A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Population: 1911, 1,646; 1921, 2,281; 1931, 4,426.
As a civil parish Exhall has been extinguished; certain detached portions were amalgamated with Foleshill in 1885; by the Coventry Extension Act of 1931 part was included in the City and County Borough of Coventry, and in 1932 it was transferred to the parish of Bedworth. (fn. 1) Like other parishes in the neighbourhood it seems to have had no main village, but a number of hamlets, such as Newland, Ash Green, Exhall Hall Green, and Neale's Green. In recent years the development of coal-mining and brick-works has led to much building of small houses, especially along the Bedworth Road and at Ash Green and Goodyers End. The coal-mines in this parish have been worked from at least the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 2)
The bounds of the parish as set out in 1411 (fn. 3) seem to have remained unchanged until the 19th century. They begin on the west in the neighbourhood of Grove Lane (which marks the site of Corleygrove, adjoining the park of Newland): from the corner of Newland by the ditch of the hospital of St. John called Corlehay to Corlebroke (now Breach Brook), so to the sluice of the mill of Smerecote (in Bedworth), by the hedge and ditch called Rowdech to Cattescroftelane (now Goodyers End Lane), to Little Heath, to the gate of the rectory of Bedworth, to the Downebroke. Then follow several lost landmarks, but 'the ditch between the Hay and Sydenhalewode' is evidently Little Sydnall Lane, and there is a reference to the boundary crossing the highroad from Coventry to Nuneaton. This road runs through the eastern portion of the parish, the extremity of which still farther east is crossed by the railway and the Coventry Canal; Longford and Exhall Station is just outside, but Hawkesbury Lane Station is just within the parish.
Newland Hall Farm, west of Ash Green, was formerly the manor-house of the Coventry Priory estate. Just to the south and east of the house a depression, now mostly drained of water, probably marks the site of fish ponds; there is no evidence of its having been part of a moat. The depression is crossed by a causeway some 50 yds. long where large stumps of recently felled trees suggest an avenue; and its grass banks are broken by ancient sandstone retaining walls of varying height. (fn. 4)
The house consists of a main block facing south and one running northwards from the north-eastern angle. The former is three-storied, with tall gables, and the latter two-storied, carrying a hipped roof. Both roofs are of tile and the eaves run at nearly the same level; their walls are of red and grey sandstone up to eaveslevel, except the whole of the west gable end, a portion of the main north wall, and the upper part of the east gable, which are of 18th-century brickwork. The stonework appears to be uniformly of the 15th century. The wing has a small extension to the north, one story in height, with a gabled roof stopping against its north wall: this is timber-framed and of the late 16th century. The roofing tiles are modern and the chimney-stacks appear to have been rebuilt in the 18th century.
There are two entrances; one is on the west side of the wing; the other, in the southern half of the main eastern gable-end, has square jambs and a square lintelled head. The door is of heavy studded oak set within an oak frame and threshold, and is probably of the 16th century; it is held by two wrought-iron strap-hinges. This doorway and the adjacent window in the end of the main block have label-moulds; the two windows of the north wing have never had labelmoulds: all three windows have lost their mullions. Those in the wing have a single chamfered order, and that alongside the doorway has two such orders. At first-floor level, at even intervals across the width of the main block, are four stone corbel heads, early-17th-century in character and probably incorporated from another building in the 18th-century renovation. Lighting the two floors above are two 18th-century casements set in brickwork, and over each ground-floor window in the north wing is another casement. Only the main block stands upon a plinth.
In the south wall there are four windows—with three at ground-floor level; that to the east is four-light, the others two-light, and all have mullions and labelmoulds. The westernmost window is blocked with brickwork and occurs so close to the west corner that the 15th-century walls evidently continued beyond the present 18th-century gable-end. A heavy oak wallplate, 7 in. deep, is exposed at the eaves, and three anchorages can be seen, consisting of ancient wroughtiron dogs and straps, where roof trusses occur. (fn. 5) The chamfered plinth continues along the south wall but returns downward near the western corner, and a plain stone plinth, one course higher than the other, runs along the foot of the west gable brick wall, in which the windows are of the 18th century.
The west side of the north wing is of massive ancient stonework, except for 18 in. where it joins the main block; this is of brick, with a straight joint between the stone and the brickwork. Close to this angle is the entrance referred to above; the heavy oak frame and the door, of which the outer face is of very heavy oak boards spiked onto vertical and horizontal oak bars, appear to be of the 15th century.
The timber-framed gable of the north extension is filled with brick nogging and the walls below are of brick and stone bonded together.
The whole of the interior was replanned in the 18th century and the plain staircases are probably of this date, but the original 15th-century roof trusses have been left in position and are well preserved. The main tie-beams occur at second-floor level and upper collarbeams at the level of the second-floor ceiling, which conceals the upper framework. The exposed beams are chamfered, and ancient wrought-iron straps strengthen the joints.
The eastern entrance door gives access to a kitchen, with a large ingle-nook and heavy oak beams supporting the wall over this opening and carrying the floor joists; these are treated with stopped chamfers. The room in the north wing has 16th-century doors, lightly framed in oak with linen-fold panels.
On the first floor the only room of interest is that arranged in the east gable, spanning its full width. Its walls are panelled in moulded oak, the panels being small and plain, of the early 17th century. The east and south walls have panelled dadoes only, but the north wall is panelled to its full height and has a contemporary fire-place and surround, the overmantel being treated with three main Doric fluted pilasters, having finely moulded caps and bases; between them are smaller pilasters which may once have supported enriched semicircular-headed panels.
Black Horse Road crosses the Coventry-Bedworth main road and then runs south-west, passing the Moat House, which is modern and surrounded by woodland, on the west side. Farther along, on the same side, is Manor House Farm. It is mainly of 18th-century brick and tile construction, but the rear facade (west side) belongs to the 17th century. It is divided into two bays by means of three fluted Doric pilasters, which stand on pedestals each supporting a triglyph, but the cornice over has been removed. These features are of brown sandstone, and except for a stone plinth and stringcourse the remainder is of brick with sash windows of a later date. The whole appears to constitute a central entrance bay and a south wing, slightly recessed, the balancing wing to the north having been demolished. The original centre door architrave remains, with two flanking Doric columns supporting blocks of entablature and a segmented pediment.
A quarter of a mile to the north of Moat House a by-road runs west past a field on the north side which contains a conspicuously large ash tree raised on a slight mound and protected by iron railings. A track across the same field leads to High Ash Farm, the north wing of which is timber-framed and of the 16th century. Just to the east of the farm are the remains of a circular brick windmill of 18th-century type.
Farther west the road slopes down to join another from the parish church, at Exhall Hall, now divided into three tenements. The plan of the house is Lshaped, with a large projecting gable-end on the south end of the west side, about 25 ft. wide. It is two stories in height, with attics in the tiled roof. From the west a short track crosses a moat surrounding the house by a bridge with modern stone parapets and an arch of 18th-century brickwork. Here the moat is 25 ft. wide and runs parallel with the house, 10 ft. clear of the gable-end. The latter has been stuccoed and the openings are modern, but the timber-framed construction is evident on account of the gable projecting 2 ft. 6 in. Two heavy oak corner-posts are exposed with their feet at first-floor level, rising about 13 ft. to the eaves; octagonal shafting is worked on their face up to twothirds of their height, where a moulded oak capital carries chamfered brackets which support the ends of an overhanging beam. This, though decayed, still carries moulded top and bottom edges, the former cambered. The soffit is coved in plaster, and this curves down to meet two more exposed beams embedded along the top of the lower wall-surface; they are each about 5 ft. in length and there is a gap in the centre, and each is treated with embattled cresting.
The main block is raised upon a plain stone plinth and the wall above is of 18th-century brickwork, with two dormer windows in the roof. The moat is rectangular and passes fairly close (fn. 6) by the south side, where the eaves-line runs back from the base of the timberframed gable. This façade is entirely modernized, but there are three more vertical oak posts (all plain) exposed above first-floor level, the length being divided into three bays. The east and north sides have been modernized.
The interior of the house at the time of its conversion into tenements contained moulded oak beams and open fireplaces, (fn. 7) but these features are no longer visible. Some ancient panelling then found lining the rafters over the timber-framed roof has been removed to The Grove. Some of these panels show slight traces of human figures of medieval character and may have formed part of a church screen. Others are 16th-century linen-fold panels, of which the longest bears also a shield charged with a merchant's mark and the initials 1 n, probably for Julian Nethermyll, merchant of Coventry, who bought the manor in 1535 (see below), or perhaps his son John.
There are many yew trees on the banks of the moat to the north and east. To the south-west lies the farmyard, one side of which is occupied by a long 16th-century timber-framed barn.
The road running south through Ash Green passes on to Neal's Green, where tracks lead west to Exhall House and east to Exhall Grange; the former is an 18th-century residence and the latter is chiefly of the same century and mainly of brick, but part of its length is plastered over and is probably constructed in 16th-century timber.
EXHALL is not individually mentioned in Domesday; it probably formed part of the lands of the Countess Godiva, being included in the 9 hides of Ansty and Foleshill, (fn. 8) as, like most of her estates, Exhall passed to the Earls of Chester, and in the reign of Stephen Ranulf, Earl of Chester, granted a portion of wood and waste in Exhall and Keresley estimated at 280 acres to Coventry priory. (fn. 9) On the death in 1232 of the grandson of the above, another Ranulf, his estates were divided amongst his four sisters, (fn. 10) Exhall coming to Mabel, wife of William, Earl of Arundel, whose son Hugh d'Aubigny held half a knight's fee in chief in Exhall in 1235–6. (fn. 11) In 1243 this half fee, then held by Maurice le Butiller, was assigned to Isabel, Hugh's widow, in dower. (fn. 12) She survived till 1282, and in 1275 Exhall is again recorded as part of the honor of Chester, being at that date among the knights' fees held of the manor of Coventry of the honor by Robert de Monhaut (Monte Alto) sometime steward of Chester. (fn. 13) In 1303 another Robert de Monhaut was in trouble for breaking into the several closes of the Prior of Coventry at Exhall and Newland with a multitude of armed men, carrying away deer and assaulting his servants. (fn. 14) Robert de Morlee, his kinsman and heir, made an indenture with Isabelle, queen of Edward II, which was confirmed in 1335 after he had come into his estates, (fn. 15) whereby he exchanged, for the manor of Framsden (Suffolk), various rents and services including those due from James Daudeleye in Exhall. (fn. 16) The holding of the latter, including a portion in Foleshill, was reckoned as half a knight's fee in 1275. (fn. 17) The earldom of Chester had been annexed to the Crown in 1265 and became the appanage of the heir apparent. The manor thus was held of the Crown in 1416, (fn. 18) there being at that time no heir apparent, but in 1542 it was stated to be held of Prince Edward as of his manor of Cheylesmore, parcel of the Duchy of Cornwall. (fn. 19) In 1549 Edward VI granted Cheylesmore to the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 20) who immediately leased it to the corporation of Coventry. They were confirmed in possession in 1568, (fn. 21) and were thus the chief lords of Exhall the last time an overlord is mentioned (1575). (fn. 22)
The tenants of Exhall manor from 1243 (fn. 23) were the Butler or Boteler family of Warrington (Lancs.), their holding in Exhall being reckoned as half a knight's fee then and in 1275. (fn. 24) William le Boteler was granted free warren in his demesne lands in Exhall and elsewhere in 1285. (fn. 25) In the same year he was involved with William Charnels of Bedworth in a dispute over common pasture in their respective manors, and quitclaimed all right of pasture in Bedworth in return for a similar undertaking by Charnels regarding Exhall, together with a grant of 2 acres in Exhall given to Charnels by Roger de Craft. (fn. 26) In 1314 the manor was leased by William le Boteler and Sybil his wife to Ralph de la Chaumbre, (fn. 27) and in 1340 was settled on Richard, William's grandson, (fn. 28) and his wife Joan, in tail, with contingent remainders to John his brother (and eventual heir) in tail, and the right heirs of William their father. (fn. 29) The Botelers continued in possession for nearly 200 years more, (fn. 30) the manor being finally disposed of in 1535 by Sir Thomas Butler and Baldwin Porter to Julian Nethermyll, draper and alderman of Coventry, Christopher Wareyn, and Richard Humphrey. (fn. 31) Julian died seised of Exhall manor, with lands in Exhall, Foleshill, and Keresley, in 1539, when his son John was 24. (fn. 32) The latter also became an alderman of Coventry (fn. 33) and was succeeded by his son, another John, who, in 1605, leased the manor to Richard Chamberlayne and Henry Crofts. (fn. 34) A third John Nethermyll, great-grandson of Julian, sold it to Sir John Garrard, alderman of London, (fn. 35) some time before 1621, when the son of the latter, on whom he had settled the manor, (fn. 36) leased it to Joseph Galliard and Thomas Meek. (fn. 37) The younger John Garrard, who became a baronet in 1622, (fn. 38) settled the manor on his wife and eldest son, and died in 1637. (fn. 39) Soon after this the Garrards, whose main seat was in Wheathampstead (Herts.), must have parted with Exhall, which in 1650 was conveyed by George Dyer, junior, and Edith his wife to William Dyer. (fn. 40) Later it passed to Sir Arthur Cayley, (fn. 41) who was patron of the living between 1662 and 1686. (fn. 42) He is styled 'of Newland in the County of the City of Coventry', (fn. 43) so that at this period the former monastic lands in Exhall, which had had an independent manorial existence under the name of Newland since the 14th century, may have become reunited to Exhall proper. Cayley's daughter and heiress Mary married Sir Samuel Marow, bart. of Berkswell, who was lord for a short time before his death in or before 1699. (fn. 44) He or his widow sold the manor 'about thirty years ago' (i.e. circa 1700) to William Cheslin, whose son George was lord in 1730. (fn. 45) In 1755 there was a conveyance of Exhall manor between Thomas and Martha Rollinson and John Williamson, (fn. 46) and in 1769 Charles Vere of London was lord. (fn. 47) He and Martha Vere conveyed it in 1789 to Henry Boulton and others. (fn. 48) Latterly the manor has been in the hands of the Startin family, George Startin being lord in 1850 (fn. 49) and Mr. H. W. Startin in 1936 and later. (fn. 50)
The lands of Coventry cathedral priory in Exhall, consisting originally of the 280 acres of waste, lying between the Breach Brook and the road from Coventry to Astley, granted by Ranulf, Earl of Chester, in the 12th century, in lieu of the right to take wood daily in his woodlands, which he had previously granted them, (fn. 51) were considerably enlarged at various times. Licences to alienate Exhall property in mortmain to this monastery were granted in 1349 (fn. 52) and 1369. (fn. 53) In 1332 the prior had received licence to impark 246 acres of waste and wood in the manor of NEWLAND, (fn. 54) and in 1535 the total value of the Coventry monastic estates in Exhall was £8 9s. 9d. (fn. 55) After the Dissolution they were granted out in the first instance in small lots. Richard Andrewys and Leonard Chamberleyne of Woodstock (Oxon.) were granted a wood called Calverley, in the tenancy of Henry Waver, in 1542, (fn. 56) and William Pulteney of Exhall received a 21-year lease of lands in 1544. (fn. 57) In 1542 Michael Cameswell obtained a confirmation of the lease of chambers, &c., in Newland mansion granted to him by Thomas Cameswell the last prior in 1538. (fn. 58) The freehold of this house was granted in 1544 to John Wade and Thomas Gregorye. (fn. 59) In 1553 the manor of Exhall lately held by Coventry priory and all possessions of that priory in Exhall except the rectory and advowson were granted to Thomas Browne and William Breton of London, (fn. 60) who in the same year received licence to alienate them to Michael Cameswell, Elizabeth his wife, and their heirs. (fn. 61) Cameswell, with Peter Temple of Burton Dassett, was confirmed in possession in 1557, (fn. 62) when the annual value was £13. Two years later Cameswell had licence to alienate his manors of Newland and Exhall, with all the lands appertaining, to Stephen Hales. (fn. 63) His grandson, another Stephen, who died in 1624, (fn. 64) was involved with Humphrey Fenn, one of his tenants, in lawsuits over property. (fn. 65) His son Charles was vouchee in a recovery of the manor in 1627, (fn. 66) and Charles's son Stephen was lord in Dugdale's time (1640). (fn. 67) In the latter half of the 17th century this manor or manors (Newland and Exhall being mentioned separately from 1559 onwards) became reunited with the non-monastic manor of Exhall (q.v.) in the hands of Sir Arthur Cayley, who had married the widow of Charles Hales; (fn. 68) but in 1695 Francis Fisher, younger son of Thomas Fisher who was the second husband of Mary (daughter and heir of Sir Arthur Cayley), widow of Sir Samuel Marow, was concerned in a recovery of Newland manor without mention of that of Exhall; (fn. 69) and John Knightley or Wightwick, who had married the elder daughter of Sir Samuel, similarly in 1709. (fn. 70) In 1730 Elizabeth, Sir Samuel's second daughter, was lady of the manor of Newland, (fn. 71) Exhall being by this time in other hands. The manor of Exhall of which John Wightwick was lord in 1789 (fn. 72) was probably this one, Exhall proper having been conveyed by other parties in the same year. Newland was considered as a separate manor as late as 1850, when Benjamin Parker was lord. (fn. 73)
The Carthusians of Coventry held land in Exhall. In 1544 their property, including a grove called Robyns Grove in the tenancy of Julian Nethermyll (lord of Exhall manor), was granted to John Burges and Edward Wotton, doctors in medicine, of London. (fn. 74) In 1546 it was regranted to Edward Watson of Rockingham and Henry Herdson, skinner, of London. (fn. 75)
The church of ST. GILES is situated in the centre of the parish where the road from Bedworth Heath forks to Ash Green on the west and Neals Green to the south, and is skirted on the south-west side by Breach Brook. It consists of a square-ended chancel with vestry attached on the north side, nave, north and south aisles, and western tower; there is a small south porch. The nave contains three bays, and two timber roof trusses divide the chancel into three bays.
The nave and chancel appear to originate from the 13th century, (fn. 76) although the nave has been rebuilt in modern times, when extensive restorations were carried out to the chancel also. The tower appears to have been added in the 14th century, and subsequent additions have been recorded on a tablet under the window of the west wall of the north aisle which states that the north aisle was added in 1609 'as the burial place of the Hales family', the south aisle in 1842, and the vestry, with an extension of the north aisle, in 1885.
The chancel is mainly of the 14th century (early?), and the exterior face of the north wall is covered by the vestry, except for a narrow unpierced bay to the east, which is bounded by a buttress on the west side against which the vestry gable is built. All the plain wallsurfaces are plastered, leaving only the red sandstone of the buttresses, surrounds to the openings, parapets, &c. The eastern gable has two diagonal buttresses at the angles, each with two offsets, above which project carved heads supporting the kneelers, which are each weathered and faced with trefoiled gablets having moulded ridges; a modern cross stands upon the apex stone. The east window is original and consists of a two-centred lancet-shaped head with a hood-mould terminating in heads inclined inwards. It is divided into three lights and the tracery, concentric with the head, has no cusping. The jambs are of two chamfered orders, which return along the sill. The south wall has one intermediate buttress of two offsets. Immediately to the west of the buttress is a small doorway of a single chamfered order and with a two-centred head and hood-mould with head-stops. It contains an 18th-century door with contemporary wrought-iron latch. West of it is a small window with a lancet-shaped head and chamfered jambs, 3 ft. high and 11 in. wide. To the east of the buttress is one window of two chamfered orders containing a single light; the two-centred head with the hood-mould has been recently renewed. All the original work appears contemporary with the east gable except for the small lancet, which must have remained in a portion of early-13th-century walling.
The arcades to north and south of the nave are similar; each is modern and consists of three bays, the piers being octagonal with moulded caps supporting four-centred arches of two chamfered orders, the centre spans being slightly wider than the others. The responds are in the form of half-piers, except that against the south wall of the tower, which has been reduced to accommodate a moulded corbel 12 in. below the abacus for the support of a gallery constructed late in the last century and since removed. The chancel arch also is modern; it is two-centred and of two moulded orders, with a hood-mould stopped on carved heads. The tower arch is of the 14th century and spans the whole of the interior width of the tower, the jambs being square with chamfered angles towards the nave, the two centres of the arch are below the level of the springing, and there are two chamfered orders.
The two distinct periods when the north aisle was built and then extended are evident from the exterior. The tiled roof, with centre ridge, terminates in a west gable of red sandstone with sloping parapet walls and containing a three-light window similar in type to the lower west window of the tower, but the whole is modern with the exception of an inset shield of grey sandstone, protected by a modern drip-mould. It presumably dates from 1609, as it bears the arms of Hales—three arrows, with a molet for difference.
There is a diagonal buttress on the north-west angle, and the north wall is pierced by two windows, forming two bays, the bay to the west being narrower than that to the east. The division is marked by a buttress with two weathered offsets; it is similar to the angle buttress and they are modern, together with the whole of the bay between them. Both windows have three trefoiled lights, with four-centred heads, but that to the east is of 17th-century workmanship with its arched head more depressed, the trefoiled heads contain narrower top lobes, the fillet to the tracery is set out with great freedom of line and not geometrically, and the hoodmould is cut off abruptly at each extremity.
Although both bays are of red sandstone and carry a similar ovolo moulding to support the open eaves, that to the east consists of more irregular masonry. Furthermore the eastern bay carries between the eaves and the apex of the window hood a stone inscribed 'an[n]o do[mi]ni 1609'. In the corresponding position in the western bay is a stone inscribed 'a.d. 1885'.
There is a similar diagonal buttress on the north-east angle of the aisle, and further to the east the line of the aisle is continued by a modern vestry of lesser proportions. This is entered from the aisle by a modern doorway, of which the head is formed by that of the original 17th-century window. Another modern doorway gives access to the chancel. The vestry is of red sandstone; it has a doorway with a two-centred head on the north side. The north-east angle is marked by a diagonal buttress and a stone chimney-stack from a heating chamber beneath. Below the two-light east window is a large stone inscribed 'Erected a.d. 1885, W. Scott, Vicar ...', &c. The vestry roof, of tile, is lower than that of the aisle, consequently the gable of the latter rises above it, and displays the Hales shield, as at the west.
The south aisle is modern and is built of rough grey sandstone with a chamfered plinth, buttresses, corbeltable, and surrounds of openings, in red sandstone. It consists of three bays divided by shallow buttresses, set diagonally on the angles. It is roofed with tiles like the nave, with open eaves and plain parapet walls at the gables. The centre bay is occupied by a small modern porch of similar treatment with small single-light windows in each side wall. A two-light window occupies each of the flanking bays, and there is a three-light window in each of the gable walls to west and east. All the windows have two-centred heads and trefoiled lights.
All the floors of the interior are entirely modern.
The tower is constructed in two stages with diagonal buttresses, each having four weathered offsets. The plinth consists of two weathered and moulded offsets (much defaced). The whole is about 55 ft. in height and is built of a cream and grey coloured sandstone which has weathered black in patches. The lower stage contains one glazed opening which is on the western face; it has two chamfered mullions recessed between hollowed jambs. The head is four-centred, and each of the three lights is trefoiled; (fn. 77) the hood-mould has simple return-ends. The staircase to the belfry is contained within the south-west angle, and up to the top of the lower stage it is lit by two open chamfered slit lights which pierce the western face. Three other chamfered rectangular lights open to the chamber beneath the belfry, one on each face.
A weathered string-course divides the two stages and stops against the buttresses at their third offset. Between this string on the west face and the head of the window below a carved square block of stone is bonded. It contains a shield, bearing what seems to be a monogram, set within a quatrefoil.
The eastern buttresses of the tower thicken out at their bases to form wide chamfered piers, (fn. 78) around which the plinth is returned.
There are four belfry windows—one to each face; they each have two lights and a two-centred head approximating to a semicircle, the lights are trefoiled, and the jamb and head consist of two chamfered orders. The hood-mould has a chamfered underside which returns at the ends to form its own chamfered weathering. The upper offsets to the buttresses line through with the springing level of the belfry windows, and slight diagonal projections build up from them, intersect with the upper string-course, and support small plain pinnacles at the angles, now much decayed. The tower roof is modern and of slate. Rising from the apex is a gilded wrought iron weather vane.
The doorway to the tower stair in the south wall has a two-centred stone head set on chamfered jambs. There is an outer and an inner door, the latter being ancient.
The interior walls of the tower consist of the bare stonework; other walls are mainly plastered. On the wall of the north aisle there are four moulded corbels at a height of 7 ft.; two similar ones are set high at the springing level of the windows; the former evidently supported the gallery referred to above, and the latter may have supported an exposed roof truss, now removed. Two arched recesses, one in the west wall of each aisle, situated against the line of the nave arcades, mark the positions of staircases to the galleries. Similar corbels are ranged along the wall of the south aisle for the support of a gallery.
All the glazing is modern, and many of the windows, including those in the chancel, have stained glass. The east window of the south aisle is filled with plain glass, probably because it is partially obscured by the small modern organ; ranged alongside this is an oak panel forming the First World War memorial.
All the roof construction is modern. The nave is spanned by two roof trusses of the king-post type, but the spaces between the members are divided by chamfered vertical rails. Modern moulded corbels carry each truss by means of a wall-post and bracket. There is an octagonal plaster ceiling springing from a thin plaster moulding above the arcades. Both aisles have octagonal plastered ceilings, that above the north aisle has neither exposed trusses nor cornices, but the tie-beams of four trusses are exposed in the south aisle. There are two exposed roof trusses over the chancel, both supported on brackets; they are of the arched-brace type; between them the rafters are exposed, sloping down to an oak moulded cornice. The vestry has a plain octagonal plastered ceiling.
A modern font is placed beneath the tower arch. The oak choir stalls and altar rail, and the gilded oak reredos are all part of the complete modern restoration of the chancel. In the centre of the vestry floor stands an ancient heavy oak table. The top has apparently been made up, but it is fixed to a 16th-century frame. The top horizontal bearers are finely moulded along the base of the vertical face, there are bottom rails similarly moulded, and the four legs are 4 in. square and turned between bearer and bottom rail into baluster shapes without carved enrichment.
A monument of some importance is erected against the centre of the north wall, overlooking the north aisle. It consists of upper and lower panels of black marble, surrounded by a frame in marble of varied lighter colours. It commemorates John Phillips, died 1716, and Mary his wife, died 1762. It is framed by two Corinthian pilasters borne on moulded corbels. Above the moulded cornice there is a plain upper panel surmounted by a broken curved pediment, which leads up to a coat of arms set independently in the wall. The shield bears a lion rampant and above it is a helmet—all of marble.
There is a smaller wall monument reset within the recess at the west end of the south aisle, to James Pickard, died 1757, and Ann his wife, daughter of John Phillips, died 1762.
On the south wall of the tower is a brass tablet which states that 'The three bells and belfrey were restored and rededicated to the Glory of God St. Thomas' Day A.D. 1900'. There are now six bells, all of which were recast round about 1920.
The registers begin in 1540.
Exhall was originally a chapelry of St. Michael, Coventry, being granted therewith to the cathedral priory, (fn. 79) and appropriated thereto by Bishop Molend in 1260. (fn. 80) The curate serving the chapel was removable at the will of the prior, and received £5 of the small tithes as his stipend in 1535. (fn. 81) The church does not seem to have become parochial till after the Restoration; from 1662 to 1747 the advowson was held by the Cayley family or their descendants the Marows. (fn. 82) Annabella MacCullock presented in 1771, and in 1804 and 1805 John Wightwick Knightley, (fn. 83) a descendant of the Marows. His daughter Jane married Lord Guernsey, later Earl of Aylesford, with which family the advowson remained until about 1925, when it was acquired by the Bishop of Coventry, the present patron.
George Bruton by will dated 13 May 1926 bequeathed £50 together with the proceeds of sale of his household furniture and other articles to the vicar and churchwardens of Exhall, the interest to be applied for the benefit of the poor of Exhall and in aid of the general church expenses of the parish. The annual income of the charity amounts to £2 9s.
Dinah Duck by will dated 1 January 1932 bequeathed to the churchwardens of Exhall £100, the income to be used for the upkeep of the churchyard. The testatrix also bequeathed the residue of her estate, the income to be expended upon the upkeep of the fabric of the church. The income of the charities amount to £3 11s. 2d. and £89 11s. 4d. respectively.
Emily Neale by will dated 16 July 1934 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens of Exhall £100, the income to augment the funds for the annual outing of the choir boys of the church. The income of the charity amounts to £3 7s. 2d.
Miss H. A. Sanders, by will dated 7 January 1936 bequeathed £100, the income, now £3 6s. 10d., to be applied towards the upkeep of the fabric of the church.
William Wilkinson Smart by will dated 2 November 1937 bequeathed £200, the income, now £6 13s. 2d., to be applied in keeping the graveyard of the parish church in good order.
Charlotte Mary Freeman by will dated 25 May 1914 bequeathed £100, the income to be expended upon the maintenance of the churchyard. The testatrix also bequeathed one third part of the residue of her estate, the income to be applied in the maintenance of the fabric of the church or the permanent fittings thereof. The annual income of the charities amount to £2 18s. 4d. and £7 18s. 10d. respectively.
Job Potter by will dated 10 October 1686 charged certain property in Berkswell with the annual payment of the sum of 10s. to the churchwardens of Exhall to be distributed by them amongst poor parishioners on St. Thomas's day. The rentcharge was redeemed in 1947 in consideration of a sum of Consols, producing an annual income of 10s.
William Bentley's Charity for Poor. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 19 April 1882 made in the matter of 'William Bentley's Educational and Bread Charities', founded by the will of William Bentley dated 13 July 1808, and 'The Poor's Charity' it was provided that the sum of £3 2s. 6d., part of the net yearly income of the charities, shall be annually expended by the trustees in the purchase of bread or other food which shall be annually distributed amongst deserving and necessitous persons resident in this parish. By an Order of the said Commissioners dated 13 May 1904 it was determined that the whole of the endowment of the charities is held for, or ought to be applied to, educational purposes, with the exception of the said yearly sum of £3 2s. 6d. The Order further provided that the educational endowment and the noneducational endowment respectively shall henceforth constitute a separate Foundation and a separate Charity called respectively the Exhall Educational Foundation and William Bentley's Charity for Poor.