A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 4, Hemlingford Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1947.
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Population: 1911, 198; 1921, 207; 1931, 176.
The parish lies to the east of the River Blythe, about a third of its area being occupied by Packington Park (fn. 1) with its fine oak woods and three Pools, or lakes, and herd of deer, which in 1936 numbered 300. (fn. 2) The country is undulating, rising from about 260 ft. on the west to a little over 500 ft. on the eastern boundary. There is no village, and the church stands by itself in the Park about midway between the Old Hall and Packington Hall, the seat of the Earl of Aylesford.
Packington Hall has an inscription in the lead roof: 'This house was built by Sir Clement Fisher Bart. in the year 1693 and was cased with stone and enlarged by his grandson Heneage Earl of Aylesford in the year 1772. Henry Couchman, Surveyor of the work.' The original house was of brick, but except for a chimneystack or two in the middle of the house it is lost in the later enlargements. The house, built about a central courtyard, is of three stories, the lowest of rusticated ashlar in cream-white sandstone, the upper stories of plain ashlar with an entablature, dentilled cornice and panels with swags at the top. The east and west fronts have slightly projecting middle and end bays. The middle entrance, in the east front, has Ionic shafts supporting a pediment, and the upper stories of the bay are faced with Ionic pilasters also carrying a pediment.
The northern of the two main staircases is of late17th-century detail from the first to the second floor, with twisted balusters, &c. The other has an iron balustrade. Several of the main rooms have painted ceilings, others late-18th-century plaster enrichments.
The 18th-century stables, &c., north of the house incorporate some late-17th-century material, some of the windows having oak mullions and transoms. The east front, in line with that of the main house, is of 18thcentury stone work with a recessed middle portico with Doric columns.
The Old Hall, ¾ mile north-east of the Hall, is built of brickwork of 1679, but probably incorporates a much earlier house of timber-framing, the walls being encased or rebuilt by Sir Clement Fisher (whose nephew built the larger Hall). The attics (third story) were made more commodious by the provision of large dormer windows of brick with stone entablatures, probably c. 1700.
The plan is rectangular facing approximately south, inclosing two parallel gabled ranges of rooms, north and south, the latter with the central chimney-stack of the original house. In front is a porch-wing, a little west of the middle. The walls are of red brick, in Flemish bond, with rusticated angle-dressings also of brick; the plinths are of red sandstone to the main walls. At the first-floor level are partly moulded stringcourses, of bricks except at the angles.
The porch has, between panelled brick pilasters, an oak-framed entrance with a flat arch, moulded keystone, and stone cornice and pediment. The second story resembles the main walls. The third, which is of the date of the dormers, has brick pilasters at the angles with Ionic stone capitals carrying an entablature like the others and a curved pediment: in the brick tympanum is a raised stone panel, now plain. The north and east doorways have old oak frames. Between the gables on the east and west sides are rather ornate rain-water heads both bearing the inscriptions f/CI 1679. The eastern has filigree enrichment, the west two little human figures. The back has three large dormers, the outer two surmounted by 18th-century panelled chimney-shafts. The original central chimney-stack is square with small square pilasters.
The entrance opens direct into the hall—the southwest chamber. This has a stone-flagged floor and, in the central chimney-stack, a stone fire-place with moulded jambs and a four-centred arch with a keyblock. The chimney-stack is 9 ft. thick. On the east side it has a 10-ft. fire-place with moulded stone jambs and a stop-moulded oak bressummer with cuttings where the former jack was fixed. At the back of it is a circular oven. In the framed back partition of this room is a fine ancient oak door hung with ornamental strap hinges with fleur de lis ends; it was probably the original front door reset here. The ceiling-beams are encased.
The small north-west chamber has an angle fireplace with a late-17th-century moulded and eared architrave. The plastered ceiling has a moulded dentilled cornice. The contemporary staircase next east of it has panelled newels with moulded heads and twisted balusters. The cellars below this part of the house have ancient stone walls with lamp-recesses, and framed partitions.
The rooms in the upper story are lofty. The central chimney-stack has late-17th-century fire-places. The plastered ceiling of the large room over the hall, with a coved cornice enriched with swags, &c., is dated 1680 and has a double monogram CF, and a shield with the Fisher arms and crest. The dressing-room over the porch has a plastered ceiling with a circle-rib of bay leaves and oak leaf and oak apple (fn. 3) ornament in the spandrels. The back rooms have ancient framed partitions, and oak doors with ornamented strap hinges and wood latches, &c.
There are (or were) walled courtyards north, west, and east of the house. The small west court retains its south and west brick walls, in which are small oval piercings of stone with key-blocks. The larger north courtyard has at the north-west corner a large pigeon house of brick with gables and tiled roof with an open lantern. Its west wall was rebuilt in the 18th century and provided with a 15-ft. archway for carts: this has since been walled up again and given a doorway with a reused ancient frame and panelled door. The three other walls inside retain the nests, of brick, of which there are over a thousand; the roof has heavy tie-beams, &c., and straight wind-braces. The east court has only the south wall standing, at the east end of which is a stone ball-head. At the north-east angle of the house is a one-storied modern addition (the kitchen, &c.). South-west of the house is a detached venison-house of the 18th century with blocked round-headed openings and a wide doorway; the pyramidal roof is tiled. Whether the house was moated or not is uncertain, but there is a long narrow pond east of it with a narrow dry ditch turning northward at its east end.
On the stream running out of the Hall Pool into the Blythe is Packington Mill. There were two mills in the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey; (fn. 4) three are mentioned in 1291; (fn. 5) four in 1568 (fn. 6) and 1666; (fn. 7) and two in 1684. (fn. 8)
Mill Farm, about ½ mile south-west of the Hall, is a late-17th-century red brick house with brick pilasters in the south front and tall segmental-headed windows.
A thatched cottage on the east edge of the park, ½ mile east of the church, is mostly of brick but retains late-16th-century story-posts and curved braces to the eaves.
The manor of PACKINGTON was held in the time of Edward the Confessor by Alward as 4 hides, and in 1086 by Turchil of Warwick, who let it to his brother Godmund. (fn. 9) Either Turchil or his son Siward granted it to Geoffrey de Clinton, who gave it to the Priory of Kenilworth. (fn. 10) This grant was confirmed by Hugh and Henry de Arden, sons of Siward, and by King Stephen, under whom it was assessed at half a knight's fee. (fn. 11) In 1267 the prior held one knight's fee in Packington of William Maudit, Earl of Warwick. (fn. 12) The value in 1291 was £11 16s. including three mills valued at £2. (fn. 13) In the same year a grant of free warren was made to the prior; (fn. 14) this was confirmed in 1394, (fn. 15) and the priory retained possession of the manor until the Dissolution. The Earl of Warwick is again mentioned as overlord in 1315 (fn. 16) and 1400, (fn. 17) the assessment being half a knight's fee in the latter year. In 1535 the value was £35 18 s . 8d. in lands and tenements, and 13s. 4d. from other sources. (fn. 18) Shortly before the Dissolution the canons demised the manor of PACKINGTON PRIORS to William Wheeler. (fn. 19) After the surrender to the Crown this demise was continued, and William was succeeded by his son Simon. (fn. 20) The reversion was granted to John Fisher, the manor to be held in chief, on 20 September 1544. (fn. 21) On the death of Simon Wheeler his widow married John Fisher, and the latter then settled at Packington. (fn. 22) He died on 8 March 1571, and his son Clement succeeded. (fn. 23) In 1617 Sir Clement received a grant of free warren in his manors here and at Bickenhill. (fn. 24) He died on 23 October 1619, and was succeeded by his son Sir Robert, (fn. 25) but his widow, Mary, continued to live at the Manor House, with her daughter Anne Dilke, and in 1621 Sir Robert charged them with wasting timber on the estate. (fn. 26) In 1640 a second Sir Clement Fisher son of Sir Robert held the manor. (fn. 27) He died without issue and was succeeded by a third Sir Clement, his nephew (fn. 28), who was succeeded in 1729 by his only daughter, Mary, Countess of Aylesford, (fn. 29) and the Earls of Aylesford have since held the manor.
Two virgates of land in this parish, one granted by Cecily de Limesi and the other by Robert de Somerville, were confirmed to Polesworth Abbey in 1398. (fn. 30) They were still in the same possession in 1535, when their annual value was 8s. (fn. 31)
The church of ST. JAMES, in the Park, was built in 1789 from designs by Joseph Bonomi based on that of a church near Rome. It is of symmetrical plan with a square nave having recessed quasi-aisles between four square corner chambers, the east recess being the sanctuary. The walls are of red brick with stone plinths, large moulded cornices with console brackets, and middle pediments. Over the angles are stumpy square turrets of stone with panelled faces, moulded bases and cornices, small halfround panelled pediments, and leaded domes with finials and weather-vanes. The middle parts are lighted by large lunettes (the eastern blocked) and the side chambers by two smaller lunettes, one over the other, the upper unglazed. The west doorway has a stone architrave and a cornice supported by consoles. Except for the doorway the four elevations are alike. In the east side is a doorway to the crypt, which is lighted by small lights in the plinth: by the doorway is cut a consecration cross.
In each angle of the nave is a fluted column supporting a groined vault. These are of red sandstone, the remainder being of cream-white stone. Round-headed archways open from the aisles to the angle chambers. The altar-piece is of marble with Corinthian shafts, entablature, and pediment. It incloses a painting of the monogram IHS in glory worshipped by angels. The balustraded altar rails are also of marble. In the north aisle, which is railed off by an oak balustrade, is a small organ said to have been used by Handel and brought from Gopsal. The round font in the south-west chamber is moulded. There is one bell of 1808 in the northwest turret recast from a former set of three. Also a sanctus bell inscribed AVE MARIE GRATIA PLENA S.I.D., probably of c. 1480 by a Worcester founder. (fn. 32)
At the west end is a slab with the indent of the brass figure of a priest and four roundels. (fn. 33) The inscription is preserved and reads: 'Hic jacet dns Johēs Wryght qndā Vicarius istius ecclie q[ui] obijt viiio die mēs marcii anno d[omin]i MCCCCCXXVII cu's ā ī ē ppiciet' ds.'
There are also two badly damaged effigies, of plaster on wood framework, of an Elizabethan man and woman. The man, bearded, wears a ruff and full armour; the woman has a flat cap, ruff, stomacher, farthingale, and cloak. Their hands in prayer are broken away, but one of the lady's hands lies loose. These are part of a large two-tiered monument to John Fisher (1570) and Katherine (Digby) his wife, and Sir Clement his son and Mary (Repington) his wife. (fn. 34) A brass tablet is to Ann daughter of John Chisenhall, Vicar of Barking, Essex, 1746; and there are other grave slabs.
The registers begin in 1538, but are very defective.
The church was apparently given with the manor to the Priory of Kenilworth, and was appropriated to the priory in 1278. (fn. 35) In 1291 it was valued at £3 6s. 8d.; (fn. 36) by 1535 the vicarage was worth £7 10s. 1d. (fn. 37) and the rectory was leased for £2 13 s . 4d. (fn. 38) In 1544 it was granted with the manor to John Fisher, (fn. 39) and they have ever since descended together. The living was united with that of Little Packington on 1 August 1860. (fn. 40)
Poor's Money. The endowment of this charity originally consisted of several ancient gifts from the Fisher family and others amounting to £112. 10s., which sum was improved by Sir Clement Fisher to £160 and was further increased by the Earl of Aylesford to £225. This amount was invested and the interest applied in the purchase of linen and blankets for the poor.
William Wotton gave £5 to the poor of Great Packington, the interest to be distributed in bread.
William Burbidge, who died in 1803, left £10 to be added to Wotton's £5.
The Communion Charity. By a declaration of trust dated 15 October 1862 the Rev. George Barrington Legge gave £100 (representing collections made at Holy Communion in the parish), the interest to be distributed in food, fuel, or clothing among the poor of the parish.
The above-mentioned charities are administered by the vicar and churchwardens, and the income amounting to £10 11s. 4d. annually is applied in accordance with the trusts.
Frank Watkins Blackwell by will proved 22 January, 1931 bequeathed to the Parochial Church Council of Great Packington £250, the interest to be applied towards the upkeep of the churchyard. The income amounts to £12 7s. annually.
Church Lands. The rents of the following premises amounting to about £20 per annum are received by the churchwardens and applied towards the repairs and expenses of the parish church.
(1) Land containing 6½ acres or thereabouts at Burton Hastings. The Ashby Canal passes through the land, in respect of which compensation is paid.
(2) Land at Fillongley containing ½ acre, (fn. 41) and ⅓ of the rent of Lapworth's Osier Grove (see Meriden).