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, 140; 1921, 124; 1931, 152.
The parish lies on the River Avon between Kenilworth and Stoneleigh. The river forms the northern half of the east boundary of the parish and then turns abruptly west, with the former hamlet of Bericote (fn. 1) on the south and the village of Ashow on the north bank. The village, consisting of a small group of thatched timber-framed cottages of the late 17th or early 18th century, lies to the north of the church, which overlooks the Avon, on a branch from a road running southwards from Coventry to strike the road from Cubbington to Kenilworth which forms the southern boundary of the parish. Most of the parish lies about the 200 ft. contour, with heights of 260 ft. at the south-eastern and north-western angles. It is heavily wooded, The Grove, near the Avon opposite Stoneleigh Abbey, being probably part of Ashow Wood mentioned in 1200 (see below); Thickthorn Wood, on the west, and Bericote Wood on the south of the river, are each of considerable extent.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two mills (on the Avon) at Ashow, worth 20s., (fn. 2) and one, worth 4s., in Bericote. (fn. 3) The rights of fishing in the river were also of value and are often alluded to. Early in the 13th century the monks of Stoneleigh granted to Robert de Withlakesford the fishing of a weir in 'Nethlihommes', opposite his grange; (fn. 4) and in 1427 Alice, widow of John Knyveton, had a free fishery in the Avon between 'Alfredfordbrugge' and Chesford Bridge, (fn. 5) on the border of Leek Wotton.
Among the estates of Turchil in 1086 were 2 hides in ASHOW which he had himself held under the Confessor but were now held of him by Ermenfrid. (fn. 6) As was the case with most of Turchil's estates, the overlordship came to the Earls of Warwick. (fn. 7) A mesne lordship was held by the family of Verdon from early in the 13th century, Roese de Verdon holding it in 1242 (fn. 8) and Theobald de Verdon in 1279. (fn. 9) On the death of Theobald dower was assigned in 1317 to his widow Elizabeth, including this fee, (fn. 10) and in 1361 it was assigned to William de Ferrers, son of Isabel wife of Henry de Ferrers, daughter and co-heir of the last Theobald de Verdon. (fn. 11) William Ferrers of Groby died seised thereof in 1371, (fn. 12) and on the death of his son Sir Henry it was assigned in 1389 to his widow Joan, (fn. 13) on whose death in 1394 it passed to their son William, (fn. 14) after which time there appears to be no reference to this mesne lordship.
Ermenfrid, the Domesday tenant of Ashow, held also in Calcutt in Grandborough (fn. 15) and Radford (Semele) (fn. 16) and was in each place the predecessor of the family of Semilly. In 1200 William de Esseho (i.e. Ashow) gave the king 40s. so that the wood of Ashow, which was common to him and to William de Semilly, might be divided so that each should have his share, because of the waste which William de Semilly had made of the whole wood. (fn. 17) This William was succeeded here by Geoffrey de Semilly, (fn. 18) who in 1221 was fined for disseising of his pasturage rights Master Henry de Cerne, (fn. 19) who had been presented to the rectory of Ashow in 1215 by King John, when the Priory of Kenilworth was vacant and in the king's hands. (fn. 20) Geoffrey held a half-fee of the Earl of Warwick in Ashow in 1235 (fn. 21) and in 1242, (fn. 22) when it is said to be in Ashow and Calcutt and held of Roese de Verdon, who held of the earl. By 1279 William de Semilly and the Abbot of Stoneleigh were joint lords of Ashow, holding of Theobald de Verdon and doing suit to his court of Brandon. (fn. 23) William's son Geoffrey had succeeded by 1299, (fn. 24) and two years later he alienated to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, all his wastes and woodlands in this lordship between the Avon and the Frith of Kenilworth, called Widenhaye, his deed being confirmed by Richard Basset and his wife Esylia, Geoffrey's mother. (fn. 25) Geoffrey left a son John, (fn. 26) who is probably the John Semilly of Warwickshire mentioned in 1342. (fn. 27) He seems to have been the last male representative of the family and to have left several co-heirs, as in 1360 the fee was held by John de Hokkeley 'and others', (fn. 28) after which no more is heard of it.
In 1086 Tonne held 2 hides in BERICOTE under Turchil, whose father Alwin had held it under the Confessor; the estate included a mill worth 4s. (fn. 29) This apparently later escheated to the Crown, as Henry II gave the manor and mill, valued at 100s., to his serjeant Boscher to hold by service of looking after a white brachet (hound) with red ears and at the end of the year returning the brachet to the king, receiving another to bring up and half a quarter of meal. From Boscher it passed to his son Henry, (fn. 30) who conveyed it to Stephen de Segrave. Stephen (who died in 1241) granted Bericote with its chief messuage, woodland, villeins, &c. to Stoneleigh Abbey, to be held by a rent of 100s., which rent his son Gilbert remitted for the support of one monk; and these grants were confirmed in 1265. (fn. 31) The abbey received a grant of free warren here in 1284 (fn. 32) and was returned in 1279 as having 4 acres of wood inclosed as a park. (fn. 33) The monks had also lands in Ashow itself. (fn. 34) The whole of their property in the parish seems to have been included in 1291 under Bericote, where the monks had a plough-land worth 15s., rents producing £1 3s. 10d., 8s. from two mills and 10s. from the fishery. (fn. 35) About the time of the Dissolution the Ashow property of the abbey was worth some £10 yearly, in addition to £4 13s. 4d. rent for Bericote Grange, (fn. 36) though the fulling-mill at Bericote had fallen down by 1547. (fn. 37) The whole of this property was granted in February 1542 to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, who at the same time was licensed to alienate the water corn-mill in Ashow and Bericote Grange. (fn. 38) This he did to Mathew Wrottesley, who conveyed the same to Thomas Marrowe in 1549. (fn. 39) By Marrowe it was sold to John Harreyoung, (fn. 40) of whom it was bought in 1582 by Sir Thomas Leigh, (fn. 41) who had already acquired the abbey 'manor' of Ashow in 1562, (fn. 42) after which it became attached to the Stoneleigh estate of the Lords Leigh.
The Priory of Kenilworth also held land in the parish, their founder Geoffrey de Clinton having given them a meadow called Ruggenhale. (fn. 43) The canons were receiving £3 from Ashow in 1291, (fn. 44) but only 49s. 4d. in 1535. (fn. 45)
The parish church of THE ASSUMPTION OF OUR LADY, dating from the early part of the 12th century, is situated on the north bank of the River Avon, a little to the south-west of the village. It has a small churchyard with a wide-spreading yew-tree near the entrance. It consists of a chancel, nave, and west tower. Both the nave and chancel have tiled roofs of fairly steep pitch. The chancel and nave are early-12th-century, and the square tower was added about the middle of the 15th century. The tower has a moulded plinth which is continued round the buttresses. It rises in three stages, with a battlemented parapet and the broken remains of pinnacles at each angle. It is built of red sandstone ashlar with angle buttresses in four stages terminating at the base of the parapet wall, similar buttresses at right angles butt on to the west wall of the nave. The west door has a pointed arch with a deep moulded splay which continues down the jambs to a splayed stop, and a label with return ends. Above is a two-light pointed window with cinquefoil tracery, of two splayed orders with a hood-moulding. Above this is a looplight to the circular tower staircase, with splayed head, jambs, and sill, and over it the belfry window, which is similar to the one below. The belfry windows repeat on the north, south, and east, that on the east being blocked with brickwork and partly covered by the nave roof. There are two loop-lights to the stair on the south side, and clock faces are on the north and west sides only. The north wall of the nave is built of red sandstone in coursed rubble with ashlar dressings and splayed plinth, and has two small early-12th-century round-headed windows. In the centre of the wall there is a blocked late-12th-century doorway, with a segmental head and foliated capitals almost entirely obscured by thick ivy. The north wall of the chancel is also of coursed rubble and has one round-headed window similar to those in the nave wall. Near the west end is a blocked low-side window with deeply splayed head, jambs, and sill. The east gable wall is constructed of ashlar, probably refaced when the 15thcentury window was put in, which is a three-light with cinquefoil tracery, with a pointed arch and hoodmoulding, all much restored. There is an angle buttress at the south-east corner only, probably part of the 15thcentury work. The south wall has a square-headed two-light window of two splayed orders, probably inserted at the end of the 16th century. Near the west end is a blocked low-side window, slightly larger than that on the north side. The south aisle wall has been entirely rebuilt in light-coloured sandstone ashlar with wide shallow buttresses at each end, probably late in the 18th century. There are two windows of two lights with splayed jambs and four-centred arches with plain tracery and a central door with a threecentred arch having a plain chamfered edge. The whole of the interior has been rendered all over with a thick coat of plaster, lined out as ashlar, which obscures all the details.
The chancel (19 ft. × 17 ft. 6 in.) has an early-12thcentury wall arcade on both sides, of four semicircular arches supported on corbels which may be capitals with the shafts missing, as there are traces of attached shafts at the eastern ends, but all detail is hidden under the plaster. The 12th-century window has wide-splayed reveals, the east window is slightly splayed, the pointed arch following the external one. The south window has splayed reveals and flat head, as on the outside. The chancel arch is semicircular and not of the full thickness of the wall. It has what appears to be a splayed abacus on the south side and a capital with an engaged shaft on the north, but here again all detail is hidden by plaster. The plaster ceiling, of very flat pitch, has traces of moulded trusses with carved bosses showing through the plaster. There is one step to the altar and the floor is paved with stone.
The nave (46 ft. × 21 ft.) has a flat matchboarded ceiling fixed just below the level of the wall-plate, concealing an open timber roof. The two 12th-century windows have widely splayed reveals with semicircular arches. The south windows have splayed reveals with arches following the external ones. The tower arch is lofty, of two splayed orders, and is filled in with a modern screen to form a west porch. The seating of box-pews, pulpit, reading-desk, chancel dado, and altar table are all of late-18th-century workmanship in oak. The pulpit, placed on the north side of the chancel arch, is octagonal and supported on a short central octagonal shaft with a curved splayed capital. It is panelled with moulded and fielded panels and has bands of carved fret at the top and bottom. Modern square legs have been added for additional support. The font is modern, of gothic design. It is placed near the west end on the south side. The floor is paved with stone slabs.
The tower (8 ft. × 8 ft.). The west door has square reveals with a square head, the south-west angle is splayed for the tower circular staircase in the thickness of the wall, its doorway has a pointed arch of a single splay with moulded stops. The ancient door is made out of a single plank, two inches thick, with plain straphinges, an iron ring with an octagonal plate and a semielliptical escutcheon with poppy-head in relief at the top. On the north wall is painted a list of charities, and hung on the south wall is a painted coat of arms of George III. The floor is of modern red tiles.
There are several mural tablets, but none earlier than the 19th century.
The plate, silver gilt chalice, ciborium, and paten with hall-mark 1638, was given by Alice, Duchess Dudley. There is also a modern silver chalice.
There are four bells by John Briant of Hertford, 1793. (fn. 46)
The parish registers begin in 1733, the earlier registers having been converted into spills by a former parish clerk who was a publican. (fn. 47)
In the churchyard, a little south of the chancel is the base of a cross with an octagonal shaft and base resting on two square steps. The base is slightly moulded and the top step has splayed stops at the corners. Only the lower course of the shaft remains, with a modern moulded capital added.
The church of Ashow was originally a chapel of Leek Wotton (q.v.), which church had been given to Kenilworth Priory at its foundation by Geoffrey de Clinton. It became independent in the time of Bishop Geoffrey (1198–1215), subject to the payment of a pension of 20s. to Kenilworth, (fn. 48) which was still being paid in 1535. The rectory was valued at £3 6s. 8d. in 1291, (fn. 49) and at £6 2s. in 1535. (fn. 50) The advowson remained with Kenilworth until the Dissolution, and since 1562 (fn. 51) has been in the hands of the Leighs of Stoneleigh.
The charity of Alice, Duchess Dudley, for Ashow and other parishes in the counties of Warwick and Northampton is regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners dated 13 June 1879 and 6 January 1885. The scheme of 13 June 1879 appoints a body of trustees and provides for the income to be divided by the trustees into seventeen equal parts and remitted to the incumbents and churchwardens of the several parishes for application by them in accordance with the provisions contained therein. The share of the charity applicable for this parish consists of one-seventeenth of the income, amounting to £37 13s. 4d. annually, to be applied under various heads for the general benefit of the poor of the parish.