A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Harborough Magna is a parish and village near the north-east border of the county, 4 miles north-west of Rugby. The hamlet of Harborough Parva, though nearer Harborough Magna than Newbold-on-Avon, was anciently a part of the latter parish and is treated there; since the inclusion of Newbold in the Rugby Urban District (now Borough) in 1931, the two Harboroughs have been united for civil purposes. On the east the parish reaches for a short distance to the River Swift, near which is the farm called Harborough Fields, a type of name common in this part of the country where inclosure was late. Shortly before 1653 William Walrond, who had married one of the daughters of William Riplingham, late lord of the manor, was employed by the inhabitants of Great Harborough to draw up articles for the inclosure of that part of the common field lying between Churchover Field and the highway from Little Walton to Rugby; but the scheme was not carried out, owing to disagreements. (fn. 1) At this time reference was made to the 'ancient inclosures' made about 40 years before by Mr. Riplingham and others. An Inclosure Act for 27 yardlands or 945 acres in Great Harborough was passed in 1759. (fn. 2) The western boundary of the parish is partly formed by a small stream flowing towards the Avon, and between these two ends of the parish, where the height above sea-level is about 300 ft. the ground rises considerably, reaching over 450 ft. along Montilo Lane, a by-road branching north-east from the Rugby-Hinckley road at the village, which is near the southern boundary of the parish and has the typical local plan with the chief settlement on a loop just off the main road. The parish is not crossed by any railway or canal, nor are any of its numerous by-roads of any great importance; it is a secluded place, and in the 17th century, when three alehouses were suppressed, was described as 'not upon any road'. (fn. 3) There is no woodland in the parish except the small Harborough Gorse in the north-east. There is a homestead moat north-west of the village.
Among noteworthy men connected with Harborough are William Basset (1644–95), divine and anti-Unitarian writer, whose father was minister, (fn. 4) and Henry Holyoake (1657–1731), the first important headmaster of Rugby School, who was rector from 1712. (fn. 5)
In Domesday Book HARBOROUGH is rated at 8½ hides, 4½ being held by Richard the Forester (fn. 6) and 4 by Anseis, (fn. 7) in each case directly of the king. Richard's holding had before 1066 been held freely by four thegns, that of Anseis by Bruning.
Hugh de Loges, a descendant of Richard the Forester, (fn. 8) quitclaimed 16 virgates in HARBOROUGH MAGNA to Roger de Herdebergh in 1232. (fn. 9) This Roger was in 1253 exempted from being put on assizes, juries, or inquests, and from being made sheriff, verderer, or coroner. (fn. 10) The overlordship had by this time come to the Hastings family, and Hugh de Herdebergh, Roger's son, held half a knight's fee in Harborough which in 1269 was assigned to Joan, widow of Henry de Hastings, in dower. (fn. 11) Juliana le Blount, widow of John 2nd Lord Hastings, was granted this half-fee, valued at £15 yearly, in dower in 1325. (fn. 12) John de Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, held Harborough in 1375, (fn. 13) and Joan, the widow of his heir and assign Sir William Beauchamp, in 1435. (fn. 14) In 1602 the manor was stated to be held of the heirs of Lord Grey of Ruthin, (fn. 15) representative of the Hastings line. (fn. 16)
Roger de Herdebergh, son of Hugh mentioned above, died in or before 1284 leaving two daughters as coheiresses, (fn. 17) Ela, wife successively of Walter de Hopton and William le Boteler, and Isabel wife of John de Hulles. In 1305 Ela, after the death of her first husband, granted her (half of) the manor to her sister and brother-in-law to hold from the chief lords. (fn. 18) John de Peyto, husband of Alice, daughter and eventual heiress of John and Isabel de Hulles and previously wife of John de Langley, (fn. 19) settled the manor on his son John in 1326, when John de Watevill is mentioned as holding a moiety of the manor for life; (fn. 20) he was brotherin-law of Alice de Peyto. (fn. 21) In 1339 John de Peyto the elder granted the reversion of the manor, after the death of John de Peyto the younger, to Sir Walter de Hopton and Joan his wife. (fn. 22) The younger John, who was involved in a lawsuit with the Abbot of Combe over waste committed in the manor of Harborough Magna in 1370, (fn. 23) survived till 1373, when the reversion came to John de Hopton, Sir Walter's son. (fn. 24) The Hoptons continued to hold an interest in the manor, sometimes described as a full share and sometimes as a moiety, till the death of Walter Hopton in 1461, when it passed to the Corbet family of Moreton Corbet (Salop.) by the marriage of his sister Elizabeth to Roger Corbet. (fn. 25) His great-grandson, another Roger Corbet, who died in 1538, (fn. 26) apparently settled the manor on Jerome and Robert, two of his younger sons, who with Robert's wife Jane passed it in 1569 to their eldest brother Sir Andrew Corbet. (fn. 27) Robert, son of Sir Andrew, died in 1583, (fn. 28) and left two daughters as coheiresses, Elizabeth who married Sir Henry Wallop of Farleigh (Hants) and Anne who married Adolphus Cary of Berkhampstead (Herts.). (fn. 29) The latter and her husband conveyed their share to Oliver, Lord St. John of Bletsoe, and Roland Lytton in 1601, (fn. 30) for settlement on Adolphus and Anne and her heirs. She died in 1602 and he in 1609, when it passed to her sister Elizabeth. In 1610 Sir Henry and Elizabeth Wallop conveyed the manor to Edward Riplingham, Alice his wife, and their son William. (fn. 31) The last named dealt with his half of the manor by fine in 1622. (fn. 32) His estates were divided amongst his four daughters as coheiresses, Harborough falling to Elizabeth, who died unmarried and bequeathed her half of the manor to Adolphus Oughton, the son of her eldest sister Anne. His grandson, Sir Adolphus Oughton, bart., was lord in 1730, (fn. 33) dying six years later without legitimate issue. (fn. 34) His widow Elizabeth was lady of the manor in 1740, (fn. 35) after which date it changed hands several times, John Shipton being lord in 1753 and John Rush in 1786. (fn. 36) By 1806 it had been acquired by Sir Grey Skipwith, bart., and Harriet (Townsend) his wife. (fn. 37) Sir Grey Skipwith was lord of the manor up to his death in 1852, (fn. 38) and in 1900 it was in the hands of Mrs. Boughton-Leigh, his grandson's widow. (fn. 39) By 1936, when the land 'was mainly owned by the farmers', (fn. 40) the manorial rights seem to have lapsed.
A priest is mentioned in connexion with the 4 hides held in 1086 by Anseis, so that this portion of Harborough may be identified with that which was in possession of the Langleys by the mid-13th century, and most of which was granted in the reign of Henry III to Combe Abbey. (fn. 41)
Hasculph, son of Anketil, de Herdebergh about 1227 (fn. 42) was lord of this manor (fn. 43) and gave to Sir Geoffrey de Langley his chief messuage and all his land in Harborough, to hold of Sir Gilbert de Segrave, (fn. 44) to which his daughter Isabel in 1257 added a messuage and a virgate of land which her father had given her. (fn. 45) Hasculph seems to have left three daughters, Alice, Isoult (perhaps identical with Isabel), and Maud the wife of John de Langley, (fn. 46) but the Harborough estate was given by Geoffrey de Langley in 1255 to the abbey of Combe, the advowson of the church and rents of £10 6s. a year being reserved to the Langleys. (fn. 47) These rents and the advowson were the subject of various transactions among the Langley and related families, being settled by John de Langeleye and Ela his wife on their son Geoffrey and his wife in 1325, (fn. 48) and in 1330 by Mary, Geoffrey's widow, and her second husband William de Careswell on her son Geoffrey de Langeley and his heirs, subject to a life interest to themselves. (fn. 49) The younger Geoffrey de Langley left a daughter Joan, who first married John son of Alan son of Sir Alan de Charleton. In 1366 Sir John Trillowe the younger, Joan de Langeley's second husband, (fn. 50) granted the advowson and rents to Sir Baldwin de Fryvill the elder, (fn. 51) and in 1372 the latter received from Peter de Careswell, William's son, a quitclaim of his interests in Harborough. (fn. 52) His greatgrandson, another Baldwin, was the last male Frevill and died a minor in 1418, (fn. 53) leaving three sisters as coheiresses, and in 1435 a third part of the manor was settled on Sir Hugh Willoughby and Margaret (Freville) his wife. (fn. 54) In 1452 another partition of the Freville estates was made, Harborough falling to Thomas Ferrers, husband of Elizabeth the eldest sister; (fn. 55) in 1459 he died seised of half the manor and the advowson, (fn. 56) then said to be held of the Dukes of Norfolk, who represented the Segrave interest and who in 1400 (fn. 57) had held 2¼ knights' fees in Warwickshire, and in 1462 half a fee in Harborough by itself. (fn. 58) On the death of Sir Thomas Ferrers, Thomas's son, in 1498, the manor was stated to be held of the king and to be worth 46s. 8d. (fn. 59) Sir John Ferrers, Sir Thomas's grandson, who died in 1512, settled his interest on his uncle Roger Ferrers for life, (fn. 60) and his grandson John made a settlement of half the manor on his son Humphrey on his marriage to Anne Bradbourne in 1563. (fn. 61) They conveyed it to John and Thomas Cleaver in 1572. (fn. 62) At Humphrey's death in 1608 the value of the Ferrers property in Harborough was £7. (fn. 63)
The Abbot of Combe was holding a court at Harborough as early as 1258, (fn. 64) and the grants made by the Langleys were augmented by 12 acres and a third of a messuage from William le Venur and Alice his wife in 1279. (fn. 65) Licences to alienate land in mortmain to this abbey, totalling at least 89 acres with 2 messuages, were granted in 1280, (fn. 66) 1290 and 1291 (fn. 67) and 1299. (fn. 68) In 1539 the Combe Abbey property in Harborough and elsewhere was granted to Mary, Duchess of Richmond and Somerset. (fn. 69)
In 1482 John Vrellis and Elizabeth his wife granted to the Carthusian priory of Axholme (Lincs.) certain lands in Harborough Magna. (fn. 70) After the Dissolution these were granted to Thomas Mannyng, ex-Prior of Butley (Suffolk) and Bishop of Ipswich. (fn. 71)
The church of ALL SAINTS is situated on the west side of the village, adjoining the Rectory, and standing in the centre of a small churchyard. It is a small church consisting of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, and a vestry. There is no visible evidence of a church earlier than the 14th century, to which date the present tower, north aisle, north and south arcades, and the chancel arch belong. During the 19th century the chancel and south aisle were entirely rebuilt, a clearstory and vestry were added, the internal stonework redressed, and a west doorway inserted. The nave was also re-roofed, probably when the clearstory was added, re-using some members of the old 17th-century roof.
The rebuilt chancel is constructed of squared and coursed limestone with light-coloured sandstone dressings, and has a tiled roof of steep pitch. The only window is in the east wall, a pointed traceried one of three trefoil lights with a hood-mould and mask stops. The rebuilt south aisle has walling similar to the chancel and has a steep-pitched slated roof. It is lighted by two three-light windows under four-centred heads with hood-moulds, one in the south wall and the other in the west. The vestry is a continuation of the aisle at its eastern end and has a square-headed twolight window on the south, also one on the east, where there is a pointed doorway. The north aisle is built of roughly coursed limestone and red sandstone with a plinth of one splay, and has diagonal buttresses at the angles and a tiled roof of steep pitch. It is lighted on the east by a pointed, moulded, traceried window of three lights with a hood-mould, all restored except a few stones in the north jamb; on the north by a hollowmoulded window of three trefoil lights under a segmental head; and on the west by a restored pointed traceried window of two trefoil lights. The upper parts of both gable walls have been rebuilt. Towards the western end there is a blocked doorway with a moulded ogee head and a hood-mould terminating in the remains of a floriated finial.
The tower rises in three stages, diminished at each by weathered offsets. It is built of sandstone ashlar with a moulded plinth and a battlemented parapet, and terminates in a pyramid roof with a weather vane. The western angles have diagonal buttresses, the eastern are at right angles to the wall; all rise in five weathered stages, with carved grotesque heads in the fourth stage of each. The lower stage on the west was refaced in the 19th century, when a doorway was inserted, of late-16th-century design with a four-centred arch under a square head, the arch supported on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases. Above the door there is a modern traceried window of three cinquefoil lights and hood-mould. In the second stage there is a wooden clock dial. The belfry windows on all faces are of two trefoil lights with transoms under four-centred heads. In the hollow-moulded string below the parapet there are two gargoyles, one on the north, the other on the south. There are loop-lights to the tower staircase in the two lower stages at the southwest angle.
The nave (27 ft. 10 in. by 16 ft.) has a modern lowpitched roof, re-using 17th-century trusses, which have small carved pendants in the centre of each of the tiebeams; it is covered with corrugated cement sheeting. The clearstory is lighted by square-headed two-light windows in wide splayed recesses with timber lintels. Both arcades date from the 14th century and consist of two bays of pointed arches of two splays, the south supported on an octagonal pillar with moulded capital and base and on responds of half-pillars; the north rests on a pillar of four three-quarter shafts, with richly carved capitals and moulded bases, and on half-octagon responds with moulded capitals and bases. The chancel arch is pointed, of two splayed orders, resting on moulded corbels with a hood-mould which has return ends. The pointed tower arch of two splays rests on 19th-century half-octagon responds, with wide splayed capitals which are out of line with the arch; across the entrance there is an oak screen, dated 1905. The pulpit, placed on the north side of the chancel arch, is modern, as is the stone octagonal font.
The north aisle (27 ft. by 15 ft. 4 in.) has a trussed rafter roof, probably contemporary with the clearstory. Built into the wall near the east end there is a richly moulded pointed arch with part of its crocketed hood-mould terminating in a misplaced floriated finial; it may form part of an Easter sepulchre, possibly removed from the chancel when it was rebuilt.
There are two bells; one of 1659 by Brian Eldridge, the other by J. Taylor & Son, 1850. (fn. 72)
There was a priest here in 1086, on the estate of Anseis, (fn. 73) and the first recorded presentation in 1305 was made by John de Langley, (fn. 74) on whom this estate had devolved. William de Careswell, who presented in 1335, (fn. 75) was the second husband of John de Langley's daughter-in-law, and had a life-interest in the advowson dating from 1330. (fn. 76) He apparently died soon afterwards, for the presentation of William de Thornton in 1336 was made by the king by reason of his custody of the lands and heir of Geoffrey de Langeley, tenant in chief; this presentation was revoked in 1338. (fn. 77) Sir John Trillowe, the next patron, was the second husband of Joan the Langley heiress, and conveyed the advowson by fine to Sir Baldwin de Frevill in 1366, (fn. 78) in which year the latter gave one turn to Sir Fulk Bermyncham. (fn. 79) From this time to the middle of the 16th century the advowson followed the descent of the Frevill-Ferrers half of the manor, except that in 1404 (fn. 80) and 1417 (fn. 81) Sir Adam Peshale, second husband of the above-mentioned Sir Baldwin de Frevill's daughter-in-law, (fn. 82) presented. In 1577 Humphrey Ferrers and Anne his wife sold the advowson to William Boughton, (fn. 83) and the patronage remained with the Boughton family, except for Edmund Bromwich making one presentation, probably by concession, in 1692, (fn. 84) till the death of Sir Theodosius, 7th baronet, in 1780, when it passed to his sister Theodosia, later the wife of Sir Egerton Leigh, whose trustees presented in 1805. (fn. 85) Since this time the advowson has been in the hands of the Boughton-Leigh family, descended through Sir Egerton Leigh's daughter Theodosia.
The rents from a cottage called the Town House were allotted to provide lights in the church. In 1553, when it was in the tenancy of John Moo, it was granted to Edward Aglionby of Balsall and Henry Higforde of Solihull. (fn. 88)
It is recorded in the parish register of 1751 that Robert Scotton gave by his will £10 to the poor of the parish, the interest to be distributed by the minister and churchwardens on Easter Monday; and also the rent of an estate in Long Lawford given for the repair of the church.
Anne Blake by will dated 1724 charged her estate in Churchover with the annual payment of £5 to the minister, churchwardens, and overseers of Harborow Magna, to be distributed among the poor of the parish.
It is stated in the printed Parliamentary Reports of the former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities dated in 1834 that it is generally believed that the parish officers built a house on the land devized by Gilbert Thacker and for this purpose appropriated £5 from Anne Blake's Charity and £5 given by Mr. Holyoak and the £10 given by Robert Scotton, and, in respect of this £20, 20s. of the rent is paid to the churchwardens for distribution with Anne Blake's Charity.
The above-mentioned charities are now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 1 October 1861, which appoints a body of trustees and directs the application of the income, which amounts to £60 (approximately).