A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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This is a small parish and village on the main road from Northampton to Warwick, 2½ miles west of Southam. Two small streams rise near the centre of the parish and flow eastwards to the Itchen at Southam, and northwards to join a nameless tributary of the Leam which, with the Warwick branch of the Grand Union Canal, forms the northern boundary. On the southern edge of the parish the ground is about 400 ft. above sea level, but falls away rather sharply north of the village to 211 ft. where the Warwick road leaves the parish on the west. Ufton Wood occupies a considerable area in the north-east. A fairly important road from Harbury to Long Itchington intersects the main road at Ufton Cross, ½ mile east of the village, which is built mainly along a by-road running southwards to join this road on the southern boundary. The nearest station is Southam Road and Harbury, on the former G.W.R. main line to Birmingham. The ecclesiastical parish is larger than the civil, taking in the hamlets of Bascote Heath and Stoneythorpe in Long Itchington.
In the 1860's all the land, except about 90 acres, belonged to Balliol College, Oxford. As in most close parishes the supply of labour was barely adequate, being eked out from the larger neighbouring villages like Harbury and Southam. The cottages were better than in most of the district: they let for £2 or £3 a year with gardens and allotments. (fn. 1)
UFTON was one of the fifteen Warwickshire vills given by Earl Leofric to Coventry Priory on its foundation in 1043, (fn. 2) and it remained in monastic hands up to the Reformation, except for a temporary disturbance in the reign of Stephen. (fn. 3) It was rated in 1086 at 4 hides; the value had fluctuated from £4 before 1066 to 40s. and in 1086 100s. (fn. 4) There was a grant of free warren in 1257, (fn. 5) and in 1279 the demesnes amounted to 2 carucates; at that date there were also 4 cottars, and 30 serfs holding 15 yardlands, 6 freeholders with 4½ yardlands, and a 10-acre wood. The prior had court leet and the assize of bread and ale. (fn. 6) The total revenue derived by the priory from this vill in 1291 amounted to £21 6s., including 6s. 8d. from a windmill. (fn. 7) Licence to alienate in mortmain to the priory was granted to Thomas son of Gervase de Wauton and John de Warewell for 40 acres in 1284, to William son of Richard de Staunton for 10s. rent in 1290, and to John de Merston for 4 messuages and 44 acres in 1313. (fn. 8) A dispute as to tenure occurred in 1285, when Robert de Pinkney claimed Ufton in the right of his ancestor Gerard de Limesi, who he alleged had it in the reign of John, which was rebutted by the prior with the foundation charter and confirmations of it by various kings. (fn. 9) Robert remitted his claims and was received into the prayers of the monks. (fn. 10) Ufton was coupled with Offchurch as part of the barony of the Prior of Coventry in 1316. (fn. 11)
Ufton was not a very valuable manor, and in 1535 was worth only £20 18s. 10d. to the priory, (fn. 12) a decrease since 1291. It may be for this reason that it frequently changed hands within a few years of the Dissolution. The manor was first granted in fee, at an annual rent of 44s. 2½d., (fn. 13) to Thomas Wriothesley, Lord Chancellor, with lands in the tenancy of Thomas Lowe (two holdings), Edward Knyves (late of Thomas Aylesworth), Thomas Heycoke, and Robert Robson. Wriothesley was licensed to alienate it to William Staunford. (fn. 14) Staunford in turn passed it to Sir Andrew Flammocke and Elizabeth his wife the following year, (fn. 15) Sir Andrew dying in possession in 1549. (fn. 16) His son William made a settlement of it on his marriage (1555) to Joan (Hasilwood), (fn. 17) but in 1559 he sold it to Sir John Spencer. (fn. 18) The latter apparently settled it on his third son William, of Yarnton (Oxon.), whose son Sir Thomas Spencer, bart., was dealing with it in 1621 (fn. 19) and died in possession the following year. (fn. 20) The manor continued with this family (fn. 21) till 1674, when it was sold by William Spencer, probably a grandson of Sir Thomas's second son Thomas (who married one of the Wagstaffes of Harbury), (fn. 22) and Mary his wife to John Snell, (fn. 23) a Scotsman and graduate of Glasgow University. Snell died in 1679 having bequeathed the manor and lands, then worth about £450 a year, to the maintenance of Scottish students at the University of Oxford. (fn. 24) A decision of the Court of Chancery in 1693 directed the Snell Exhibitioners to Balliol College, in whom the manorial rights have since been vested. (fn. 25) During the 18th century the college leased them to various individuals, including Thomas Byrd (1728–30) and Jeremiah Alder of Tachbrook (1784). (fn. 26)
The church of ST. MICHAEL stands on the crest of a hill and towards the north side of the churchyard, which is banked up above the road by a retaining wall. The church consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, and south porch. There appears to have been a church here early in the 13th century, probably consisting only of a nave and chancel; the doorway in the south aisle is of this date and it was probably removed from the nave and re-erected when the aisle was built; the rest of the church is mainly 14th-century, with the exception of the belfry stage of the tower, which is 15th-century. The pitch of the aisle roofs was lowered for the insertion of clearstory windows, probably in the 16th century. In 1860 the chancel arch, porch, and the wall of the south aisle were rebuilt, and the nave re-roofed; and in 1881 the south aisle was also re-roofed.
The east wall of the chancel is built of coursed limestone rubble with red sandstone dressings and diagonal buttresses at the angles. The east window has a pointed arch in two orders, the outer moulded; it is of three pointed lights, the centre one trefoiled, running up to the head of the arch. The south side is built of coursed rubble interspersed with squared blocks. In the centre is a narrow ogee-headed doorway of one splay and a hood-mould with the stops broken off; east of the door is a square-headed window of two trefoil lights, with jamb mouldings like the east window; only a few jamb stones are original. West of the doorway there is a blocked low-side window, having moulded jambs and a pointed trefoiled head in one piece. The north side is similar, but without a doorway.
The south-aisle wall has all been rebuilt in coursed rubble; there are three modern windows, two east of the porch, the other west; that to the east is of two ogee trefoil lights of one splay with a flat head and hood-mould, the other two are similar but single lights. In the east wall there is a similar window but with three lights, and in the west wall a single light with a trefoil head with a pointed label moulding. The porch has been entirely rebuilt, with small diagonal buttresses and a low-pitched lead-covered roof. The entrance has a pointed arch of two splayed orders, hood-mould with head-stops, and a single trefoil light on each side. The south door dates from the 13th century but has been restored; it has a pointed arch of two chamfered orders, the outer resting on detached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. The capitals are decorated with a row of nail heads, the chamfer has moulded stops above the capitals, and the inner order is carried down to splayed stops; the jambs on either side have chamfers with carved stops top and bottom. The clearstory is of coursed rubble interspersed with squared blocks. There are three windows in two chamfered orders of two ogee trefoil lights, with square heads with cusped panelled spandrels, and label mouldings with return ends. The north aisle has a modern trefoil ogee two-light window with a flat head, hood-mould, and panelled spandrels, a similar window on the north, and on the west a window of two pointed lights with a pointed arch and hoodmould with head-stops. In the north wall of the nave there is a wave-moulded doorway having a pointed head and a plain label above it. West of the doorway there is a large window of three trefoil lights and trefoil tracery with a pointed arch and hood-mould. This window is modern but has an old wave-moulded rear-arch.
The tower is built of alternate wide and narrow courses of roughly squared sandstone, except the added belfry, which is dark brown sandstone ashlar. It has a moulded plinth, diagonal buttresses on the west, at right angles on the east; they rise in four weathered stages. On the west it is divided into three stages by string-courses and a weathered offset to the added stage. (fn. 27) It has an embattled parapet, of which only the lower portion of the merlons remains, and its angle pinnacles are missing; there are traces of shields in the centre merlons, and at the base of the parapet are the remains of central gargoyles on each face, flanked with carved heads in the hollow moulding. On the west side there is a tracery window to the lower stage, of two chamfered orders with two trefoil lights with a quatrefoil in a pointed head with a label moulding; the mullion, tracery, and inner order are modern; above there is a clock dial. The belfry windows are in two chamfered orders, of two lights divided by a transom with a four-centred head, the upper lights have trefoil pointed heads and the lower cinquefoil; the lower lights have been carried down into the second stage on all four faces and the offset has been dipped to form splayed sills.
The chancel (32 ft. 6 in. by 15 ft. 6 in.) has a modern open roof with curved trusses, plastered between the rafters, and the walls are plastered. The east window has a pointed moulded arch continued down to stops on a splayed cill. On the south side near the east end of the wall is a mutilated piscina with a moulded trefoiled head, traces of pinnacles on either side, and a finial above; it has a fluted basin and a stone shelf fixed half-way up the recess. The south door has a segmental-pointed rear-arch, and both the low-side windows appear as rectangular recesses. There are two steps to the altar, which is modern.
The nave (44 ft. 4 in. by 15 ft. 6 in.) has some original carved corbels supporting the modern roof, two on the north side and three on the south. Both the arcades have pointed arches of two splayed orders springing from octagonal pillars with moulded capitals, that on the north side consists of only two bays, but the western respond is a pillar half embedded in the nave wall, and the springer of another arch to the west is still in position. The other arcade consists of four bays, the eastern bay being a later insertion cut through a wall of a chapel at the eastern end of the south aisle, it springs from responds, one moulded and the other foliated. The capitals are moulded but are somewhat plainer than those on the north side. The east bay has been partitioned off to form a vestry and the organ is placed under the arch. The modern pointed chancel arch is of two splays dying out on the walls. The clearstory windows have widely splayed jambs with four-centred chamfered rear-arches, and the modern tracery window at the west end on the north side has an original wave-moulded pointed rear-arch. The pointed tower arch is lofty and of two splayed orders, the inner supported on responds with capitals and splayed bases, the outer carried down to the ground on the nave side and on the tower dying out on the walls.
The pulpit, placed to the north of the chancel arch, was made up of 16th-century carved panels from the old pulpit when its lower desk was removed and the pulpit lowered in 1860; other parts have been incorporated in the reading-desk. At the west end of the nave there are two late-15th-century benches; one has a head carved above a pierced panel, the other has a little buttress at the end surmounted by a crocketed pinnacle.
The south aisle (41 ft. 2 in. by 11 ft. 9 in.) has a lean-to roof with curved brackets to the trusses and matchboarded on the underside. The south door has a segmental wave-moulded rear-arch of later date than the doorway. Close to the east wall there is a piscina with a trefoiled head of one splay, and a modern shelf in place of the basin. The font, which is placed in the centre of the western bay of the arcade, is a modern replica of the 14th-century original. It is hexagonal, with six plain faces, and stands on a pedestal with an engaged shaft at each angle, having moulded capitals enriched with foliage and their bases covered over with a cement splay; the shafts are probably original. On the sill of the western window there is an infant's stone coffin, with a drain hole, measuring internally 1 ft. 9 in. by 7 in. wide at the shoulders.
The north aisle (20 ft. 7 in. by 12 ft. 8 in.) has a 17th-century oak panelled dado and a modern lean-to roof re-using some of the earlier roof timbers. In the east wall there is a restored piscina with a trefoil pointed arch and a badly mutilated original basin. Near this piscina there is a brass on which are the incised figures of a man and his wife, kneeling one on either side of a prayer-desk; behind the man are the figures of three sons, they are clad in cloaks and ruffles; behind the woman are four daughters in dresses with large sleeves and ruffles; the wife has a stiff hat and the daughters are in caps. There is an inscription as follows: 'Here lyeth the boddies of Richard Woddomes parson and patron and vossioner (sic) of the Chirche and parishe of Oufton in the Countie of Warrike who died one mydsomer daye 1587. And Margerye his Wiffe wth her seven childryn as namelye Richard, John, and John, Anne, Jane, Elizabeth, Ayles, his iiii daughters. Whose soule resteth with God.'
Close to the south entrance to the churchyard there is a cross, the head of which dates from the close of the 14th century. It has four panelled sides with trefoils, crocketed heads, small crocketed pinnacles at the angles, and a crocketed pyramidal top surmounted by a finial. The four panels have carved figures of St. Chad, St. Catherine, the Crucifixion, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The cross-head was dug up in the churchyard and after restoration it was provided with a new shaft and base before being set up in 1862.
The history of the church is rather confusing. Bishop Roger de Clinton who, as mentioned, recovered Ufton, is said to have constituted the church a prebend in Lichfield Cathedral; (fn. 28) and a prebendary of Ufton occurs in 1255. (fn. 29) Dugdale, however, alleges that the church, with its endowment of one yardland, was appropriated to Coventry Priory in 1260. (fn. 30) It was valued at £9 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 31) when no mention of any appropriation is made, and Ufton does not appear among the Lichfield prebends at that time. By 1319 the church had been divided into two moieties, (fn. 32) each 'esteemed to be a prebend', (fn. 33) to which the prior and convent apparently presented. (fn. 34) In 1535 the prebends of Ufton Decani and Ufton Cantoris were each worth £2 13s 4d. (fn. 35) and the church, which was appropriated to them, was served by a stipendiary priest paid out of the small tithes at £4 13s. 4d. a year. (fn. 36) The living remained a curacy in the gift of the prebendaries till the latter part of the 19th century when it was converted into a rectory. The patronage was transferred to the Bishop as ordinary under the reform of cathedral chapters enacted by 3 & 4 Vict. c. 113.
The Charity of Thomas Horley. By a Declaration of Trust dated 25 October 1877 a sum of £200 was settled upon trust, the interest, amounting to £5 3s., to be paid to the rector and churchwardens of Ufton for the purchase of coals or warm clothing to be distributed to the poor of this parish.