A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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The ancient parish of Clifton-on-Dunsmore contained the hamlets or chapelries of Brownsover (most of which has been included in the borough of Rugby since 1932) and Newton with Biggin. It is bounded on the east by Watling Street, which here forms the county boundary with Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, the three counties meeting where the Street crosses the River Avon by Dow Bridge—or Dove Bridge as it was called in the 17th century. (fn. 1) The southern boundary is formed by the Clifton Brook, (fn. 2) which then turns northwestward to form the southern half of the western boundary, joining the Avon at Brownsover Mill. Half a mile west of this point the River Swift, which forms the northern half of this boundary, enters the Avon. The Avon itself runs a sinuous course approximately south-west from Dow Bridge and separates Newton from Clifton. Another small stream runs south from Holywell on Watling Street past Biggin Farm and the hamlet of Newton into the Avon; on this stream Biggin Mill (fn. 3) presumably marks the site of the mill in Holme which belonged to the abbey of Combe in the 13th century (fn. 4) and was attached to the manor of Newton after the Dissolution. (fn. 5) This mill was given to Combe by William Scherewind by permission of Robert son of Fulk de Holme, who himself gave the monks a strip of meadow in Holme beside the mill of Cottele from one water-leet (aqueductum) to the other. (fn. 6) It occurs later as the mill of Cutulmylne in Holme, of which the abbey of Leicester had the tithes. (fn. 7) Conveyances of fractional shares in a mill at Clifton occur in 1359, (fn. 8) 1363, (fn. 9) and 1379, (fn. 10) and this was no doubt on the Avon, where Clifton Mill now stands.
Close to the mill is Clifton Mill Station on the L.M.S. Railway, Rugby to Peterborough line, while the main line from London to Rugby also runs for ¼ mile through the parish in the extreme south. Roughly parallel with and just inside the streams which form the parish boundary on the west is a section of the Oxford Canal.
Rather less than ½ mile east of the railway station is the church, round which lies the village, with the road from Rugby passing through it and branching northwards through Newton to Market Harborough and east over Dunsmore to Watling Street. Lanes and footpaths lead south-west for 1½ miles from Newton to the hamlet of Brownsover, where slight traces of a prehistoric (?) earthwork (fn. 11) are still visible near the church. The grounds round and extending north of Brownsover Hall are well treed, but otherwise the parish is open and contains no woodland. Much of it has in recent years been occupied by the installation of the Rugby Radio Station of the Post Office.
In Brownsover, north-west of the church, is a late16th-century timber-framed house of L-shaped plan, much restored; and near by a small timber-framed barn has been converted to a cottage. At Newton, which has a brick church built in 1901 and enlarged in 1910, there is on the west of the village an L-shaped house of early-17th-century origin but much modified in the 18th century. Similarly on the east, in a lane leading to Catthorpe, a house now encased in 18th-century brick shows 17th-century timbering inside.
Common fields within the parish, to the amount of about 700 acres, were inclosed under an Act of 1756. (fn. 12)
Of the persons associated with Clifton the most important is, perhaps, Laurence Sheriffe. He is believed to have been born in the parish; after making money as a grocer in London he bought the rectory and farm of Brownsover, formerly held by Leicester Abbey, in 1562 (fn. 13) and by his will in 1567 left it, with other property, for the foundation of the grammar school of Rugby. (fn. 14) Christopher Harvey, who was vicar of Clifton from 1639 to 1663, wrote sufficient theology and minor poetry to gain a place in the Dictionary of National Biography, and a later vicar, Samuel Carte, was an antiquary of some distinction and father of the respectable historian Thomas Carte. (fn. 15) Edward Cave, who founded the Gentleman's Magazine in 1731, is said to have been born in 1691 at Newton, (fn. 16) but his birthplace—'Cave's Hole'—seems to have been just over the parish boundary in Churchover.
In the time of Edward the Confessor Ælfwine the sheriff gave the 5 hides of CLIFTON to the Priory of Coventry for the good of his soul, with the consent of his sons and of King Edward. Earl Aubrey (de Couci) after the Conquest seized this estate and in 1086 it was included among his lands then in the King's hands, (fn. 17) and although definitely said to have been wrongfully taken from the monks (fn. 18) it was not restored to them. The overlordship came to the earls of Leicester and descended to the Earl of Winchester, of whom a knight's fee was held in 1235. (fn. 19) Robert le Bossu, Earl of Leicester, enfeoffed Ernald de Bois, (fn. 20) who gave the church to Leicester Abbey. (fn. 21) This mesne lordship descended with Weston-in-Arden in Bulkington (q.v.) to the Zouches, the manor being held in 1500 of Lord Zouche as of his manor of Weston. (fn. 22)
The manor was held by William Revel, who had a grant of free warren here in 1299, (fn. 23) as did his son John in 1327. (fn. 24) William had entailed the manor in 1307, (fn. 25) and as John's sons, John and Sir William, left no issue the estates went to their three sisters, and Clifton manor evidently fell to the share of Joan, who had married Robert Whitney, (fn. 26) in which family it descended for 300 years. In 1395 a knight's fee in Clifton-on-Dunsmore was said to be held of Sir William la Zouche by Robert Wytteneys, Thomas Meryngton, and John Waunden. (fn. 27) Of Waunden nothing more appears to be recorded, but in 1379 Thomas Meryngton had acquired a moiety of a mill and a virgate of land in Clifton from Nicholas and Isabel Walcote and Richard and Joan Passemer. (fn. 28) James, son of a later Robert Whitney, died in 1500 seised of the manor, valued at 20 marks, leaving by his wife Blanche, daughter of Simon Milborne, a son Robert, then aged 6. (fn. 29) Sir Robert Whitney was succeeded in 1567 by his son (Sir) James, (fn. 30) on whose death in 1588 his brother Eustace inherited the manor. (fn. 31) Eustace died in 1608 (fn. 32) and his son Sir Robert died between 1648 (fn. 33) and 1655, in which year his widow Anne took part in a family settlement. (fn. 34) In 1665 Thomas Whitney conveyed the manor to John Bridgeman, (fn. 35) in whose family it remained until 1790, when Sir Henry Bridgeman sold it to John Townsend, (fn. 36) whose grandson (fn. 37) Thomas Sutton Townsend held it until his death in 1918, when it passed to his daughter Mary Frances, wife of Edward Gawne Roscoe, present lady of the manor. (fn. 38)
In 1086 Geoffrey de Wirce had 2 hides in 'Gaura' which were held of him by Bruno, (fn. 39) from whom the place obtained its name of BROWNSOVER. Most of Geoffrey's estates passed to the Mowbrays, but this followed the descent of Clifton and in 1236 a half-fee here belonged to the Earl of Winchester. (fn. 40) The overlordship came to the family of Hastings, Lords Bergavenny and Earls of Pembroke, (fn. 41) and a mesne lordship was held by the descendants of Ernald de Bois, John de Bois establishing his right to court leet and other franchises here as a member of his manor of Weston-in-Arden in 1285. (fn. 42) At the end of the 12th century Maud Banastre (fn. 43) was lady of 'Wavere'. (fn. 44) She was probably the daughter of Thurstan Banastre, (fn. 45) wife of (? Sir Henry) de Hastings, and mother of William de Hastings who inherited land in Shropshire from her in 1222. (fn. 46) In 1280 Robert Houel and Eleanor his wife conveyed the manor of Brownsover to Theobald Malegale and Nicholas Test, merchants of Lucca, to hold of them and of the heirs of Eleanor by yearly rent of one penny. (fn. 47) Against this Hugh Peche and Ida his wife registered their claim. (fn. 48) It is probably more than a coincidence that in 1281 John de Bois owed 25 marks to Nicholas Test and his partners, for the payment of which he pledged his lands in Warwickshire. (fn. 49) The merchants held the manor until 1292, when they sold it to William Revel, (fn. 50) who held the half-fee in 1313, (fn. 51) as did his son John in 1325. (fn. 52) Although it had been entailed in 1307 with Clifton (see above) it did not descend with that manor and its history is obscure until 1471, when Thomas Bellers is said to have released the manor to Richard Boughton, (fn. 53) who was sheriff of the county under Richard III and died at, or immediately before, the battle of Bosworth in 1485. (fn. 54) With his descendants it has remained until the present time. On the death of Richard's grandson Edward Boughton in 1548 the manor came into the hands of the Crown during the nonage of his son William. (fn. 55) The latter died in 1596, (fn. 56) and his son Edward in 1625. (fn. 57) Edward's son William was created a baronet in 1641; his eldest son Sir Edward left no issue and was succeeded by his brother Sir William, who died in 1683. On the death of his great-grandson Sir Theodosius Boughton in 1780 Brownsover passed to Theodosia, sister of the last baronet, who had married first Capt. John Donellan (who was executed in 1781 for the murder of Sir Theodosius) (fn. 58) and after his death Sir Egerton Leigh, bart., whose only daughter Theodosia married John Ward of Guilsborough (Northants.). He in 1831 assumed the additional names of Boughton and Leigh, and in 1937 the manor was held by Henry Allesley Ward-BoughtonLeigh, (fn. 59) on whose death in 1938 it passed to his widow, the present lady of the manor.
In 1086 Turchil had three estates in NEWTON: the largest of these, which had been held before the Conquest by Wlstan, was of 2 hides and was held of him by Godric; each of the others was rated at ½ hide and they were held respectively by Alde and Ralf. (fn. 60) Turchil's descendant Henry de Arden confirmed a grant of land here made by the younger Geoffrey de Clinton to Kenilworth Priory at the burial of his father, the founder of the priory, (fn. 61) to which house Ernald de Bois gave 2 hides which had been given to him by the same Geoffrey. (fn. 62) Part of Newton came to Ralph de Duverne, from whom Hugh Bagot bought it, with Coton in Churchover (q.v.), and gave it to his brother Ingeram to hold of Robert fitzOtes. (fn. 63) Ingeram's son Simon sold 3 virgates to the abbey of Combe and in 1240 his widow Nichole released to the abbot her right of dower in Cotes and Newton. (fn. 64) In 1242 Combe held 1/6 knight's fee of Robert de Stafford in Newton; (fn. 65) in 1276 they are said to have had 8 virgates here, and in the time of Richard II 11 virgates, each containing 48 acres. (fn. 66) The abbey property here yielded £3 2s. 8d. in 1535 (fn. 67) and was included in the grant for life made to Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset, in 1539. (fn. 68) She, with Thomas Broke and John Williams, in 1544 granted the reversion of the manor of Newton to William Leigh. (fn. 69) He died seised of the manor in 1550, his heir being his son Henry, who died in 1561. (fn. 70) Either his son Sir Edward or the latter's son Henry Leigh sold the manor to Alexander Martin, (fn. 71) who died seised thereof on 24 December 1624, when his son William was just under 11 years old, (fn. 72) leaving it to his widow Anne for life. William Martin had livery of the manor in 1636, (fn. 73) and when Dr. Thomas wrote (c. 1730) it was held by Mrs. Grace Martin, mother of William Martin. (fn. 74) It was probably this William who was dealing with the manor in 1775. (fn. 75) Thomas Wall held the manor between 1791 and 1825. (fn. 76) William Martin Parsons was lord of the manor of Newton between 1844 and 1878, (fn. 77) and from him it has descended to Capt. R. E. J. Parsons. (fn. 78)
A so-called manor of Newton, 'late part of the possessions of the dissolved monastery of Combe', was in the hands of John Smith when he died in 1608 and descended to his son John. (fn. 79) It presumably originated in the tenement held of the Combe manor by Thomas Smith in 1544. (fn. 80)
The property of the monastery of Kenilworth in Newton, which was valued at £1 14s. 3d. in 1291 (fn. 81) and was producing £5 10s. 2d. at the Dissolution, (fn. 82) was granted in 1554 to Sir Rowland Hill and Thomas Leigh, alderman of London, (fn. 83) younger brother of William Leigh. (fn. 84)
In 1086 Turchil held 2 separate hides in HOLME, of which one was held of him by its pre-Conquest tenant Ulvric and the other, previously held by Ulstan (no doubt the Wlstan who had held the 2 hides in Newton) was then held by Ralf. (fn. 85) The overlordship passed to the Earl of Warwick, of whom 1/8 knight's fee was held in 1242 by Thomas de Arden, (fn. 86) this being probably identical with the 1/10 fee held in 1235 by Robert de Holme. (fn. 87) The latter was probably the Robert, son of Robert, son of Fulk de Holme, who, like his father, made some small grants of land to the Abbey of Leicester. (fn. 88) That Abbey also acquired from the abbey of Rocester 2 roods of land in Centelemedwe adjoining their own meadow in exchange for 2 roods in Newbiggin, (fn. 89) and in 1403 the fees awarded in dower to Margaret, widow of Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, included 1/6 fee in Holme formerly held by the abbot of Rocester (fn. 90) (Staffs.), which passed on her death to Earl Richard. (fn. 91) There appears to be no evidence of how Rocester had obtained this or when they parted with it. Part, at least, of the Holme estate became the manor of NEWBIGGIN, which is first met with in the hands of John Depyng, clerk, between 1402 and 1405. (fn. 92) In 1521 Sir John Harper of Rushall (Staffs.) died seised of the manors of Newbiggin and Holme, held of the king as of the barony of Stafford, which had been settled in remainder on William Leigh and Elizabeth his wife, one of John's daughters, in tail, with contingent remainder to Dorothy, another daughter, and Thomas Horde her husband. (fn. 93) William Leigh, as already mentioned, acquired the manor of Newton, but the properties were separated at some time after the death of his son Henry in 1561 and the Biggin estate came into the hands of the younger line of the Leighs and descended with the manor of Dunchurch (q.v.), the manors of Newton and Biggin being held in 1723 by the Duke of Montagu and in 1779 and 1823 by the Duchess of Buccleuch. (fn. 94)
The earliest remains of a church here are probably of the 12th century; they consist of the masonry at the west end of the south chancel wall, a priest's door, and perhaps masonry in the north wall, now concealed by plaster. The chancel was rebuilt and lengthened in the first quarter of the 13th century, and about a century later the present nave was built. There is no indication of the existence of earlier aisles. In the 15th century the south aisle was rebuilt and widened, the north aisle reroofed, and the clearstory added. Probably at some time during the 16th century the tower was added, having originally a spire, pulled down in 1639, as Dugdale says, to save the cost of repair.
The chancel has an east window of the early 13th century, a triplet of lancets of which the centre is the tallest and widest, all having chamfered jambs and mullions. The wide-splayed rear-arch has a chamfer continuous in the head and jambs; the latter project considerably from the splay.
Externally the east wall, which is of coursed rubble with ashlar angle-dressings, shows below the window ledge a slight thickening or offset, also treated with ashlar. Three feet below this offset is a single course of larger masonry extending the width of the window.
Above the window is a shallow recess with irregular edges, about 8 ft. long and three rubble courses high. At the south end of the east wall, adjacent to the ashlar angle-dressings and above the offset, are three patches of brickwork, each of five courses of bricks averaging between 7½ and 9 in. long by ¾ in. thick.
The north wall of the chancel is completely stuccoed externally, and, like the east and south walls, is plastered internally. It contains an early-13th-century lancet with chamfered jambs and head; the wide-splayed rear-arch, with a pointed chamfered head, is of rubble with ashlar angle-dressings. The vestry is modern. It has in the south wall a recess built to contain the organ, which was not, however, put there but at the west end of the nave. (fn. 95) The east and north walls have each a square-headed window of three pointed cinquefoiled lights, with a label. There is a north door to the vestry.
There are three windows in the south wall of the chancel. The easternmost, of the early 13th century, is of two coupled lancets with chamfered jambs and head, both heads being formed out of a single block of stone. The second window is similar; part of its jambs shows axe-dressing. It has wide-splayed jambs, and below the rear-arch the wall has been recessed to form a seat. West of this window is a priest's door, roundheaded, with a continuous chamfer in jambs and head, each jamb showing a sandstone repair. The modern rear-arch has a segmental head. The doorway is probably a survival of the 12th-century building; the tooling of the jambs, however, nowhere shows the axe-dressing typical of the 12th century. The masonry of the wall is mainly coursed rubble, but above and to the west of the priest's door this material is larger and roughly squared; parts of it are restored. Underneath and between the first two windows is what appears to be a single bonding course of ancient thin brick. At the west end is a small, modern, round-headed window, placed high up and doubtless replacing the 'wide modern square-headed window' (fn. 96) formerly over the priest's door. Internally the south wall has at its east end a piscina, its square head and jambs being chamfered, and having an ancient bowl and drain. The east jamb has a slight roll-moulding extending the width of the chamfer just above its termination.
The modern chancel arch is of two moulded orders, of which the outer is continuous in head and jambs and the inner is carried on responds. As late as the early 19th century an 'open-work stone screen' apparently existed, (fn. 97) of which no architectural trace remains.
The early-14th-century north arcade is of four bays with octagonal pillars having capitals and bases of the same form. The arches are of two chamfered orders, the outer being everywhere stopped above the abacus except on the north side of the easternmost pillar. The eastern arch has a modern corbel respond. The capitals and bases of all but the western pillar have been extensively restored in a dark-brown stone. The contemporary south arcade of four bays has a modern corbel carrying its east end; the eastern pair of the three octagonal pillars has modern capitals and bases. Above each angle of the western pillar the slightly undercut bell of the circular capital is flattened. Each arcade has an ancient western semi-octagonal respond with moulded capital and base. The clearstory contains four square-headed windows; each is of two trefoiled ogeeheaded lights with pierced spandrels and has a shallow rear-arch with an almost flat elliptical-head and slightly splayed jambs. Only a small part of the jambs and tracery is ancient. The nave roof is of four bays carried by brackets and wall-posts resting on corbels, all of which, except those at the east and west ends, are human or grotesque masks.
The 14th-century north aisle wall is plastered internally and, like the vestry, is covered externally with smooth stucco; a two-centred arch and door divides them. The easternmost window is of two pointed lights with a forked mullion and pierced spandrel in a twocentred head which, like the jambs and mullion, is chamfered. There is an internal splay and pointed segmental rear-arch with a restored chamfered head. A modern sandstone buttress of two offsets divides this from the second window, which has two trefoiled ogeeheaded lights with pierced spandrels under a square head and is entirely modern. The north door has a two-centred head and is of two orders, each moulded with a swelled chamfer; its only ancient part is the segmental rear-arch. The north-west angle buttress is of two offsets; above the lowest portion of its simple double plinth, which is original and extends along the north and west walls of the aisle, a modern moulding of 14thcentury form has been added on both these walls. The west wall has a much-restored two-light window like the easternmost. The modern lean-to roof of the aisle has cresting along its lower edge; about 1 ft. below, and separated from it by long ashlar blocks, is an ogeemoulded cornice, broken by square lead rainwater heads, of which one bears the date 1818. The roof is of four bays, divided by moulded principals, of which the easternmost appears to be of the 15th century; it is carried on the north side by plain corbels, two to each bay, and on the south by a modern wall-plate.
The south aisle is of coursed rubble and has a double plinth. In the east wall is a window of three cinquefoiled pointed lights under a four-centred head. The chamfered mullions are carried up vertically to the soffit; the spandrels of all three lights are pierced. The jambs are moulded with two chamfers. The window, of a yellow sandstone, externally shows extensive repairs; a very large block of stone is placed above and slightly north of the apex. The rear-arch follows the form of the window and is slightly splayed; there is no ledge, the wall below being recessed to receive an altar. The south-east angle buttress of two offsets is largely ancient and is bonded into the rubble wall by ashlar blocks. Near the south-east angle is a piscina having a trefoiled ogee head which, with the jambs, is chamfered, and a circular bowl and drain. Two holes have been bored in the east and one in the west jamb. The south wall is divided into four bays by buttresses which are entirely modern. The first (easternmost) bay has a twocentred window of two cinquefoiled elliptical-headed lights with cusped tracery in the head. The second window has two pointed lights and a pierced spandrel, the jambs and mullion being chamfered. Externally very little of the original soft red sandstone is left except in the head; the jambs show extensive modern repairs in brick and cement, but internally are mostly ancient. The plastered rear-arch has a two-centred chamfered head. The south door has a two-centred head, with two sunk-chamfered orders which are continuous in the jambs. The timber porch is modern, possibly added at the same time as the two rainwater heads dated 1897. In the fourth bay is a restored window like that in the second. At the south-west angle are a pair of buttresses, of which that on the west wall is certainly ancient; the plinth is raised around it by 18 in. and continues on the west wall 6 in. higher than on the south. The west window is generally similar to that in the east wall of the south aisle, but with a more depressed head and solid spandrels; there is a plain hood-mould. The leanto roof is of five bays, carried on the nave side by seven irregularly spaced corbels, (fn. 98) of which the sixth is a human mask, and on the south by short wall-posts and brackets. Most of it is modern, but the easternmost, second and fourth principals, both purlins of the fourth and the north purlin of the fifth bays, and the carved bosses of the same bays are of the 15th century.
The tower, of coursed ashlar, is divided externally into two stages by a string-course, and has a triple plinth, of which only the lowest moulding continues around the north-west and south-west angle buttresses. These buttresses are of two stages and die into the angles at string-course level. At the south-east angle is a thickening for a stair-vice; at the north-east angle a similar thickening which terminates at the level of the aisle roof has no apparent purpose except to act as a buttress. The upper stage has in each face a square-headed window of two square-headed lights with chamfered jambs and mullions, and louvre boarding. The west window is two-centred, of three pointed lights with mullions intersecting in the head; jambs and mullions are of modern stone. There is a restored external hood-mould, and its two-centred rear-arch has splayed jambs. Between it and the string-course is a square-headed window of two square-headed lights, with a short central mullion and below it a triangular panel with irregular piercing. Beneath the window, which is of a soft red sandstone, is an animal carved in the same material. Weathering has made it difficult to distinguish, but it is said to be a muzzled bear, the crest of the Barfoot family. (fn. 99) The stair-vice has externally a small square-headed opening. The square-headed internal doorway to the vice has chamfered jambs and head. The newel stair rises only as far as the ringing chamber; above that the floor of the bell-chamber is at the level of the external stringcourse. At the top of the second stage of the tower is a string-course, above which are battlements. There were formerly square pinnacles, apparently 17th-century, set diagonally at the angles. (fn. 100) The tower has a low pyramidal roof. The tower arch has poorly moulded imposts resting upon corbels and responds of half-hexagonal form with two hollow mouldings and high bases. The arch itself is of a single plain order; its apex is hidden by the organ, but appears to be semicircular.
At the east end of the north aisle is a chest dated 1662 and bearing the churchwarden's and maker's names. At the west end of this aisle is a leaden casket for a heartburial, discovered during the restoration of 1894, in a vault beneath the chancel. Four leaden inscription plates from coffins found in the same place are let into the panelling of the sanctuary.
The plate (fn. 102) consists of an undated chalice and paten of c. 1600, a chalice with cover, paten, and flagon of 1748, an alms-dish of 1842, and a wafer-box of 1944.
The registers begin in 1594, (fn. 103) and the churchwardens' accounts in 1806.
The church was built in the early 13th century and its plan has not been materially altered since. At later dates in the same century the easternmost window of the south wall of the nave and the two-light windows with pierced spandrels were built. In the 14th century two lancets flanking the west door were inserted, and about a century later the east window. At various times after the Reformation seven brick buttresses and a west porch were added. The church suffered a drastic restoration, being almost entirely rebuilt in 1877 under Sir George Gilbert Scott. (fn. 104)
The chancel has a 15th-century east window of three trefoiled lights with chamfered jambs and mullions and pierced spandrels under a pseudo-four-centred head. There is a very slight splay to the jambs of the reararch, which has a chamfered head of the same form as the window. The wall is of small coursed rubble to a height of about 1 ft. 6 in. above the apex of the window above that the material is larger and modern. At a height of 3 ft. 6 in. is a narrow offset or chamfered plinth. The angle buttresses, of two offsets, and the wall-angles above them are of ashlar. The north wall is of similar masonry, heavily re-pointed, and has a late13th-century window of two adjacent lancets coupled by a chamfered mullion. The rear-arch is built of small, roughly squared-up coursed rubble and has a pointed segmental head. Below the window is a small roundheaded aumbry, almost certainly modern, though designed to suggest an ancient form. At the west end of this wall is a rectangular opening (about 2 ft. 6 in. by 2 ft.) extending the width of the wall, with an iron grille in front and apparently bricked up at the back. Outside in the angle of chancel and nave is a small brick building housing the heating apparatus.
In the south wall is a window similar to that opposite in the north wall. Its external jambs are treated in 'long and short' fashion; there is a single quarry of painted glass in the west head. The rear-arch has a plain segmental-pointed head and splayed jambs, between which, below the ledge, the wall has been recessed in modern times to form a seat. Near the angle of the nave wall is a short, pointed window with chamfered jambs and head, which are formed of large blocks of red sandstone. Internally the wide-splayed jambs have a very shallow segmental-pointed rear-arch. The roof, of two bays, is modern, carried on wall-posts and wooden corbels, and has a cambered tie-beam, curved braces beneath a collar-beam, a king-post, and ridge. There are curved windbraces to the purlins.
The two-centred chancel arch, of the early 14th century, is of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous in the jambs, the inner terminating on capitals and responds. A half-round moulding extends across the chamfer of the outer order just above the point where it is stopped. The capitals and bases of the responds are moulded.
The east wall of the nave, of coursed rubble and containing no openings on its north side, is about 1 ft. 3 in. thicker below the level of the chancel eaves than above. At the north-east angle on the north wall is a buttress of one offset, the restored plinth of which is continued the full length of that wall. In the east half is a twocentred window of two pointed lights with a pierced spandrel, and a modern hood-mould with head-stops. Internally the jambs are splayed, and the restored reararch has a chamfered, pointed, segmental head. In the west half is a similar window, also extensively repaired, which has ancient head-stops to the hood-mould, the east a bearded man, the west a woman. There is a buttress at the north-west angle and another between the windows.
The south side of the east wall near the angle of the chancel has a small pointed window with chamfered jambs and head of sandstone. South of it marks in the plaster seem to indicate the position of a former roodloft staircase; a piscina to a rood-loft altar was discovered in 1877. (fn. 105) The east wall of the nave is of coursed rubble in its lower part, but immediately below the projection the coursing becomes irregular. The south wall is of coursed rubble; its plinth is largely ancient. It has a small shallow piscina with a two-centred head and chamfered jambs; there is a semicircular projection for the bowl and the drain is intact. There are buttresses at the east end, at the south-west angle, and between the windows. The eastern window has three pointed lights with pierced spandrels and chamfered jambs and mullions under a two-centred head. Sufficient of the original stone remains in the heads of the lights to prove their form ancient, otherwise it is restored. The splayed rear-arch has a plain pointed head and is almost entirely restored. The other window is similar to those in the north wall. It has a hood-mould, but only its jambs are ancient. Prior to the restoration there was a window of two coupled square-headed lights here. (fn. 106)
The west wall has a thickening similar to that on the east, but of slighter projection, about 5 in. The plinth is the same height as on the north wall, and about 1 ft. higher than that of the south wall. Between modern windows similar to those on the north side is a doorway with a two-centred head and head-stopped hood-mould; its jambs have a three-quarter-round moulding flanked by a hollow. The restored rear-arch has a chamfered segmental head. Before the restoration the door was flanked by trefoiled lancets. (fn. 107) Above each window there is at the base of the gable a much-restored or modern round-headed window. The roof is modern.
The present screen in front of the chancel arch is made up of work of at least two periods, with modern additions. There is one 15th-century bay on each side, connected by a modern top rail and open tracery forming a head over the central opening. Each bay rests on a post-medieval carved panel. Below the two offsets the standards preserve the same section throughout—save that the lower part is slotted for tracery—viz. a fillet flanked by a cyma and a hollow chamfer; above, the fillet is changed to a moulding of triangular section rising from the top offset. Below the middle rail, which is moulded on each side with an ogee above and a hollow beneath, each bay is divided into two trefoiled pointed lights with pierced spandrels; the mullion is moulded with a bead flanked by hollows. The opening above the middle rail has a traceried head formed by an ogee beneath a pointed arch, their apexes being joined by a mullion. Each half of the opening thus divided has at the side a two-centred arch of two cinquefoiled lights with foliated cusps and a quatrefoiled spandrel. Beneath the ogee are three round arches of tracery each subdivided into two pointed arches, all open at the base and terminating in rosettes. The top side of the ogee has floral crockets; the blind spandrels of the main arch are carved with a sunk trefoil, with a rosette in the centre. The standards have moulded caps, upon each of which is a figure. The two figures of each bay are alike, but are difficult to identify. One is bearded, with a long outer garment buttoned across the chest, the left arm outstretched and the right gathering up the folds of the garment; the other has no beard, the robe is gathered at the neck, and the gestures of the arms are reversed. The original sill beam has disappeared, and each bay rests on a rectangular panel which has its raised jambs and head richly carved with foliage. At the corners are grotesque masks. The panel is subdivided into six squares, each containing within a circle a geometrical or diaper pattern.
Against the southern part of the east wall of the nave stands another piece of screenwork, consisting of a large panel flanked on each side by two smaller panels, all filled with blind tracery. The central portion contains a large ogee arch which has a circle in its head. The circle is filled with cusped curved tracery and has a small quatrefoiled circle at its centre; it is given the appearance of resting on four multifoiled pointed arches. Above the ogee head on each side are five narrow panels with trefoiled pointed heads; superimposed on them, and rising from the ogee head, are two large crockets. Each side panel contains a large ogee subdivided into three pointed arches which have quatrefoil cusping in the spandrels and are in turn subdivided into two trefoil-headed panels with cusped net tracery in the head. The apex of the ogee cuts into a round arch; between them, and in the spandrels of the latter, is luxuriant foliage carving. The cresting is of Tudor-flower type, the flat formalized flowers being alternately large and small. Behind the former runs a string which has a rosette above each small flower.
The organ has inscriptions in German on the stops; the case, of Restoration date, came from the choir organ of St. John's College, Cambridge, about 1868, and was probably built by Thamar. (fn. 108) It is richly ornamented with cherubim and has a large central panel of the Nativity.
The plate consists of a chalice, c. 1600, a flagon, c. 1750, and a paten which is probably of 18th-century date. (fn. 110)
The registers begin in 1593, (fn. 111) but are missing for the years 1643–54.
The church of Clifton, 'which formerly was a prebend of the castle of Leicester', (fn. 112) was given to the Abbey of Leicester by Ernald (I) de Bois, with the chapels of Rugby and Brownsover (Wavre), the grant being confirmed by Henry II (fn. 113) and later by Ernald (IV) de Bois. (fn. 114) It was appropriated to the abbey by Geoffrey Muschamp, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (1198–1214), and was valued in 1291 at £16 13s. 4d. (fn. 115) It continued in the possession of the canons until the Dissolution. In 1535 the rectory was farmed at £8 11s. 10d., (fn. 116) the vicarage being rated at £8 1s. 8d. (fn. 117) In 1553 the advowson of the vicarage, with the rectorial manse and glebe, and the tithes and tithe barn then in the tenure of William Leigh and Elizabeth his wife, were granted to Thomas Cecill and John Bell, of London. (fn. 118) By 1576 the advowson was in the hands of Thomas Shuckborough and Charles Waterhouse, who presented to the living (fn. 119) and in 1590, with Charles's wife Ursula, (fn. 120) conveyed the rectory and advowson to Samuel Bevercote and Thomas Clarke. (fn. 121) In 1598 William Dilke presented, (fn. 122) and in 1605 he conveyed the rectory and advowson to Edward Boughton, (fn. 123) who sold them to Sir Robert Whitney in 1614. (fn. 124) A presentation was made in 1632 by Mary Moore, (fn. 125) whose interest is not clear, but in 1639 Robert Whitney presented (fn. 126) and from that time the advowson remained attached to the manor of Clifton. It was not, however, sold with that manor but remained in the hands of the Bridgemans, earls of Bradford, until c. 1900, when it was bought by Boughton-Leigh of Brownsover, (fn. 127) with which manor it is now held.
As mentioned above, Brownsover was from the 12th century onwards a chapelry of Clifton. In 1221 Maud Balastre (or Banastre) remitted to the Abbot of Leicester her claim, in right of dower, to the advowson of the church of Brownsover, (fn. 128) but on what this claim was based is not recorded.
There was also a chapel at Newton, the rectory, or tithes, of which were valued at £7 6s. 8d. in 1535. (fn. 129) These tithes were granted in 1553 to Thomas Farneham, (fn. 130) and in 1616 the site of the chapel of Newton was leased for 21 years to Ralph Smythe. (fn. 131)
The Anthony S. Benn Charity. By a Declaration of Trust dated 5 June 1895 the sum of £200 was settled upon trust, the dividends to be paid to the vicar and churchwardens of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore for coals and blankets to be distributed among the poor inhabitants of the parish as near Christmas as conveniently might be in every year. The annual income amounts to £5 1s.
George Charles Benn by will dated 31 August 1894 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £200, the income to be given away annually, in coals or blankets, to deserving poor people of the parish about Christmas time. The annual income amounts to £4 15s.
Maria Benn by will dated 8 February 1873 bequeathed £100 to the vicar and churchwardens, the income to be applied in the purchase of flannel blankets, bread, or coals, to be distributed annually at Christmas amongst the deserving and poor inhabitants of the parish of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore proper but not the hamlets belonging thereto. The annual income of the charity amounts to £2 10s.
Mary Christian Benn by will dated 5 November 1863 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £500, the income thereof to be spent on bread, coals, or blankets, to be distributed annually about Christmas Day among the deserving and poor inhabitants of the parish. The annual income amounts to £13 9s. 4d.
Caldecott's Almshouses (sometimes also known as Marriott's Almshouses). By an Indenture dated 16 March 1860 Charles Marriott Caldecott conveyed to trustees a piece of land forming part of the glebe of the parish of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore together with the three cottages thereon, upon trust to permit the premises to be occupied rent free by such three poor, honest, and industrious widows, being inhabitants of the parish and regular attendants at church, nominated by the minister and churchwardens. By a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 25 July 1930 it was provided that if a vacancy occurs among the almspeople and there is no duly qualified widow who is suitable to fill the vacancy, the trustees may appoint to the vacancy a suitable person who is a spinster and not a widow.
Sophia Catherine Marriott by her will proved on 16 February 1860 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens £160, the income to be applied in keeping the three cottages devised by Charles Marriott Caldecott in repair and insuring against damage by fire, and then to pay the residue between one or more poor widows, regular attendants at church and inhabitants of Clifton or Newton, in such proportions as they may think fit. The annual income of the charity amounts to £4 0s. 4d.
Town Lands. By Articles of Agreement dated 1 May 1648 it was covenanted and agreed that the Meadow called Morton Myres and so much land adjoining the meadow on the north side as would make up in all to 20 acres should be set by the churchwardens and constables to such of the poor inhabitants of Clifton as had no other land assigned to them, and that the yearly rent should be received half by the churchwardens and half by the constables and employed by them in defraying charges incident to their offices. The charity is now regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners dated 23 November 1866 and 23 November 1883, which appoint a body of trustees to administer the charity and provide that one moiety of the income of the charity shall be applied primarily towards defraying expenses connected with the parish church and usually covered by a church rate, and towards the maintenance of the church and its appurtenances; and that the other moiety of the income shall be applied primarily to the payment of the charges properly incident to the office of constable, and subject thereto to the benefit of the most deserving and necessitous resident inhabitants of the Township of Clifton-upon-Dunsmore. The annual income of the charity amounts to £43 approximately.
Townsend Memorial Hall. By an Indenture dated 16 January 1922 the tenement known as the Village Hall, together with the caretaker's cottage adjoining, was conveyed to the parish council upon trust that the premises shall be known as the Townsend Memorial Hall and shall form a Village Hall for the benefit of the inhabitants of the parish.
Abraham Turner. It is stated in the printed Parliamentary Reports of the Former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities dated 1834 that he gave £21 to the poor of Brownsover, the interest being applied by the churchwardens in the purchase of coals. The annual income of the charity amounts to £1 2s. 8d. which is distributed to the poor in coals.
Elizabeth Jeraway by will dated 8 March 1836 gave to the officiating minister of Clifton-on-Dunsmore and the churchwardens and overseers of Clifton and Newton £100, to apply the interest in the distribution of bread and coals amongst the poor of Newton upon the morning of Christmas Day for ever. The charity is now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 20 October 1916 which appoints a body of trustees and directs that the yearly income of the charity shall be so applied. The yearly income amounts to £2 13s. 8d.
Town Lands. By the Award made in pursuance of an Act for inclosing the common fields of Newton dated 18 January 1757 a piece of ground in the Moor-field containing 2 a. 1 r. was allotted to the constable and churchwarden of Newton to the intent that the allotment and the rents thereof should be employed in the first place in making the hedges, ditches, mounds, and fences and subject thereto to such uses and in such manner as the major part of the landholders and occupiers of lands in Newton should on Easter Monday yearly direct and appoint. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 20 October 1916 a body of trustees were appointed to administer the charity. The land is let to various tenants at the total yearly rent of £1 18s.