A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Newnham Regis is a parish, small both in area and population, 3½ miles north-west of Rugby. It is bounded on the south by the Avon, on the west by the Fosse Way, and for a short distance in the north-east corner it is crossed by the Oxford Canal. A few small streams rise in the northern part and flow to the Avon, and the ground level varies from about 250 to about 300 ft. above sea-level. There is some woodland, including the large All Oaks (a corruption of Hall Oaks) Wood. (fn. 1) Part of the northern boundary is formed by a minor road from Brinklow to Cathiron, and parallel to this another by-road crosses the centre of the parish, throwing off a branch to the very small village, where it divides, one lane going to Bretford and one to the bridge over the Avon and Church Lawford.
The decline of the village took place in the late 16th century, and is attributed by Dugdale to the inclosures carried out by the then lord of the manor, Sir William Leigh (fl. 1564–97). (fn. 2) It was at this time, however, that the mineral springs in the east of the parish became of some eminence, John Gifford of Chillington (Staffs.), a recusant, being allowed to resort there for his health for 14 days in 1581, and again for an unlimited time in 1586. (fn. 3) In 1587 Dr. Walter Bayley, physician to the Queen, published A Brief Discours of certain Bathes . . . neere . . . Newnam Regis. (fn. 4) Camden (fn. 5) describes them as 'three springs . . . whose water, of a milky colour and taste is accounted good against the stone. It certainly is extremely diuretic, heals and closes up wounds presently, taken with salt purges, with sugar binds.' As there is no reference to these springs in Dugdale, their vogue seems to have been short, though there is a reference to 'the famous spring of medicinal water, commonly called the Bathe well' as late as 1699. (fn. 6)
As late as 1672 there were enough Dissenters for the house of Abraham Worth at Newnham Regis to be licensed for Presbyterian worship, (fn. 7) but already in 1653 and 1666 it was a decaying place with 'few or no poor', and was ordered to contribute 12d. weekly to the support of the poor of Rugby. (fn. 8)
In 1710 the Newnham Regis estate of the Dukes of Montagu comprised 20 properties worth £749 18s. 8d., with £881 1s. of woodland; there were then 1,072 acres of pasture and 196 of river and upland meadow, as against only 83 arable. (fn. 9) Another survey, undated but circa 1717, shows 19 tenants of 1,363 acres, valued at £837 1s. 4d.; there was also woodland 43 acres in extent, not valued, and 10 acres of 'waste', including fishponds and roads. (fn. 10)
Hall Farm is a plain square red-brick building of two stories and attic with a tiled mansard roof, built about the middle of the 18th century, probably on the site of the demolished Hall, of which no trace remains except the 16th-century dovecot, a little east of the farmhouse. The dovecot is unusually large, with a steeppitched tiled roof, and consists of a rectangular building, two stories high, divided by a thick wall into two apartments, each 19 ft. square internally. It is built of squared and coursed limestone with red sandstone dressings and has buttresses at the angles of the east wall. There is a three-light square-headed mullioned window in each of the gables, two modern windows in the east wall, and on the north two large modern doorways to admit carts. All the walls, on both floors, are lined with nests built of brick, each tier being separated by a narrow course of stone. On the ground floor the nests have been blocked with modern brickwork.
NEWNHAM REGIS or KING'S NEWNHAM is not mentioned in Domesday Book, unless the hide held by Ansegis of Geoffrey de Wirce in Newnham Paddox includes this Newnham also. (fn. 11) It must have been before the Conquest that the place was part of the king's property, as its name and popular belief in 1275 asserted that it had been, (fn. 12) for between 1123 and 1129, when Geoffrey de Clinton granted it to his newly founded priory of Kenilworth he was holding the manor of Hugh son of Richard as a fee of Roger, Earl of Warwick, who agreed to forego all secular services. (fn. 13) The tradition of royal overlordship, however, persisted as late as 1285, when it was alleged to have belonged to Richard I. (fn. 14)
The priory lands were in 1199 increased by a virgate granted by Isaac son of Richard. (fn. 15) The prior had court leet, assize of bread and ale, and other manorial privileges in 1285; (fn. 16) and in 1291 the estate included 4 plough-lands worth £6, a mill worth £1 13s. 4d., rents, &c., producing £3 12s. 9d., and stock valued at £2. (fn. 17) In 1525 the monastic property was leased for 51 years by William Wall, the abbot, to George Dawes and Katherine his wife, for £17 2s. yearly for the site of the manor, the demesnes, the pasture called Cathiron, four closes and crofts, 60s. for the 'Mylehowse' (i.e. mill house) and mill, the Holme and fishing rights, and £4 for the grain tithe. (fn. 18) The total value, including the rectory (£4), was in 1535 £47 1s. (fn. 19) which had decreased to £39 5s. 11d. for the year ending Michaelmas 1547. (fn. 20) The manor was retained by the Crown till 1553, when it was granted to John, Duke of Northumberland, for 58s. 7d. yearly, (fn. 21) and on his attainder to Sir Rowland Hill, William Hill his brother, and Thomas Leigh, of London. (fn. 22) It then included a coney warren besides the appurtenances leased to Dawes in 1525. Leigh, who became a knight and Lord Mayor of London in 1558, obtained sole possession and settled it on his younger son William. (fn. 23) The latter dealt with it in 1597, (fn. 24) and Sir Francis Leigh, William's son, who died in 1625, settled the manor on his eldest son Francis at his marriage (1617) with Dame Audrey Anderson, daughter and coheir of Lord Boteler of Brantfield. (fn. 25) The younger Francis was raised to the peerage as Baron Dunsmore (later Earl of Chichester); he was a keen royalist and died in 1653. His earldom passed by special remainder through his daughter Elizabeth to her husband Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. (fn. 26) Their daughter Elizabeth married Ralph, 1st Duke of Montagu, whose son John was dealing with this manor in 1716. (fn. 27) By the marriage (1767) of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, to Elizabeth, daughter of George, Duke of Montagu, (fn. 28) the manor passed to the Buccleuch dukedom, Charles William, Henry's son, being vouchee in a recovery of 1814. (fn. 29) Lord John Scott, brother of the 5th duke, held the lordship in 1850, (fn. 30) and the duke was lord of the manor and sole landowner in 1900. (fn. 31)
The church which stood about a quarter of a mile west of the village was still in use in 1730, when Dr. Thomas wrote: (fn. 32) 'The seats are very handsome; on the walls of the Church are painted in fresco the four Evangelists in full proportion, on the northside wall of the Chancell, the offerings of the wise men, and on the south wall, the taking down of our Saviour from the Cross.' It was, however, with the exception of the tower, entirely demolished about the middle of the 18th century. The tower now stands in the rick-yard of Hall Farm, the ground floor being used as a chicken house. It is built of roughly coursed limestone rubble with red sandstone dressings and rises in four stages, diminished at each stage by weathered offsets. The upper stage has been rebuilt, and the walls, especially at the angles, repaired with red brickwork. All the floors are missing, but it has a modern roof covered with slates. There are twolight square-headed windows to the third and fourth stages on each face and narrow lights to the second stage on the north and south, that on the north being round-headed. The tower arch has been rebuilt with a round head and above it there is the line of a steeppitched nave roof. It is difficult to assign a date to this tower, the square-headed mullioned windows appear to be insertions, but the narrow round-headed window, which has a widely splayed recess with a round-headed rear-arch has the appearance of late-12th-century work. Within the site of the nave there is an elaborate 19thcentury brass, in the character of the 17th century, placed there in 1852 to mark the spot where Lady Audry, Countess of Chichester, was reburied with other members of the family after a clearance of the site. It has an inscription copied from the one on her lead coffin. This inscription, together with one other, is now lying in one of the adjacent farm sheds, they read as follows: Incised inscription on lead: 'Here is enclosed the body of Mrs. Audrey Leigh, eldest daughter of Francis, Lord Dunsmore, who died 28th January 1640.' Cast lead inscription: 'Here lieth ye body of ye Lady Audry, Countess of Chichester, wife to Francis, Earl of Chichester Lord Dunsmore, the best of women she changed this life for a better the 16 day of September 1652.'
In the farm-house garden there is a font, pillar piscina, and stoop. The font is octagonal with plain sides and a square base, splayed at the angles; the stem is missing. The piscina has a circular shaft with moulded capital and base on a half-octagon pedestal, shaped to fit into an angle. The stoop has a square rim with a circular bowl splayed below to an octagon.
The church was probably given to Kenilworth Priory along with the manor by Geoffrey de Clinton, being appropriated to the priory by Bishop William (1215–24) 'for the support of the poor and of hospitality'. (fn. 33) In 1291 it was valued at £5. (fn. 34) The vicarage was worth £5 in 1535. (fn. 35) The rectory and advowson descended with the manor, an arrangement that lasted after the union of the living with that of Church Lawford in 1595. (fn. 36)