A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The River Leam forms the eastern and northern boundaries of the parish, and at the north-eastern corner the Oxford Canal, which runs across the parish, is carried over the river by an aqueduct. Just below this point are the church (fn. 1) and Wolfhamcote Hall, but the centres of population are the three hamlets of Sawbridge, 1½ miles west, Nethercote, 1 mile southwest of the church, and Flecknoe, ½ mile south of Nethercote. Sawbridge consists of a small group of 17th-century houses built of sandstone ashlar, one dated 1665, and a few timber-framed with thatched roofs. Most of them have been altered or partly rebuilt in brick but retain some of their original squareheaded mullioned windows with hood-moulds. Manor Farm, dated 1654, is L-shaped in plan, with a large 19th-century addition. The south front still retains some original square-headed mullioned windows of five, three, and two lights; there are two three-light on the west, and on the north a two-light. The ground floor is stone-paved throughout and the ceiling beams moulded; on the upper floor they are stop-chamfered. A little to the south there is a stable built of red brick with stone quoins, dated 1708. Flecknoe is a small village of red-brick houses with tiled roofs and a few 17th-century cottages built of stone with squareheaded mullioned windows and thatched roofs. The church of St. Mark is a small rectangular building of red and blue brick with a concrete floor and a slated roof with a small timber bell-cote at the west end. It consists of chancel, nave, vestry, and west porch and was erected in 1891. There is also a Methodist chapel dating from 1837. Flecknoe stands on a hill between 450 ft. and 540 ft., from which the ground falls steadily to about 270 ft. on the northern edge of the parish. It was presumably on the summit of this hill that the windmill stood which is mentioned as belonging to the manor of Flecknoe in 1587 (fn. 2) and 1687. (fn. 3)
The southern part of the parish was inclosed under an Act of 1744, (fn. 4) affecting 1,690 acres, (fn. 5) and its effects are visible in the long, straight hedgerows radiating from Flecknoe. Another 1,800 acres, representing 44 yardlands, (fn. 6) were inclosed under an Act of 1757. (fn. 7)
There are no roads of importance, but the former L.N.E.R. line to Rugby runs through the parish from south to north and just below the Hall is crossed, almost at right angles, by the Daventry and Leamington branch of the former L.M.S.R. (earlier L.N.W.R.), on which is Flecknoe station, 1½ miles north-west of Flecknoe village.
Besides the mill of Sawbridge (see below) there was a mill called 'Ketelesmulne' which, with its adjacent meadows, was granted in 1333 by Godfrey Halewey to Robert de Wilewys, rector of Wolfhamcote and transferred by him to William de Peyto. (fn. 8) This same rector in 1307 had had a dispute concerning the overflow of the water from his pond on to the lands of Robert de Langley, lord of Wolfhamcote. (fn. 9)
In 1086 Turchil held two estates in WOLFHAMCOTE; the larger, rated at 4½ hides, which had been held before the Conquest by Aschil, he held in demesne, (fn. 10) while the other, rated at 1½ hides and ½ virgate, was held of him by four brothers who had been the tenants under the Confessor. (fn. 11) His son Siward de Arden is said to have given the whole to Lesceline daughter of Geoffrey de Clinton, who married Norman de Verdon. (fn. 12) Their descendant John de Verdon granted the manor to Walter de Langley and Alice his wife to hold as half a knight's fee, attending his court at Flecknoe twice yearly. (fn. 13) This was probably shortly before 1257, in which year Walter and Alice had a grant of free warren. (fn. 14) Alice survived her husband and in 1295 settled the manor on her younger son Robert, whose daughter Margaret married William de Peyto. (fn. 15) In that family it remained for 300 years. When Elizabeth de Burgh, widow of Theobald de Verdon, died in 1360 the half-fee held of her by William de Peyto passed to William de Ferrers, son of Theobald's daughter Isabel. (fn. 16) Sir John and William Peyto held of Lord Ferrers of Groby in 1388 and 1411 respectively; (fn. 17) in 1487 Godith, widow of Edward Peyto, claimed a third of the manor as dower; (fn. 18) their son John divided the manor between his three younger sons Edmund, Alexander, and Francis for their lives, (fn. 19) and they were still holding it when their elder brother John died on 20 December 1553, the reversion passing to his son Humphrey. (fn. 20) In 1613 Sir Edward Peyto sold the manor to Robert Clarke, who was already the tenant. (fn. 21) Thomas Clarke the elder and his wife Elizabeth and their son Thomas were dealing with it in 1652(–3). (fn. 22) John Clarke was lord of the manor between 1769 and 1784 and Thomas between 1796 and 1798. (fn. 23) It seems to have been divided between coheiresses, as in 1817 Thomas Clarke Mather and Sarah his wife conveyed one-sixth of the manor to Edmund Burton, (fn. 24) who probably acquired the other shares, as in 1820 he and five other members of the family, including Clerke Burton, were dealing with the manor, (fn. 25) of which his widow Elizabeth was lady in 1822. (fn. 26) In 1826 Henry Bradley and Elizabeth Jane his wife conveyed the manor of Wolfhamcote to Charles Tibbits. (fn. 27) Mary Isabella daughter and heir of Richard John Tibbits married the third Viscount Hood and was lady of the manor at her death in 1904, (fn. 28) but the property was subsequently sold and the manor extinguished.
Before the Conquest the greater part of FLECKNOE was held by Alwin, or Æthelwine, father of Turchil; (fn. 29) 1 hide and ½ virgate of it descended to Turchil, (fn. 30) who also held 2½ hides which had formerly been held by Edwin; (fn. 31) another 1½ hides Alwin sold to his brother Lewin, (fn. 32) or Leofwine, who in 1086 held a further 2 hides and ½ virgate, which he claimed to hold of the Bishop of Worcester, 'but the bishop failed in his plea, so Lewin is at the king's mercy' and is entered among the minor tenants-in-chief. (fn. 33) Although Bishop Wulfstan had failed in his plea the rights of the see must later have been established, as in 1208 half a knight's fee in Flecknoe was held by Nicholas de Verdun of Aitrop Hastang, who held of the bishop. (fn. 34) This half-fee can be traced back to 1166, when the bishop's return shows such an amount held by Aitrop Hastang, though the place is not named. (fn. 35) In 1459 the manor of Flecknoe was said to be held of the Bishop of Worcester, (fn. 36) as it still was in 1576 (fn. 37) and in 1608. (fn. 38)
From Turchil the overlordship of part of a fee in Flecknoe came to the earls of Warwick, of whom Rohese de Verdon held three-quarter fee in Wolfhamcote and Flecknoe in 1235. (fn. 39) The Warwick overlordship is mentioned again in a list of about 1316. (fn. 40) A mesne lordship seems to have been held by Turchil's descendants, as in 1274 John de Verdon held half a fee, consisting of 2 ploughlands, here of Sir Thomas de Arderne, lord of Ruyton, by yearly render of a sparrowhawk. (fn. 41)
The dual overlordship resulted in the jurors at the inquest after the death of Elizabeth de Burgh in 1360 stating that the manor of Flecknoe was held of either the Earl of Warwick or the Bishop of Worcester, but of which they did not know. (fn. 42) There is a further complication introduced by the fact that in 1235 a half-fee in Flecknoe appears among the fees of Robert Musard. (fn. 43) No earlier or later reference to any Musard in this connexion is known. A mesne lordship was held by the Hastings family; in 1312 John de Hastings was seised of a knight's fee here, (fn. 44) as was his grandson Laurence de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, in 1348, (fn. 45) and it figures again among the fees of the earl in 1375, (fn. 46) in each case held by the representative of the Verdons.
As already mentioned, Nicholas de Verdon was holding Flecknoe of Aitrop Hastang in 1208, and he held of Aitrop's successor Robert Hastang in 1221, when the Bishop of Worcester sued the latter for the services due from a half-fee; Robert acknowledged that they were due but said that he could not distrain his tenant Nicholas to render them, so he surrendered his rights in the fee to the bishop. (fn. 47) In 1226 the bishop granted 3 ploughlands in Flecknoe to Nicholas de Verdon to hold by service of half a knight, Robert Hastang at the same time disclaiming any rights in the land. (fn. 48) Nicholas was succeeded by his daughter Rohese de Verdon, who held of the Earl of Warwick in 1235. (fn. 49) She married Theobald le Botiler but retained her maiden name, as did her son John de Verdon, who had a grant of free warren here in 1258 (fn. 50) and died in 1274 seised of 2 ploughlands held of the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 51) At the death of his son Theobald in 1309 Flecknoe was described as a member of the manor of Brandon and consisting of a messuage and 50 acres of arable; (fn. 52) and in 1316 the hamlet was held for life by Walter Coyne, to whom it had been leased at a rent of 40s. by the younger Theobald de Verdon, (fn. 53) who died in that year, leaving three daughters by his first wife and a widow Elizabeth, previously wife of John de Burgh. The half-fee of Great Flecknoe was at this time 'held by the free tenants there', (fn. 54) but the manor was assigned to Elizabeth de Burgh in dower, with reversion to Theobald's posthumous daughter Isabel who married Henry de Ferrers. (fn. 55) When Elizabeth died in 1360 the manor passed to her grandson William de Ferrers, (fn. 56) the halffee, still held by the free tenants, reverting to Theobald's third daughter Margery and her third husband John de Crophull, (fn. 57) after which no more is heard of it. William de Ferrers leased the manor to Peter West for life and died in 1370, when Hugh, rector of Ware, keeper of his seal, combined with two others to execute a forged release of the manor, by which it was conveyed to Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 58) It was, however, recovered by William's widow Margaret (fn. 59) and descended in the family of Ferrers of Groby (fn. 60) until 1614, when Sir John Ferrers gave it with his daughter Anne in marriage to Sir Simon Archer. (fn. 61) His grandson Andrew, in conjunction with his cousin Simon Archer and the latter's wife Elizabeth, who apparently had some right in the manor, sold it in 1687 to Thomas Reynolds. (fn. 62) By 1728 the manor was in the hands of Nicholas Masters, (fn. 63) who sold it in 1732 to John Blencowe. (fn. 64) He was lord of the manor between 1752 and 1768. (fn. 65) Later it came into the hands of Nicholls Raynsford, whose family were closely connected with the parish, (fn. 66) and he sold it in 1784 to Richard Tibbits, (fn. 67) who appears as lord between 1785 and 1798, as does Charles Tibbits in 1816 and 1828, (fn. 68) at which latter date he was also lord of Wolfhamcote (see above), with which this manor was no doubt united.
Rohese de Verdon gave to John FitzAlan, Earl of Arundel, with her daughter Maud in marriage 23 messuages and 20 virgates of land in villeinage in Flecknoe. (fn. 69) After his death in 1267 Maud married Richard de Mundeville, and in 1270 she released £20 of rents in Flecknoe to her son John FitzAlan, which at her request he gave to her stepson Richard de Mundeville and his wife Isabel to hold in tail, with contingent remainder to his own heirs. (fn. 70) His grandson Edmund, Earl of Arundel, granted these lands to John de Segrave and Christine his wife. (fn. 71) John's grandson, John de Segrave, was the first husband of Margaret, daughter of Earl Thomas of Norfolk, and apparently settled this estate on her, as at the death of her second husband Sir Walter, Lord Mauny, in 1372 he was holding the manor of Flecknoe in her right. (fn. 72) This manor passed, by the marriage of John de Segrave's daughter Elizabeth to John de Mowbray, to the Mowbray Dukes of Norfolk, and so to the Berkeleys. (fn. 73) Henry, Lord Berkeley, sold the manor in 1574 to Edward Boughton of Cawston, (fn. 74) of whom the tenants purchased their holdings, (fn. 75) so that any manorial rights were extinguished. (fn. 76)
In 1227 Nicholas de Verdon acknowledged (fn. 77) that he owed the services of half a knight to Robert Hastang in LITTLE FLECKNOE, and in 1316 Theobald de Verdon was mesne lord between John Hastang and William son of John Coyne, (fn. 78) of Western Coyne, in Little Flecknoe. (fn. 79) Theobald died shortly after this and the tenant of his half-fee was then John Coyne, (fn. 80) as he or his son (fn. 81) was in 1335, when the half-fee was assigned to Theobald's daughter Elizabeth and her husband Bartholomew de Burghersh. (fn. 82) It came, however, later to the Ferrers who held in Wolfhamcote and Flecknoe and was held of Thomas Ferrers at his death in January 1459 by 'the heir of Robert Cuny', (fn. 83) being then styled NETHERCOTE. (fn. 84) It remained in this family until 1539, when Robert Cuny the elder sold the manor of Little Flecknoe alias Nethercote to Roger Wigston. (fn. 85) Roger died in 1545, holding the manor of Sir Humphrey Ferrers as of his manor of Great Flecknoe, (fn. 86) and his son William in 1549 sold it to Elizabeth Onley and Thomas Lee. (fn. 87) He died in 1592, his heir being his nephew William Watson, (fn. 88) who is said to have sold it to Thomas Wilcox and he to Robert Clarke, (fn. 89) who was dealing with it in 1600. (fn. 90) Clarke, as already mentioned, bought the manor of Wolfhamcote in 1613, including the fee simple of Nethercote, (fn. 91) which was presumably absorbed into it.
The estate of SAWBRIDGE, rated at 5 hides, had been granted to the Cambridgeshire abbey of Thorney before the compilation of the Domesday Survey (in which it is entered under Northamptonshire) and probably before the Conquest; in 1086 it was held of the abbey by Turchil. (fn. 92) His descendant Thomas de Arderne is said to have given land here to Thorney in the time of King John, (fn. 93) and by 1291 the abbey's property yielded £8 19s. 4d. yearly, including a ploughland worth 30s., fixed rents £4 12s., a mill worth 4s., and £1 6s. 8d. for commutation of work services. (fn. 94) At the time of the Dissolution the manor was let, with the water-mill of Ryton, at £20 to Thomas Andrews. (fn. 95) His lease was renewed by the Crown and was in operation when his son Thomas died in 1594, leaving a son Euseby, then aged 15. (fn. 96) Euseby subsequently, on the advice of his uncle, Sir Euseby Isham, sold the remainder of his lease to his tenants in order to provide portions for his brothers and sisters. (fn. 97) The manor is said to have been granted by the Crown in 1598 to Ranulph Crew and Richard Cartwight, who at once conveyed it to Robert Clarke and four other persons. (fn. 98) By 1652 Thomas Clarke was holding threefifths of the manor of Sawbridge with his manor of Wolfhamcote. (fn. 99) This family continued to hold the estate, John Clarke dealing with 'the manor' of Sawbridge in 1792 and 1793, (fn. 100) after which time it was apparently merged in Wolfhamcote. The remaining portion of the original manor makes a solitary appearance in 1681 as one-sixth of the manor, being then in the hands of Thomas Curtis. (fn. 101)
Thomas Coyne of Upper Flecknoe in 1277 granted a rent of 30d. from land there to the nuns of Catesby Priory (Northants.) to support a light before the image of St. Anne in Catesby Church. (fn. 102) At the time of its dissolution the priory was receiving 6s. 8d. rent from half a yardland in Flecknoe which was in the tenure of Richard Cuney in 1553. (fn. 103)
The church of ST. PETER is situated in open fields on the eastern boundary of the county, and stands in a small churchyard. It consists of chancel, nave, north chapel, north and south aisles, tower, and south porch. The present church was built in the 14th century, the tower in the west end of the north aisle late in the 15th century, at which time the clearstory was added, the steep-pitched nave roof being replaced with one of low pitch and the west end of the nave rebuilt, including the window and buttresses. It contains some interesting woodwork of the 14th century. The walls are constructed of coursed sandstone rubble with worked dressings, the tower in ashlar; the chancel roof is tiled; nave, south aisle, and porch lead-covered; and the north aisle roofed with corrugated iron sheets.
The east gable wall of the chancel has been refaced with ashlar and a modern pointed traceried five-light window inserted; below the window there is a large stone-built vault, the full width of the chancel, which is without an inscription. The south wall has been entirely refaced with modern ashlar, a modern doorway with a four-centred arch and a two-light square-headed window inserted; a similar three-light window has a modern head fitted to its original jambs. The east wall of the chapel has a restored pointed traceried threelight window of two moulded orders and a hoodmould with return ends. The north aisle and chapel have a low-pitched roof covered with corrugated iron sheets, and the windows, two each to the chapel and aisle, have modern, rough, pointed arches worked to a splay, the mullions being extended straight up to the arches. There is a plain, low parapet to the nave roof, on a moulded string, and two square-headed windows of two trefoil lights to the clearstory, one original with a hood-mould, the other has a modern head and no hood-mould.
Built into the west end of the north aisle is a squat tower in three stages, divided by a string-course between the second and third stages, and finished with a battlemented parapet. It is built of ashlar with a diagonal buttress at the south-west angle terminating just below the string-course in a series of weathered stages; and there are similar buttresses at right angles to the west and north walls. On the north face, the belfry window has a single pointed light with a hood-mould, and below is a narrow loop-light with a pointed head. On the west side there is a pair of windows and a loop-light, and to the ground floor a pointed window which has a hoodmould without stops. The south aisle is lighted on the east by a moulded pointed window of three trefoil ogee lights, the lower part of the lights blocked and plastered over. The south side has two similar windows, with a later sloping buttress between them, and the clearstory three two-light windows similar to the original one on the north. The porch has a pointed entrance of two moulded orders, continued down the jambs, and a hood-mould with defaced stops. It has a roof of low pitch finishing on a hollow-moulded eavescourse decorated with paterae, and at the apex of the gable there is a base for a finial; the roof timbers are moulded, probably dating from the 15th century. It has ogee-headed windows on both sides, now blocked up; the doorway has a hollow-splayed pointed inner arch, with a moulded outer order having a segmental pointed arch, the mouldings being continued to the ground without stops. The west end of the nave, rebuilt in the 15th century in ashlar, has a buttress similar to that to the tower, but leaving evidence of the earlier one a little to the south. It is lighted by a window of four cinquefoil lights with a hollowmoulded four-centred head, but its hood-mould has been destroyed, leaving only the head stops.
The chancel (37 ft. 5 in. by 16 ft. 11 in.) is paved with stone, mostly memorial slabs of the 18th century, rising in three stages of one step. The walls have been rendered with cement and lined out in imitation of ashlar. It has a steep-pitched king-post roof consisting of three trusses, the tie-beams stop-chamfered with central square sunk carved panels on the undersides, shaped struts, stop-chamfered purlins, and shaped windbraces, probably 14th-century, covered with modern boarding and tiles. In the floor is a brass tablet to Thomas Benyon, died 1687, and on the walls five 19thcentury memorials to the Tibbits family, one of them to Samuel Tibbits Hood, Viscount Hood, died 1846. The modern east window has a moulded pointed rear-arch supported on small attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Opening into the chapel is an arcade of two bays of pointed arches of two splayed orders supported on an octagonal pillar with moulded capitals and bases and half-round moulded corbels; a continuous hood-moulding is carried over the arches without stops at the ends. The altar and rails are modern.
The nave (45 ft. 4 in. by 21 ft. 7 in.) is paved in a mixture of stone, concrete, and brick, the walls are plastered and it has a modern roof of low pitch with plain beams and wall-posts resting on timber corbels. The south arcade consists of three bays of pointed arches of two splayed orders, supported on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases and halfoctagon responds with capitals and bases to the inner order. The north arcade is similar, but its western bay was built up to form the south wall of the tower in the 15th century. The chancel arch is pointed, with two splays to the nave and one to the chancel, supported on moulded corbels with carved heads; above it is a painted coat of arms of Anne, dated 1702. The 15thcentury window has a hollow-moulded segmental reararch and jambs. On the north side of the chancel arch there is an octagonal pulpit with inlaid panels dated 1790, supported on a moulded octagonal stem; and by the west bay of the south arcade there is a plain circular stone font, slightly concave and tapered, with a deep lead-lined basin.
The south aisle (46 ft. 7 in. by 10 ft. 6 in.) has a similar floor to the nave, a modern low-pitched roof, and plastered walls. On the north side of the east window there is a stone bracket, splayed on the underside, and in the south wall a piscina with a pointed arch of one splay and a mutilitated basin. All the windows have splayed reveals with stop-chamfered pointed rear-arches.
The north aisle (29 ft. 9 in. by 12 ft.) has floor, walls, and roof as on the south. The tower arch is pointed, of two splayed orders on square jambs with impost mouldings. Separating the aisle from the chapel is a 14th-century carved oak screen having a door in the centre, with a moulded frame and cinquefoil traceried head. On each side there are two open panels formed by slender turned balusters resting on a plain rail and supporting trefoiled heads with plain panels below.
The north chapel (35 ft. 5 in. by 14 ft. 3 in.) has a stone-paved floor and at the east end a platform 1 ft. 7 in. high. At the east end of the north wall there is an aumbry, rebated for a door, and opposite, in the south wall, an ogee-headed piscina with a plain circular basin. The south-west corner is occupied by a large vault, 2 ft. high, dated 1830, and on the south wall there is a painted board giving a list of deaths in the Clerke family from John Clerke, first of the family to dwell in Wolfhamcote, 1537, to the last male heir who died in 1800.
There are in all eleven 14th-century benches of varying length with moulded top rails, plain panelled backs, some with vertical boarding, the others with long panels in one piece. One in the chancel has one end carved with two trefoiled panels with rosettes above but left unfinished, although the design is marked out ready for carving.
Of the bells the earliest is probably by John Sturdy of London, c. 1430; the other is by Pack and Chapman, 1780. (fn. 104)
A priest, implying a church, is mentioned in the Domesday description of Turchil's estate of Wolfhamcote, (fn. 105) and the advowson passed with the manor to the family of Langley, Robert de Langley conveying it in 1315 to John de Langley, (fn. 106) from whom it descended (fn. 107) to Joan, daughter of Geoffrey de Langley, who in 1359, being then aged 17, was wife of John de Cherleton. (fn. 108) In 1365 Joan and her second husband Sir John de Trillowe sold it to Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, and Thomas his son, (fn. 109) and Sir John Peyto released to the earl his interest in the church. (fn. 110) In 1385 Thomas, Earl of Warwick, was licensed to alienate the advowson to the Collegiate Church of St. Mary at Warwick. (fn. 111) The rectory, which was valued then, and in 1291, at £16 13s. 4d., was appropriated to the college in 1395 by Bishop Richard Scrope. (fn. 112) In 1535 the rectory was farmed at £38, out of which £13 6s. 8d. was paid to the vicar for his stipend. (fn. 113) After the suppression of the college the advowson remained with the Crown until 1584 when Queen Elizabeth granted it to Sir Christopher Hatton. (fn. 114) He died in 1592 seised of the rectory and advowson, (fn. 115) which his son Sir William Hatton conveyed in 1595 to Peter Houghton and Edward Dodge. (fn. 116) They may have been acting for Thomas Spencer who was patron from 1596 to 1606. (fn. 117) Robert Raynsford of Staverton, Northants., presented in 1621 (fn. 118) and died seised of the rectory and advowson in 1629 (fn. 119) and they descended in this family until at least 1776, when Justinian Raynsford presented. (fn. 120) Richard Tibbits was patron in 1794 (fn. 121) and it remained in this family, passing with the manor to Viscount Hood. On the sale of the estate the advowson was bought by G. S. Thompson.
An agreement was made on 5 November 1404 that the inhabitants of Wolfhamcote living near Flecknoe might have a chaplain of their own, but he should not administer the sacraments without special leave of the college. (fn. 122) Earlier, in 1360, William de Peyto had been licensed to have a chaplain celebrating in his oratory of Flecknoe. (fn. 123) According to Dugdale there were in his time 'decayed chappells' in Flecknoe, Nethercote, and Sawbridge; (fn. 124) if so, they were probably manorial chapels.