A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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The tiny village is mostly set about a triangular green, south-east of the church at the junction of three roads, that leading to the north finishing at the church. The River Stour flows west of the village and the road to the south crosses it by a bridge of c. 1685, built of ashlar stone with four very small arches and with ball-ornaments on the parapets.
The oldest house seems to be 'Magpies', a former farm-house facing east towards the green. The walls are of timber-framing of the first half of the 16th century. The plan of the original part is L-shaped, the long wing extending northwards and the short wing having a gable-end flush with its east front. The lower story is of fairly close studding, the upper of square framing which in the short south wing and its gablehead is filled with herring-bone work. The infilling is of plaster. The doorways and window-frames have been renovated. The roof is covered with stone tiles. The main rooms have heavy chamfered ceiling-beams and exposed rafters and wide fire-places with oak lintels. In the upper story is a fine cambered tie-beam and other ancient timbers.
Two cottages opposite, north and south of the green, more or less reconditioned, are of coursed stonework and have 17th-century mullioned windows with labels to both stories. In the northern, by the park gates, the upper are in semi-dormers and the roof is red-tiled. The southern also has a moulded doorway with a label, and its roof, covered with stone tiles, has gabled dormers.
Farther east on the south side of the roadway is Honington Lodge, built of light yellow rough ashlar. The east half of the house has 17th-century windows of dark Hornton stone with labels, but they have lost their mullions, and there are two blocked doorways. The house was restored in 1910 and probably all the west half is of that period.
To the north of the park (fn. 1) is 'Deer-Keeper's Lodge', of mid-late-17th-century date. It is of two stories, the upper with three flush gables in front. The walls are of coursed and squared light rough ashlar with darker stone dressings and a plain string-course at the firstfloor level. The eaves and gables have moulded copings. The comparatively tall windows have moulded architraves and sills and are of two lights with transoms to the lower range. The middle entrance in the front has a similar architrave and over it a headlight ranging with the windows. The interior has a vaulted cellar and some 17th-century panelling.
Honington Hall, north-west of the church, was built about 1685 by Sir Henry Parker in place of an earlier one. In 1737 the estate passed to the Townsend family, who made considerable alterations. These included the erection of a great octagonal salon at the back in place of an earlier salon and loggia: the basement of the last was retained but its colonnade was rebuilt in front of a garden house to the north-west of the Hall. The main block was of simple plan, having a central hall between side-wings which project slightly on the east front and contain the other two most important original rooms of the ground floor, the Drawing Room in the south wing with a boudoir behind (west of) it and the Dining Room, now the 'Magistrate's Room', in the north wing with the original main staircase behind it. There seems to have been a rectangular salon behind and of the same length as the hall with the loggia in front of it. With the remodelling of c. 1745 it was abolished and the domed octagonal salon, 30 ft. diameter, was built projecting for three-quarters of its size from the main west front and with windows in its three outer faces. The space between it and the hall was made into a lobby with north and south two-bay colonnades that divided it from side-chambers, all between the original north and south wings. The southern side-chamber, that has its north-west corner splayed by the wall of the octagonal salon, contains the main staircase of this period with open iron-work balustrades. A middle doorway opens into the lobby from the hall and the same wall is also pierced with quasi-windows to the side-chambers.
The walls are of red brick with rusticated stone angle-dressings and stone-framed sash windows, the lower windows with bracketed drip-stones. The bracketed eaves-cornices are of wood. Over the upper windows close below the cornices are fillings-in rather than lintels, of white stone about a foot high, which are apparently later insertions and suggest that the walls and the first-floor ceilings were heightened a little at some later 18th-century period. The entrance in the middle of the east front has side-pilasters and a curved broken pediment with a cartouche of the arms of Townsend. In the east and south fronts, above the ground-floor windows, is a series of busts of ancient Roman celebrities backed by round-headed niches, probably part of the 18th-century embellishments. The roofs are hipped and are covered with slates. In them are square-headed dormers. The chimney-stacks of brick are plain, except the 18th-century pair on the south wall which are panelled.
Most of the internal decoration is of the 1745 period, including much ornamental plaster work done by Italian craftsmen. The hall has an overmantel with a plastered panel of a classical scene, the doors have entablatures with amorini, and over them are similar panels, and there is an ornate ceiling. The boudoir also has an elaborate ceiling. The Drawing Room, however, is lined with bolection-moulded panelling of the 1685 period, but its chimney-piece is of the later date. The interior of the octagonal salon is lavishly treated and the dome has a painted pictorial centre. The original main staircase has heavy turned balusters, &c., and on the first landing is a wall recess for a former 'grandfather' clock.
As a contrast to the lower ceilings, the upper ceilings are severely plain, probably because the rooms were heightened at some later period. The attics show no distinctive roof construction. One small room in the south wing on the first floor has large wall panels of 17th-century stamped leather depicting Chinese subjects.
The stables north-east of the house are probably of the early 17th century with walls of coursed yellow ashlar and with a middle arch carriage-way made in the 1685 period. A granary north of it is of late-16thcentury red brickwork, and an octagonal dovecote, of stone, is also probably earlier than the house. It has the original stone nesting-boxes, and the central post with the revolving ladder for access to the nests.
The entrance to the grounds, on the north side of the village green, is of the 1685 period. It has four gateposts: the inner and taller pair are of brick with vermicular stone quoins and probably of 1685. The outer and lower pair, to the footways, are of ashlar probably of the 18th century. All have like entablatures with ball-heads, and in the friezes is applied ornament—carvings of heads between swags of drapery.
When Earl Leofric in 1043 founded the Priory of Coventry he endowed it with 24 vills, of which the first to be named was HONINGTON, (fn. 2) and it was therefore among the estates of the priory in 1086, when it was rated at 5 hides. (fn. 3) In 1257 the Prior of Coventry had a grant of free warren for this and other manors, (fn. 4) and in 1285 he established the right of his house to have gallows, view of frankpledge, and other franchises here and elsewhere. (fn. 5) Six years later the manor, including 3 carucates of land, was valued at £4 14s. (fn. 6) There appears to have been some unrest in the manor in 1412, when it was alleged that the bondmen and tenants of the Prior of Coventry in Honington had combined to refuse their due customs and services. (fn. 7) At the time of the Dissolution the manor was farmed at £16, the rents of customary and other tenants amounted to £22 17s. 2d., and with the mills, rectory, and other sources of income the whole estate brought in about £50. (fn. 8) It was granted in 1540 to Robert Gibbes (fn. 9) who died in 1557. (fn. 10) His son Robert was twice married; his son by his first wife, Anthony, (fn. 11) died without issue and the estate passed to Sir Ralph Gibbes, Robert's son by his second wife. (fn. 12) Sir Ralph made a settlement of the manor at his marriage with Gertrude daughter of Sir Thomas Wroughton, (fn. 13) and was succeeded by his son Sir Henry in 1618. (fn. 14) Thomas Gibbes, his son, was dealing with the manor in 1668, (fn. 15) and not long after this date it was bought by Sir Henry Parker, bart. (fn. 16) He died in 1713 and was succeeded by his grandson Sir Henry John Parker, who sold the manor in 1737 to Joseph Townsend. He married Judith Gore and their son Gore Townsend died in 1826. His son Henry on his death in 1873 left his estates to his nephew Frederick Townsend, (fn. 17) at whose death, without issue, in 1905 they came to Sir Grey Skipwith, bt., a descendant of Harriet, daughter of Gore Townsend. (fn. 18) Mrs. Horton was lady of the manor in 1936. (fn. 19)
In 1236 the Prior of Coventry had 1/10 knight's fee in Honington which was held by Geoffrey de Wilnhal. (fn. 20) This is presumably the 1/10 fee in BROADMOOR which was held of the prior in 1242 by William de Timor and John de Brademor. (fn. 21) In 1279 no tenant is mentioned, but the prior was said to have six bond tenants in Broadmoor; (fn. 22) Nicholas de Trimenel, however, one of the prior's free tenants in Honington, was said to hold 7 virgates as 1/10 fee, (fn. 23) which may have been here. Broadmoor is called a hamlet of Honington in 1316; (fn. 24) and was the site of a chapel of St. Denis which was included in the grant of Honington to Robert Gibbes in 1540. (fn. 25) The chapel is mentioned in 1683 as having been converted into a cottage, (fn. 26) and its site is still known as the Chapel Field.
There were in 1086 in Honington 4 mills worth 54s. 4d. (fn. 27) In 1291 the prior had 2 mills here valued at £1, (fn. 28) and in 1540 the mills were farmed for £3 5s. 4d. (fn. 29) Three watermills are mentioned in 1578, (fn. 30) and two in 1597, (fn. 31) and these two were leased by Henry Gibbes in 1620 to Sir Thomas Temple and Thomas Gibbes for 30 years at a peppercorn rent. (fn. 32) In 1741 (fn. 33) and 1809 (fn. 34) the appurtenances of the manor included 4 water cornmills, 4 fulling-mills, and 3 dove-houses.
The structure was rebuilt, except the tower, about 1680 and is reminiscent of the plainer of the Wren churches in the City of London. The tower is an unusual example of a rebuilding in the 15th century on older foundations with the re-use of windows, &c., of the late 13th century.
The nave (about 48 ft. by 18½ ft.) has north and south arcades of four bays with round heads of square section with panelled soffits; the white-stone columns are cylindrical, with partly square-moulded capitals enriched with egg and dart and other ornament, and moulded bases on high plinths partly encased in wood. The chancel arch is of similar detail.
The semi-circular apse (about 12½ ft. diameter) has a wide round-headed single light in the middle, and there are similar windows at the ends of the aisles, and four each in the north and south walls. Under the westernmost north and south windows are the squareheaded doorways.
The coved ceiling of the nave is plastered, the middle part being divided into panels with moulded ribs. The apse has radiating main ribs. The flat aisle-ceilings are plain. The roof over the nave is a high-pitched gable covered with stone tiles and with a stone cross at the apex of the east end.
The west tower (about 12 ft. east to west by 11 ft. inside) is of three stages with plain weather stringcourses. The walls are of deep yellow Cotswold stone ashlar and have at the west angles diagonal buttresses to the two lower stages and square buttresses projecting north and south at the east angles. The masonry of these buttresses of the 15th century courses in with the walling, whereas none of that of the earlier windows does so. There is no plinth, but the west wall, only, has a scroll-moulded string-course at plinth level, like that to the south wall of Halford church.
The archway in the east wall is of the late 13th century and of three chamfered orders, the head being sharply pointed and of small voussoirs. The outer order on the tower side, which is hollowed, dies on the tower walls. The archway is concealed on the nave side by the large monument described below. In the south wall is a doorway made when this blocking was done. In the west wall is a wide pointed light of the late 13th century with moulded jambs of two orders and a hoodmould with mask-stops. The lower part of the light is blocked.
The second stage has west, north, and south windows of one light with pointed heads, with weatherworn remains of foiling indicating that they were originally traceried. The bell-chamber has pointed late-13thcentury windows, the jambstones of which, like those below, all break joint with the wall-masonry. They are all of two lights, but the heads are varied. The eastern has cinquefoiled pointed heads and a quatrefoiled spandrel, the north and south have trefoiled heads and a foiled circle in the main head. The west has trefoil-headed lights with a trefoil over each and a plain spandrel in the main head. All the windows have hood-moulds with mask-stops.
The parapets are of the late 17th century or 18th century. They are plain, with moulded copings, and have intermediate and angle pilasters, above which the moulded copings break forward. Above the angles are square pinnacles with ogee hood-moulded gables and topped by panelled heads of obelisk form with foliage finials and arrow-vanes.
In the chancel are contemporary communion-rails with twisted and carved balusters, and two high-backed chairs. The quire-stalls have original pierced foliage panels in the upper parts and fielded panels below. There are two high pews of similar type at the west ends of the aisles but most of the other pews have been cut down from their original height; some retain the pierced foliage frieze-panels.
The hexagonal pulpit has sides with fielded panels; the angle-posts are carved with pendants of fruit and flowers and have carried brackets to support the bookrest. It was carried on a central post which is now reduced to a capital and base only.
The font has a moulded small bowl with reeded and gadrooned underside, a slender stem and a moulded base in which the bowl-ornament is repeated. It is of a fine-grained white Italian stone and probably imported.
Against the west wall of the nave is a large monument of white-veined marble to Sir Henry Parker, bart., who married Margaret Hyde and died 25 October 1713, and his son Hugh, who married Joan Smyth and died 2 February 1712(3). Their statues stand upon a pedestal engraved with the inscription and with lofty pilasters on either side supporting an architectural setting with a cornice on which are two shields of arms. On the wall to the south is a full achievement of arms.
There are 12 other later memorials to members of the Townsend family: the earliest is to Joseph Townsend, 1763, an ugly white marble monument with a large cherub, seated on a pedestal, a skull, books, and foliage, all in a square-headed recess.
There are six bells, the treble of 1810, the fourth of 1726, and the other four by Matthew Bagley, 1687. (fn. 35)
The communion plate is silver gilt; it consists of a large cup with paten cover, and a tankard-shaped flagon, with an angel for thumb-piece, made in 1684 and given in 1686 by Sir Hugh Parker, bart., whose arms they bear; also a paten given at the same time by Barbara Hyde, and an alms plate of 1696. (fn. 36)
The church descended with the manor throughout. It was assessed at £10, with an additional £2 for tithes assigned to the Priory of Coventry, in 1291. (fn. 37) The monks were allowed to appropriate the rectory by Bishop John de Thoresby in 1351, assigning a yearly salary of 10 marks to the vicar and a payment of 1 mark to the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 38) The royal assent to the appropriation was given in 1356. (fn. 39) In 1535 the rectorial tithes were farmed for £8; the pension payable to the bishop was then 26s. 8d., with another 20s. to the Prior of Coventry, and 7s. 2d. to the archdeacon. (fn. 40) The rectory and the advowson of the vicarage were included in the grant of the manor to Robert Gibbes in 1540, and remained attached to the manor. In 1930 the living was united with that of Idlicote.
Richard Badger's Charity. An account of this charity is given under the parish of Barcheston. This parish receives an annual sum of £17 16s. 9d., representing the church share, and a like amount representing the poor's share.