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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
The former hamlet and civil parish of Coundon lay about two miles north-west of Coventry. The hamlet was part of the ancient parish of Holy Trinity, Coventry, but remained in Knightlow Hundred and was not included in the county of the city in 1451. (fn. 1) The hamlet was recognized as a civil parish in 1881, and was in Meriden Union (later Rural District). Its area was 1,049 acres in 1891. (fn. 2) In 1928 an area of 36 acres was taken into Coventry, and in 1932 the parish was extinguished: 959 acres became part of the city and the remainder part of the new civil parish of Keresley in Meriden Rural District. (fn. 3)
The civil parish in the late 19th century formed an irregular diamond shape, with its northern apex on the high ground near Keresley Manor. The north-east boundary of the parish was formed by the main road to Tamworth, where it climbs on to the high ground beyond Moat House in Keresley, and the south-east by Scots Lane and part of the modern Southbank Road near the lodge of Coundon House. Thence the boundary turned southwards to the River Sherbourne which bounded the parish on the south-west. On the west the boundary ran from Keresley Manor to Brownshill Green, through that hamlet, and by Brown's Lane, Staircase Lane, and Church Farm to the Sherbourne.
In the early 19th century Brownshill Green Road and not the road to Tamworth was marked as the boundary with Keresley on the north-east, though there is no other evidence to account for this deviation. (fn. 4) There are also possible indications that before the end of the 16th century Coundon extended further on the south-east towards the centre of Coventry: in 1410-11 Coundon's south-western boundary followed the Sherbourne as far as Richard Burton's mill on 'Spon bridge', (fn. 5) and in the 1570s the name 'Coundon in Urchenfield' was given as the location of property, said to be 'near the city' and 'on the south side of the street there', which about 1700 was described simply as in 'Urchin Field' adjoining Spon End. (fn. 6)
The middle of the former parish is occupied by the valley of the Wash Brook, which runs south from Brownshill Green to the Sherbourne. Coundon Green and Coundon Court stand at the southern tip of the high ground in the parish overlooking the Sherbourne and the Wash Brook. Holyhead Road crosses the extreme south of the area. The south and east of Coundon are covered by modern housing estates, but the north and west are still largely rural (1964).
MANORS AND ESTATES.
There were two estates in Coundon in 1086: Coventry Priory held three virgates with two ploughs and ten tenants, and a certain Roger held a virgate with one plough and two tenants from William, son of Corbucion. (fn. 7) These tenements were later said to be held of the honor of Chester, (fn. 8) and they may have been formerly part of Leofric's estates.
What was presumably the Corbucion holding passed in the 13th century to the Hastings family, lords of the neighbouring manor of Allesley; in 1269 John Bennett of Allesley held an estate in Coundon, assessed at a twentieth of a fee, which was among the possessions of Henry de Hastings then granted in dower to his widow Joan. (fn. 9) In 1279 it consisted of a half-virgate and other pieces of land, with four tenants, (fn. 10) which was then reckoned as a tenth of a fee. (fn. 11) The lordship passed, with Allesley, through the family of Hastings, Earls of Pembroke, (fn. 12) to Sir William Beauchamp in 1389 and so to Edward Nevill, Lord Bergavenny, but has not been traced after the latter's death in 1476. (fn. 13)
The Bennett family of Allesley remained the tenants or mesne lords of the estate to the early 15th century, (fn. 14) and subsequently the Mancetter family, tenants of the Earls of Pembroke in Mancetter, also held the Coundon estate from the Hastings' successors. (fn. 15) The Hastings or Bennett holding, though possibly of earlier origin than the priory's estate, (fn. 16) and though several times referred to as the manor of Coundon in the mid 15th century, (fn. 17) seems always to have been small. There is no specific evidence of its size after 1279, although John Bennett is known to have both granted and acquired land. (fn. 18) Medieval lists of taxpayers in Coundon included only one or two individuals who were not tenants of the priory, (fn. 19) but this is not necessarily evidence of the size of the holding, since the priory's tenants were also tenants of Bennett or Hastings. (fn. 20)
It is uncertain whether the former Bennett estate survived as a distinct unit after the 15th century. Some land in Coundon continued to be held with Allesley, and may be represented by the 60 acres in Allesley and Coundon which were part of the Holy Trinity Church Estate by the early 17th century, (fn. 21) or by the estate of 114 acres which Henry Greswolde owned in 1841. (fn. 22) This property, consisting of Sherbourne House Farm, Oaken End Farm, and other land, was put up for sale by Greswolde's great-grandson, F. R. Greswolde-Williams, in 1919. (fn. 23)
In 1279 the priory's estate comprised a virgate in demesne and sixteen tenants holding a carucate and other pieces of land. (fn. 24) Richard Ireys with a halfcarucate was the priory's principal tenant, and St. John's Hospital, Coventry, held an intermediate tenancy; the hospital was still receiving rents from Coundon in 1535. (fn. 25) The priory had various manorial privileges in Coundon, including a warren granted in 1257. (fn. 26)
Although they were holding only small pieces of land, the priory's tenants, like those on the Hastings or Bennett estate, were free, and constantly bought and sold land by charter in the 13th century. (fn. 27) From the 13th to the 16th centuries the priory acquired several of these small holdings, which were then converted into leaseholds for life or at will for higher rents. (fn. 28) Lands in Coundon were also given to the priory for charitable purposes and for the establishment of chantries during the second half of the 14th century. (fn. 29) In 1410-11 the priory had some twenty tenants paying over £13 annually in rents. (fn. 30) By this time there were still a few tenants in fee, and their holdings can be identified with those of 1279. (fn. 31) By the mid 16th century there were five holdings of this kind (fn. 32) and two remained in 1833. (fn. 33)
The priory's lands in Coundon were not administered as a unified demesne estate, and were easily divided at the Dissolution. (fn. 34) Several holdings were granted in 1542 to the corporation of Coventry, and were included in the endowment of Sir Thomas White's Charity in 1551. These formed the biggest holding and consisted of the Moathouse Farm, worth £9 13s. 4d.; the remaining group of fee farm rents mentioned above, amounting to 16s. 8d.; Jeffreysfield and Ryecroft, worth £1 6s. 8d.; the land which had belonged to Richard Marler's Chantry (possibly Haldeynfield), worth £1; and the rent of 2s. 8d. from part of the Holy Trinity Church Estate. (fn. 35)
The Moathouse Farm estate survived almost unchanged to the 20th century. Some of the lessees were Michael Bold (1538-51), (fn. 36) Henry Over (1539- 1542), who was probably at first under-tenant to Bold, (fn. 37) Dr. Wilkes, the king's chaplain, in 1604, (fn. 38) the Clark (or Clarke) family in the mid 17th century, (fn. 39) Richard Eburne (1682-1701), (fn. 40) W. Rogers in 1709, (fn. 41) Richard Bates and J. W. Wilson in 1833, (fn. 42) Joseph Liggins in 1875, (fn. 43) and G. T. Twist in 1904. (fn. 44) Some 45 acres of the estate, which consisted of about 146 acres altogether, formed a separate farm in 1833. (fn. 45)
There has been some confusion about the name of Moat House or Moathouse Farm. The property of White's Charity in Coundon was known as such until at least 1848. (fn. 46) It was an unfortunate coincidence that another farm held by the charity in Sowe for a time had the same name. (fn. 47) Further confusion arose when, later in the 19th century, the name of Moat House Farm was transferred to New House Farm in Keresley, which was not owned by White's Charity, and the Coundon farm became known as Manor House Farm. (fn. 48)
The Jeffreysfield holding, leased to Simon Parker in 1542 and 1551 (fn. 49) and to Isaac Walden after 1626, (fn. 50) was first leased to Humphrey Burton in 1647 and then sold to him in 1667. (fn. 51) Burton held it from White's Charity for a rent of 4s. in 1709, (fn. 52) and it was for this rent that Thomas Wilmot held all or part of his estate of 105 acres in Coundon in the mid 19th century. (fn. 53) In 1875 the estate was occupied by the Misses Wilmot. (fn. 54) Rookery Farm was the principal farm on the Wilmot estate. (fn. 55)
What seems to have been the Marler's Chantry holding, held in fee farm for £1 yearly, was leased by George Bohun and occupied by Matthew Chesterfield in 1709. (fn. 56) The Bohun family, whose name occurs also as Boun, Bown, and perhaps even as Brown, had gradually built up an estate in Coundon. The first of the family may have been the Bowne who took a lease from the corporation in 1574. (fn. 57) In 1590-1 Ralph Bowne was described as of Coventry and Coundon, and in 1591 he had property in Coundon, Allesley, and Coventry. (fn. 58) Ralph and Isaac Brown were mentioned as lessees of land belonging to Holy Trinity Church in 1593. (fn. 59) Ralph Brown, gentleman, took another lease of this land in 1610. (fn. 60) Ralph Bowne or Boune, grandson of the first Ralph, was said at his death in 1632 to have a capital messuage and other property in Coundon. (fn. 61) About 1672 Abraham Bohun sold some closes in the North Field in Coundon to the executors of Thomas Lane as the endowment of a charity created by Lane's will (proved 1657). The property was shortly afterwards repurchased by George Bohun, who wished to recover 'these lands, which had belonged to his ancestors'. (fn. 62) In the 18th century, Susan, daughter of George Bohun of Coundon and Whitmore, married Gilbert Clarke, and Clarke was incorrectly called the lord of the manor in 1730. (fn. 63) In the mid 19th century all or part of the Bohun holding was represented by William Wilson's estate of 155 acres, (fn. 64) the principal farm on which was that later called Coundon Court Farm. (fn. 65) Edward Wilson occupied the farm in 1875. (fn. 66)
As a result of Coundon's ill-defined boundaries, and the freedom of land transactions there, small pieces of land and rents in Coundon formed parts of estates in neighbouring parishes from at least the 13th century onwards. Keresley, Allesley, Radford, Whoberley, and Coventry were all intermingled with Coundon in this way, and there were also connexions with estates in Stoke, Shortley, and Pinley, on the other side of Coventry. (fn. 67)
Some parts of the former priory estate did not come into the possession of the corporation in 1542; these included the Priestsfield, held by Holy Trinity Church, (fn. 68) and five woods in Coundon and Keresley, which were granted, with other land in Coundon, to Richard Andrewes and Leonard Chamberlain in 1542. (fn. 69) These woods in fact included a close and several pieces of assarted arable land. (fn. 70) The Gallowtree Field or Fields, which had been held from the priory in 1410-11, was not mentioned with its other property at the Dissolution, but reappeared among the lands purchased about 1550 to provide the endowment of Elizabeth Swillington's Charity. In 1833 the charity owned about 26½ acres in Coundon, including the closes in Gallowtree Fields. (fn. 71) There is no record of the disposal of several other priory holdings, among them Juliansfield and Bromefield and they seem to have become separate freeholds. (fn. 72)
Holy Trinity Church had had land in Coundon from at least the early 14th century. (fn. 73) Besides the pieces that it already held at the Dissolution it received another gift in 1575. (fn. 74) In 1702 and 1833 its property in Coundon amounted to a house and two closes and a rent-charge from two other closes. (fn. 75)
One other charitable foundation was endowed with land in Coundon. This was Bond's Hospital, established in the early 16th century, which owned a close called Hick's Fields near Barkers Butts. (fn. 76)
Because it was a pre-Conquest estate of Coventry Priory, the small and comparatively unimportant village of Coundon had, unlike some of its bigger neighbours, a separate Domesday entry. (fn. 77) Although its tithes were separately collected, it remained part of Holy Trinity parish and only briefly had its own chapel before the 19th century, and, like the priory's half of Sowe, it was normally considered before the 17th century to be outside the manor of Cheylesmore, and the county of the city of Coventry. (fn. 78)
The boundaries of the village were described in 1410-11 (fn. 79) and seem to have approximated to those of the 19th-century parish, but just as other estates owned land in Coundon, (fn. 80) so tenants of neighbouring villages held pieces of land there, and Coundon tenants had land outside. (fn. 81) Holdings stretching across the parish boundary were especially common in the north, where the woods and wastes of Coundon and Keresley met.
Several of the principal roads of the village were in existence before 1410-11 Brownshill Green Road, called the Maxstoke way, was mentioned in the early 14th century. (fn. 82) Tamworth Road (then the Corley road), Brown's Lane, and Scots Lane, formed the north, west, and east boundaries of the village. Hill Lane formed the south-east boundary, roughly on the line of the modern Southbank Road. Wall Lane seems to survive in Wall Hill Road, the continuation of Brownshill Green Road beyond Brownshill Green. Ponke Lane was so called until the 17th century. (fn. 83) The medieval Holifast Waste has given its name to Hollyfast Road, but was probably not in the same area. (fn. 84) Unlike the open-field districts in Ansty and Sowe, the closes of Coundon were divided by a network of lanes - Green Lane, Boydon Lane, Paynall Lane, Ivy Lane, and others - and by stretches of common such as Bilney Green and Normansgreen. Pieces of common along the roads, at Coundon Green, Brownshill Green, and Washbrook Green, remained to the mid 19th century. (fn. 85) There was a village pound in the 17th century. (fn. 86)
The roads running through the village have not had as important an effect on the appearance and development of Coundon as on some of the other districts around Coventry. Tamworth Road, turnpiked in 1761, and the new Holyhead road, cut in the 1820s, (fn. 87) were on the edges of the hamlet, and Brownshill Green Road, which runs towards Maxstoke, has never been developed as a main road. However, there has been a tendency since the 13th and 14th centuries for the centres of village activity to move northwards, and the importance of the roads to Maxstoke and Corley has been partly responsible for this.
The medieval Frith Brook (fn. 88) was probably the upper course of the River Sherbourne, forming Coundon's southern boundary. The Wash Brook appeared by that name in the 13th century. Foxwell was another medieval stream name. (fn. 89)
There has been no recent village centre in Coundon. The ancient hamlet seems to have been at Coundon Court and Coundon Court Farm, at the north-western end of the modern Hollyfast Road, but the topography of Coundon was changing rapidly when documentary evidence becomes available in the 13th and 14th centuries. The northern half, perhaps two-thirds, of Coundon was woodland and waste in the earlier Middle Ages. To the south was the woodland of Ashaw or Ashmoor stretching from Coundon and Allesley towards Kenilworth. The open fields of Coundon and Allesley formed an enclave between these woods, on both sides of the River Sherbourne. The Coundon Court hamlet stood at the southern tip of the high ground looking over its open fields to the south and west.
In 1410-11 the village was divided into Old, or Little Coundon, and New Coundon. (fn. 90) Old Coundon was the area of open fields in the south, and New Coundon the wastes and closes of the north, which were almost completely occupied by the priory and its tenants. The two parts were separated in one place by a hedge called Bennetthedge, and to the south lay the lands of the Hastings and the former Bennett estates, the centres of which were in Allesley. (fn. 91) Ancient Coundon thus looked towards Allesley, but from at least the 13th century Coventry Priory was using its manorial control of the waste to create new arable holdings in the north, extending in the direction of its other estates in Keresley, Whitmore, and Radford. The priory was in a similar position in Sowe village and Sowe Woodwaste. (fn. 92)
Small numbers of selions, or pieces of one and two acres, indicate the existence of open fields in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. In the late 13th century, for instance, rent was being paid for nine selions in the fields of Coundon by Ashaw, with the land of the Hastings estate on one side. (fn. 93) A little earlier, six selions in the field of Coundon above Castelpiece, with the land of John Bennett on two sides, were granted to William son of Geoffrey. (fn. 94) In 1410-11 the priory still had lands in Little Coundon, in the great field under Ashaw, running down to the Frith Brook, (fn. 95) and in Bansfield, under Ashaw in Old Coundon. (fn. 96) Another field, specifically called a common field in 1410-11, was the Northfield, which was in the middle of the parish and north only of Old Coundon. Reynoldsfield, north again of Northfield, was also in common, but was apparently partly an uninclosed assart, not an ancient open field. There were also in this field three crofts called Reynoldsfield, formerly held by the Reynolds family, and John Northampton had a croft near his selions. (fn. 97) There are also references to bundles of selions in fields not otherwise known to be in common: Hobcroft, for instance, was divided into four pieces; there was a small croft in the corner where there had been a cottage, and eleven selions in the field sandwiched between two other pieces. These fields seem to represent an intermediate stage of inclosure. (fn. 98)
Selions in Reynoldsfield and Hobcroft were described as bundles of leys in 1542, (fn. 99) when these fields were apparently open but under grass. The last reference to open fields was in 1641. (fn. 100) Nineteenth-century maps show elongated fields suggestive of inclosed bundles of strips in two places: south of Moat House Farm, where there were five fields lying side by side belonging alternately to the White's Charity estate and Henry Greswolde, and north of Brownshill Green, where the owners were Deeming, the lord of the manor of Allesley, Greswolde, Wright, and Bray. (fn. 101)
Crofts appear in the earliest charters relating to Coundon, in the south of the parish as well as the north. The Odard family held Moor Croft at the junction of Foxwell and the Wash Brook. (fn. 102) William de Hastings gave a croft, and Robert de Hez of Exhall gave Huecroft, to the priory, probably in the early 13th century. (fn. 103) In the late 13th century Andrew of Coundon was holding a cultura called Wichwright Croft. (fn. 104) Cultura clearly does not mean in Coundon a furlong in an open field; it was a separate field, normally inclosed. In the early 14th century most of the tenants had one or more culture; two were said to be in Ashmoor, and another was called Westcroft. (fn. 105) One of the culture in Ashmoor almost certainly reappeared in the rental of 1410-11 as a virgate in the field under Ashaw, the only virgate mentioned in that rental. (fn. 106)
There is no sign in the 14th- and 15th-century rentals of the regular system suggested by the four virgates of the Domesday Survey, or the virgates and carucates of the survey of 1279. (fn. 107) If the Domesday evidence is taken to suggest that Coundon was an open-field village, with three-quarters of it occupied by the priory's tenants, it is quite misleading. (fn. 108) The 1279 and early-14th-century surveys seem to be misleading for another reason; the comparatively small acreages they describe appear to be assarts additional to established holdings, which are not themselves described. (fn. 109) Only the rental of 1410-11 contains full and reliable evidence for individual holdings, but unlike Domesday and the 1279 surveys, it gives no indication of the size of holdings other than the priory's, and most of the priory's holdings were by then not in the ancient fields. (fn. 110)
The Domesday evidence, however, though in some ways unreliable, does support some other evidence for the early history of Coundon with its description of three ploughlands (perhaps 300-400 acres) and its large area of woodland. (fn. 111) More of the woodland was then attached to the Corbucion holding than to the priory's, but later the priory seems to have held most, if not all, of the wood and waste. There is much evidence of the steady assarting of this area from the 13th to the 15th centuries. An early grant by the priory excluded a moor with crops growing on it. (fn. 112) The priory's agreement with Geoffrey de Langley in 1262 for the mutual surrender of commoning rights included the waste of Coundon, (fn. 113) and there was a similar agreement with the Hospitallers. (fn. 114) In 1355 Priorsfield, Fowlesmoor, and Jeffreysfield were among those anciently inclosed fields in Coundon declared to be separable throughout the year. (fn. 115) As already noticed, the early-14th-century rental seems to have been solely concerned with recording the results of various encroachments on Coundon wood and waste. Many culture, crofts, and small pieces of land were listed, some held by an old, others by a new, tenure. Much of the assarting was still being done in pieces of one and two acres, probably lying together in open assarts, but by 1410-11 only a few traces of these arrangements were left. (fn. 116) Most of the land described in the latter rental was in large inclosed fields or crofts, some twenty in all. About half the fields, such as Reynoldsfield, Juliansfield, Bennettscroft, Jeffreysfield, Lewinfield or Lewinthing, bore the name of a village family. The same family seldom held the field, but their association with it was remembered: Reynoldsfield had formerly belonged to Richard and John Reynolds, Juliansfield to Roger Julian, Bennettscroft to Richard Bennett. Lewinthing was 'a great field inclosed with a croft' which Walter Lewin had given to the priory. The individual or family had presumably created the field from the waste as an assart. One field, Bromefield, had been so recently inclosed that the priory described it cautiously as 'approved from their own soil as lords of the place'; it was beyond the Maxstoke road on the edge of Coundon Waste. Several of the fields, including Gallowtree Field, stretched north towards the gallows on the Corley road, and there seems to have been little space left in the parish for waste by 1410-11. (fn. 117)
Two wastes which remained were the 50 acres of Hernerswaste and Bradnockwaste, which had been surrendered to the Hastings estate in exchange for the surrender of commoning rights on the priory's wastes; yet even on these 'wastes' the priory had pasture rights only after the corn had been carried away. (fn. 118)
The priory was said to have a virgate in demesne in 1279, (fn. 119) but this seems to have been a fanciful description of the lands which it kept in its own hands. It has already been noted that in 1355 Priorsfield, Fowlesmoor, and Jeffreysfield, were mentioned as separable pastures, and in 1410-11 Priorsfield and Fowlesmoor, called a grove, were the only fields specifically excluded from the tenants' holdings. (fn. 120) In fact, Priorsfield was then let at will; Brownshillfield, Reynoldsfield, and Juliansfield were also described as in the hands of the priory, though held by leases for life. (fn. 121)
It is unlikely that the priory ever practised arable demesne farming in Coundon. There is no mention of a demesne farm or grange from which such activities could be organized. There may have been some pastoral farming; Priorsfield was in the angle of the Maxstoke road and Scots Lane, near the priory's land in Keresley, Whitmore, and Radford, and would have been a convenient central pasture. (fn. 122)
In addition to heriot, view of frankpledge, and other judicial requirements, the priory's tenants in 1279 were subject only to a very light service of cutting and carrying hay. (fn. 123) Later this service was demanded at Finford Meadow in Willenhall, on the other side of Coventry, but it is unlikely that any tenants made the wearisome journey, for by 1410-11 the service could be regularly commuted. Nine of the tenants were then called 'native' or villein tenants, and were required to pay a sum of up to 12d., called common fine, on specified fields. (fn. 124) There is no other evidence of villein tenure in Coundon, and the entry may merely represent an abortive attempt to give the prior added authority.
The development of several large farm units can be traced from the late 14th to the early 16th centuries. The remaining open field, at least on the priory's estate, seems to have disappeared in a process of gradual inclosure in the 16th century. Closes and assarts gave greater opportunities for the engrossment of individual holdings than two-, three-, or four-acre pieces in the fields. The Black Death left more holdings available, and the priory leased what demesne it had. As already noticed, purchases and gifts, particularly during the 14th century, enabled the priory to change traditional holdings into leasehold tenures, the rents and policies of which it could control. (fn. 125) The development of stock farming around Coventry made the larger farms economically viable; for instance, John Northampton and Thomas Disher of the 1410-11 rental were both Coventry butchers. Wealthy Coventry merchants were ready also to take up expensive leases, partly as investments and partly to give their families a pseudo-manorial status: William Bedford in 1410-11 was a Coventry merchant, and drapers and mercers appeared throughout the Middle Ages. (fn. 126) The most important influence, however, was the policy of the priory, for which the new leases were secure and profitable.
The creation of the Moat House Farm in Coundon shows these factors at work. It originated in a holding which William Stevens gave to Coventry Priory shortly before 1364. (fn. 127) The motives for the gift may have been pious, for the donor had killed a fellow tenant. (fn. 128) The collection of pieces he gave to the priory had been newly assembled, possibly as a result of his marriage to Isabel, daughter of Simon Chatill, of an old Coundon family. One of the pieces, Jeffreysfield, bore the name of an earlier, extinct family. The priory did not keep the 1364 holding intact: Jeffreysfield, at least, was later part of the big holding which Thomas Disher, the Coventry butcher, had built up before 1410-11, and which after the Dissolution became the nucleus of Humphrey Burton's estate. (fn. 129) In 1410-11 John Keresley, an active local man, held the bulk of Stevens's gift: a house with two fields adjoining it; a croft and moor called the Green; a croft with a cottage on it called Stevenshey; a croft next to Normansgreen called Petiparrok; eleven selions in Hobcroft and three selions in Reynoldsfield. For this he paid 13s. 4d. rent in 1410-11, but the rent was to be raised to £2 13s. 4d. after Keresley's death. Keresley had added to Stevens's land Lewinfield or Lewinthing, which had escheated to the priory after Walter Lewin's murder, the rent of which was £1, and twelve selions in the field under Ashaw, which had been given before 1364 as part of the endowment of a chantry, for 10s. rent. (fn. 130)
By 1538, when the Moat House holding was leased to Michael Bold, two more fields had been added to it: (fn. 131) one was Brownshillfield, which had been held by Hugh Douce, son of Dulcie, in the 13th century, (fn. 132) and by John fitz Hugh, called Stywardesman, in the early 14th century; (fn. 133) the other, and more important, field was the former priory demesne pasture, Priorsfield. Bold also held the priory's court in Coundon and all other rights, and was leasing the tithes. (fn. 134) Bold had an 80-year lease and was paying £9 13s. 4d. for lands which had been worth £6 7s. 8d. in 1410-11. The farm-house, the former tenement of Stevens and Keresley, was called the Moat House by 1538. Shortly after, the lease came into the hands of Henry Over, the Coventry mercer, who was also then leasing the tithes of Coundon, and was tenant of the woodland in Keresley and Coundon. (fn. 135) It was the Moat House estate that became the 'Coundon manor' of the 19th century, (fn. 136) but, although it had some of the features of a manor, it was primarily a medieval peasant holding, steadily built up, and then maintained in the form that it had taken at the Dissolution. The Burton and Bohun holdings had similar histories. (fn. 137)
Evidence of the population of Coundon is particularly sparse. There were twelve tenants in 1086, and twenty on the two main estates in 1279. (fn. 138) In the early 14th century when there were some eleven or twelve subsidy payers, (fn. 139) there were 21 tenants on the priory's estate. (fn. 140) There were about twenty poll-tax payers in 1378, (fn. 141) and eighteen tenants on the priory's estate in 1410-11. (fn. 142) There were only nine tenants on the part of the priory's estate that was granted to Coventry corporation in 1542. (fn. 143) Thereafter there is no significant information until 1730, when there were said to be fifteen houses in Coundon. (fn. 144) So far as it is reliable, the evidence suggests that the population rose, and was perhaps even doubled, between 1086 and the 14th century, that it declined from the 14th century to the 16th, and remained low in the 18th century.
It has already been shown that the increase in the size of holdings, and the reduction in the number of tenants in the 15th and 16th centuries, was part of a complex process in which the Black Death appears as only one factor. (fn. 145) There is no direct evidence of the effects of the plague. There were cottages being built in the early 14th century, but lying derelict in 1410-11. (fn. 146) The priory's acquisition of land, in 1349 and 1364 for instance, may represent in some cases purchases of cheap unwanted holdings. (fn. 147) Certainly many of the village families of the 13th and early 14th centuries disappeared before 1410-11. The best evidence of the plague, though it is only presumptive, is in the marginalia in the early-14th-century rental, in which written against each holding is apparently a new tenant's name. (fn. 148) If this interpretation is correct, it shows a complete change in the normal succession of tenements, in a village where there is otherwise much evidence of continuity.
There has never been a permanent village in Coundon. The hamlet which seems to have existed at Coundon Court in the early Middle Ages did not grow. The priory's tenants either built themselves houses in the closes and assarts in the north of Coundon, or on the greens along the lanes there. Some of these houses developed into farms with dependent cottages after the 16th century; there were some seven farms scattered evenly over the parish in the mid 19th century. (fn. 149) Only at Brownshill Green, in the north-west of the parish, did a hamlet develop by the late 18th century, straggling from the smithy at the junction of Long Lane and Wall Hill Road, into Allesley parish. (fn. 150) This hamlet still contains a few pre-19th-century buildings.
Coundon was always predominantly an agrarian community. The woodland was of some economic importance until its almost complete clearance in the 16th century. In 1479 the pittancer paid for 1,800 faggots to be made in Coundon. (fn. 151) There was a carpenter in Coundon and Radford in 1378, (fn. 152) a smith in Coundon in 1524, (fn. 153) and a clothworker in Coundon in 1659. (fn. 154) The mid-19th-century field names, Sawpit Close, Brick-kiln Close, and Quarry Close, may indicate the influence of the Coventry building trade at that date. (fn. 155) In 1875 only the limited needs of the agricultural community were provided for: there were two shops at Brownshill Green, a beerhouse, a tailor, a flour dealer, a carter, and a smith. (fn. 156) The post office, the school, and other public buildings were in Keresley. The farmers of the district hired a steam engine and thrashing machine from Coventry. (fn. 157) The smithy at Brownshill Green survived into the present century. The beerhouse of 1875 was the Nugget Inn near Coundon Court. (fn. 158) Some of the early allotments acquired by the Coventry Labourers' and Artisans' Friendly Society in the 1840s are said to have been in Coundon. (fn. 159)
In the 19th century Coundon became a residential area for wealthy Coventry tradesmen and retired people, following in the footsteps of medieval mercers and drapers. Ribbon development of large houses along Tamworth Road was one aspect of this tendency. But Coundon was also away from the congested city, from the industrial suburbs of Foleshill and Sowe Waste, and from the early residential areas such as Stoke which was by then being swamped by housing of a lower class; lying as it did on high wooded ground, Coundon was still attractively rural. More important, the history of Coundon had left a parish of medium-sized freehold or leasehold units, each exactly suited to a large isolated Victorian house with a park-like garden, and with perhaps a farm attached to give a satisfactory manorial atmosphere. Existing farms such as Manor House Farm (the former Moathouse Farm), Coundon Hall (now a hotel) on Tamworth Road, and Coundon House, on what is now Southbank Road, were improved and enlarged. New houses were built, such as Keresley Grange, The Elms (now Coundon Lodge), and The Cottage, and, at the end of the 19th century, Coundon Court, The Spinney, and Oakhurst. (fn. 160) The vicarage of Keresley-with-Coundon ecclesiastical parish, built on Brownshill Green Road in Coundon at a rather inconvenient distance from the new church in Keresley in 1848, was another such house, and was leased by the vicar. (fn. 161) In 1850 there was a ribbon manufacturer living in Coundon, (fn. 162) in 1875 a silk-broker, a Coventry miller, a Coventry druggist, a brewer, a watch manufacturer, and a varnish maker. (fn. 163)
The parish survived as a scattered agricultural district dotted with gentlemen's houses, until after the First World War. The population rose slowly, though with some fluctuations in the 19th century, from 158 with 32 houses in 1801, to 335 with 76 houses in 1921. (fn. 164) Then, belatedly perhaps by the standards of other parishes around Coventry, the city burst upon Coundon. The corporation was building an estate on White's Charity's land in 1927, and an estate was completed in the Manor House Farm area by 1931, the farm being demolished. (fn. 165) Most of the parish was then taken into the city. (fn. 166) Further development followed before and after the Second World War, including the building of schools and churches, and the laying-out of recreation grounds. Coundon Court and other Victorian houses were converted into schools and public institutions. (fn. 167) The advance of building was checked, however, by planning proposals which were intended to preserve northern and central Coundon as a rural area. In 1964 the eastern and southern parts of the former parish were built-up areas, covering, in the east, the former White's Charity, Swillington's Charity, and Greswolde-Williams' estates, and other lands, up to Waste Lane and Coundon Green, and, in the south, more Greswolde-Williams' land, Bond's Charity estate, and the farm lands of Coundon House, Hill Farm, and Freeman's Cottage. Coundon Court Farm was demolished when the school there was extended in 1956. Farms which survived were Church Farm, Rookery Farm, and Brownshill Green Farm. Birch Tree Farm buildings still stand on Tamworth Road.
None of these farms, however, has ancient farm-houses. At Church Farm there is a timber-framed barn with brick infilling, probably dating from the early 18th century. The 18th-century stone house at Brownshill Green Farm was incorporated in the outbuildings about 1900 and a new farmhouse built. The only survival from the old hamlet at Coundon Court is Alveston Cottage, now the gardener's cottage to Coundon Lodge. This is of two bays and is timber-framed with a thatched roof. The central partition contains a medieval cruck truss and part of the original roof is in position. Both end walls, however, have been rebuilt, probably in the 17th century.
In the extreme west of Coundon new houses have been built along Brown's Lane, and the Jaguar car factory lies across the boundary between Coundon and Allesley. (fn. 168)
Before the Dissolution Coundon was outside the jurisdiction of the city and Cheylesmore manor, and authority was exercised by the Prior of Coventry as lord and rector of Holy Trinity, through his steward and bailiff. Robert de Shilton, who acted for the priory in Coundon in the early 14th century, was 'bailiff of the foreign of the lord prior', and as such presumably administered Radford, Whitmore, Willenhall, and the priory's half of Sowe, as well as Coundon. (fn. 169) The priory held the view of frankpledge, and had other judicial rights, and the gallows on the Corley road (fn. 170) demonstrated his use of them. In the 13th century at least, the leet court was held at the priory. (fn. 171) At the Dissolution the profits of the court were leased to Michael Bold, the tenant of Moathouse Farm. (fn. 172) In the 17th century the city was summoning the Coundon freeholders to the view of frankpledge at the Cheylesmore court, though Coundon was not in the jurisdiction of that court and might have claimed a leet court of its own. (fn. 173) In fact much later a so-called court baron was held for the manor. (fn. 174)
In the 17th century Coundon was treated by the Warwickshire magistrates as a separate parish for civil purposes. In 1663 there was an unsuccessful attempt to treat it as part of Allesley because the two places shared a constable; (fn. 175) in 1684 there was one constable for both but separate overseers. (fn. 176) Coundon was described as a parish in 1801 and 1811, but thereafter as a hamlet until 1881. (fn. 177) The creation of the ecclesiastical parish of Keresley-with-Coundon in 1848 led to the odd existence of a single parish clerk and assistant overseer, though the civil parishes were in different unions and rural districts. (fn. 178)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
WILMOT'S CHARITY. Thomas Wilmot, by will proved 1834, left £100 in trust that the interest should be distributed every Christmas in bread or coals to the poor of Coundon. In 1855 the income from £100 stock was spent on bread, and in 1875 the net income of £2 16s. 8d. was spent on coals. In the same year the administration of the charity was transferred to the vicar and churchwardens of Keresley-with-Coundon. (fn. 179) By 1960 the charity was known as the Wilmot Coal Bequest and the income of £2 11s. 4d. was applied in grants for coal. (fn. 180)