A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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WAPPENBURY AND EATHORPE
The parish of Wappenbury and hamlet of Eathorpe lie on the banks of the Leam, about 4 miles north-east of Leamington Spa. The river divides Wappenbury proper from Eathorpe on the east and from the parish of Hunningham on the south. Wappenbury contains the valley of a small brook rising near Wappenbury Wood in the north of the parish and joining the Leam just south-west of the village; there is a larger tributary, running more or less parallel, forming the western boundary of the parish. The northern end is mostly occupied by Wappenbury Wood, which is large (300 to 400 acres), and here is the highest ground (328 ft.); the rest of the parish is mostly in pasture. The secondary road from Leamington to Rugby takes a somewhat zigzag course across the middle of the parish, the village being about ¼ mile south of this, on a by-road. The site of the village is well adapted for defence, the north bank of the Leam being fairly steep at this point, and is surrounded by earthworks, the 'burh' which gave the village its name. (fn. 1) The village has always been a small one, there being no licensed alehouse till 1642; (fn. 2) there is now no public house here. There is a Roman Catholic chapel, built in 1849 on a site given by Lord Clifford.
Eathorpe, with a larger population than Wappenbury, is bounded on the north and west by the Leam, and on the east by that river and its tributary the Itchen, the highest ground (278 ft.) being roughly in the centre of the parish. Much of the hamlet is taken up with the grounds of Eathorpe Park and Eathorpe Hall, the latter causing a slight westward diversion of the Fosse Way, which forms the village street. The village consists of a group of 18th-century redbrick houses with tiled roofs and a few timberframed cottages. At the southern end of the village is Eathorpe Hall, a long rectangular 18th-century building of two stories, built of red brick with stone dressings, and a tiled roof. The front is symmetrical, with a central porch, rectangular windows with flat stone arches, equally spaced, and finished with a projecting cornice. There are bridges across the Itchen east to Marton, and across the Leam north to Princethorpe, and west to Wappenbury. This last-named bridge crosses by Eathorpe Corn Mill, the pond of which was famous in the early 19th century for its eels, which were very large, but 'not pleasant to look at, being not silver but spotted like serpents'. (fn. 3) At that time the Coventry road, north from Eathorpe, ran by Stonyford, which was liable to be dangerous in the rainy season. About 1819 the Rev. Mr. Williams, a Welshman and ex-fellow of Wadham who was vicar of Wappenbury, 'being much intoxicated', tried to ride through the flooded ford and was drowned. (fn. 4)
Sir Robert Viner (1631–88), Lord Mayor of London, was a member of an Eathorpe family, being third son of William Viner (fn. 5) who died in 1639 seised of tenements there, (fn. 6) which were still in the hands of the family as late as 1830. (fn. 7)
The 5-hide vill of WAPPENBURY was in 1086 held by Geoffrey de Wirce; the pre-Conquest tenant is not named. The total value in both 1066 and 1086 was 110s., of which a mill contributed 6s. 8d. (fn. 8) Geoffrey de Wirce was succeeded in his Warwickshire estates by Niel d'Aubigny, (fn. 9) of whose son, Roger de Mowbray, Thomas de Woppenberi held 5 fees de antiquo feodo in 1166. (fn. 10) The Mowbray overlordship of Wappenbury is again recorded in 1298 (as to 4½ fees), (fn. 11) 1400 (a similar assessment), (fn. 12) and 1461, when the high rating is explained by the 4 fees then recorded including the hamlet of Eathorpe and lands in six other villages besides Wappenbury. (fn. 13)
An intermediate tenancy was established in 1201, when William de Mowbray assigned the service of Richard de Wappenbury for 4½ knights' fees to William de Stuteville. (fn. 14) His granddaughter Joan, daughter and heir of Nicholas de Stuteville, married Hugh Wake, (fn. 15) and the holder of the Mowbray fees in 1298 was Baldwin Wake. (fn. 16) In 1349 Thomas Wake of Liddell was stated to hold 2 fees in Wappenbury and Fenny Neubold (Newbold Revel). (fn. 17) Through the marriage of his sister Margaret to Edmund, Earl of Kent, these fees passed to the earldom, (fn. 18) Elizabeth, dowager Countess of Kent (widow of Edmund's second son John) holding them at her death in 1411, (fn. 19) and her daughter Joan, Duchess of York, in 1434. (fn. 20) The latter left various sisters, nephews, and nieces as coheirs, and this intermediate overlordship is not further recorded.
Thomas de Wappenbury's descendant Richard was in 1208 summoned to show why he did not keep the terms of his charter made with Geoffrey fitz Piers, Earl of Essex, regarding his wood at Wappenbury, and undertook not to alienate to a Jew or to any other person so as to disinherit Thomas his son and heir. (fn. 21) This Thomas held 2½ fees of Niel de Mowbray in Warwickshire and Leicestershire at the beginning of the reign of Henry III; (fn. 22) he had sided with the barons against John and his forfeited lands were restored to him in 1217. (fn. 23) He was the holder of one fee in Wappenbury in 1235–6. (fn. 24) Thomas died without issue, leaving three sisters as coheiresses: (fn. 25) Margery, who married (? Robert) de Wassingle; Joan, whose daughter Alice married Robert Revel, or Ryvel; and Agnes, wife of (? Richard) de Beyvill. Accordingly, in 1349 Wappenbury was held of Thomas Wake by Roger de Wappenbury, Lora widow of Richard de Beyvill, and John Revel. (fn. 26) This Roger de Wappenbury, who was in 1332 the largest taxpayer in this parish, Lora de Beyvill being next largest, (fn. 27) was in fact a member of the Wassingelegh family. In 1314 Thomas de Wassingelegh entailed (his share of) the manor, subject to a life tenancy for himself, on Roger de Wassingelegh and his heirs by Maud his wife, with remainder to his own right heirs. (fn. 28) Thomas was lord of Wappenbury cum membris in 1316, (fn. 29) but the descent of this estate after Roger's death is obscure. Lora widow of Richard de Beyvill died in 1350 in possession of the capital messuage here, with 60 acres of arable land, 4 of meadow, a wood, 3 messuages, 3 cottages, and 20 acres in the common fields, without tenants owing to the Black Death, (fn. 30) which seems also to have carried off her son Richard. (fn. 31) Her grandson Robert being a child of 5, the wardship was granted to William de Peck, at an annual rent of 10 marks. (fn. 32) Robert Beyvill proved his age in 1363, (fn. 33) and in 1375 settled his third of the manor on his son Robert on the marriage of the latter to Alice daughter of John de Ryslee, (fn. 34) but the younger Robert seems to have predeceased his father.
The Wassingelegh portion of the manor seems to have come to the family of Stafford. (fn. 35) Thomas Stafford was described as 'of Wappenbury' in 1419. (fn. 36) His son Richard Stafford and Ralph Bellars were joint lords in 1431–2, the latter passing his title to Nicholas Metley six years later. (fn. 37) Metley's daughter and heir Margaret brought the manor to John Hugford, (fn. 38) whose estates were divided after his death in 1485 between his three heirs—John Beaufo, son of his eldest daughter Joan, and his other daughters Alice and Ann. (fn. 39) Wappenbury seems to have been allotted to John, who in 1512 exchanged it, with Wolston and Marston, for Emscote with his cousin John Cotes, (fn. 40) son of Alice Hugford. He at once made an exchange of this 'third of the manor' to Sir Edward Belknapp; (fn. 41) and on his death without issue the following year it passed to Philip Cooke of Gidea Hall (Essex), (fn. 42) husband of his sister and coheir Elizabeth. The manor may have been divided at this time into four parts, the other heirs being Mary wife of George Danett, Alice wife of Sir William Shelley, and Anne wife of Sir Thomas Wotton; Leonard Danett and his wife Christine conveyed a third part to Sir Anthony Cooke, Philip's grandson, in 1564 (fn. 43) and Thomas Wotton released his interest to Cooke in the same year. (fn. 44) A rent out of the manor, amounting in 1547 to £20 was granted to Richard and Joan Cooke, with reversion to Thomas Burnaby of Watford (Northants.) and contingent remainder to his brother Eustace; (fn. 45) this rent was transferred in 1547 by John Bartylmewe and Joan his wife (probably a Burnaby, the warranty being against her heirs) to William Byall. (fn. 46)
Anthony Cooke, Sir Anthony's grandson, passed the manor to Richard Fennys of Broughton (Oxon.) in 1584, (fn. 47) and the latter and his wife Constance conveyed it two years later to Thomas Morgan, when the appurtenances included two mills. (fn. 48) Morgan died seised of the manor in 1603, his heir being his brother Anthony; in 1599 Thomas had settled it in turn on his wife Mary, Anthony, and Anthony's daughter Bridget on her marriage to Anthony Morgan of Llanfihangel Llantarnam (Mon.), in tail male, with contingent remainders to various members of the family. (fn. 49) Thomas Morgan, son of Bridget and Anthony, was dealing with the manor in 1616 and in 1622, (fn. 50) and in 1634–5 was cited for recusancy; (fn. 51) he was killed at the first battle of Newbury (1643). (fn. 52) After this the manor passed by the marriage of Morgan's surviving daughter and heiress Jane to Sir John Preston of Furness (Lancs.), whose nephew and successor Sir Thomas was dealing with it in 1665. (fn. 53) The Preston family estates were divided after Sir Thomas's death (1709) between his daughters Mary and Anne, Wappenbury being allotted to the latter, who was married to Hugh, 3rd Baron Clifford of Chudleigh, (fn. 54) in whose family the manorial rights have since remained. (fn. 55)
The hamlet of EATHORPE is mentioned in 1428 as being, with Wappenbury, formerly held by Thomas Wake of Liddell. (fn. 56) From the latter half of the 16th century it is often described as a manor, (fn. 57) which has always descended with Wappenbury. In 1612 John Lapworth died seised of a messuage and lands in Eathorpe held of Thomas Morgan's manor of Wappenbury, which he bequeathed to his wife Isabel and younger son Henry in tail. (fn. 58)
A manor of Eathorpe, so-called, was in the hands of Sir Fulwar Skipwith in 1716 and of Sir Thomas Skipwith, bart., until his death in 1790, and was then held by his widow (fn. 59). On her death in 1832 it passed to Sir Guy Skipwith, bart., who was lord in 1850. (fn. 60)
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands on a slight mound in the middle of a small churchyard, with a farmhouse on the west and Wappenbury Hall, which has been entirely rebuilt, to the east. The church was built in the 13th century and then consisted of chancel and nave. Early in the 14th century a west tower was built on the south side of the nave, together with a south aisle and porch. The nave and south aisle were completely 'restored' c. 1825 (fn. 61) but were pulled down in 1886 and rebuilt in the character of 14th-century work, and at the same time a south porch and transept were added and the whole church re-roofed.
The east wall of the chancel has been almost entirely refaced and the string-course, plinth, and the coping and cross finial of the gable renewed. It has three lancet windows with the jambs and sills restored. (fn. 62) Over these windows there is a continuous hood-moulding round each arch with head-stops at the two ends. The north side is built of red sandstone rubble patched with small limestone rubble. It has three lancet windows of one splay, a moulded string-course at sill level and a plinth of one splay. The south side is similar but has a re-set doorway at the west end with a trefoil head of two splays, (fn. 63) the string-course at sill level carried over it as a pointed arch. The walls of the south aisle, transept and porch are modern, built of a reddish sandstone in squared and coursed masonry. The transept has a gable with a chimney as a finial and is lighted by a two-light tracery window with a hoodmoulding on the south, and a single trefoil-headed light on the east. Between the transept and the porch the aisle is lighted by three lancets placed close together. The porch has angle buttresses and a pointed entrance arch and an ogee-headed window on either side, that on the west being an old one re-used. Below the wallplate some old moulded stones have been used as a cornice. The south door has a pointed arch and mouldings of a 13th-century character. The north side of the nave has two single trefoil lights with pointed arches and between them a plain two-light tracery window. West of these is a doorway, projected slightly from the wall as a gable with low buttresses to give the appearance of a porch. The doorway has a moulded trefoil head and a pointed arch formed by a hoodmoulding.
The tower, which is divided by string-courses into three stages, is built of red sandstone ashlar, supported by diagonal buttresses at each corner, those on the east side coming down, the one into the nave, the other into the south porch. At the base of the tower is a moulded plinth, restored, but with some remains of the original. It has an embattled parapet, with a small turret corbelled out at the south-west angle, probably to balance the stair turret. Below the parapet at each corner are grotesque gargoyles. At the south-east angle there is a turret corbelled out for the spiral tower staircase, the corbel carved with a grotesque figure of a man lying on his chest, his chin supported on his hands. The stair is lit by a chamfered loop-light in the lower stage. The belfry windows on the north, south, and west are of two trefoil lights, of two chamfered orders, with pointed arches containing pierced cusping, and a labelmoulding above; that on the east side has three trefoil lights, with a rather flat four-centred arch and a labelmoulding. Beneath the window in the second stage is a chamfered window with a trefoil head under a square label-moulding, and near the south-east angle there is a similar light. On the south side of the lower stage is a window of two trefoil lights set in deep splayed reveals with a pointed arch, cusped piercing, and a label-moulding, with head-stops. On the east face above the modern aisle roof is the line of the lowpitched earlier roof.
The chancel (30 ft. 10 in. by 16 ft.) has a modern tiled floor, three steps from the nave, two to the altar rails, and two to the modern altar, and a modern trussed rafter roof. The three east lancet windows have trefoil rear-arches, springing from capitals, and above them a label-moulding with head-stops. The three lancet windows in each side wall have deep splayed recesses with segmental-pointed arches, and above them trefoil heads. At sill level there is a moulded string-course, which is carried over the slightly cambered rear-arch of the south door as a hood-moulding. Between the two east windows on the south side is a late-13th-century piscina, the head trefoiled in two delicately moulded orders springing from two shafts in each jamb, with moulded capitals and bases; the bowl is modern. The recess is unusually wide for a piscina, being 4 ft. 6 in. across.
The nave (43 ft. 9 in. by 20 ft.) is entirely modern, with a tile and wood-block floor and a roof matchboarded in the form of a wagon vault. The north door has a segmental rear-arch with hood-mouldings stopped on scrolls. All the windows have shouldered rear arches. The chancel arch of two orders is also modern, and on the south side of it is a modern moulded niche with a bracket. The nave arcade is in three bays in line with the tower arch, which forms a fourth; the east bay opens into the modern transept, used as a vestry and organ chamber. The arches are pointed, in two splayed orders springing from octagonal pillars with moulded capitals, the splayed bases being modern. The stone-work of the capitals and pillars has been re-dressed. The pointed tower arch is lofty and of two splayed orders supported on half-octagon responds with moulded capitals and bases. On either side of the arch are corbels carved like animals' heads, now used to support the modern roof. As the modern south aisle (20 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft. 2 in.) is lower than the original the upper part of the arch to the tower has been blocked and a modern depressed four-centred arch inserted, springing from the original moulded capitals; that on the south is carved with the face of an old man with a beard. Traces of the earlier arch can be seen under the apex of the modern lean-to roof. The windows have stop-chamfered recesses with flat oak lintels.
The tower (9 ft. 6 in. by 9 ft. 6 in.) has a modern tiled floor with three steps down into the aisle. Placed on the top step is a modern plain tapered circular stone font. The window in the south wall has a splayed recess with a stop-chamfered rear-arch. In the southeast corner there is a narrow doorway to the tower staircase, with a four-centred head. Standing against the west wall are two 13th-century coffin lids, one with a foliated cross, and the other, belonging to a child, with a plain cross; above are several 18th- and 19thcentury mural tablets. On the north side is an old plain wooden chest of uncertain date, bound with iron straps.
There are three bells: (fn. 64) (1) by Brian Eldridge, 1657; (2) by Newcombe, c. 1580; (3) by Hugh Watts, 1629.
In the churchyard opposite the south door to the chancel is the square base, on three octagonal steps, of a 14th-century cross. The angles of the base are carved with a male head and shoulders in deep relief, three of them, however, are badly mutilated. Let into the base is a short length of square-moulded shaft.
Two parts of the tithes and a mill were granted by Geoffrey de Wirce to the abbey of St. Nicolas, Angers, (fn. 65) whose cell of Monks Kirby made the first recorded presentation in 1283. (fn. 66) During most of the 14th century the patronage was with the king, owing to the war with France. (fn. 67) At the end of that century the endowments of Monks Kirby were transferred to the Carthusian priory of Axholme (Lincs.) (fn. 68) which in 1399 was licensed to transfer Wappenbury church to the abbey of Sulby (Northants.), the latter being allowed to appropriate it. (fn. 69) This transaction, however, was not actually carried out till 1453–4, when the abbot and convent of Sulby granted letters of attorney to Richard Aleynson and Thomas Layton to act on their behalf. (fn. 70) After the Dissolution the first presentation (1547) was made by Edward Sanders on the grant of Sulby abbey; in 1582 the Crown presented and in 1586 Thomas Wayse, or Wace, senior and junior, (fn. 71) members of a family that at that time held the rectory. (fn. 72) By 1745 (fn. 73) the patronage had come to the Lords Clifford, who held the manor, and before 1915 it was transferred to the Bishop. (fn. 74) The living was united with Weston-underWetherley in 1891. (fn. 75)
The value of the church in 1291 was £10, (fn. 76) and that of the vicarage in 1535 £8, (fn. 77) the rectory then being worth £5, (fn. 78) out of which 16s. 4d. was payable to the Bishop of 'Chester' (i.e. Lichfield). (fn. 79)
Mary Turner. This parish participates in the Charity of Mary Turner and receives 6s. 8d. each year, to be applied for the relief of the poor impotent and most needy people dwelling in this parish. For particulars of the charity see under parish of Marton.
Town Ground. It is not known with certainty how the land, containing 4 a. 2 r. 23 p. situate in Eathorpe and known as the Town Ground, and formerly constituting the endowment of this charity, was acquired. The land was sold in 1932 and the proceeds of sale invested. The charity is now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 24 June 1932, which appoints a body of trustees to administer the charity and provides for the application of the income, amounting to £7 11s. 8d., for the benefit of the poor of the parish.