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) 1,787½.
The parish is bounded on the east by the River Avon and on the west by the River Sowe, and the presence of these streams accounts for the unusually large amount of 27 acres of meadow recorded in the Domesday Survey. (fn. 2) At a point where the Sowe makes a deep bend to the west the village, with the church, Rectory, and Hall, stands on a plateau some 70 ft. above the river. A little to the west of the church are the earthworks which mark the site of the former Castle. It was here that Henry, Duke of Hereford (afterwards King Henry IV), lodged before setting out to meet the Duke of Norfolk outside Coventry for the duel which King Richard II so ill-advisedly stopped; (fn. 3) and here the Earl of Northumberland was imprisoned after the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403. (fn. 4) By Dugdale's time there were hardly any remains of the buildings visible.
The castle ruins consist of the basement of a rectangular building, probably 14th century, with a projecting stair-turret on the west and divided into five vaulted apartments, the responds still being in position. It is built of sandstone ashlar and the remaining walls are from 2 to 6 ft. high. As the site has only been partially excavated, further buildings may eventually be exposed. Except for traces of a moat on the south side, the outer defences seem to have been obliterated.
The plateau on which the village lies was geologically suited for early settlements, some 30 ft. of glacial gravels and sands overlying sandstones and clays, thus providing a well-drained soil with plentiful water at a shallow depth. The upper sand and gravel have mostly been removed by quarrying, yielding a few palaeolithic implements and more of the neolithic period, the most important of these being a hand-axe, from the Craig Llwyd district in North Wales. A prehistoric track from North Wales to the Midlands is thought to have passed through Baginton. Isolated finds of a decorated beaker and a 'bucket urn' have been made, but no traces of actual settlement in the Bronze Age have been found. (fn. 5)
During the Roman period there was a settlement here lasting from the 1st to the 4th century, of which five wells, all lined with sandstone, have been discovered. This was followed by an Anglo-Saxon settlement, a cemetery of about the end of the 6th century having been found behind the Post Office. This yielded some 60 cremations and a number of inhumations, with the usual grave furniture and an exceptionally fine bronze hanging bowl. (fn. 6)
In 1086 there was a mill worth 10s. 8d. here, (fn. 7) and this is mentioned in later records (fn. 8) and was probably on the site of the Baginton Corn Mill, close to the bridge over the Sowe. (fn. 9) It is probably the 'Overcorne myll' owned by Francis Goodere in 1545, (fn. 10) when he also held the 'Netherwalke myll', or fulling-mill, which was 'below the place where the castle once stood' (fn. 11) and was still working in 1656. (fn. 12) It is not clear whether a watermill called an 'edge tole mille', in the tenure of Edward Waye in 1545, (fn. 13) was another mill or if the corn mill had been temporarily converted for grinding tools.
The parish must formerly have been more wooded than now. In 1246 Robert de la Bruere was said to have assarted and stubbed a great part of the common, (fn. 14) and in 1539 Baginton was the main source of timber for St. Mary's College, Warwick, and there were coppices, saleable at 16 or 17 years' growth, worth £3 or £4 a year. (fn. 15) Of the existing spinneys, the Grove may be either the Mylgrove or Aishegrove, mentioned in 1545. (fn. 16)
In 1086 BAGINTON was among the estates of Turchil and was held of him by Alwin; it had been held before the Conquest by Archil and was rated at 4 hides. (fn. 17) The overlordship passed to the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 18)
Turchil's grandson, Henry de Arden, is said to have granted Baginton, which Roger de Wirenhale held of him and of his father Siward, to his sister Felice to hold by the yearly render of a hawk. The manor returned to Henry and was given by him in marriage with his sister Lettice to Geoffrey Savage. (fn. 19) It then descended with Baddesley Ensor (q.v.) (fn. 20) and on the death of William Savage in 1258 passed to his nephew Thomas de Ednesor, being then held of Sir Thomas de Arden as half a knight's fee. (fn. 21) In 1279 Thomas de Ednesor had here in demesne 1 carucate and 1 virgate, his 12 freehold tenants having 11½ virgates, and 12 villeins the same amount; he had also a park of 4 acres, rights of free warren, a fishery in the Avon from Finford Bridge to the bounds of Stoneleigh, and on one side of the River Sowe; court leet, assize of bread and ale, and gallows. All of these liberties he claimed to hold by warrant of a silver cup that Henry I gave to Lettice daughter of Siward de Arden, who was his concubine, (fn. 22) and in 1285 he duly established his claim to them by prescription. (fn. 23) In the same year he died, leaving as coheirs his sister Amice, wife of Sir Walter de Miridene and previously of Andrew de Derleye, aged 50, and Richard de Herthill, grandson of his other sister Joan, aged 18. (fn. 24) Baginton was assigned to Amice, on whose death in 1302 it passed to Richard de Herthill. (fn. 25) He died in 1325, at which time he was said to have held the manor by service of going with the Earl of Warwick to wars in Wales at the earl's cost. (fn. 26) His grandson Sir Richard Herthill sold the manor to Sir William Bagot, (fn. 27) who was a strong supporter of Richard II but was later received into the favour of Henry IV and died in 1407. Sir William left an only daughter Isabel, wife of Thomas Stafford, but in 1417 Baginton was sold to Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 28) His successor Richard Nevill, Earl of Warwick, with his wife the Countess Anne in 1471 conveyed the manor to the Dean and Chapter of St. Mary's collegiate church at Warwick, (fn. 29) in whose hands it remained until the college was dissolved in 1544. In 1535 the estate was yielding £24 14s. in rents, (fn. 30) and in 1539, when Thomas Cromwell tried to obtain the manor for William Nele, John Wetwood, the president of the college, replied that they could not spare it, as it was their only source of timber for repairs to their churches and houses, and also contained a stone quarry useful for the same purpose. (fn. 31)
In April 1545 the manor of Baginton, with all its appurtenances, was granted to Francis Goodere. (fn. 32) He died in December 1546, leaving a son Henry, aged 13. (fn. 33) When Sir Henry died in 1595 he had settled the manor on his daughter Frances and her husband (and cousin) Henry Goodere in tail male, (fn. 34) but they sold it in 1618 to William Bromley. (fn. 35) His son William suffered for his support of Charles I (fn. 36) and was knighted at the coronation of Charles II. (fn. 37) His son, also William, was a prominent politician, being Speaker of the House of Commons in 1709 and Secretary of State. (fn. 38) He died in 1732 and the male line ended with the death of his great-grandson William Davenport Bromley in 1810; his sister Lucy, wife of Capt. Cromwell Price, at her death in 1822 left the manor to her cousin the Rev. Walter Davenport, (fn. 39) who assumed the name of Bromley, and with whose descendants it has remained, the lord of the manor in 1948 being Brig.-Gen. Sir William Bromley Davenport, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.
Another reputed manor of BAGINTON was in the hands of Sir John Smith and Agnes (Harewell) (fn. 40) his wife in 1537, (fn. 41) and was held by their great-grandson Sir Francis Smith at his death in 1629, (fn. 42) when it passed to his eldest son Charles, later Viscount Carington. In this family it remained until at least 1745, when Anne, Viscountess Carington, was lady of the manor. (fn. 43) After her death in 1748 it was probably sold, Sir John Mordaunt appearing as lord in 1779 and Francis Seymour Conway, Marquess of Hertford, between 1787 and 1824, (fn. 44) after which date it has not been traced.
Henry de Arden gave to the canons of Kenilworth Priory a meadow in Baginton, between the quarry and the ford of Flitenemede, (fn. 45) which gift was among those confirmed by Henry II. (fn. 46) Other lands in the parish were acquired by the canons and in 1291 their property here was yielding some 40s. in rents. (fn. 47) In 1538 they conveyed their Baginton property, exclusive of the advowson, to Thomas Staples for life. (fn. 48) After the Dissolution it was acquired by Joan (or Jane) Winter and her nephew Ralph Underhill, (fn. 49) and on 1 January 1552 was settled on Ralph and his wife Mary, and his heirs. (fn. 50) He died in 1555, when it passed to his brother Edward. (fn. 51)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST is situated 2½ miles south of Coventry in a cul-de-sac on the western outskirts of the village, surrounded by a large churchyard. The church consists of chancel, nave, a double north aisle, vestry, and bell-turret. It dates from the early 13th century, with the addition of a second north aisle, probably about the middle of the same century. It presents some unusual and interesting features, a double aisle, duplicated chancel arches, and a bellturret built on the east wall of the nave.
The east wall of the chancel has two modern buttresses and the upper part of the gable is rebuilt in red sandstone ashlar. The east window, which is a modern restoration, has a triple lancet with moulded arches supported on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. On the south side at the west end there is a narrow low-side square-headed window, splayed all round. Close to this window is a 13thcentury doorway with a moulded pointed arch with a hood-moulding, supported on half-round shafts with moulded capitals and bases; the shafts, capitals, and hood-moulding are recent restorations. A lancet window with a hood-moulding has its glazing, but is blocked on the inside. The wall is built of red sandstone rubble patched with ashlar and supported by a modern buttress at the east end. On the north side a wide buttress has been added at the east end. The vestry seems to have been built as a north chapel and is probably contemporary with the added north aisle. It has a small twin lancet window on the east and a triple on the north, both with heads out of one stone.
The south wall of the nave is built of red sandstone rubble patched with ashlar and has a modern buttress near the west end. It has two modern tracery windows with two trefoil lights, pointed arches of two splays, and hood-mouldings. In the centre there is a 13thcentury doorway with a roll-moulded pointed arch and jambs, blocked with masonry, and provided with a modern hood-moulding. At the east end is a very wide and massive buttress to take the thrust of the chancel arches, and there is an angle buttress at the west end. The west wall is of roughly coursed rubble with a plain coping to the gable. The west doorway is probably 14th century and has a moulded pointed arch and jambs with a modern hood-moulding, and above it a recent circular window enclosing a quatrefoil. The west gable of the north aisle has been refaced with a light-coloured sandstone and has low buttresses north and south. It has a single-light ogee-headed window in the centre. On the north side is a blocked doorway having a pointed arch with a chamfer continued down the jambs; the blocking includes the tracery of a two-light 14thcentury window. It has three single lancet windows, the one to the west being a modern restoration. It is built of light-coloured sandstone ashlar with buttresses at both ends; the one on the east built of red sandstone. On the east side there is a 13th-century two-light pointed tracery window of two splayed orders, the outer one being very deep, built of red sandstone.
A two-bell turret, built of red sandstone ashlar, has a square base corbelled out on the east and west sides of the nave wall above the chancel arches. From the square base it goes into an octagon by means of splays at the angles surmounted by a short octagonal tapered spire with roll-mouldings on each of its angles and a moulded string-course at the base. In the square base there are single trefoil lights with ogee heads on the cardinal faces and above them, at the base of the spire, trefoil canopied steeple lights. The spire has a weathervane with the cut initials I.H.S.
The chancel (24 ft. by 13 ft. 9 in.) has oak wainscot panelling, altar table and altar rails with turned balusters, all put in when the chancel was beautified in 1723. The floor is stone-paved in lozenges, with one step to the altar. The east window has a pointed rear arch of two splays, and the low-side window a deep splayed recess with a flat head. The roof is a modern one of the trussed rafter type. Fixed to the south wall in a stone slab is a large early-15th-century brass, enamelled with red and black, of a man and woman. He is in full plate armour, with sword and dagger, and wears a jupon charged with his arms, a cheveron between three martlets; his feet rest on a lion. She wears a long mantle, and a crespine head-dress; at her feet are two little dogs. Each wears a collar of SS. The marginal inscription, shown by Dugdale (p. 235) as partly imperfect, is missing, but a modern tablet states that they represent Sir William Bagot and Margaret his wife who lived at Baginton Castle in 1400. He died in 1407. There are several mural tablets of the 17th and 18th centuries to the Bromley family, whose vault occupies the east end of the north aisle. Behind the wainscot on the north side there is a wide blocked opening with a pointed arch of two splays extending nearly the whole length of the vestry. This suggests that the vestry was originally a north chapel open to the chancel.
The nave (34 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft.) has a plaster-vaulted ceiling concealing an open roof, and the floor is stonepaved in lozenges. At the west end there is a late-18thcentury oak-panelled gallery now used as an organ loft. The modern windows have deep, splayed recesses with pointed arches. The arcade, which dates from early in the 13th century, has three bays with pointed arches of two splayed orders resting on circular pillars with moulded capitals and bases; the capitals, however, are not sufficiently wide to take the outer splays, which are carried on crude corbels formed at the junction of the outer members by stops to the splays. The respond at the west end is a half-round and a repeat of the outer splay of the arch with a moulded capital and base. The east respond and part of the wall have been hacked away. The chancel arches are an unusual arrangement of two sets of triple arches, 3 ft. 6 in. apart, with arched soffits. On the nave side are three tall equal arches of two splays; the outer splay overlaps the narrow piers, which have no capitals, and the inner splay continues to the floor. On the chancel side the arches are similar but lower and were originally in the form of unglazed windows, the wall forming the sill having been removed. There are no responds, the splays dying out on the wall. In each of the two long narrow piers there are traces of blocked openings with flat chamfered heads. The splays of the arches to the nave have painted decorations, probably 14th-century, in dark red, consisting of rosettes on the outer arches and vine scrolls on the centre arch. Above the north arch to the chancel there are traces of lettering, and on the north jamb of a figure. The soffit of the southern arch is also decorated with rosettes. There are some traces of similar decoration on the splays of the east arcade arch. This arrangement of arches and piers is to support the bell turret.
The original north aisle (39 ft. by 4 ft. 8 in.) is very narrow and from the evidence and the presence of two arcades there is little doubt that the later arcade was built up against the nave wall, which was finally removed when the new aisle was practically completed; in which case the original aisle would have been 7 ft. 6 in. wide. This method was probably adopted to enable the church to continue functioning during the alteration.
The north aisle (39 ft. by 11 ft. 8 in.) is paved with stone slabs; one has the matrix of brasses representing a male and female with two children below. The whole of the east end is blocked by oak panelling 6 ft. 6 in. high enclosing a stone vault with the following inscription on the frieze in large Roman capitals—repositorium bromleyghorum An: Do: 1677. Towards the east end is a tomb recess, half of which is blocked by the Bromley vault. It has a segmental-pointed arch, with one splay, containing a sepulchral slab with the lower half of a cross in low relief still visible. The late-13thcentury arcade is of three bays with pointed arches of two splayed orders, the pillars repeating the splays with moulded capitals and bases; the base of the east pillar is 10 in. higher than the others. Both the capitals and bases have been somewhat mutilated. The three lancet windows all have shouldered rear-arches to widely splayed recesses, the east window splayed jambs with a pointed arch, and the west window recess has a segmental-pointed arch. In the east window is a 15thcentury stained glass shield of Sir William Bagot and a 17th-century shield of Bromley. On the north side of the east window there is a carved corbel representing an angel holding a blank shield, and the apex of a pointed arch in the arcade wall is just visible above the top of the vault. The ceiling is plastered, concealing what is evidently a trussed rafter roof.
The seating is late-18th-century oak-panelled box pews, most of them retaining their contemporary brass candle-holders. The pulpit is placed in the south-east corner of the nave and is contemporary with the pews. A modern octagonal stone font is placed at the west end of the nave.
Of the two bells, one is uninscribed and the other was cast by one of the Newcombes. (fn. 52)
In the 12th century, when the church of Stoneleigh was given to Kenilworth Priory, the chapel of Baginton was attached to it; but in the reign of John, when the priory appropriated the mother church, the chapel was allowed its independence, subject to the payment of 20s. yearly to Kenilworth, (fn. 53) who retained the advowson. In 1291 the church of Baginton was rated at £4 13s. 4d., (fn. 54) and in 1535, when it is definitely styled a parish church, at £8 1s. 8d. in addition to the annual pension of 20s. to the canons of Kenilworth. (fn. 55) At the Dissolution the advowson and this pension came into the hands of the Crown, and in August 1544 were granted to Thomas Broke, merchant tailor of London, (fn. 56) who in the following May had licence to alienate them. (fn. 57) He probably sold them to Joan Winter and Ralph Underhill, who had bought the other Kenilworth property in the parish (see above), as in 1555 Joan Winter presented to the rectory, as did Edward Underhill in 1557 and 1560, (fn. 58) Ralph having died in 1555 seised of the advowson jointly with Joan. (fn. 59) Sir Henry Goodere had obtained the advowson by 1584, when he presented, (fn. 60) and since then it has descended with the manor.
In February 1292 Amice de Derleye had licence to alienate 1 carucate of land and 30s. rent in Baginton to a chaplain to celebrate in the parish church there. (fn. 61) Presentations to this chantry at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr were made by the Herthills between 1305 and 1381, and by William Bagot in 1384 and 1392. (fn. 62)
It would seem that for a while after the advowson came into lay hands the rectorial endowments were separated from the church, as Dugdale states (fn. 63) that the benefice 'was served by stipendiaries without any certain allowance' and also without a residence until 1628, when Katherine Bromley, mother and guardian of William, allowed Mr. Thomas Gibson, to whom she had given the living, to have the tithes and to live in the house on Underhill's Farm, which has continued to be the Rectory. Her son Sir William ratified this agreement and further endowed the benefice.
Sir William Bromley. By a deed dated 8 June 1675 it was recited that two rent-charges, each of 10s., issuing out of the rectory at Baginton and the mill there respectively were granted to the lord of the manor of Baginton and the churchwardens and overseers, to distribute the same yearly on 1 January to the most necessitous poor of the parish, and a further charge of 20s. issuing out of the rectory to give the same yearly on 1 January to some worthy orthodox divine to preach a sermon on that day.
Daniel Morgan by will dated 15 February 1713 gave to the churchwardens and overseers of Baginton £10, the interest to be disposed of annually amongst the poor of the parish in bread on 10 March; and a further sum of £10, the interest to be paid to the minister of Baginton for preaching a sermon on 10 March, 'on which day', he says in his will, 'I was seized by a devouring Wolfe, and was by the Providence of Almighty God delivered out of his clutches, which I desire may be expressed by the Minister in his Sermon'. (fn. 64) The residue of his personal estate he gave to his executor in trust to dispose of amongst the poor people of this parish.
Mary Turner by will dated 24 September 1607 charged certain property in Solihull, in the County of Warwick, with the annual payment of the sum of £3 6s. 8d. for the relief of the poor impotent and most needy people dwelling in the parishes of Kenilworth, Styvichall, Baginton, Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton, Wolston, Stretton, Marton, and Wappenbury. The sum of 6s. 8d. to be paid to the churchwardens and overseers of each parish for distribution in accordance with the directions contained in the will. The rentcharge was redeemed in 1923 in consideration of a sum of £133 6s. 8d. 2½ per cent. Consols, producing £3 6s. 8d. annually.
The above charities are now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 2 February 1915 under the title of the United Charities. The scheme appoints a body of trustees to administer the charities in three branches, to be called respectively: The Ecclesiastical Branch; The Apprenticing Branch; and The Poor's Branch.
The scheme directs the payment of the income of the Ecclesiastical Branch, amounting to £1 10s., to the Rector of Baginton; that of the Apprenticing Branch, amounting to £10 7s., in putting out apprentices to some useful trade; and that of the Poor's Branch, amounting to £6 15s. 4d., for the general benefit of the poor.