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, 10,282; 1921, 11,552; 1931, 8,723.
The large parish of Solihull consists of a main block some 5 miles wide from east to west and between 3 and 4 miles from north to south, of undulating country mostly about 400 ft. in elevation, with a ridge of higher ground, from 500 to 550 ft., averaging 1 mile in breadth, running for 4 miles south-west, bounded on the west by Worcestershire and on the east by the parish of Tanworth. This strip is continued to the north-east at a lower level, falling to c. 340 ft., by the district of Olton, including Lyndon and Kineton Green. This was a detached portion of the parish of Bickenhill, but was joined to Solihull for civil purposes in 1874 and constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1907. Olton has become practically a suburb of Birmingham, and adjustments have been made in the boundaries of Solihull and the neighbouring parishes.
The road system is dominated by two main roads to Birmingham running roughly parallel across the parish from south-east to north-west. The northern of these comes from Warwick through Knowle and a southern loop of it constitutes the High Street in the town of Solihull; the southern, coming from Stratford by Henley-in-Arden, is Shirley Street, along and around which has grown up in recent years the town of Shirley, a separate ecclesiastical parish since 1893 with a church of St. James erected in 1831 and enlarged in 1882. Between and on either side of these two roads was a bewildering tangle of roads, lanes, and tracks, of which no fewer than seventy were abolished by inclosure during the 19th century, (fn. 1) while others have been laid out in the course of the urbanization of the parish.
The town of Solihull lies in the centre of the main block of the parish on, and to the south of, the Warwick road. Slightly to the north-west, near the moated site of Solihull Hall, is Solihull station on the Great Western Railway from Warwick; there is another station at Olton, where the line, the road, and the Birmingham-Warwick Canal almost coincide, just north of Olton Reservoir, which feeds the canal. West of the reservoir in Kineton Green many houses have been built in recent years round the road running south from St. Margaret's Church, Olton (begun in 1880 and completed in 1896), to the Capuchin Franciscan Friary which since 1888 has replaced St. Bernard's Seminary, opened in 1873.
From Solihull a road runs north over Lode Heath (Leewode Heath in the 14th century) (fn. 2) past Olton Mill and the site of Kingsford to Olton Hall and the earth-work known as Hob's Moat, (fn. 3) the site of a former castle, and shortly after passing Tan House Farm joins the Coventry-Birmingham road, which runs through Lyndon End. East of Solihull a road leads past Berry Hall to Catherine de Barnes Heath, which is supposed to derive its name from Ketelbern who founded Henwood Priory, lying 1½ miles to the south. A mile south-west of the site of the priory is Longdon Manor House and 1½ miles beyond it is Widney Manor, a little east of which is Bentley Farm; all three are among the twenty moated sites in the parish, all of which lie on the edge of what was once common land, and therefore probably mark individual inclosures or assarts. (fn. 4)
West of Shirley is Haseluck's Green, between which and Whitlock's End (a name dating back to the 13th century) the Stratford-on-Avon Canal crosses the south-western extension of the parish. To the west of the canal is Berry Mound, the remains of a strongly fortified oval camp, 11 acres in extent. (fn. 5) In the extreme south of this limb of the parish a branch of the Great Western Railway crosses it a little above Forshaw Farm, which lies on the Portway from Alcester.
An Inclosure Act affecting land in Solihull and Hampton-in-Arden was passed in 1813, and another affecting 300 acres in this parish in 1819. (fn. 6) There was also an Inclosure Award made in 1843. (fn. 7)
The High Street is a comparatively short one running north-westwards from the church and contains several ancient buildings, of which the following are most noteworthy.
The George Hotel, north of the churchyard, is 16th-century or earlier, but has been much altered, especially in the south front, which is plastered and has three gables. Original timber-framing exists in the back part of the main block, and in the upper rooms are open timbered ceilings with moulded beams. The central chimney-stack has a composite shaft of staggered faces in thin bricks. A parallel lower wing behind and another detached building are also of framing.
At the corner of Drury Lane (fn. 8) is a 15th-century building, altered in the late 16th century and refronted with brickwork in the 18th century. This front, of two stories, has four gabled bays. The second bay from the west although gabled in front is ridged the other way and is open from ground floor to roof. It is a part of the original one-storied hall and retains two original roof trusses, 12 ft. apart. The eastern has a moulded cambered tie-beam, 9½ ft. high, supported by curved braces to form an arch and carrying curved struts below the collar-beam; the western tie-beam is stop-chamfered and the curved braces are plainer. The purlins are supported by curved wind-braces. The other bays are cross-gabled; they show some ancient framing and plain beams and have curved wind-braces in the roof. An inserted chimney-stack has a wide fire-place.
Nos. 43, 45, and 47, at the west corner of Mill Lane, formerly the George and Dragon Inn, dates from the 15th century. A sketch (fn. 9) of 1856 represents it as a two-storied building, with walls completely of close-set studding, the east end gabled, and with a small gabled bay in the middle of the south front. The jettied upper story was underbuilt in 1878. It now presents little of the original work, but above No. 43 (the westernmost) some of the close-studding is exposed. Above No. 45 is the small projecting gable-head, which has a cambered bressummer carved with trefoils, and the shop itself has an original ceiling with moulded timbers.
On the south side of the street the Malt Shovel Inn (No. 64) retains some 17th-century framing and ceiling-beams and a square chimney-stack of thin bricks, but is otherwise modernized. The front is covered with rough-cast cement.
The house Nos. 60 and 62 is of 17th-century or earlier date; it is plastered in front above the modern shops and has a small gable between two larger gables. A central chimney-stack has four diagonal shafts of thin bricks.
No. 58, known locally but erroneously as the Manor House, (fn. 10) is a late-15th-century building with later alterations. The lower story of the north front is of 18th-century whitened brick; the upper is of close-set studding with a gabled bay, originally jettied, at each end of the front; the northern has a moulded sill above the exposed ends of the floor joists and a projecting gable-head with a moulded bressummer. Between the bays is an Elizabethan gabled oriel window of similar framing with coving below the moulded sill. The window, originally of seven lights with a transom, is now reduced to three lights. Between this and the eastern main gable is a small bay of greater projection, evidently the upper story of a former porch. It has a projecting gable-head with shaped brackets and pendants at the base. All the upper windows have leaded glazing. The main block, with a higher ridge than those of the wings, has a square central chimney-stack.
The house Nos. 48 and 50 has some close-set timbering in the north front above modern shop-fronts; it bears the date 1571 in modern figures. The lower rooms (shops) have open-timbered ceilings, and framing shows in the walls of the upper story.
Several other buildings on this side are probably much older than their present fronts. The house now Nos. 30, 32, and 34 has a 17th-century chimney-stack with two diagonal shafts at the east end. No. 20 is a brick-fronted cottage showing 17th-century timber-framing in both gable-ends.
On the west side of Mill Lane, which connects High Street and Warwick Road, is a late-16th-century house now divided into tenements. The plan is L-shaped, and the north wing, projecting towards the road, has square framing with large curved braces below the tie-beam of the gable-head. Another smaller gabled projection may have been a porch-wing; it is now flanked by low additions of the same depth.
Touchwood Hall at the north end of Drury Lane, which runs parallel with, and east of, Mill Lane, is an 18th-century house of red brick with a moulded and bracketed cornice and pediment. The site is an older one and has a garden wall of 17th-century brickwork; it had formerly a moat (fn. 11) and lay on the edge of Teinter's Green (mentioned in 1332). (fn. 12)
The old Grammar School, (fn. 13) at the corner of New Road and Park Road, is a building of mid-18th-century red brick with some of the original sash-windows.
Some half-a-dozen other small houses near the village show remains of 17th-century framing.
Solihull Hall is the remains of a mid-to late-14th-century house, with alterations of the 16th century and later. It had a great hall of four bays, about 38½ ft. by 25 ft., facing south-east (called south for this description) with the usual cross wing at each end. The east or solar wing has disappeared. The hall had three 10-ft. bays and a westernmost bay of 7½ ft. that formed the screens. The roof construction is partly hidden by later ceilings, but enough of the trusses remains visible to confirm the accuracy of the drawings published in 1891 by Mr. J. Cossins, who examined the spaces above the ceilings. (fn. 14) The screens-truss has intermediate storyposts carrying a pointed arch below a collar-beam; the speres, between these posts and the outer walls, are (or were) spanned by horizontal rails at the wall-plate and lower levels. The second truss from the west has a wider pointed arch springing from story-posts in the outer walls and therefore without speres: this truss is close against the west face of the chimney-stack inserted in the 16th century. The third truss is a lighter one with a shallow arch springing from the wall-plates.
In the west wing are trusses with tie-beams with curved braces below them, and wind-braces to the purlins.
Externally the south gabled end and the west side of the wing are covered with plaster, but most of the remainder shows close-set studding to the upper story and gable-heads. The easternmost bay of the south front of the main block has been altered to square framing. There are remains of the heads of four original windows to the hall close under the eaves, but the present windows are modern. The east gable of this block, once the internal partition between the hall and former east wing, has curved braces below the tie-beam. Except for story-posts the lower story is of brickwork. There are remains of the original pointed north doorway to the screens-passage. In the angle of the main block with the west wing is a small gabled wing with close framing, added probably a little later to form a porch for the south entrance to the screens, but now closed in to form a chamber. (fn. 15)
The central chimney-stack, inserted in the hall with the floors, partitions, &c., in the 16th century, has a wide fire-place and above the roof the shaft is of X-shaped plan in thin bricks. Another projecting from the west side of the wing is of stone and probably earlier; the sides are gathered in at the eaves-level to carry a rebated shaft of thin bricks. Its lower fire-place has been altered, but in the upper story is one of c. 1500 of moulded stone enriched with carved foliage paterae. The roofs are tiled. A former moat has been filled in.
Malvern Hall, now a girls' school, 3/8 mile east of the church, is a mid-18th-century stone mansion of two stories. It had a third story that was removed in the 19th century. The north front has a middle projecting block with a pediment and balustraded parapets. The curved middle portico with Ionic columns was added in 1811. The gate-posts to the forecourt are painted with the arms of Lewis, Greswolde, and Tollemache.
Malvern Park Farm, formerly Witley or Whiteley, ½ mile south of the church, is a late-16th-century house. The plan was originally L-shaped, but the angle of the L has been filled in with a modern wing of brick. The upper story of the north elevation is of close-set studding; above the eaves are three large gabled dormers of later square framing. The lower story is of brick, but the entrance preserves the original nail-studded door hung with ornamental strap-hinges. Some framing is also exposed in the kitchen-wing. The interior has been much modernized; some stop-chamfered ceiling-beams are exposed and the roofs have wind-braced purlins.
Ravenshaw, close to a ford across the River Blythe, preserves the form of a complete early-15th-century house with a great hall of two 13½-ft. bays, and solar and buttery wings making an L-shaped plan. Internal alterations have caused the partial destruction of the original roof-trusses: these were of the usual construction with braced tie-beams, &c. The ordinary ceiling-beams are chamfered, and the main block has a wide fire-place at the south end. By this, in the east front, is a projecting square bay with close-set studding to the upper story and gable-head. The lower story and the side walls of the main block are of later red brick, except for a post or two. The entrance doorway at the north end of the east front has a moulded oak frame and nail-studded door hung with ornamental straphinges. The north wing, of three bays and with higher eaves than the main block, has much original close-set studding and retains an original five-light window in the east end. The central chimney-stack, inserted in the 16th century, has three conjoined diagonal shafts. There are remains of a moat to the north (wet) and west (dry) of the house, and to the south-east is a large five-bay barn of timber-framing.
Bogay Hall Farm, 15/8 miles east of the church, dates from c. 1500. The main part was probably the wing of a larger building of hall-place type; it is of close-set studding. The east end had a jettied upper story on curved brackets and projecting gable-head, but all below the last has been built out with a modern brick face. The original roof-framing remains with a braced tie-beam, queen-posts, and purlins with curved windbraces. The projecting chimney-stack on the north side is dated 1883. The part extending south is either a modern addition or part of the old main block completely modernized.
Henwood Hall, on the site of the priory, was pulled down in 1824, but a small modern farm-house near-by has a number of stones from the nunnery built into the garden walls. These include voussoirs of moulded ribs of a 13th-century vault, moulded voussoirs of arches, four or more small moulded capitals, a gabled head of a pinnacle with crockets and finial, and the headless image of a Virgin and Child, all of the same period and in red sandstone. Much of the oak panelling was removed to the Rectory and Olton Hall. (fn. 16) Several lines of low banks and depressions in the fields east of the farm probably indicate the actual conventual site.
Dove House Farm, near Olton, 1½ miles north of the church, dates from c. 1500. The plan is L-shaped. The main block, about 30 ft. long, faces south: it represents the hall-place of a medieval house, but it is not clear whether it was originally of one story or of two, as now. A fire that occurred about sixty years ago caused much damage. The front is of brickwork and the roof has been altered to heighten the eaves, but the back slope of the roof is original and retains two wind-braces to the purlin, curved as halves of four-centred arches. The upper part of the gabled east end has rectangular framing and a tie-beam, supported by curved braces, queen-posts, &c. This was probably an internal partition between the main block and a former east wing. The back wall has close-set studding. The existing west wing extends northwards, the northern half being a late-16th-century addition. The gabled south end is of close-set studding; the lower story has angle-posts with small pilasters and curved brackets; the upper is jettied. The gable-head is rebuilt with brickwork. The windows of both stories were flanked by small wing-lights, now blocked. On the west side is another original gable of similar framing and south of it a late-16th-century projecting chimney-stack of brick carrying two shafts with a V-shaped pilaster on each face. The lower room has a moulded ceiling-beam, but the upper story has an altered (late-16th-century) roof with straight wind-braces to the purlins. The later north extension, of square framing, has a gable on each of its two sides as well as at the north end. The lower ceiling has beams with wide chamfers like that in the main block. Adjoining the north-east corner of the wing and parallel with the main block is an outbuilding of 17th-century timber-framing. No traces of a dove-house remain.
Berry Hall, about 1 mile east of the church, is a modern building, but the Old Hall, the seat of the Waring family between at least 1505 and 1671, (fn. 17) is a building of the second half of the 15th century, much reduced in size. (fn. 18) The plan is of a modified T-shape, with about two-thirds of the original main block forming the stem, and a west cross-wing. There are no traces of the usual one-storied great hall, and it is probable that the house never had one. The remains of the main block, facing south, are mostly rebuilt or refaced with later brickwork and plaster, except the east gable-head, which shows some framing. On the south front of it is a projecting bay underbuilt with brickwork, the upper story of close-set studding and having a projecting gable-head with a moulded bressummer on curved brackets. Next east of it is a modern low timber porch with two curved brackets inserted under its front gable, each carved with a rebus (fn. 19) and the words 'Ihs amor est meus'.
On the north side is a 16th-century projecting chimney-stack of bricks gathered in at the sides above the eaves-level with crow-stepping. Between it and the west wing is a small gabled staircase wing of closeset studding.
The west wing has close-set studding and an original upper window of four lights; a lower window of two lights is blocked. At each end is a small projecting gabled bay of similar framing to both stories; the northern has a small peep-hole in the south side of the upper story. The gabled south end has been underbuilt with brickwork and a bay window; the projecting gable-head has a moulded bressummer carved with a series of trefoiled arches. The north end has plainer upper framing and has tiled weather-courses at the first-floor level and base of the gable-head. The central chimney-stack of rebated type has been rebuilt.
The interior has mid- to late-15th-century moulded ceiling-beams to both the wing and the west half of the main block in the lower story. They have carved bosses in the middle, one in the latter having the heads of a king and queen in foliage. The upper story has cambered tie-beams with curved braces in both parts, and purlins with curved wind-braces. The middle room of the three on the ground floor of the wing is lined with late-16th-century panelling; the central chimneystack between it and the northern room has a wide fire-place towards the latter with a late-15th-century moulded and embattled oak bressummer. The upper floor has a similar fire-place; the north room has early-17th-century wall panelling and an overmantel of three bays. The Elizabethan staircase has shaped flat silhouette balusters and a plain handrail.
Much of the large moat round the site survives, with running water, and there are extensions to the south—the flow of the stream—which may have inclosed the farm-buildings. Of these two timber-framed barns remain.
Hillfield Hall, ¾ mile south of the church, was built in 1576, but little more than the west front is ancient, as the building was partly destroyed by fire in 1867. The front, of red brickwork with diaper patterns in blue bricks, is built after the style of a medieval gate-house. The main wall is of three stories between two semi-octagonal turrets with embattled parapets. The lower two stories have each a stone window of three lights with transom and dripstone. Above the eaves is a flush dormer with a crow-stepped gable and corbelled finial; its window is a later one of brick. The north turret has a four-centred stone doorway above which is an inscription:—H/WV 1576. (fn. 20) HIC HOSPITES IN COELO CIVES. The first floor has a small stone window of two lights, the second a later brick window. The other turret contains a stair-vice lighted by loops.
Besides the buildings already described there are about a score of others in various parts of the parish dating from the 17th century or earlier.
Shelley Farm, 1½ miles south of the church, is a late-16th-century house of which the upper story is of close-set studding. The original plan was rectangular with a small wing at the north end of the west front. The central chimney-stack has a wide fire-place, the lower rooms have open-timbered ceilings with chamfered beams, and the tiled roof has trusses with braced tie-beams and sloping posts below the collar-beams, &c. The lower story is of 18th-century brickwork, and at the south end is a cross-wing of 18th- and 19th- century brickwork. South-west of the house is a timber-framed barn.
Bentley Farm, near Bentley Heath, was the farmstead for some 180 acres before the modern building estate was developed around it. The house is completely of early-17th-century timber-framing. The north front has three large flush dormers, the gable-heads of which project on stop-moulded bressummers supported by brackets. The central chimney-stack has a wide fire-place with a stop-chamfered lintel and in the back a locker with a carved door. North-west of the house is a timber-framed barn, and the whole was inclosed by a large moat, of which the south-west angle, containing water, survives.
The Manor Farm, Dorridge, about ½ mile to the west, is a modern house, but has 17th-century timber-framed farm-buildings north of it. East of the house is part of the east and south sides of a wet moat. Some remains of an ancient stone wall edge or revet the inner face of the south part.
Whitlocks End Farm is of modern red brickwork, but south of it is a 17th-century barn. In the field to the south are the remains of a moat, about 140 ft. by 140 ft. Three sides contain water; the north side, not square with the others, is dry. It was surrounded by a bank, part of which still exists some 6 ft. high, and possibly an outer ditch. The site is covered with trees.
In addition to the moats already mentioned close to ancient buildings, there are several others where the buildings have either entirely disappeared or have been rebuilt in modern times.
The finest is Hobs Moat, already referred to. At Garretts Green Farm, ½ mile south-west of the church, only one arm of the moat, with water, remains. At Longdon Hall, 1½ mile south-east of the church, are considerable remains of two large adjoining moats with water.
Near Widney Manor Station, 1¼ miles west of Longdon Hall, are three sides, with water, of a small moat. Another with running water, about 1 mile east of it, at Tile-house Green retains the north side and parts of the east and west. A small stream leaves its north-west angle. About ½ mile west of Dorridge Manor Farm is a complete wet moat inclosing an area about 160 ft. by 75 ft., now treated as an ornamental garden in connexion with a modern house east of it. Close to Earlswood Lakes Station, 4½ miles south-west of the church, is an isolated moat, of which about two-thirds contains water.
At the time of the Domesday Survey 8 hides in ULVERLEY, with woodland pertaining, was held of the Crown by Cristina sister of Edgar Atheling: Earl Edwin had held it in the time of King Edward. (fn. 21) With other lands of Cristina this soon passed to the Limesi family. (fn. 22) Ralph de Limesi gave the tithe of Ulverley to St. Albans, some time between 1100 (fn. 23) and 1130, by which date he had been succeeded by his son Alan. (fn. 24) Alan's son Gerard had succeeded by 1162 (fn. 25) and his son John by 1177. (fn. 26) John was dead by 1195, when the custody of his lands (fn. 27) was held by Hugh Bardolf, (fn. 28) to whom John's widow and her second husband Waleran, Earl of Warwick, appealed in 1200 for a settlement of reasonable dower. (fn. 29) In 1213 John de Limesi's possessions were divided between his two sisters, Basile, wife of Hugh de Oddingeseles, and Eleanor, then, or later, wife of David Lindsey. (fn. 30) Ulverley was soon sub-infeudated, but the overlordship of the manor, known by 1242 as SOLIHULL, (fn. 31) descended with the barony of Limesi. (fn. 32) Gerard de Oddingseles succeeded his father in 1239 (fn. 33) and died in 1266. (fn. 34)
By 1242 the manor of Solihull was in the possession of William de Oddingeseles, (fn. 35) youngest son of Hugh and Basile, (fn. 36) and in 1250 he was given the right of free warren here. (fn. 37) William was still alive in 1263, (fn. 38) but was probably dead by 1271. (fn. 39) He was succeeded by his son William, who in 1285 was claiming view of frankpledge with gallows, tumbrel, and assize of bread and beer. (fn. 40) He died in 1295 and, his son Edmund dying immediately afterwards, his heirs were four daughters, Ida, Ela, Alice, and Margaret. (fn. 41) There seem grounds for assuming that rights in the capital messuage were shared by the four sisters. (fn. 42) The 'liberty' of Solihull was said in 1403 to be held in thirds, while the manor and lordship were held in two halves, (fn. 43) but two parts of the manor evidently passed to the second sister Ela, who in 1314 leased them for life at £20 a year to Ralph de Perham. (fn. 44)
Ela's first husband, Piers Fitz James Mac Phioris de Bermingham, (fn. 45) was dead by December 1296. (fn. 46) In 1319 Ela's son, John de Bermingham, Earl of Louth, conveyed what was described as the manor of Solihull to John de Hotham, Bishop of Ely, (fn. 47) who was holding it in 1320, (fn. 48) when it was confirmed to him by Philip Purcel and Ela his wife (fn. 49) (possibly the Earl's mother and her third husband). (fn. 50) The bishop was given the right of free warren in his demesne lands here in 1327. (fn. 51) He died in 1337, (fn. 52) and the manor appears to have passed to his great-nephew Sir John de Hotham of Bonby, co. Lincs., who in 1344 gave an annual rent from it to his father, Sir John, for life. (fn. 53) Sir John the younger mortgaged the manor in 1347 (fn. 54) and died in 1351, in his father's lifetime. (fn. 55) Sir John the elder was dealing with the manor in 1353, apparently on behalf of Alice, the younger daughter of Sir John the Younger, and her husband Hugh, youngest son of Edward le Despenser. (fn. 56) Ivetta, widow of John the Younger, had the manor for life and was still holding it in 1356, at which date her father-in-law settled the reversion on Anne mother of Hugh and widow of Edward le Despenser. (fn. 57) Sir Hugh le Despenser predeceased his wife, who subsequently married Sir John Trussel (fn. 58) and died in 1379, seised of land in Solihull. (fn. 59) Her son Hugh (fn. 60) died seised of the manor in 1401, leaving as heir his sister Anne, wife of Sir Edward Boteler, (fn. 61) but Solihull remained in the hands of his widow Sybil, on whom it had been settled, jointly, in 1385. (fn. 62) Early in 1404 the manor was settled on her for life by Anne and Sir Edward (fn. 63) (cf. Sheldon). Sybil lived until August 1415. (fn. 64) Meanwhile, however, Anne had died in November 1408 and Sir Edward Boteler in November 1412 and the Crown, being ignorant of the settlement on Sybil, took custody of the manor because Anne's right heir was Richard le Despenser, then a minor, (fn. 65) the son of Thomas, Lord Despenser, who had died, a traitor, in 1400. (fn. 66) In April 1414 the king granted the manor to his own kinsman Edward, Duke of York, for life, (fn. 67) with reversion to Isabel sister and heiress of Richard le Despenser and the wife of Richard de Beauchamp, Lord Abergavenny, to whom livery was granted in March 1416. (fn. 68) Because, however, the grant to the Duke of York with reversion to Isabel had been made before the death of Sybil, Hugh le Despenser's widow Isabel and Lord Abergavenny were ordered in November 1417 to restore the manor to the Crown. (fn. 69)
Solihull remained in the king's hands under a succession of custodians or lessees (fn. 70) until it was granted on 25 September 1443, with Sheldon (q.v.), to John, Duke of Somerset. (fn. 71) He died 27 May 1444, (fn. 72) and on 20 July the king leased the two manors to Edmund Mountfort for life. (fn. 73) This lease was soon surrendered and was superseded on 27 September by another, also for life, to Sir James Fenys, (fn. 74) afterwards Lord Saye and Sele, who was beheaded on 4 July 1451. (fn. 75) The keeping of the manors was given on 12 July 1451 to Bartholomew Halley, (fn. 76) and was transferred in March 1453 to Henry VI's half-brothers Edmund de Hadham, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper de Hatfield, Earl of Pembroke, to hold during the minority of Margaret daughter and heir of the late Duke of Somerset. (fn. 77) In July the two brothers were given the actual lordship of the manors, (fn. 78) and the Earl of Richmond subsequently married Margaret, who became the mother of Henry VII. (fn. 79) The Earl of Richmond died in 1456, (fn. 80) while the Earl of Pembroke's lands were forfeit in 1461, (fn. 81) and the manors were given by the Crown in 1469 to Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, (fn. 82) who was killed in 1471. George, Duke of Clarence, Warwick's son-in-law, was given the manor in 1472 for life. (fn. 83) After the duke's attainder, in January 1478, (fn. 84) the manor again returned into the king's hands and was used to provide for various royal officials.
In 1478 Thomas Butler, groom of the chamber, was made bailiff of the lordship of Solihull for life, with the usual fees from the issues. (fn. 85) This office was given in 1485 to another groom, William Madokes. (fn. 86) The stewardship of Solihull (with a fee of £4 a year), together with an annuity of £10 from the issues thereof, was granted on 1 May 1478 to William Berkeley, to hold during the minority of the son of George, Duke of Clarence. (fn. 87) An auditor for Solihull and three other manors was appointed in August 1480, with a fee of 100s. from the issues of the premises, (fn. 88) and in January 1482 a receiver was appointed for the same four manors at the same fee. (fn. 89) In 1511 the office of surveyor and receiver of Solihull and Henley-in-Arden, and woodward of the park of Solihull, was given in survivorship to Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers, and Edward Belknap. (fn. 90)
In 1514 the manor was granted, with others, in tail male to Thomas, Earl of Surrey, newly created Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 91) He conveyed it in 1530 to George Throckmorton, (fn. 92) who settled it in November 1542 on his son Robert and Elizabeth Hungerford, Robert's second wife. (fn. 93) The manor passed, with Coughton (q.v.), to Sir Robert's son Thomas, (fn. 94) who, with his wife Margaret conveyed Solihull in 1604 to Edmund Hawes. (fn. 95) Hawes is said to have conveyed it to Samuel Marow of Berkswell (fn. 96) (q.v.), who was referred to as 'late lord of the manor' in 1625. (fn. 97) His grandson Samuel made a conveyance of it in 1628, (fn. 98) apparently to the use of Sir Richard Greaves (of Moseley in King's Norton, co. Worcs.), who was holding it in October 1629. (fn. 99) In 1631 he was granted an annual fair and a weekly market on Wednesdays, (fn. 100) and he died in November 1632, when the manor passed to his son Edward, (fn. 101) who held courts at least until Michaelmas 1634. (fn. 102) By Michaelmas 1640 the manor had been conveyed to Sir Simon Archer (the antiquary), of Umberslade in Tanworth, (fn. 103) in whose family it descended. (fn. 104) His greatgreat-grandson, Andrew, second Lord Archer, died in 1778, leaving four daughters and co-heiresses. (fn. 105) The eldest, Sarah, married first the 5th Earl of Plymouth, by whom she had a son, Other Archer, and secondly William Pitt Amherst, 2nd Baron and 1st Earl Amherst. (fn. 106) The other daughters were Anne Elizabeth, who married Christopher Musgrave, Maria wife of Henry Howard, and Harriet, (fn. 107) who married Edward Bolton Clive; and all these parties joined in 1812 in a conveyance to William Ryder. (fn. 108) Earl Amherst subsequently sold the manorial rights to Colonel Robert Short (fn. 109) in 1850, and he in 1859 bequeathed them to his nephew the Rev. John Couchman, formerly rector of Thornby, who died in 1900, when the manor passed to his son the Rev. Henry Couchman, (fn. 110) and subsequently devolved on his trustees. (fn. 111)
Alice, third daughter of William de Oddingeseles, who had married Maurice de Caunton by November 1301, (fn. 112) died in 1318 (fn. 113) seised of a quarter of a messuage and half a carucate of land in Solihull, her heir being her second son David de Caunton, who came of age in 1322. (fn. 114) After long disputes he had livery of these possessions in 1327, (fn. 115) since his elder brother as well as his father had forfeited their rights as the result of their activities against the king in Ireland. (fn. 116) Nothing further is heard of his rights in Solihull.
The original settlement in Ulverley is thought to have been in the district now known as Olton, where traces of a castle and park were found so late as the 17th century. (fn. 117) The manor of OLTON is first mentioned in 1295, when Ela widow of William de Oddingeseles claimed to have been jointly enfeoffed therein; (fn. 118) it was held of Hugh de Oddingeseles, as of his ½ knight's fee in Solihull and Maxstoke, (fn. 119) and the overlordship descended with that of Solihull at least until 1596. (fn. 120)
The manor may perhaps be identified with that share of Solihull which formed the portion of Margaret youngest daughter of William de Oddingeseles. (fn. 121) She married, first, John de Grey of Rotherfield, who at his death in 1311 was holding 22 marks rent in Solihull of his wife's inheritance. (fn. 122) Margaret had married Robert de Moreby by 1315, when land, houses, and rents in Solihull were settled on them and on Margaret's heirs. (fn. 123) In 1319 they interposed a claim when a conveyance was made of the rest of the manor of Solihull, (fn. 124) and continued to acquire land in Solihull. (fn. 125) In 1333 Robert de Moreby was given the right of free warren there. (fn. 126)
In 1359 Margaret's son John, Lord Grey of Rotherfield, died holding £16 11s. rent in the manor of Solihull and was succeeded by a son John, who in 1371 gave the reversion of what was described as the manor of SOLIHULL to Thomas Burgh, at a rose rent, after the death of William Breton who had held it for 1¼ years. (fn. 127) This John de Grey died in 1375 and was succeeded by his son Bartholomew, who survived only a few months and then was followed by his brother Robert. (fn. 128) Robert, Lord Grey of Rotherfield (who died in 1388), (fn. 129) granted the manor, under the name of 'Elton in Solihull', to his brother Sir Richard Grey for life, and in 1399, after Sir Richard's death, it returned to Robert's daughter and heir, Joan, wife of Sir John Deincourt, Lord Deincourt. (fn. 130) They were given seisin in February 1401. (fn. 131) John, Lord Deincourt, died in 1406 leaving an infant son. (fn. 132) Joan widow of John conveyed the manor of OLTON by Solihull in July 1408 to her mother-in-law Alice, widow of William, Lord Deincourt, (fn. 133) and died in November of that year. (fn. 134) Alice died in 1433, (fn. 135) but had previously settled the manor on Elizabeth, Lady Deincourt, wife (or widow) of her grandson William, Lord Deincourt (son of Joan), who had died in 1422. (fn. 136) On Elizabeth's death in 1447 (fn. 137) the manor was divided between William's heirs, his two sisters. (fn. 138) Margaret, the younger, who had married Sir Ralph Cromwell of Tattershall, co. Lincs., died in September 1454 (fn. 139) and her husband in 1456, (fn. 140) when her estates passed to the elder sister Alice, then widow of Sir William Lovell of Minster Lovell, co. Oxon. (fn. 141) Alice subsequently married Sir Ralph Boteler of Sudeley, co. Gloucs., (fn. 142) and the manor was settled on them in 1465 (fn. 143) and 1466. (fn. 144) On 1 December 1473, after Ralph's death, Alice conveyed the manor in fee-tail to Anne wife of Sir Renfrey Arundell and died in 1474. (fn. 145) By 10 December 1475 Dame Anne Arundell had married her second husband Robert Crane, of Waldingfield Hall, co. Suffolk, (fn. 146) and she died in 1519, having bequeathed the manor to Andrew, son of her brother Sir Henry Ogard. (fn. 147) It was then described as 'the manor of Olton alias one third of the manor of Solihull'. (fn. 148) On Andrew Ogard's death in 1526 this manor passed to his younger sons Henry and William. (fn. 149) In 1572 one Andrew Ogarde conveyed the manor to William Humberston. (fn. 150) It came subsequently into the possession of Oliver Briggs, who settled it in July 1584 on his son Oliver, and in June 1587 on his son Humphrey and Anne his wife, and died in 1596. (fn. 151) Humphrey then succeeded him. (fn. 152)
The manor passed by purchase to Robert Middlemore of Edgbaston, (fn. 153) who died seised of it in 1632, leaving a son and heir Richard. (fn. 154) Olton then appears to have descended in the Middlemore family to the last of the line Mary, who married Sir John Gage of Firle, Sussex. (fn. 155) They died in 1686 and 1699, respectively, (fn. 156) and the manor, with Edgbaston, and Ipsley in Kingsbury, passed to two of their daughters, Mary wife of Sir John Shelley (of Michelgrove, Suss.), and Bridget wife of Thomas Belasyse, Viscount Fauconberg, who were dealing with it in 1701. (fn. 157) Mary Shelley subsequently married George Mathew of Thurles, co. Tipperary, (fn. 158) and they, with Bridget and Lord Fauconberg and others, conveyed Olton in 1717 to Harry Gough (described later as of Solihull) and his brother Charles. (fn. 159) Elizabeth Gough, widow, was dealing with the manor in 1774, (fn. 160) in which year she died. (fn. 161) Their son Captain Richard Gough died in 1806 and his widow in 1833, (fn. 162) after which the estate was sold and the manorial rights appear to have lapsed.
William de Oddingeseles is said to have given FORSHAW, with the right to hold a court leet there, to his younger son Nicholas in the latter half of the 13th century. (fn. 163) Another William, probably son of Nicholas, (fn. 164) was lord of Forshaw in 1309, (fn. 165) and a later Nicholas with Joan his wife in 1386 bought land here from Richard atte Ruyding and Elizabeth. (fn. 166) Margaret the daughter and heir of this Nicholas married John Waldeif and seems subsequently to have married William Draycote, as in 1443 the manor of Forshaw was settled on William Draycote and Margaret his wife and her heirs. (fn. 167) By her first husband she left two daughters, of whom Anne (or Agnes) married Sir Thomas Burdet, (fn. 168) whose granddaughter Anne married Edward Conway of Arrow (q.v.). (fn. 169) Their grandson Sir John Conway in 1583 sold the manor to Sir Stephen Staney (fn. 170) (Lord Mayor of London in 1595), whose daughter Anne married Thomas Colepeper of Wigsell (Sussex). (fn. 171) Their son Sir John, created Lord Colepeper, seems to have conveyed Forshaw manor before his death in 1660 to his son Thomas, (fn. 172) who in 1689 granted his lands in Solihull to his illegitimate daughters, Susan wife of Sir Charles Englefield, bart., and Charlotte. (fn. 173) The subsequent history of the manor is obscure, but by 1718 it was in the hands of the family of Archer, (fn. 174) with whom it remained for the best part of a century. It then passed to the family of Morrall, Charles Morrall being lord in 1808 and 1821, (fn. 175) and R. Morrall in 1863. (fn. 176) In 1905 Mr. C. W. Corbett is said to have been the owner, in succession to the family of Johnstone. (fn. 177)
LONGDON in 1086 was part of Turchil's estates and was held of him by Almar; Arnul had held it before the Conquest, and it was rated at 2½ hides. (fn. 178) Turchil's son Siward de Arden gave it to Ketelbern, who founded thereon the nunnery afterwards known as Henwood Priory. (fn. 179) His daughter married Thomas son of Thurstan of Tamworth (fn. 180) and their great-grandson James de la Launde in 1253 had a grant of free warren in his demesnes here. (fn. 181) Subsequently he enfeoffed Gilbert de Kirkeby, who transferred his rights in the manor of Longdon to William de Arden. (fn. 182) William, who was murdered in the grove of Briddesmor near Henwood Priory in 1276, (fn. 183) died seised of the manor, which was then said to be held of Sir Richard Fukeram by a rent of £4. (fn. 184) Sir Richard presumably held the Launde interest at this time. The estate descended with Knowle in Hampton-in-Arden (q.v.), being granted by Sir John le Lou and Amice to King Edward I and by him in 1292 to Westminster Abbey, by whom in 1294 the 'hamlet' of Longdon was held of John son and heir of James de la Launde, who held it of Walter de Wynterton as 1/30 knight's fee. (fn. 185) At the Dissolution Longdon passed, in January 1541, as a member of Knowle, to the shortlived see of Westminster, (fn. 186) then to the see of London, and in 1560 to the Crown. (fn. 187) By Queen Elizabeth Longdon was apparently granted to John Greswold, (fn. 188) whose daughter Alice married Thomas Dabridgecourt. Their granddaughter Frances Fulwood married William Noel, in whose family the manor was when Dugdale wrote (fn. 189) and so continued until at least 1789 when Thomas (Noel), Viscount Wentworth, held the manorial rights. (fn. 190) Confusion is introduced by the fact that Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, was called lord of Longdon manor in 1682 and that his son Algernon subsequently held this alleged manor with that of Knowle, of which it was afterwards treated as a part. (fn. 191) It seems probable that this property was not really manorial. The actual manor came to Lord Byron in 1815 by his marriage with Anne, daughter of Sir Ralph Milbanke Noel, and on her death in 1860 passed to her grandson the Earl of Lovelace, who died in 1893. Longdon Hall, with apparently any remaining manorial rights, was bought by Mr. J. B. Clarke of Birmingham in 1899 and soon afterwards sold to Mr. Alfred Lovekin. (fn. 192)
Land at WIDNEY was granted early in the 13th century by Philip de Cumton to William de Parles, whose namesake in the reign of Edward I conveyed to Walter de Aylesbury all his land here which he had by the gift of Sir William Bagot. (fn. 193) Walter received a grant of free warren in his lands, including Widney, in 1285, (fn. 194) and there is reference in 1298 to his park here. (fn. 195) The estate then descended with Edstone in Wootton Wawen (q.v.), passing in 1492 by the marriage of Joan daughter and heir of John Aylesbury to Thomas Somerville; (fn. 196) at which time it was worth 5 marks and was held of the Abbey of Westminster. On the attainder of John Somerville in 1583 Widney, unlike Edstone, was forfeited to the Crown. (fn. 197) In 1611 it was granted to John Eldred and others and is for the first time called a manor. (fn. 198) Its subsequent history is rather obscure. William and Thomas Holbech were dealing with the manor in 1701, (fn. 199) and in 1735 Anthony Holbech was lord. (fn. 200) He died in 1738, leaving the manor in trust for his widow and two daughters, Mary the wife of the Rev. Richard Mashiter, headmaster of the Grammar School, and Jane wife of Thomas Fisher. (fn. 201) In 1740 Thomas Fisher conveyed the manor to William Shakespeare, (fn. 202) but in 1743 Richard Mashiter was dealing with 'part' of the manor (fn. 203) and in 1755 he and Jane Harrison apparently shared the manorial rights. (fn. 204) She is probably identical with Jane previously wife of Thomas Fisher and aunt of the Jane (Mashiter) (fn. 205) who with her husband John Short in 1786 conveyed a moiety of the manor to Joseph Harding and others. (fn. 206) This conveyance was probably only a mortgage, as in 1828 George, Lord Calthorpe (whose grandfather Sir Henry Gough was dealing with 'part' of the manor in 1758), (fn. 207) and John Short and Jane combined to sell the manor, (fn. 208) presumably to Sir Robert Heron, bart., as he with his wife Dame Amelia conveyed it in 1830 to Thomas Heydon. (fn. 209) He sold it in 1839 to John Small-wood, (fn. 210) who left it in 1853 to John Stubbs, from whom it was bought in 1868 by George Frederick Muntz, in whose family it has remained.
KINGTON, of which the name is preserved in Kineton Green, formerly part of Bickenhill but now in Olton, can be traced back to 972, when one of the bounds of Yardley is given as 'cinctunes broc'. (fn. 211) In the Domesday Survey it probably figures as 'Cintone', whose 2 hides formerly held by Turchil were in 1086 held by Ailmar under William son of Corbucion. (fn. 212) An estate here was held for two hundred years by the family of le Notte. In 1199 Henry le Notte acquired 1 virgate here from Richard, son of Richard, (fn. 213) probably his brother. His grandson Henry (fn. 214) in 1221 gave to the Prioress and convent of Markyate (Beds.) the advowson of 'the church' of Kington, (fn. 215) though this is subsequently ranked with the chapel of Lyndon as a chapel attached to the church of Bickenhill, (fn. 216) which the nuns held. Henry was dealing with land here in 1235; (fn. 217) Richard le Notte held land in Kington and Kingsford of William de Ryfeld and Margery his wife, who remitted on her behalf the rent, homage, and service of 1/100 knight's fee by which it was held in 1271; (fn. 218) and Thomas le Notte in 1305 and 1314 conveyed lands in Solihull and Kington to his son Henry. (fn. 219) This Henry in 1332 settled lands in Kington and Lyndon on himself in tail, with contingent remainders to his son John, or John's sister Prudence. (fn. 220)
The neighbouring estate of KINGSFORD seems to have come by marriage to the Mountforts of Coleshill. In 1368 on the death of Roger son and heir of William de Kingsford, who had been an idiot from birth, it was stated that the issues of his lands during the last 20 years had been in the hands of John de Mountfort and John de Sutton. (fn. 221) As they were respectively first and second husband of Joan daughter and heir of Sir John de Clinton, (fn. 222) the lordship had presumably belonged to the Clintons. In 1457 Sir Baldwin Mountfort was dealing with the manor of Kingsford; (fn. 223) in 1496 it was among the manors forfeited by Sir Simon Mountfort on his attainder and bestowed on Gerald, Earl of Kildare, and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 224) On the attainder of Thomas, Earl of Kildare, in 1537 it reverted to the Crown and was granted to Thomas Lucy, who sold it in 1553 to Clement Throckmorton. (fn. 225) He sold the manor in 1570 to Thomas Dabridgecourt, (fn. 226) and it was probably absorbed into his estate of Longdon (q.v.).
Although Dugdale stated (fn. 227) that LYNDON was 'no Mannour of it self', it certainly ranked as one from the second half of the 15th century. The name first occurs in 1221, when Henry le Notte claimed against various persons some 7 virgates of land here, (fn. 228) which had belonged to his father's grandfather Richard. One half-virgate was in the hands of Walter de Bisshop', and the family of Bishopsdon, at Bishopton, (fn. 229) seem to have acquired the main interest here. In 1339 Sir John de Bishopsdon settled on himself and his (second) wife Beatrice, with remainder in tail male to his sons Roger or John, certain lands including the reversion of those in Lyndon held for life by Joan widow of (his son) Thomas de Bishopsdon. (fn. 230) Sir John died shortly after this, (fn. 231) and in 1345 his son Roger leased to John de Peyto for life certain rents and services here. (fn. 232) His son and heir Thomas in 1374 was dealing with lands in Lyndon held for life by Beatrice (widow of John) de Bishopsdon which had formerly been held by Joan widow of Thomas. (fn. 233) In 1468 a court for the manor of Lyndon was held by Thomas Palmer and Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 234) who was daughter and co-heir of Sir William de Bishopsdon. (fn. 235) The manor is next found in 1579 in the hands of Simon and Isabel Wheeler, who conveyed it to Edward Holte. (fn. 236) Robert Dodd and Katherine his wife transferred it in 1617 to Charles Dodd, (fn. 237) of Lea Hall in Yardley, who leased the manor-house to Henry Madewe in 1622, (fn. 238) and in 1631 sold the manor to George Devereux of Sheldon. (fn. 239) He settled it on his son George at his marriage in 1633, (fn. 240) and his great-grandson Viscount Hereford owned it in 1744. (fn. 241) By 1766 the manor had been acquired by John Taylor, (fn. 242) who still held it at his death in 1815, after which his trustees gradually disposed of the property. (fn. 243)
The parish church of ST. ALPHEGE is a large edifice of cross-shaped plan with a chancel having a two-storied chapel north of it, central tower, north and south transepts, nave with north and south aisles, and a north porch.
There was a late-12th-century church on the site; of this the only evidence left is the east end of the south wall of the nave with a blocked window, and the marks of its steep-pitched roof on the west face of the tower. It was shorter and slightly narrower than the present nave. The first enlargement began with the addition or rebuilding of the central tower early in the 13th century. Probably the lower parts of the side-walls of the chancel, of large masonry and without plinths, are of much the same period. A 13th-century north aisle with a chapel of St. Thomas the Martyr was added to the nave: some remains of the arch between the two still exist.
A scheme of enlargement was begun, probably by Sir William de Oddingeseles c. 1290, with the rebuilding of the upper part of the chancel, and the addition of the vaulted chamber and chapel of St. Alphege north of it. This was followed early in the 14th century by the addition of the transepts, the southern preceding the northern, with the insertion of side-arches in the tower and the enlargement of those in the east and west walls. The rebuilding and widening of the north aisle followed, with the north porch; a little later in the century the aisle was continued westwards, beyond the original west end. The obvious intention was to lengthen the nave as well and the west responds were built in preparation for the intended new arcades, but for some reason the work was not then proceeded with. From the existence of an archway (fn. 244) in the west wall of the south transept it is possible there was a short south aisle or chapel. The present aisle was added in 1535, when both arcades were rebuilt and the nave lengthened. On the evidence of the moulded plinths the west wall of the nave, between the 14th-century responds, appears to have been rebuilt; the west doorway and the great window above are contemporary with the arcades and south aisle. Churchwardens' accounts for the work still exist.
The top stage of the tower is considerably later than the lower part, probably near the date of the other early-16th-century work, as it seems improbable that such an addition would have been undertaken before the nave and aisles were completed. The stone spire, erected probably at the same time, fell in 1757 and was rebuilt soon afterwards at a less height.
The south aisle, owing to the weakness of the arcade and the pressure of the nave roof, collapsed in 1751 and was rebuilt almost immediately, but the arcade and aisle have again failed to resist the thrust of the roof and are now (1939) heavily shored with timber until the work of restoration can again be undertaken.
There have been several restorations. In 1879 the west window was renewed and other repairs executed, including work to the roofs of the nave and aisles, which were stripped and rebolted, but insufficiently to prevent further movement since. The chancel roof, which had suffered severely from the ravages of the death-watch beetle, was reconstructed in 1933.
The chancel (about 52 ft. by 22 ft.) has an east window of five trefoiled ogee-headed lights with foiled interlacing tracery in a two-centred head with hood-moulds having carved stops. The foils of the main lights have double-volute cusp-points. In each of the side-walls are four windows, each of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and a single piercing above with eight foils; all the foils have similar voluted cusp-points. The external hood-moulds have a mask-stop at the east end, but are joined by a string-course between the windows. The internal hood-moulds are conjoined; between the windows, except the easternmost pair, and at the east end they are treated as trefoil arches, varying in width, on the plastered wall-face. In each of these bays is a carved bracket for an image. Below the sills all round is a moulded string-course. The sills of the eastern pair on the north side are raised because of the adjoining chapels, and below the second window is a pointed doorway to the lower chapel with rounded jambs and a hood-mould with mask-stops. Between the second and third windows is a larger pointed opening with canted reveals, through which steps lead up to the upper chapel: it has hollow-chamfered splays and the string-course leaps it as a hood-mould. On the south side is a priest's doorway with moulded jambs and pointed head with an external hood-mould, and the internal string-course carried over it as a stilted hood. It has an ancient door with rib-panels; on it is a ring-handle covered by an iron grid outside.
The walls are of red sandstone. The east wall is of rubble and has a narrow loop in the gable-head. At the angles are square buttresses. There is no plinth, but below the window is a plain string-course that drops to a lower level at the buttresses. The south wall is of rough ashlar, in large courses below the string-course under the windows, and in smaller courses above. In the middle is a buttress like the others. The west bay of the north wall is similar.
In the south wall, partly encroaching on the east splay of the south-east window, is a piscina with a trefoiled moulded head in a gabled hood-mould enriched with crockets. The jambs have shafts, cut in the solid, with moulded bases and bell-capitals. The sill has a damaged round basin; it is carved in front with large foliage and has foliage carvings as brackets under the bases of the shafts; at half-height is a shelf. West of it are three plain sedilia with stepped seats.
On the north side, east of the crypt doorway, is a stone wall-bench.
The roof is gabled and has a round barrel-vault of open timbers, dating from 1933. It is covered with tiles.
The lower north chapel, in honour of All Souls, was probably the priests' chamber originally; six steps lead down to it from the chancel. It has two bays of quad-ripartite vaulting with hollow-chamfered ribs springing from corbel-capitals carved with foliage. It is lighted by trefoiled lancet windows, two in the north wall and one each east and west, chamfered outside, and rebated inside for shutters; the wall-ribs form their rear-arches. In the west wall is a fire-place 2 ft. 8 in. wide with a segmental-pointed arch of rough ashlar voussoirs. At the east end is a stone altar. The door in the entrance is ancient, of nail-studded plain battens hung on straphinges. A square hole is cut through where the lock should be and fitted with a hinged shutter. An oak lock is fitted next it. Above it is an embossed circular 5-in. iron plate fixed with a ring of nails. In the east splay is a draw-bar socket. The walls are of rough ashlar, in large courses in the side-walls and with wide joints.
The upper chapel of St. Alphege is approached by eleven steps from the chancel. The upper doorway, splayed across the south-west angle, has hollow-chamfered jambs and two-centred head with a hood-mould having a south mask-stop. The two northeastern windows of the chancel look into the chapel and the jambs are splayed on this side as in the chancel. The chapel (about 25 ft. by 11 ft.) has an east window of three trefoiled lights with interlacing tracery like that of the chancel. The west window is similar. The two north windows are like those in the chancel and the internal hood-moulds have the trefoil treatment in continuation east and west of them, the east end with a mask-stop: also on the south side, east of the chancel-windows. The floor is of brick (covered with modern boarding) and the north window-ledges are only 18 in. above it. In the south wall is a trefoiled piscina with a gabled crocketed hood-mould. The round basin is damaged and the projecting foliage carving mostly hacked away; at half height is a shelf. On the east splay of the second south window are six old red roses stencilled on the masonry. The walls are of squared rubble, much as in the chancel. The east and west gable-heads are irregular, the south slopes being of sharper pitch than the north. The north wall has a buttress at each end.
The steep-pitched roof may be ancient. It follows the irregularity of the gables, the north half being wider than the south: it has open timbers forming a pointed barrel-vault, the wall-plates are modern.
The crossing, or base of the central tower (about 21 ft. square) has mid-14th-century arches in its four sides with plain splayed responds of coarsely tooled ashlar and having moulded bases and capitals, and two-centred heads of two chamfered orders with medium-sized voussoirs. Immediately above them are concentric relieving arches of uneven voussoirs. The masonry about and above the arches is of squared red sandstone rubble. Over the western arch are the lines where the former steeply pitched nave-roof abutted the tower much lower than the present roof: its apex is rather to the south of the middle of the arch. Over it is a small blocked window, originally external, and there is said to be a similar window in the east wall hidden by the chancel roof. The south-east angle is splayed for the stair-vice and has a pointed doorway with chamfered jambs: higher is the blocked rood-loft doorway.
The north transept, formerly St. Katherine's but now St. George's Chapel (fn. 245) (about 33 ft. by 21½ ft.), has a west and two east windows which resemble the chancel windows but have no carved cusp-points. The window in the north wall is of four trefoiled lights and intersecting tracery similar to the chancel east window, but again without the cusp-points. The walling is of red square ashlar with a string-course below the sills and a moulded plinth. At the angles are pairs of square buttresses. There appears to have been a doorway under the north window, now abolished. The walls inside are plastered, except the 5 ft. at the south end of each side wall (the sides of the tower-buttresses) which is of squared rubble. In the east wall are two piscinae. One near the south end has moulded jambs and a trefoiled ogee-head with a two-centred hood-mould, now cut back, a stone shelf and a mutilated sexfoil basin, all of the 14th century. The other, in the north half, has a similar but earlier head with an edge-roll moulding: the sill has a round basin. It has probably been reset, as the jambs are square. The gabled roof has a plastered ceiling indicating from its shape trussed-rafter construction.
The south transept, St. Mary's Chapel, used as an organ-chamber and vestry, is smaller than the other (about 28½ ft. by 17½ ft.). In the east wall is a doorway inserted in 1909, but no windows. The four-light south window is like that in the north wall of the other transept, but all modern. The two-light window in the west wall also resembles those in the other transept: the external hood-mould has head-stops. At the north end of this wall is a low archway, 5½ ft. wide, blocked to form a recess; the north respond has ashlar dressings; the south respond was mostly destroyed when it was walled up, but the pointed arch remains, of two chamfered orders, the inner carried on moulded corbels. There is also a modern upper archway for the organ. The walls are of regularly coursed red ashlar, mostly newly restored. In the south wall is a trefoiled piscina, now plastered; the basin is missing. The roof has a plastered barrel-vaulted ceiling.
The nave (about 84 ft. by 23½ ft.) has early-16th-century arcades of five bays with tall octagonal pillars, and east responds to match, in large courses, and with moulded capitals and chamfered bases; the arches are of two chamfered orders. The south arcade has a large number of reused 13th-century small voussoirs mixed with later larger stones; the north arcade has only a few of them in the outer orders. The west responds are probably of mid-14th-century date; each has a middle half-round shaft between two splayed wide hollows: the shaft has a moulded semi-octagonal base and capital with a plain vertical leaf carved in the bell on each face: the responds are of smaller courses than the pillars.
There is a short length of wall east of each arcade. The southern is thicker than the arcade wall and is a fragment of the original south wall of the nave. It has a blocked late-12th-century window, 13 in. wide, with a round head: a 17th- or 18th-century round-headed opening below it partly encroaches on its sill. One or two stones east of it on the south face have original toolings, diagonal in two directions. Higher are eight courses of comparatively modern ashlar, and over that the rubble buttress of the tower.
On the north side is seen the straight joint between the 16th-century masonry and the east respond of the 13th-century arch to St. Thomas's Chapel, and a few of the voussoirs. Above the level of the 16th-century capital the rubble buttress of the tower overhangs the south face. The wall is pierced, like the south side, by a 17th- or 18th-century opening.
The west doorway has continuous jambs and four-centred head moulded with shallow hollows and small rolls or shafts. The outermost roll projects from the west face of the wall and not only follows the arch as a kind of hood-mould but is continued up vertically to meet the string-course below the window-sill. The jambs are of yellow and the head of red stone. The west window, renewed in 1879, is of five trefoiled lights with a range of ten quatrefoils above them and vertical tracery in a four-centred head; at mid-height is a plain transom; the jambs are moulded with a shallow casement. The west wall is of red ashlar in large courses with a plinth that has two moulded courses at the top and a chamfered lower member. The wall is thinned inside above the sill and of smaller courses of mixed red and yellow stone. The upper half of the gable-head is modern. Between the nave and aisles are narrow buttresses.
The nave-roof is of c. 1535 and has curved braces forming an open-timbered wagon-head soffit.
The north aisle (about 11½ ft. wide) has four north windows of the 14th century. The first (easternmost) and third are of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and a quatrefoil in a two-centred head. The second and fourth have pointed trefoiled lights and quatrefoiled spandrels. The north doorway has moulded jambs and a two-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label that returns to the side of the porch as a string-course. The west window resembles the first and third windows. The walls inside and out are faced with red sandstone ashlar repaired at the top and having a modern embattled parapet. The moulded plinth is like that of the north transept. The west wall is thinned 5 in. inside above a height of 4 ft. but about 16 in. of it, next the 14th-century respond and marked by a vertical broken seam, is coeval with the respond. In the south wall, east of the arcade and partly destroyed by the later piercing, is a 14th-century piscina with a trefoiled head and quatrefoil basin.
The north porch is of the same date and material as the aisle. It has a two-centred entrance with mouldings resembling those of the inner doorway. In each side is a small trefoiled light.
The south aisle (about 11½ ft. wide) has three south windows. The easternmost is a wide square-headed window of five lights with trefoiled ogee-heads and a row of ten quatrefoils; below the transom the lights have trefoiled four-centred heads. The main head has a flat arch with joggled joints to the middle voussoirs. On the jambs are masons' marks. The other two windows are each of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and geometrical tracery in a three-centred head: the jambs are, like the large window, of two chamfered orders. The west window is similar, but its jambs have splayed hollows and its courses break joint with those of the walling.
The walls are of red sandstone ashlar, many of the courses being large. The plinths are like that of the west wall of the nave. The parapet, of lighter-coloured stone, is of the 18th century. The south wall has two buttresses. In the east wall are several straight joints in the masonry marking the blocking of the former archway from the transept and other later changes. They are now mostly concealed by a recently built stone altar dedicated to St. Anthony. At a height of 4½ ft. above the floor is reset an early-16th-century low stone reredos. It extends the full width of the aisle and contains fourteen shallow niches. The middle and widest has a sub-cusped trefoiled pointed head: the next six on either side have trefoiled ogee-heads. The northernmost of all differs from them in its trefoiled two-centred head. (fn. 246) The whole is enframed by a moulding carved with square paterae; the sill also has paterae and two human heads. Below the large square window is a piscina with a trefoiled ogee-arch in a square head with plain shields in the spandrels: the basin is a semi-quatrefoil of raised ribs and central boss with a drain in each lobe, all in a rectangular sinking. At the back of the recess are two corbels carved with lions' masks.
Both aisle-roofs, of lean-to type, are of the 18th century or later.
The central tower outside is of three stages, two above the ridges of the main roofs, divided by plain string-courses. The two lower stages are of red sandstone rubble, the later top stage of grey rubble. At the south-east angle is the projecting square stair-turret, tabled back at the top of the second stage. East of the turret and at the other main angles are pairs of square buttresses rising nearly to the same level. The top stage (bell-chamber) has small diagonal buttresses. The 18th-century parapet is embattled and has angle-pinnacles. In each wall of the second stage is a twin lancet window under a rough segmental relieving arch. All are blocked except the upper half of the south window, which has been restored. Over the north window is a clock face. Below this stage on the north and south sides are two trefoiled lancets, one on each side of the transept roof. The bell-chamber has a pair of windows in each wall, each of two trefoiled lights and a quatrefoil in a four-centred head. They have embattled transoms, below which the trefoil-headed lights are walled up.
The tower is surmounted by the slender octagonal stone spire of 1757, rising to 168 ft. above the ground. It is divided into five stages by string-courses and has quatrefoil spire-lights alternating with blanks, in each stage. At the apex is a weather-vane.
A few fragments of ancient glass remain. In the tracery of three of the south windows of the chancel are 14th-century floriate roundels of two patterns. In the north and west windows of St. Alphege's Chapel are seven others, mostly hanging loose from the saddlebars. Also two shields, (fn. 247) one charged checky or and gules (?); the other charged or a fesse azure with three lozenges or thereon. There are also a Holy Dove in a vesica piscis, the head of an angel, and a late-17th-century shield of the Greswold arms. In the north window of the north transept are fragments of 16th-century yellow and white glass including two male figures—one in prayer—in canopied niches of classic Renaissance design and with scrolls inscribed: DIEV MAIN TIENT BREAL (?) MONT. Also several rosettes, part of a cherub, and a shield charged with a fesse indented.
The communion table is made up from a 17th-century table that has been heightened and lengthened. The communion rails are of c. 1680. They have eight bays with twisted balusters below a frieze of open foliage. These alternate with four wide and five narrow standards. The former have pierced lower panels with radiating bars and closed upper panels. The narrow standards are solid carved with pendants of foliage and rosettes. There are middle gates and one at the north end. A length of similar design forms the front of a desk.
The font, probably of the 14th century, has been recut. It has a plain octagonal bowl with a moulded lower edge, and a stem having attached round shafts at the angles with moulded capitals and bases.
The chancel-screen is largely modern, but the lower closed panels are of the late 15th century: they have traceried heads. Above it is a loft with a painted traceried front, which was the west front of the former larger and lower loft of St. George under the tower.
The screen to the north transept is thickly painted but appears to be of late-15th-century date, partly restored. The middle wide doorway has a deep segmental arch fringed with small trefoiled interlacing foils and having an early-17th-century middle pendant. The foils are much broken. The main spandrels are traceried. The three open bays on either side of it have cinquefoiled ogee-heads with carved cusp-points (many broken) and tracery.
The screen to the south transept is modern; the former screen of the late 15th century is set against the west wall of the south aisle. It has a middle doorway with a modern traceried head and four traceried bays on each side. The posts and middle rail are moulded and the latter has sunk faces with applied tracery. The close panels below the rail have tracery with rosette cusp-points and foliage spandrels.
At the east end of the north aisle is part of an 18th-century reredos with a pediment bearing the arms of Lewis quartering Greswolde.
The pulpit has a 17th-century hexagonal tub, of which one side forms the door. Each side has an enriched round-arched panel and spandrels carved with masks spouting leaves. Within the arched head is an applied lion's mask. Above is a rail with gadroon ornament and over that a frieze panel carved with a snaky monster. The south side, towards the wall, has a double arch with a middle fleur de lis pendant.
A large late-17th-century chest in the north aisle is elaborately carved and has terminal figures at the angles. The front has a bolection-moulded panel filled with strap-work ornament and having a middle boss, and a gadrooned moulded top-rail.
Under the tower is a 17th-century box, probably for a scroll, painted with roses on a red background and four shields of arms.
Fixed on a board on the south wall of the chancel are the brass effigies of a man and two wives in early-16th-century costume; below them groups of four sons and eleven daughters and a third group of a son and two daughters and the inscription commemorating William Hill (d. 1549) and his two wives, Isabel and Agnes. In the north transept are brass inscriptions to: George Averell 1637, his son Henry Averell 1650, and his wife Anne 1635.
At the east end of the north aisle on the arcade wall, high up, is a stone tablet set with a brass plate incised with the kneeling figures of a man and wife, four sons and four daughters, and an inscription to William Hawes and Ursula (Colles) his wife. There is also on the south wall of the crossing a painted wooden memorial to the same William Hawes, died 19 October 1611, with a Latin acrostic and English verse of thirty lines; over the inscription are shields of arms. Another painted wooden board over the door of the stair-vice is divided into three panels with shields of arms and inscriptions to Thomas Dabridgecourt, March 1601, and Alice Dabridgecourt sister of Richard Greswolde, February 1599.
At the west end of the south aisle set upright are two grave-slabs incised in outline with: (1) figures of a man and two wives in 16th-century costume, a shield of arms, and a partly destroyed inscription to Thomas Greswolde 1577 and [Alice, Jane, and] Isabel his three wives; (2) faint traces of figures of an armoured man and his wife and a marginal inscription [to Richard Greswolde, esquire, 1537, and Alice his wife; in Latin;] now indecipherable, but recorded in the church from Dugdale. The slabs, now much worn, were found in 1879 under the seats in the aisle.
In the north transept is a large mural monument with busts of a man and woman of c. 1600 and inscriptions to members of the Holbeach family from 1551 to 1692 and later.
In the nave is a pendant candelabrum with a ball and eight scrolled arms; given by Thomas Holbeche, 1706.
In the north transept are preserved eleven carved wood bosses of the early 16th century taken from the aisle roofs when restored in 1879. One has a pious pelican, another a peacock, others are foliage or flowers. One loose stone is said to be the only surviving fragment of the stone spire of 1570 that fell in 1757: it has an angle-roll between two hollows.
There are ten bells, (fn. 248) all recast and rehung in 1932 by Taylor's of Loughborough.
The communion plate includes a pre-Reformation chalice with a small bowl, a six-lobed base, and a knop in the stem with cherubs' heads; a cup of 1638; a cup and cover of 1671; a cup and cover paten and two flagons of 1746; a salver or cover with repoussé ornament of 1661; a large alms-dish of 1746; and two pewter cups.
The registers date from 1538.
The advowson descended with the manor of Solihull, the first recorded presentation being made in 1286 by Ralph de Limesi in right of his wife Joan widow of William de Oddingeseles. (fn. 249) Between 1296 and 1311 the co-heir of Sir William de Oddingeseles presented, and the advowson was included in the sale of the manor to John de Hotham, Bishop of Ely, in 1319. (fn. 250) It continued attached to the manor until the death of the last Lord Archer in 1778, (fn. 251) when it passed to his fourth daughter Harriet, who in 1790 married Edward Bolton Clive. Their son the Rev. Archer Clive, who had been rector of Solihull since 1829, inherited the advowson in 1845. About 1870 it was bought by Thomas Walker, whose representatives sold it in about 1895 to Mr. Macrory. He made an exchange of it to the Rev. T. B. Harvey Brooks, rector, (fn. 252) and it is now in the gift of trustees.
The living was a wealthy one, the rectory being valued in 1291 at £20, in addition to a pension of £1 6s. 8d. payable to the Priory of Hertford, (fn. 253) with which it had been charged by Ralph de Limesi when he founded the priory. (fn. 254) In 1535 the clear value of the glebeland, tithes, and other endowments was £23 18s. 4d. (fn. 255) Many of the medieval rectors were pluralists (fn. 256) and men of distinction, including the famous Chief Justice Ralph de Hengham (1303–10) and John de Sandale, who was Dean of St. Paul's when instituted in 1311 and only resigned the living on becoming Bishop of Winchester in 1316. Most famous of all was Dr. John Howman, better known as Feckenham. (fn. 257) He was a monk of Evesham and after the suppression of that abbey was given the living of Solihull, apparently in 1544, and is said to have held it until 1554, when on the accession of Queen Mary he was appointed Dean of St. Paul's. When that queen refounded Westminster Abbey he was made abbot; but on the accession of Elizabeth the abbey was again dissolved. He is alleged to have given £10 as the nucleus of a fund for the benefit of poor parishioners of Solihull. (fn. 258)
William de Oddingeseles in 1277 founded a chantry in the church with the consent and assistance of his mother Joan then wife of Ralph de Limesi. (fn. 259) As part of the endowment consisted of land near St. Alphege's well the chantry, of which the altar was in St. Alphege's Chapel, was sometimes known as Haliwell or Holywell. (fn. 260) After the death of Hugh Despenser in 1402 land belonging to Richard Caldeford, clerk, was acquired and given to the chaplain of this chantry to celebrate for the souls of Hugh and Sybil his wife; but as the licence for alienation in mortmain had not been obtained the land was seized into the king's hand. (fn. 261) By 1438 the revenues of the chantry had become too small to support a chaplain, so Thomas Greswold was given leave to grant land and rents to the value of 60s. yearly. (fn. 262) In 1535 the clear value of the chantry was £5 14s.; (fn. 263) the patronage had descended with the manor, (fn. 264) and in 1551 the patron Robert Throckmorton and the excantarist Robert Shelmarden were licensed to grant the estate to Clement Throckmorton, (fn. 265) who still held part, at least, of the chantry lands at his death in 1573. (fn. 266)
A second chantry seems to have been endowed in 1339, when William de Stowe and Thomas de Blaston, rector of Solihull, both being king's clerks, gave lands for the support of lights and the celebration of mass in the church. (fn. 267) This may have been at the altar of St. Mary and may have been united to the other chantry, as in 1537 William Reynolds died seised of a messuage in Whitloksfield held of the chantry of St. Mary and St. Alphege. (fn. 268)
Solihull United (Non-educational) Charities. By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 3 July 1903 it was determined that the whole of the endowment of the United Charities (fn. 269) should be held for educational purposes, other than the following yearly sums payable out of the yearly income of the charities:—
(1) £50 for the repairs of the parish church of Solihull, and £10 for repairs of the church of St. James, Shirley, in the ancient parish of Solihull, mentioned in clause 63 of the Scheme made on 4 February 1879 under the Endowed School Acts for the regulation of the Solihull United Charities.
(2) £20 for the relief of the poor or other pious charitable uses in the district parish of St. James, Shirley, and £40 for like purposes in the other part of the ancient parish of Solihull.
(3) £14 13s. for the organist of the parish church of Solihull.
The above-mentioned sums amounting to £134 13s. per annum are regularly paid out of income of the United Charities and applied as directed in the scheme.
Ann Greswold by will dated 23 March 1754 gave to the churchwardens £50, the interest to be distributed in bread to the poor of the parish. The legacy was afterwards represented by a rentcharge of £2 issuing out of the Malvern Hall Estate which was redeemed in 1929 for £80 Consols.
Henry Greswold Lewis of Malvern Hall, by will proved 9 November 1829 gave £500, the interest to be applied so that three poor old men and three poor old women, to be nominated by the owner of Malvern Hall, should receive yearly a gown of the colour of the Greswold livery, a pair of shoes, a pair of stockings, six pounds of beef and two pounds of bread each, the residue of the interest to be distributed to the same poor persons. The income amounting to £14 5s. 4d. annually is distributed in clothing, &c., as directed in the will. The Charity is administered by five trustees appointed under a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners of 9 August 1898 as varied by a Scheme of 19 December 1933 by which the charity is now regulated.
John Francis Greswolde-Williams by will proved 12 August 1892 gave to trustees £1,000, the income to be applied by the rector and churchwardens in food and clothing for the poor of the parish. The endowment now produces £25 15s. 4d. annually in dividends.
Thomas Lowe by will proved 28 May 1883 bequeathed to the vicar and churchwardens of Solihull £500, the interest to be applied in helping poor persons residing in Solihull to obtain the benefit of change of air or admission into hospitals and convalescent institutions. The legacy was invested and the income amounting to £15 12s. is so expended.
Clara Alice Capner by will proved 30 May 1935 bequeathed £50, the interest to be applied by the rector and churchwardens for keeping the churchyard of the parish church in proper order.