A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3, Barlichway Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1945.
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The present Hundred of Barlichway comprises the earlier Hundreds of 'Fernecumbe' and 'Patelau', together with the parishes of Tanworth, Packwood, and Lapworth which, until 1833, (fn. 1) formed a detached part of Kington Hundred. Its boundaries on the west and south are the same as those of the county, on the north is the Hundred of Hemlingford, and on the east are the Hundreds of Knightlow and Kington.
The earliest known reference to the hundred under the name of Barlichway is in the year 1175. (fn. 2) At that time it appears to have been identical with the earlier Hundred of 'Fernecumbe', and the Hundred of 'Patelau' or Pathlow was still independent of it. Its name is derived from Barlichway Greve, where the hundred court held its meetings. This was described by Sir Simon Archer in 1640 (fn. 3) as 'a place about eight yards square inclosed with a hedge and ditch uppon the topp of a hill about the midway betweene Haselor and Binton beinge about a mile from eche of these townes, and about halfe a mile from Temple Grafton, and is (as it is said) in the very place where these three parishes point'. On earlier maps of the county Barlichway, as the name of a place, does not appear, and Archer wrote with regard to it 'there is noe such place now knowne as Barlichway', but on the 1-in. Ordnance Survey map published in 1831 it is shown near Temple Grafton, and the name exists in a corrupted form in 'Barley Leys Farm'. (fn. 4)
The jurisdiction of the court held at Barlichway Greve was over the eastern and central parts of the hundred; for the rest of the hundred, and particularly for that part of it which lay between the Arrow and the county boundary, another court was held at Bredon Cross. This cross is said by Archer to have been 'in the parish of Ipsley at the very confines thereof neere to Redditch in the parish of Terdebigg in the countie of Worcester', and the only part of it remaining in his time was 'a great stone which was the bottome thereof with a square hole in it where the shaft stood'. The exact situation of this cross is not known, but it was probably near Bredon Pool, shown on Henry Beighton's Map of Warwickshire Surveyed in the Years 1722, 1723, 1724, 1725. (fn. 5)
As far as is known Barlichway Hundred never passed out of the possession of the Crown, but in course of time the administrative duties performed by its court were taken over by other agencies. The court lived on, however, and in Archer's time, although no one attended it except its officers and it was, as he expressed it, 'almost lost', it still met at Barlichway Greve on the Wednesdays after Easter and Michaelmas, and at Bredon Cross three days later. The date when it finally ceased to meet has not been recorded.
In addition to these two courts for that part of Barlichway Hundred which corresponded to the Domesday Hundred of 'Fernecumbe' there was another court for the part of it corresponding to the Domesday Hundred of 'Patelau', where, at the time of the Domesday Survey, the largest landowner in this Hundred of 'Patelau' was the Bishop of Worcester, and the lordship of Pathlow Hundred was claimed by his successors. (fn. 6) In 1285 this claim of the bishops was contested by the Crown, (fn. 7) but it was then proved that the hundred had been held by them for time out of mind, and it remained in their possession until 1549. In that year it was granted by Nicholas Heath, the then bishop, to John Dudley, Earl of Warwick, in exchange for certain estates in Worcestershire, and on his attainder in 1554 it escheated to the Crown. It was next granted in 1561 by Queen Elizabeth to Ambrose Dudley, Earl of Warwick, on whose death without heirs in 1590 it again returned to the Crown and was granted by James I to Sir Francis Smyth of Wootton Wawen, in whose family it afterwards remained. (fn. 8)
Possibly because this hundred was almost continuously in private hands it retained a certain measure of independence long after it had become a part of Barlichway Hundred, and, as the Liberty of Pathlow, it had its own court as late as the middle of the 17th century. The townships which owed suit to this court were Alveston, Clopton, Fulbrook, Hatton, Luddington, Shottery, Ullenhall, Bishopton, Ruin Clifford, Henley-in-Arden, Loxley, Tiddington, Wilmcote parva, Bridgetown, Drayton, Hampton Lucy, Ingon, Old Stratford, Wootton Wawen, and Welcombe; and the boundaries of the liberty are shown on the map of Barlichway Hundred in the 1656 edition of Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, and on the map of Warwickshire in Richard Blome's Britannia published in 1673.
The meeting-place of the liberty was probably the same as the meetingplace of the hundred in Domesday times. Archer describes it as being 'in a lanes end, uppon the topp of a hill neere a gate entringe into grounds in the parish of Snitterfield, without which gate in the lane's end three townshipps point, viz. Snitterfield, Aston Cantloe, and Bishopton in the parish of Ould Stratford. And by all probability the place where the Court hath ben usually kept is neere that very point (if it cann be certainly knowne). Butt now the very place is uncertaine, and noe constant place kept, for the lane is a broade lane with quicksett hedges on ech side, and a quicksett hedge crossinge the upper end through which the gate goeth. And the Court is kept alwayes within lesse than a stone's cast of the gate, sometime under one hedge and sometime under another, according as the wind and the weather falleth outt, there beinge a little pitt on the one side of the lane which is good shelter sometimes, but noe banck like a wyndmill banck, butt the ground by nature riseth suddenly about that place, the highway beinge a litle hollowe and greene bancks on both sides.'
From this detailed description it is possible to identify the meeting-place of the liberty as being near Gospel Oak (fn. 9) in the lane leading to Snitterfield from the Stratford-Henley road.
When Archer wrote in 1640 a court was still held at Pathlow, at the place he describes, at Easter and at Michaelmas, but many of the townships within the liberty no longer sent representatives to it. The lord of the liberty at that time was Sir Charles Smyth of Wootton Wawen, who derived little benefit from its possession, for, as Archer remarks, 'the tennements are almost all lost for want of dilligent looking after, houlding in soccage by suit of Court only, and soe yeeld noe profitt to the Lord'; at assizes and sessions the liberty was no longer represented by its own bailiff but by the bailiff of Barlichway Hundred; and as an independent liberty within the Hundred of Barlichway, Pathlow not long afterwards ceased to exist.