A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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The ancient parish of Stivichall (or Styvechale, as it is now sometimes spelt) lay about 1½ mile south of the city of Coventry. It comprised 818 acres in 1891. (fn. 1) After 1842 the parish was in Warwick Union and Rural District. In 1928, 193 acres were transferred to Coventry County Borough, and a further 545 acres in 1932. The parish was then extinguished, and the remaining 80 acres became part of Baginton civil parish in Warwick Rural District. (fn. 2)
The north-east boundary of the parish was formed by the fence of Cheylesmore Park; (fn. 3) the eastern by the stream from Park Mill to the River Sherbourne, and by the Sherbourne itself as far as its confluence with the River Sowe; and the southern by the Sowe. On the south-west the boundary followed a stream, once called the Mardon Sich, (fn. 4) which runs from Stivichall Common to the Sowe. The house and small estate called Stivichall Grange west of the Mardon Sich is in Stoneleigh. To the north-west, the tithe agreement of 1595 made the road to Warwick (probably the modern Kenilworth Road) the parish boundary, but by the 19th century an irregularly-shaped piece west of the road was included in the parish as part of Stivichall Common. (fn. 5)
Stivichall Common and Park are on a ridge of high ground between the valleys of the rivers Sherbourne and Sowe. To the north, Warwick Road climbs from Greyfriars Green in Coventry to the old Stivichall boundary, and, as Kenilworth Road, runs south-west across Stivichall Common before falling to Canley in Stoneleigh parish. On the southern end of the ridge, Stivichall Hall and the church formerly overlooked the village fields and the River Sowe. The modern Leamington Road branches from Warwick Road where it entered the parish and runs south past the church, crossing the Coventry by-pass (completed 1940) (fn. 6) by a roundabout near the city boundary which here coincides with the former parish boundary. The railway from Coventry to Leamington (built 1842) (fn. 7) runs roughly parallel with Kenilworth Road. The stone bridge by which the railway crosses Stivichall Croft bears the coat of arms of the Gregory family. The centre of the former parish is occupied by modern suburban housing, the building of which began about 1930 and was still going on in 1964; to the north is the War Memorial Park and Stivichall Common; only in the extreme east, where the former mill stood beside the River Sherbourne, (fn. 8) and in the extreme south along the River Sowe, have any fields or meadows survived.
It has been suggested that the village of Lowick, in George Eliot's novel Middlemarch, was modelled partly on Stivichall (and partly on the neighbouring village of Baginton) as it was in the second quarter of the 19th century. (fn. 9)
MANORS AND ESTATES.
Stivichall was first mentioned among the chapelries 'restored' to Coventry Priory by Ranulf de Gernon, Earl of Chester, in the early 12th century. (fn. 10) Shortly after Ranulf's death in 1153, his son, Hugh de Kevelioc, granted the estate there to Walter Durdent, Bishop of Coventry (or Chester, as he was then styled), for the soul of his father, who had died excommunicate. (fn. 11) The bishop was lord of this manor until the mid 16th century. His holdings in Stivichall and Tachbrook were in 1428 assessed at half a knight's fee. (fn. 12)
An examination of the descent of Stivichall is very difficult, particularly for the 16th century. This is due partly to the legal manoeuvres of the Gregory family in giving themselves a secure title, and to their more dubious activities which included the forging or suppressing of evidence and the addition of misleading glosses not only to 16thcentury but also to medieval records. (fn. 13)
The earliest recorded tenant of the bishop in Stivichall was Stephen de Nerbone at the beginning of the 13th century; (fn. 14) the bishop, however, seems from the first to have kept some of the tenements in hand. Stephen's daughter, Margery de Nerbone, married Robert de Stivichall, (fn. 15) described in 1220-1 as 'formerly lord of Stivichall', (fn. 16) but otherwise an obscure figure. Ralph son of Robert granted some land in Stivichall in 1220-1, (fn. 17) and was presumably the same as the Ralph de Stivichall, son of Margery de Nerbone, (fn. 18) who held land in several places around Coventry in the 13th century. Robert son of Robert was also mentioned at this time. (fn. 19) Margery was described as lady of the manor in 1221-2. (fn. 20) Ralph's son was Joylin de Stivichall, and their successor in 1299 was John de Stivichall. (fn. 21)
The energetic Geoffrey de Langley, who built up estates in Pinley, Shortley, Wyken, and elsewhere in the first half of the 13th century, was also active in Stivichall. In 1221-2, in settlement of an apparently genuine dispute, he received a house, two virgates, the mill, and other property from Margery de Nerbone. (fn. 22) Geoffrey also made at least six other purchases of land in Stivichall, and his successors William, Walter, and John continued the process. (fn. 23) Some of the land was said to be held of the Nerbone estate, some from other tenants. At his death in 1280 Walter de Langley held four virgates in Stivichall of the heirs of Margery de Nerbone. (fn. 24)
By 1299 Alice de Langley was said to hold half the village directly of the bishop. John de Stivichall held the Overhallstede or manor-house and what was called a hide of land. The bishop still had in hand nine tenements with three virgates. (fn. 25) When described in the middle of the 14th century, the 'hide' of the Overhallstede was about 61 acres. (fn. 26) By the mid 14th century the Langley holding was said to consist of eight virgates. (fn. 27) It descended with Pinley and Wyken to 1452, (fn. 28) when in the final division of the estates, Stivichall came to Elizabeth, the eldest of the three Frevill sisters, and her husband Thomas Ferrers. (fn. 29) The estate then descended in the Ferrers family until 1573 when it was merged with other holdings by the marriage of Jane, sister of John Ferrers, with Arthur Gregory. (fn. 30) Elizabeth Swillington, the founder of a trust for the repair of local roads, (fn. 31) held what was called a mansion house and lands from this estate in 1544. (fn. 32)
The smaller estate of three virgates in 1299 was retained by the bishops of Coventry and Lichfield until 1547, when it is said to have been sold to Thomas Fisher (or Hawkins). (fn. 33) Some rents in Stivichall were granted by the bishop and Thomas Fisher to Richard Fisher in 1557-8, (fn. 34) but it was Thomas Fisher who was said to have sold the estate in 1563 to Thomas and Arthur Gregory. (fn. 35)
Most of the individual tenements of 1299 can be traced through rentals to the 16th century. (fn. 36) It is not clear, however, what happened to the Overhallstede holding after the disappearance of the Stivichall family, though it presumably remained part of the bishop's possessions and seems also to have passed to Thomas Fisher. The rent was sold to the Gregorys with the other holdings in 1563, (fn. 37) but Fisher apparently retained possession, and still held land in Stivichall from the bishop in 1578. (fn. 38) The holding descended to his son Edward and his grandson John, (fn. 39) who sold it before 1619 to Sir Clement Fisher (not a relative). In 1619 it was called the Hall House or Manor House, and was held of the Gregory estate. It had then been recently granted to Sir Clement Throckmorton, (fn. 40) but this was merely a legal arrangement, for Throckmorton appeared as joint owner of land in Stivichall with Sir Robert Fisher in 1630. (fn. 41) In 1725 Captain Fisher owned about 52 acres of which the tenant was Richard Griswell. (fn. 42) There was no reference then to the hall or manor-house; it may have fallen into disrepair and its site been lost in the inclosure of 1740. (fn. 43) On the other hand it may be represented by the oldest part of the present Bremond College at the junction of Leamington Road and Stivichall Croft. This house has many Victorian and later extensions, but the core may date from the late 17th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was known as the Manor House; it became a girls' boarding school about 1935. (fn. 44)
The Gregory family seems finally to have acquired ownership of all the land in the parish after the inclosure, and its members were the sole owners throughout the 19th century. The last Gregory in the direct line, Major F. H. Gregory, died childless in 1909. The estate passed to his cousin, the Hon. Alexander Hood, who assumed the name of Gregory. After the First World War he sold 121 acres in the north of the parish to Coventry corporation as the site of the War Memorial Park; this was opened in 1921. His son, Major C. H. Gregory-Hood, succeeded him in 1927, and shortly after sold the rest of the estate to the corporation. Major Gregory-Hood subsequently bought, and lived at, Loxley Hall, but remained the patron of the Stivichall living. (fn. 45)
The Gregory family built Stivichall Hall to the south-east of the church between 1750 and 1760, probably on a newly-inclosed site. Its main approach was by a drive which ran from lodge gates on the Leamington road, passed the east end of the church, and entered a forecourt on the north-east side of the house. (fn. 46) Here the entrance front, with its central portico, was flanked by single-story outbuildings. The main house was a rectangular three-storied structure of stone ashlar, its principal fronts having seven bays, two of which represented a later addition. On the south-west or garden front the original central bay contained a pedimented doorway with Venetian and semi-circular windows above, the whole being surmounted by a pediment. (fn. 47) The hall was demolished by stages after the sale of the estate, and it finally disappeared soon after the Second World War. An ice-house in the garden and a stablecourt to the south-east survived for a few more years. (fn. 48) In 1964, although the site was still vacant, no buildings were left and the former gardens were derelict and overgrown.
Roger and Cecily de Montalt included in their grant to Coventry Priory of 1250 the service of Vitalis de Foleshill for a tenement in Stivichall. (fn. 49) This holding, though small, seems to have had pretensions to manorial status throughout its history. The priory was uncertain about the nature of its tenure, and at one point at least seems to have recognized the bishop as the chief lord of the fee. (fn. 50) The holding was described as a chief messuage with land worth 8s. in 1410-11. (fn. 51) Another house was acquired in 1364. (fn. 52) Three other holdings mentioned in the priory's rental were appurtenances of Stivichall chapel. (fn. 53) William Babthorpe held two houses and other land of the priory in 1444. (fn. 54) Some at least of the priory's lands in Stivichall were granted in 1544 to John Wade and Thomas Gregory. (fn. 55) The descent of the holding which Thomas Essex was said to have bought from the bishop in 1547 and sold to Thomas and Arthur Gregory in 1563 was traced in the deed of 1563 from Vitalis de Foleshill to William Babthorpe. (fn. 56)
Tenements in the parish were also held by the owners of the Caludon estate, (fn. 57) by the Queen's College, Oxford, with its Keresley estate, (fn. 58) and by Christ's College, Cambridge. (fn. 59) Property in Stivichall formerly belonging to a chantry in Sutton Coldfield church, which had been founded by one Thomas Broadmeadow at an unknown date, was included in a grant to Thomas Fisher and Thomas Dabridgecourt in 1549. It then consisted of three crofts and a yardland held by Thomas Gregory. (fn. 60)
Although Stivichall was not mentioned in Domesday Book and some aspects of its early history are obscure, it had in the 13th century the appearance of an ancient and wellestablished community. In fact, in the almost complete utilization of the land within the parish boundaries from the 13th century onwards, Stivichall is unique among the villages around Coventry, where it was normal for wastes and woods to survive to the 18th century. The Earl of Chester gave to the bishop about 1160, not a piece of new land, but the income from an estate with a manor-house, occupied by a Stivichall family, villein and free tenants, and a demesne, (fn. 61) and the bishop did not disturb this ancient pattern. Though so close to Coventry, this small community retained its identity, as, for instance, Radford and Harnall to the north did not. Comparison of its institutions with those of Coundon, which was described in 1086, (fn. 62) suggests that Stivichall, though perhaps included in the Coventry entry, was also in existence at that time, and was probably one of the earliest settlements in the district.
The medieval village was built along the road (now Leamington Road) which runs south from Coventry to Finham Bridge and thence to Warwick on the west, and to Stoneleigh and Leamington on the east. A medieval reference suggests that the road to Baginton from which Leamington Road branches then ran directly south from the chapel. (fn. 63) This road seems later to have been cut, probably after the inclosure of the parish in 1740, and forced to take a loop to the west by Stivichall Croft and Baginton Road. Its old course apparently became a drive to the church and to the newly-built Stivichall Hall to the south-east of it. The medieval village seems to have been destroyed in the process and the church left isolated except for the new manor-house. The few village houses which survived were further west in Stivichall Croft, forming the hamlet later preserved by Coventry corporation. (fn. 64) The Leamington road was reconstructed on approximately its original course in the 20th century.
The highway to Warwick (probably Leamington Road) was first mentioned about 1250, (fn. 65) and a road towards Kenilworth in 1313. (fn. 66) The Warwick road ran south through the village and the arable fields. The Kenilworth road left it at the Queen's Cross on the parish boundary and followed the narrow belt of common along the north and west of the parish. Other ancient roads were Whor or Hor Lane from Horwell to the common, Cocklane, or Corkslane, now Coat of Arms Bridge Road, and Grange Lane in the south. (fn. 67) Green Lane, leading to the common from the south, was mentioned in the 16th century. (fn. 68) Leaf Lane became Howes Lane in the 19th century, (fn. 69) running past Howes Lane Farm which was demolished in 1963. The Leamington and Kenilworth roads were turnpiked in 1775, the former only to the southern boundary of the parish. (fn. 70) A notable tree called Wightwick's Elm was cut down in 1783 and an avenue of oaks was planted along the Kenilworth road in the late 18th century. (fn. 71)
Several fords were mentioned in the 13th and 14th centuries. Dillotsford seems to have crossed the River Sherbourne towards Whitley, (fn. 72) and Moldeford or Mongesford the River Sowe towards Baginton. Baginton Bridge in Stivichall was in existence in 1460, (fn. 73) and was presumably the bridge below Baginton Mill mentioned in 1581. (fn. 74) The Warwick road forded the Mardon Sich, or Martins Gutter as it was called in the 18th century, in the south of the parish. (fn. 75) From the mid 16th century Stivichall benefited from Elizabeth Swillington's bequest for the repair of local roads, (fn. 76) and about the same time there was apparently an attempt made to create a charitable trust for the repair of a bridge in the parish. (fn. 77)
In addition to the Overhallstede and the glebe house, there were several other substantial houses in the village from the 13th to the 16th century, particularly on the freehold tenements of the bishop's estate. There seems to have been a suburban element in the medieval population of Stivichall; Vitalis de Foleshill, prominent in the 13th century, (fn. 78) William de Leicester, in the 14th century, (fn. 79) Ralph Swillington and his widow Elizabeth in the early 16th century, (fn. 80) were examples of residents, without family or manorial connexions in Stivichall, who found it a convenient place in which to live. Another such was Humphrey Hale, who was active in local affairs in 1655. (fn. 81) The acquisition of the estate in the 16th century by the Gregory family from Coventry, however, restricted such developments. The family's assertion of manorial rights and later creation of a model estate in Stivichall (fn. 82) left no place for influential outsiders. From the 17th to the 20th century, Stivichall, in striking contrast to Stoke, was preserved from the encroachments of the city. (fn. 83)
Stivichall was always an agrarian community. The many water-mills nearby, on the rivers Sherbourne, Sowe, and Avon, (fn. 84) did not lead to the growth of a local community of tradesmen or craftsmen; there is no evidence, for instance, of local weavers supplying Baginton fulling mill. Stivichall did not share in the developments associated with the coal mines, the ribbon weaving, and the suburban housing of the area north and east of Coventry (though the slump in 1851-61 had some effect on its population), (fn. 85) and it was too close to Coventry to need inns and shops to provide for travellers on the Warwick road. The fishing frequently mentioned seems never to have been on a commercial scale.
The occupational names used in the 14th century are not a reliable indication of the trades actually practised in Stivichall, (fn. 86) and some tradesmen, such as Peter Ripon, bottlemaker, were merely men from Coventry who had acquired land in the village as an investment. (fn. 87) There was certainly a small group of building workers - two carpenters and a glazier - in 1378-9. (fn. 88) There seems to have been an inn in Stivichall in 1725 (fn. 89) and 1792; (fn. 90) the Stivichall Arms was mentioned in 1875. (fn. 91) Since its inclusion in the city Stivichall has been almost entirely a residential district.
Of the 800 acres of the parish, over 600 acres were arable land until the late 17th century. The arable field, sometimes called Stivichall Field, lay around the village and to the south-east, with the small area of common to the north-west. In the 16th and 17th centuries there was a systematic three-course rotation in the three fields, Park Field in the north, Church Field around the village, and Nether or Mill field in the south and east. (fn. 92) There are, however, no medieval references to rotation, and it is not possible to find a significant pattern of fields in the detailed descriptions of medieval holdings. Several other field or furlong names such as Oldfield, Hallfield, Merdenfield, and the White; appear frequently. (fn. 93) There were the usual selions, headlands, butts, and furlongs in the fields, some of the furlongs being divided by balks. (fn. 94) The meadows seem to have been divided into separable plots. In the 14th century there was intercommoning between Stoneleigh and Stivichall on both sides of the Mardon Sich, extending into Stivichall as far as the church and the Baginton road, (fn. 95) an area which cannot be equated with one of the later three fields.
The holdings were described as virgates (later yardlands), half virgates, and quarter virgates or quartrons. Witnesses at the tithe inquiry of 1725 differed in their estimates of the number of yardlands in the village; the most reliable estimate seems to have been 21 yardlands. (fn. 96) When compared with the 600 acres inclosed about 1740, (fn. 97) this indicates a standard yardland of 30 acres; but this varied in practice. One yardland and a half, for example, was variously estimated as 52 or 53, 50 to 60, and 60 acres. (fn. 98) Again, it is not possible to find such a systematic arrangement in the medieval references, or to find the equivalent in acres or virgates of the 'hide' which was then mentioned. (fn. 99) The term 'virgate' was used not only for a holding made up of plots scattered in the fields, but also for an area of land, Park Field, for instance, being described as 6¼ yardlands. (fn. 100)
The inquiry of 1725 illustrated some of the general difficulties of open-field farming. As has been noticed, the permanent common or heath in Stivichall was comparatively small. By about 1680 this and the stubble field were proving insufficient, and the tenants said that they could not keep enough cattle for the manuring and 'managing' of their holdings, though it is not clear why the situation had not been apparent before. Most of the tenants also had grass leys in the arable fields (where horses might be tethered), and there were some old closes. At the same time Park Field was said to be so worn out with ploughing and overrun with weeds that it was not worth cultivating. Accordingly about 1690 it was agreed that Park Field should be put down to grass as a common pasture, while the grass leys in the two other fields were ploughed up; a period of fallow was apparently no longer included in their crop rotation. The stint of cattle was also reduced. Park Field was grassed and ploughed up several times before being left as permanent pasture about 1718. Arthur Gregory also took advantage of the change to consolidate the lands of his tenants into larger units, and though the arable fields were still formally open, tenants began putting temporary fences around their plots.
The results of the change were impressive. By 1725 the two remaining arable fields were said to be more productive than the original three, and the value of a yardland had risen from £7 8s. to £10 12s. a year. Several houses and farm buildings had been rebuilt. The stock were carefully managed. The cattle were put into Park Field on May Day, remained there until the harvest, then were put on the stubble; they later returned to Park Field until Martinmas, when they were taken into the farmyards. Cattle were replaced in Park Field by sheep, which stayed there until March, and then went on to the common for the summer. Village haywards and shepherds managed the beasts, and there were communal arrangements for milking and shearing. (fn. 101) The pound, at the south-east corner of the common on the lane from the village, was mentioned in 1663, and still existed in the 19th century. (fn. 102)
This apparently satisfactory compromise between communal farming and inclosure was not, however, to survive for long. About 1740 600 acres of the open fields were inclosed, (fn. 103) Park Field presumably being dealt with in the same way as the two arable fields. Park Field was used as a sheepfold, though not in common, in the early 20th century. (fn. 104) The peasant farmers disappeared. In 1801 only 79 acres of the parish were sown with crops - wheat, barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes - a figure which included the gardens of the poor. (fn. 105) In 1831 there were three occupiers employing agricultural labourers, and there were three farmers in 1850. (fn. 106)
Until the inclosure the village had been remarkably stable. There were at least eleven tenants in Stivichall in 1299, (fn. 107) and nine taxpayers in 1327. (fn. 108) In 1378-9 there were 15 married couples and 20 other persons. (fn. 109) A rough estimate can be made of the total number of tenants on the four estates in the village in the early 15th century. There were nine or ten tenants holding of the bishop throughout the period. (fn. 110) On the Ferrers estate in 1418-19 there were ten or eleven village tenants, a smallholder, and four free tenants of mills. (fn. 111) On Coventry Priory's estate there were four or five tenants in 1410-11. (fn. 112) There was probably only a single tenant on the Overhallstede holding. (fn. 113)
The tenant population on the Ferrers estate, and probably the total population, fell slowly in the first half of the 15th century and more rapidly in the second, (fn. 114) and this was accompanied by the engrossment of village holdings into larger units. The court rolls of the Ferrers estate give some additional evidence, of land being taken up without entry fines, and houses in disrepair. (fn. 115) In the first half of the 16th century this trend was first checked and then reversed. The value of rents on the Ferrers estate also indicates stability in the early 15th century followed by rising rents later. The total annual value rose progressively from over £10 in 1418-19 to £14 in 1543-4. (fn. 116) The larger units created by engrossment were not permanent, and easily reverted to yardland and quartron units. The comparative prosperity of the 16th century was shown in 1524, when there were seventeen taxpayers in Stivichall, (fn. 117) more than in any of the other neighbouring villages except Foleshill.
By 1587 more of the land in the village had been acquired by the Gregorys; there were then some 24 tenants (excluding millers) on their estate. (fn. 118) The Compton Census of 1676 records 43 adults. (fn. 119) There were still 23 houses in Stivichall in 1730, (fn. 120) though only ten tenants were concerned in the open-field arrangements of that time. (fn. 121) In spite of the changes in the 15th century, the village just before inclosure was much the size it had been in the late 14th century.
In 1801 there were said to be 107 people, but by 1811 the population had fallen to 56, (fn. 122) a decline unparalleled in the Coventry district in the 19th century. The population rose to 96 in 1821 and remained at about 100 from 1821 to 1851; it fell with the decline of ribbon weaving, to between 65 and 75 until 1891, and then rose to stay at only 80-85 until 1921. (fn. 123)
As has been seen, Stivichall Hall, built by the Gregorys in the 1750s, may have had no connexion with the medieval hall, but have been on a newlyinclosed site. The new house, the planting of the mile-long avenue of three rows of oaks, and the complete rebuilding of the church, (fn. 124) suggest that the family was determined to leave an indelible mark on the whole village. Although it was the nearest of the surrounding parishes to the centre of Coventry, Stivichall was kept free from suburban housing in the 18th and 19th centuries. While Radford, Foleshill, Stoke, and later other parishes became featureless urban communities, Stivichall remained an archetypal rural estate; by the early 20th century it was in fact regarded rather as a museum exhibit. This quality may have suggested its particular suitability as the site of the city's war memorial, but the War Memorial Park was in conception and appearance an urban incursion into the parish. The only part of Stivichall which still (1964) retains any village character is the hamlet in Stivichall Croft, near the Coat of Arms Bridge. In 1932 this area, with a strip of tree-planted green and a field to the south of it, was given to the corporation for permanent preservation by Major C. H. Gregory-Hood (fn. 125) when the rest of the estate was sold. A disused smithy and three cottages stand near the road; the oldest, west of the bridge, is an early-17thcentury timber-framed building of two bays. There was formerly a second timber-framed cottage to the east of the bridge. (fn. 126) Smithy Cottage is brick-built and probably of late-17th-century origin; it was damaged by bombing during the Second World War and later restored. An obelisk on the green commemorates Major Gregory-Hood's gift.
Elsewhere the break-up of the estate after 1927, the demolition of Stivichall Hall, and the extension of the city boundary (fn. 127) were followed by suburban house building, which, 37 years later, had covered most of the parish. In many cases, both before and after the Second World War, the corporation sold blocks of land to private developers, so that there is far more variation in the cost of houses and sizes of gardens than on the northern and eastern outskirts of the city. By 1964 parts of Stivichall might be called superior residential suburbs, but in general its character as a distinct community had disappeared.
The southern boundaries of the chapelry of Stivichall as described in the 15th century appear, from field names and prominent features, to have been substantially the same in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 128) To the north-east, however, it is possible that Cheylesmore Park was once considered to be part of Stivichall, and that it was separated after the grant of the rest of the vill to the bishop. (fn. 129) Uncertainty about the boundary between Stivichall and Whitley around the south of the park remained. (fn. 130) The dispute about the boundaries to the north-west, in Asthill and Horwell, in the 16th century, is mentioned elsewhere. (fn. 131) Another indication that Stivichall had stretched further north at some period, is that the strip of common west of Warwick Road, now Top Green and the site of the Grammar School, was inclosed in 1883 as Stivichall Common, though it had been considered to be in St. Michael's parish after the 16th-century dispute, and was distinct from the rest of Stivichall Common to the south. (fn. 132)
The bishop is said to have been granted sole jurisdiction over his Stivichall estate in the 12th century, and its exclusion from the jurisdiction of the manor of Cheylesmore seems to have been confirmed in 1451 when only half Stivichall was said to be included in the county of the city of Coventry and that in only one version of the charter which created it. (fn. 133) In the 13th century the bishop certainly administered his manor, for some purposes, with a group of estates, including Bishops Itchington, which all contributed to the maintenance of two serjeanties. (fn. 134) The bishop had a bailiff at Stivichall, and held a twice-yearly 'great court' and a three-weekly manorial court, which were in the 13th century making grants by court roll. (fn. 135) The bishop's great court was mentioned, though it may not have been functioning, in the 16th century. (fn. 136)
With the development of the Langley (later Ferrers) estate, however, the bishops seem to have taken a less active interest in Stivichall. By at least 1365 tenants of Stivichall were attending the Cheylesmore court. Two tithingmen were making presentments, apparently for the whole village. It was suggested in the 19th century that the village was divided into halves, the bishop's half outside and the Langley estate within the Cheylesmore jurisdiction. (fn. 137) It was supposed that this division was territorial as in Sowe, (fn. 138) the north being inside and the south outside Coventry. It is possible that there was some memory of the intercommoning with Stoneleigh in the south-west of the parish. (fn. 139) The notion seems to have been accepted in 1788, when only part of Stivichall was included in an association for the prosecution of felons formed for Meriden and district. (fn. 140) However, even if the bishop's tenants did not attend the Cheylesmore court (and there is no conclusive evidence) their tenements could not be territorially distinguished in the open fields. It was said in 1842 that for many years, probably centuries, the distinction between the part of Stivichall in the county of the city of Coventry, and the part in Warwickshire, had been lost, and for a long time the whole parish had been considered to be within Coventry. (fn. 141) Stivichall was certainly considered to be in the county of the city by the late 15th century. (fn. 142) Presentments were made in the Cheylesmore court to at least 1665; (fn. 143) a constable, a hayward, and two tithingmen were elected there in 1663. (fn. 144) Other parochial matters were then already being dealt with before the justices for the city and county. (fn. 145) The constable and the overseer mentioned, with the churchwarden, in 1704 (fn. 146) were probably parochial officers, and no longer accountable to the Cheylesmore court.
By at least 1423 courts were being held, normally twice yearly, for the Ferrers estate, and land was being granted in the court by custom of the manor. (fn. 147) There was a collector for the Ferrers estate in the early 15th century, and a bailiff in the late 15th century. (fn. 148) The bailiff mentioned in 1569 was presumably for the Gregory estates. (fn. 149)
CHARITIES FOR THE POOR.
NAUL'S CHARITY. Thomas Naul, by will dated 1703, left £5 to the poor of Stivichall from which the interest was to be spent on bread. This money was paid to Arthur Gregory of Stivichall who, in 1707, entered into a bond for repayment with interest at 5 per cent. In 1833 his descendants had for many years made a large distribution of bread and meat which was considered to include Naul's Charity, (fn. 150) but in 1875 the charity was said to have been lost. (fn. 151)
TURNER'S CHARITY. Mary Turner, widow, of Bubbenhall, by her will dated 1607, left land in Olton, in the parish of Solihull, charged with the payment of £3 6s. 8d. a year to the incumbent of Bubbenhall to be distributed in sums of 6s. 8d. to the poor of each of ten Warwickshire parishes including Stivichall. (fn. 152) According to the returns of 1786 this property was then vested in William Grant whose estate was sold, about 1797, to the trustees of the marriage settlement of Abraham Spooner Lillingston, of Elmdon Hall. The payment of £3 6s. 8d. had lapsed soon after 1786 and resumption of it was resisted by Lillingston in 1833, but it was apparently revived after his death the following year. (fn. 153) In 1923, because of the difficulty of identifying, at that date, the original property, the charge was redeemed by transfer of £133 6s. 8d. 2½ per cent. stock. (fn. 154)