A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
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The small ancient parish of Lower Lemington lies in the north-east corner of the county immediately north-east of Moreton-in-Marsh. The boundaries of the ancient parish were the Foss Way on the west, the Knee brook on the north, a stream (possibly called the Leam, from which the parish took its name) (fn. 1) running into the Knee brook and the track from Lemington to the Four Shire Stone on the east, and a track which only partly survived in 1962 from Dorn (in Blockley) to the same stone on the south. (fn. 2) The parish was thus elongated in shape, being 859 a. (fn. 3) in area and stretching nearly two and a half miles. In 1935 Lower Lemington became part of the civil parish of Batsford. (fn. 4) Lower Lemington may have originally formed one parish and township with Upper Lemington, later in Todenham parish, (fn. 5) and both places were called simply Lemington until the 16th century. (fn. 6)
The parish lies on the Lower Lias with boulder clay in the south part and alluvial soil beside the Knee brook in the north. Most of the land is at a height of between 300 ft. and 400 ft., rising to 450 ft. in the south-west corner. The village is built on glacial gravel at 400 ft. (fn. 7) No documentary evidence has been found of open fields in Lower Lemington and the land has for a long time included more pasture than arable. (fn. 8) In the 20th century the southeast corner of Lower Lemington was part of Moreton airfield.
The village of Lower Lemington, a small settlement on the eastern edge of the parish at the source of the stream which forms the eastern boundary, with the church standing close to the manor farm-house, may at one time have formed a single village with Upper Lemington. (fn. 9) By the 17th century there were only about six houses in the parish, (fn. 10) and earthworks north-east of the church may show the site of former houses. In 1962 the village included Manor Farm and five cottages round the farm-yard. Oldborough Farm, north of the village, was built by 1777, (fn. 11) the name suggesting it was on a long-occupied site; a few brick cottages were built near Oldborough Farm between 1884 and 1903. (fn. 12) Lemington Grange, south of the village, was built by the early 19th century when it was called Lower Lemington Farm. (fn. 13) Two small isolated houses were built in the 19th century and three houses were built on the road south of the village in the 20th century.
The Foss Way, turnpiked in 1755, (fn. 14) is the only main road. It is connected to the road from Moreton to Todenham, which crosses the south-east corner of the parish, by a road that in the early 19th century ran through Lower Lemington village (fn. 15) but was later diverted south of the village. The Moreton and Stratford-upon-Avon horse tramway, opened in 1826 and rebuilt as a branch railway line to Shipstonon-Stour (Warws.) in 1889, (fn. 16) runs the length of the parish, joining the main line at Moreton station two miles from the village. In the late 1950's the line was closed.
Fifteen people were enumerated at Lower Lemington in 1086, a high figure in relation to the number of hides at which the estate was assessed. (fn. 17) In 1327, when nine people paid subsidy, the number was high compared with the small assessment. (fn. 18) The number of communicants was given as 56 in 1551, (fn. 19) suggesting perhaps a population of c. 100, and the figure had not changed much by 1603. (fn. 20) In 1606 14 adult males were enumerated. (fn. 21) There were said to be c. 20 households in 1650, (fn. 22) but only 6 people paid hearthtax in 1672. (fn. 23) The parish was said to include 38 conformists and 14 nonconformists in 1676, (fn. 24) and in 1712 the population was estimated at c. 36. (fn. 25) There were eight families in 1735 and the number was the same in 1750. (fn. 26) The population, 61 in 1801, fluctuated during the 19th and early 20th century, without showing any consistent increase or decrease; it was highest in 1911 when the population was 78, and by 1931, before the parish became part of Batsford, it had decreased to 50. (fn. 27) By 1930 Lower Lemington was provided with piped water from a supply of the Batsford estate, (fn. 28) and in 1962 there was still no main water supply. (fn. 29) Main electricity was supplied after the Second World War.
Most of the older houses in Lower Lemington are of stone with Cotswold stone roofs, and have mullioned windows with dripmoulds. One of the cottages has a thatched roof, and the later houses are of brick.
Lower Lemington Manor is a two-storied house of stone with a Cotswold stone roof and projecting gables. The central portion was possibly built in the 16th century and may be the house said to have been built by a member of the Palmer family, (fn. 30) farmers of the manor in 1532 and 1540, (fn. 31) but no part appears earlier than the 17th century. The house was extended after 1672 by the addition of two large wings, one of which has become the front of the house. The windows of the central portion and some of the windows of the other parts have stone mullions and dripmoulds, and there are some sash windows.
Lower Lemington may have been included in the grant of Stanway and other land to Tewkesbury Abbey by Dodo c. 715. (fn. 32) The estate of three hides in Lemington, held of the Crown in fee by the church of Tewkesbury in 1086, (fn. 33) was by the 16th century known as the manor of LOWER LEMINGTON, (fn. 34) to distinguish it from Westminster Abbey's manor of Upper Lemington in Todenham parish. (fn. 35) About 1087 William II gave the lands held by Tewkesbury Abbey to Robert FitzHamon, (fn. 36) from whom they passed to the earls of Gloucester. In 1291 the honor of Gloucester included four carucates in Lemington. (fn. 37) From 1102 the profits of Lemington were allotted to the monks' table at Tewkesbury. (fn. 38) The abbey retained the manor (which included the whole of the parish) until the Dissolution, when it passed to the Crown; at that time it was a member of Stanway manor. (fn. 39)
Lower Lemington manor, which from 1567 to 1607 was leased to the owners of Upper Lemington, (fn. 40) was owned by 1627, with Upper Lemington, by Henry Compton. (fn. 41) In 1651 Richard Compton sold the manor to John Juxon (fn. 42) from whom it passed, probably at his death in 1655, (fn. 43) to Dr. William Juxon, Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1663). (fn. 44) The manor descended to Dr. Juxon's nephew, Sir William Juxon, (fn. 45) and then to Sir William's son, also Sir William (d. 1739), from whom it passed to his wife Susanna, (fn. 46) later wife of Charles, Viscount Fane. On her death in 1792 Lower Lemington descended to Sir Robert Hesketh (who later took the name Juxon), (fn. 47) the great-nephew of the second Sir William Juxon. By 1793 the manor had been bought by Michael Corgan, (fn. 48) who sold it in 1811 to Lord Redesdale of Batsford Park, (fn. 49) and Lower Lemington has since descended with the Batsford estate. (fn. 50)
The three-hide estate of Tewkesbury Abbey in 1086 had a relatively high number of ploughs and tenants in relation to the number of hides, with two ploughs in demesne and four held by eight villani and a bordar. The value of the estate had decreased from 3 in 1066 to 2 in 1086. (fn. 51)
So far as is known, Lower Lemington has always formed a single estate, and little information has been found about the kind of tenures by which the undertenants held their land. In 1291 Tewkesbury Abbey was receiving assized rents from Lemington, (fn. 52) and nine people assessed for subsidy in 1327, at rates varying from 2s. 11d. to less than 1s., (fn. 53) were presumably tenants of the abbey. In the 16th century the demesne was farmed. (fn. 54) Reference in 1535 to customary land implies copyhold tenure, (fn. 55) and in 1544 there were at least 12 tenants in Lower Lemington. (fn. 56) Nine husbandmen were recorded in 1608. (fn. 57) In 1655 there were six tenants, who may have been leaseholders or tenants at will, (fn. 58) and the number of tenants had not changed significantly by 1775. (fn. 59)
The demesne included some inclosed land by 1351. (fn. 60) In the early 18th century the parish consisted mainly of inclosed pastures, (fn. 61) but a reference in 1704 to the fact that the field had been inclosed (fn. 62) implies the existence of an open field, although no other reference to one has been found. It may imply also that inclosure had taken place not very long before 1704. In 1779 a large tract of furze was held in common, (fn. 63) and land called the town meadow in the 18th century, although held in severalty in 1791, (fn. 64) may have been formerly held in common.
By the 16th century Lower Lemington included arable, meadow, and pasture, (fn. 65) with possibly a predominance of meadow and pasture as in the 17th and 18th centuries. (fn. 66) It is not clear whether the pasture was used mainly for sheep or cattle at that time. In 1811 Lower Lemington included only slightly more meadow and pasture than arable. (fn. 67)
The number of tenants had fallen to three by 1811 when the parish was divided into three farms of 328 a., 275 a., and 226 a. respectively, (fn. 68) and there were still three farms in the late 19th century. (fn. 69) In 1935 the parish included two large farms, (fn. 70) and in 1962 there were two large farms and a few smaller ones. (fn. 71)
By 1933 almost the whole of Lower Lemington was meadow and pasture with a few small pieces of arable, (fn. 72) and in 1962 the land was used mainly for dairy farming, with some beef, sheep, and arable farming. (fn. 73)
The small community of Lower Lemington has, until the 20th century, included few people not directly engaged in agriculture. In 1608 there was a tailor in the parish, (fn. 74) and in 1811 the village included a blacksmith's shop. (fn. 75) All the families in the parish in 1811, 1821, and 1831 were employed principally in agriculture. (fn. 76) The parish was said to have no inn or shop in 1825, (fn. 77) and it is unlikely that it has ever had one. In the late 19th and early 20th century the population was still mainly occupied in farming, (fn. 78) but by 1962, when there were few agricultural labourers, a number of people worked in industry outside the parish.
In the 16th and 17th centuries three mills were associated with Upper and Lower Lemington manors. (fn. 79) There was a miller in Lower Lemington in 1608, (fn. 80) and a place called Mill Bank in 1800, near Oldborough Farm, may indicate the site of a former mill. (fn. 81)
In the 13th century view of frankpledge for Lower Lemington was taken at Stanway, (fn. 82) and in the 16th century Lower Lemington, as a member of Stanway manor, attended the manor court at Stanway. (fn. 83) How long this continued is not known, but in 1819 and 1830 a court leet with view of frankpledge was held at Lower Lemington. (fn. 84)
Overseers' and churchwardens' accounts survive from 1785 and 1858 respectively. Expenditure on poor relief increased fivefold from 9 to 45 between 1776 and 1803, although in 1803 only one adult received regular relief and two occasional relief. (fn. 85) About 1811 it was said that the poor rate was very low because of the small number of paupers and the large amount of money derived from charities, (fn. 86) but by 1813 expenditure had again increased threefold and the numbers had risen to ten receiving permanent relief and six occasional relief. (fn. 87) By 1834 expenditure had decreased to 54. (fn. 88) Lower Lemington formed part of the Shipston-on-Stour Poor Law Union from 1835, and the Shipston-on-Stour Rural Sanitary District from 1872. In 1894 the parish became part of the newly formed Campden Rural District, nearly all of which (including Lower Lemington) became part of the new North Cotswold Rural District in 1935. (fn. 89)
From architectural evidence there appears to have been a church at Lower Lemington by the 11th century, and in the earlier 12th century the chapel of Lemington was confirmed to Tewkesbury Abbey. (fn. 90) In 1268 the cure was served by a chaplain, (fn. 91) and in 1291 Lemington chapel was said to be dependent on Stanway church. (fn. 92) Before 1291 the chapel had presumably been appropriated with Stanway to Tewkesbury Abbey, but a vicarage was not ordained for Lower Lemington, which by the mid-16th century was served by a stipendiary curate. (fn. 93) The association with Stanway had lapsed by the mid16th century, and in 1551 it was said that Lemington chapel was annexed to Tewkesbury church. (fn. 94) In 1603 there was said to be a vicarage, although a vicar had not been presented, and the parish was still served by a stipendiary curate. (fn. 95) In 1646 the rectory, valued at 50, was settled temporarily on the parish priest, (fn. 96) and in 1737 (fn. 97) as a result of augmentation by Queen Anne's Bounty a perpetual curacy was established. By the late 19th century the living was usually called a vicarage, (fn. 98) and in 1931 the living and the ecclesiastical parish were united with those of Todenham, forming the rectory and parish of Todenham with Lower Lemington. (fn. 99)
The right of appointing the stipendiary curate presumably belonged to Tewkesbury Abbey in the Middle Ages and by the time of the Dissolution it had passed to the farmer of the manor, who also held the impropriate rectory and all the tithes. (fn. 100) The right to appoint the curate continued to be leased with the manor and rectory, (fn. 101) with which it was presumably sold; the patronage of the perpetual curacy descended with the manor after 1737. (fn. 102) From 1931 the lord of the manor had every third presentation to the united benefice, (fn. 103) which had, however, passed wholly into the patronage of the bishop by 1959. (fn. 104)
The curate's stipend in 1603 was 5, (fn. 105) and after the augmentation in 1737 the living was valued at 10. (fn. 106) Further augmentations from Queen Anne's Bounty were made in 1753 and 1817 (fn. 107) and by 1856 the value of the living had increased to 46. (fn. 108) In 1867 the perpetual curacy was endowed with 7 a. in Eatington (Warws.) formerly belonging to Widford rectory (Oxon.), in exchange for 450 from Queen Anne's Bounty. (fn. 109)
The stipendiary curates in the mid-16th century usually served for a few years only (fn. 110) and were probably not resident. In 1563 and 1572 there was no curate, (fn. 111) and in 1576 the parishioners and the curate were excommunicate. (fn. 112) The curate in 1584, who was described as a scholar but not a preacher, was still serving the cure in 1593. (fn. 113) The settlement of the rectory on the parish priest in 1646 was an attempt to provide that the living should be better served, but John Smith, the curate from 1642, (fn. 114) was in 1655 said to be 'notoriously scandalous being a swearer, a drunkard, and a fighter'. He was apparently deprived in the same year, and in 1657 another curate was appointed. (fn. 115) John Smith may have been reappointed in 1660 when he is said to have attacked and forcibly removed the existing curate during the sermon, (fn. 116) but by 1661 there was no minister. (fn. 117)
Lower Lemington was adequately served during the 18th century when the perpetual curate was for a long time the rector of Todenham; (fn. 118) 1750 in a service was held every Sunday either morning or evening. (fn. 119) In 1784 the perpetual curate lived at Moreton-in-Marsh and served the cure himself. (fn. 120) The man who held the living for 39 years during the earlier 19th century was non-resident because there was no house in the parish, and the parish was served by a stipendiary curate who usually lived at Moreton-in-Marsh. (fn. 121) In 1825 one service was still held every Sunday although there was no singing. (fn. 122) James Clark, perpetual curate from 1855, seems to have been the first for many years to live in the parish, (fn. 123) though by 1870 he was living at Moretonin-Marsh. In 1889 the incumbent, by then styled vicar, was also Rector of Todenham, and the vicar from 1903 lived at Blockley and later at Moreton-inMarsh. (fn. 124) From 1931 the incumbent of the united benefice lived at Todenham. In 1962 a service was held every Sunday at Lower Lemington. (fn. 125)
The Howard Warden Charity, founded by will proved in 1930, provided 96 stock for the upkeep of Lower Lemington church. (fn. 126)
The church of ST. LEONARD, a small rubble building, partly roughcast, with a Cotswold stone roof, comprises chancel, nave, south porch, north vestry, and a large bellcot over the chancel arch. The chancel arch is thought to be Saxon, (fn. 127) and the plan of the Saxon church, with some of its fabric, appears to have survived. The chancel arch, only 6 ft. high to the springing and 4 ft. wide, (fn. 128) has a small, rough squint on each side. The south doorway, with chevron-ornamented arch and scalloped capitals, and the small and plain north doorway were built in the 12th century. Two lancets with wide splays and semicircular rear-arches survive in the chancel, and another in the nave; other windows, much restored in the 19th century, were inserted in the 14th and 15th centuries. The roof of the nave is of the 15th or 16th century. A bequest in 1513 for the building of a tower (fn. 129) was never so used. The church was said to have been demolished in the Civil War: (fn. 130) although this was clearly an exaggeration, the chancel may have been damaged, for the rebuilding of its south windows, north wall, and roof could all date from the later 17th century. The vestry was built in the 19th century.
The large, tub-shaped, 12th-century font, similar to the one at Bledington, stood in the chancel in 1962, when it was not in use, and a chair made of timber from 15th-century benches stood in the chancel. A brass plate in the chancel commemorates Charles and Peter Grenville (d. 1636). There is one bell dated 1722. (fn. 131) The parish registers begin in 1685, and are virtually complete.
In 1647 four Roman Catholics were recorded at Lower Lemington, (fn. 132) and in 1676 there were said to be 14 Protestant nonconformists. (fn. 133) No subsequent evidence of nonconformity has been found until the 19th century when, in 1836, a private house was being used for worship by dissenters. (fn. 134) No other nonconformist place of worship is known to have existed in the parish.
Dr. William Juxon (d. 1663) gave 200 for the poor of the parish, which was producing 10 a year in 1704 when half the capital had been laid out in land. (fn. 135) The other 100 was misappropriated in the 18th century, and in 1761 it was recovered by the trustees and invested. In 1828 4 interest and 12 rent was distributed by the incumbent. (fn. 136) The land was sold in 1919, and in 1953 accumulated interest of 99 was distributed in coal. (fn. 137) Lower Lemington shares in Lord Redesdale's charity, founded in 1856 to encourage good conduct among the poor. (fn. 138)