A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Wolvey is a large parish and village on the border of the county 5 miles south-east of Nuneaton. It is watered by the head streams of the River Anker, rising near Wolvey Farm in the south and Wolvey Wolds in the south-east of the parish. The north-east and southern boundaries, with Leicestershire and Withybrook, are well defined by the Watling Street and a long shelter-belt of trees respectively, but the remainder are extremely irregular, the Monks Kirby hamlet of Copston Magna jutting into the eastern side of the parish, which on the west includes parts of the Bulkington hamlets of Bramcote, Ryton, and Wolvershill and is closely adjoined by Shelford in Burton Hastings. Though the situation is on a watershed the ground is fairly level, the extreme heights being about 450 ft. at the south-east corner beyond Wolvey Wolds Farm, and 311 ft. where the Anker leaves the parish on the west. There is very little woodland except for the plantations surrounding Leicester Grange at the north end.
There are no railways or canals, but Wolvey is very well supplied with roads, the chief of which are the main road from Coventry to Leicester, crossing the parish from south-west to north-east and leaving the parish at Smockington, a hamlet on the Watling Street, well known in the early 18th century for its inns, (fn. 1) the upper road from Lutterworth to Hinckley, crossing the former north-east of the village, and a road from Nuneaton crossing Wolvey Heath and linking these two. Other roads run from the village westwards via Bulkington to Bedworth; from the Coventry road south-east to Withybrook and eventually Rugby; and from the Lutterworth road eastwards to Copston Magna and High Cross. The village, though scattered, is a large one, formerly the scene of a weekly market and a fair on St. Mark's Day, the latter being held as late as 1830. (fn. 2) Wolvey Heath, just north of the village, was the scene of a public execution in 1555, when Lady Smyth was burnt to death for the murder of her husband Sir Walter Smyth of Sherford. (fn. 3) The actual scene was a circle of raised ground, visible in Dugdale's time, about 100 yards south of the 'vestigia of a moat, a pool and an old house within it', which still exist, marking the site of a medieval hermitage. (fn. 4)
Wolvey Hall, at the southern end of the village, was rebuilt in 1889, but the staircase and some oak panelling were re-used from the earlier hall, which was rebuilt in 1677. In one of the windows there are some fragments of late-16th-century coloured heraldic glass from the still earlier hall. The staircase which leads from the ground to the first floor is in three flights separated by landings. It is of oak, with plain massive square newels, moulded handrails and strings. The balustrades of the two longer flights each consist of two carved spiral scrolls, the short flight a single scroll, and at the first-floor landing is a central carved urn with scrolls in the corners and the date 1677 on the urn. The strings have a battlemented top moulding, the newels four-sided ogee-shaped finials and pendants, the pendants pierced with a heart on each side. The stair is continued to the second floor with square newels, moulded handrail, and delicate turned balusters, dating from the 18th century. At the foot of the staircase there is a 17th-century balustrade with a moulded handrail and twisted balusters, part hinged, to give access to a cellar stair.
In the grounds, close to the road, is Jacob's Well with the ruins of a masonry well-head piled over it. Among the stones is a carved reclining figure holding a pitcher which formed the outlet, and above it the date 1707.
The open fields of the parish, still commemorated in Wolvey Fields Farm a mile south of the village, remained till at least 1794 when they amounted to 2,524 acres; there seems to have been no general Inclosure Act for the parish. (fn. 5)
The repair of Goose Bridge, carrying the WolveyBulkington road across the Anker, caused disputes between these two parishes between 1659 and 1664. It was at first declared to be an equal charge on the two parishes, and later each was ordered to repair its own part, but the bridge was still not repaired in 1664. (fn. 6)
WOLVEY in 1086 was assessed at 5½ hides, held of the king by Robert de Vesci, Alric son of Meriet having held it freely before 1066. (fn. 7) The overlords of the vill in later times, however, were the Earls of Warwick. Earl William in 1166 stated that Ivo de Harecurt held 7 fees de vetero feffamento, but that his father (Earl Roger) had transferred (the overlordship of) 3½ fees to the Earl of Leicester (fn. 8) —from whom it descended to the Earls of Winchester, so that the overlordship was shared by the two earls. Ivo's great-grandson Sir Richard de Harecurt in 1242 held of the Earl of Warwick a half and a fifth of a fee in Wolvey and Copston. (fn. 9) The monks of Combe held 1 fee of the Earl of Warwick in 1235; (fn. 10) they also in 1271 held 2 of William de Harecurt in frank almoin, excepting scutage, and he held of the Earl of Winchester, (fn. 11) who had held a quarter of a fee in Wolvey, tenant not stated, in 1235. (fn. 12) On the death of the last Quency Earl of Winchester (1264) his estates were divided amongst his daughters, two of whom, with their descendants, held interests in Wolvey. By the marriage of Margaret to William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, the overlordship of the two Harecurt (later Combe Abbey) fees was brought to the Ferrers of Groby, the first of whom was the younger son of the earl. This overlordship is recorded down to 1458. (fn. 13) Ela de Quency became the wife of Alan la Zouche, and her grandson Alan at his death in 1313 held a total of 2 fees in Wolvey, 1 held of him by the heirs of William de Bois, a quarter by the (lately suppressed) Knights Templars, and three-quarters by the Abbot of Combe and the heirs of Thomas de Leycestre. (fn. 14) These descended to his daughter Maud and her husband Robert de Holland (fn. 15) and through their great-grand daughter Maud, wife of John, Lord Lovel, to her grandson William. (fn. 16)
Ivo de Harecurt granted his land in Wolvey to Robert Basset on his marriage with Ivo's sister Beatrice. (fn. 17) Out of this Robert granted 100 acres of his demesne to the abbey of Combe. (fn. 18) This was confirmed in 1201 by his son Reynold, when it was defined as lying on Caldewellhill and including the land between Sandforde and Grimeswrosne stretching to the Watling Street, also a messuage near the Holy Well (santam fontem); he also added pasture on the Heath for 500 sheep. (fn. 19) Possession of the messuage was lost by the abbot because it was not warranted; it was therefore replaced in 1206 by another between the road from Wolvey to Hinckley and the land of Sherford. (fn. 20) Four years later Reynold received 6 virgates of land in Wolvey from Walter Spigurnel and Celestr(ine) his wife for 15 marks. (fn. 21) He was dead by 1227 and his estates divided between his nephews Robert de Leycestre and Ivo de Dene; (fn. 22) in this year his widow Maud exchanged her dower in the two halves of the manor with Robert and Ivo for Reynold's lands in Scakethorpe (Yorks.) and rents in Wolvey. (fn. 23) Robert de Leycestre in 1256 was exempted from taking up the arms of a knight, being old and feeble; (fn. 24) Thomas de Leycestre, or his heirs, were recorded as holding, with the Abbot of Combe, three-quarters of a fee in 1314 and 1328. (fn. 25) Ivo de Dene was a great benefactor to Combe; in 1230 he granted 56 acres and a mill in return for a life tenancy of 1 virgate formerly held by Robert son of John and Robert of the Cross, (fn. 26) and subject to the right of him and his heirs to take half the eels and fish caught in the stake-nets (hayas) allowed to be put across the mill-pond by the monks. This mill was situated beside his court (curia). (fn. 27) Ivo also gave the abbey 2s. rent from Ralph son of Nicholas; (fn. 28) and to Reynold son of Jordan of Eton, on his marriage with his daughter Alice, land in Wolvey which was in 1304–5 in possession of Reynold's grandson William de Attelberue. (fn. 29)
The connexion of the Earls of Winchester with Wolvey may have influenced the marriage of Arabella, daughter of Saer de Quency, to Sir Richard de Harecurt, who died in 1258. (fn. 30) His son William (died 1270) granted all the lands of his fee in Wolvey to Combe Abbey. (fn. 31) This fee is referred to in inquisitions of 1293 and 1344. (fn. 32) William's son Richard confirmed his father's grant, reserving relief of 2 knight's fees therefrom, (fn. 33) and remitted to the abbey the claim to relief payable from the manor on the death of any heirs of Ivo de Dene, saving scutage on the 2 fees. (fn. 34) Roger de Quency, Earl of Winchester, also released his claims in Wolvey to the abbey before his death in 1264. (fn. 35) From Robert de Leycestre the abbey received 14 acres on Haliwellhull and 3 on Ravenhull extending to Dedespol, and from Stephen de Sedgrave 2 virgates. (fn. 36) By the end of the 13th century the monastic estate was the most important in Wolvey; in 1285 the abbot successfully claimed view of frankpledge, assize of bread and ale, gallows, and exemption from shire and hundred contributions, murdrum, danegeld, and all other scutages and tolls. (fn. 37) Free warren was granted in 1290, (fn. 38) and a Wednesday market and three-day fair in connexion with St. Mark's Day in 1326. (fn. 39) The abbot was returned as sole lord of Wolvey cum membris in 1316. (fn. 40) His estates there, valued in 1291 at £11 14s. with the stock, rents, and perquisites of court, and including a mill, dovehouse, and garden, (fn. 41) were still being increased by small grants during the 14th century. (fn. 42) In 1429–30 the abbot seems to have mortgaged the manor to Humphrey, Earl of Stafford and Buckingham, (fn. 43) from whom it was received back in 1441, when the abbot and convent were pardoned for re-acquiring and entering the manor and lands of Wolvey without licence. (fn. 44) Just before the Dissolution the Combe estates in Wolvey were leased to Thomas Spenser and Christopher his son; (fn. 45) they were worth £13 13s. 4d. in 1535 (fn. 46) and were among those granted for life to Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset, four years later. (fn. 47) She survived till 1557, but in 1551 the reversion of the manor was granted to Edward, Lord Clynton, his heirs, and assigns. (fn. 48) Clynton must have passed it soon to Thomas Marow, who suffered a recovery of Wolvey manor in 1555, (fn. 49) and in whose family it continued for upwards of 80 years. (fn. 50) In 1556 he divided it into four quarters among his sons Thomas, John, Edward, and Kenelm, the last named dying in possession of his quarter in 1564, (fn. 51) when his heir was Samuel Marow, apparently the eldest brother. (fn. 52) Thomas Marow the younger died the same year, (fn. 53) and between 1564 and 1571 Samuel obtained the lordship of all the quarters except that of John. (fn. 54) In 1631–2 the reunited manor was conveyed to Thomas, 1st Baron Coventry of Aylesborough, (fn. 55) reserving a life tenancy to Ursula (Fiennes), Lady Marow, who was still in possession in 1640. (fn. 56) The second Lord Coventry executed a deed of settlement of the manor in 1653, (fn. 57) and it continued in this family, (fn. 58) Anne, Countess of Coventry, widow of the 4th Earl (6th Baron), being lady of the manor between 1727 and 1776. (fn. 59) Up to the end of the 18th century this was still the main Wolvey manor, the advowson and moiety of the rectory being appurtenant to it. It was sold by the Earl of Coventry about 1794 to John Foster of Leicester Grange, whose son sold it about 1815 to Samuel Jones Loyd, (fn. 60) who was created Baron Overstone in 1850 and died in 1883, when it passed to his nephew Lewis Vivian Loyd, and on his death in 1908 to his son Richard Lewis Loyd. (fn. 61)
The present manor of Wolvey is that sometimes referred to as WOLVEY ASTLEY, which consisted of 37 messuages, 3 carucates, 10½ virgates in Wolvey and Withybrook in 1304 when it was settled by Thomas de Wulfheye on his daughter and coheir Alice de Estleye, subject to a life tenure for himself. (fn. 62) Thomas was still alive in 1311, when he relinquished the coronership of Warwickshire on account of old age and infirmity. (fn. 63) Alice widow of Giles de Astley was lady of Wolvey in 1341. (fn. 64) Thomas de Astley, Alice's son, had licence in 1346 to impark his woods, and free warren, in Wolvey and elsewhere, (fn. 65) and held 1 fee of Sir William Ferrers of Groby in 1371. (fn. 66) Sir William de Astley (died 1387–8), Thomas's son, gave his manor of Wolvey to his brother Giles and his wife Catherine at an annual rent of a grain of wheat. (fn. 67) Giles in 1394–5 admitted William de Scregeham to a hermitage on Wolvey Heath, to pray for his ancestors and the founders and benefactors of Combe Abbey. Later he was in dispute with the Abbot of Combe about the presentation to this hermitage, the right of pasture on the heath, and the 100 acres granted to the abbey by Robert Basset in the 12th century. This was settled in 1413 by an award of Reynold, Lord Grey de Ruthin, and Richard (Crosby), Prior of Coventry, whereby the 100 acres were confirmed to Combe, and the pasture and presentation to the hermitage held in common. (fn. 68) Giles died in 1427; (fn. 69) his great-grandson William presented John Iddezeard to the hermitage in 1501 (fn. 70) and held the manor at his death, in 1542, of the Marquess of Dorset (Lord Ferrers of Groby) as of his manor of Astley. (fn. 71) His son George was then 28; the manor continued to descend in the family till about 1730. (fn. 72) From 1747 to 1761 William White was lord, (fn. 73) in right of his wife Elizabeth (Simmonds) granddaughter of the last Astley; (fn. 74) his son William, lord in 1774, was a lunatic, the rights being exercised by his sister Elizabeth, (fn. 75) who brought the manor by marriage to George Arnold of Ashby St. Ledgers (Northants.). (fn. 76) She died in 1788, (fn. 77) and he was lord up to 1805, (fn. 78) when he was succeeded by George Henry, (fn. 79) his son by his second wife. Georgeana, daughter of George Henry Arnold, married (1840) James Coape of Goldhanger (Essex), (fn. 80) and their grandson Mr. Cranfield C. H. Coape-Arnold was lord in 1936. (fn. 81)
Alice, widow of Reynold de Atlebergh (fn. 82) (and daughter of Ivo de Dene), granted 2 virgates and 2 tofts in 1257 to Robert de Saunford, Master of the Order of Templars. (fn. 83) This estate, assessed at a quarter of a fee, continued to be held by the Templars or their successors the Hospitallers (fn. 84) till the Reformation. (fn. 85) On the suppression of the Templars it brought in 7s. rent from freeholders and 40s. from a water-mill and a windmill. (fn. 86) In 1553 it was granted, as a separate manor, to Edward Aglionby and Henry Higford. (fn. 87) This manor changed hands very rapidly, being alienated by Aglionby to Edward Marrowe in or before 1557 and by Marrowe to William Newman and Agnes his wife in that year. (fn. 88) The Newmans passed it to Edmund Scarning in 1561. (fn. 89) He was dealing with this manor, known as TEMPLE WOLVEY, in 1570, (fn. 90) and at his death (1604) it was extended at 2 messuages, 4 cottages, a windmill, 12 gardens and orchards, and 640 acres of land and heath, with the privilege of free warren. (fn. 91) Ezechias his son had licence of entry in 1606 (fn. 92) and held it in 1642 when Gilbert Fitch, to whom he had let the estate, caused damage by cutting down trees. (fn. 93) In 1646, three weeks before his death, Ezechias, who was then eighty, sold the manor to John Smallbrook, whose right was disputed by Elizabeth and Susan, cousins of Ezechias, and their respective husbands Thomas Phillips and Thomas Wakelyn. (fn. 94) Later it was divided into three parts among the Smallbrook coheiresses, (fn. 95) of whom Mary Best was dealing with her third in 1691; (fn. 96) she or her daughter Mary and John Parker, son of Thomas Parker of Chilvers Coton, the husband of another of the heiresses, were jointly in possession in 1723. (fn. 97) Later in the century it was reunited in the Miller family, the Rev. Arthur Miller being lord in 1775 and Arthur Gramer Miller between 1785 and 1815. (fn. 98) By 1850 the Temple was only 'an ancient farmhouse' in possession of Thomas Worthington. (fn. 99)
The manor of WOLVEY GRANGE or LEICESTER GRANGE was part of the Combe estates, and leased in 1459 by the convent to John Perkyns and others for their lives at a yearly rent of 40s. (fn. 100) In 1561 William Devereux was cited to show by what title he held the manor of the Grange in the counties of Warwick and Leicester, almost certainly this manor. (fn. 101) By 1587 it had come into the possession of William Willoughby; (fn. 102) his son Gilbert, (fn. 103) of Normanton on Soar (Notts.), settled it on his wife Frances (Walkeden) and died in 1593, when his son William was 3 years old. (fn. 104) This William was the last of his line, dying in 1629, (fn. 105) when his estates were sold to various purchasers, those in Wolvey coming to Edward Cotton, who died seised of the grange, described as a farm, in 1635–6, and Susan his daughter, wife of William Jones, who died two years later. (fn. 106) Her heir was George Bennett, her son by a former husband, but the next recorded owner was Sir William Perkyns, who was convicted of high treason in 1696, the manor being regranted by the Crown in fee simple to his widow, who the following year conveyed it to her eldest son, Blackwell Perkyns. (fn. 107) The latter died in 1721; (fn. 108) the next owner being Dr. George Aldrige, who in 1735 mortgaged it to William, Lord Craven, the grandson of the latter purchasing the fee simple in 1774, which he sold the following year to the Earl of Denbigh. (fn. 109) In 1780 the manor was bought by John Foster, who was recorded as lord in 1790, as was his son Robert in 1802, (fn. 110) the latter being alive in 1808. Edward White, Mary Ann (Foster) his wife, and Dorothy Foster her sister were vouchees in a recovery of 1821, (fn. 111) after which this manor is not separately mentioned.
The Astleys during the 14th century granted much property in Wolvey to their own and other religious foundations. A messuage, land, pasture, and rent here were in 1337 licensed to be granted by Thomas de Asteley to his chantry, later college, of Astley. (fn. 112) In 1535 the land and tenements composing the estate were worth 30s. (fn. 113) These were surrendered to the Crown in 1545, (fn. 114) and granted in tail the following year to Henry, Marquess of Dorset, and Lady Frances his wife. (fn. 115) After his attainder they were resumed by the Crown and regranted in 1598–9 to Edward Stanhope. (fn. 116)
In 1343 Alice de Asteley, Thomas's mother, was licensed to grant 2 messuages and 2 virgates for the maintenance of a chantry in the chapel of St. Mary in Wolvey church. (fn. 117) After the Reformation this was kept in Crown hands till 1616, when it was granted to John Gray and Samuel Jones of London. (fn. 118)
Thomas de Asteley also granted a messuage and 36 acres to Arbury Priory in 1341, to maintain a chaplain to say mass for the souls of himself and relations in the priory church. (fn. 119) Arbury property in Wolvey also included the 'old' mill by Giselbrugge, a messuage called Reuecroft, and 60 acres of land granted c. 1200 by Reynold Basset; (fn. 120) in 1535 the total value was 40s. (fn. 121)
The priory of Monks Kirby had common of pasture in Wolvey and Copston of the gift of Reynold Basset, (fn. 122) and was allowed view of frankpledge of its tenants, with infangthef and weyf in Wolvey in 1305. (fn. 123) These privileges were accorded to Axholme Priory (Lincs.) in 1469. (fn. 124)
LITTLE COPSTON was granted by Ivo de Harecurt to Robert Basset in the second half of the 12th century, and the latter 'very suddainly after' gave a carucate here to Combe Abbey. (fn. 125) Other land in this hamlet, held by Thomas de Astleye, was, after his death at the battle of Evesham, granted to Warin de Bassingburn. (fn. 126) Under the Dictum of Kenilworth Thomas's estates were redeemed by his son Andrew for 320 marks, which he obtained from the monks of Combe in return for the grant of his Copston property. (fn. 127) Copston is mentioned separately in the grant of free warren to Combe Abbey (1290), (fn. 128) and remained a monastic estate till the Dissolution. An eighth part of Copston Field was demised in 1518 by the abbot and convent to Christopher Sadeler of Wolvershill for 40 years, doing suit at the abbot's court of Wolvey twice a year; (fn. 129) and the whole was worth as much as £21 6s. 8d. to the abbey in 1535. (fn. 130) It subsequently followed the descent of the Combe Abbey manor, and is now more generally known as Smockington, the name of a hamlet of Burbage (Leics.) situated on both sides of the Watling Street. (fn. 131)
The parish church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands on the east side of the main road between Coventry and Hinckley, in a small churchyard. It consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, and south porch. Apart from the south door, nothing remains of the 12th-century church. It was rebuilt early in the 13th century and again in the 14th century, the tower being either rebuilt or added in the 15th century. It has been considerably restored at various times; the north wall of the nave was rebuilt in 1630, slightly north of its original line, re-using a considerable amount of the old material; the east gable was rebuilt in 1624; in the 19th century the clearstory was rebuilt and the nave reroofed. In 1909 a timber-framed south porch was replaced by a stone one, and about the same time the south wall of the chancel was rebuilt with a new doorway and window, and a corresponding window put into the north wall.
The chancel has a moulded plinth and diagonal buttresses at the angles. The gable of the east wall has a tablet inscribed 'Ano. dni. 1624 Robart Kelley'; below, the wall was refaced with ashlar in the 19th century. It is lighted by a pointed traceried window of three trefoil lights, the mullions and tracery modern. The rubble of the north wall has been patched, the wall-head rebuilt, and a central buttress added. Between the buttresses to the east there is a roll-moulded string, and to the west a modern pointed traceried window of two trefoil lights. The south wall was rebuilt in ashlar in recent times with a new four-centred doorway and a window like that on the north which was inserted at the same time. The east wall of the south aisle has a beak moulding at sill level, a plinth of one splay, and a 14th-century traceried window of three cinquefoil lights; the plain parapet is modern. The south wall is divided into four bays by buttresses; that at the south-east angle is diagonal and terminates in a crocketed finial. Each bay, except the west which is occupied by a porch, has a window like that in the east wall, and the beak moulding is continued. The parapet, which has been much restored, is panelled with plain and quatrefoil panels alternately; it rests on a coved string-course and finishes with a moulded coping.
The porch is built of sandstone ashlar, with a tiled roof, and has on each side a single trefoil light. The entrance has a pointed arch on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Some of the roof timbers from the old porch have been re-used, a curved truss with a carved boss, moulded purlins and ridge dating from the early 17th century. The 12th-century roundheaded doorway is of two orders, the outer decorated with zigzag and the inner with conventional foliage. Both orders rest on detached shafts with carved capitals, decorated with grotesque birds, and moulded bases. The shafts to the outer order are plain, to the inner decorated, one with cable moulding, the other with cheverons. There are traces of an outer band of ornament which has been hacked off. In the 14th century, a doorway with a roll-moulded segmental-pointed arch was built into the original opening.
The east wall of the north aisle, built of rubble, has a plain modern parapet. It has a window corresponding to the south aisle. The 17th-century rebuilt north wall is divided into three bays by buttresses and is finished with a modern plain parapet on a moulded stringcourse. Each of the bays to the east has a similar window to the one in the east wall, and in the west bay there is a doorway with a pointed moulded head and jambs, mostly original 14th-century work re-used. The east buttress is in five stages, the centre stage gabled, largely 14th-century work re-used; it is dated 1630. The west window corresponds with the east. The nave walls, built of a mixture of rubble and squared stones have a plain modern parapet.
The tower rises in three stages, each stage diminished by a weathered offset. It has diagonal buttresses rising in five weathered stages, and a moulded plinth, and is crowned by a battlemented parapet with gargoyles and panelled piers at each corner, from which the pinnacles are missing. The ground floor is lighted on the west by a traceried window of three trefoil lights under a hollow-splayed segmental-pointed head, and above there is an inserted niche with a four-centred cinquefoil head. In the second stage there is a square window to the ringing-chamber and a clock dial. The traceried belfry windows on each face are in deep hollow splays with four-centred heads over two cinquefoil lights. Let into the ashlar face on the west is a small shield, and in each of the other faces a small carved mask. On the south side there are loop-lights at each stage to the tower staircase, now blocked up to utilize the staircase as a boiler chimney.
The chancel (26 ft. 6 in. by 20 ft. 3 in.) has unplastered walls, a modern tiled floor and two steps to a modern altar. At the east end of the south wall there is an ogee-headed piscina fitted with a modern shelf in place of a basin. The reredos, of carved stone and marble, and the open roof of three bays are modern.
The nave (54 ft. by 22 ft. 6 in.) is paved with stone and has unplastered rubble walling up to a little above the apex of the arcade arches, above which it is rebuilt in squared and coursed masonry, and on the south side four clearstory windows of two trefoil lights inserted. Both arcades consist of four bays of pointed arches of two splayed orders on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases, and half-octagonal responds. At the east end of the north arcade the respond had been cut away for a sunk round-headed panel; the cut-away portion has recently been restored, the respond now passing through the centre of the panel. At the east end of the south arcade there is a blocked doorway which opened on to the rood-loft. The pointed chancel arch, with moulded capitals and bases to the responds, is modern and has a carved boss at the apex. The tower arch is four-centred, of two splayed orders, resting on half-octagon responds with moulded capitals and splayed bases. On the north side of the present arch there are traces of a round-headed arch and the end of an earlier wall which now acts as a buttress. The arcade was built outside it, making the tower out of centre with the nave and chancel. Above the arch is a narrow opening which has a wide splayed recess on the tower side. The roof is a modern one of four bays, the trusses resting on stone corbels. The pulpit is modern oak, octagonal with carved traceried panels and at each angle carved figures under crocketed canopies. The font, in the south-west corner, is in the form of an octagonal pillar with a moulded capital and trefoiled panels; only the 14th-century capital with a deep lead-lined basin is original. On the west wall there are two painted lists of benefactions.
The south aisle (54 ft. 3 in. by 11 ft. 6 in.) is paved with stone and has a modern roof on the timbers of one of the 18th century; carved on one of the beams are the initials eb. tf. ta. 1778. The walling is of rubble and, up to a roll-moulding at sill level, dates from the early 13th century. In the east wall at its junction with the arcade there is a round-headed doorway to a circular roof-loft staircase, and the wall below the adjoining window has been cut away to continue the splayed recess to the ground. At the eastern end of the south wall there is a badly mutilated piscina which appears to have had attached shafts. Adjoining it are triple sedilia with roll-moulded round arches of two orders, the inner trefoiled, on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases, all early-13th-century and somewhat mutilated; in the 14th century the eastern one was filled in with masonry flush with the wall. All the windows have pointed roll-moulded rear-arches, and the recess of the west window is extended to the floor in the same way as the east. Just inside the door, which has a segmental rear-arch, there is an oak panelled alms-box, dated 1723, and against the west wall a painted and grained iron-bound chest with three original locks, probably early 18th century.
The north aisle (54 ft. 3 in. by 11 ft. 3 in.) is paved with stone and has a modern roof on earlier timbers, similar to the south aisle; one of the beams has the initials ht. t.f. c.w. 1726. In rebuilding the north wall it was moved inwards and now overlaps the splayed reveals of the east and west windows. At the east end there is a table tomb (fn. 132) to Thomas Astley, knight, died 1603, and Catherine his wife. It has life-sized effigies; the man, wearing a beard, is dressed in armour, his head resting on a helmet; his hands and feet are broken, his sword is missing, and his features are somewhat defaced. The woman, wearing a large bonnet and a very large ruff, has her head resting on a cushion; her hands and feet are damaged. The panels on the visible side are defaced and the visible end panel has an inscription on a marble panel with a small shield on either side, one is blank, the other has the coat of Astley. There is also an altar tomb at the west end to Thomas de Wolvey, who died c. 1305, and Alice (Clinton) his wife. (fn. 133) The visible side is divided into three panels, two with shields and the centre with a defaced inscription and at the end two shields. It has life-sized effigies; the man in chain armour with a shield and sword on his left, his head resting on a cushion and his feet on a lion; the feet are broken. The woman, a much finer piece of work, wears a kerchief and wimple; the drapery of her mantle and cote-hardi is gracefully arranged; in her hands she holds a small heart. She has two cushions under her head and a lion at her feet. All but two of the shields are either blank or mutilated, the two in good condition are (1) ermine on a chief two molets (Clinton), and (2) two lions passant (Erdington). On the north wall there is a large white and grey marble memorial of the Doric order surmounted by an urn, to Elizabeth, wife of Geo. Arnold, died 1778; a white marble cartouche on the arcade wall to John Astley, died 1708; and a small black and white marble memorial with a broken pediment on marble columns to Giles Astley, died 1666. There are also a number of mural tablets of the 18th and 19th centuries.
The tower (10 ft. 6 in. square), which is stonepaved, has been closed by a modern oak screen to provide a vestry. The door to the tower staircase, now blocked to provide a boiler flue, has a chamfered fourcentred head. The walls are unplastered ashlar.
Of the bells the earliest is by John de Yorke (c. 1400) and is said to have been brought from Nuneaton Priory. The others are by Hugh Watts, 1625, and Toby Norris of Stamford, 1680. (fn. 134)
There was a priest at Wolvey in 1086, (fn. 135) and a moiety of the church was granted to Combe Abbey by Reynold Basset. (fn. 136) Between 1198 and 1207 Bishop Geoffrey de Muschamp decreed that the other half of the church and patronage, including the chapel at Copston, should belong to the Cathedral of Lichfield, constituting a prebend; this, and a confirmation of the original moiety to Combe, was confirmed by Archbishop Hubert Walter and Pope Innocent III. (fn. 137) In 1291 each half of the church was worth £6 13s. 4d.; (fn. 138) in 1535 the prebendal moiety of the rectory was rated at 43s. 4d., (fn. 139) the value of the vicarage then being £6 6s. 4d., with 6s. 6d. for proxies and synodals. (fn. 140) The presentation during the Middle Ages apparently alternated between the prebendary and the convent, (fn. 141) which practice was continued, with the lords of the Combe manor, who held also the rectory, replacing the convent, till 1732, from which date till 1807 all presentations, except one by the Earl of Coventry in 1784, were made by the bishop. (fn. 142) The presentation of 1816 was made by one Samuel Butler, and in 1850 (fn. 143) and 1859 the advowson was shared between the Bishop and Mr. J. Smith, the latter being represented by J. W. Smith, LL.D. in 1900 and 1915. (fn. 144) The living, with Burton Hastings and Stretton Baskerville annexed since 1927, is now in the gift of the Bishop of Coventry. (fn. 145)
The Rev. James William Arnold, D.D., by the second codicil to his will, proved on 11 August 1865, directed that the rest of his plate and plated articles not specifically bequeathed should be sold and the proceeds invested, the income during the first ten years to be applied in putting into good repair certain monuments and gravestones in the church of St. Anne, Westminster, and in the parish church of Wolvey, and afterwards towards the decorative repairs of Wolvey church or the chancel thereof. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 17 February 1920 the vicar and churchwardens of Wolvey and the owner for the time being of the Wolvey Hall Estate, if such owner be (a) a member of the family of the Founder of the Charity, (b) of full age, and (c) willing to act in the trusts of the charity, were appointed to be trustees of the charity. The annual income of the charity amounts to £19 12s.
Mark Bailey by will dated 24 January 1888 gave to the vicar and churchwardens of Wolvey £10, the interest to be given away in bread to the most needy poor of the parish. The annual income of the charity amounts to 5s. 4d.
William Willoughby by will dated 3 October 1587 bequeathed his lands in Nottingham, Lenton, and Radford on condition to deliver yearly on Whit Sunday to four aged, weak, and needy persons four frieze gowns, ready made, about the price of 10s. apiece, and to six honest men, of occupations, or tradesmen, £6, and to a godly learned preacher to instruct the people on the said feastday 6s. 8d., the several sums to be paid to the people dwelling within the towns and parishes of Great Marlow in the County of Buckingham, Nuneaton in the County of Warwick, Normanton-on-Soar in the County of Nottingham, the town of Nottingham, and Wolvey in the County of Warwick, successively. The body of trustees of the non-ecclesiastical share of the charity applicable for this parish consists of the vicar, one person nominated by the vicar, and one person appointed by the parish council.
Richard Spooner Jacques by will dated 23 July 1803 gave £100, the interest to be applied for the following uses; 10s. 6d. to be given to the resident minister for a sermon preached on Christmas day, and the remainder to be distributed in sixpenny loaves to poor persons who should attend the preaching of such sermon.
William Winterton, by will dated 25 May 1815 directed his executors to purchase in the name of the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers of the poor of the parish of Wolvey, so much stock as would produce a yearly sum of 50s., which sum he directed should be given in bread to poor widowers and widows belonging to the parish, at the church there, on 13 February. The total annual income of these charities amounts to £5 5s.
Elizabeth Crofts by will dated 25 August 1898 bequeathed £50, the interest to be applied in keeping the tomb and grave of her husband in the Baptist Chapel Yard at Wolvey and also her own grave in proper repair and the surplus (if any) towards the relief of the oldest and poorest widows living in Wolvey. Trustees of the charity are appointed by Order of the Charity Commissioners. The annual income of the charity amounts to £1 13s. 8d.