A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 5, Kington Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1949.
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Great Wolford: 1,369.
Little Wolford: 1,343.
Great Wolford: 1911, 158; 1921, 139; 1931, 128.
Little Wolford: 1911, 163; 1921, 163; 1931, 161.
Wolford, near the extreme south of the county, forms a roughly triangular block with its base, 4 miles in length, to the south and its apex 2½ miles to the north. It is divided into two equal portions, Great Wolford to the west and Little Wolford to the east, by the Nethercote Brook, which runs west as the southern boundary of Little Wolford to a point ½ mile south of Nethercote Bridge and there turns due north. Another small stream forms the western boundary of Great Wolford and joins the Nethercote Brook at the apex of the triangle. At the south-western angle of the base of the triangle is the Four Shire Stone, where the counties of Warwick, Gloucester, Oxford, and Worcester meet. (fn. 1) The country is undulating, mostly between the 300-ft. and 400-ft. contour-lines, with a large block of woodland in the south-west, while on the east is Little Wolford Heath and part of Weston Park.
The village of Great Wolford lies at the junction of two roads, one from the road from Moreton-in-theMarsh to Chipping Norton at Four Shire Stone, the other from Barton-on-the-Heath, and retains portions of the earthworks by which it was formerly surrounded. (fn. 2) The houses generally are of local Cotswold yellow stone, some thatched but mostly stone-tiled, with no distinctive features. In the yard of a farm-house southwest of the church is a stone pigeon-house of c. 1700, with stone-tiled saddle-back roof and lantern. The Fox and Hounds Inn is a 17th-century building with some mullioned windows and moulded ceiling beams.
In 1226 there were a fulling mill and a corn-mill in Wolford; (fn. 3) and in 1605 there were two water-mills. (fn. 4) The site of one, or both, of these may have been on the Nethercote Brook near the present Red Mill Farm.
The hamlet of Little Wolford, a mile north-east of Great Wolford, lies to the west of the road from Shipston-on-Stour to Chipping Norton, which enters the parish at Mitford Bridge. It contains a few farmhouses and stone cottages scattered round the Manor House. In a wall on the road-side by the Manor House is a public drinking-fountain set in a recess partly made up of architectural fragments, including pieces of 15thcentury windows and a number of early-17th-century carved stones, one of these being a broken shield of (Ralph) Sheldon impaling (Anne) Throckmorton.
At the beginning of the 13th century the land at Little Wolford was apparently worked on the two-field system, as a virgate there was said to contain '27 acres in one field and 18 in the other, so that what it lacks in one is made up in the other, for 22½ acres in each field makes up one virgate'. A second virgate, of demesne land, contained 17 acres in one field and 27½ acres in the other, with 'the meadow of Burleforde which is called Hullimed'. The constituent strips of another half-virgate include the place-names of Brodemere, Hakebroke, Newyntonesputte, Bludiputte, Colputte, Yperwelle (now Pepperwell), and Mersiche (fn. 5) —names suggesting a district full of small streams and ponds.
Little Wolford Manor House is of two stories and of L-shaped plan, the north range extending east and containing the principal rooms and the other range extending south at the west end and containing the kitchen and offices. Another wing that once extended south at the east end to form the other side of a courtyard is said to have contained a 'great chamber', and the stair-vice which was in the angle with the north range still survives. The north range, built entirely of stone, is probably of 15th-century date, and the west wing a 16th-century addition in two periods; its lower story is of stone, the upper of timber-framing. The wing was short, and south of it was a small courtyard with remains of fenestrated side-walls and beyond that an old bakehouse. The courtyard has now been replaced by a continuation of the wing joining up with the twostoried bakehouse, which has become the servants' hall. Another addition built recently by the present owner is an extension westwards of the north range.
The house was occupied by the Ingrams from the 16th to the 18th century but by 1840 it had fallen into extreme decay and the estate had passed by heritage to Samuel Amy Severne of Wallop Hall, Salop. It was bought by Sir George Phillips who repaired the house, and later the hall became the village school-room and the west part separate tenements. The north range served as the manor farm until, a few years ago, it was taken over by the owner, Sir Robert Hilton, as a residence and completely repaired and enlarged. Old fire-places, &c., have been introduced from elsewhere.
The north range contains the hall in the middle: this once had an upper floor, now removed so that the hall is open to the roof, which is modern. West of it is the screens passage, entered by north and south doorways; next west is a modern staircase and beyond that the dining-room, formerly the farm-house kitchen. East of the hall a parlour forms the end room, the story above being approached by the fairly large ancient vice. On the north side, overlapping both parlour and hall, is a short two-storied wing, possibly an early-18thcentury addition. The range towards the former courtyard, including the stair-vice, is faced with ashlar and has a moulded plinth: the remainder is built of irregular rubble with angle-dressings. Generally, all the windows of the range have from two to four elliptical-headed lights under square main heads with moulded labels. One in the south side to the former upper story of the hall and two in the north side to the room over the dining-room are gabled half-dormers.
The south entrance to the screens-passage has 15thcentury moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head with a moulded label. In it is a good contemporary oak door of eight vertical panels and a traceried head with moulded ribs or muntins, and a middle rail below which the panels are trefoil-headed. The doorway is covered by a gabled porch which has a carved achievement of Ingram quartering Hastang, with Mollins in pretence and initials h and a.i. (fn. 6) and date 1671. The entrance to the porch has a four-centred arch in a square head with a moulded drip-stone: the walls are of ashlar and the gable-head has a coping and ballfinial. The angle-turret, which shows four sides of an octagon, has an upper loop-light and in its south face a cross loop as well as a modern arched upper window in the east face. Repairs show where the west wall of the former east range met the turret. The north entrance to the screens-passage has a plain four-centred head: in it is a door of early-16th-century linen-fold panelling. The projecting chimney-stack of the hall fire-place has a gable-head, and above it a small stone shaft. At the east end of the range a doorway opens into the parlour. It is like the south entrance to the screens, but has no label. The windows in this wall are ancient and in the gable-head is a sundial.
The lower story of the east face of the west wing is of stone rubble differing from that of the other walls. The north half has a three-sided bay window, probably of the same date as the porch. The south half has a new window lighting the kitchen, replacing a former doorway. The upper story is jettied and of timber-framing, perhaps of two periods. The north half, presumably the earlier, is of plain studding with a low bressummer immediately above the stone bay window, now with a modern fascia-board. The eaves of the roof are a little higher than that of the north range and in the middle is a five-light oriel window projecting on curved brackets and with a moulded sill, angle-posts, and cornice: above the window is a small gable with a moulded bressummer. The south half, which is of closer studding, has its bressummer about 2 ft. higher than the other and above it is a projecting gable-head. The moulded bressummers are of later contours than the others. The angle-posts have small shafts cut out of the solid, with moulded bases and octagonal capitals from which spring curved struts to support the projecting ends of the wall-plates that flank the gable-head. The brackets below the lower overhang are modern. It has a similar oriel window with old moulded mullions and transom. The sides of the oriels are boarded and pierced with cross-lunettes looking towards the south entrance to the courtyard.
The west side of this wing is of stone rubble-work and has a gable-head opposite the other. The part beyond the north half (the pantry) projects rather more and has a curved projection in the angle to form a passage to avoid something that is now missing. In the south wall of the projection next to the curved part is a modern doorway and above it an attractive small 15thcentury window of two trefoiled lights and a foiled piercing in a four-centred head.
The roofs are covered with stone tiles: the chimneyshafts are plain and of the 18th century or later.
There are several interesting features inside. The screens-passage is divided from the hall by a moulded and panelled wood partition. The hall, now paved with stone in place of former wood, is open to the roof. In its north wall is a wide stone fire-place with moulded jambs and four-centred head: it has a stone overmantel carved with the Ingram arms, flanked by terminal figures and between two decorated panels, with a moulded cornice over all. In the seven lights of the two south windows are set coloured shields of the Ingram arms impaling others: four are in Tudor wreaths: one is dated 1557. The walls are lined to about 9 ft. high with late-16th-century panelling.
The east parlour is lined with late-16th-century panelling from a London house and has a modern north fire-place and a reset 16th-century stone overmantel from Barnstaple carved with a coat of arms.
The small chamber north-east of the hall is lined with early-18th-century panelling, partly oak and partly deal, now cleared of its paint. It has a modern east fire-place for which a window was blocked.
The dining-room, formerly the kitchen, has a 10-ft. stone fire-place with a chamfered oak bressummer and an open timbered ceiling. The new room west of the dining-room has a 17th-century carved stone fireplace from elsewhere: in the entablature is a coat of arms: a cheveron between three compasses (the Carpenters' Company, London).
The room over the east parlour has an early-18thcentury stone fire-place and is lined with 17th-century oak panelling from elsewhere. In the east window is old lattice glazing, one quarry scratched with 'D. Ingram 1711'. The cross-passage west of this room from the vice has a peephole in its west wall looking down into the hall: this is an ancient two-light window with trefoiled heads from Bideford.
Over the old kitchen is partly exposed a roof truss with a cambered tie-beam and queen-posts, and the room is lined with 18th-century panelling. The 'Oak room' over the pantry has an indigenous stone fireplace with hollow-moulded jambs and four-centred and square head: part of the late-16th-century dado is also original, but the room is lined mostly with panelling from Barnstaple.
The servants' hall (the former bakehouse) still has the original great oven projecting from the east face and roofed.
There is a low garden wall, once higher, across the south side of the courtyard. In it is a moulded gateway with a segmental arch and a gable-head with a ball finial, of the same period as the porch. Another gateway on the west side of the public roadway is of the 18th century: the stone square posts have moulded caps but have lost their finials. It has wrought-iron gates and overthrow.
In the Domesday Survey there are five entries relating to Wolford: (1) Bishop Odo of Bayeux had 1½ hides in 'Ulware', which Wadard held of him and Gerold of Wadard. (fn. 7) This had been held before the Conquest by Alvric, who had also held (2) 4½ hides in 'Ulwarda', which in 1086 Ralf held under the Count of Meulan. (fn. 8) Robert de Stafford had three holdings: (3) he held in demesne 7 hides in 'Volwarde' which had formerly been held by Waga (fn. 9) (who gave his name to Wootton Wawen); (fn. 10) (4) Ordwi held of him 2 hides in 'Worworde' which Alwi had held; (fn. 11) (5) Alwin held of him 2 hides 'in the same vill' which had been held by (? the same) Alwin. (fn. 12) This gives a total of 17 hides, and it is tempting to reconstruct a pre-Conquest 20-hide unit by adding from the Stafford entries 2 hides in Ditchford (in Barton-on-the-Heath), which was called a hamlet of Wolford in 1316, (fn. 13) and 1 hide in 'Edelmitone' (possibly a detached portion of Tidmington, Glos.). (fn. 14)
The overlordship of WOLFORD descended in the Stafford family and on the death of Robert, the last male representative of the main line, passed to his sister Milicent. (fn. 15) She married Hervey Bagot and their son Hervey de Stafford held 1 knight's fee in Wolford in 1212. (fn. 16) Milicent de Stafford herself was still living and apparently holding the manor in 1221. (fn. 17) By 1242 the fee, then held of Robert de Stafford, was divided into 2 half-fees, in Great and Little Wolford respectively. (fn. 18) These figure among the fees of successive Earls of Stafford between 1372 and 1402, (fn. 19) and of Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, killed in the Battle of Northampton in 1460. (fn. 20) At the attainder of Edward, Duke of Buckingham, in 1521, he was said to hold the manors of Great and Little Wolford, (fn. 21) but he had in the previous year conveyed them to trustees (fn. 22) for sale to Sir William Compton. (fn. 23) They descended in this family until 1819, when Charles, Marquess of Northampton, sold to Lord Redesdale. (fn. 24) He died in 1830 and his son, created Earl of Redesdale in 1877, dying unmarried in 1886, left his estates to his cousin Algernon Bertram Mitford, who took the additional name of Freeman and was created Baron Redesdale in 1902. He died in 1916 and was succeeded by his son, the second Lord Redesdale, (fn. 25) who was lord of the manor of Great Wolford in 1932. (fn. 26)
In 1351 Ralph, Baron of Stafford, settled on himself, with remainder to his son Hugh and his issue, the reversion of the manor of 'Wolford' after the deaths of John Gobaud and Margery his wife, (fn. 27) who were presumably tenants for life under an unrecorded lease. On the death of Ralph, Earl of Stafford, in 1372, 'Great Wolford' figured among his manors held of the king, (fn. 28) as it did on the death of Humphrey, Duke of Buckingham, in 1460; (fn. 29) but in 1520 Edward, Duke of Buckingham settled the manors of Great and Little Wolford, (fn. 30) and both descended together in the Compton family, as already mentioned.
About 1600 Robert Catesby seems to have bought the manors of Great and Little Wolford from Lord Compton, (fn. 31) and in 1605 he, with his father-in-law Sir Thomas Leigh and Lord Ellesmere and his wife Alice (sister of the second wife of Henry, Lord Compton), conveyed the manors to Thomas Spencer (of Claverdon) and Edward Sheldon, (fn. 32) who are named in 1606 as holding the manor of Great Wolford. (fn. 33) There seems to have been some irregularity in the transaction, as the manors certainly returned, as already mentioned, to the Compton family.
The history of the subinfeudation of Wolford is very confused and obscure. In 1242 a half-fee in GREAT WOLFORD was held of Robert de Stafford by Hawise de Wulleward. (fn. 34) She is probably the Hawise, widow of Richard de Gloucestre, to whom in 1252 Gilbert de Gloucestre, Richard's son, (fn. 35) warranted a moiety of a quarter-fee in Great Wolford, which William de Upton quitclaimed to him. (fn. 36) In 1221 Richard de Gloucestre had called Milicent de Stafford to warrant to him 5 hides in Wolford which were being claimed by Nicholas de Hampton and Fluria his wife and Roger Levelaunce and Alice his wife, the wives being sisters of Robert son of Robert son of John Belet, who had held the land in right of his wife Alice in the reign of Henry II. (fn. 37) Subsequently, in 1225, Richard had made over to Roger and Alice the southern moieties of these lands, described in detail, and had granted them his fulling-mill in exchange for the capital messuage and the advowson of the church. (fn. 38) In 1272 William Levelance granted 6½ virgates in Great Wolford to Ralph Levelance for his life; (fn. 39) Ralph Lyvelaunce was one of the two largest contributors to the subsidy of 1332 in Great Wolford, (fn. 40) but no later reference to this family here is known. In 1316 a quarter of the manor of Great Wolford was conveyed by William rector of Newbold Pacy (probably as trustee) to John de Upton and Joan. (fn. 41)
Among the knights' fees of Ralph, Earl of Stafford, who died in 1372, Great Wolford was entered as held by Robert Verney. (fn. 42) Other members of the family occur, as Roger Verney in 1396 (fn. 43) and William son of Robert Verney in 1467; (fn. 44) the latter is probably the William Verney of Great Wolford mentioned in 1474 with Richard and Edmund Verney of Compton 'Mordak' (later Compton Verney); (fn. 45) but there is nothing to show the origin or nature of their connexion with Wolford.
In 1516 John Rose and Joan his wife conveyed a moiety of the manor of Wolford to John Dyngley; (fn. 46) and in 1528 William Yns and Frances his wife conveyed to William Dyngley a moiety of the manor of Great Wolford, with warranty against the heirs of Frances. (fn. 47)
The half-fee in LITTLE WOLFORD in 1242 was held of Robert de Stafford by Ingeram of Wolford. (fn. 48) He was the son of John and grandson of Roger, as he had an uncle Ingeram 'the old', son of Roger, (fn. 49) and seems to have been connected with the family of Hastang, as he is called Ingelram Hasting in 1221 (fn. 50) and his uncle was known by the same name (fn. 51) earlier. The younger Ingeram is also called 'of Wolford' (fn. 52) and 'of Barton' (fn. 53) in 1221 when he was acquitted on an appeal by Sybil, widow of Simon de Barton, of having been associated with Roger of Wolford when the latter killed her husband. This Simon of Barton-on-theHeath (q.v.) had recovered ½ hide in 'upper' Wolford from Ingeram and given, or confirmed, it to Walter de Cumtone, who gave it to his son Aumary, to hold of Simon, and Aumary bestowed it upon the Abbey of Oseney. (fn. 54) In 1279 Little Wolford is said to have been held by Thomas of Little Wolford of Cecily de Mucegros, who held of John de Boys, and he of Ellen la Zouche, who held of the king: (fn. 55) a statement which involves a number of insoluble problems.
The lists of the Stafford fees are confusing: in 1392, as already noted, Great Wolford was held by Robert Verney, and 'Wolford' by William Clerk, (fn. 56) who in 1386 held the fees in Great and Little Wolford. (fn. 57) These were both held in 1392, 1398, and 1402 by William Ingram, (fn. 58) while in 1460 they are attributed to the heirs of William Clerk, (fn. 59) which may mean that Ingram had inherited them from Clerk but in any case does not explain how the latter obtained them. Nor is there any evidence that the Ingrams were in fact connected with the Ingeram named above. (fn. 60) John Ingram was bailiff of Sir William Compton's manors of Great and Little Wolford in 1528 (fn. 61) and died in 1541, having held a manor of Wolford, which he had settled in 1530 on his son Richard, to whom he afterwards sold it. (fn. 62) Richard made a conveyance of the manor of Little Wolford in 1551 to John Lyngen, (fn. 63) presumably for a trust or mortgage, as at his death in 1562 Richard held the manor of Wolford of Henry Compton as of his manor of Tysoe, having settled it in 1544 on his wife Mary, his son Anthony, and the heirs of Mary. (fn. 64) Anthony was dealing with the manor of Little Wolford in 1566, (fn. 65) as was his grandson Hastings Ingram in 1652. (fn. 66) The manor continued in this family, being held by the Rev. John Ingram in 1748 and by Anne and Mary Ingram between 1785 and 1790. (fn. 67) Henry Drummond and Robert Udney occur as lords in 1793, (fn. 68) probably as trustees, as does Samuel Amy Severne in 1839, he having inherited the property under the will of Mary Ingram in 1824. (fn. 69) It was bought by Sir George Phillips, who still held it in 1850, (fn. 70) but is now apparently extinct, the estate having been left by Lord Camperdown, who married Sir George's daughter, to his agent, Mr. Warriner, and subsequently broken up. (fn. 71)
One Richard Chance (or Chauce) held by prescription view of frankpledge and other franchises in Wolford in 1285, (fn. 72) and he is probably the Richard de Cauz who is named as holding Wolford with the hamlets of Burmington and Ditchford in 1316. (fn. 73)
The church of ST. MICHAEL consists of a shallow chancel 9½ ft. deep by 18 ft. wide, with a small north vestry, nave 56½ ft. by 35 ft., and west porch-tower 13 ft. square with a spire.
The church was entirely rebuilt in 1833 and restored in 1885. Not a vestige of ancient architecture has been preserved. The spire had to be repaired in 1910 after being struck by lightning.
The chancel has an east window of four lights and tracery of 15th-century style, and the chancel arch is four-centred. The wide nave is of late-13th-century style and has five two-light windows in each side. The entrance is through the west tower. The roofs are lowpitched.
All the furniture is modern, but a number of old monuments and floor-slabs have been saved.
On the north wall of the sanctuary is a white-veined marble monument to Hastings Ingram of Little Wolford and Ann (Mollins) his wife. It is undated but is probably of the late 17th century. Ann was the granddaughter of Sir Thomas Aston, bart., of Cheshire. On the south wall is a marble monument to Aston Ingram 1711, also to his daughter Barbara under whose direction the monument was erected; she died 1737. On the east wall another is to Ann Ingram 1812 and Barbara 1835. On the south wall of the nave is a plain stone tablet with a Latin inscription to Hastings Ingram only son of John, 1665, aged 68. All have shields of arms. On the west wall above the doorway to the tower another tablet is to Barbara Ingram, relict of Aston and daughter of Sir John Clopton, 1745. There are floorslabs to Hastings Ingram 1693, aged 72; to Edward, Katherine, and Frances, children of Hastings Ingram all died in 1686; to John Ingram 1785, and to Ann Ingram 18.. Others are to Edward Oakley, 1670, and Margaret (Barry) his widow, 1706; to John Oakley 1715, and to Edward Oakley 1740.
In the tower is a decrepit chair of c. 1700 with a caned high back.
There are six bells: (fn. 74) the treble, second, and fourth 'cast' (? given) by Captain, or Major, Thomas Keyte 1690, 1689, and 1690; third by J. Rudhall 1792; fifth by Matthew Bagley 1752; and the tenor by G. Mears & Co. 1864.
The communion plate includes a plain cup, with cover paten, of 1676, and a remarkable hexagonal gilt cup, probably of foreign make, with highly ornamented foot and stem, given in 1704 by Mr. and Mrs. Ingram. (fn. 75)
The registers begin in 1654.
The church of Wolford was given to Kenilworth Priory by Maud widow of Nicholas de Stafford with the consent of her son Robert de Stafford, and was among the properties confirmed to the priory by Henry II in 1177. (fn. 76) It was, probably shortly afterwards, transferred to the Priory of Stone (Staffs.), (fn. 77) a quasi-cell of Kenilworth, and when in 1242 Gilbert son of Richard de Gloucestre alleged his father's possession of the advowson by a fine of 1225, (fn. 78) the canons of Stone produced a charter of Richard's ancestor Ralph son of Stephen confirming Robert de Stafford's grant of the advowson to the canons. (fn. 79) In 1267 Roger, Prior of Stone, and his convent sold the advowson to Walter de Merton's newly founded School of Maldon (Surrey), (fn. 80) which became in 1274 Merton College, Oxford, in whose possession the patronage has remained.
Bishop Godfrey Giffard in 1268 confirmed the transfer, (fn. 81) and in 1270 ordained a vicarage, of which, by arrangement with the rector, William de Mepham, the collation was to be held by the Bishop of Worcester. (fn. 82) In 1279, however, the vicarage was reannexed to the rectory. (fn. 83) The church, with its chapel of Burmington, was valued in 1291 at £17 6s. 8d. (fn. 84) In 1311 the Warden and scholars of Merton were licensed to appropriate the church and chapel of their own advowson. (fn. 85) They then presented Mr. Richard de Hakebourn to the living, but his presentation was opposed by Mr. William de Mepham, claiming to have long been incumbent. (fn. 86) The matter was referred to the court of Canterbury, who decided in favour of Hakebourn and instituted him in January 1312. (fn. 87) He was then only an acolyte but during 1312 was promoted to priest, (fn. 88) and also had leave to farm his church for two years. (fn. 89) The actual appropriation of the rectory to Merton College was made by Bishop Cobham on 20 July 1322, (fn. 90) and was followed in November by the ordination of a vicarage. (fn. 91) The college undertook to build a convenient house for the vicar, who was to have the tithes of wool and the small tithes generally, as well as all offerings. In return he was to maintain the chancel and its ornaments and to pay the clerk, unless it was the custom for the parishioners to do so. The pension due to the mother-church of Wolford, namely, 10s. from the rector of the chapel of Ditchford and 2s. from the chapel of Burmington, were to remain to the college. In 1323 the vicarage was taxed at 8 marks. (fn. 92) Later the vicarage must again have been united to the rectory, as in 1535 the Commissioners noted that 'the parish church of Great and Little Wolford is appropriated to Merton College, who take all issues of the rectory and vicarage'. (fn. 93) The rectory was then farmed at £13 6s. 8d., John Ingram receiving a fee of 6s. 8d. as bailiff. (fn. 94)
Among other lands bought of the Crown by Edward Chamberleyn in 1550 was 'the late chapel called Seinte Leonardes Chapell' in Little Wolford and 2 acres in the common fields there given to lamps and lights. (fn. 95) No other reference to this chapel is known.
Richard Badger's Charity. The share of this charity applicable for the parish of Wolford consists of two yearly sums of £17 16s. 9d. representing the church share, applied towards the repair of the parish church, and the poor's share, applied for the benefit of deserving poor of the parish.
Hastings Ingram by will dated 5 Aug. 1746 gave to the vicar and overseers of Wolford an annuity or yearly rent-charge of 40s. for the use and benefit of the poor inhabitants of Little Wolford, and also an annuity or yearly rent-charge of 10s. for the use and benefit of poor inhabitants of Great Wolford. The testator directed that both annuities should be payable out of a half yardland in Little Wolford. The annuities are regularly paid and applied as directed in the will.