 17 ft.) has a modern north arcade of four bays with octagonal pillars and twocentred arches. On the south side are three windows. The easternmost, probably of 13th-century origin but almost entirely restored, is a lancet with rebated singlechamfered jambs and an external hood-mould. The internal splays are carried down to the floor, a modern provision for the pulpit. Between it and the east wall is a shaped sinking something like part of a quatrefoil; if reset in its original position it may have served to house the end of a former moulded rood-beam.
The second window is a 15th-century insertion of three trefoiled ogee-headed lights with plain tracerylights under a square head with an external label, cut out of solid with the outer of the two chamfered orders, and having return ends. The western window may be of the 14th century: it is of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights, unpierced above, in a square head with an external label with head-stops. The jambs of one chamfered order are of grey stone, also the label, but the head is of brown Edgehill stone. (fn. 64)
The south doorway, between the second and third windows, is of 12th-century date. The jambs are treated in an exceptional manner with rustications in courses of irregular heights, having a large edge-roll to the sunken parts and a smaller but similar edge-roll to the projecting blocks. The abaci, mostly restored, are grooved and chamfered: all of a light yellow stone differing from the deeper-tinted walling. The head has a modern round outer order, enclosing an original tympanum, the face of which is carved with rows of round-topped triangular sinkings, very evenly and precisely cut. On two of the stones of the east jamb and one in the west are scratched primitive mass-dials, obviously earlier than the porch.
The rebuilt south wall is of re-used roughly-coursed squared yellow rubble with east and west angle-dressings partly restored. It has a restored chamfered plinth and a plain parapet. Above the second window is reset a large head-corbel and another over the western window. A white stone close to the latter inscribed ip id may be connected with the parapet. The high-pitched gabled roof is modern.
The aisle is 16 ft. wide—nearly as wide as the nave. It has three-light traceried east and west windows and four north windows each of two lights and tracery, all in the 14th-century style. Between the third and fourth windows is presumably a blocked doorway forming a recess inside, but there is no trace of it externally. The roof is a low-pitched gable of four bays with five trusses: three of these have 16th-century tie-beams with ovolo mouldings having die-out stops, braces, and wallposts. In the middle of the soffit of each beam is a square foliage boss. The purlins are similarly moulded. These timbers are said to have belonged to the former nave roof.
The south porch is probably of the 14th century; it has a pointed entrance of two ovolo-moulded orders with an external hood-mould. In the east wall is a window of two trefoiled pointed lights under a square head, and in the west a two-light pointed window. The walls are of dark brown fine-jointed ashlar, but in the side walls are straight joints 6 in. from the nave-wall, the 6 in. being of the same lighter-tinted stone as the nave-wall. The plinth is chamfered. At the south angles are old diagonal buttresses. On a jamb stone west of the entrance is scratched a circular sundial. The roof is modern.
The west tower (about 9 ft. square) is of three stages divided by plain splayed string-courses and has a chamfered restored plinth. The walls of the lowest and halfheight of the second stage are of coursed yellow ashlar, and the west angles have ashlar-faced diagonal buttresses of three stages reaching to the same height. The upper half of the second stage is of smaller squared stones with larger angle-dressings. The modern top-stage is also of ashlar and has a plain parapet with an enriched stringcourse. At the north-east angle is a modern projecting stair-vice. The pointed archway from the nave is of two orders, the inner moulded, divided by a threequarter hollow and dying on the responds that are of one chamfered order, all of dark-brown Edgehill stone. The west window, of the 14th century, is of two narrow trefoiled ogee-headed lights and net-traceried twocentred head with a hood-mould. The jambs and arch are of two chamfered orders and the whole of the head within the outer order is in a single piece of greybrown stone. Below it is a doorway with old chamfered jambs and a modern four-centred head in one light-grey stone. Above the west window is a tablet inscribed i.v. 1611, presumably the date of the upper part of the second stage, and in the south wall, below the lower string-course, is another tablet with the letters irv. On the south-west buttress is a 17th-century sundial. The second stage has a lower square-headed west light, mostly restored or enlarged, and upper windows (presumably to the old bell-chamber) of two square-headed lights; that in the east wall is covered by the modern nave-roof. The modern bell-chamber has pointed windows of two lights and tracery. Above the tower is a modern octagonal stone spire splayed out to square at the base. The weight of the modern bell-chamber and spire has caused the old west wall below to crack on both sides of the window and doorway.
The font has a modern bowl and stem, but the base-mould, of three rounds, and chamfered step are of the 14th century. In the aisle is an early-17th-century oak chest 4 ft. 10 in. long. The front is of three bays of butt panelling with incised diamond ornament in the panels; the lid is in four plain panels and has one lock. Some of the seats in the west of the nave have 16thcentury buttressed standards with moulded capping. In the chancel is a stone slab to George Raleigh, 1683, and his wife Dorothy (Risley), 1683 (a month later). On the south wall of the nave are several small monuments. One is to Joan (Raleigh), wife of Erasmus Hall, 1689, another to Mrs. Elizabeth Raleigh, 1676, and a third to Dorothy wife of Christopher Raleigh, 1694(5). A fourth is to Jeremiah Hall, 1711, and his wife Elizabeth, 1710. A brass plate has an inscription to Mary (Biker) wife of William Wagstaffe, died January 1666(7). It is mounted on a carved stone tablet.
Lying in the porch is the head, in hard white stone, of a large recumbent effigy of a late-12th-century or early-13th-century knight in a mail coif: the features are disfigured. It had been lying in the churchyard and it is not known whence it came. There are also other fragments of worked masonry of the 14th century.
The advowson of Farnborough church descended with the overlordship, being held by Robert Mortimer in 1286. (fn. 65) After the death of Hugh Mortimer it was assigned in 1309 to his daughter Margaret and her husband Sir Geoffrey de Cornewayle, (fn. 66) who presented in 1323. (fn. 67) By 1339 it had come into the hands of Thomas de Hulhampton and Margaret his wife, who in that year conveyed it to Sir William de Shareshull, who in the following year granted it to the Abbey of Lilleshall (Salop). (fn. 68) It was appropriated in 1345 (fn. 69) and remained in the hands of the abbey until the Dissolution; in 1535 the tithes, or rectory, were leased at £6, (fn. 70) the vicarage being then worth £5 12s. (fn. 71) The rectory and advowson were among properties granted to Thomas Cecill and John Bell early in 1553 (fn. 72) and were probably sold by them to Simon Ralegh, who presented to the living in 1569, (fn. 73) since which date the advowson has descended with the manor, until in 1933 the vicarage was united to the rectory of Avon Dassett, the patronage of the joint benefice being vested alternately in the Bishop of Coventry and Mr. R. H. A. Holbech.
Holbech, Gibbs, and Alcock's Charities: William Holbech by will dated 2 Nov. 1716 gave £30 for the poor of Farnborough, the interest to be applied in such manner as the owner of his manor-house there and the vicar, both for the time being, should think fit.
Mark Hartwell by will proved 15 Nov. 1937 gave £200 upon trust for the benefit of the aged and infirm of the parish. The legacy (less duty) was invested, producing an annual income of £6 6s. By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 21 July 1939 a body of three trustees was appointed to administer the charity.