A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Population: 1911, 1,259; 1921, 1,712; 1931, 3,786.
Hillmorton parish lies to the south-east of Rugby, in which borough it has been absorbed since 1932, except for the eastern part, which has been annexed for civil purposes to Clifton-upon-Dunsmore. Though not widely known by name, it is perhaps the most prominent of all Warwickshire parishes, the 820-ft. masts of the Post Office wireless station being a landmark for some twenty miles around. (fn. 1) The parish forms the eastern end of the tract of high ground of which the western part is Dunsmore, and there are good views from the village over the flat country south and east into Northamptonshire. Its eastern boundary is the Watling Street. The Rains Brook divides Hillmorton from Barby and Kilsby in Northants. on the south, and the northern boundary of the parish is formed by a small tributary of the Avon, the ground rising from about 300 ft. by these streams to over 400 ft. at the top of the village. Though they never seem to have had separate existence as manors, the parish is made up, and its name derived from, two townships Hull and Morton, which even in Dugdale's time were to some extent distinct, the former 'conteyning that part standing on the Bank', the latter, 'where the church is, that below in a moorish flat ground'. (fn. 2) Thomas, noting the number of houses in 1730 as 74, states that 'this Town stood formerly more in the bottom nearer the Church than it does now', (fn. 3) and the two main streets of the village, running parallel east and west, continued to be known as Upper and Lower Street. The former, which is part of the main road from Northampton to Coventry, throws off a branch to Rugby and expands into an attractive green, on which stand the remains of the market cross. West of the green there has been much building in recent years, linking the old village with Rugby. The market, which like that at Dunchurch was much better situated in the pre-railway age than that of Rugby which later supplanted it, was first granted in 1265 (fn. 4) but was obsolete by the mid 17th century. To the north and east of the village the parish is traversed by the Oxford Canal; and the main lines of the L.M.S.R. (from the embankment of which the church is well seen) and L.N.E.R. cross the parish, Rugby Station on the latter being very near its western boundary.
On the Rugby-Northampton road, immediately east of the two railway bridges in the parish, is a cottage divided into two tenements. It has a plastered front of the second half of the 18th century, but its roof pitch and slight internal traces of timber-framing indicate a much earlier date, perhaps the 16th century.
In the upper village are the remains of a 14th-century stone cross. It has a graduated and moulded base about 8 ft. high, above which is a simply moulded shaft of red sandstone surviving to a height of 7 ft. In the village on the south side of the road, slightly west of the cross, is a house (No. 88) with 17th-century timber-framing internally, now cased in brick of the second quarter of the 18th century, with a modillioned eaves-cornice.
Two hundred yards farther west is a house ('Handley Cross') now divided into two tenements, having a central hall between two cross wings. Although the plan is of an early type, the gables of the wings suggest by their pitch a date in the first half of the 16th century. The hall is not open to the roof, having an attic which connects the upper story of the wings. A beam with stopped chamfers extends from a fireplace at the west end of the hall to the outer wall of the east wing. The only timbering visible externally is at the rear of the house, and this has been considerably altered from its original arrangement.
Farther west are two 17th-century cottages which have dormers and square-panelled timber-framing with diagonal braces resting on a rubble base.
In the lower part of the village about ¼ mile south of the church is a house having square-panelled timberframing of the 17th century.
Windmills are mentioned in 1582 (fn. 5) and 1604. (fn. 6) An Inclosure Act for 16¼ yardlands or 569 acres was passed in 1753. (fn. 7) Extensive inclosure had occurred early in the 17th century, as in 1633 Mary Astley, widow, was said to be responsible for the decay of fifteen houses and 250 acres of arable. (fn. 8)
James Petiver (1663–1718), botanist and entomologist, was a native of Hillmorton. (fn. 9) In September 1642 Nehemiah Wharton passed with his regiment through Hillmorton, 'where we had a supply of drink, which upon a march is a very rare and extraordinary welcome'. (fn. 10) The church tower and bells were in a bad way about this time, and were ordered to be repaired in 1653 by levy 'according to the pound rent of every man's land'. (fn. 11) In 1666 Hillmorton, whose inhabitants 'have not many poor of their own to maintain' was ordered to make a contribution to the maintenance of the poor of Rugby, (fn. 12) thus in a manner anticipating the present position, the village having developed as a good-class suburb of Rugby and most of the intervening land being now occupied by residences of a superior type.
The ownership of land in HILLMORTON is difficult to establish from Domesday Book owing to the confusion between Morton and Marton, but the 1 hide and onesixth hide held by Hugh de Grentemaisnil of the king in charge (in custodia) certainly refers to Hillmorton, as this holding extended also into the neighbouring parish of Willoughby. Grinchet and Suain had been in possession before 1066. (fn. 13) As Hillmorton was later one of the Earl of Warwick's manors, it is probably right to connect it with three small estates of the Count of Meulan in 'Mortone', one (1½ hides) being in 1086 held of him by Mereuin, who with Scrotin and Wallef had held it freely before 1066, (fn. 14) and two, of 1 hide and 1 virgate, and half a hide, were held by Wallef, who before 1066 had held the smaller while Scroti had held the larger portion freely. (fn. 15)
In 1166 Philip de Estleg' (i.e. Astley) was holding three fees of the Earl of Warwick de vetero feffamento, (fn. 16) part of which, though not specifically so mentioned, was in Hillmorton. In 1242 Thomas de Astley held of the earl one fee in Astley, Morton, and Milverton. (fn. 17) This was held, as 1½ fees, in 1316 by Nicholas (son of Andrew) de Astley, (fn. 18) representative of the main line of the family, after which date there appears to be no mention of the Warwick overlordship.
In January 1265 Thomas de Astley obtained the grant of a weekly market on Saturday and an annual fair at Midsummer. (fn. 19) He was killed later in that year at Evesham, but the grant was renewed in 1268 to his son Thomas, the market being altered to Wednesday, with the right of free warren in his demesne lands added. (fn. 20) In 1263 Thomas de Astley, senior, is said to have granted the manor and advowson of Hillmorton to Thomas, his eldest son by his second wife, (fn. 21) the father probably retaining a life-interest. This younger Thomas died without offspring before 1284, when his brother Ralph, who was the ancestor of a family that held Hillmorton in direct descent down to the end of the 18th century, claimed and was allowed view of frankpledge, free warren, and the right to hold markets and fairs. (fn. 22) Ralph's son Thomas was lord of Morton cum membris in 1316, (fn. 23) and he and his wife Margery (Charnels) settled the manor, except for a messuage, one carucate, and £12 in rents, on themselves with remainder to their right heirs in 1333. (fn. 24) In 1334 Thomas de Astley obtained confirmation of the right to hold a weekly market, in this case on Tuesdays, and an annual fair. (fn. 25) The manor was apparently held by the junior branch of the Astley family of the senior branch settled at Astley near Coventry, as in 1387 it was stated by Sir William de Astley, the last of the senior line, that Thomas de Astley, grandson of the Thomas mentioned above, held the manor of him by homage and fealty, with scutage at the rate of 20s. annually. William had been given the wardship of Thomas's son Thomas, who had been abducted by his mother Katherine (Bacon) and Thomas Grantewelle and John Huse, (fn. 26) but the end of the suit is not recorded.
In 1567 there was a conveyance of the manor between Frances Astley, widow, and Isaac Astley, and Sir William Butte and Edward Walgrave, (fn. 27) and a similar transaction in 1593 between Isaac and Mary his wife and Francis and Anthony Warner. (fn. 28) His grandson Isaac, created a baronet in 1642, (fn. 29) was succeeded by his nephew Jacob, also created a baronet (1660). (fn. 30) The latter, with his wife Blanche (Wodehouse) and son Philip, conveyed the manor in 1690 to John Brereton and Francis Carver. (fn. 31) The last Astley to hold interests in Hillmorton was Sir Edward, who was lord in 1764–5. (fn. 32) He presumably sold it to one of the Yardleys, as in 1784 the manor was held jointly by Thomas Penn Vernon and Mary his wife, and Alice and Martha Yardley. (fn. 33) In 1818 Barbara Yelverton (fn. 34) was lady of the manor, and she was vouchee in a recovery as late as 1831, (fn. 35) in which year she married the 2nd Marquess of Hastings, whose family were connected with the Hastings barony conferred upon the Astley family in 1841; (fn. 36) her father, Baron Grey de Ruthin, had a residence at Brandon near Coventry and her mother Anna Maria (Kelham) was a farmer's daughter of Ryton-on-Dunsmore, (fn. 37) both near Hillmorton. In 1850 Thomas Townsend was lord of the manor, (fn. 38) and his only child, Mary Anne, married (Sir) John Charles Bucknill, M.D., who was a leading authority on the treatment of insanity and wrote works dealing with the psychology of Shakespeare and the mad persons portrayed in his plays. (fn. 39) He died in 1897 and was succeeded by his son Col. J. T. Bucknill. (fn. 40)
Another hide in 'Mortone', probably Hillmorton, which before 1066 had been held freely by Wiching, was in 1086 in the hands of Richard the Forester, or Cheven, being then worth 20s. (fn. 41) In 1252 it was recorded that he had been enfeoffed of half a carucate in (Hill) morton by William the Conqueror, the value of which was 16s. Richard's grandson Walter (Croc) had granted it to William de Morton to hold as one-fifth of a knight's fee, and William's son Henry had parted with some of the land. (fn. 42) In 1198 Henry de Morton had held land for one plough (waignagium I caruce) valued at 20s. of Hugh de Loges, (fn. 43) the representative of Richard Cheven. In 1300 these lands, here definitely said to be in 'Hullemorton', were held by Richard de Loges as part of his manor of Chesterton, held by grand serjeanty and the service of keeping the forest of Cannock (Staffs.). (fn. 44)
Small properties in Hillmorton were granted for religious purposes. In 1329 William Poyntel of Lutterworth (Leics.) was licensed to alienate 8 messuages and 1¼ virgates in Hillmorton to St. John Baptist Hospital at Lutterworth, for daily celebration of masses for the souls of himself, his wife, and their ancestors. (fn. 45) Two similar chantries were founded in Hillmorton parish church, one in 1334 by Thomas de Astley, endowed with a messuage and a carucate of land, (fn. 46) and dedicated to St. Mary. This was probably absorbed by another chantry of St. Mary founded in 1342 by Sir Edmund Trussell, second husband of Margery Astley, (fn. 47) which was endowed with 4 messuages, 50 acres of land and 7 of meadow, and 26s. of rent. (fn. 48) The value of the Trussell chantry when suppressed in 1545 was £4 18s. 10d. clear. (fn. 49) In 1247 Lady Elisant, widow of Osbert de Clinton, gave a messuage in Hulle on the west of her 'court' and other lands and rents to endow a chantry for the souls of herself, her ancestors, and heirs in the chapel of St. James in Hulle. (fn. 50) In 1344 Thomas de Morton received licence to alienate a messuage, a virgate, and 4 acres of land and a rood of meadow to endow a chaplain to celebrate mass daily in the chapel of St. James, Hulle, for the souls of himself and his relatives. (fn. 51) At its suppression this chantry was worth £2 6s. 8d. (fn. 52) The properties providing endowments for these chantries were in 1549 granted to Thomas Fyscher and Thomas Dabrigecourte, (fn. 53) saving annual rents of 8d. to John Astley, 'lord of Hulmoreton', and 8d. to the master of St. John Baptist Hospital in Lutterworth for its property in Hillmorton.
The Count of Meulan and Henry, Earl of Warwick, gave to the Abbey of Préaux, c. 1080, tithes in 'Moritona', (fn. 54) which may be Hillmorton.
The church of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST stands on a slight eminence in the north-east of the parish, some distance from the two principal centres of population. It consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and west tower.
The earliest architectural remains are of the early or mid-13th century, and indicate the existence of a chancel and aisleless nave. Early in the 14th century north and south aisles were added and alterations made to the chancel. The windows in the aisles were mostly rebuilt at later dates, and the wall of the north aisle had buttresses added or rebuilt in 1609. The west tower was built in the 15th century. The date 1655 in its south wall indicates considerable alteration or repair, possibly amounting to a complete rebuilding of the tower. The clearstory is of uncertain date but is certainly a late addition, probably of the second half of the 16th century. The whole church, but especially the chancel, underwent extensive restoration in the late 18th century, when the present pews were put in. In the early 19th century a south porch and west gallery were added.
The chancel has a 14th-century east window of four pointed lights with the mullions carried up and intersecting in the two-centred head. The jambs and mullions are moulded with two adjacent hollows, and there is a plain external hood-mould. Externally the apex of the window bears the date 1640, when, probably, the head and the tracery within it were renewed in a yellowish-brown ironstone. (fn. 55) The sill and central mullion are of red sandstone, which seems to have been the material most used for the ashlar dressings of the original chancel; the jambs are of a crumbling white stone.
At the west end of the north wall is a window in grey sandstone with a sunk chamfer in its jambs and twocentred head, and an external hood-mould stopped on badly-weathered heads. The east jamb has been repaired with cement. The widely splayed and considerably displaced rear-arch has a chamfered segmental pointed head. The south wall has in the east half a window with a two-centred head, of two pointed lights with chamfered forked mullion and a piercing in the head, and in the west half a 13th-century lancet. Each has a plain external hood-mould and chamfered jambs and head. Like the east window they have widesplayed rear-arches with a chamfered segmentalpointed head of white stone. The jambs of both windows, and the mullions of the former, still display the red sandstone in which they were originally built; successive repairs have been effected in a white stone, now badly crumbled, and in cement.
The east wall is built of small coursed rubble, except for a large repair at the top and the shallow gable, which are of brick. The north and south walls are of coursed rubble, externally faced with brick which, at the west end of the north wall and on the south wall, is concealed by stucco. At the east angles are diagonal buttresses of two offsets with ashlar dressings in the wall above them; the north and south walls have each an intermediate brick buttress, the latter being faced with ashlar. The east wall has a very low plinth formed by a single projecting course of masonry; each angle buttress has a chamfered plinth, that at the south-east being much higher than its fellow. The modern slated chancel roof is of low pitch, with a moulded eavescornice and below this a moulded string-course, both of late-18th- or early-19th-century date.
The early-14th-century chancel arch is two-centred, of two chamfered orders, the outer continuous with its responds, the inner carried on moulded capitals above semi-octagonal responds. From floor-level to a height of 3 ft. 6 in. the responds of the outer order are of plain square section; to the same height the inner responds have a double chamfer.
The nave has north and south arcades of five bays, the three middle ones being about 10 ft., those to east and west slightly shorter. The responds at each end of the arcades are smaller on plan than the octagonal pillars, although their impost mouldings are similar to the capitals of the north arcade and the easternmost pillar of the south arcade, which are moulded alike; those of the other two pillars are moulded differently from them and from each other. The moulded bases of the pillars are mostly concealed by pews. Just above impost and capital on the nave side is a human head carving. The east impost of the north arcade is considerably defaced, perhaps to accommodate a screen; a bulge in the wall plaster above may perhaps indicate the head of the rood-loft stairs.
The clearstory, probably built in the 16th century, has on each side five mullioned windows of two squareheaded lights; jambs, head, and mullion have a quarterround hollow moulding. The clearstory is built of limestone rubble intermixed, especially on the south side, with yellow sandstone. The ashlar angle dressings are of red sandstone. The lintel of the fourth window from the east on the north side is a modern restoration. The nave roof is of low pitch, covered in lead, with slightly cambered tie-beam, and sloping braces, and wall-posts with brackets carried on corbels. The ridge and purlins are moulded, and the tie-beams have carved bosses; the fifth of the moulded wall-posts on the north side has at its base a carved female head.
The east wall of the north aisle has a 15th-century pointed window, divided into three lights by mullions which continue vertically up to the soffit. The middle light has a round-lobed trefoil head; the side lights have each a small chamfered ogee on the head and pierced spandrels. The hood-mould is stopped on badly weathered heads; the rear-arch has splayed jambs and a chamfered head. At the south end of the wall is a trefoiled ogee-headed piscina.
The north wall is divided by five buttresses into five bays, with an additional diagonal buttress at the north-west angle; those at the angles have two and the remainder three offsets. All have low, badly worn plinths and are of ashlar with brick repairs. The fifth from the east formerly had on the face a panel carved with the date 1609, the initials I.S., and crude representations of a horse, quatrefoils, and other ornaments. (fn. 56) At this date the buttresses and possibly parts of the wall were probably built or rebuilt. The wall was built of coursed rubble, but the four western bays now show extensive brick repairs. In the blind easternmost bay is the effigy of a priest in a tomb recess which has a segmental pointed arch moulded with three, and a hood moulded with two, adjacent hollows. The windows of the second, third, and fifth bays are similar, being square-headed with two trefoiled ogee-headed lights and hollowed-out external spandrels. They are mainly of red sandstone. The jambs and mullions are chamfered and the rear-arch has a plain square head. The 14th-century north door has a considerably displaced two-centred head of two chamfered orders continuous in the jambs, and a hood-mould with much-worn head-stops.
The west window of the north aisle has three pointed lights, with mullions intersecting in a two-centred head, and a hood-mould with head-stops. The wall is of large coursed rubble. The lean-to roof may be in part ancient; it rests against the nave arcade on eight irregularly spaced corbels, and is covered with lead.
The east window of the south aisle has three trefoiled pointed lights and vertical tracery under a twocentred head. The jambs are moulded, the mullions chamfered, and there is a hood-mould stopped on heads. The pointed rear-arch has slightly splayed jambs. Near the angle formed with the chancel wall a vertical joint can be seen to a height of about 12 ft., this indicating the width of the original aisleless nave. The ancient ashlar angle-dressings are clearly visible; north of them is walling similar to the east wall of the chancel, while the remainder is of coursed ashlar with brick repairs and a moulded double plinth. Abutting against the south wall is an aumbry which shows no signs of rebates or door-hinges. Near it in the south wall is a piscina having a two-centred pointed head moulded with two adjacent hollows. The drain is intact, and on the west side, only, is a slot for a credence table.
The south wall is divided into three bays of unequal size by four ashlar buttresses of two offsets; the second from the east has a scratch dial. In each bay is a squareheaded window, with moulded jambs, divided by a heavy chamfered mullion. Each half of the window contains two trefoiled ogee-headed lights with two short vertical tracery-bars rising above the ogees to the soffit. The tracery of the westernmost window is heavily restored, but the presence of a course of large 18th-century bricks in the sill would appear to denote that the window itself is ancient. (fn. 57) In the middle bay is the south door, of two moulded orders under a fourcentred head; the rear-arch has slightly splayed jambs and a narrow chamfer in the head. In front of it is the early-19th-century porch, having a four-centred doorhead beneath a shallow gable which is finished with a moulded stone coping. The west wall of the south aisle is of large coursed ashlar and contains a modern copy of the window at the east end. The modern leanto roof is of low pitch, covered with slates.
All the walls are plastered internally, with the exception of the chancel.
The west tower is of large coursed sandstone ashlar; its north and west walls are divided by three slight offsets into four stages. At the north-west and southwest angles are opposed buttresses of three offsets, around which the moulded plinth of the tower breaks. The topmost offset of the buttresses terminates at the second offset of the walls. At the south-east angle is a projecting stair vice lit by three loops. The north face is blind in the first and second stages, and in the top stage has a window of two cinquefoiled pointed lights under a blind four-centred head. The west face has a square-headed door of the 18th century with a wooden frame and splayed internal reveals of brick. Above it is a window with a trefoil-cusped two-centred head, moulded in the jambs with two hollow chamfers separated by a quirk. In the top stage is a window similar to that in the north face except that it has in the head a triangular projection containing two small piercings. The south face has in the second stage a fairly wide window with two chamfered orders in its two-centred head and jambs. In the top stage the window is like that in the north face. At this stage in the east face is a window like that in the west. All four have elliptical-headed rear-arches. The tower has a slated pyramidal roof, and battlements which bear a simple moulding carried round the merlons. An offset in the walls marks the division between the battlements and two or three courses below, which are of a grey stone, and the rest of the tower. On the south face below the topmost window is a square panel of yellow stone which formerly had an inscription and the date 1655 (fn. 58) upon it; both are now completely worn away. A puzzling feature of the tower is the internal arrangement of the ringing chamber, the floor-level of which has been lowered so that it now blocks the head of the inner tower arch and west window. The original floorlevel is indicated by an offset in the south wall for the floor joists. Set in the south-east angle below the door from the vice is a stone block which has at its edge shallow rebates, seemingly too small for floor joists; its purpose is obscure. The east wall of the tower is extremely thick (about 7 ft.) and the opening to the nave has two arches, the eastern one being obscured by the organ, and the western by modern alterations. The former is chamfered, with crudely moulded capitals and bases; the latter is pointed, of three chamfered orders, of which the two outer orders die into the wall and the innermost is carried on semioctagonal responds. A western gallery, built in the late 18th century, occupies the last bay of the nave; in it is an organ.
The pews were put in in 1774; (fn. 59) those at the west end of the south aisle have been removed to make way for a vestry, which is separated from the body of the church by wooden screens and is lined internally with the panelling and doors of the demolished pews.
Above the chancel arch is an oval-shaped wooden panel painted with the arms of Queen Anne after 1707.
There are three monumental effigies in the church. In the recess in the north aisle is the figure of a priest in eucharistic vestments with alb, short chasuble, and maniple, carved about 1348, and possibly representing William de Walton. (fn. 60) The monument was much damaged on one side when the pews were inserted in the latter part of the 18th century. In the second bay of the south arcade, partially concealed by pews, is the badly mutilated sandstone effigy of a knight, dating from about 1345 and probably representing Thomas de Astley. (fn. 61) The hands are joined in prayer and the left leg is crossed over the right, but the arms and left side of the figure together with the shield have been broken and worn away. He wears a bascinet helmet and camail, steel or leather plates on the legs, and kneecaps. Other surviving features of his dress are sollerets and a rowel-spur, and an ornamented sword-belt. The feet rest on a lion. The monument has been much disfigured, apparently by the sharpening of tools or weapons upon it. Opposite it in the middle of the south aisle is the contemporary effigy of a lady beneath a cinquefoiled gable canopy. She is probably Margaret, his wife. (fn. 62) Flanking the main gable of the canopy are two gabled trefoil-headed niches, each containing a figure, the one on the left holding an open book, the one on the right a scroll. The gable is supported by two corbel-figures, on the left a hooded centaur, on the right a cloaked figure with his right arm on a staff or crutch. The lady is wearing a close cote-hardie with sleeves reaching to the knuckles, and over it a mantle, gathered under the arms and fastened at the neck with a cord. She has a wimple and veil, and her feet rest on two pet dogs.
South of this monument, beneath a trapdoor in the floor-boards of the pews, is a brass to a lady, about 1410, (fn. 63) and similar to one at Merevale. She is dressed in a cote-hardie, the sleeves of which reach to the knuckles, and over it has a mantle fastened by a cord. Her hair is coiled and braided in nets, with which she wears a wimple or kerchief. At her feet are two pet dogs. From her hands rises a scroll which formerly encircled the head, but considerable parts of it are now missing. The remaining lettering reads: 'Ave . . . fruct' ventris tui. Ihu. fili dei misere mei'. In the top part of the slab are two empty matrices of shields.
On the north wall of the north aisle is a memorial to Edward Bromwich and Mary his wife, who died in 1741 and 1783 respectively. Two educational charities, established by Edward Abbott in 1799 and James Thompson in 1823, are commemorated on the north and south walls respectively. In the south aisle is a tablet to several members of the Sutton family who died between 1784 and 1800.
On the east wall of the south porch is a lead panel, cast in 1719 and inscribed with the names of John Bosworth and John Green, churchwardens, and William Sharman of Rugby, plumber.
There are five bells, cast in 1731 by Thomas Russell of Wootton (Beds.), two of which bear the names of subscribers to their cost. (fn. 64)
The 12th-century font is a plain inverted truncated cone standing on a modern base.
The plate includes an Elizabethan chalice and paten, the latter dated on the foot 1571.
The registers begin in 1564 but are not complete from that date.
The first recorded presentation, by Thomas de Astley of his brother Philip, is undated, but occurred before 1265, when Thomas was killed at the battle of Evesham. (fn. 65) In 1343 the church was appropriated to the college of Astley, (fn. 66) newly founded by the senior branch of the family, and a vicarage was ordained in 1346. (fn. 67) The advowson, like the other properties of this college, was in 1546 granted to Henry, Marquess of Dorset, and Frances his wife, (fn. 68) and was in possession of the latter at her death in 1559. (fn. 69) It then passed to the Marquess of Hertford, husband of her second daughter, who presented in 1565. (fn. 70) Probably owing to the validity of this marriage being questioned the patronage reverted to the Crown, and was granted in 1577–8 to Christopher Chute for 21 years, (fn. 71) and renewed to the same in 1589–90. (fn. 72) Another grant was made in 1608–9 to Francis Philip and Richard More, (fn. 73) who must have parted with their interest fairly soon, for in 1621 the advowson was conveyed by John Stratford and his sons John, Robert, and Edward to Francis Astley, (fn. 74) thus becoming reunited with the manor, with which it descended till the late 18th century, Sir Jacob presenting in 1758. (fn. 75) Since then the patronage has passed through a variety of hands, William Grove and Jeremiah Lowe presenting in 1793 and Charles Newcomb in 1805. (fn. 76) These may have been by concession, as Sir Jacob Astley was said to be patron in 1830, (fn. 77) and the Baroness Grey de Ruthin in 1831. (fn. 78) R. Stanley was patron in 1850 (fn. 79) and 1859, (fn. 80) and in 1905 and 1915 the rector of Rugby. (fn. 81) Since at least 1926 the patronage has been in the hands of trustees. (fn. 82)
Two acres of meadow in Kilmershe called the Church Headland were devoted to the upkeep of a 'torchelight' in Hillmorton church at mass. (fn. 85)
The Abbott Charity for Poor. Edward Abbott by will dated 11 July 1799 gave £50 to purchase bread with the interest thereof, to be distributed among all the most necessitous poor of this parish at or about Christmas yearly. The annual income of the charity amounts to £1 4s.
Sir Edward Astley by indenture dated 13 December 1770 reciting that Sir Edward Astley and some of his ancestors had for several years past directed the sum of 2s. a week to be laid out in bread for the poor of this parish, granted to trustees certain property in the parish of Hillmorton upon trust out of the rents and profits thereof weekly to lay out 2s. in the purchase of a dozen twopenny loaves and to distribute the same every Sunday after divine service to such of the poor of the parish who should have attended the service (unless disabled by sickness) as the vicar and churchwardens should think proper, and to apply the residue in repairing the premises and for such other purposes as the trustees should think best. The annual income of the charity amounts to £29 approximately.
Small Church Close Poor Charity. By the Award made in pursuance of an Act passed in 26 George II for inclosing the open and common fields of the manor and parish of Hillmorton, the Commissioners awarded to the churchwardens and constable of the parish a parcel of ground in Thurnborough Field containing 3a. 1r. 12p. to employ the rents firstly in keeping in repair the hedges, ditches, and fences around part of the land allotted to the vicar and in the next place for the relief of the poor, the repairing of the roads, or other parish uses. By an Order made by the Charity Commissioners on 6 August 1897 the yearly sum of £2 10s. now constitutes the endowment of the Small Church Close Ecclesiastical Charity and the remainder of the endowment forms the Small Church Close Poor Charity. The annual income of the Poor Charity amounts to £4 10s.
The Abbott Charity for Poor, the Charity of Sir Edward Astley, and the Small Church Close Poor Charity are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 9 April 1935.
Church Land. By the above-mentioned Award a parcel of ground in the Westerland Field containing 19a. 3r. 10p. was awarded to the said churchwardens and constable in trust to appropriate the rents and profits for the repairs of the church, bells, frames, ropes, bread and wine for the communion, repairs of ways and causeways to the church, for relief of the poor and mending the highways in Hillmorton. The land was sold in 1923 and the proceeds of sale invested, producing an annual income of £40 16s.
John Allibone Langton by will dated 14 January 1918 gave to the vicar and churchwardens of Hillmorton £1,000, the income to be applied first in maintaining the tombstones of the testator and his relatives in the churchyard of Hillmorton, and next towards maintaining and where necessary the rebuilding of the parish church and the maintenance of the churchyard, and empowered the vicar and churchwardens to apply a reasonable sum out of the income towards the annual children's school treat held in connexion with the church. The annual income of the charity amounts to £45 approximately.
The Perkins Charity. By a Declaration of Trust dated 8 December 1899 £100 was settled upon trust that the income thereon should be paid to the vicar of Hillmorton to distribute the same at Christmas among deserving poor women over the age of 60 years resident in the parish at his absolute discretion, provided that the graves and tombstones in the churchyard of Hillmorton, mentioned in the schedule to the Declaration of Trust, should be kept in order, and that the inscriptions on the tombstones should be cleaned and recut from time to time. The annual income of the charity amounts to £2 12s. 10d.