A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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The ancient parish of Sowe, more commonly known since the late 19th century as Walsgrave-on-Sowe, lay three miles north-east of Coventry, to the east of the River Sowe. It comprised 2,674 acres in 1891. (fn. 1) In 1928 eight acres and in 1932 1,255 acres of the western part of the parish became part of Coventry. The parish was extinguished in 1932, 20 acres in the north being joined to Bedworth civil parish and Rural District, 336 acres to Shilton civil parish, 539 acres to Ansty civil parish, and 555 acres in the south to Combe Fields civil parish, all in Rugby Rural District. (fn. 2)
The origin of the modern name is uncertain. 'Walegra' or 'Wallgrave Hill' was mentioned about 1611 as a local topographical feature, (fn. 3) which was presumably the same as the modern Walsgrave Hill. Isolated references to the parish as 'Sowe or Walsgrave' occur in 1588 (fn. 4) and as 'Wal(s)grave upon Sowe' in the later 17th century. (fn. 5) The name has been connected with the 'Woldegrove' of 1410–11 and a derivation suggested from a compound of weald and graf (grove or copse). (fn. 6) It is possible that when William Brown rebuilt his house in the village about 1823 he called it Walsgrave Hall and, on the assumption that this was the manor-house, the name was later applied to the parish. (fn. 7)
The parish was bounded by the River Sowe only in the south-west, near the village. To the east of the village is the valley of a brook, the medieval Draybrook and 17th-century Drawbrook, running south-west to the Sowe, and beyond the valley are Walsgrave Hill and Walsgrave Hill Farm. To the north the land rises gradually to higher ground at Sowe Common and Hawkesbury Lane, which formed the northern boundary of the parish in the 19th century. Wyken or Sowe Pool and the stream, the medieval Tackley Brook or Tacksford, running from it to the Sowe, formed part of the western boundary.
The road from Coventry to Leicester enters the former parish at Clifford Bridge and as Hinckley or Ansty Road runs north-east towards Ansty. The village stands at the junction of this road with that called Lenton's Lane and Woodway Lane, which runs south-east and south from Hawkesbury Lane. The Oxford Canal crosses the north of the former parish; there is a disused section near Wyken Colliery. A branch railway ran south from Hawkesbury to the collieries in the west of the parish and to Craven Colliery in Wyken, with several stretches of siding and connecting tramways. The collieries and the railway are now disused, and the railway has been taken up south of the Alexandra Colliery. Much of the west of the parish is occupied by old colliery workings, roads, railways, and canals, among which modern housing estates are being built. The ancient parish to the east of Woodway Lane, including the area not in the modern city of Coventry, has remained open, while the village still (1964) retains something of its separate identity in spite of many changes since the Second World War.
Hawkesbury was formerly the name applied to the north-west corner of Sowe parish, and to the farm later called Main Pit Farm. The name was taken in the 18th century for Hawkesbury Hall, just inside the Foleshill boundary, and has since been applied to north-east Foleshill. (fn. 8)
MANORS AND ESTATES.
There were two principal estates in Sowe in 1086, those of Coventry Priory (3½ hides) and Richard the Forester or the Huntsman (one hide). (fn. 9) Coventry Priory claimed, probably correctly, that half of Sowe had formed part of its original endowment by Earl Leofric in 1043. (fn. 10) In 1086 the priory's estate included a plough in demesne and ten villein tenants with five ploughs. (fn. 11) In 1279 the priory had a carucate in demesne and ten villein tenants each holding a half-virgate; there were then also thirteen free tenants holding 12¾ virgates and other land. (fn. 12)
The priory bought land in Sowe in 1230–1, (fn. 13) and continued to do so throughout the 14th century. (fn. 14) The most important purchases were of holdings of its own free tenants, the holdings which had been held in 1279 by Simon Joylin, Simon Erneys, and Robert Bagot. By such purchases the priory did not add to the estate but eliminated intermediate tenancies. In 1337 the priory successfully asserted its claim to lordship of Sowe Waste, which it said had been included by Roger and Cecily de Montalt in their grant of 1250. It thus became lord of some 200 acres of arable land in the waste, held by 30 free tenants. (fn. 15) Hawkesbury and Attoxhale became distinct freehold estates within the manor during the 14th century. (fn. 16) In the early 15th century the manor included the Hawkesbury and Attoxhale land, eleven free tenants, thirteen villein tenants, and eight cottagers. (fn. 17) The composition of the manor had changed very little by 1539–40, (fn. 18) by which date, following the Dissolution, it had passed to the Crown.
The manor, demesne land, and village holdings were retained by the Crown (fn. 19) until 1590. In that year a series of grants was made, probably involving the grant of the manor, to Sir John Harington and John Read, with licences for them to make a number of leases, and to sell three holdings to Thomas Cheyney and the demesne farm to Edward Lapworth. (fn. 20) Harington, who was created Lord Harington in 1603, died in 1613, and the lordship and remainder of the manor descended to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, his daughter; (fn. 21) she sold it in 1627 to George Purefoy. (fn. 22) Martha Purefoy was lady of the manor in 1669. (fn. 23) By 1692, (fn. 24) and possibly by 1682, (fn. 25) Henry Green of Wyken seems to have acquired the estate, and he and his son Henry were regarded as lords of the manor until at least 1733. (fn. 26) In the person of Richard Green the family may have held land in the village by 1635. (fn. 27) From the late 17th century onwards the manor and estate apparently descended with the manor of Wyken since by 1755 they had been acquired by William Craven, afterwards Lord Craven (d. 1769), probably as part of the inheritance of his mother Maria Rebecca, daughter of Henry Green. (fn. 28) The Cravens (from 1801 Earls of Craven) retained the estate until the early 20th century. (fn. 29)
The estate granted by Harington and Read to Edward Lapworth in 1590 consisted of a capital messuage and farm, apparently the former demesne land, and the Inner and Outer Wastes. (fn. 30) The Edward Lapworths, father and son, had held the lease of this estate since 1542. (fn. 31) There is some evidence that the capital messuage was not the former priory manor-house, (fn. 32) and it may only have been the house occupied by an earlier demesne farmer. The later attribution of manorial status to this holding may be explained by the Lapworths' lordship of the two wastes. The estate remained in the hands of the Lapworths until about 1672, when it was sold by Edward Lapworth to William Billingsley. (fn. 33) By the mid 18th century the Lapworths' land, apparently much reduced, was said to be divided, the house and 44 a. of the land belonging to Benedicta Mills, and 25 a. to Benedicta Gillings. (fn. 34)
The small estate granted in 1590 to Thomas Cheyney passed, sometime after 1611, (fn. 35) by the terms of a marriage settlement, to Thomas Staple of London, husband of Cheyney's granddaughter, Dorothy. (fn. 36) The subsequent descents of these two estates have not been traced further.
The Hawkesbury and Attoxhale holdings were granted in 1542 to Coventry corporation, (fn. 37) which in 1551 included them in the endowment of Sir Thomas White's Charity. (fn. 38) Both later became the sites of mining operations. Hawkesbury, which in 1551 was held by John Nutbrowner, (fn. 39) was tenanted by the Higginson family from at least the late 16th to the early 18th century. (fn. 40) Attoxhale, which was called 'the chief messuage with the moat' in 1542 and Erne's Place in 1551, and which was also known subsequently as Dean's Farm, Alton Hall, and Moat House Farm, was leased to Thomas Dean, the priory bailiff, at the Dissolution, to William Dean later in the 16th century, and to Francis Cater in 1709. In the 19th century Hawkesbury and Moat House farms were both leased, for a term expiring in 1853, to members of the Inge and Stanton families, lessees of the collieries since 1789, to facilitate the working of the mines. (fn. 41) The Moat House Farm estate was sold by the charity to the corporation in 1947, (fn. 42) and by 1964 most of the area formed part of a large housing estate. The 19th-century farmhouse (formerly known as Wyken Colliery Farm) (fn. 43) was still standing to the north of the moated site. Within the moat a substantial residence, dating from c. 1870, was in use by the corporation as an old people's home under the name of Woodway Grange.
Part of the land bought by the priory from the Bagot family in the 14th century became a separate freehold held by Richard Weston in the early 15th century; it then consisted of a house called Bagotsplace, a virgate, and other land worth 26s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 44) At the Dissolution this tenement was on lease to John Ratcliff, (fn. 45) and was said to consist of a messuage, a toft, and four 'quarterns' when included in the endowment of White's Charity in 1551. (fn. 46) Robert Ratcliff held it in 1611, when the four quarterns were described as 52 a. lying in the open fields. (fn. 47) White's Charity still held 52 a. there in 1833, when the tenant was William Wale Brown. (fn. 48)
Wyken Pool, then called 'le Sowe Pool, in the common fields of Sowe', formerly part of the priory's estate, was granted to Richard and Thomas Lawley in 1545. (fn. 49)
The descent can also be traced of another estate which developed from a priory holding. In 1279 Nicholas de Segrave, lord of Caludon, held a half-virgate of the priory, and had two under-tenants, one of them Reynold de Coxall. (fn. 50) Nicholas received 50 a. of land in Sowe Waste in exchange for his surrender of commoning rights in the priory's lands, (fn. 51) and in the 14th century his successors acquired another 80 a. of the waste. (fn. 52) These lands descended with the Caludon estate. (fn. 53) In 1756 Lord Clifford's estate included 82 a. of arable and pasture called Clifford's Waste, 8 a. of arable and meadow in the Middle Field, and 25 a., part of it called Coxall's, in the Outer Waste. (fn. 54)
One of the principal estates in Sowe in the 19th and 20th centuries had its origins not in a manorial lordship but in a medieval peasant holding. In 1331 John de Shilton gave to the priory a tenement in Sowe which he had bought from Joan Esenhull and which was then held by William Palington. (fn. 55) A later reference shows that this was the virgate which had been held in 1279 by Peter Herny from Simon Joylin and William de Drayton. (fn. 56) William Palington the younger still held the virgate in the early 15th century. (fn. 57) By 1419 the tenement had come into the hands of John Huchins, a member of a large Sowe family. (fn. 58) At the Dissolution William Huchins had a holding, described as a croft and appurtenances, for 15s. paid to the pittancer. (fn. 59) In 1565 William Huchins sold his land, including a messuage with 16 a. which lay partly in the county of the city of Coventry and partly in Warwickshire, to Henry Over; (fn. 60) in 1569 Over sold this, then described as a virgate, and two other holdings, possibly from the medieval Huchins' estate, to William and John Wale. (fn. 61) Two houses occupied by William Wale on the boundary of the county of the city, one held of John Peyto and the other of the Caludon estate, were mentioned in 1581. (fn. 62) In 1682 William Wale had 13/8 yardland. (fn. 63)
The property descended in the Wale family until the 18th century, and was considerably increased. In 1756 William Wale, with 218 a., was the largest freeholder in the parish after the earls of Craven; (fn. 64) he was called a gentleman in 1774. (fn. 65) When Wale died in 1781 his estate passed to William Brown of Hartshill, husband of his daughter Sarah. (fn. 66) Brown came to live in Sowe and may have acquired the remains of the ancient priory manor-house for the site of his new Walsgrave Hall, built about 1823. (fn. 67) His son, William Wale Brown, owned another house, called the Old Manor House, and a further 30 a. in Sowe, by 1843. (fn. 68) When he died in 1860 his lands passed to his nephew, John Brown Izon, whose son J. A. Izon, died in 1900. The estate, then consisting of Walsgrave Hall and 435 a., was sold in 1901 to William Wakefield, and his son, W. Wakefield, occupied it until after the Second World War. (fn. 69)
The Domesday estate of Richard the Forester in Sowe descended with Chesterton and the other estates in Warwickshire granted to him by William I, which he held by the serjeanty of keeping the Forest of Cannock. His estate in Sowe thus came in 1195 to Hugh de Loges, (fn. 70) who held land for half a plough in Sowe in 1198. (fn. 71) In the following year he acquired a hide there from Gilbert Croc, in exchange for a half-virgate and half his wood in Sowe. (fn. 72) Gilbert Croc was also involved with Hugh and Margery de Loges in a prolonged dispute with the Prior of Coventry over rights in woodland in Sowe in the early 13th century. (fn. 73) In 1247 Alice Croc, Gilbert's sister and heir, claimed that the agreement of 1199 was not being carried out. After Hugh, son of the earlier Hugh, had acknowledged her rights in the tenement and wood, Alice surrendered them to be held of Hugh by Thomas de Farendon. (fn. 74)
The Loges estate, which was first called a manor in 1300, (fn. 75) was held by the serjeanty of the forester ship of Cannock up to at least 1232, (fn. 76) but Hugh de Loges (II) later forfeited his office to the Crown. (fn. 77) In 1279 the Loges' service was described as that of escorting the Earl of Chester through the forest on his journeys to and from the king's court, (fn. 78) and in 1337 as the render of a barbed arrow to the king whenever he passed by Sowe on his way to Wales. (fn. 79)
In old age Hugh de Loges (II), who died in 1268, made a grant of all his land in Sowe — a messuage and a carucate — to William Bagot which was confirmed by the king in 1270. (fn. 80) The property was recovered, however, by Hugh's son, Richard, in 1272 on the ground that his father had been senile when he alienated it. (fn. 81) Apart from this brief interruption the manor followed the descent of Chesterton, remaining in the Loges family until 1349 when, at the death of John de Loges (or de Warwick), it was inherited by his daughter Eleanor, wife of John de Peyto, and being held thereafter by the Peyto family until the 18th century. About 1640 Edward Peyto married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Greville Verney, of Compton Verney, and on the death of their great-granddaughter, Margaret Peyto, about 1772, the manor passed to her kinsman, John Verney (afterwards Peyto-Verney), 14th Lord Willoughby de Broke. The Willoughby de Broke family (fn. 82) remained among the principal landowners in the parish until the early 20th century. (fn. 83)
By at least the early 13th century Leicester Abbey had acquired (fn. 84) a croft in Sowe in the right of which the abbey later claimed to hold view of frankpledge there. (fn. 85) At the Dissolution a rent of 8d. was received for this property, (fn. 86) which in 1546, when it was granted to the speculators, Edward Watson and Henry Herdson, included half a rood of land held by James Farrington. (fn. 87) The property may originally have been granted to the abbey with its lands in the neighbouring Bramcote in Bulkington, which had also been held by Richard the Forester, and it is possible that the holding in Sowe passed with Bramcote to the Purefoys in 1575. (fn. 88)
Robert Jabet seems to have built up an estate in Sowe by acquisitions in the late 13th and early 14th centuries from, among others, members of the Loges, Bagot, and Erneys families. (fn. 89) In 1413 this land in Sowe was included in a grant of the manor of Stockingford in Nuneaton by trustees acting for Hugh Jabet (or Lilleburne) to Arbury Priory. (fn. 90) The priory was receiving £1 a year for property in Sowe at the Dissolution (fn. 91) but its subsequent history is not known, though in 1611 land in Combe Field was still associated with the priory's former tenure in the parish. (fn. 92)
The evidence for the location of the manor-houses in Sowe is not clear; there are three possible sites for the houses of the two reputed manors. The manor-house of the Peyto or Willoughby estate stood in 1635 and 1797 immediately south of the church and the old vicarage. (fn. 93) In 1843 the building immediately south of the vicar's close was owned by Lord Willoughby de Broke and divided into three cottages. (fn. 94) A house in this position was part of the Izon estate in 1901. (fn. 95) It was known in recent years as The Laurels and was demolished about 1956, the site being used for new bungalows. It is not recorded that any part of the structure was ancient. (fn. 96)
Before its demolition in 1962 Walsgrave Hall stood in Hall or Church Lane about a hundred yards south of The Laurels. The priory's survey of Sowe in the early 15th century strongly suggests that its house stood in such a position in Hall Lane, (fn. 97) but there is no definite evidence that the two sites are identical; the priory's house may be connected with the moated site still further to the south, beyond the end of Hall Lane. The lease of the priory's demesne estate to William Alicock in 1534, including the site of the manor-house, which was to be rebuilt if necessary, (fn. 98) suggests that the house was then derelict. It is not known when the moated site was abandoned. Excavations carried out there in 1962 revealed traces of two successive buildings thought to be of the earlier and later 13th century, but these were probably only ancillary structures and not part of the capital messuage itself. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the level of the enclosed area was raised several feet, probably as part of parkland improvements in connexion with Walsgrave Hall. (fn. 99) Walsgrave Hall is said to have been built about 1823 (fn. 100) and consisted mainly of a square three-storied block of that date, with sash windows and a lowpitched slate roof. (fn. 101) A rear wing, containing the main entrance, may have belonged to a somewhat earlier house. The stable and coach-house range, part of which was still standing in 1964, has a date-stone of 1690 with initials 'T.B.'.
Another building, which, until its demolition in 1950, stood on the north of Hinckley Road just beyond the village, was called the Old Manor House or Magpie Hall in the late 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 102) The house was occupied as six cottages in 1843 and later. (fn. 103) This building may have been the house owned by Benedicta Mills, formerly Alexander Lapworth's, in 1756–7, (fn. 104) and, therefore, the capital messuage sold to Edward Lapworth in 1590. The possible origins of its manorial status have already been discussed. (fn. 105) At the time of its demolition the Old Manor House (fn. 106) was a T-shaped building consisting of a long timber-framed wing on a north-south axis, and, projecting from its east side, a brick-walled range at right angles to it. The timber-framed portion was of four bays, of which those at the north and south ends were of 16th- or early-17th-century date. The two central bays, however, are thought to have formed a two-storied cross wing to the single-storied and formerly timber-framed medieval hall which lay concealed in the brick range to the east. This hall, probably of early-15th-century date, measured 32 ft. by 22 ft. and contained a central cruck truss which had arch-braces supporting a cambered collar-beam. A massive stone chimney stack with brick shafts formed part of the 16th- or early-17th-century addition at the north end of the cross wing. Fragments of this stack were left standing in the garden when the old building was demolished and a new house (No. 45 Hinckley Road) was built on the site.
Sowe was one of the three places in the Coventry district mentioned before 1086 and one of the few settled village communities in the area at that date. Already in the Domesday Survey the distinction can be seen between the arable and the waste of Sowe; this distinction was to determine the development of the parish, and still survives in the modern boundary of the city and the county.
Of arable there was in 1086 land for five ploughs on the priory's estate and two on Richard the Huntsman's estate, and there were 7½ ploughs at work; of wood and waste there was a very large area, three leagues by one league, described in the entry of Richard the Huntsman, and a smaller area, half a league by four furlongs, in the priory's entry. (fn. 107) It was perhaps the case that the larger area was the whole waste of Coventry and that the smaller area was Sowe waste within it. By the 13th century Sowe waste and Sowe fields had taken their later medieval forms. (fn. 108)
The village lay about 400 yards east of the Sowe, with its open fields stretching to the south and east, and the waste to the north and west. Abbey Field occupied the south of the parish, below the village and the lane formerly called Red Lane. Middle Field lay on both sides of the Drawbrook, and included the arable land round the village; it was probably the field called the Town Field in 1635. (fn. 109) Ansty Field lay on both sides of the modern Ansty Road, and stretched north across Shilton Lane to a line south of Sowe Fields Farm off Lenton's Lane. The modern Elms Farm, which formed an enclave in, but was not part of, the open fields, may have been the medieval Inner Waste. East of Woodway Lane was a block of open field joined only to Middle Field near the village. This probably represents the earliest encroachments on the waste; although physically distinct, parts of it were grouped in Ansty Field and Middle Field.
The Outer Waste, in the north and west of the parish, was also called Sowe Waste, Sowe Woodwaste, and Shortwood. Probably until the priory won its case in 1337, the waste was common to all the surrounding villages, tenants from which held closes and pastures there in the 15th century from the priory. The lord of Stoke held 30 a., the lord of Caludon 80 a., and the Loges or Peyto manor 160 a. in the waste; (fn. 110) the last two areas were called Clifford's and Peyto's wastes in the 18th century. (fn. 111) It is probable that in the 16th century some of the waste was included not in Sowe but in other surrounding parishes. The estates of Hawkesbury and Wood End were developed on the waste by the priory in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 112) By the 18th century Sowe Waste consisted largely of old enclosures of arable and pasture. (fn. 113) The area of the open fields inclosed in 1756 was 1,591 a. As tithes on this land were commuted in the course of inclosure, (fn. 114) the remaining 860 a. dealt with in the tithe award of 1843–412 a. of arable and 418 a. of meadow, pastures, and settlements — represent the former wastes and old enclosures. (fn. 115)
The modern roads were largely laid out at the inclosure, and their course is consequently a poor guide to the topography of the parish before that date. Woodway Lane, and roads to Ansty, Withybrook, and Wyken from the village, and to Bulkington and Leicester through the waste, were all in existence in the 14th and 15th centuries, (fn. 116) but it is probable that through wastes these roads took no definite line, and that in the open fields a number of lines might be followed along field boundaries.
The only continuous road in the parish shown on Beighton's map of 1725 was by way of Shilton Lane. This route leaves the Stoney Stanton Road at Bell Green in Foleshill, follows Henley Road and the modern Deedmore Road to Shilton Lane, and rejoins the modern Hinckley or Leicester road at Shilton. It may have been one of the principal roads from Coventry towards Leicester until the late 18th century, (fn. 117) but there was also a road from Coventry to Leicester, by 1669, which ran over Sowe Bridge and past the churchyard. (fn. 118) One of these two routes was presumably the 'very blind road, very hard to find' which was taken by a traveller from Coventry to Leicester in 1662, (fn. 119) and also the way to Leicester which George Dale, the vicar, was indicted for 'annoying and straitening' in 1641. (fn. 120) Shilton Lane, and not Hawkesbury Lane, was probably the 'new road called Leicester Road' laid out at the inclosure of 1756. (fn. 121) It was, however, the new road to Ansty which was first turnpiked, in 1812–13; Hawkesbury Lane, too, was turnpiked, in 1830–1, and thereafter the importance of Shilton Lane declined. For a time in the late 19th century there was no bridge by which Shilton Lane could cross the old canal. (fn. 122)
Sowe Bridge, now called Clifford Bridge, was in existence in the early 15th century. It had then been recently constructed in stone to replace an earlier wooden bridge on an adjoining site. (fn. 123)
There were four streets in the medieval village: Hall End, probably Hall Lane, running from the church to the moated site south of the village; Bridge End, running from the church to the bridge and so towards Coventry; Clerks or Church End, running from the church north-westwards towards Attoxhale and Wyken; and Mossbrookend, towards Ansty. (fn. 124) A cross stood at the road junction by the church. Clerks End was continued as Wood or Woodway Lane into the waste.
Hall Lane now comes to an end about 120 yards north of the moated site, but the intervening ground is very irregular with indications of house platforms. (fn. 125) This suggests that the village originally extended southwards along Hall End as far as the moat. Reference in an early charter to a meadow lying inside and outside the foss in the village (fn. 126) may have some connexion with boundary ditches found in this area.
Mossbrookend was said to be on the south of the village, and was probably not the modern Ansty or Hinckley Road, but the 18th-century Town End and modern Schoolhouse Lane. Schoolhouse Lane forks beyond the modern vicarage near a new housing estate (1963); from it the ancient Red Lane crossed the fields towards Combe, while the other branch ran north and disappeared in field boundaries before these had been obliterated in new housing development. This northern branch probably marks the ancient Ansty road. There was thus a road junction, possibly the more ancient, opposite the manor-house, in addition to that at the church. (fn. 127)
Some 35 houses or cottages, grouped around these roads, were described in the early 15th century. (fn. 128) This layout remained largely undisturbed until the inclosure except that the southern part of the village at Hall End may have become deserted after the moated site had been abandoned.
The hamlet of Wood End lay on a turning, later called Potters Lane, off Woodway Lane about a mile north of the village. In the 14th and 15th centuries Wood End consisted of half a dozen cottages and two farmsteads, Attoxhale and Bagots Place, bought by the priory from the Erneys and Bagot families respectively. The tenants of Wood End held land both in virgates in the open fields, and in inclosed fields in the waste. (fn. 129) The priory found it necessary to assert that Wood End was in Sowe parish, and was not a vill or hamlet per se. (fn. 130) Attoxhale became Moat House Farm, and Wood End hamlet, where there was a green called Erneys Green in the 15th century, (fn. 131) may have become Potters Green. 'A place called Potters Green' was first mentioned in 1662. (fn. 132) Hawkesbury, a separate holding about two miles north of the village, consisted from its establishment entirely of inclosed fields of arable and pasture. (fn. 133)
Like the distinction between the fields and the waste, some features of agrarian life in Sowe had a very long existence. The ten villeins with five ploughs on the priory's estate in 1086 appear as ten villeins on five virgates in 1279, and can be traced through the 14th- and 15th-century rentals to ten tenants holding 5¼ virgates at will in 1539–40. (fn. 134) On the smaller manor the two villeins with half a plough and two bordars of Domesday appear as four tenants of 1¾ virgate and two cottagers in 1279. The tenurial system survived until the inclosure; there were 19 virgates in 1279 and 21 yardlands in the 18th century. (fn. 135)
There is no unequivocal evidence of the size of virgates and carucates at Sowe. Some evidence suggests that they were identical. Robert Ratcliff's holding in 1611, which was made up of ¾ of one yardland and ¼ of another, consisted of 52 a. (fn. 136) The demesne of the Loges manor, described as a ploughland in 1086, as two carucates (probably incorrectly) in 1279, and as a carucate in 1349, (fn. 137) consisted of 60 a. in 1293. (fn. 138) The arable of the Attoxhale tenement, described as a carucate in the early 15th century, consisted of 80 a. in 1415–16. (fn. 139) That the stint of sheep in the 18th century was 60 to a yardland (fn. 140) may suggest that a yardland was normally 60 a. The area of 21 yardlands and the two demesnes of the 15th century would then approximate closely to the 1,591 acres covered by the inclosure award. On the other hand, the Huchins' 'virgate', mentioned above, was an example of several which seem to have been of 16 a. or thereabouts. (fn. 141) The explanation may be that the quarterns or quarters of virgates became so much the most common holding that they were themselves called virgates.
The principal differences between the Domesday Survey and those of the 13th to 15th centuries were in the number of holdings of free tenants and the area of the demesne. The priory had no free tenants in 1086, but had thirteen with 12¾ virgates and other land in 1279; these holdings survive, though reduced in number, as ten free tenements and the Attoxhale holding in 1539–40. Of the demesne, there was said to be one plough in 1086 and one carucate in 1279, but two carucates in 1291 and 276 acres in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 142) It would seem that there was a considerable increase in the amount of land cultivated in the village fields between 1086 and the 14th century.
No freeholders were mentioned in Sowe in 1086, but in 1279 in addition to the priory's free tenants there were fifteen freeholders, and many under tenants, with 83 a. Their land was held, not in a system of virgates, but in small pieces which were probably encroachments on the waste; such encroachments were certainly being made by the early 13th century. (fn. 143) The priory itself was said to hold 80 a. and Richard de Loges 40 a. of 'foreign' wood in 1279; the priory then seems to have been in the same position as other lords in the Outer Waste, and not the overlord as it claimed 60 years later. (fn. 144)
During the 14th century cultivation of the former waste greatly increased. In a survey made during the dispute between the priory and Robert de Morlee in 1337, (fn. 145) 758 a. were listed, representing the greater part of the area of Sowe Waste in the 19th century; of these 332 a. were in the newly created demesne of Hawkesbury, 182 a. were held by the priory's own tenants, and 244 a. by other freeholders. The priory successfully maintained its claim to lordship of the waste in that suit, and afterwards negotiated agreements with the neighbouring lords which allowed them to inclose their encroachments and extinguished their grazing rights in the remainder. Further encroachments had still to be approved by the Crown after 1337, and twelve more were licensed in 1346. (fn. 146) Since the descriptions given of fields do not include their acreages it is impossible to estimate the amount of cultivated waste in the priory's rental of the late 14th and early 15th centuries, but there appears to have been little decline in the area cultivated. The commoning rights of the villagers of Sowe on parts of the waste, not extinguished by agreement, were the subject of disputes in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Although, as already indicated, the size of the priory's demesne seems to have increased considerably in the 14th century, many labour services of the villein tenants were commuted in the same period. In 1279 the tenants of half-virgates paid 2s. in rent, and did ploughing, harrowing, haymaking, harvesting, and carrying services, but no weekwork. (fn. 147) By the end of the 14th century the tenants of the same condition were paying 14s. annually and doing no labour services. In one case an intermediate stage of commutation was described in which the tenant paid 2s. rent, 7s. 7d. for services valued in money, and performed other unvalued services. (fn. 148) In the early 15th century the sum of 14s. was normally paid, made up of 5s. to the treasurer, 5s. to the steward for harvest works, and 4s. to the prior's chamber for carrying and other services; other undefined customary services were then still claimed by the priory. (fn. 149) At the Dissolution the normal rent for a half-virgate was 12s. made up of 8s. to the treasurer and 4s. to the chamber. (fn. 150)
Twenty people paid the subsidy in 1327 (fn. 151) and 60 the poll-tax in 1379. (fn. 152) These figures, however, bear little relation to the rentals giving evidence of the tenant population of Sowe. In 1279 there were 41 village tenants on the priory's estate, four others on the Loges estate, and 25 other freeholders, probably of the waste. (fn. 153) In 1337 there were 33 tenants of the waste. (fn. 154) In the late 14th century there were 35 village tenants on the priory's estate, including Wood End, and only eight (possibly not a complete list) on the waste. (fn. 155) In the early 15th century there were 43 village tenants on the priory's estate, including Wood End, and 21 on the waste. (fn. 156) There were 37 village tenants at the Dissolution (fn. 157) and there were said to be 39 households in the parish in 1563. (fn. 158) The greatest number of tenants mentioned on the Loges estate at any date was fifteen (eight free tenants and seven cottagers) in 1293. (fn. 159)
These figures suggest that the village population was largely stable in the period from 1279 to the mid 16th century. There was an increase in the numbers of tenants in the first half of the 14th century, though not as great as that of acreage cultivated; (fn. 160) there was a decline in numbers in the second half of the 14th century, a recovery in the early 15th century, and a small decline by the early 16th century. In 1676, in the Compton Census, 78 adults were mentioned, (fn. 161) and there were said to be about 50 houses in the parish in 1730. (fn. 162)
There is some specific evidence of lands falling out of cultivation in the depression which followed the Black Death. In the late 14th century two plots, which had been worth 22s. 8d., were said to be unlet because they lay among the uncultivated lands. (fn. 163) In the early 15th century 28 a. in Wrautam and Harmley fields, though capable of being ploughed, were lying uncultivated. (fn. 164) Three cottages had formerly stood on a garden in Clerks End, and the sites of two other cottages had also become gardens. (fn. 165) The declining scale of the priory's activities is suggested by the fact that its windmill, its horsemill, and its sheephouse were all disused at that time. (fn. 166)
The priory devised several policies for its estates in the late medieval period. It continued to buy both land and the interests of mesne tenants until the end of the 14th century. (fn. 167) It increased the size of its demesne and its income from rents of cultivated waste land. (fn. 168) By commuting its labour services it considerably increased its income from money rents; it did not, however, raise the rents of its freeholders. By at least the late 14th century the demesne arable was let at farm for £4 yearly, and at the Dissolution William Alicock held the demesne farm for £6. (fn. 169) The most valuable development on the priory's estate, however, was the creation of the Attoxhale, Bagots Place, and Hawkesbury holdings. In 1279 Robert Bagot paid only 13d. for his holding, and Simon Erneys 12d. for the tenement at Attoxhale he had created de conquestu. (fn. 170) The priory bought out their interests, and in the early 15th century Robert Shipley was paying four marks for Attoxhale and Richard Weston two marks for Bagots Place. (fn. 171) Hawkesbury was worth four marks in the late 14th century when it was said to be newly built; (fn. 172) by 1539–40 the Hawkesbury and Attoxhale rents had been increased to £5 and £3 13s. 4d. respectively. (fn. 173)
There is very little evidence of agricultural practices in the medieval period. In the early 15th century the priory had a stint on the wastes of a bull, 12 cows and calves, 16 oxen, and 300 sheep; it also had separable marl pits in the fields. (fn. 174) There is some evidence of a three-year routine of mowing, (fn. 175) and a reference to the fallow field in 1546 indicates a three-course rotation in the three great fields. (fn. 176) Disputes over commoning rights on the waste in the 16th and 17th centuries revealed claims by the villagers to tether their cattle on the balks between the arable 'lands', and on other slades in the fields when crops were growing. (fn. 177) Field reeves were elected during the 18th century to supervise the stint of 60 sheep, 6 horses, and 6 oxen. (fn. 178) Evidence produced in a tithe dispute in 1724–5 revealed 901 a. of tithable land in the parish, nearly half of which was planted with peas. Flocks of sheep were then being taken out of the parish to avoid tithes. (fn. 179) In 1801, after inclosure, 509 a. were reported as cultivated, three-quarters being sown with oats and wheat. (fn. 180) In the 17th and 18th centuries many of the strips in the open fields were grass leys. (fn. 181) The area of old inclosures dealt with in the tithe award of 1843 was almost equally divided into meadow and arable. (fn. 182)
There is no evidence (fn. 183) of the consolidation of the village holdings into larger units before the 18th century, and it is not possible to discover the size of village holdings from the inclosure award of 1756, which lists only freeholders. Lord Craven then owned 460 a., Lord Willoughby 212 a., Lord Clifford 116 a., William Wale 218 a., Coventry corporation, as trustees of White's Charity, 52 a., and there were fifteen smaller freeholds, including allotments for the cottagers and the poor. (fn. 184) The most remarkable feature of landownership in the 18th century, already mentioned, was the growth of the Wale estate from a village holding in 1682 to what was probably the biggest single farm unit in 1756. (fn. 185)
Most of the tenants-at-will of yardlands, particularly on the Craven estate, probably lost their lands as a result of inclosure. In 1778 the Craven lands in Sowe were divided into five holdings, including Walsgrave Hill Farm with new farm buildings, 364 a., and ten cottages in the village. (fn. 186) Besides this there were in the 19th century four other farmsteads in the former open fields: the Lodge Farm, part of W. W. Brown's estate, Brookfield Farm, Sowe Fields Farm off Woodway Lane, and Sowe Fields Farm off Ansty Road. Elms Farm and Sowe Fields Farm off Lenton's Lane were in the areas of ancient inclosure; Moat House and Hawkesbury continued to exist as farms among the coal workings. There were twelve farmers in Sowe in 1850. (fn. 187) Lenton's Lane Farm, and Grove Farm and Germany Farm on the Foleshill boundary, appear by those names only in the early 20th century. (fn. 188) All these farms remain, but the fields of Moat House Farm are now largely occupied by housing estates. (fn. 189)
It has been seen that, while the population and pattern of tenure of the village and open fields changed little between 1279 and 1540, the wastes were changed by assarting and the creation of new farms into an area of inclosed arable fields. In the same way, between 1540 and 1756, while the old village developed only slowly, an industrial district grew up on the former wastes.
Prospecting for coal in the Coventry district began in Foleshill, in an area just north of Hawkesbury, in 1579. (fn. 190) In Sowe in the same year Hawkesbury Grove, the site of which is marked by the house now called The Grove, was detached from Hawkesbury Farm, on the White's Charity estate, and sold separately, possibly for coal prospecting, (fn. 191) and Nicholas Higginson's lease of the farm (excluding the Grove) in 1584 specifically included coal mines, 'if there be any'. (fn. 192) In 1588 the queen granted a lease for 21 years of the mining rights on the former priory estate to Sir Francis Willoughby and Clement Fisher. (fn. 193) The Higginson family remained lessees of Hawkesbury Farm until the early 18th century, (fn. 194) but by 1595 the corporation, as trustees of the charity, were leasing the mines there separately, granting them in that year to Huntington Beaumont. Beaumont was initially to supply 100 loads of coal annually to the city and 20 loads to the poor, but when he was producing enough to supply the countryside readily, these 100 loads were to be replaced by £100 annual rent. (fn. 195) By 1611 it was clear that the mines were not entirely successful. In his lease of that year Sir Thomas Beaumont was to pay only £40 yearly while searching for a 'sufficient delf', and £200 thereafter; the lease then included coal mines at Dean's Farm (Attoxhale) as well as at Hawkesbury. (fn. 196) Sir Thomas may have surrendered his lease shortly after, for in 1622 mines in Hawkesbury were leased to a group of Coventry citizens free of rent until coal should be found. (fn. 197) The mines were producing coal again by 1634 when half a year's rent was demanded, (fn. 198) and in 1636 they were leased to the Earl of Dover and Thomas Bradforth for £300 yearly. (fn. 199) John Pym, the parliamentarian, was one of the three lessees of the city's mines in 1639. (fn. 200) The city sold 400 pit props to the mines in 1641, (fn. 201) and a track called Colepit Way was developed across Stoke and Wyken to the pits. (fn. 202)
By 1670 all the city's mines in Hawkesbury, Sowe, and Wyken were included in one lease. (fn. 203) Sir John Winter, lessee early in 1672, invested heavily in the Hawkesbury mines. It was then said that many thousands of pounds had been 'buried' in the 'famous coal delf', and many undertakers ruined, but that Winter had brought it 'into a very hopeful condition'. Shortly afterwards, however, Winter was in financial difficulties, (fn. 204) and towards the end of the year he gave up the mines and left the district. Although the mines themselves still seemed likely to prosper, all profits from them were being absorbed in the settlement of the heavy debts already incurred, and Winter had thus been unable to provide the 'full and ready pay, without which those damned fiends, the colliers, will not budge'. The corporation thereupon resumed control of the workings, and in 1673 was leasing all the mines again for rent according to the coal obtained. (fn. 205) These lessees seem to have failed also since the engine houses and other implements were being sold on behalf of the corporation in 1675, (fn. 206) but the attempt was soon resumed, (fn. 207) and John Brown and others, who also held the Bedworth mines, tried to work the mines at Hawkesbury in conjunction with them. There were then six mines there, five owned by the corporation and one by Sir Thomas Preston. After many failures the corporation were reluctant to lease all the mines together, and in 1675 they leased Dean's Farm (Attoxhale) and the pit there to Francis Cater. In 1680 Brown and his companions gave up their workings principally because they could not control flooding. When they tried to resume in 1684, they became involved in a dispute with the corporation. There was clearly a party in the corporation which opposed the mines in general, and which had forced it to break an undertaking to grant Dean's Farm to Brown with the other mines. Evidence was given that 'these works had brought a wondrous company of poor into the parishes of this city' who were 'likely to be chargeable on the parishes'. It was said that Brown and his fellows had made enough money already: the coal depth, which was 'of extraordinary thickness and very convenient for vending', had yielded 'many thousand loads of coal', Brown having raised 1,000 loads out of one place alone. Brown's claim that his works stopped the price of coal in Coventry rising from 6d. to 1s. a cwt. was denied by merchants who sold coal from other collieries at the lower price. Witnesses for Brown said that Dean's Farm was very useful if worked with the other pits, for feeding the horses and storing timber and for carrying coals in Sowe, especially 'on the sough', which was a drainage channel probably used as a primitive canal. They also claimed that the Foleshill rates had fallen when the mines were working. (fn. 208) Brown lost his case, and by 1688 the equipment of the 'late coalpits' at Hawkesbury was again being sold by the corporation. (fn. 209)
In 1699 Brown appeared with a new proposal, namely to build a canal from Hawkesbury to Longford or Hall Green and to sell coal there at all seasons of the year for 4¼d. a cwt. (fn. 210) However, his adventurous idea was not adopted. By 1709 some working was again going on. (fn. 211) There was a 'fire engine', an early steam engine, near the modern Wyken Cottages by 1725. (fn. 212) The lease of the city's mines in Sowe was held from about 1728 to the 1780s by the Green family of Wyken. (fn. 213)
Other pits were developed in the 18th century on the lands of the Earl of Craven and Lord Clifford in the Outer Waste. The principal lessees there in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were the Parrotts of Hawkesbury Hall in Foleshill. In 1774 Messrs. Parrott, Ferneyhough, and Whieldon had eight pits in Bedworth and 'Hawkesbury', and were producing up to 2,000 tons in a fortnight; two more pits were then being sunk. Their 'Hawkesbury' mines, at which there were two early steam engines, and at which a Boulton and Watt engine was installed in' 1776, (fn. 214) were probably not in Sowe but in the area in the extreme north-east of Foleshill to which, through the Parrotts' influence, the name Hawkesbury began to be applied from the 1760s onwards. The Foleshill mines and the Craven Colliery in Wyken, just over the Sowe boundary, which was developed in the late 18th century, are discussed elsewhere. (fn. 215)
The local mines were apparently still not in a sound condition in 1789, when the corporation was anxious that every encouragement should be given to anyone willing to work them. (fn. 216) Edward Inge and John Stanton took the lease in that year of all the corporation's mines, in Foleshill, Sowe, and Wyken, and engaged upon heavy and prolonged investment in them, which had cost them £60,000 by 1811. (fn. 217) A new main pit was sunk at Hawkesbury in Sowe, and possibly an efficient steam engine was installed for the first time. In the period 1811–14 coal was raised at a rate of about 9,000 tons annually. From the early 19th century onwards works on White's Charity estates were called Wyken Colliery. (fn. 218) In the later part of the century the former Hawkesbury in Sowe was called Main Pit Farm and Moat House Farm (originally Attoxhale) became Wyken Colliery Farm. Another new shaft, called the Alexandra Colliery, was opened still later in the century near Moat House Farm. (fn. 219)
The nineteen cottagers who were in 1659 living in the small area of Sowe Waste appurtenant to Cheyles more manor form the first evidence of the social developments which followed the sinking of the mines. (fn. 220) In 1662 the inhabitants of Sowe complained to Warwickshire quarter sessions about the burden of their poor rate, and the parish of Withybrook, where there were no poor, was ordered to pay 1s. a week to the overseers of Sowe. Later in the year this sum was reduced to 6d. and was to be applied only to the poor of the part of Sowe in Warwickshire. (fn. 221) Winter's difficulties with his colliers in 1672, and the fear of an influx of paupers in 1684, have already been mentioned. (fn. 222) The first nonconformists appeared in Sowe in the same years. (fn. 223)
The building of the Coventry Canal in 1768 and the Oxford Canal in 1778, with which the mineowners were closely connected, (fn. 224) considerably accelerated the industrialization of Sowe Waste. There were 48 cottages on strips of waste along Woodway, Shilton, Hawkesbury and Lenton's lanes appurtenant to the Craven estate in 1778. (fn. 225) It was in this area, rather than in the old village, that hand-loom weaving spread in the early 19th century. In 1801 there were 256 people in 54 houses in the part of the parish which lay in Warwickshire with roughly equal numbers working in agriculture and in trade and industry. In the part which lay in the county of the city of Coventry there were 567 people in 118 houses, 254 of them in trade and industry and 118 in agriculture. The population increased steadily to 1,414 in 1831, of which 988 were in Coventry and 426 in Warwickshire. (fn. 226) The building of this period, apart from some scattered houses, was in the village and along the lanes, and no new urban centre was created. In the 19th century Sowe shared the fortunes of the rural weaving districts, the general features of which are described under Foleshill. (fn. 227)
Two incidents illustrate the social character of the village at this time. One night in 1817 the Revd. F. D. Perkins arrived unexpectedly at Sowe, apparently the first vicar to take up residence for some time, and found the village deserted and the whole population, including the curate, bull-baiting. The curate, whose sympathies were clearly with the villagers, later barricaded himself in the vicarage and was only with difficulty ejected. (fn. 228) Two years later, the Primitive Methodist John Garner, after preaching several times at Sowe, was attacked by a crowd while preaching in a house there, was stoned and thrown in the river. Nevertheless, in spite of what was described as the almost 'heathenish state' of the parish in the early 19th century, some houses were then certified there for nonconformist worship, a Congregational Sunday school was established shortly after 1816, and a chapel opened at Potters Green in 1820. (fn. 229)
In 1818 there were 118 looms in Sowe and 194 inhabitants engaged in weaving, excluding children under ten. In the trade depression of 1831 there were 385 looms, but 281 of them were unemployed. (fn. 230) Sowe National School and its associated infants' school, and three day or dame schools, were opened at this time principally for the children of labouring families. In 1838 the Potters Green day school was the largest of this kind in the Coventry district. The schoolmaster then said that the children of the neighbourhood were 'generally at work, principally winding silk', or were taken away from school when trade was bad; 'if sufficiently strong they assist at the coal-mines, or other out-labour'. At the Independent Sunday school the parents were mainly coal miners. (fn. 231) Hawkesbury Church of England mission church, opened in 1859, was intended for the colliers. (fn. 232)
Bricks were made by the Wyken Colliery in the early 19th century. (fn. 233) The brick-works in the late 19th century was east of the colliery near Wyken Double Bridge, with lime kilns on the other side of the canal. There were old clay pits south of the colliery and near Brookfield Farm; there were also old gravel pits near Potters Green and in the south of the parish. For a time before the First World War the brick-works was called Wyken Pottery, but it soon after became disused. (fn. 234) There is no evidence of potters at Potters Green.
Sowe has not become part of the Coventry engineering district. In 1927 objectors to the Coventry extension proposals said that Sowe had 'no community of interest between it and the city . . . the population of the area is principally engaged in agriculture or in the local collieries'. (fn. 235) For a time after the Second World War there was a small engineering works in Hall Lane. (fn. 236)
Before the First World War the drainage, sewerage, and water supply of Sowe and the colliery district were so inadequate as to cause frequent epidemics. (fn. 237) Immediately before the war a new cemetery was laid out by Foleshill U.D.C. near Sowe Common, and after the war a sewage works was built at Lenton's Lane. (fn. 238)
In 1963 the old village centre at the cross-roads was much altered in appearance by the widening of the main road. The so-called Old Manor House had been taken down in 1950, and soon after 1961 a group of old buildings, which probably included some of medieval origin, had been demolished on the opposite, or south, side of Hinckley Road. (fn. 239) By 1964 demolition was also taking place in Hall Lane, where bungalows had been built on the site of The Laurels and blocks of flats on the site of Walsgrave Hall. Much building was also in progress at the north end of School Lane and on the west side of Woodway Lane. At least two medieval houses, however, have survived in this part of the village. (fn. 240) Village Farm and the adjoining tenement, at the north-east angle of the cross-roads, formed together one house with a formerly single-storied open hall of one bay at its centre. The cruck trusses at each end of the hall have been removed but the remaining roof timbers are heavily smoke-blackened from an open hearth. A south bay of two stories was probably a contemporary timber-framed structure while a north bay appears to have been built of stone in the 17th century; later still several of the external walls were rebuilt in brick. No. 16 Hinckley Road, now (1964) restored as a single house, is of three bays, divided by two heavy cruck trusses of the 'saddle' type. The central bay represents a floored-over open hall and the flanking bays were always of two stories. The timber-framed walls have been replaced by brickwork and the roof is thatched. No. 14 School Lane is a house with exposed timber-framing dating from about 1500, and other buildings in School Lane and Woodway Lane show traces of having been originally timber-framed. Alpha Cottage in Clifford Bridge Road is a small mud-walled building, a rare survival of the cheapest type of dwelling which was probably common in this area in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 241) The village still contains some cottages and substantial brick houses of the earlier 19th century, examples of the latter being Holly Bank and Ivy Lodge near the main cross-roads.
Since the Second World War three large housing estates have been laid out in the part of Sowe that is now in Coventry: an estate between Henley Road and Moat House Farm, the Wood End estate east of the Alexandra Colliery, and the Potters Green estate between Alexandra Colliery and Woodway Lane. The two former lie in both Foleshill and Sowe. Under the city's development plan the greater part of the former colliery district west of Lenton's Lane and Woodway Lane is set aside for housing, leaving smaller areas as industrial sites. (fn. 242)
The Cheylesmore court exercised leet jurisdiction on Sowe Waste, and a tithingman attended that court from Wood End from the 14th to at least the 17th century. (fn. 243) Hugh de Loges's service was among those reserved in the de Montalts' grant to the priory in 1250, and the tenants of the Loges or Peyto manor were as a result also obliged to attend the Cheylesmore court in the 15th century. (fn. 244) Both the priory and Richard de Loges, however, claimed view of frankpledge in Sowe in 1279. (fn. 245) In the early 15th century the priory claimed that John Peyto's court was only a 'small court' for his tenants, and that these should go to the priory's leet court at Sowe, which was also attended by its tenants from Binley, Ryton, and Willenhall. (fn. 246) From the late 14th century and particularly after 1451 Sowe was divided between the Coventry and Warwickshire jurisdictions, (fn. 247) and the doubtful status of the Peyto tenants appears to have been gradually forgotten. The bounds of the county of the city in 1581 still included not only the waste but a small enclave in the village; (fn. 248) this does not appear, however, in the maps made for the boundary case of 1842. (fn. 249)
There was a village constable by 1381, (fn. 250) and there was a manorial bailiff on the priory's estate in the 1530s. (fn. 251) The vicar, when attached by Peyto's bailiffs in 1616, in the absence of the constable, obtained an order of hue and cry from a thirdborough. (fn. 252)
In the 17th century there was apparently only a single group of parish officers — constable, overseers, and churchwardens — for the two halves of the parish. It is possible that the rates were separately levied, for between 1649 and 1655 there was a dispute between the inhabitants of the two halves whether the constable's and poor rates should be assessed on the yardland or in the £; it was finally decided to be on the yardland, as it had been 'time out of mind', and thus to the advantage of the tenants of inclosed waste in the Coventry half. (fn. 253)
A considerable collection of parochial documents survives from the late 17th to the 19th centuries, including vestry minutes, churchwardens' accounts, and registers of apprentices. (fn. 254) Among the services provided by the parish in the 17th century were housing, working accommodation for a ploughwright, suitable work for an unemployed man, and pensions for disabled persons and widows. (fn. 255)
In the 18th century, at least from 1769, separate constables were elected for the two halves of the parish. (fn. 256) In the 19th century a single vestry was nominating churchwardens and overseers for the whole parish, and two constables or headboroughs for each of the halves; after nomination the officers were appointed by the Coventry or the Warwickshire justices. (fn. 257)
Between 1842 and 1932 Sowe formed a single parish in Warwickshire and in Foleshill Union (later Rural District). From 1894 to 1932 it had a parish council, (fn. 258) but when pressing for the boundary extension in 1927 Coventry corporation claimed that this had not been meeting. (fn. 259)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
LORD BERKELEY'S CHARITY. In the returns of 1786 the names of Lord Berkeley, Richard Fielding, and Robert Simmons were given as donors of a sum of £27, yielding 10s. a year, of which £17 had by that time been lost. The remainder was then in the hands of a churchwarden who died insolvent about 1800. Nothing was recovered from his estate. (fn. 260)
MRS. PUREFOY'S CHARITY. According to the returns of 1786 Mrs. Purefoy left £5 to the poor in 1740. In 1815 the money was paid over by the vicar to a churchwarden who spent the interest on a distribution of bread. The money was lost after he became insolvent in 1822. (fn. 261)