A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Population: 1911, 103; 1921, 78; 1931, 76.
This small parish, 2 miles from north-west to southeast with an average breadth of mile, lies on either side of a road from Fullready to Compton Wyniates. Most of the houses in the village are stone-walled cottages with no distinctive features. Some of them still have thatched roofs, and one near the church has a projecting oven with a tiny trefoiled light, perhaps removed from the church.
In 1086 the 5 hides of WHATCOTE (fn. 1) were among the estates of Hugh de Grentemaisnil and were held of him by Roger; before the Conquest the tenant had been Toli. (fn. 2) Hugh's lands were forfeited by his son Ives, (fn. 3) and the overlordship remained in the Crown.
An estate in Whatcote, probably equivalent to the later manor, was held in the 12th century by one Margery as her marriage portion; she died in or before 1206, having had three sons, Ralf, Ellis, and Nicholas, of whom the two first predeceased her. Ralf left a son Robert le Megre, who in 1206 leased a carucate of land here to his uncle Nicholas de Whatcote for life. (fn. 4) This Robert, who was one of the coroners of the county, (fn. 5) died c. 1220, leaving a son Robert, who inherited the estate (fn. 6) and probably died c. 1255, when Basile widow of Robert le Megre is mentioned. (fn. 7) The elder Robert seems to have been the husband of Olive, aunt and coheir of Richard de Arderne of Hampton-in-Arden (q.v.), (fn. 8) and father of William le Megre, who left two daughters as coheirs. One of them, Margery, married Philip le Lou and the other, Amice, married Philip's son John le Lou, (fn. 9) father and son being joint lords of Whatcote and dividing the vill between them in 1279. (fn. 10) Philip and Margery acquired part of Amice's share in 1285, (fn. 11) and he was described as lord of the vill in 1316. (fn. 12) In 1329 Margery, as widow of Philip 'le Wolf', settled the manor on herself for life and then on William, son of John de Heyford, and Amice his wife in tail, with contingent remainders to the said William's brother John and Lora his wife, or John son of Robert le Wolf. (fn. 13) Half the manor was conveyed by Joan wife of John son of Richard de Foxcote in 1355 to Thomas de Morehalle, clerk; (fn. 14) but the whole was acquired not long afterwards by Thomas, Earl of Stafford, and passed successively to his brothers William and Edmund. (fn. 15) In 1403 the manor was assigned in dower to Edmund's widow Anne and was valued at 66s. 8d. (fn. 16) It descended to Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham, who assigned it for life to Margaret, Countess of Richmond. (fn. 17) On her death in 1509 it reverted to Edward, Duke of Buckingham, (fn. 18) who in 1520 conveyed it to Sir William Compton. (fn. 19) He died seised thereof in 1528, (fn. 20) and the manor descended in the family of Compton, Earls of Northampton, until the early years of the 19th century. (fn. 21) By 1826 it was in the hands of Sir Adolphus John Dalrymple, bart., and Anne his wife; (fn. 22) he was lord of the manor in 1850 (fn. 23) and it is said to have been bought from him by 'the Peach family', (fn. 24) Capt. H. K. Peach being lord in about 1865. (fn. 25) It was subsequently acquired by the Earl of Macclesfield, after whose death in 1896 it was held by his trustees. (fn. 26)
Lawrence Shirley, senior and junior, were dealing with a manor of Whatcote in 1741; (fn. 27) the Hon. George Shirley is named as lord of the manor between 1751 and 1787, (fn. 28) as is Evelyn Shirley in 1789; (fn. 29) and as late as 1811 Evelyn John Shirley was dealing with the manor. (fn. 30)
To complicate the story, manorial rights seem to have been held in 1793 by Henry Drummond and Robert Udney, in 1801 by Thomas Graham, and in 1817 by Sir James Graham, bart. (fn. 31) They may have been lessees.
The church of ST. PETER is a small building with a chancel, nave, south porch, and west tower.
The nave dates from early to mid-12th century, the north doorway remaining in place, and probably two windows. Other windows are of the 13th century, when the chancel was rebuilt and the tower added: the upper part of the tower is a later 13th-century sequence, but it has been constantly repaired and altered during the subsequent centuries, as two of the bell-chamber windows, at least, are of the 15th century, as well as the parapet. There have been modern restorations including the rebuilding of the east wall.
The church was damaged by an enemy bomb in 1941. The south wall of the nave west of the porch was completely destroyed as well as part of the porch, and also the west half of the nave roof. The font was smashed and practically the whole of the window-glass shattered. The other walls were left standing, and during 1947 the church was completely restored.
The chancel (about 25 ft. by 14 ft.) has an east window of three pointed lights and plain intersecting tracery in a two-centred head with an external hoodmould: the jambs are of two chamfered orders. It is probably of the early 14th century and therefore reset.
In the north wall the only window is close to the west end: it is a plain rectangular light with jambs of one chamfered order, perhaps an alteration of a 13thcentury lancet: the rear-arch is elliptical and of modern stone.
There are two windows in the south wall, the western like that opposite but with an old rear-arch; the eastern is a 14th-century window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights under a square head with piercings and a plain hood-mould. The jambs are of two chamfers, and the wide splays are of rubble. Near the west window is a 13th-century priest's doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head, with a moulded square impost and a modern elliptical rear-arch.
The east wall, probably rebuilt in the 19th century, is of alternate courses of yellow ashlar and grey-white lias stone. The north and south walls are of ancient coursed yellow rubble. The interior is plastered, but a plain string-course with a chamfered lower edge runs round the walls below the window-ledges.
The roof is steeply pitched and concealed by a plastered coved ceiling except for two old tie-beams: it is covered with tiles.
The chancel arch has splayed responds with a chamfered impost and a two-centred head of two chamfered orders. It is very plain and hard to date but possibly 13th-century.
The nave (about 46 ft. by 20 ft.) has three north windows. That near the east end is a rectangular light set high in the wall with ancient yellow stone jambs and head, and a splayed segmental rear-vault. The jambs are chamfered and the splays are of old rubble with ashlar angle-dressings. The other two windows are round-headed lights: the eastern has a 12th-century head in one stone that once had traces of carving. The western has restored head and splays but the chamfered external jambs are of old yellow stone. Between the last two is the blocked 12th-century doorway. It has a round head with an edge-roll, a cable-mould, and, on the vertical face, a series of small lozenges. The hollowchamfered hood-mould is enriched with billet ornament and, on the vertical face, hatched ornament. In it is a plain tympanum. The arch is carried on nookshafts, with perished cushion capitals, once carved, and moulded abaci and perished bases.
The opposite entrance in the south wall is perhaps of the 14th century and is of two chamfered orders, with a pointed head, but the semicircular rear-arch may be a 12th-century survival. East of the doorway are three windows. The easternmost, set low in the wall, is a 13th-century lancet with rebated and chamfered jambs and head, external hood-mould and segmental-pointed rear-arch. The second, a single pointed light set high in the wall, was probably a later medieval enlargement of the 12th-century window: it has ancient singlechamfered jambs and a modern head, and the inner splays and the splayed rear vault have been rebuilt. The third, of about mid-height on the wall, is an early14th-century window of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and a plain spandrel in a pointed head with an external hood-mould: the top foils are ogee-pointed. The jambs are of one chamfer, the splays are of rubble, and the pointed rear-arch of ashlar. The destroyed window, west of the entrance, was of two plain pointed lights and spandrel in a two-centred head without a hood-mould. It does not appear to have been very old.
The north and south walls, to the east of the doorways, are of yellow small coursed rubble roughly squared and probably of the 12th century, with ashlar angle-dressings at the east end. The west part of the north wall is of later coursed ashlar and the south wall was similar. The 4 or 5 ft. at the tops of the walls are of modern grey lias coursed stonework, having been heightened for a moderately low-pitched roof which is covered with blue slates. The weather-course of the much higher former steep-pitched roof is marked on the east wall of the tower. The east half of the modern roof remains in place, with a plastered soffit.
At the east end of the north wall is a 16th- or 17thcentury wide buttress of rubble with yellow dressings.
The south porch (8 ft. square) may have been a 15th-century addition: the entrance had moulded jambs and a segmental-pointed head with a hoodmould. In the east wall is a small pointed light with a segmental-pointed rear-arch. The walls are of largish coursed rough ashlar.
The west tower (about 10 ft. by 10 ft.) is of two stages divided by a plain string-course low down. The stonework suggests constant repairs through the centuries. The lower stage of the west and south sides is of coursed yellow ashlar; the upper part of the south side is of smaller yellow stones as coursed rough ashlar up to the parapet; the west face up to one course below the parapet is of much later small grey lias stones, but the yellow angle-dressings are ancient; the north face is all of yellow coursed rough ashlar of large and small stones. At the west angles are low 15th-century diagonal buttresses of ashlar. The east wall is of small squared white stone rubble up to the old nave-gable but above the weather-course it is like the north and south sides. There is no plinth. The Hornton-stone ashlar parapet is embattled with 15th-century returned copings to the merlons: on one of the east merlons is carved a shield with a cheveron.
The entrance from the nave to the tower is by a low doorway with chamfered jambs and pointed head of the 13th or 14th century. In the west wall of the lowest story is a tiny lancet with the head in two stones. In the south wall of the second story is a small rectangular light. The bell-chamber has a different kind of window in each wall. In the south wall is a small lancet, in the west a pair of lancets, of which the northern has a restored head. In the north is a 15th-century window of two cinquefoiled pointed lights and tracery in a two-centred head with a hood-mould, and in the east another 15th-century window of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and plain piercings in a square head with a label.
There are several bad cracks in the south and east walls, and the walls were strengthened with iron bolts and straps in the 19th century.
The fittings in the church have been largely injured or destroyed. The font is a plain round one of uncertain age: the bowl is made of a very hard, gritty stone with thin sides (2 in.) and has a chamfered lower edge. The stem is plain. It was broken by the bomb but has been repaired.
There were five panelled bench-ends of the early 16th century and an 18th-century communion table and communion rails with moulded balusters.
In the chancel is a floor-slab on which is incised a cross and a chalice with a Latin inscription to Thomas Nelle, rector 1490. East of it was a brass effigy of a priest bearing a chalice, but the head of the figure was missing: it had an inscription to William Auldyngton, rector . The indent remains in the floor. There is also a mural monument to the Rev. John Davenport, who was rector for 70 years and 6 months and died at the age of 101 in 1668, and his wife: and there are later monuments. Near the entrance to the nave is a floor-slab to John Neele, 1683, and his wife Elizabeth.
There are three bells, one by John Clark, 1711, the others of 1878 and 1897. (fn. 32)
The communion cup is of 1719, but the paten given with it in that year is without hall-mark and clearly belonged to a larger cup. (fn. 33)
The registers begin in 1572.
In the churchyard south of the nave is a tall medieval cross with an octagonal shaft on a chamfered base and two steps. The head was replaced by an 18th-century cube sundial surmounted by a ball finial.
In 1086 there was a priest attached to the manor of Whatcote, (fn. 34) and for 250 years the advowson of the church descended with the manor. In 1279 Philip le Lou and his son John were joint lords of the manor and patrons of the church, (fn. 35) which in 1291 was valued at 4 6s. 8d. (fn. 36) They in 1281 presented a relative, John le Lou, who was licensed to be absent from his cure for a year while studying; (fn. 37) ten years later he had leave of absence for three years on a visit to the Holy Land, provided that he gave 20s. yearly to the poor of the parish; (fn. 38) and in 1305 he was allowed to go to Rome on business. (fn. 39) It was possibly on his death that, in 1310, Philip le Lou and Margery obtained licence to grant the advowson to the nuns of Pinley Priory, (fn. 40) but the idea was evidently abandoned, as Margery 'le Wolfe' was patron in 1329, (fn. 41) and the advowson passed in 1355 with the manor to Thomas de Morehalle, who in November 1367 had licence to grant it to the Priory of Little Malvern. (fn. 42) Although the monks were at the same time licensed to appropriate the rectory, they seem to have thought it not worth the expense. In 1535 the living was valued at 12 17s. 3d. (fn. 43) At the Dissolution the advowson came into the king's hands and was subsequently reunited to the manor, with which it descended until 1890, when the benefice was united with that of Oxhill in the patronage of Capt. J. C. J. Soutter. (fn. 44) The advowson was conveyed to the Coventry Diocesan Board of Patronage in 1945. (fn. 45)
Richard Badger's Charity. The share of this charity applicable for the parish of Whatcote consists of 1/84th of the income of the charity, amounting to 8 18s. 4d. This sum is applied by the rector and churchwardens towards the cost of keeping the parish church in proper repair and maintaining divine service.