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 large ancient parish of Foleshill lay to the north of Coventry. The area of the parish was 2,689 acres in 1891. (fn. 1) Parts of the ancient parish were exchanged for parts of Exhall in 1885, (fn. 2) and about 553 acres became part of Coventry County Borough in 1899. (fn. 3) In 1928 an area of 1,279 acres, and in 1932 a further area of 479 acres, were included in Coventry. The remaining 373 acres were then included in Bedworth civil parish and Urban District. Foleshill Union, which comprised Foleshill and ten (later eleven) other parishes, was created in 1836, and later became the area of Foleshill Rural District. The Rural District was extinguished in 1932. (fn. 4)
The River Sowe flows from north-west to southeast across the area of the ancient parish. To the west the parish projected north of Whitmore Park towards Keresley. To the south-west of the river, the land rises to Great and Little Heaths in Foleshill, and, on the south and east of it, to Wyken and Sowe commons. To the north-east, the land rises to Hawkesbury, and a stream runs south-west and south from Hawkesbury through Wyken Pool to the Sowe near Bell Green.
Two principal roads cross the area of the ancient parish: the Foleshill or Longford Road running north from Coventry to Bedworth and Nuneaton, and the road which leaves Coventry as Stoney Stanton Road and runs, under various names, north-east towards Bulkington, becoming Hawkesbury Lane near the modern city boundary. The Coventry Canal, after passing through the south-west tip of the parish, re-enters it at Stoke Heath, runs north across the parish, and north-east to Hawkesbury and Bedworth. The Oxford Canal enters the parish near Hawkesbury Lane, joining the Coventry Canal at Hawkesbury Lock. The railway from Coventry to Nuneaton crosses the north-west of the parish between Foleshill Station and Hawkesbury Lane Station, which is just outside the former parish boundary. The line from Pinley and Stoke joins this line near Lythall's Lane. A branch line runs west to Keresley Colliery, and formerly another ran south from Hawkesbury Lane Station to the collieries in Sowe and Wyken.
Foleshill is an area of complex industrial and residential development. Great Heath and Edgwick in the south of the former parish were built up during the 19th century; many houses of that period remain, but the factories there have been rebuilt and enlarged. Little Heath, Longford, Holbrooks, and Rowleys Green, in the middle and north of the parish, are areas of mixed 19th- and 20th-century houses with a few large, and many small, modern factories; they are flanked, in Hall Green, Bell Green, and Court House Green on the east, and in the Nunt's Lane area on the west, by recent housing estates. In the north, beyond Alderman's Green and in Hawkesbury (part of which is not in the modern city), is an area of old colliery workings, roads, railways, and canals, mingled with surviving fields, which has been only partially utilized for modern development (1964).
George Eliot, who lived just outside the southern boundary of Foleshill from 1841 to 1849, is thought to have made Coventry and parts of its neighbourhood in the early 1830s the setting of her novel Middlemarch. The weaving village of Tipton in Middlemarch. has in fact been identified with Foleshill, (fn. 5) though the novel represents only the rural and not the industrial aspect of the parish at this date.
MANORS AND ESTATES.
Foleshill was first mentioned in 1086. Together with Ansty, it formed an estate formerly held by Godiva, and then by a certain Nicholas at farm from the king. (fn. 6) As with Godiva's other estates, the overlordship passed to the earls of Chester, and Foleshill next appears as one of the places in which the earl granted ecclesiastical rights to Coventry Priory in the early 12th century. (fn. 7) Foleshill remained subject to the manor of Coventry or Cheylesmore, the court of which was still actively concerned with open-field and commoning arrangements in Foleshill in the 17th century. (fn. 8) The principal lay estate in Foleshill was therefore only in a limited sense a manor. The imperfect manorial structure was accentuated by the distribution of land within the parish; Foleshill was never a single or even a simple territorial unit.
The ancient fields were at least partly occupied by tenants of the principal lay estate, which was that held in the 13th century by Vitalis de Foleshill and his successor of the same name, probably his son. Roger and Cecily de Montalt reserved the service of Vitalis in their grant to Coventry Priory in 1250. (fn. 9) The estate apparently passed to Arnold de Bois, who was holding a ¼-fee in Foleshill at the death of Robert de Montalt in 1275. (fn. 10) Arnold died in 1277 when his estate in Foleshill consisted of a ½-carucate, with a capital messuage, meadow, and pasture. (fn. 11) In 1301 Arnold's son William settled Foleshill and other estates on his niece (and eventual heir), Maud Lovel, and her husband, William La Zouche of Harringworth. (fn. 12) Thereafter this estate in Foleshill was sometimes described as a member of the Zouche manor of Weston-in-Arden in the neighbouring parish of Bulkington and said to be held, like Weston, of the honor of Winchester. (fn. 13) The estate was held by the Zouche family until at least 1415, (fn. 14) after which date it may have been acquired by a local family such as that of the Greens who are known to have owned land in Foleshill from the 14th to the 17th century. (fn. 15)
The open fields, however, occupied only the centre of the parish and formed less than a third of the total area. Surrounding them were commons, wastes, and woods, which in the 14th century were parts of the bigger forest units of Barnet and Hasilwood. (fn. 16) The tenants of Cheylesmore and the agricultural rights in most of these wastes came to Coventry Priory as a result of the Montalts' grant of 1250, and the priory's most valuable holdings were always inclosures of waste.
After the Dissolution, the disposal of the priory's estates in Foleshill in several different parcels created a number of small freehold farms, largely in the former wastes. The Beechwaste was granted in 1544 to Michael Cameswell, (fn. 17) who was then holding property in Whitmore, Exhall and Newland, and elsewhere in the district on lease from the priory. (fn. 18) In 1557 the Beechwaste passed from Cameswell to John Saunders, of Coventry, (fn. 19) and from Saunders to Stephen, brother of John Hales, in 1560. (fn. 20) It seems subsequently to have descended with the Hales estate in Whitmore: Sir Christopher Yelverton of Whitmore was fined in 1637 for digging turf on Foleshill Heath, (fn. 21) Richard Hill of Whitmore held land in Foleshill in 1775, (fn. 22) and Edward Phillips in 1850. (fn. 23) Other priory land was granted to individuals after the Dissolution, (fn. 24) and land which was retained by the Crown was leased until the end of the 16th century. (fn. 25)
Along the north-western edge of Foleshill the parish boundary seems to have been artificial, and to have run in several places through the fields of Exhall or among fields occupied by tenants of both Foleshill and Exhall. The landowners of Exhall (fn. 26) therefore always owned land in Foleshill and sometimes claimed to hold manors or manorial rights in that parish. William le Botiler and James de Audeley held land in Foleshill and Exhall from the Montalt estate in 1250. (fn. 27) In 1310 Henry Bagot, merchant of Coventry, appeared in occupation of all or part of the Audeley holding, (fn. 28) but this had also been acquired by the Botiler family by 1370. (fn. 29) The lord of Exhall and his tenants were avoiding paying tithe for land in the parish in 1479. (fn. 30) Julian Nether-mill, the successor of the Botilers in Exhall, held land in Foleshill as part of his manor of Exhall at his death in 1539, (fn. 31) and his son John died seised of the same later in the century. (fn. 32) This holding continued to descend with Exhall manor in the 17th century, passing through the hands of Sir John Garrard (d. 1625) (fn. 33) and his son, Sir John Garrard, Bt. (d. 1637), (fn. 34) who paid a chief rent for a holding in Foleshill to the Cheylesmore court in 1628–9. (fn. 35) Lovell Smith paid the rent for the Garrards' former holding in 1659. (fn. 36) Special arrangements were necessary for some of this land in the inclosure award of 1775. (fn. 37)
Also beyond the wastes of Foleshill were two districts, Tackley to the north-east (later called Hawkesbury), and Henley to the south-east, which seem to have been woodland settlements quite independent of Foleshill village. Three feudal tenants in Tackley were reserved to the manor of Cheylesmore in the Montalts' grant of 1250, (fn. 38) and others held small estates there in 1275. (fn. 39) John de Nuweres was called lord of Tackley in 1368. (fn. 40) Thereafter the descent of the freeholds of Tackley is obscure. Fields there belonging to the priory were for a time in the hands of the Stoke family. (fn. 41) Some fields were held by John Nethermill of Exhall, and these and others were held by Sir Henry Beaumont, the mine-owner of Bedworth, in 1618. (fn. 42) Some of the same fields formed part of the holding of 300 acres built up after 1650 by the Dyer family, the Goodwin family, and the Lapworth family successively, but then split up about 1790. (fn. 43) The two houses — Tolldish Hall and Hawkesbury Hall — which had been built in the area by the 18th century (fn. 44) may have had some connexion with the ancient freeholds. One of the two was presumably the house marked in Tackley on a map of 1725. (fn. 45) Tolldish Hall, near the Bulkington boundary, was owned by a Richard Richardson in 1724 and 1774. (fn. 46) Hawkesbury Hall was so called by 1766–7, and was then occupied by the Parrott family (fn. 47) who had been operating mines in this neighbourhood from at least 1721. (fn. 48) It was said in 1817 that the property had been bought by the grandfather of Francis Parrott, who then owned it and who had made great improvements to the house and grounds. (fn. 49) In 1841 Tolldish Hall was occupied by another Richard Richardson, and Hawkesbury Hall by the same or a second Francis Parrott. Mrs. Elizabeth Fraser of Hawkesbury Hall (daughter of Francis Parrott) was one of the principal landowners in 1850. George Whieldon, the proprietor of Hawkesbury Colliery, and Thomas Worthy also owned land in the area. (fn. 50)
Most of Henley passed to Coventry Priory by the grant of 1250, but the lords of Caludon acquired a mesne tenancy there in the 14th century and became the effective landowners. (fn. 51) Henley remained part of the Caludon estate until the 18th century, Lord Clifford being the occupier in 1775. (fn. 52) By 1841 all or most of the estate had changed hands, John Leigh owning the mill-house and mill, and the Revd. John Brown 142 acres there. (fn. 53) The lords of Wyken also held land in this district of Foleshill from the 17th century onwards. (fn. 54)
Walter de Langley and Robert de Stoke were feudal tenants in Foleshill in the 13th century. (fn. 55) The Langley family had some land in Foleshill from the mid 13th century (fn. 56) only as part of their considerable estates in and around Coventry, and Walter's holding in 1277 was probably merged into the neighbouring Langley estates in Whitmore or Wyken. (fn. 57) Members of the Stoke family, who held a substantial estate in Stoke parish, built up their holding in Foleshill to manorial status. In the early 14th century, Robert de Stoke bought a small estate, including five tenants in Foleshill and two in Henley. (fn. 58) The Stoke holding seems first to have been called a manor in 1336. (fn. 59) In 1343 John de Stoke bought more rents in Foleshill, Henley, and elsewhere, from the lord of Caludon. (fn. 60) The Stokes kept this manor until the mid 16th century; (fn. 61) they were attempting to consolidate their lands in the fields of Foleshill by aggressive means in the 1530s, (fn. 62) and they were still leasing extensive commons from the former priory estate in 1546–7. (fn. 63) By this date they had apparently begun to dispose of the estates in Stoke from which they had taken their name, and William Stoke was described as 'of Foleshill' in 1542–3. (fn. 64)
After 1550 there is a complete gap in the manorial history of Foleshill for nearly 40 years, until a manor there reappears in 1587 in the hands of William Willoughby who died in the same year. It was then described only as a single unit, (fn. 65) and the inclusion in it of a lease in Tackley (fn. 66) (which the Stokes had held from the priory) suggests that it was the former Stoke estate. The manor was inherited by Willoughby's son, Gilbert (d. 1594), (fn. 67) and the latter's son, William (d. 1629), was confirmed in possession of it in 1616. (fn. 68) It had apparently passed out of the Willoughby family by 1629, (fn. 69) and in Dugdale's day was held by Richard Hopkins (fn. 70) (d. 1682), a member of a prominent Coventry family. Whatever its true origins, it was this estate which was recognized as the manor of Foleshill in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 71) It was held by the Hopkins family until the death of Richard Hopkins, of Oving House (Bucks.), in 1799 when it was inherited by his nephew, Richard Northey (d. 1845), who then assumed the additional name of Hopkins. From him the estate descended to his son, William Richard Hopkins Northey, and after the latter's death in 1859 (fn. 72) it passed to the descendants of his eldest daughter, Fanny Elizabeth, (fn. 73) who had married George Ives Irby, 4th Lord Boston. Her grandson, Cecil Saumarez Irby, was lord of the manor of Foleshill in 1900, and his trustees were said to be the lords in 1936, the year after his death. (fn. 74)
By the 19th century several charities had been endowed with small estates in Foleshill. The chief of these were Ford's Hospital, founded in the early 16th century, of which the property in 1833 included Skervin's Moor and other land amounting to about 27 acres; Jelliff's Charity (the Stripes or Butt Lane Close); Chambers's Charity (lands near Dodd's Bridge); Collins's Charity estate of about 28 acres at Rowley's Green; and Holy Trinity Church Estate. Two other pieces of land charged with payments to charities were then among the property of John Butlin (fn. 75) who owned an estate of altogether 102 acres in the parish in 1841 and 1850. (fn. 76)
Of the houses which formerly had some claim to manorial status, only three can now (1964) be identified: Hawkesbury Hall to the north-east of Foleshill and just outside the modern city boundary, Tolldish Hall, 600 yards beyond Hawkesbury Hall, and Foleshill Hall in Lythall's Lane, converted into a public house in the early 20th century.
Tolldish Hall is a two-storied timber-framed farmhouse with a tiled roof. It is now in poor repair but structurally has been little altered since it was built in the early or mid 17th century. If the present external plastering were removed it might well prove to be a typical 'black-and-white' house of the period. The main block contains a hall with an entrance and cross passage at its north-east end and an adjoining kitchen. On the opposite side is a 'solar' cross-wing. The hall is entered by a two-storied gabled porch in the centre of the road front and there is a similar small gabled projection at the kitchen end. Several of the upper windows, some now blocked, are slightly splayed oriels supported on console brackets.
Hawkesbury Hall, in 1964 partly occupied as a farmhouse, was the 18th- and early-19th-century residence of the Parrott family. It was probably built or enlarged c. 1760. (fn. 77) The house is of red brick with stone dressings and consists of a central three-storied block with two-storied side wings, one of the latter altered in the 19th century. The principal entrance was on the north-west side, away from the road, where a three-sided forecourt, flanked by stable and service wings, overlooked the grounds and an ornamental lake. (fn. 78) The court was approached from the road by a drive and lodge gates, but little survives of this lay-out. Inside the central block are the remains of panelled rooms, a fine staircase, enriched doorways and chimney-pieces. The style of the fittings suggests a slightly earlier date than 1760 for this part of the house.
The oldest part of the present 'Foleshill Olde Hall' public house is the east or garden front which dates from c. 1700 and is of red brick with stone quoins and dressings. The central doorway has a contemporary stone surround and the windows were formerly of the mullioned and transomed type. (fn. 79) A drawing of 1883 suggests that the west side of the building may have been considerably older. (fn. 80) The house was later almost entirely rebuilt and internally its only ancient feature is an early-17th-century oak staircase which has been re-set. The present west front dates from 1915 when the building was converted into a public house. (fn. 81) In 1887 Foleshill Hall Farm was still in existence on the north side of Lythall's (then Foleshill Hall) Lane, (fn. 82) but the whole area must have been much altered in 1850 by the construction of the railway (fn. 83) which runs within 50 yards of the old hall.
A 'house and homestead' held by Joseph Slingsby from Richard Hopkins in 1776 (fn. 84) stood between Hall Green Road and Tackley Brook. (fn. 85) It was known as Foleshill Hall in the early 19th century, when it was still leased by the Slingsby family, and was first referred to as Manor House about 1850. (fn. 86) By the 1880s, when extensive repairs were being carried out to the house and farm buildings, it was called Manor Farm or Manor House Farm. (fn. 87) Its proximity to Hall Green, which was possibly one of the earliest settlements in the parish (see below) and which by its name indicates the presence of some substantial house, suggests that this Foleshill Hall or Manor House may have been, or have replaced, a medieval building, but nothing is known of the house's history before the late 18th century. It disappeared in the construction of the Manor House building estate about 1955.
In 1086 Foleshill was mentioned with Ansty as a single estate of nine hides, and the area of Exhall may also have been included in this total; (fn. 88) apart, then, from showing that a recognizable community existed at Foleshill, the Domesday entry does not provide a starting-point for the agrarian and social history of the parish. No copy of the 1279 hundred roll covering Foleshill is known, and there are other serious gaps in the historical material, so that the history of this important parish is more obscure than that of several of its smaller neighbours.
The name Foleshill has been interpreted as 'hill of the folk or people'. (fn. 89) The name, if correctly understood, would indicate that the settlement around Foleshill was particularly noteworthy, and, by implication, that when the name originated people were not settled in the surrounding districts. Certainly the settlement of Foleshill preceded the manorial and parochial arrangements of the 13th and 14th centuries, and the agrarian system seems to be of an earlier stage of development than that of villages to the south and west. But medieval Foleshill was a less well established village than Sowe or Ansty, its neighbours to the east, and seems to represent a stage in development intermediate between them and Keresley or Coundon.
The topographical history of Foleshill can be divided into three stages: the village of the 13th to 16th centuries, the industrial hamlets of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the suburbs of the 19th and 20th centuries. The medieval topography cannot in this case be reconstructed from Coventry Priory's surveys, for the priory held very little land in the village and its fields; from them a detailed picture emerges only of the west and north of the parish. The second period is sub-divided by the first turnpike, of 1755–6, the building of the Coventry Canal in 1768–9, (fn. 90) and the inclosure of 1775, which probably resulted from the sale of common land to the canal company. The first useful map, Beighton's of 1725, drawn before the construction of the canal, shows some of the hamlets, but is vague and sometimes inaccurate. By the date of the first reliable map, Eagle's inclosure survey of 1774, the canal had been cut, and important changes had been made in the topography of the parish.
Beighton marks the village of Foleshill vaguely, but almost certainly as the hamlet of Hall Green. Hall Green has obvious claims to be the original village. The principal line of the Bulkington, Hinckley, and Leicester road forded the River Sowe there, and there may have been a mill in the neighbourhood by the mid 14th century. (fn. 91) But Hall Green is on the eastern edge both of the open fields and the parish, and it is some distance from the church, which is in Old Church Road, between two other hamlets, Bell Green and Little Heath. The church, unlike Hall Green, is on a hill, the low boulder-clay ridge between the Sowe and a water-course from Whitmore Park.
Some evidence suggests that the hamlet shown on 19th-century maps as Little Heath may have been the original settlement. It was in the middle of the parish and the fields, and nearer to the church than Hall Green. Little Heath was a victim of the canal and the turnpikes. Beighton's map shows a road on the line of the modern Swan Lane, Eden Street, and Spring Road, to Little Heath, which provided a direct route from Stoke to the north. The canal in 1769 cut off Swan Lane from Eden Street at Stoke Heath, and Spring Road from Stoney Stanton Road at the junction with Eden Street. From its junction with Spring Road, in Little Heath, Old Church Road, the medieval Churchend and 'lane to Coventry', (fn. 92) wound off through the open fields north-west towards Nuneaton, and north-east towards Bulkington. The direct main roads in those directions were at first merely tracks across open heath. The Nuneaton road (Foleshill Road) had been turnpiked only in 1755–6. (fn. 93) The present Stoney Stanton Road was 'freshly made out across the heath' at the inclosure in 1774–5, (fn. 94) and was turnpiked in 1830–1. (fn. 95) The hamlet at Little Heath declined in importance, while Longford and the four villages on the Bulkington road grew.
The district which projected like a limb at the north-east corner of the ancient parish presents similar difficulties. Since the early 19th century it has been called Hawkesbury, after a curious and deliberate transference of that name from a district in Sowe. The priory's rentals make it clear that in the early 15th century the district from Longford to the 'Red Lane under the Hoo' (Hawkesbury Lane) was called Tackley. (fn. 96) There was a group of open fields quite distinct from those of Foleshill, (fn. 97) and there were several feudal tenants there of Cheylesmore manor, as well as tenants of the priory. (fn. 98) The houses were too scattered, however, to form a hamlet. Tackley was not considered to be part of Foleshill in the 13th century, (fn. 99) and even in the early 15th the parish boundaries were at some points ill-defined. (fn. 100) In 1656 Dugdale said that the name was recorded only by certain grounds called Tackley in Foleshill. (fn. 101) In 1725, however, Beighton showed Tackley in its ancient location, though it was regarded as depopulated, apart from a house (fn. 102) which was presumably either Tolldish Hall or Hawkesbury Hall. (fn. 103) Hawkesbury Lane was first marked as such, and the principal mine called Hawkesbury Colliery, in 1767. (fn. 104) The name was then applied further north, to the locality formerly known as Sydnall or Sidenhall.
In addition to the roads to Nuneaton and Bulkington there was a medieval road through Tackley to Marston Jabbett and Hinckley, sometimes called Cartersgreen, (fn. 105) which has disappeared. It is probable that this road crossed the River Sowe at Foxford and followed the line of Grange Lane and Black Horse Road (called Green Lane in 1834) (fn. 106) to the point where Black Horse Road turns west, back to the Nuneaton road. The original road would have continued to Hawkesbury Hall Farm, but was cut by the canal near Hawkesbury basin.
Apart from these interruptions and changes of route, the roads through Foleshill have had a particular influence on the topography of the parish. The roads from Coventry to Exhall and Arbury (Lockhurst Lane), Bedworth and Nuneaton (Foleshill Road), Bulkington and Leicester (Stoney Stanton Road), and Wyken and Henley (Henley Road), all appeared between 1250 and 1410–11. (fn. 107) From the beginning their influence has distorted the pattern of a community centred on a village and a church, stretching it, as it were, into a succession of characterless suburban streets.
Other lanes in the north and west of the parish, mentioned in the priory's rentals, probably represent the later minor roads in the district, but changes of name make identification difficult. The Hobway, for instance, may be Bedlam Lane, Longfordway may be Lady Lane, and the cottage called Judhouse may have been in Judd's Lane. (fn. 108) Foxlane probably ran north from Foxford. Several greens such as Atkinsgreen and Gardenersgreen are similarly difficult to identify with later features, and some like Cartersgreen were merely lanes. 'The Green' seems to have been at Longford. A number of houses and cottages certainly lay around Longford and Foxford in the 15th century, but there is no indication that they then formed distinct hamlets. (fn. 109)
There were several river crossings in Foleshill. The Sowe was crossed by Rowleys Green Lane at Bassford, by the Nuneaton road at Longford, by the Bulkington road at Hall Green, and by Henley Road, leading from Foleshill to Wyken and Sowe, at Tackford. (fn. 110) Tackford Bridge was in existence in the early 14th century (fn. 111) but there may have been no road bridges at Bassford, Longford, or Hall Green until the construction of the turnpike roads, or even later. (fn. 112) It is unlikely that a bridge was ever built at Foxford, although, as already suggested, it was probably the crossing-point of the medieval road to Marston Jabbett and Hinckley, and was still marked on a map of 1822. (fn. 113) The 15th-century Telebridge, near the earlier Teleford, (fn. 114) was presumably where the Bulkington road crossed the Telebrook.
In the 14th and 15th centuries Foleshill village and the open fields were surrounded by waste and wood, which merged by imperfectly defined boundaries into Whitmore to the west, Exhall to the north, and Sowe to the east. (fn. 115) The principal open fields, at least in the 18th century, occupied less than a third of the total area. (fn. 116) The manor of Cheylesmore had various rights in the land north of the River Sowe as part of Barnet Wood, and to the south-west and south of the parish as part of Hasilwood. (fn. 117) The names of many medieval localities, such as Blackmoor, Bishopwaste, Boyswaste, Beechwaste, or the Beeches, indicate their origins as woodland or heath. From the 13th to the 19th centuries there was a continuous process of incursion by fields and settlements into these wastes. Up to the Dissolution this was clearly illustrated on the priory's estates, which were largely on former waste. Some of the incursions were in the form of small common fields, others of plots and closes, others of large tracts on which substantial farmsteads developed. (fn. 118) Control of assarting by the priory and Cheylesmore manor was little more than formal, and there seems always to have been sufficient land for commoning rights not to have been a problem.
The first estate mentioned in Foleshill was the ½-carucate with a chief messuage, meadow, and pasture held by Arnold de Bois in 1277. (fn. 119) In 1299 the same estate was described in detail: it then consisted of the house, mill, and underwood, 20 acres of demesne, and nine free tenants holding a ½-virgate, two closes and six houses, for £1 3s. 3d. rent. (fn. 120) Henry Bagot's seven tenants in Foleshill and Henley in 1302 paid £1 9s. 5d. rent. (fn. 121)
Comparison of the tenants' names in these two rentals with those in the earliest of the priory's surveys shows that the latter was written not long after them; some tenants held of two lords and appear in rentals and survey. In this first survey (excluding Henley) the priory had 41 tenants, of whom at least eighteen had houses in the parish, paying £9 5s. 3d. rent. They held about 72 acres in small pieces (apparently in open fields, though probably not those of the village), eight separate fields (culture), two closes, and other pieces of land, waste, and moor. Eleven men had pieces of land for building, (fn. 122) which suggests a rising population.
The second of the priory's surveys was written a generation later, probably shortly after the Black Death. There were then 36 tenants, rents had fallen to £8 12s., and there were eight holdings in hand. The rents and acreage of most holdings were, however, unchanged. (fn. 123)
The third priory survey, compiled in the early 15th century, shows some striking changes. Land lying in separate fields had increased to nearly 100 acres, and there were more crofts and other separate pieces. The number of tenants had fallen again to 31. The income from rents had been raised to £23 11s. 5d. by the addition of, or great increase in, four sums which were paid for fields of former waste and wood.
Some of the smaller holdings changed remarkably little in a century. William Holbrook, for instance, was paying only 1d. more for the 6½ acres which two earlier William Holbrooks had held. Some holdings had grown: Robert and William Randolf in the 14th century had held their four pieces of land for 6s. 5d. and 6s. 7d. respectively. Their successor, William, in the 15th century held some twelve pieces for 13s. 6d.; two of these pieces were the sites of decayed cottages, and others were recent purchases by the priory. (fn. 124)
These changes are similar to those in Sowe in the same period. There was clearly a temporary decline in agriculture in the second half of the 14th century, when fewer tenants were farming more land. As in Sowe, the priory continued to buy land, and substantially increased its income by leases of large plots of enclosed arable and pasture formed from the wastes. (fn. 125) These trends were still evident in the early 16th century. In 1539 there were only thirteen tenants at will, paying £5 13s. 4d., while six large tenants paid £19 11s. 8d. for holdings which included a part of the Beechwaste. (fn. 126)
Some of the families, who often held land from the priory and from other lords, had been substantial and independent farmers for several centuries. The Holbrook family had created the Holbrooks Farm, which became part of the Holy Trinity Church Estate and survived to the 20th century. (fn. 127) The Wolf family, in the person of Margery Wolf, paid almost as much as Lord Zouche in the subsidy of 1327, (fn. 128) and Thomas Wolf paid £40, by far the greatest contribution from the parish in 1524; (fn. 129) he may then have been lessee of the demesne estate. The Greens were another family with a long association with Foleshill from the 14th century. (fn. 130) By 1539 John Green had land worth £4 3s. yearly. (fn. 131) Later in the 16th century Thomas Green had personal estate worth more than £100 and was called a yeoman. (fn. 132) It may have been a family such as this, and not a noble family, which created the Foleshill Hall estate. (fn. 133)
There is no evidence of demesne farming by the priory or of labour services in Foleshill, and there is little evidence of agrarian practices. References to selions and other narrow strips of land (fn. 134) indicate that in the open fields the traditional ploughing practices were followed. There was a common responsibility to keep out tenants' farm animals and to make fences around open fields. (fn. 135) A solitary indication of crop rotation was given in a dispute where beasts trespassed on land, destroying wheat and rye in 1361, and peas and beans in 1362. (fn. 136) But there is no evidence that the fields were ever cultivated on a regular three-course rotation.
Particular medieval occupations included several millers, wrights, a skinner, bailiffs and haywards, a carter, and a cowherd. The pouchmaker and the mercer mentioned (fn. 137) were probably Coventry tradesmen with holdings in Foleshill. There is no evidence of established local industry in Foleshill before the development of the mines.
The priory's rentals and the subsidy returns give only a general indication of the population of pre-industrial Foleshill. In the early 14th century the priory had 41 tenants and nineteen names appeared in the 1327 subsidy return. (fn. 138) In 1539 the priory had only nineteen tenants, and twenty names appeared on the subsidy list of 1524. (fn. 139) There were said to be 40 households in Foleshill in 1563, (fn. 140) and 35 men appeared for a view of frankpledge in 1617. (fn. 141)
The agrarian pattern which developed in the 14th and 15th centuries continued to the time of the inclosure, though William Stoke's activities in the 1530s suggest that some consolidation of fields took place. (fn. 142) There was an open-field community living in several hamlets in and around the fields, some of them quite small freeholders, tenants of the successors of the medieval lay lords. (fn. 143) The appearance in several connexions of tenant figures of about 40 may suggest some ancient division of the 850 acres of open field into agrarian units of 20 or so acres. In the 17th century there were still extensive areas of heath, mainly in the south of the parish, used for common grazing under the jurisdiction of the manor of Cheylesmore. Around the open fields were a dozen farms with inclosed fields, the farms on the former priory estate, and those at Henley, Tackley, and on the Exhall boundary with landlords outside the parish. Within this agrarian pattern appeared the early industrial growth: the coal-pits on inclosed and open fields, and on heaths, and the cottages of weavers, colliers, and labourers, which were often encroachments on the heaths, strung along the roads as new hamlets.
The principal open fields in 1775 were the Church Field, Three Well Field, and Shaw Field; Mill Field and Edgwick Field may also have been ancient open fields. (fn. 144) Church Field was probably the medieval Church Furlong; (fn. 145) Shaw Field was mentioned in 1637. (fn. 146) The inclosure of 1775 does not seem to have made any profound change in the parish. There was no sweeping regrouping of fields into a few simple units or significant displacement of leaseholders or cottagers. In fact, 40 cottagers on what were classed as new encroachments of waste probably benefited by becoming recognized leaseholders of the lord of the manor, instead of paying annual fines for encroachment. Some 220 occupiers were involved (excluding the separate award for Little Sydnall Field), of whom 43 received allotments in respect of open-field land; the latter included Richard Hopkins, Thomas Hunt, Lord Clifford, and Messrs. Parrott, and the trustees of Collins's and Pisford's Charities. (fn. 147)
The Hopkins estate, both of old fields and new inclosures, in 1776 consisted of 413 acres, with three farms. There were five other holdings, five smallholdings, and 40 cottages and encroachments totalling 8½ acres. (fn. 148) The Foleshill Hall estate, owned in 1775 by Thomas Hunt, was in 1839 owned by J. R. Wyatt of Willenhall, and occupied as a single farm of 165 acres by Edward Lythall. (fn. 149)
There were 104 owners in the area covered by the tithe award of 1841 which put the land of the parish into three categories: some 900 acres hitherto subject to great tithes, which clearly represented the ancient inclosures; some 850 acres of the open fields inclosed in 1775; and 800 acres which had been or still were common waste or heath. (fn. 150) Some land, common at particular seasons, was among the Coventry Lammas Lands, inclosed in 1860, and the Michaelmas Lands, inclosed in 1875. (fn. 151)
In 1831 there were twelve farmers employing labourers, twelve not employing labourers, and 106 farm workers, compared with over 1,000 people employed in manufacturing. (fn. 152) There were twenty farms in 1850. (fn. 153) Most of these were still in existence in the 1880s, but since then each decade has seen first the land and then the farm buildings disappear, until in the 1950s only in Henley and in Hawkesbury (the former Tackley) was land still used for farming. Henley farm-house was still standing in 1963, with 25 acres attached to it, and the occupiers of Hawkesbury Hall were farming 30 acres. In the post-war development plan 100 acres in the district were to be kept for farming. (fn. 154)
References to tenants' beasts and flocks, and to various crops grown, (fn. 155) indicate that until the inclosure the characteristic mixed husbandry was carried on in the open fields. On the other hand, the inclosures of waste on the priory's lands were often used solely as pastures; the whole of Henley, for instance, was used only for sheep in 1410–11. (fn. 156) After the Dissolution the outlying farms continued to be so used; a grazier was the tenant of the Holbrooks Farm in 1683. (fn. 157) In the late 18th century Richard Swain, the impropriator of the Foleshill tithes, who had a farm on what was probably former priory land in the south of the parish, bred pasture sheep 'equal to any others ... in the kingdom', and was described as one of the 'principal improvers' in the county. (fn. 158) However, there was little if any tendency for the former arable fields to become pastures after the inclosure; there were still more than 530 acres sown with crops, mostly grain, on the holdings of 45 farmers and smallholders who made returns in 1801. (fn. 159) Of the 165 acres on the Foleshill Hall Farm in 1839, 108 were arable. (fn. 160) Some accounts survive of the Hawkesbury Farm for the period 1818 to 1832. Of 115 acres, 24 were on average sown with grain, wheat being most important; other crops sown were beans, turnips, potatoes, vetches, clover, and rye grass. In 1818 there were 67 sheep and 45 beef cattle; the cattle were bought and sold over a wide area of the midlands. (fn. 161)
The first reference to mining in the Coventry district dates from 1579 when Coventry corporation licensed Christopher Wynold to dig a pit on the waste of Cheylesmore manor in the lane from the Three Mile Tree in Exhall to Hawkesbury Grove in order to prospect for coal. (fn. 162) This lane was the modern Black Horse Road, which was later cut by the canal near Hawkesbury lock. By the end of the century, mines were being dug over a wide area between Griff and Bedworth to the north, and Sowe and Wyken to the south. (fn. 163) The Beaumont family, who were leasing land and mineral rights in Sowe by 1595, also took a lease of land in Tackley from the Crown. (fn. 164) By 1622 other mines on the corporation's land in Foleshill were leased to the Briggs and Robinson families, and to their rivals Mathew Collins and John Potter, who became involved in a long and bitter dispute about their principal mines in Griff and Bedworth. (fn. 165) During the dispute the 'poor colliers' of Bedworth, Exhall, and Foleshill petitioned the corporation on behalf of Briggs and Robinson, stating that the latter employed 500 people, and gave free houses and coal to many poor workmen and their widows and orphans. (fn. 166) Even allowing for exaggeration, it is clear that there had already been a great increase in the population of the three parishes, and that industrial housing was appearing.
During the 17th and 18th centuries shallow mines were dug over the whole area of Sydnall and Tackley, as far south as Bell Orchard near Bell Green. (fn. 167) Beighton (1725) showed a line of coal workings from Griff in the north to Sowe in the south, running through Sydnall, Tackley, and Hawkesbury in Sowe. (fn. 168) A late-18th-century map marked several pits in the area, four in Exhall and two near Bayton Road in Foleshill. (fn. 169) Some of these mines were worked under lease from the corporation as the holder of Cheylesmore manor, and were operated with mines in Bedworth and Hawkesbury; separate operations in Foleshill were not distinguished in the accounts. (fn. 170) It was from his mines in Hawkesbury (Sowe) that the enterprising John Brown proposed to build canals to Longford or Hall Green in 1699. (fn. 171) To the complaint by Brown's opponents that the mines had brought many poor into the parishes, a former Foleshill overseer said that since the mines had come into use the Foleshill rates had fallen from 11d. to 7d. in the £. (fn. 172) The mines in Skinnards Close near Bell Green were held on lease from the trustees of Holy Trinity Church Estate from 1621 to at least 1746. (fn. 173)
The Parrott (or Parratt) family were working mines in the district from at least 1721, and from 1774 to 1794 Messrs. Parrott, Ferneyhough, and Whieldon, described as of the Hawkesbury Colliery, Bedworth, had eight pits, and two others were being sunk. The firm was among the advocates of, and may have invested in, the Oxford and Coventry canals, which were cut through the mining area of Little Heath, Longford, and Hawkesbury between 1768 and 1777. It is not clear precisely where the various pits were. Among those to whom Parrott and Co. paid royalties were Lords Craven and Clifford, John Burton, and Christ's College, Cambridge. (fn. 174) In the special award of mine land in Little Sydnall Field, a former open field, in the inclosure of 1775, Clifford and Burton, as well as Richard Hopkins, lord of the manor of Foleshill, were among the freeholders. Certainly the Parrotts owned much of Sydnall and Tackley in their Upper and Lower Coalpit Closes. (fn. 175) In 1774, obviously to take advantage of the new canal and the inclosure, the Parrotts installed two steam engines at their Hawkesbury mines and one at Bedworth; in 1776 one of the first, and at that time the largest, of the Boulton and Watt engines was installed at a Hawkesbury mine. (fn. 176) Yates and Sons' map marked a 'fire engine' there in 1793. (fn. 177) These were pumping engines; flooding had been a problem at the pits since 1622. (fn. 178) An engine for raising coal was in use by 1794. (fn. 179)
The collieries declined in the early 19th century. (fn. 180) In 1850 the two collieries in the area were Hawkesbury Colliery, owned by George Whieldon, immediately south of Hawkesbury Colliery Farm; and north of Victoria Farm, the Victoria Colliery, which was worked by Messrs. Troughton and Lea under lease from the Hopkins family, and later from Lord Boston. (fn. 181) Tom Mann, the future Labour leader, who was born in a cottage by the farm in 1856, worked as a boy in the Victoria Colliery from 1866 until 1870 when it was permanently closed after a series of fires in the workings. (fn. 182) By 1886 all the mines were disused and marked only by old shafts and workings scattered over the whole area. (fn. 183)
The settlement of cottagers on the waste, a process which had gone on since the 13th century, was greatly accelerated by the development of mining. In 1637 sixteen recent inclosures of the waste were reported, (fn. 184) and in 1659 there were 29 cottage tenants paying rents to Cheylesmore manor. (fn. 185) The hamlets, which, if they existed at all, had contained only a few solitary cottages in the 15th century, (fn. 186) grew rapidly. Longford, on the principal route from the mining district to Coventry, was shown as a large village in 1725, and Bell Green was also marked. (fn. 187) According to the Compton Census of 1676 there were 284 adults, (fn. 188) and in 1730 there were 149 houses in the parish: at Great Heath 20, Little Heath 11, Holbrooks 12, Sydnall 21, Coney Lane (later Grange Lane) 5, Rowleys Green 19, Longford 20, Hall Green 19, and Bell Green 22. (fn. 189) Foxford, Alderman's Green, and Courthouse Green were probably included with the last three. Of some 220 parishioners listed in the inclosure award, nearly 180 were cottagers. (fn. 190) Complementary indications of the increasing population are the church membership of about 140 at the Longford Baptist Chapel in 1775, (fn. 191) and the total of seven inns in the parish in 1792. (fn. 192)
The inclosure plan shows the cottages strung out, in an early form of ribbon development, across the heaths on the line of the main roads. (fn. 193) There is little evidence as to the appearance of these early cottages, almost all of which have disappeared, but no doubt some of them were timber-framed. A cheaper form of dwelling, which may have been provided for colliers and others at Foleshill during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, had mud-built walls, this fact contributing to their subsequent decay. A single thatched cottage of this type, having a central chimney, two rooms, and an attic, has survived in Burbage's Lane at Rowleys Green; others nearby were in existence within living memory. (fn. 194) The inclosure in its turn produced a new type of development. Building was no longer restricted to separate licensed encroachments on greens and heaths; new streets and rows of houses were possible. By 1793 the of weavers, whose numbers had remained constant, but of people who were in fact suburban residents of Coventry suburbs. (fn. 195)
Hand-loom weaving is said to have spread into the parish soon after the establishment of the ribbonweaving industry in Coventry at the beginning of the 18th century. (fn. 196) The first definite reference to it was made by a Coventry weaver who in 1726 said that he had been apprenticed in Foleshill and had spent most of his life there. (fn. 197) In those parishes where there were single or small groups of influential landowners, the weavers, as potential paupers, were discouraged. (fn. 198) Foleshill had not, in the Middle Ages or since the Dissolution, had such landowners, and as a result became a famous, or infamous, centre of the industry.
In 1801 the population of Foleshill was 3,026. There were just over 600 inhabited houses, four times the number found in 1730. There were 937 industrial workers, all thought to be weavers, and only 65 agricultural workers in the parish. (fn. 199) By 1818 there were in the parish 2,544 weavers and their assistants, using 1,732 looms; this can be compared with 4,973 weavers in Coventry itself, and 194 in Sowe, the next biggest parish in the county of the city. (fn. 200) The population continued to grow rapidly. In 1831 there were 6,969 people and a total of 1,575 houses; of the latter 429 had been built since 1821 and building was still in progress. That there were by then only 30 coal miners in the parish (fn. 201) demonstrates the comparative decline of the once dominant industry. But the ribbon weaving itself had then passed its peak. The great increase in 1831 was not of weavers, whose numbers had remained constant, but of people who were in fact suburban residents of Coventry.
The ribbon trade was subject to unpredictable changes of fashion, and had to face competition from abroad and from other districts of England. Moreover, there was competition within the district, between Coventry, where engine looms (still handpowered) were accepted by the early 1830s, and the rural parishes, where the single-hand weavers stubbornly refused to adopt engine-looms, (fn. 202) and where many of the weavers were underpaid women and children. Foleshill was not as industrially backward as some of the other parishes, and some features of the industry there were comparable to those of the city. (fn. 203) In the 19th century a succession of masters' associations, and of weavers' unions, were formed to represent the industry in Parliament, to protect the interests of the rural districts, and to fix prices and wages. (fn. 204) In 1840 the country weavers wanted a local board of trade set up, of seven weavers and seven masters, to regulate prices and conditions of work. (fn. 205)
There was, however, a long period of poverty and bitterness. Already in 1788 the poor of the Coventry district had been advised to sow early-ripening beans with their potatoes 'which often will obviate the necessity they are under of tearing the unripe roots from the earth to satisfy the cravings of hunger'. (fn. 206) In 1801 J. Howlett, the Vicar of Foleshill, could describe the 'spirit of discontent and disaffection [which] has arisen alarmingly high: imputable, I believe, in a great measure to the late scarcity (which has been attended with grievous and unparalleled distress) and has been repressed more by fear than any better motive'. (fn. 207)
The situation was vividly described to a series of parliamentary committees in 1818, 1832, and 1840. (fn. 208) In the report of 1840 one witness said that 'the whole appearance of the single-hand weaving districts, and of their inhabitants', was 'one of rudeness, poverty, and depression', which belonged 'rather to the sister island than to the heart of England' and that 'the lawlessness of the district' had 'of late years much increased'. (fn. 209) Foleshill was especially notorious for ignorance, immorality, and drunkenness: 'the magistrates of Coventry well know that when a desperate case is brought before them it is generally from this neighbourhood'. Robbery of silk from the canal barges was particularly well organized; the thieves employed their own manufacturers and labourers, and had a warehouse and an agent. (fn. 210)
In spite of this apparent prevalence of poverty, degradation, and crime, there were clearly some members of the community who were endeavouring to improve their condition. The Church of England was generally thought to have failed, but the 'spontaneous efforts of the people themselves, partial and ill-directed' though they were, 'to attain to a Christian civilization, in spite of this neglect', had 'led to the erection of many dissenting places of worship'. (fn. 211) There was also a particular desire for education. At Longford parents were said to 'do vastly more than their prescribed means' to have their children properly educated. Bell Green Methodist and Longford Baptist schools both asked for a general system of national education to be set up by the government. (fn. 212) In 1835 the inhabitants of Foleshill had petitioned the Commons for the establishment of a local school of design. (fn. 213) Although in the late 18th century the Revd. Jonathan Evans, the founder and first minister of Foleshill Road Congregational Chapel at Little Heath, was said to be an advocate of the principles of the French Revolution, (fn. 214) there is little evidence of direct political activity in the parish before the 1830s when among the reform unions marching in the great Reform procession of 1832 in Coventry were three societies from the Navigation Inn in Foleshill. (fn. 215) The Stoney Stanton Road Prudential Co-operative Society was founded in the same year, (fn. 216) and by 1840 there were seven Co-operative shops in Foleshill, one of which had a small library of works on socialism, political economy, and political science. (fn. 217) The Foleshill weavers had by this date 'a total want of confidence in the legislature', and were asking for universal suffrage and a more equitable division of wealth. Their sentiments were 'obviously of a socialist character', which was said to pervade 'the notions of those among the weavers of either town or country' who thought at all on political subjects. (fn. 218)
With some changes in machines and organization, ribbon-weaving remained the principal industry of Foleshill until 1860, when the Cobden treaty, followed by a strike throughout the district, began the destruction of the industry in its old form. (fn. 219) In 1866 there were said to be 300 power-looms in Foleshill, but many of them were idle. Working conditions were no better than 30 years before, and a new abuse had appeared, the manual turning of the wheels of looms designed for steam power by small boys who worked from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and rapidly became deformed by the cramped nature of the operation. (fn. 220) Perhaps fortunately, in the years to come, only large, well-equipped, and specialised factories, such as Cash's Kingfield Works (just outside the parish to the south) became, could survive continental competition. (fn. 221) The decline in ribbon-weaving after 1860 is reflected in the fall in the population of Foleshill, which had more than doubled (from 3,026 in 1801 to 6,969 in 1831) in the first 30 years of the century, but increased more slowly to 8,140 in 1861, when there were 6,429 people (78 per cent. of the population) dependent on the ribbon trade. It then fell to 6,639 in 1871, and recovered to 8,664 only in 1891. (fn. 222)
A feature of the last decade of the ribbon-weaving industry in Foleshill was the development of cottage factories in which a row of cottages was served by a single steam engine. There are thought to have been 80 or 90 in Foleshill, including buildings in Edgwick Road and Stoney Stanton Road, (fn. 223) which were still standing in 1964; other weavers' cottages, with their characteristic large upper windows blocked up, could also be seen in Hurst Road, Longford. There was at least one ordinary factory in Foleshill, the Pridmores' factory, which was the scene of a violent dispute in 1858. (fn. 224)
In the early 19th century the people of Foleshill were engaged in only a limited number of occupations, ribbon-weaving, agriculture, and mining, with some boat-building and other canal business, innkeeping, shopkeeping, and similar trades. After the ribbon slump the parish began to develop the wide and enterprising range of activities characteristic of modern Coventry.
There was a brick-kiln in Foleshill in 1775, (fn. 225) and brick works were established at several sites during the 19th century. (fn. 226) Concrete works at Great Heath and at Edgwick had also appeared by 1902. (fn. 227) Another feature of the building industry was the timber yards, such as Kelley's in Foleshill Road (1885) and Shanks' in Lockhurst Lane (1908). (fn. 228)
Some small modern textile firms such as Dalton, Barton's, of Mason Road (1820), traced their origins to early-19th-century weavers. (fn. 229) In general, however, ribbon-weaving reappeared in the parish in factories similar to the Kingfield Works. Grant's Livingstone works in Lockhurst Lane was built in 1882, Lester and Harris' Great Heath works about 1890, Carpenter's Weaving Co. in Edgwick Road in 1900, and Laird's St. Lawrence's works in Carlton Road in 1907. More important, Courtaulds established their first rayon factory in Foleshill Road next to the canal in 1904. (fn. 230) Their works on the original site and at Little Heath now covers a large area (1964).
The engineering industry followed the new textile factories into the parish. Webster and Bennet's boring and turning mills were established in Northey Road in 1887; the Brett Patent Lifter Company, making drop forging equipment, in the 1890s; the Albion Drop Forgings Company in Lockhurst Lane, in 1900; and Sterling Metals, making castings, in 1907. (fn. 231) Alfred Herbert, the machine tools firm, established in Coventry in 1889, built a foundry at Edgwick in 1900. (fn. 232) The motor car industry also appeared, though it has not dominated the industries of Foleshill, as it has other parts of the district. Humber and a small firm were established by 1902 (Stoney Stanton Road and Lockhurst Lane); Riley was in Durbar Avenue and Beresford Avenue. Several smaller firms, such as Radenite Batteries (established in 1899) and Warland Rim Company (in 1910), made components. (fn. 233)
The two principal municipal enterprises moved to Foleshill when their Coventry works became inadequate, the gas works to Longford in 1909, and the electricity station to Hawkesbury in 1928. (fn. 234) Both now occupy large sites.
There was quite a different type of industry in the north of the parish. The bone mills of Rowleys Green were in existence by 1887 and became the Coventry Fat and Bone Company, making such products as tallow and fertilizers. There was later an offal factory at Bell Green, a horse slaughterhouse, and a candle works at Longford. (fn. 235)
Since the First World War industry in Foleshill has continued to develop in the directions it had taken in the late 19th century, and most of the firms can be grouped under the general headings of engineering, textiles, and building materials. But while the big firms like Courtaulds and Herbert have steadily expanded, perhaps more typical of the district have been the many small firms which have appeared, adapted themselves to conditions, changed their name, site, or produce, and often disappeared again, in changing economic circumstances.
Housing development, although greatly intensified, for most of the 19th century followed the general lines begun in the 17th century. The hamlets, especially Longford, expanded; houses along the main roads joined the hamlets to each other, and to the northern suburbs of Coventry. A few secondary roads joining the main roads, such as Carpenters Lane, later Station Street West, Brickkiln Lane, later Broad Street, and Windmill Road, newly laid out in the inclosure, were built up. Many early-19thcentury brick-built cottages survived, singly and in terraced rows, in 1964, in these streets and also at Longford, Alderman's Green, Hall Green, and Bell Green. By the later 19th century Hawkesbury had taken on its modern appearance — a mixture of coal workings, roads, railways, canals, houses, and fields — but between the roads there were still extensive farms, arable fields, and meadows. Some of the early allotment gardens, of the 1840s, were in Brickkiln Lane, (fn. 236) and the 19th-century inhabitants were aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this mingling of town and country.
In the south of the parish 'infilling' began with the industrial development of the late 19th century. The Albion works, for instance, was built between Lockhurst Lane and the railway, Sterling Metals and the Northey Road works between Foleshill Road and the canal, and the gas works between the railway and the canal. These were accompanied, or followed, by the construction of residential roads like St. Paul's Road and Station Street East. By the First World War roughly the south-western quarter of the parish, the former Great and Little Heaths, had been built over. The north-western quarter, around Holbrooks, and the south-eastern quarter, along the River Sowe north of Henley, were then still largely rural.
The remaining land has been swallowed up in two great periods of housebuilding, the years around 1930 and 1950. The estates at Holbrooks, in the Victory Road area, and in the Proffitt Avenue area in the centre of the parish, were built between the wars, and after the Second World War the largest of all the corporation's housing schemes, containing over 3,500 dwellings, was that known as Bell Green. This development, which included estates at Henley Green, Manor House, and Wood End, was laid out as a partly self-contained suburb with its own shopping precinct, community buildings, and tower blocks of flats. A smaller estate was developed at Courthouse Green with 556 dwellings. (fn. 237)
Foleshill was part of the manor of Coventry or Cheylesmore and was subject to its court for various purposes. In the Middle Ages this court was sometimes called the court of Wolepitelideyate. This locality appears to have been an open-air meeting place on or near the boundary between Foleshill and Exhall. (fn. 238) Courts were often held there in the 14th century (to at least 1380), particularly the twice-yearly view of frankpledge, but also the occasional three-weekly manorial courts. (fn. 239) It is possible that this court was a survival of an Anglo-Saxon tribal and judicial unit of a date earlier than Godiva's estates. (fn. 240) Two tithingmen from Foleshill made presentments in this court, and the steward and bailiffs of Cheylesmore were active in the district. (fn. 241) It is unlikely that the later parish boundaries enclosed the area of the judicial unit before the Dissolution; the wastes of Barnet, Hasilwood, and Shortwood stretched across the later boundaries, and seem to have been regarded as distinct entities within Cheylesmore. (fn. 242)
It is not clear whether the lay lords and Coventry Priory held their own manorial courts in Foleshill. There is no reference to income from such a source in their rentals. The tenants in the open fields presumably attended the three-weekly Cheylesmore courts, but the tenants of arable assarts were in a doubtful position. In the 14th century the priory's wastes and pastures in Foleshill were administered as part of the home farm or manor of Harnall, which lay between Foleshill and the city, and some of the Foleshill tenants may have attended a court there. (fn. 243) In the early 16th century, when many of the pastures were leased, the priory's Foleshill estate was grouped with that of Exhall under a single bailiff, (fn. 244) and the tenants may have done suit at Exhall as those of Binley and elsewhere did at Sowe. (fn. 245)
The Cheylesmore court was active until at least 1664, when two tithingmen, a constable, and hayward were elected in court, (fn. 246) and it was still in existence in 1740. (fn. 247) Only the twice-yearly courts were held in the 17th century, but they dealt with all kinds of business. (fn. 248) The new method of administration, through the parish and quarter sessions, had, however, already begun to operate.
The Hopkins family took advantage of the decline of the Cheylesmore court to create, or re-create, a manorial court for their estate. Their claims to such a status were recognized in the inclosure award of 1775. Immediately after the inclosure, the court was licensing inclosures of heath (fn. 249) just as the Cheylesmore court had done in the 17th century. A manor court was held in the late 18th century; it was not called a court leet, and people were uncertain what to call it. It was no longer held when George Eld became Hopkins's bailiff, which seems to have been about 1816. (fn. 250) An overseer and a constable were appointed in this court; afterwards the officers were nominated in vestry meetings. (fn. 251)
Accounts of parish rates exist from 1610, when about £5 was spent. The rates rose steadily, presumably with rising population; in 1690 the annual total was £50, and in 1720 £120. There were great yearly variations in the mid 18th century. In 1754 about £100 was spent on the poor and £30 on other purposes. There followed an enormous increase, to nearly £700 in 1774, £1,520 in 1793, and a peak of £4,660 in 1801. (fn. 252) The Foleshill rates were then notoriously high; (fn. 253) in 1817 they were said to be 'extremely detrimental to the successful pursuits of agriculture', (fn. 254) and their high level was then attributed to the fact that Foleshill was equally affected with Coventry by the fluctuations of the ribbon trade. In 1830, a year of the highest rate levied (£4,510) for poor relief since 1801, (fn. 255) the overseers obtained a local Act enabling them to rate proprietors instead of occupiers, and so to raise more money. (fn. 256)
A parish meeting was first mentioned in the tithe dispute in 1726, when it was said that there had been 'a public vestry or meeting of the parish' addressed by the vicar, on the payment of small tithes. (fn. 257)
The first parish workhouse was built on land in Three Well Field in 1724–5, but was in use only until 1733 when it was replaced by a building on Partridge Croft at Court House Green. This second workhouse may have been replaced in its turn by about 1787 by a cottage and garden in Brickkiln Lane (Broad Street) on Great Heath which already belonged to the overseers of the poor in 1775, though it is not known how or when they had acquired them. The cottage, divided into two tenements, was certainly occupied by families placed there by the parish officers until 1799 when the whole property was sold to meet the costs of furnishing the new house of industry, also built in Brickkiln Lane, (fn. 258) which became the first Foleshill Union workhouse in 1836. (fn. 259) In 1859 this was superseded by the new Union workhouse built off Foleshill Road. (fn. 260)
In 1832 a committee set up by a vestry meeting revealed serious inefficiency and corruption among the parish officers — the overseers, churchwardens, workhouse governor, and others. This seems to have begun in 1813, with the appointment of an illiterate as overseer and collector. Money had disappeared and, among many other malpractices, those parish officers who were farmers were selling bad food to the workhouse at high prices. Consequently the inhabitants of the workhouse cost 5s. a week each, compared with the 2s. 5d. a week at the Coventry workhouse, yet they had an 'emaciated, squalid, and miserable appearance'. (fn. 261)
In 1817 the vestry had nominated four men instead of one to the magistrates for appointment as constables 'on account of the great extent and large population of the parish which makes it impossible for one person only to perform the duties of constable in such a manner as to secure the public peace'. (fn. 262) In 1840, however, the constables were said to be insufficiently paid and wholly ineffective. (fn. 263) It had already been remarked that the 'parochial administration throughout the whole district' (the county of the city) was 'with little exception, most lax and disorderly', (fn. 264) but there had at least been an improvement in the administration of poor relief (fn. 265) since the creation of the Foleshill Union.
After the abolition of the county of the city of Coventry in 1842, Foleshill was a parish in Warwickshire and the head of Foleshill Union (later Rural District Council); it had a parish council after 1894. The parish began to be re-absorbed into Coventry with the first boundary extension of 1899. (fn. 266)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
LEE'S CHARRITY. Mary Lee, by will proved 1877, directed her executors to invest the sums of £100 and £500 and pay the interest on them to the vicar and churchwardens of Foleshill. The interest on £100 was to be spent on the upkeep of her parents' tomb and any surplus from it together with the interest on £500 was to be spent on distributions of bread made twice a year among poor widows and orphans and the aged poor of the parish. (fn. 267) This bequest was invested in the purchase of £618 stock which yielded an income of £17–£18 a year. (fn. 268) In the early 20th century the distribution of the charity, which was made in the form of bread-tickets, became the subject of dispute between the parishes of St. Lawrence and St. Paul but was settled by a Scheme of 1906 whereby the income of the charity, then amounting to about £15 10s. a year, was to be spent for the benefit of the whole ancient parish of Foleshill on the same lines as in the Scheme of 1924 regulating Chambers's City Charity (iii). (fn. 269) Any relief in money afforded under the Scheme was limited to the sum of £5 a year. The bequest relating to the upkeep of the tomb was stated to be void. (fn. 270) In 1924 and 1925 donations of four guineas were made to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital and sums of £10 10s. and £12 were distributed in coal, groceries, and monetary relief. In 1956 the income of £16 3s. 6d. was distributed in gifts of money throughout Foleshill ancient parish. (fn. 271)
MARSTON'S CHARITY. William Marston, by will and codicil proved 1891, left one-fifth of the proceeds from the sale and conversion of part of his real and personal estate to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Paul's Church in trust that the income should be distributed, twice a year, in sums of 2s., among old and deserving poor people in St. Paul's parish. The share of Marston's estate available for charity amounted eventually to nearly £440 which was invested in stock yielding about £11 yearly in 1953. (fn. 272)
MOORE'S BEQUEST.For benifit received by the tenants of charity property at Foleshill see pp. 408–9.
PROFFITT'S CHARITY AND THE OLD WORKHOUSE CHARITY. (fn. 273) According to the Chantry Commissioners' certificate of 1547 William Proffitt of Foleshill had given a rent of 2s. from a close called Partridge Croft at Court House Green and land in Church Field to maintain his obit and a lamp in the parish church. (fn. 274) A second document (fn. 275) stated that Proffitt had directed that from the income of this property a further 1s. 6d. should be distributed by the churchwardens among poor parishioners. In 1597 the property was leased for 200 years at a yearly rent of 13s. 4d. which the lessees on some occasions paid to the churchwardens, who were also the overseers of the poor, to augment the 'town stock'. This stock itself was said in the 18th century to have originated in a gift or bequest of some £31 from which the interest was to benefit the poor. It was apparently used, however, at least from 1691 onwards, as the overseers' working capital, and its origin as a charitable trust could not later be traced, though it seems to have been applied in the 1630s to distributions of bread or money.
In 1733 the reversion of the lease of 1597 was sold back to the parish. The property was thenceforward to be vested in the vicar and four other trustees and the profits applied by the churchwardens as the vestry or a public parish meeting should decide, except for a sum of 10s. which was to be distributed yearly among the parish poor. About 1787 a sum of 30s. was also said to be reserved out of the profits of Partridge Croft for yearly distribution to poor widows who had received no parish relief.
The history of this charity in the 18th and 19th centuries is closely connected with that of the successive parish workhouses; (fn. 276) the expenses of the assignment of 1733 were in fact met out of the sale of the first parish workhouse (built in Three Well Field in 1724–5), and this was subsequently replaced for a time by a house on Partridge Croft. In the inclosure award of 1775 the churchwardens, in right of their Partridge Croft property, were allotted 2a. 2r. 18p. in Brickkiln Lane (Broad Street) on which a third (or possibly a fourth) workhouse was built at the turn of the century and leased by the churchwardens to the guardians of the poor.
Before 1832 (the date of the earliest extant churchwardens' accounts) it is not clear how much was regularly received from the churchwardens' various properties, or how these receipts were applied, though it was stated in 1733 and again in 1806 that the profits of Partridge Croft were intended for the repair of the church 'or some such pious use'. From the 1830s onwards the annual rent of £72 from the workhouse in Brickkiln Lane was spent by the churchwardens on church and general parish purposes, and the rents from the house on Partridge Croft (which had been converted into two cottages) and the meadowland attached to it and to the workhouse were distributed among poor widows in small sums. After 1859, when a new workhouse was built and the old one thenceforward occupied as cottages, the whole of the reduced rents, which amounted to about £32 a year, were diverted to church purposes as the payments to poor widows were considered to be entirely voluntary.
The vicar and churchwardens subsequently attempted to sell the old workhouse building and fresh controversy was caused about 1890 by the claim put forward by St. Paul's parish to its share in the income available for church purposes which had been for some time disallowed. Eventually a thorough investigation was held, in 1894, which concluded that the church's claim to benefit from Proffitt's Charity had been extinguished by the Statute of Superstitious Uses, that the remaining profits should have been devoted solely to the poor, but that the charity had no interest in the old workhouse property. These findings resulted in the establishment of a Scheme in 1896. The total income was then derived from the 2a. 2r. 18p. in Brickkiln Lane, let at £8 yearly, the cottages and grounds (Partridge Croft) let at £12 yearly, and a sum of £67 10s. representing the net proceeds from the sale in 1891 of materials from the old workhouse building after it had been demolished. The Scheme directed that the £67 10s. should be spent in repairing the cottages on Partridge Croft, and that the rest of the income should form, in the proportions of ⅓ and 2/3, the endowment of Proffitt's Charity for the Church and Proffitt's Charity for the Poor respectively. Of these the former was to be applied to the repair of churches in Foleshill ancient parish and the maintenance of church services and furniture and the latter to the benefit of the poor throughout the same area by such means as the provision of nurses, the supply of clothes, linen, bedding, fuel, or other necessities, or temporary monetary relief.
In 1898 the land in Brickkiln Lane was let at £40 a year on a 99-year building lease and in 1935 the Partridge Croft property was sold to the corporation for £550, which on investment yielded about £18 yearly. In recent years an average of about £17 has been divided annually among the churches of St. Lawrence, St. Paul, and St. Luke and up to £33 applied to the benefit of the poor, sick, and aged. (fn. 277)
SALEM BAPTIST CHAPEL, LONGFORD. See p. 382. WRIGHT'S CHARITY. Mary Wright, by will proved 1802, directed that £4 a year was to be distributed to the poor of Foleshill out of the interest on a sum of £500 5 per cent. annuities. The remainder of the interest was to be applied to the maintenance of a charity school for boys in the parish for which provision had been made in the will of her first husband, Richard Parrott (d. 1774). The £4 appears to have been subsequently spent on a distribution of bread which was discontinued after the stock had been reduced to 4 per cent. In 1833 the endowment was represented by £525 3½ per cent. stock, yielding £18 7s. 6d. a year which was then devoted entirely to the school. (fn. 278)
In 1957 it was discovered that of the 4/25 of the income which was available for eleemosynary purposes — then amounting to about £2 1s. 8d. a year — only £8 19s. 3d. had been so applied since 1921 and only £150 of the remaining 21/25 (c. £10 18s. 9d. yearly) had been spent on the school. By the direction of the Charity Commissioners sums of £82 15s. and £331 8s. 11d. were allotted to the eleemosynary and educational charities respectively, representing the due apportionment between them of the income which had accumulated since 1922 and the joint balance standing to their credit in 1921. It was agreed that thenceforward separate accounts should be kept, the 4/25 income being administered by the Vicar of Foleshill and the disposal of the 21/25 being referred to the Ministry of Education. (fn. 279)