A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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Population: 1911, 56; 1921, 66; 1931, 72.
The parish of Oldberrow (fn. 1) was part of Worcestershire (fn. 2) until 1896, when it was transferred to Warwickshire, into which county it penetrated, between Morton Bagot and Ullenhall, as a narrow strip some 3 miles long by about ½ mile wide. The land slopes from 513 ft. at Oldberrow Hill in the north-west to about 275 ft. in the south-east. There is no village, but the church, rectory, and the Court lie at the crossing of four small roads.
Oldberrow Court is a timber-framed building facing approximately south. This front has a main block running east and west between two projecting gabled cross-wings. The east wing is of c. 1540: the upper story has close-set studding, also the lower story on the south front. The north and south gable-heads have herring-bone framing. The other framing in the lower story has wider panels. Projecting from the east side is a stone-built chimney-stack with a plinth: it is gathered in at the sides to a rectangular shaft of thin bricks. The front of the main block is of 17th-century square framing, and continued northward from it is a wing of the same span and of similar framing containing the kitchen, &c. The north end is gabled and has a projecting chimney-stack of brickwork with a wide fire-place and oven: it is gathered in above to a detached rectangular shaft. The main block also has a wide fireplace, of which the lintel has trefoiled round-headed panels carved on the face, and above is early-17thcentury panelling. The lower rooms have stop-chamfered beams and joists. The west cross-wing is entirely modern. At the north-west corner of the kitchen-wing is a small detached out-building of two stories also of square framing. Around the house are the remains of a rectangular moat; the north and west arms of it still contain water. To the south-west beyond the moat is a timber-framed barn partly weather-boarded.
Bishop's Farm, about ¼ mile south of the church, is mostly of red brick but shows some 17th-century framing in twin gable-heads on the north front and has a central chimney-stack of thin bricks of the same period. Spring Farm, close by, has its framing replaced by brickwork, but a back wing has a 17th-century chimney-stack, and some of the farm buildings are of framing.
In 1253 Henry III granted to Adam Dispenser a weekly market on Wednesday at his manor of Oldberrow, and a fair on the eve, feast, and morrow of St. John the Evangelist. (fn. 3)
In 709 Kenred of Mercia gave to Bishop Egwin 12 acres in Oldberrow for the endowment of the new monastery of Evesham. (fn. 4) In 1086 the Abbey of Evesham still held an estate here consisting of 12 acres, with a league (lewede) of woodland, where were 2 swine-herds. (fn. 5) This points to its being mainly swine-pasture at this date. Robert of Jumièges, Abbot of Evesham 1104–22, gave OLDBERROW to Simon Dispenser (fn. 6) without the consent of his chapter, who vainly tried to recover it. It was held by his descendants for about 200 years, until in 1311 Aumary Dispenser gave, or sold, the manor back to Evesham, who retained it until the Dissolution. In 1542 Henry VIII gave the manor to Sir Edmund Knightley (Northants.), who died a few months later, when it passed to his brother Sir Valentine. In this family it remained until the death of Essex Knightley in 1670. His only child Anne married Thomas Foley (created Baron Foley of Kidderminster in 1711), and they were dealing with the manor in 1694, after which its descent is obscure. In 1716 it was in the hands of Richard Hilton and Mary his wife, who then conveyed it to Robert Fulwood. He seems to have sold it in 1741–2, when a Mr. Parrot of Coventry is said to have bought the manor-house and 257 acres of demesnes. In 1776 Mary widow of Gery Packwood settled the manor on her son Charles Porter Packwood and he apparently sold the estate to the trustees of the late Earl of Catherlough for the use of his illegitimate son Robert Knight, after which it descended with the estate of Barrells in Ullenhall (q.v.).
The parish church of ST. MARY is a plain rectangular building about 51 ft. by 13½ ft. Of this a screen divides the chancel, 17 ft., from the nave. The church was practically rebuilt in 1875, but old features preserved include a re-set window and a pillar-piscina of the 12th century and other windows of the 13th century and later. North of the chancel is a small modern recess for an organ; the south porch and main roof with a west bellcote of timber are also modern.
The east window is of three trefoiled pointed lights and interlacing tracery in a two-centred head, of about 1400. North of the chancel is a tiny 13th-century light set low in the wall. On the south side is a single trefoiled pointed light with soffit cusps of the 13th century. West of it is a small round-headed light of the 12th century. East of the former is a medieval locker with rebates for the door. The pillar-piscina, set in the south-east angle, has a round shaft with a cushion capital containing the square basin.
The eastern of the two north windows of the nave is of the 14th century, an ogee trefoiled light with segmental-pointed head and sunk spandrels, all roughly worked. The other near the west end is a modern ogee-headed light. Between them is a blocked doorway of the 15th century; it has a lintel of one stone cut with a four-centred arch and treated with panels on the face above.
In the south wall is a modern two-light window with a square head and, farther west, the south doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head (in two stones), of the 13th or 14th century. In the west wall is a modern window of two lights.
The font appears to have had a cup-shaped bowl, now cut to an octagon, with incised foliage ornament; the stem is of quatrefoil plan and the whole is probably of the 13th century. A 17th-century chest has a panelled front with a fluted top-rail and a panelled lid.
There are three bells, the treble being uninscribed, but of the ancient long-waisted shape, possibly 13th century. The second and tenor are by John Martin of Worcester, 1662 and 1674. (fn. 7)
The communion plate includes a cup of 1787 with a bell-shaped bowl. The registers begin in 1649.
There was a chapel at Oldberrow in the first half of the 12th century, to which Simon Dispenser had the right of presentation. In about 1150 Bishop Simon of Worcester consecrated a cemetery there for the parishioners, but the monks of Conches claimed that the burial rights belonged to their church of Wootton Wawen, and the Abbey of Evesham said that it was on their fee. The bishop ordered that the rector of the chapel should pay 2s. yearly to the church of Wootton. (fn. 8) In 1291 the rectory was valued at £4 6s. 8d., (fn. 9) and in 1535 at £4. (fn. 10) The advowson descended with the manor until 1705, when it is said to have been sold by the Foleys to William Holyoake. In 1761 John Holyoake sold it to the Rev. John Peshall of Guildford, in whose family it has remained. (fn. 11) Since 1904 the living has been annexed to Morton Bagot, the present patron being the Rev. C. J. E. Peshall.
Edmund Court, before 1780, conveyed to trustees for the use of the poor of Oldberrow certain property in Henley-in-Arden. The land now produces about £5 yearly, which is given to poor persons, chiefly widows.
Francis Court and Richard Freeman each left rentcharges of 5s. yearly to the poor, and these are distributed with the other charity.