A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Acreage: (fn. 1) 2,101.
Population: 1911, 481; 1921, 448; 1931, 466.
The eastern boundary (fn. 2) of the parish is formed by the River Avon between Chesford Bridge, described in 1664 as 'an ancient stone bridge' on the road from Birmingham to Southam, (fn. 3) on the north and Guy's Cliffe Mill on the south. Just west of the mill the road from Warwick enters the parish, running due north to Kenilworth, and on this road half-way between the two towns lies the village of Leek Wootton, on a slight hill with the church at its highest point. The houses are mostly of the 18th century, of brick with tiled roofs, though there are a few of slightly earlier date, timberframed and thatched. A little north of the church a road runs east to the hamlet of Hill Wootton, crossing a by-road to Chesford Bridge and the Coventry and Leamington branch of the L.M.S. Railway. Another road, called 'the new road' in 1867, (fn. 4) leads north-west from the village past Woodcote, where Mr. Wise pulled down the old manor-house and built a new one in 1861. (fn. 5) South of the village is Wootton Court, dating from about the same time, with extensive grounds; and south of this a stone cross on Blacklow Hill marks the place where Piers Gaveston was beheaded in 1311. (fn. 6)
The mill of 'Gibbeclive', later corrupted to Guy's Cliffe, was given by Geoffrey de Clinton early in the 12th century to Gilbert 'nutricius' of Warwick (fn. 7) and by him, with the assent of the younger Geoffrey, conveyed to Kenilworth Priory. (fn. 8) The prior held two mills there in 1279, (fn. 9) probably under one roof, as in 1291 he had one mill worth 30s.; (fn. 10) by the time of the Dissolution its value had risen to £4 13s. 4d. (fn. 11) It was bought about 1780 by Mr. Samuel Greathead of Guy's Cliffe (fn. 12) and has remained part of that estate.
In March 1669 there was much talk of a strange sound 'like the beating of drums in a march or call' heard in a well belonging to one Nibbs at Hill Wootton; which sound was said to have been heard in 1642, when it continued 14 days, and on his Majesty's return. (fn. 13) What it prognosticated on this occasion remains a mystery.
The early history of Wootton is obscure. Dugdale identified it with Earl Roger's holding of 'Quatone', (fn. 14) entered towards the end of the list of his estates in Domesday Book; but Eyton produced good evidence for this referring to Quatt in Shropshire, to which county the three entries which follow it undoubtedly belonged. (fn. 15) It is possible that the unidentified 'Optone', (fn. 16) a member of the king's manor of Stoneleigh, is a scribal error for 'Odetone'. This seems the more possible as 'Optone' was held, as 3 hides, by Albert the clerk in frankalmoin and there were two priests there, while we find later that Wootton was the mother church of Leamington, Ashow, Lillington, Milverton, and Cubbington, and was endowed with 3 hides, 1 in Wootton and 2 in Lillington. (fn. 17) Certainly it was among the estates which Henry I bestowed upon his chamberlain Geoffrey de Clinton, who gave the church of WOOTTON with its lands to his new foundation of Kenilworth Priory, reserving only certain pieces of woodland for his park. (fn. 18) Odo de Turri and his son William gave to the priory lands which are described in the confirmation charter of Henry II as being in Wootton; (fn. 19) in the confirmation by Geoffrey de Clinton, (fn. 20) son of the founder, they are called 'the land of the Heath (Brueria), from Holebroc (fn. 21) to the Avon and as far as Ashow, and beyond Holebroc from the road from Coventry to Warwick by Rincuei (fn. 22) cutting across Longedon to the road from Wootton to Kenilworth by Hineleford'; also meadow 'from Woodcote meadow as far as the cliff (fracturam rupis) of Culfreclive'. Odo also gave the land of Smedehul for the soul of his son Robert. In 1279 the Prior of Kenilworth was one of the four lords of Wootton, his portion being called the Cross Grange, with 2 ploughlands in demesne, 4 freeholders, and 10 bond tenants; (fn. 23) the value of the land in 1291 being £2 10s. and of the stock on it 20s. (fn. 24) By this time the distinctive form LEEK WOOTTON was coming into use. (fn. 25) After the Dissolution the manor of 'Lekewotton otherwise called Crosse Graunge' was valued at £16 15s. 1d. (fn. 26) It was leased in January 1541 to Andrew Flammock and Elizabeth his wife for 43 years, (fn. 27) and was granted in 1553 to John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 28) Apparently it was settled on his wife Joan, as after his attainder she surrendered it to the Crown in June 1554 in exchange for other lands. (fn. 29) By this time Flammock was dead, and the reversion of the manor was sold to Sir Rowland Hill and (his brother's son-in-law) Thomas Leigh, alderman of London. (fn. 30) From this time it descended with Stoneleigh (q.v.) in the family of Leigh.
A knight's fee in Wootton was held of the Earl of Warwick and may therefore have derived from one of Turchil's estates, possibly that of Ashow. It was held for some time by the Savages of Baginton (q.v.), but its early history is confused. In 1190 Richard de Frevill was claiming the fee against Geoffrey le Salvage, (fn. 31) to whom Thomas de Arden granted the fee in 1196. (fn. 32) In 1203 Henry de Armentiers sued Geoffrey for the Wootton fee as having belonged to his grandmother Isabel and his father David. (fn. 33) Next year Geoffrey acknowledged Henry's right to the fee and paid 10 marks, in return for which Henry granted him onethird of the fee in demesnes, rents, and services, with the whole of the chief messuage. (fn. 34) Geoffrey Savage held the fee of the Earl of Warwick in 1235, (fn. 35) and in 1242 his heir was said to hold it of Thomas de Clinton, who held of the earl. (fn. 36) When William Savage died in 1259 he was seised of two-thirds of Wootton and 'Hulle', held of John Peyvere as one knight's fee. (fn. 37) This estate passed to his sister Philippa, wife of Hugh Meynill, and in 1279 she was jointly responsible with Robert Mortimer, the Abbot of Stoneleigh, and the Prior of Kenilworth for the service of one knight to the Earl of Warwick; at this time she had the right to hold a court leet and the assize of bread and ale, and had appropriated fishing rights in part of the Avon. (fn. 38) Her lands descended to Sir Hugh Meynill, who is said to have sold a moiety of the vill in 1350 to Henry, Earl of Lancaster; (fn. 39) after which it descended with Kenilworth (q.v.) until 1915, when the manor was sold by the Earl of Clarendon to Lord Leigh.
Robert Mortimer in 1279 was holding one-third of a mill, of which the other two-thirds were held by the Abbot of Stoneleigh, who also had the fishing rights on one bank of the Avon from Holebrok to Gibbeclive (Guy's Cliffe). (fn. 40) This was evidently the mill of Yartford (probably where the lane to Chesford Bridge crosses the 'Holebrok', or Cattle Brook), of which Geoffrey son of Geoffrey Savage gave two-thirds, with the suit of his men of Hill and Wootton, with twothirds of the croft lying between the Avon and the Coventry-Warwick road and of two inclosures of meadow belonging to the mill; the remaining third being given to the abbey by Sir William de Wholton before 1326, when both gifts were confirmed, with others, including one by Thomas de Edensore (nephew and co-heir of William Savage) of his land in Hill Wootton. (fn. 41) At the Dissolution the water-mill called Wodmyll and lands and meadows in Hill Wotton called Yatesford, late of Stoneleigh, were granted to James Cruce. (fn. 42)
In 1086 the Count of Meulan had two separate holdings, each of 1 hide, in WOODCOTE. Of these one, which had been held by Cantuin and Turbern before the Conquest, he held in demesne; (fn. 43) the other, formerly held by Leuric, was held of him by Gilbert, whose tenants included 'a knight'. (fn. 44) It was probably the demesne hide of which the overlordship passed to the Earls of Warwick. It was held with Fulbrook (q.v.) as half a knight's fee and was in the hands of William de Turvill in 1190, when he mortgaged his land here to Richard Kent. (fn. 45) His co-heirs Simon de Turvill and Roger de Craft held the half fee in 1235, (fn. 46) as did Roger de Craft and John Mace in 1242. (fn. 47) In 1279 their representatives (fn. 48) Henry Hubaud, Hugh de Herdebergh, Robert rector of the church of Bedworth, and Denise Mace were returned as lords of UPPER WOODCOTE, held of the Earl of Warwick as onefifth fee. (fn. 49) Hugh's share was represented in 1325 by rents in Woodcote held by his heir (fn. 50) Alice and her husband John de Peyto, (fn. 51) who conveyed them in 1339 to Sir Walter Hopton and Joan his wife; (fn. 52) but Thomas Hubaud is said to have held one-sixth fee of the earl in 1466. (fn. 53)
The overlordship of the other hide, held by Gilbert, passed to the Earl of Leicester, who held Woodcote in 1174, (fn. 54) and he probably enfeoffed Robert Boteler of Oversley, as his son Ralph Boteler in 1212 granted the whole vill to John Belet, to hold as one-quarter knight's fee. (fn. 55) In 1279 this quarter fee of LOWER WOODCOTE was held by Robert Masse of Robert Boteler, who held it of the Earl of Leicester. (fn. 56) The overlordship passed to the Earl of Lancaster, of whom it was held by William Boteler in 1330. (fn. 57) The tenants in fee at this time were Sir John Mauduit of Somerford and his (second) wife Agnes, who in 1328 (fn. 58) and again in 1333 (fn. 59) settled a carucate of land and 6 acres of meadow in Woodcote on themselves in tail male, with contingent remainder to John de Moleyns and Gille his wife (daughter of Sir John Mauduit by his first wife). Sir John died in 1347 (fn. 60) and Agnes in 1369, (fn. 61) and the estate then passed to the Moleyns family, Gille's son Sir William dying in February 1381 seised of rents in Woodcote held of the Duke of Lancaster. (fn. 62) His great-grandson's daughter Eleanor in 1440 married Sir Robert Hungerford and, after his attainder in 1464, Sir Oliver Manyngham, (fn. 63) and her granddaughter Mary married Sir Edward Hastings. Their son George, created Earl of Huntingdon in 1530, sold the manors of Woodcote and Burton Hastings (q.v.) to Thomas Harvey. (fn. 64) He left four daughters as his co-heirs: Dorothy wife of William Croftes, Lucy wife of Thomas Cotton, Joan wife of Hugh Haselrigge, and Barbara wife of John Fowler. (fn. 65) Barbara's daughter Ann married John Noel, and in 1626 William Noel conveyed a 'manor' of Woodcote to George Weale. (fn. 66) Thomas Cotton and Lucy bought quarters of the manor from Thomas Croftes and Francis Haslerig in 1565, (fn. 67) and their great-grandson Sir Thomas Cotton, bart., was dealing with three-quarters of the manor in 1637, (fn. 68) as was Thomas Cotton (? his grandson by his second wife) in 1691. (fn. 69) In 1730 the site of the manor was held by the Mallory family, (fn. 70) and in 1783 Robert Harvey Mallory was dealing with it. (fn. 71) On the death of Robert Mallory in 1820 it came to his daughter Harriet Ricardo, who sold it in 1851 to Henry Christopher Wise. (fn. 72)
The manor of Woodcote was acquired by Henry Wise in 1709 (fn. 73) and remained in his family (fn. 74) until the death of George Wise in 1888, when it passed to Maj.-Gen. Sir George Waller, bart. (through the marriage of Catharine, eldest daughter of the Rev. Henry Wise to his father, Sir Thomas Wathen Waller, bart.), from whom it descended to Sir Wathen Arthur Waller, bart., (fn. 75) who died in 1947.
The two Woodcotes are among the hamlets mentioned by John Rous at the end of the 15th century as having been completely depopulated. (fn. 76)
The Count of Meulan held 1 hide in 'Rincele' (Rinsell, Rouncil, or Roundshill) which in 1086 was uncultivated woodland. (fn. 77) This may have been the hide in 'Hetha' given apparently by the count's brother Henry, Earl of Warwick, to the church of All Saints and by his son Earl Roger in 1123 to his College of St. Mary at Warwick. (fn. 78) Part of this land, lying on either side of the Holebrook, was granted, as already mentioned, (fn. 79) by Odo de Turri to Kenilworth Priory as 'the land of the Heath'. In 1279 Thomas de Edensore, one of the Savage co-heirs, was 'lord of the Heath (Bruera)', (fn. 80) but there seems no reason to accept Dugdale's identification of this with the Leek Wootton Heath, (fn. 81) the evidence pointing to its being part of Baginton.
The church of ALL SAINTS is situated on a slope at the south end of the village on the west side of the Warwick-Kenilworth road, in a small churchyard. The old church was pulled down in 1789 and the present church built on the site in the gothic style near the close of the 18th century. It has since been restored and added to; a new chancel was built in 1843, the roof raised in 1864, and in 1889 the nave was lengthened. It now consists of chancel (28 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft.), nave (57 ft. by 27 ft.), west tower (13 ft. by 13 ft.), vestry, and south porch.
The chancel is built of light-coloured sandstone ashlar with angle buttresses, and below the east window is a two-light window to a chamber built to make up for the fall in the ground from west to east. The nave is also of ashlar, but of a less regular character than the later chancel, and has a plain parapet with crocketed pinnacles at intervals. The windows are all of a late gothic character. The chancel and nave both have open timber roofs of a steep pitch covered with tiles. The tower is in three stages with moulded stringcourses at each stage and angle buttresses reaching to the base of the parapet, which is battlemented, with crocketed pinnacles at the angles. The south porch has angle buttresses and a tiled roof. The vestry is on the north side of the chancel. The pulpit is modern panelled oak, and the oak chancel screen was erected in 1929; an octagonal, panelled, stone font is placed under the tower arch. No trace of the earlier church remains, but in the churchyard is a 12th-century tapered circular font and part of a stone coffin. There are a number of 18th- and 19th-century mural tablets.
The plate consists of chalice with cover, tazza with cover, and a flagon, all silver-gilt, presented by Alice, Duchess Dudley, hall-mark 1638. This exceptionally magnificent set is identical with the set given to Kenilworth at the same time. (fn. 82)
The registers begin 4 July 1581.
The church of Leek Wootton was given by Geoffrey de Clinton to the Priory of Kenilworth, with the chapel of Leamington and pensions from the formerly dependent chapels of Ashow (20s.), Cubbington (½ mark), Lillington (½ mark), and Milverton (1 mark). (fn. 83) In 1204, when the knight's fee of Wootton was in dispute, the prior registered his claim to the church, (fn. 84) and this was acknowledged in the settlement of the dispute. (fn. 85) The church was appropriated to the priory and was valued in 1291 at £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 86) In 1535 the rectory was farmed for £12 (fn. 87) and the vicarage was worth £5 12s., in addition to 8s. paid for procurations and synodals. (fn. 88) The vicarage was among those augmented, to the extent of £20 yearly, by Lady Alice Dudley. (fn. 89) After the Dissolution the advowson followed the descent of the Grange manor, being now in the hands of Lord Leigh.
Upon a tablet in the belfry of the church it appears that a person, whose name and date of gift are not known owing to mutilation of the tablet, gave 40s., the interest to the poor for ever.
That in 1713 Samuel Mallory gave £10, the interest to the poor for ever.
That in 1717 James Hickin gave £12, the interest to the poor half-yearly.
That in 1759 Robert Mallory gave £16, the interest to be distributed half-yearly.
The endowment of the charities is now represented by a sum of £109 10s. 5d. 2½ per cent. Treasury Stock 1975 or after, and the income thereon amounting to £2 14s. 8d. is remitted to the vicar of Leek Wootton and two persons appointed by the parish council, the trustees of the charities.
Alice, Duchess Dudley. For particulars of this charity see under parish of Ashow. The share of the charity applicable for this parish consists of one-seventeenth part of the income, amounting to £37 13s. 4d. annually, to be applied under various heads for the general benefit of the poor of the parish.
Church Land. By an Inclosure Award dated 27 March 1822 two allotments in Leek Wootton were awarded to the vicar and churchwardens upon general terms and without any particular trusts. The land was sold in 1876 and the proceeds of sale invested. The annual income of the charity amounting to £3 4s. 10d. is used for general church purposes.
John Stanley Ledbrook by will dated 15 May 1930 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £100 2½ per cent. Consols, the income to be applied for the benefit of the poor of the parish.