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 Keresley lay about 2½ miles north-west of Coventry on the edge of the hilly country of north Warwickshire, and contained the only ground in the county of the city of Coventry over 500 feet. The hamlet of Keresley was a detached part of the ancient parish of St. Michael's, Coventry, and was recognized as a civil parish in 1881. (fn. 1) The parish was in Foleshill Union (later Rural District). Its area was 1,068 acres in 1891. In 1932 an area of about 100 acres in the southern tip of the parish was transferred to Coventry, and the remaining 968 acres, with 56 acres of Coundon, became the new civil parish of Keresley in Meriden Rural District. (fn. 2)
In the late 19th century Keresley consisted of the block of land formed by the valley of the Hall Brook and the hills surrounding it, with a tongue of land stretching south from the high ground to the headwaters of Springfield Brook and Radford Brook on Keresley Heath. There were two settlements in the parish, at Keresley Green in the north, in the valley of a watercourse draining into the Hall Brook, and at Keresley Heath in the south, along Tamworth or Keresley Road, which formed the western boundary of the parish. Keresley Heath is now part of Coventry. In the early 19th century the area south of Tamworth Road between it and Brownshill Green Road was shown as part of Keresley and not Coundon, (fn. 3) but there is no other evidence that this was so. A branch railway from Foleshill to the Coventry Colliery crosses the north-east corner of the former parish. The south and east of Keresley are occupied by modern housing estates.
MANORS AND ESTATES.
Keresley was first mentioned in the early 12th century, when it was among the chapelries granted by Earl Ranulf de Gernon to Coventry Priory, (fn. 4) and the same earl included land in Keresley in a grant to Liulph of Brinklow. (fn. 5) Later in the century Earl Ranulf de Blundeville gave 280 acres of wood and waste in Exhall and Keresley to Coventry Priory. (fn. 6) In 1250 Roger and Cecily de Montalt retained the service of the heirs of Robert Tuschet in Keresley when they granted the remainder of the district to Coventry Priory. (fn. 7)
Liulph's holding does not seem to have remained subject to the manor of Cheylesmore. It descended to his son and grandson, both named Nicholas, in the late 12th century, (fn. 8) and to Christina daughter of Nicholas (probably Nicholas (II)) and her husband Henry d'Aubigny (fn. 9) the younger. It was granted by Henry to Geoffrey de Langley of Shortley in 1244, (fn. 10) and descended to Walter de Langley in 1274. (fn. 11) Walter's estates seem to have been broken up about 1280, (fn. 12) and thereafter there is no direct descent for this Keresley holding.
What seems to be part of the Langley estate reappeared in 1332, in a grant by John Basset of a house and a carucate of land in Keresley, to Henry Baxter of Coventry. (fn. 13) The tenant of this holding was John Hockley, who had acquired land in Keresley from John son of Walter Holland. (fn. 14) From Hockley it passed (with several reversions) to the Chatel (Chatill) family of Keresley and Coundon, (fn. 15) to Thomas Brinklow, and from him in 1351 to Richard Freebern. (fn. 16) During Freebern's tenancy several additions were made to the holding. (fn. 17) Through Freebern's heir, Maud, and her husband, Peter Ripon, the holding was acquired by John Wymondswold and others before 1405. (fn. 18) Wymondswold also acquired the freehold which he claimed to hold by right of his wife, Katharine, daughter of Guy Merinton. (fn. 19) John Wymondswold granted all or part of the holding to Nicholas Dudley, (fn. 20) whose widow, Joan, still had part, apparently in dower, in 1410-11. (fn. 21) The main holding had by then been resumed by William Wymondswold, who was also occupying several pieces of land on Coventry Priory's estate which had descended with it. (fn. 22) The priory bought, or proposed to buy, the reversion of Wymondswold's estate, but the arrangement seems never to have been effective. (fn. 23) Wymondswold and feoffees held the estate (and added to it) (fn. 24) until 1436-7, when it was granted to Richard Sharp and other feoffees. (fn. 25) From at least 1410-11 the principal house on the holding was known as the Hall Place. (fn. 26)
Thereafter there is a gap in the evidence until what may be presumed to be the same holding reappears in the hands of Richard Braytoft in 1470-1. (fn. 27) After the death of Edward Braytoft, various members of the Braytoft family transferred the estate between 1519 and 1529 to the Queen's College, Oxford. (fn. 28) It seems finally to have passed to the college under the will, dated 1529, of Nicholas Mylys, a fellow of the college, who was murdered later in the same year. (fn. 29) The estate was then called the manor of Keresley, with a house, 100 acres of arable, 280 acres of meadow, pasture, and wood, and £1 10s. in rents. (fn. 30) In the 1840s it was one of the two principal estates in Keresley, and consisted of the Manor House Farm at Hall Yard with 197 acres of land. (fn. 31) The college still owned the farm with some 137 acres in 1966. (fn. 32)
The holding of the heirs of Robert Tuschet, which was reserved by the Montalts in their grant of 1250, (fn. 33) remained subject to Cheylesmore manor. It can be identified with the land held by the Keresley family in 1410-11 from a certain Hugh Tochet. (fn. 34) The Keresleys were apparently holding of the Tuschets in the 13th century, but were regarded locally as the lords of the estate. A Thomas Keresley held land there in 1247 (fn. 35) and 1275 (fn. 36) and another Thomas Keresley was said to hold of the manor of Cheylesmore in 1335. (fn. 37)
These last two references seem, however, to be vague and uncertain. Surviving charters, many of them undated, suggest that the heyday of the Keresleys was from about 1240 to about 1290, when either a single long-lived Thomas, or two successive Thomases, were known as Lord Thomas, or lord of Keresley. (fn. 38) About 1294 Roger Bythebrook, then said to be the son of Thomas formerly lord of Keresley, granted all his land in Keresley to Henry Pistor of Coventry. (fn. 39) Robert son of Henry Pistor was holding land of Coventry Priory in the early14th-century rental of Keresley, (fn. 40) but the Pistors disappear in the mid 14th century.
In 1361 the tenant of Cheylesmore manor was said to be Isabel, heir of Philip Stowell. (fn. 41) Shortly after, she was succeeded by the Clerks; Richard the son and Agnes the widow of Henry Clerk were the Cheylesmore tenants in 1370, (fn. 42) and Agnes Clerk held the land formerly Robert Pistor's in the priory's late-14th-century rental. (fn. 43) In 1410-11 John son of Richard Clerk held two pieces of land from the priory, including the site of a house, lying near his other land, which had once been the manor of Thomas Keresley. (fn. 44) Thereafter the descent is unknown, but the location of the Clerk holding in 1410-11, near Hall Hill and Ward Waste, suggests that the house and fields were in the north-west corner of the parish. (fn. 45) If this were so, the estate may be identifiable with the Keresley House estate, held by the Revd. William Thickins in the mid 19th century. (fn. 46)
In the early 17th century George Paget was said to hold his land in Keresley by knight service of the Cheylesmore court. (fn. 47) Thomas Paget appeared among the four or five freeholders, including the Queen's College, who were represented at the Cheylesmore court at this time. (fn. 48) In 1659 only two estates were paying dues to Cheylesmore manor: the Queen's College tenant, and the heirs of Oliver Wolfe. (fn. 49) The antiquary, John Pointer (1668-1754), held land in the parish in the 1720s and called himself lord of the manor. (fn. 50)
Coventry Priory's estate in Keresley was based on the grant of the remainder of Keresley, except the two older holdings, in 1250. (fn. 51) Most of the 280 acres granted in the 12th century became the manor of Newlands in Exhall; (fn. 52) only four Exhall tenants held land in Keresley in 1410-11. (fn. 53) The grant of 1250 did not consist of completely unexploited waste; reference to the Earl's wood, Ranulf's land, and 'the lord's land', before 1250, suggests that the earl had an estate there. (fn. 54) But despite the priory's claims to lordship, (fn. 55) its estate seems never to have been regarded as of manorial status, as were the Hall Place and Hall Hill holdings.
As in Coundon and Foleshill, the ancient open fields and the principal hamlet were occupied by tenants of the older estates, while Coventry Priory's tenants were either already tenants of the other estates, or were living in crofts away from the hamlet. (fn. 56) It may have been because of the comparative vigour of the other estates that the priory did not develop its holding in Keresley during the later Middle Ages as it did, for example, in Coundon and Sowe. (fn. 57) Only two or three pieces of land were bought or otherwise acquired for the pittancer. (fn. 58) In 1542, after the Dissolution, the estate was sold to the speculators Andrewes and Chamberlain. (fn. 59) It then consisted of a field and moor in hand, a house with Hall Hills Wood, woods and fields in Keresley and Coundon held by Henry Over, and seven other holdings. (fn. 60) There was no manor-house, and no one later claimed to hold a manor on the former priory land. Parts of the estate may have been broken up and sold piecemeal. Some of the land seems to have been in the hands of Joan widow of Richard Treen in 1620. (fn. 61) In 1583-4 Richard Over sold land, formerly part of the priory's estate and apparently in Keresley, to Edward Burrows, who may have been acting for the Coventry drapers' company, (fn. 62) but the descent of this property cannot be traced. The drapers' company held Simon's Grove in Keresley in 1681. (fn. 63)
The other large estate in Keresley in the 1840s was that of T. B. Troughton, with the New House at the extreme south of the hamlet and 203 acres attached to it. (fn. 64) The origins of Troughton's estate are obscure, but some evidence suggests that it represents the remains of Coventry Priory's holding. The estate occupied much of the former priory waste in the southern tip of the parish and along Tamworth Road, and covered the area of the field, Netherscotshill, which the priory had had in hand in 1410-11. (fn. 65) Part of Troughton's estate, and Lamb's Scotch Hill farm immediately to the north, were the only parts of Keresley on which the tithes were already merged in 1847, (fn. 66) an arrangement which may have been made by the priory. When the New House estate was first mentioned in the mid 17th century its occupier was a Mr. Stroud who, as would be natural for the tenant of former priory land, was not among those paying dues to the Cheylesmore court at that time. (fn. 67) By the late 19th century the New House had been given the name of the Moat House, apparently through confusion with the farm in Coundon nearby. (fn. 68) The Keresley Moat House became the residence of several prominent Coventry citizens, among them P. J. Muntz and Sidney Cash. (fn. 69) It was demolished about 1930 when the area was developed for building.
In the 15th century Holy Trinity Church, Coventry, acquired some small pieces of land which had been John Braunston's in 1410-11. (fn. 70) There was later a dispute between Coventry Priory and Coventry corporation over the ownership of this land. (fn. 71) Holy Trinity Church Estate received a rentcharge from property in Keresley in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 72)
Land in Keresley was bought by William Wigston in 1529 to augment the endowment of Greyfriars (or Ford's) Hospital; it was called the Pisford's Hospital estate in 1848. The land, which in the 16th century included North Croft, Tom's Field, and land in Leighton fields, (fn. 73) had probably never been part of the priory's estate. The close called the Long field, included in the endowment of Swillington's Charity in the mid 16th century, was also not part of the priory's estate, though held in 1553 by John Proctor, one of the tenants of former priory land in 1542. (fn. 74) Land in Keresley was also included in the endowment of Moore's Charity in 1731, in the Meriden parish charity, and for a time in Keresley parish charity. (fn. 75)
In Keresley the county of the city of Coventry spread farthest into the high, wooded country of north-central Warwickshire. Keresley was not mentioned in 1086, and when it appeared in the 12th century it was as a woodland clearing surrounded by assarts and waste. The earliest charters were concerned with Keresley moor, the Northcroft, and the Eastcroft. (fn. 76)
The shape of the hamlet or parish was unusual. To the west the boundary with Coundon ran along a ridge, to the north Corley occupied the high ground around Burrow Hill, and to the north-east the boundary with Exhall and Foleshill roughly followed a low watershed. Keresley consisted of the valleys of the Hall Brook and its tiny tributary in Watery Lane, with Hounds Hill between them, and formed a very rough rectangle about 1½ mile from east to west, and half a mile wide. But to the south, after beginning to follow a watershed along Penny Park Lane towards Springfield Hill, the boundary turned sharply to the south, along Whitmore Park Lane (now Halford Lane and Sadler Road) for a mile to join the Coundon boundary on the Corley or Tamworth road. This created a finger of land pointing from the main body of the parish towards Coventry. This projection, from its situation, would seem to be more naturally included in Whitmore. Coventry Priory's demesne field in the 15th century lay in this area, (fn. 77) with its demesne fields in Coundon and Whitmore on either side, and it is possible that as the main part of Keresley was dominated by two ancient lay estates, this might have been of some advantage to the priory.
In the early 15th century the hall of the estate later belonging to the Queen's College, which probably represents the estate of Liulph of Brinklow, stood in the middle of the parish where the road, then called the Astley road, crossed the Hall Brook. (fn. 78) There was a hamlet on the Astley road about a quarter of a mile to the north, overlooking the rivulet which joins the Hall Brook in Watery Lane. These houses were along a piece of common called the Green or Hall Green. An irregular group of ancient open fields lay on either side of the hamlet on the lower hill slopes. The ridge in the west of the parish, which was followed by the Corley road, and the high ridges in the north-west were largely wooded, though broken by crofts and assarts in the 15th century. (fn. 79)
There was great variety in the nature of the Keresley fields. The field called Leightons to the east of Keresley Green remained open until the 16th century. (fn. 80) References to selions and headlands in the Longfield suggest that this was an open field in the 13th century, (fn. 81) but it had been inclosed by the 15th century. (fn. 82) Other pieces lay in acre strips but not in regular fields, for instance, the pieces adjoining the Steyneswell, adjoining Keresley stream, above 'Keresley castle', and in Ward Waste. These may have been the results of communal assarting. Small pieces of this kind might be inclosed, like an acre inclosed with trees at Northcrofthead. (fn. 83) Some of the bigger fields were divided, not between many tenants, but between two or three, as were, for instance, the Northcroft and the Eastcroft in the 12th century, (fn. 84) and the Ashcroft in the early 15th century. (fn. 85)
There is evidence of the steady progress of assarting in Keresley. In the 14th- and early-15thcentury rentals there was a distinction made between an old tenure, and a new tenure of new land or waste. Shortly before the earlier of the rentals, many of the tenants had been given small pieces of a third, half, or whole acre, in exchange for the surrender of their commoning rights; many of the pieces were in a bundle of strips at Northcrofthead or Northcroftend. (fn. 86) In 1410-11 the priory had in hand twenty acres in the wastes of Keresley and Coundon which tenants had held, but which were then lying uncultivated. (fn. 87) The priory itself was clearing and inclosing land. A field which it acquired in 1350 still had trees growing on it. (fn. 88) In 1361 the priory was accused of inclosing Hallhills and Longacre, which should have been common every third year and in every year after the harvest. (fn. 89) There was, then, a three-course rotation, though there were not three distinct fields; this reference also shows that arable farming was taking place in closes at this time. It was thought necessary to note in the rental of 1410-11 that the priory's waste called Ward Waste was lying in common only because it had not been inclosed. (fn. 90) Assarting did not stop in the 15th century. The Speke holding at the Dissolution included closes and pieces of arable in Coundon Wood, (fn. 91) and in the early 18th century land was still being cleared in Thievestake Wood. (fn. 92)
The many small pieces of arable and waste of the early 15th century seem to have been included in larger closes by the mid 16th century, (fn. 93) and what open field remained disappeared soon after; the two acres 'lying upon Leightons', with which Greyfriars Hospital was endowed in 1529, had become a close in Leighton Fields by 1724, and Leighton Lane Close by 1833. (fn. 94) There was no reference to any formal inclosure.
Coventry Priory did not adopt a vigorous policy at Keresley in the late Middle Ages, as it did on several of its other estates in the district. It acquired little new land, (fn. 95) and did not actively support the development, by inclosure and engrossment of holdings, of semi-manorial farms like the Moathouses of Coundon and Sowe. (fn. 96) This may have been because the rival landowners in Keresley were more watchful and active than elsewhere.
In the priory's earliest rental, of about 1330, there were 28 tenants paying a total of about £7 7s. rents; in the rental of about 1370 there were 22 tenants paying £6 6s. rents; and in 1410-11 there were 24 tenants paying about £6 3s. The biggest tenants, who were paying rents of 10s., 11s., or 13s. in 1330, were paying similar sums in 1410-11. (fn. 97) The priory had made no attempt to take advantage, as it had elsewhere, of the opportunities provided by the Black Death.
First examination suggests that there was a greater change between 1410-11 and 1539. Though the known rents still amounted to only £7 2s. at the Dissolution, the number of tenants had fallen from 24 to eleven, all but one paying over 5s. rent. (fn. 98) This seems to indicate a major change of policy, to larger holdings; but a further examination shows that there were already ten tenants paying over 5s. in 1410-11, and that these holdings had remained relatively stable while the smaller holdings disappeared. The largest holding on the priory's estate in Keresley in 1539 paid only £1 13s. 8d. rent, compared with £3 13s. 4d. paid for the Sowe Moathouse and £9 8s. 4d. for the Coundon Moathouse, (fn. 99) and with the £2 8s. which the tenant of Greyfriars Hospital in Keresley paid for his holding. (fn. 100)
In Keresley, as in Coundon, the larger closes were sometimes used for grazing cattle for the Coventry market. Among the various Coventry merchants who held land of the priory was the butcher, William Binley. (fn. 101) In 1374 Adam de Keresley was involved in a suit about oxen. (fn. 102) Members of this Keresley family, though apparently not connected with the earlier lords, were influential citizens and merchants of Coventry in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Adam de Keresley seems to have lived in the village. (fn. 103)
Evidence of the population of Keresley is unsatisfactory. There were ten or twelve taxpayers in the early 14th century, (fn. 104) and again in 1524. (fn. 105) As already stated, there were between 20 and 30 tenants on Coventry Priory's estate in the 14th and early 15th centuries, but there appear to have been no more than ten houses. (fn. 106) The only comparisons with the lay estate are provided by unreliable lists in deeds, giving ten houses on Henry Baxter's estate in 1332, and thirteen on William Wymondswold's estate in 1415. (fn. 107) Obviously some of, and possibly all, the tenants held land from both estates, so that the two groups of tenants may only represent one group of about 30 people. As Keresley was part of St. Michael's parish, there are not the occasional estimates of parishioners or ratepayers after the Dissolution that are available for some other districts, and by 1801 the growth of Keresley Heath had obscured that element in the population which represented the ancient village. There were then 46 houses. (fn. 108)
The inactive policy of Coventry Priory in Keresley was probably still influencing the character of the parish in the 19th century. The New House estate, apparently the major relic of the priory's holding, did not acquire manorial status. Nor did the Queen's College estate, with its absent corporate landlord and comparatively humble tenants, develop into a centre of influence in the village as in their different ways did Ansty Hall and Stivichall Hall. (fn. 109) In the mid 19th century there were a dozen other freeholders with over twenty acres, most of them with farmsteads such as Neale's Leighton's Farm (later Rookery Farm), Lamb's Scotch Hill, Mogg's Springfield Cottage (later Springfield House and demolished about 1950), and Camswell's Durham House Farm. (fn. 110) As in Coundon, the availability of small freehold properties and the pleasant scenery made Keresley an attractive location for large residential houses with more or less spurious manorial claims. The New House itself and Keresley House, both of which may have had genuine medieval origins, became just such residences. (fn. 111) The New House (later called the Moat House) was demolished about 1930. The present Keresley House was built or rebuilt in the late 18th century as a stylish 'gentleman's residence' and enlarged to almost double its size in the early 20th century. Other houses of this type, dating from the 19th century, were Keresley Villa (later called Ravenswood) at Keresley Green, Keresley Manor, Keresley Hall, and Queens Wood Cottage on Tamworth Road, and The Limes. Another house, Keresley Grange, was in fact in Coundon parish. (fn. 112)
The two roads which have formed the topographical backbone of the parish appeared early in its history, and have always followed their present courses. The Astley way, now Bennetts Road, was mentioned in the allotment of woodland to Coventry Priory in the 12th century, (fn. 113) and the positions of the manor-house and Keresley Green suggest that the road is at least as early as the settlement. The Tamworth road, or Corley way, was mentioned in the early 14th century, (fn. 114) and was of sufficient importance to attract highwaymen in 1357. (fn. 115) As with the Maxstoke way in Coundon, it was not the Astley way through the village which was developed as the main route north-west from Coventry, but the Tamworth road on the parish boundary, with the result that the main road, though important, has had less influence on the character of Keresley than on several of the neighbouring parishes. (fn. 116)
Lanes which have existed since at least 1410-11 are Hall Hill Lane, Thompsons Lane, then called Heyne Lane, and Sadler Road and Halford Lane, then called Scothill Lane and later Whitmore Park Lane. The Astley road was probably called Bennetts Lane shortly after 1410-11, for the Bennett family had a holding on the Corley boundary at that time. (fn. 117) Fivefield Lane, Watery Lane, Penny Park Lane, and Sandpits Lane, and the locality Springfield Hill, all seem to be ancient, (fn. 118) but cannot be identified by a medieval name. Other medieval lanes were Jannylane, Gupynlane, Carterslane, Masonlane, Naylestonlane, Stokeslane, and Ludeyatelane, most of them formed from tenants' surnames. (fn. 119)
The Tamworth road was turnpiked in 1762. The road was then used for bringing coal into Coventry from the north, and it was claimed that the road would enable coal to be sold in Coventry at 4d. a cwt., in comparison with 7d. then being charged by the Bedworth mines. There was a toll-gate at the southern tip of the hamlet. (fn. 120)
It may have been the increased traffic on the Tamworth road which began the development of a new village centre on Keresley Heath, at the junction with the Astley road, in the late 18th century. (fn. 121) There has been said to have been a traditional rivalry between Keresley Heath and Keresley Green, a mile to the north, but the tradition must be comparatively recent, and Keresley Green is much the more ancient village. High Street at Keresley Heath, and the Old Shepherd and Shepherdess Inn, were in existence by the early 19th century. (fn. 122) By the end of 1838 there was an Independent chapel there with a Sunday school attached for the children of working men, (fn. 123) and the new church of St. Thomas, Keresley-with-Coundon, built on a site north of High Street, was consecrated in 1847. (fn. 124) A National School was built at Keresley Heath in 1852. (fn. 125) Before 1887 New Road, the post office, and the Old Bell Inn had appeared; later in the century came a new post office and the recreation ground, and early in the 20th century, the infants' school, a village institute, and allotments. (fn. 126) Keresley Green remained rural in character. Besides the farms there were only inns - the 'Wheel' in 1848 and the 'Hare and Hounds' in 1887 - blacksmiths and wheelwrights, and some large residential houses. (fn. 127) The Congregational church was built in 1906. (fn. 128) There was also an inn, the 'Fox Chase', near Keresley Hall in the north-west.
Apparently because of the comparative rise of the Heath, there was some confusion in local terminology in the 19th century. Keresley Green itself was sometimes called Far or Lower Green, and the name of the Green transferred to the houses at Springfield Hill. (fn. 129) There were in fact until 1848 strips of common along most of the roads. The inclosure award named the one at Springfield Hill, Sand Pit Green; that at the manor-house, Ash Green; that along Fivefield Lane, Simons Green; and that on Tamworth Road, Golden Green; the two latter were ancient names. (fn. 130) A strip of such common survives at the junction of Tamworth Road and Keresley Green Road.
It seems to have been to the Heath, not the Green, that ribbon weaving spread north from Radford at the end of the 18th century. Keresley workmen were involved with Radford men in the riotous 'election' of Cobbler Sammons in 1802. (fn. 131) The population of 312 in Keresley in 1801 was roughly equally divided between agriculture and handicrafts. (fn. 132) In 1818 there were 55 looms and 73 workers over the age of 10. (fn. 133) Weaving seems to have declined in the 1830s, as in other villages, and there was some distress. In 1838 it was said that children were often kept away from the Sunday school by want of clothing. (fn. 134) But the total population of Keresley did not, as it did in other villages, fall at that time, possibly because of the residential development. Another 19th-century local industry, connected with ribbon weaving, was bead work for the trimming manufacturers of Coventry. (fn. 135) Many village women also took in laundry, presumably from the big houses of the district, (fn. 136) a tradition which survived into the early 20th century, when excessive laundry waste from a laundry at Keresley was polluting the Hall Brook. (fn. 137) The population of Keresley rose steadily to 567 in 1861, after which it fell as elsewhere with the extinction of the weaving industry. It did not pass this figure again until 1911 when it stood at 689. (fn. 138)
The first shaft of the Coventry Colliery was sunk in 1911. (fn. 139) The colliery's main shafts are just outside the north-east boundary of Keresley on Newland House Farm in Exhall, but the buildings, the branch railway, and other workings have straddled the boundary on to part of the former open fields called Leightons. The first shaft reached the seam of the Warwickshire Thick Coal in 1917, and it was estimated that there could be an annual production of 1½ million tons for at least a century. (fn. 140) The Coventry Colliery has been said to be one of the most modern in the country.
The opening of the colliery led to a curious reversal in attitudes in the parish. Prosperity, which had moved from the agricultural centre of the parish at the Green, to the outskirts of Coventry at the Heath in the 19th century, now moved to the colliery area north of the Green. Another centre of population grew up at the junction of Thompsons Lane and Bennetts Road, most of the houses in fact being in Exhall parish. A commentator in 1938 could say that the parish was in two halves, Old Keresley or Keresley Heath, and Keresley Green around the colliery, which was mainly modern. (fn. 141) The colliery provided a sports ground, park, and other social facilities on its own property, and helped other local institutions. The Church of England mission room in Fivefield Road was replaced, with the help of the colliery company, by a permanent building in 1925. (fn. 142) The Congregational church was also enlarged, in 1924, and a Sunday school built in 1928. (fn. 143)
But this pattern of development in its turn did not remain undisturbed. After 1928 the tide of Coventry suburban housing swept into the parish, leaving housing estates along Penny Park Road and Watery Lane in the east, where a Coventry corporation transport garage was also built, and between Halford Lane and Bennetts Road in the south. There was also more building on both sides of Tamworth Road in Coundon and Keresley, and hostels were opened for factory workers during the Second World War. (fn. 144) Two of the large Victorian houses were acquired for public purposes: Keresley Hall, which was sold to the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital in 1927 for use as a convalescent home, became a branch of the hospital itself in 1942 and more buildings were added. (fn. 145) Keresley Manor became a children's home and reception centre. (fn. 146) The former Golden Green farm-house, a late-18thcentury building in Sandpits Lane, was in use in 1964 as a nurses' home.
Partly because the parish was largely unaffected by the Coventry boundary extension Acts of 1927 and 1931, and partly because of planning regulations since the Second World War, most of north and west Keresley remains rural. Pikethorne, Hall Yard, and Bunsons woods, survivals of the medieval waste, remain, as do Durham House, Thompson's Cottage, and other farms. Only a few scattered buildings have survived from before the 19th century and these are mostly at Keresley Green. In Sandpits Lane is Akon House, a substantial timber-framed building probably of the 17th century. A brick addition, now known as Beechwood Cottages, dates from the early 19th century. To the east of Akon House, Cottage Farm has an early-19th-century farm-house. Keresley Green, despite the proximity of the colliery and the Watery Lane estates, retains some village character, and there was still an active and distinctive community there at a recent date. (fn. 147)
Keresley was part of Cheylesmore manor. In the Middle Ages all tenants attended the Cheylesmore courts, but later there were only leet courts for freeholders. Tithingmen were elected in the court in the 14th century, (fn. 148) and tithingmen and a constable in the 17th century. (fn. 149) In the 18th century constables were appointed by a hamlet meeting, (fn. 150) and in the 19th century an overseer and other officers were elected at Lady Day. The hamlet was then in Foleshill Union and later Foleshill Rural District. (fn. 151) A curious effect of the creation of the joint ecclesiastical parish in 1848 was that Coundon and Keresley had joint parochial officers, though for civil purposes they were in different rural districts. (fn. 152) Keresley has had a parish council since 1894. In the Coventry boundary extension of 1932 a small part of northern Coundon was added to Keresley, and the southern tip of Keresley included in Coventry; and with the dissolution of Foleshill Rural District at the same time, Keresley was transferred to Meriden Rural District. (fn. 153)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
ANONYMOUS CHARITY. In 1833 it was reported that 20s. had for many years been given to the poor of Keresley as a charge on the Bell Close in Keresley. This charge had been mentioned in 1744, when the property was divided into two closes, Ecle Close and Poor's Piece, and again in 1819; but had not been paid since about 1821. (fn. 154) In 1875 also nothing was received from this charity. (fn. 155) By 1910 the Warwickshire Coal Company had discovered a possible liability to pay the 20s. charged on 'Eccles Closes'. No application had been made for the money, payment of which could not by then be legally enforced, (fn. 156) and the charity apparently lapsed completely.
BOHUN'S CHARITY. See p. 408.
MOORE'S BEQUEST. For benefits received by the tenants of charity property at Keresley see p. 408.
THE DIANA VENABLES VERNON CHARITY. By declaration dated 1926 Mr. and Mrs. Venables Vernon, of Keresley Manor, created a trust, in memory of their daughter Diana, with the £90 which she had possessed at the time of her death, in favour of poor children of Keresley and Coundon. This sum was invested in £161 10s. stock yielding £4 a year. Distribution apparently ceased for a time in the 1930s, and the charity's object was then thought in the parish to be the purchase of books for confirmation candidates. After 1939, however, the terms of the trust were regularly carried out, and in 1960 the income was being applied in yearly grants to poor children. (fn. 157)