A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Frankton is a small parish and village 6 miles southwest of Rugby, the River Leam forming the southern boundary of the parish, where the lowest ground is about 200 ft. above sea-level. The village stands on a well-marked hill of about 360 ft. in the centre of the parish and is very secluded, with no main road through or near it. There are a few timber-framed cottages with red-brick infilling and tiled roofs, and close to the church is a group of 18th-century red-brick houses. Minor roads connect the village with Stretton, Bourton, and Birdingbury, and at its north-west corner the parish reaches within a few hundred yards of the Fosse Way. The Rugby and Leamington branch of the former L.M.S.R. crosses the south-eastern corner of the parish, Birdingbury Station being within its borders, about a mile from Frankton village. Frankton Wood occupies a considerable area in the north-west, and there are several other spinneys, also many ponds, including two large fish-ponds south-west of the village.
Frankton was inclosed in 1656; twenty-two years later, in a lawsuit about the tithes, it was stated that 'two thirds of the former common fields in Frankton now lye in very large pastures, so do all the xii yardland tithable to the plaintiff, but with so very little interruption of knowledge by reason that it lyeth still ridge and furrow'. (fn. 1)
FRANKTON formed part of the lands granted by Earl Leofric to Coventry Priory on its foundation in 1043, but it is not assigned to this monastery in Domesday Book, when Earl Roger of Shrewsbury held 4 hides less 1 virgate here. (fn. 2) There is no trace of any later connexion with Earl Roger's fee, so that Dugdale is probably correct in considering that these lands had been seized by Earl Roger from Coventry Priory, (fn. 3) to which they certainly returned, as Leofric's charter was confirmed in 1267, (fn. 4) and Frankton was stated to be in the barony of the Prior of Coventry in 1316. (fn. 5) Free warren was granted to the prior and convent in 1257. (fn. 6) The Coventry Priory estates in Frankton were enlarged by grants of a virgate in 1221 (fn. 7) and an acre of meadow in 1305. (fn. 8) In 1291 they consisted of 3 carucates and a windmill, producing £14 1s. 4d. yearly, (fn. 9) and in 1535 a total revenue of £17 11s. 2d. (fn. 10) After the Dissolution this manor was kept in Crown hands till 1579–80, when it was granted to Thomas Thornton and Thomas Woodcock. (fn. 11) From them it passed to the Temple family, (fn. 12) of whom John (died 1603) settled it in 1592 on his younger son John in tail male. (fn. 13) The younger John died in 1642, when his son Thomas was 20. (fn. 14) Thomas who dealt with the manor in 1662 (fn. 15) was probably the son of this Thomas. (fn. 16) It was finally sold by Richard Temple, the younger Thomas's brother, to Sir Theophilus Biddulph, bart., of Westcombe in Greenwich, in 1680, (fn. 17) in whose family it has since remained.
The remaining 1 hide and 1 virgate, completing the Domesday assessment of 5 hides, were held freely before 1066 by Chentwin, and in 1086 by Ralf of the Count of Meulan. (fn. 18) In 1166 1 knight's fee was held of the Earl of Warwick by Robert de Franketon de veteri feffamento, (fn. 19) and a similar amount by William in 1235–6. (fn. 20) Half a knight's fee in Frankton and Kenilworth was held of the Earl of Warwick in 1316 by William le Botiler of Oversley, (fn. 21) and in 1428 this half-fee was stated to have been formerly held by Henry de Hinton and William le Palmer, (fn. 22) two of William le Botiler's subtenants. (fn. 23) In a return of the Warwick fees made c. 1320 there were said to be 'many who hold of the same William'; John le Palmer held of Sir R. de Champayne, who held of Ralph Basset, who held of the said William le Botiler; and Palmer himself had as a subtenant William Bordan. (fn. 24)
Ralph de Franketon, presumably a descendant of the William mentioned above, passed the manor to Roger de Elinhale, and he to Robert de Okeover, who had married his sister Alice before 1291. (fn. 25) Robert and Alice de Okeover in 1310 granted a messuage, 2 virgates of land and 3 acres of meadow, with 3s. 1d. in rents and the advowson of the church, to John le Palmer, subject to 30s. yearly rent during the lifetime of Alice, (fn. 26) and John le Palmer and Isabel his wife also obtained a messuage and 2 carucates of land from John Burdoun in 1331. (fn. 27) The Palmer family continued in possession of this manor and the advowson till the reign of Henry VI, when they came into the hands of John Hereward, who married Katherine, daughter and heiress of Thomas Palmer. (fn. 28) By the early 16th century manor and advowson had come, again by marriage, (fn. 29) to the Dukes, of Newton Purcell (Oxon.), Richard Duke conceding a presentation to the living to Reynburn Balguy and others in 1529. (fn. 30) He or his son Richard conveyed the manor in 1558 to John Eden in trust, (fn. 31) with remainder to his son John (died 1565) and his wife Margaret in tail. (fn. 32) In 1652 a conveyance of the manor had been made by Roger Duke to Anthony Leson or Leeson. (fn. 33) Thomas Leeson conveyed the manor by fine to Thomas Chamberlayne in 1601, (fn. 34) and in 1605 sold it to Edward Yorke. (fn. 35) These transactions were disputed by Paul Clarke and Alice his wife, daughter of Richard Duke, (fn. 36) and by John Adams and Mary his wife, daughter of John second son of Richard Duke; (fn. 37) but Edward's son George Yorke, who died seised of the manor in 1627, left it to his kinsman Sir Thomas Yorke, who predeceased him, and then to his brother-in-law John Shuckburgh of Bourton. (fn. 38) His son Thomas Shuckburgh was vouchee in a recovery of Frankton manor in 1659, (fn. 39) and died without issue; after which the manor came to the Biker or Bicker family, of whom Lewis, who was concerned in the above recovery, with his wife Rebecca and Hugh Meade and his wife Ann conveyed it in 1663 to Francis Gramer and Christopher Alisbury, (fn. 40) perhaps for a settlement, as it was dealt with in 1696 by John Biker, clerk, (fn. 41) and in 1713 the Rev. John Biker was lord. (fn. 42) The manor seems to have remained in the family until the middle of the 18th century, but in 1759–64 James Gramer was stated to be lord of the manor. (fn. 43) It was probably acquired soon after this by the Biddulphs and annexed to their manor.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS stands on the west side of a small churchyard, west of the village. It consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, west tower, vestry, and south porch. The earliest part of the church is the lower stage of the tower, which dates from the early 13th century; the rest of the church was rebuilt in the 14th century, and in the 15th century the upper part of the tower was rebuilt. It is built of small roughly coursed limestone rubble with red sandstone dressings, except for the upper stage of the tower, which is red sandstone ashlar. The roofs are modern.
The east wall of the chancel has been rebuilt in red brick on a stone base with diagonal buttresses and has a modern traceried three-light window with a hoodmould. On the north side a modern vestry has been erected; it has a square-headed doorway and is lighted by a window of two trefoil lights. West of the vestry there is a small restored ogee-headed window. The south side has two small modern buttresses, a modern square-headed doorway, and a small modern trefoil light with an ogee head. High up in the wall there are two square-headed windows of three trefoil lights, of two hollow splays, with hood-moulds, both much restored.
The south aisle has a plinth of one splay and is lighted on the east by a modern three-light traceried window with a hood-mould, the stops left rough for carving; on the south are two windows of three trefoil ogee-headed lights with square heads, but only the jambs are original, and on the west a single light, of which only the ogee head is original. West of the two windows is a modern timber porch. The doorway has a pointed arch of two orders, a wave and sunk splay, continued down the jambs without capitals; a modern hood-mould has been added. The door is oak boarding on plain framing, hung on two iron hinges the full width of the door, and between them two iron straps; all are decorated with zigzag chisel-cuts and have fleur-de-lis terminals; the straps are similar but with fleur-de-lis at both ends. The handle is a twisted ring with a lozenge-shaped back-plate and escutcheon, with their corners filed to fleur-de-lis; probably 15th-century. The north side of the nave is lighted by two windows of two trefoil lights with heads out of one stone; one has a restored head and the other is a modern copy. The parapet is modern, built of ashlar on a moulded string, and at the west end a modern buttress has been added.
The tower rises in two stages, of which the lower is 13th-century and the upper 15th-century. The original tower was no doubt in three stages and when it was rebuilt in the 15th century the second stage was omitted. The lower stage has wide shallow buttresses or pilasters at each angle, a plinth consisting of a large roll-moulding at the top of a wide splay, and narrow pointed lights to the ringing-chamber on the south and west. A modern buttress has been built against the north wall and a modern door inserted in the centre with a cement pointed arch. On the south side two further modern buttresses have been added, a low one in brick and stone to the west and to the east one of three stages carried half-way up the tower. A modern traceried window of two pointed lights with a hood-mould has been inserted in the west wall, probably replacing a lancet. The upper stage has a string-course at its junction with the earlier work, an embattled parapet on a moulded string-course which has carved heads in its hollow, one at each corner with two between, and pinnacles at the angles, with trefoil panels and crocketed finials. The belfry windows on all four faces are set in deep recesses with four-centred arches, the reveals and soffits of the arches panelled with a series of trefoil-headed panels, the windows being two trefoil lights of one splayed order, but on the south face two have been put in, separated by a narrow pier. The roof is a tiled pyramid surmounted by a weather vane.
The chancel (27 ft. by 7 ft. 7 in.) has a modern tiled floor, plastered walls, and two steps to the altar. The east window has a segmental-pointed rear-arch, the others all have flat heads. In the north wall there are two modern aumbries and a door with a square head to the vestry. The roof is modern, but two of the carved corbels supporting the west truss are of 14th-century date.
The nave (43 ft. 2 in. by 15 ft. 9 in.) has a modern tiled floor and plastered walls. The arcade consists of three bays of pointed arches of two splayed orders supported on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases, and half-octagon responds. There are inserted modern clearstory windows on the south only; they are small trefoil two-light windows in wide splayed recesses with flat timber lintels. The other windows have pointed stop-chamfered rear-arches. The tower arch is a modern one of two splays on the tower side and three to the nave, all dying out on the tower walls, and the chancel arch has been restored and partly rebuilt on modern bases. It is pointed, of two splayed orders.
The south aisle (42 ft. 9 in. by 7 ft. 3 in.) has a modern tiled floor and plastered walls. In the south wall near the east end there is a piscina with a restored ogee head and a badly broken basin. The door has splayed jambs and a segmental-pointed rear-arch, the south windows segmental rear-arches, and the window at the west end a flat head. The font is modern and placed at the west end near the door; its circular basin stands on four attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases on a splayed octagonal base.
Of the four bells one is by Newcombe, 1607, the others by Hugh Watts, 1616, 1623, and 1636. (fn. 44)
The first recorded presentation to the rectory of Frankton is in 1304, by Robert de Okeover and Alice his wife. (fn. 45) From this time the advowson followed the descent of the Meulan-Warwick manor till the end of the 17th century. It continued to be held by the Biker or Bicker family, Anna Biker presenting in 1716, John Berriman, clerk (probably by concession of a turn) in 1730 and John Biker in 1745. (fn. 46) James Parker, clerk, had the presentation for one turn only in 1758, (fn. 47) and in 1763 Mr. Biker is named as patron. (fn. 48) From 1782 the advowson has been in the hands of the Biddulph family, lords of the other Frankton manor. Since the union of the benefice with Bourton-upon-Dunsmore about 1932 the presentation has been alternate between Col. W. H. Biddulph and Mr. J. F. Shaw, patron of Bourton. (fn. 49)
A selion of land in Frankton called the Church Hedlond was given for the upkeep of a lamp in the church. (fn. 52)
Ann Biker. By an Indenture dated 28 September 1736 Ann Biker granted to trustees an annuity of £6 out of land in Frankton-upon-Dunsmore called the Heath Pieces and another annuity of £7 out of land called the Wasts and Holts Land in the parishes of Shilton and Sowe; the said annuities to be payable at Lady Day and Michaelmas; upon trust that £10 should be paid for the maintenance of a free school in Frankton-upon-Dunsmore, 40s. should be paid yearly to the rector and churchwardens of Frankton, to be disposed of on Candlemas-day unto poor ancient maids and widows inhabiting the parish, and the balance of 20s. to the trustees to answer the reasonable expenses of their meetings. By an Order dated 15 July 1904 the Charity Commissioners determined that the part of the endowment of the charity which ought to be applied to educational purposes consists of five-sixths of the net income.
Church Land. The endowment of this charity, the origin of which is unknown, formerly consisted of land in this parish. From time immemorial the income has been applied for the church and its services. The land was sold in 1919 and the proceeds of sale invested. The annual income thereon, amounting to £12 9s. 8d., is remitted to the rector and churchwardens.
Jane Leeson, by her will dated 27 May 1646 charged certain property at Abthorpe in the county of Northampton with the payment of £30 to be delivered yearly on 10 December in various amounts to the respective churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the several towns and villages named, to be distributed by them yearly on 17 December in the presence and with the advice of the clergy of the several towns and villages, towards the relief of the poor of the several places. The amount applicable for the poor of this parish amounts to £2.