A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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The southern boundary of the parish is formed by the River Leam, and part of the western by a small stream which joins another coming south-west from Draycote shortly before meeting the river. The village of Bourton, with the church, rectory and Hall, lies near the western edge of the parish on the roads from Birdingbury and Frankton. A quarter of a mile north of it the road called the Straight Mile crosses Bourton Heath to meet the Coventry-Northampton road where it touches the northern boundary of the parish. Half a mile east, and slightly south, of the church is the hamlet of Draycote, and between the village and the hamlet, each of which contains a few thatched timberframed cottages, runs the Rugby and Leamington branch of the former L.M.S. Railway. The land to the north and west of the railway is flat, lying almost entirely between elevations of 360 ft. and 370 ft., but it falls to the south-east, most of Draycote being below the 300 ft. contour line. The country is open, with only a few small spinneys. Draycote was inclosed under an Act of 1765, the Award, dated 6 July 1766, affecting some 1,300 (fn. 1) acres in Bourton parish.
In 1086 the Count of Meulan held 5 hides in BOURTON which Ingenulf held of him; before the Conquest this had been held by Lewin. (fn. 2) Ingenulf, who also held of the count Ibstock in Leicestershire, (fn. 3) was presumably the founder of an eponymous family, as Robert de Borton, who was living in 1123, (fn. 4) had a brother Ingenulf who took the name of Ibstock. (fn. 5) The overlordship, as was the case with most of the count's manors, came to the Earls of Warwick, of whom it was held as 1 knight's fee. (fn. 6) The mesne lordship of this fee was held by the Verdons of Brandon (q.v.) from early in the 13th century, Roese de Verdon holding it in 1242. (fn. 7) After the death of Theobald de Verdon in 1316 the fee was assigned in dower to his widow Elizabeth de Burgh, (fn. 8) with reversion at first to his eldest daughter Joan and her husband Thomas Furnival, (fn. 9) but subsequently to his second daughter Elizabeth wife of Bartholomew de Burghersh, (fn. 10) whose son Bartholomew inherited it in 1360. (fn. 11) When he sold the manor of Brandon to Sir John Delves in 1370 (fn. 12) this mesne lordship passed with it.
Robert de Borton, mentioned above, had a son Richard, who had two sons, William and Sir Henry. (fn. 13) The latter left three daughters as coheirs: Ada wife of Robert de Garshale; Joan, whose husband seems to have been a cadet of the Verdons; and Maud, who is said to have had a son Thomas who died without issue. (fn. 14) In 1235 the fee was said to be held of the Earl of Warwick by Philip de Esseby and Robert de Garshale; (fn. 15) in 1242 they and Robert de Verdon held it of Roese de Verdon under the earl. (fn. 16) Presumably Philip was husband of Maud; he is called son of Robert de Esseby (fn. 17) in 1217, when he and Robert de Garshale and Nicholas de Verdon, the mesne lord, all returned to their fealty and were received into the king's favour. (fn. 18) By 1316 the Esseby interest had disappeared and 1¾ fees in Bourton and Draycote were held jointly by Thomas de Garshale and Robert de Verdon, (fn. 19) as they still were said to be in 1335. (fn. 20) This last return, however, may have been out of date, as in an inquest of further inquiry two years later the tenants are given as Henry de Preyers and John de Verdon. (fn. 21) Thomas de Garshale seems in fact to have been dead by 1326, when his son Robert settled the manor of Bourton on himself and his wife Amice and their issue. (fn. 22) It is probable that by 1337 Robert was dead and that Henry de Preyers was guardian of his daughter and heir Elizabeth, who married Sir Robert Burdet of Huncote, Leics. (fn. 23) Their son Robert, who was under age and in ward to Lady Elizabeth de Burgh, widow of Theobald de Verdon, in 1361, (fn. 24) died without issue and the manor passed to his brother Sir John Burdet, whose daughter and heir Elizabeth married Sir Humphrey Stafford of Grafton. (fn. 25) In this family it remained for about 200 years, except that on the attainder of Humphrey Stafford (fn. 26) at the accession of Henry VII the manor was forfeited to the king and was granted by him in 1488 to Sir Edward Ponyngs in tail male. (fn. 27) In 1515, however, Stafford's estates were restored to him. (fn. 28) About 1590 the then Sir Humphrey Stafford sold the manor to John Shuckburgh, (fn. 29) who died in 1599, having previously settled it on his son Henry. (fn. 30) The latter died in 1626 seised of the manor, which is then said to be held of the manor of Kitt Court, parcel of the former preceptory of Balsall. (fn. 31) It descended in the Shuckburgh family until c. 1910, when it was acquired by James Frederick Shaw, who was lord of the manor in 1937. (fn. 32)
Sir John de Verdon (see above) held the fee jointly with Robert Burdet in 1346 (fn. 33) and in 1359 when Sir John Delves had acquired the manor of Brandon he attorned to the latter for Bourton and Draycote. (fn. 34) His elder son Nicholas was living in 1380, (fn. 35) but by 1386 Sir John's estates seem to have passed to his nephew Ralph, son of his brother Robert. (fn. 36) It was probably this Robert Verdon who had settled the manor of DRAYCOTE on himself and his wife Emma in 1326. (fn. 37) From the Verdons the manor was evidently bought by Sir William Bagot of Baginton. (fn. 38) His daughter Isabel with her husband Sir Thomas Stafford sold it to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, (fn. 39) whose son King Henry IV gave it in 1410 to the Dean and Chapter of Newark College, Leicester, for a chantry of two priests for the souls of his parents. (fn. 40)
After the suppression of the college the manor of Draycote was granted in April 1549 to Thomas Hawkins, alias Fisher, (fn. 41) who sold it in July of that year to John Smyth. (fn. 42) He died in 1553, leaving a widow Elizabeth, who subsequently married Robert Warner and died in 1554, (fn. 43) and three young daughters: Margery married Thomas Worcester; Alice married Thomas Flavell; and Agnes (also called Anne) married Richard Mathew and died in 1563, (fn. 44) when her share of the manor passed to her sisters. (fn. 45) Margery's son William Worcester bought Alice's share and her son Thomas held the manor in 1640. (fn. 46) His son William married Anne daughter of Nicholas Grimshawe of Knowle and died in 1692. On the death of his son Thomas in 1699 the estate went to the latter's four sisters. (fn. 47) Of these Eliza married Col. Thomas Wilson, and in 1729 he and Grace Worcester were holding the manor. (fn. 48) Grace and Sir Theophilus Biddulph, bart. were dealing with it in 1748, (fn. 49) and by 1790 the whole manor was in the hands of the Biddulphs, (fn. 50) with whom it has remained.
The church of ST. PETER stands in a small churchyard. It consists of a chancel, nave, north chapel, north and south aisles, tower, and vestry. It was almost entirely rebuilt in the 14th century and all that remains of the earlier church is a blocked south doorway to the chancel, the font, and probably part of the east bay of the south arcade. The clearstory, north aisle, and porch were added in the 19th century and the tower was rebuilt. It has been drastically refaced and restored. The chancel is built of limestone rubble with sandstone dressings and has a tiled roof of rather low pitch, a splayed plinth with a beaded lower edge, and rebuilt diagonal buttresses at the angles. The east end has a modern window of three pointed lights and above it the wall has been refaced. The south wall has been largely rebuilt but retains the jambs of an early-13th-century doorway with a large roll moulding; it is blocked and the head replaced by a timber lintel at springing level. East of the doorway there is a square-headed window of three trefoil ogee lights, of three hollow splayed orders, with a hoodmould without stops, and to the west a three-light square-headed window of one splay, probably 17th century. On the north side is a small vestry with a tiled roof and to the east a pointed two-light window of two splayed orders.
The south aisle has a slated roof with a moulded eaves-course of red sandstone and is lighted by three square-headed three-light windows of two hollowsplayed orders, one on the east and two on the south, all much restored. The wall has been refaced with a mixture of squared and coursed limestone and sandstone with a plinth of red sandstone ashlar. The modern clearstory is lighted by two square-headed windows of two trefoil lights. The west end of the nave has been rebuilt with a pointed doorway of two splayed orders, a hoodmould with head-stops; above the door is a pointed traceried window of two trefoil lights, and at sill level a string-course, dropped in two stages to the sill of the aisle window. The north aisle has a slated roof, and a diagonal buttress at the angle, and is lighted on the west by a pointed traceried window of two trefoil lights, and on the north by a modern square-headed window of three trefoil ogee lights. The clearstory has two windows, as on the south. The porch and the doorway into the chapel are modern. It has a stone-paved floor, stone-vaulted roof, a pointed entrance of two splays with a hood-mould and floriated stops; the mouldings of the pointed doorway arch die out on splayed jambs. The chapel has been refaced or rebuilt and the windows renewed. It has a tiled roof and is lighted by a pointed traceried window of three trefoil ogee lights on the north and by a two-light on the east. The tower is built of squared and coursed masonry and rises in three stages, marked by string-courses; it is crowned with an octagonal spire, bell-cast at the base, resting on a hollow moulding. The angles of the upper stage are splayed off into an octagon to accommodate the spire, which has gabled steeple lights near its base on the cardinal faces. The belfry windows on all four faces are pointed, of two trefoil lights with pierced quatrefoils; to the ringing-chamber there are pointed single trefoil lights on the south and east faces, and on the west a two-light pointed window with a clock-dial above.
The chancel (23 ft. 2 in. by 15 ft.) is paved with stone and has two steps to the altar; the walls are plastered. It has an open king-post roof of the 17th century, with moulded tie-beams and struts shaped to form tracery, and is supported on wall-posts with curved brackets. The altar rails are also of the 17th century, with turned balusters having moulded brackets at the top under the moulded rail on the west side only. In the south wall there is a piscina with a plain pointed arch and a square basin. Below the window to the east is a shallow square recess and over the blocked 13th-century doorway a modern flat head. In the north wall there is a modern pointed doorway to the vestry.
The nave (45 ft. 2 in. by 17 ft. 10 in.) is paved with stone and has a low-pitched lead-covered roof. The south arcade consists of four bays of pointed arches of two splayed orders, the east bay supported on responds and a pier, thickly rendered with cement, with splayed capitals, also of cement. The south side of the pier has been hacked away, probably in removing the west wall of a 13th-century chapel when the church was rebuilt in the 14th century. The wall over the arch is thinner than the rest of the arcade. The other arches are supported on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases, except at the east end, where the arch dies out on the pier. The west bay has been built up between the pillar and the respond to carry the tower, and a pointed doorway arch formed to give access. The north arcade, of two bays, is a copy of the south but supported on a moulded corbel at the west end instead of a respond. The chancel and chapel arches are pointed, of two orders, the inner a splay and the outer a wave moulding, continued to the ground. The west door and window have splayed reveals with segmental pointed reararches. The pulpit, dated 1607, is of oak and placed on the south side of the chancel arch. It is octagonal, but rectangular below for a reading-desk, with carved and moulded panels, finished with a moulded capping supported on moulded brackets.
The south aisle (37 ft. 2 in. by 9 ft. 4 in.) is paved with stone and has a low-pitched roof with stopchamfered beams supported on wall-posts and curved brackets resting on moulded stone corbels. In the south wall at the east end is a piscina with a trefoil ogee head and the remains of a circular basin; above it there is a wall memorial to Thomas Worcester of Draycote, died 1698. There is a segmental pointed arch to the tower and in front of it is a 13th-century stone font, octagonal with a deep lead-lined basin, each side carved with a trefoil under a gable with a foliated finial.
The north chapel (19 ft. by 16 ft. 1 in.), which has a modern open roof, is occupied by seven large slate memorial slabs raised one foot above the floor, and an eighth has been lowered to floor level for the door to the porch. The west wall has a modern pointed arch opening into the aisle and in the south wall, east of the arch, there is a piscina with a trefoil ogee head, from which the basin is missing. On the east side of the piscina, a 14th-century effigy, on a slightly tapered slab, has been built upright into the wall, with the lower portion concealed by one of the raised memorials. It appears to represent a cleric with his hands conjoined in prayer. On the walls there are 11 wall memorials, and 4 hatchments in addition to the 8 floor slabs, all to members of the Shuckburgh family, dating from 1717 to 1943.
There are two bells by Thomas Newcombe (c. 1600), the second inscribed with an alphabet, and one of 1827 by R. Taylor & Sons, Oxford. (fn. 51)
The advowson of the church remained attached to the manor throughout. The rectory was valued at £8 in 1291 (fn. 52) and at £19 17s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 53) The benefice was united with that of Frankton in 1932.
A free chapel at Draycote was granted to William Grice and Charles Newcomen in 1566, (fn. 54) but there seems to be no other trace of its existence.
By the Inclosure Award for the Lordship of Draycote dated 3 February 1767 an allotment containing 5a. 1r. 29p., part of Bourton Heath, was awarded to the churchwardens of Bourton in trust that the rents and profits should be applied as those of the ground for which the same land was awarded had of ancient times been applied. These uses were apparently towards the repairs of the church, and the rent now received is applied for the same purpose.
Poor's Allotment for fuel. By the above-mentioned Award an allotment containing 10 acres, part of Bourton Heath, was awarded to trustees for the use of the poor of the parish. The body of trustees of the charity consists of the rector of Bourton ex officio, the present heirs of Sir Theophilus Biddulph and John Shuckburgh, esq., and three persons appointed by the parish council of Bourton-on-Dunsmore.
William Smith. This parish participates in the charity of William Smith and receives 4s. per annum, which in accordance with the terms of the bequest is required to be distributed in bread to the poorest people of the parish. For particulars of the charity see under the parish of Bilton.