A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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In this section
Acreage: 5,914. (fn. 1)
Population: 1911, 5,776; 1921, 6,751; 1931, 7,592.
The parish, which in early times was heavily wooded and as late as the 17th century had extensive parks containing much timber, is now open, with considerable blocks of woodland only in the north, at Stonymoor Wood, and in the south-west, in Chase Wood. The ground slopes from 430 ft. at its northern extremity to 250 ft. in the town and then rises again very gently to about 300 ft. in the south. There are several small streams, of which two form the western boundary of the parish; and the Inchford Brook runs from south to north near its western edge and then turns east to run, as Finham Brook, through the town below the Castle, where it was dammed in medieval times to form the lake defences of the fortress, and the site of the Abbey. Its valley separates that part of the town to the north strung out along the High Street, leading to Coventry, parallel with the course of the brook, and that to the south along the road, at right angles to the stream, to Castle End and the modern church of St. John at the point where the road forks to Warwick and to Leamington. Close to this fork the Coventry and Leamington branch of the old L.N.W. Railway enters the parish, having a station about ¼ mile north of the church. It is round the railway that most of the building in the late 19th century took place; in recent years there has been more development west of the road to Warwick and near the road to Stoneleigh, Kenilworth being now (1949) a residential town with a population of probably 10,000.
The High Street and parts adjacent to it were situated in the Abbey Manor and there was a separate community on the Warwick Road in the Castle Manor, which accounts for what, even to-day, seem like two separate places, divided by the present Abbey Fields. Each manor had a Court Leet, (fn. 2) many of whose duties, with others, are now carried out by the Urban District Council of Kenilworth, which under the Local Govern ment Act of 1894 replaced the Local Board instituted in 1877.
Agriculture has been Kenilworth's main concern, but in the first half of last century there were here (fn. 3) a manufactory for horn combs, a chemical works for making sal-ammoniac and Prussian blue, and a tannery, (fn. 4) the last-named being the only survival. There is a brickworks, but the sandstone quarries (fn. 5) are things of the past. A few small factories have sprung up of late years, including those for making engineering parts and machine tools.
The buildings of the mill are still standing. In the eighties it was a steam flour-mill, and afterwards for a while an oil-cake factory. There was a mill attached to the castle in 1296. (fn. 6) This was on the Finham Brook and its bays, or pond-head, apparently gave the name of 'the Bayes' (later 'Brays') to the southern outworks of the castle defences. In 1361 the manor had two mills, (fn. 7) the second being about ½ mile to the south on a tributary of the Finham Brook. The abbey (or rather priory) had two mills which were valued at 6s. 8d. in 1291. (fn. 8) In 1612 Sir Robert Dudley, holding both manors, had three mills. (fn. 9)
In a survey of Kenilworth made about 1540 the town is said to be 'well buylded with many fayr housses tyelled and well inhabyted'. (fn. 10) Of these few, if any, seem to have survived, but on Castle Green, opposite the castle, is a row of 17th-century timber-framed cottages with tiled roofs, and others, perhaps earlier, are to be found in the town, some with thatched roofs.
Old School House, situated in Barrowell Lane, is a pleasant example of a small Georgian house of two stories, built of red brick on a splayed plinth of red sandstone ashlar. The roof is tiled with a cornice of moulded bricks at eaves level. The lower windows have flat-gauged brick arches with stone keystones. There is a central doorway with a tablet above which reads as follows: 'This house and school was built by Mr. William Edwards, Churigeon of Kenilworth and Mary his wife and endowed with twenty and two pounds Pr. Ann. for ye benefit of a Free School for the children of this Parish a.d. 1724.'
Fieldgate House, situated at the eastern end of the High Street, is an unspoilt Georgian residence of mid18th-century date, three stories high, and built of red brick with pilasters at each end, moulded cornice, tiled roof, string courses of projecting brick at first and second floor levels. There are five sash windows to each of the two upper floors and two each side of a central door in the lower story, all the windows having their original sashes. The ground and first floor windows have flat-gauged brick arches with stone keystones.
Dudley House on Abbey Hill is of similar design and date, but with modern sashes and the four original windows of the ground floor replaced with two of three lights.
South of the High Street, behind the church of St. Nicholas, lie the scanty remains of the Augustinian monastery, (fn. 11) founded in 1122 as a priory but raised to the rank of an abbey about 1450. (fn. 12) The only buildings of which substantial portions remain above ground are the 14th-century Gatehouse and, south of it, a contemporary building tentatively identified as the Guest House. The Gatehouse, near the north-west corner of the precinct, faces north. It is of local red sandstone and consists of two vaulted compartments—the inner now in ruins—opening to the north by a four-centred arch. Between the two compartments is the gateway, with a large segmental arch, flanked on the west by a small doorway, with pointed arch, for foot passengers. In the east wall of each compartment is an arched recess for a stone seat 6 ft. wide; and in the west wall of the inner is a pointed doorway into the porter's lodge, with an ogee-headed light beside it. The lodge is divided into two halves, the northern originally two-storied, each story provided with a garderobe in a projection at the north-west corner. There are traces of a wall running south from the west side of the lodge, and of another running east, in line with the north wall of the nave of the church, from the north-east angle of the Gatehouse. The Guest House is a building of two stories, which formerly had an outside stair and a porch over the south door. The upper story has two-light ogee-headed windows. Of the monastic buildings only a few shapeless blocks of rubble rise above ground level. The survey of 1540 in two places suggested the use of the abbey to provide stone for buildings in the castle, and the place was evidently efficiently exploited as a quarry. Excavation, however, has enabled a great part of the ground-plan to be recovered. The 12th-century church had a narrow aisleless nave, which, owing to the existence of the cloister on the south and rising ground on the north, was never enlarged. The transepts were extended eastwards in the 13th century, and in the 14th a presbytery was added east of the quire and the central tower was rebuilt. This tower seems to have been too slender to house the bells, for which purpose an octagonal bell-tower was built just to the north of the west end of the church later in that century. The 12th-century apsidal chapter-house south of the south transept was retained, but the dorter, in the same range, was rebuilt and enlarged in the 15th century. The southern range of the cloister, in which foundations of the subvault to the frater have been found, seems to date from the 14th century, and the infirmary, lying to the east of the cloister, was of 13th-century construction.
After the Dissolution the site of the abbey was granted to Sir Andrew Flammock, who died seised of it in 1549, (fn. 13) when it passed to his son William, who held it until he died in 1560 (fn. 14) leaving as heir his daughter Catherine, aged 2, who afterwards married John Colburn of Moreton Morrell. This John was frightened into selling it 'on easy terms' to the Earl of Leicester, (fn. 15) and it then descended with the manor.
The parish church of St. John the Evangelist was erected at the south end of the town in 1852, when a new parish was created. It is a mixture of Gothic styles and consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, vestry, and west tower, built of red sandstone rubble with ashlar dressings. The tower, in two stages, terminates in an octagonal spire with canopied steeple lights. The roofs have a steep pitch covered with tiles.
Redfern Manor, situated about 1½ miles north-west of the town on the main Birmingham road, is said to have been assigned to the last Prior (? Abbot) of Kenilworth as a residence after the Dissolution. (fn. 16) It is a twostoried timber-framed house of early-16th-century date, facing south. Externally it has been plastered, a wide central gable with a small projection added to form an entrance hall with modern staircase, and the eastern end shortened and rebuilt in brick. It has a tiled roof and towards the western end a chimney-stack with four engaged diagonal chimney-shafts rebuilt on the original base. The remaining chimneys are modern. At the back are 18th-century additions, built of red brick. The original house was a long rectangular building, now divided by a central gable forming east and west wings, the east wing being a little shorter than the west. Internally it has been modernized, but a number of interesting features remain. On the ground floor the two rooms in the west wing are divided by a large back-to-back fire-place; the west side still retains its original stone chimney-piece, which has a flat moulded head with rounded corners and moulded jambs finishing on a square stop; the east side chimney-piece has been destroyed and a modern fire-place inserted in the recess. Across the east room of this wing there is a large moulded beam supported on moulded wall-posts with curved brackets which continue the beam mouldings and finish on a large splayed base. The room in the east wing has a large wide fire-place but the original chimney-piece has been replaced with an 18th-century moulded shelf, with cupboards on either side of the recess, which has a modern grate. Back to back with this is a similar sized fire-place in the early-18th-century addition. The beams in this addition are chamfered with moulded stops. On the upper floor the fire-place in the west wing retains in the east room its original stone chimney-piece with a flat moulded head continuing down the jambs to a splayed stop. The beam, wall-posts, and brackets in this room repeat those below. Some of the timber-framing is visible on the upper floor, including two corner posts at the western end. To the east of the house are a range of 18th-century farm buildings, and part of a timber-framed barn of cruck construction, probably contemporary with the house.
William Edwards in 1722 left money to endow a Free School. (fn. 17) In 1830, besides the Free School, there were a Charity School, a 'school of Industry', and five private schools, of which four were for 'ladies'. (fn. 18) The National School on Rosemary Hill bears an inscription that it was erected by voluntary contributions in 1836. It is now used for the County Library. An Independent School is mentioned in 1850 as having been endowed by Abraham Arlidge for the education and clothing of thirty-six boys and thirty-six girls. (fn. 19) The building stands behind the Congregational Chapel on Abbey Hill. In the eighties of last century the Baptists had a day school in connexion with Albion Chapel. The Roman Catholic Schools were built about the same time as the Catholic Church in 1841, near which they stand.
Nonconformity was well represented here and in 1850 there were Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, Independents, and Unitarians. There were also the Roman Catholics. (fn. 20) The Wesleyan Chapel in Warwick Road was erected in 1844 (fn. 21) in the Grecian style, and after the new Wesleyan Chapel was built in Priory Road in 1903 it was used as St. John's Parish Room, and is now the Christadelphian Lecture Hall. The present Baptist Church, a brick building in Albion Street, was in 1850 standing closed for want of funds. (fn. 22) The Independents, who had long been established here, had their chapel on Abbey Hill, and the present Abbey Hill Congregational Church was built in 1873. The Unitarian Chapel in the perpendicular style, on Rosemary Hill, is now used by an amateur dramatic society and called the 'Priory Theatre'. The Roman Catholic Chapel situated at the end of Fieldgate Lane was designed by Pugin and erected in 1841 at the sole cost of Mrs. Amherst. In 1883 the 'Iron Room near the Washbrook' was occupied by the Brethren. This building, which stands in The Close, is now used by the Free Brethren.
Besides the park formed by Geoffrey de Clinton there was the Chase, on the west of the parish, and the 'foreign wood' (fn. 23) known as Kingswood or the Frythe on the east extending down to Thickthorn. (fn. 24) A certain amount of assarting was going on in the 12th century, and a charter of Henry de Clinton refers to land 'on Dedecherleshull and all the moor from the bridge of Wridefen beside the road to Coleshill as far as the assart of Ernald Halfcherl of Wridefen'. (fn. 25) In 1250 the constable of Kenilworth was ordered to clear both sides of the road from Coventry to Warwick of the woods in which robbers lurked. (fn. 26) In the survey of c. 1540 Kenilworth was said to lie in country 'very pleasant for hunting all manner of game and of fallow deer in eight parks lying together' near the castle. (fn. 27) Of these parks two were in Rudfen, one being the Ducks Park (40 acres) newly imparked by Abbot Ralph about 1488; (fn. 28) the other (30 acres), called in 1581 the Little Park, near Rudfen House, (fn. 29) was in 1649 in the occupation of Robert Briscoe (fn. 30) and was still known as Briscoe's Park in 1785. (fn. 31) When the king seized Robert Dudley's estates in 1609 there were reckoned to be in Kenilworth 14,138 timber trees and 5,041 'firewood' trees, with a further 8,807 timber trees and 7,580 others in Rudfen, the total value being £14,625. (fn. 32) During the Commonwealth the deer were destroyed and great quantities of timber were cut, so that in 1660 Sir Charles Berkeley petitioned for a lease of 800 acres of disforested lands in Kenilworth. (fn. 33)
There were a number of commons, that of Rudfen being at Burton Green, and the chief of those belonging to the Abbey manor being Great and Little Adibarne, on the east side of the parish. (fn. 34) Some 1,100 acres of common land were inclosed in 1755. (fn. 35)
The Castle (fn. 36)
Kenilworth was originally part of the royal manor of Stoneleigh and was given by Henry I to Geoffrey de Clinton, his chamberlain, who when he founded the Priory of Kenilworth gave to the canons all his land there except so much as he required to make his castle and park. (fn. 37) The position which he selected for his castle was a slight rise, protected on the south and west by small streams; by damming these streams just east of their junction, he, or his son and successor Geoffrey, created the Mere, or Great Pool, ½ mile long and, in places, 500 ft. wide, which defended the castle on the south and west, and supplied the moat on the other two sides. The early castle consisted of a great keep, some 80 ft. (external measure) from east to west by 60 ft. from north to south, with a projecting square turret at each angle. (fn. 38) The walls are 20 ft. thick, battering to 14 ft. 6 in. at a height of 10 ft., up to which height the whole was filled in solid with earth. Entrance to the first floor was through an outbuilding on the west (remodelled by the Earl of Leicester in 1570). The keep stood at the north-east angle of the bailey, or inner court, against the walls of which were built the kitchen and other domestic offices. Its military importance led Henry II to take it over during the rebellion of his son 'the Young King Henry' in 1173–4, when provisions and military forces, including at least 20 hired troopers and 140 foot, were placed in the castle. (fn. 39) Some arrangement seems to have been made, perhaps in 1182, (fn. 40) by which Henry de Clinton made over the castle to the king in exchange for the manor of Lower Swanbourne (Bucks.). (fn. 41) It was one of the castles repaired and set in order at the beginning of the reign of Richard I, (fn. 42) but it was under John that the old castle was surrounded by an outer curtain wall with towers. King John spent £2,000 on the work, but he seems to have visited the castle on only five occasions, and then for not more than three days at a time. (fn. 43) It was one of the four castles which were to be put in the hands of the barons as security for the observance of the Great Charter, but the king seems to have kept control of it. (fn. 44) Henry III rarely visited Kenilworth and the castle fell into disrepair, so that in 1241 the porch of the keep had fallen down, the great chamber was roofless, part of the outer wall was threatening to fall into the Mere, and repairs were needed to the jail, two gates, the chapel, and the other chapel in the keep. (fn. 45) In 1244 Henry appointed his brother-in-law Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, warden of the castle, (fn. 46) and in 1253 he granted the custody of the castle to Simon and the Countess Eleanor for their lives. (fn. 47) It was probably at this time that the earthwork now known as 'the Brays', but more correctly 'the Bayes' (from its being built at the end of the bays, or dam, of the pool), was constructed to guard the main southern entrance. After the collapse of the baronial party and the death of Earl Simon at Evesham in 1265, Kenilworth defied the king's efforts to capture it until famine compelled the garrison to surrender in December 1266, (fn. 48) the vanquished being allowed to compound for the recovery of their estates under the Decree (Dictum) of Kenilworth.
The king at once granted the castle to his son Edmund, (fn. 49) whom he created Earl of Lancaster. Edmund in 1279 held a famous concourse here, called 'the Round Table', consisting of 100 knights, who engaged in tilting and martial exploits under the presidency of Roger Mortimer, and 100 ladies. (fn. 50) The jousting place was, no doubt, the later 'Tilt Yard' on top of the dam separating the Mere from the Lower Pool, and it was probably in memory of this tourney that the gateway tower leading on to the Yard was given the name of Mortimer's Tower. (fn. 51) On Edmund's death in 1296 he was succeeded by his son Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who in 1313 began to build a chapel within the castle, (fn. 52) which he intended to convert into a great chantry or collegiate church of St. Mary, to be served by thirteen secular canons. (fn. 53) This seems to have been more or less completed by 1318, (fn. 54) but the chantry was never founded. The remains of the building may well be those in the Outer Wards, near 'Leicester's Barn', now ascribed to John of Gaunt. By this time Earl Thomas was leading the opposition to Edward II, which culminated in his open rebellion in 1322, when the sheriff was ordered to prevent anyone entering the castle, which was held against the king. (fn. 55) Later in that year the earl was attainted and beheaded, and the castle was taken into the king's hands. Here Edward II kept Christmas in 1323, and hither he was brought as a prisoner by Henry, the earl's brother, on 22 November 1326, and here he was compelled to acquiesce in his deposition, (fn. 56) being later removed to Berkeley Castle, where he was murdered. The estates of his brother, including Kenilworth, were restored to Earl Henry, whose son Henry, later created Duke of Lancaster, in 1347 spent 250 marks on the great hall of the castle. (fn. 57) He died seised thereof in 1361, (fn. 58) and the castle passed by the marriage of his daughter Blanche to John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III, who was created Duke of Lancaster.
Under the wealthy and ostentatious John of Gaunt the castle was first put into repair and then, from 1391 onwards, converted from a feudal stronghold into a palace. To this period belongs the Great Hall, (fn. 59) occupying the whole of the west side of the inner court. The Hall itself was on the first floor, with vaulted cellars below, and had a timber roof of the exceptional span of 45 ft. At the north end was the screens passage, approached by a flight of stairs from the court, and beyond it was the 'Strong Tower', which served as a treasury; at the south was the so-called 'Saintlowe Tower', (fn. 60) containing the oriel of the Great Hall and giving access to the state apartments which occupy the south side of the court. On the death of John of Gaunt his estates devolved to his son Henry, who seized the throne as Henry IV, whereby the Duchy of Lancaster, including Kenilworth, became attached to the Crown. Beyond necessary repairs little was done to the castle, but Henry V built a pleasure-house, known as 'the Pleasaunce in the Marsh (en Mareys)', on the other side of the Mere, about ½ mile west of the castle. The latter was still a fortress of importance and at the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses, in 1456, Henry VI sent some 30 cannon, and other stores, for its defence. (fn. 61) Henry VIII dismantled the Pleasaunce and used its material for buildings in the north-west angle of the outer court, near the Swan Tower, (fn. 62) possibly the 'large gret howse newly buylded of tymber and tyelled wherin ys xij chaumbers above and belowe wyth chymneys and large wyndowes', as described in a survey of c. 1540, (fn. 63) which also mentions a range on the (east) side of the inner court 'of tymber parte newly bylded'.
John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, obtained a grant of Kenilworth in 1553, but on his attainder in the autumn of that year it reverted to the Crown. In 1563 Queen Elizabeth included it in a lavish grant of estates to her favourite Robert Dudley, the Duke's son, (fn. 64) whom she created Earl of Leicester in the following year. By 1570 Leicester had begun extensive alterations and additions to bring the castle into accord with the fashion of the time. Even in the Keep large mullioned and transomed windows were introduced, and the western fore-building was entirely remodelled, leading out to pleasure gardens. 'Mortimer's Tower' was also much altered and ceased to be the main entrance, a new Gatehouse being built at the north-east corner of the outer court. The chief addition was the block, of which the shell still stands, known as 'Leicester's Buildings', south of, and in line with, the timber-framed range built by Henry VIII. John of Gaunt's state apartments were renovated, and on the west side of his Hall a great platform of earth was thrown up to give a view over the Mere, probably for the benefit of Queen Elizabeth on the occasion of her famous visit in July 1575, when she was entertained with a lavish prodigality of feasting and pageantry. (fn. 65)
Leicester's Gatehouse was converted in 1650 into a residence by Colonel Hawksworth, who blocked the entrance passage with bay windows and made other alterations, including additions on the east side, largely with materials from Leicester's Buildings, including the porch and probably some of the doorways and chimneypieces. It is built of red sandstone ashlar, rectangular in plan with octagonal turrets at each angle and a continuous moulded plinth. The main block is three stories high, with a semi-basement, and the turrets one story higher. The main block has a battlemented parapet with a moulded string at its base continued round the turrets. The turrets have plain parapets on a moulded string-course. The windows are all squareheaded with ovolo-moulded features. Blocking the original entrance archways are canted bay windows and above, slightly projecting, four-light windows to the first and second floors. The turrets have two-light windows on two faces. The north and south fronts are practically identical. In the centre of the west wall is a square porch having straight joints to the main wall. It has a semicircular-headed door flanked by niches, with a frieze bearing the initials R. L. and surmounted by a battlemented parapet, probably brought from Leicester's Buildings. The east wall is obscured by the later additions, but traces of three-light windows are visible above the tiled roof on the north and south sides. In the south-west turret is a staircase giving access to all floors, the doorways having four-centred arches with square heads over. On the ground floor in the northeast turret there is a mutilated original fire-place with a moulded four-centred arch. The south room on the ground floor has a very elaborate alabaster chimneypiece with a flat head, frieze with a motto, and twin pilasters on either side decorated with tracery and the initials R. L., also said to have been taken from Leicester's Buildings. In the basement, formed when the gateways were blocked, the bases of the jambs of the original arches, with stopped chamfers, are visible, and a base for the jamb of an intermediate arch. The internal arrangements of the gatehouse have been almost entirely obliterated by the original conversion into a residence and by subsequent owners' and tenants' alterations. It is in the private occupation of Lt.-Col. the Hon. Cyril Davenport Siddeley, D.L.
Against the east wall of the outer court, between the round 'Lunn's Tower' and the square 'Water Tower', is the so-called 'Leicester's Barn', originally stables, and possibly later than Leicester's time. It is a long building, facing west, with a central gabled porch, the lower half red sandstone ashlar with a wide-splayed plinth, and its upper half timber-framed with ornamental reversedogee strutting and red brick infilling. The north wing has two square-headed two-light original windows, of two splayed orders, and a semicircular-headed doorway in the centre. The remaining door and windows are late insertions. The porch, about 12 ft. square, has angle buttresses and a semicircular-headed doorway of one splay, now blocked with modern brickwork, and a window. The south wing has been much altered and repaired; all the windows and the wide entrance are modern. Internally it measures 156 ft. by 21 ft.; it has been divided by modern partitions, and has a modern wood floor. The open timber roof, which is covered with tiles, has trusses consisting of a tie-beam and two collars, the tie-beam strutted with long struts from the sole-plate of the timber-framing. On the east side the roof is carried on open timber-framing resting on the inner edge of the wall-walk of the curtain wall. Modern brick piers and arches have been added to give additional support, and a modern brick fire-place inserted in the south wall.
When the castle reverted to the Crown in 1603 (fn. 66) a survey was made which mentions 'the Roomes of great State within the same, and such as are able to receave his Maty. the Queen and Prince at one tyme, and with such stately Sellars all carried upon pillars and Architecture of free stone carved and wrought as the like are not within this Kingdome'. (fn. 67) As a fortress it was less satisfactory, and at the opening of the Civil War King Charles withdrew his garrison and the place was occupied by the parliamentarians. (fn. 68) In July 1649 orders were given to render the castle untenable, but not to damage the living quarters. (fn. 69) Accordingly the north wall of 'Caesar's Tower' (the Keep) was blown up and the outer walls breached in various places, and the Mere drained. Colonel Hawkesworth, to whom the site had been granted, established himself in Leicester's Gate house. How far he was responsible for the ruin of the earlier living quarters, or how far neglect and later owners (fn. 70) are to blame, cannot be said. Leicester's Buildings were occupied by a colony of weavers from Coventry in the 18th century, (fn. 71) but by the beginning of the 19th century this part was unroofed and the castle was in its present state, except that it was untended. The final act in its history was its purchase in 1937 by Sir John Davenport Siddeley (created Baron Kenilworth in June 1937), who handed over the guardianship of the ruins to H.M. Office of Works, with a generous contribution towards the cost of their upkeep.
Before and after the Conquest KENILWORTH was a member of the royal manor of Stoneleigh. (fn. 72) It was assessed at 3 virgates and there was woodland half a league long by 4 furlongs broad. In 1086 it was held of the king by Richard the Forester. It was given by Henry I, c. 1120, to Geoffrey de Clinton, his Chamberlain and Treasurer, who gave the northern portion for the endowment of his newly founded priory and retained the southern for his castle, park, (fn. 73) and (according to the confirmation charter of King Stephen) 'borough (burgum)' (fn. 74) The CASTLE MANOR descended with the castle itself, whose history is given above. Edmund of Lancaster in December 1266 had a grant of free warren and chase here, (fn. 75) and in 1268 was granted a weekly market on Tuesdays and a fair on the eve, feast, and morrow of Michaelmas. (fn. 76)
The estate of the priory in Kenilworth in 1291 included 2 virgates of demesne, valued at only 12s., assized rents of £4, two mills worth 6s. 8d., and stock to the value of £1. (fn. 77) At the time of its dissolution the site and demesnes of the abbey were valued at £7 6s. 8d., rents brought in some £43, and perquisites of courts £2 16s. 2d. (fn. 78) The site included 'the great orchard' (10 acres), the infirmary garden with an orchard and pond, the vineyard, and other land. (fn. 79) In 1564 the ABBEY MANOR was granted by Queen Elizabeth to the Earl of Leicester, (fn. 80) who already held the castle, with which it has since descended. (fn. 81)
WRIDEFEN or RUDFEN, now corrupted to Redfern, was the district in the north-west quarter of the parish, approximately bounded on the south by Redfern Lane and on the east by Red Lane. The younger Geoffrey de Clinton gave to Kenilworth Priory land late of William Palmer in Wridefen, (fn. 82) and his son Henry gave other land and woods 'from the spring whence the stream called Nunesiche flows as far as the cross which Robert French (franciscus) has set up as a division between his wood and mine'. (fn. 83) By 1291 the priory had 4 virgates here worth £4, and stock valued at £2. (fn. 84) It was constituted a separate manor, which at the time of the Dissolution was farmed at £10. (fn. 85) In June 1545 the manor, including a number of coppices amounting to 215 acres of woodland, was granted to Thomas Marrow; (fn. 86) but in 1557 he reconveyed it to the Crown. (fn. 87) A lease for 21 years was made to John Throckmorton in 1558, (fn. 88) but in 1565 Queen Elizabeth granted the manor to the Earl of Leicester (fn. 89) and it followed the descent of the other two manors. In 1653, during the interregnum, William Combey was in possession of the manor, (fn. 90) but at the Restoration it returned to its former owners.
Leicester died in 1588, leaving his estates for life to his brother Ambrose, Earl of Warwick, who only survived him by a year, with reversion to Sir Robert Dudley, Leicester's son by Lady Douglasse Sheffield. (fn. 91) Sir Robert claimed that his parents had been married and that he was legitimate (fn. 92) and entitled to the estates and also to the earldoms of Leicester and Warwick, as heir of his father and uncle. This claim was opposed by Leicester's widow, Lettice (formerly Countess of Essex, whom he had married during the life of Lady Douglasse), and the Court of Star Chamber decided against Sir Robert. Sir Robert, who had married Alice daughter of Sir Thomas Leigh of Stoneleigh, disgusted at his failure to prove his legitimacy, went abroad. On his failing to obey a summons from the Privy Council to return to this country, the castle and all its lands were seized for the use of the king in 1603. (fn. 93) The survey then made states that the circuits of the castle, manors, parks, and chase lying round together contain at least 19 or 20 miles in a pleasant country, 'the like both for strength state and pleasure not being within the realm of England'. The castle within the walls is given as 7 acres and the pool 111 acres. The values are: in land £16,431 9s.; woods £11,722 2s.; the castle £10, 401 4s. (fn. 94) In 1611 Prince Henry, eldest son of the king, agreed to pay Sir Robert £14,500 for the title to the estates; but only £3,000 of it was paid over, and this was embezzled by the agent to whom it was entrusted. (fn. 95) Under a special Act of Parliament Sir Robert's wife Alice conveyed the castle to Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I, for £4,000, (fn. 96) who in 1623–4 granted a lease of it to Robert, Baron Carey (afterwards Earl of Monmouth), with remainder to Henry, Lord Carey, and Thomas Carey, his sons, for their lives. (fn. 97) Robert died in 1641 and it passed to his son Henry, 2nd Earl of Monmouth. (fn. 98) In 1650 Parliament ordered the castle to be made untenable and assigned the estates in 1651 to certain of Cromwell's officers and troops by way of satisfaction for good service and arrears of pay; but as the life-interest was still vested in Henry, Earl of Monmouth, this was purchased by Major Joseph Hawkesworth, one of the officers (then governor of Warwick Castle), for £2,000. In consideration of this sum he received the castle and land on which it stood, with the tiltyard and orchard. The remainder of the estates was divided among certain of the officers after raising sufficient money to pay the troops. The park was destroyed, the lake drained, and the land divided up among them. (fn. 99) In 1655 Anne Holborne, widow, and Richard Leveson, K.G., and Katherine, his wife, the daughters of Sir Robert Dudley, were dealing with the castle and manor, (fn. 100) presumably remitting any existing claims.
At the Restoration the Crown renewed the lease to the daughters of Henry, late Earl of Monmouth, Elizabeth, Mary, and Martha Carey, (fn. 101) but in 1665 the Crown granted the castle and manors to Laurence Hyde, (fn. 102) later created Earl of Rochester, son of the 1st Earl of Clarendon, the statesman and historian. At his death the estate went to his son Henry, 4th Earl of Clarendon and Earl of Rochester, (fn. 103) who died in 1753 leaving no heir, when all his honours became extinct. It then went to the Hon. Thomas Villiers, (fn. 104) later 1st Earl of Clarendon of the second creation, who had married Charlotte, granddaughter of the last-named lord, and in 1785 it passed to Thomas, 2nd Earl of Clarendon, (fn. 105) and descended with the earldom to George Herbert Hyde, the 6th and present Earl. It was purchased in 1937 by Sir John Davenport Siddeley, C.B.E., 1st Baron Kenilworth, the present lord.
The church of ST. NICHOLAS is situated on the north side of the ruins of St. Mary's Abbey and overlooking a valley which divides the town into two parts. The church consists of chancel, nave, north and south aisles, south chapel, south transept, north porch, vestry, and west tower. It dates from the middle of the 14th century; the south arcade was added about the end of the 14th century; the south chapel, vestry, and south transept are modern. The church is built of red sandstone ashlar of uniform colour; all the roofs are covered with small green slates. On the north side there is a good example of a lead rain-water-head, dated WB 1701, from the gutter of the nave roof.
The nave has a clearstory with six two-light and one single-light windows on each side, the single lights being at the western end. When the south aisle was formed the design and detail of the north side were followed. They are cinquefoil lights with square heads dating from early in the 15th century, surmounted by a plain parapet which rises from a coved string-course. The north aisle is lighted by three square-headed windows of three trefoiled lights with tracery composed of small circles. There are four buttresses, opposite the arcade pillars; they are small, in two stages with wide splayed bases, and terminate as stops to the coved eaves-course. The western end is occupied by a north porch with an angle buttress of the same design as in the aisle. The entrance doorway has a four-centred arch of three sunk splayed orders continued down the jambs to splayed stops. It has a moulded label with return ends. Centrally over the door is a quatrefoil light in a square splayed opening. On the west side is a similar doorway, blocked with masonry, and above this is a traceried window of two trefoil lights with a pointed arch. There are two loop-lights to the turret stair, the lower one blocked with masonry.
The tower, with angle buttresses, rises in three stages, the second stage diminished by an offset and the third also, and from this point receding with deep corner splays from a square to an octagon surmounted by an octagonal spire, reduced before tapering upwards by a slightly curved splay. On each corner at its base is the figure of an angel holding a shield. The spire, which terminates in a vane representing a cock, is divided into three by two bands of billets. The ground-floor stage forms a west porch and the doorway, which is a later insertion, is an elaborate one of the late 12th century and probably came from the adjacent St. Mary's Abbey. It has a semicircular arch of three moulded orders with a label decorated with nail ornament. The outer order has a zigzag moulding, the inner a bead with birds' beaks, and the lower is fluted. This lower order is continued down the jambs and the upper two are supported on detached round shafts with scalloped capitals; no bases are visible above ground. The whole is set within a square framework of cable moulding and a band of diaper work, the spandrels being filled in with large circular paterae. Above is a modern two-light traceried window, with a pointed arch, which lights the porch. Above the first offset there are small trefoil lights with pointed arches on the north, south, and west sides, and below them are the clock faces. On the cardinal sides of the belfry there are two-light trefoil tracery windows with hood-mouldings having returned ends. Near the base of the spire small rectangular lights have been cut through the masonry. Above the first band of billets are canopied spire lights with trefoil heads on the cardinal faces. On the east wall are the lines of a very steeply pitched roof reaching to the apex of the belfry window.
The south aisle has four buttresses similar to the north side and an angle buttress at the south-west corner. The south wall is lighted by four modern twolight trefoil-traceried windows, and farther east by a large five-light traceried window contemporary with the arcade. At the eastern end is a narrow blocked opening with splayed head and jambs 2 ft. high by 6 in. wide, 3 ft. above ground level, and at the western end is a very narrow blocked vertical two-light opening with splayed head, jambs, and transom; each light is 1 ft. 7 in. high by 2½ in. wide. In the west wall there are three blocked openings at different levels with splayed heads, jambs, and sills, probably to light a vestry with a room above.
The modern south transept of red sandstone carries on the coved eaves-course and plinth of the south aisle, with angle buttresses, and has a slated roof of a somewhat steeper pitch than the aisle roof. It is lighted by a two-light traceried window with a pointed arch on the west, and by a three-light window with a hoodmoulding in the south gable wall.
The south chapel, built at the same time, is similar in detail. It has two buttresses and an angle buttress, and is entered by a door in the centre with a pointed arch of two orders, the mouldings continuing to a splayed stop. In the east wall there is a three-light window with a pointed arch and hood-moulding. The east wall of the chancel, with two buttresses, is modern (1864) and the three-light window was inserted in 1867. The north wall has coved eaves-course and parapet similar to the nave, but at a lower level. There are three equally spaced two-light trefoil-traceried windows with hood-mouldings continued as a stringcourse, dating from the 16th century.
In the east wall of the north aisle there is a threelight window of poor workmanship, probably of the early 19th century. A modern vestry projecting from the east end of the north aisle is built of red sandstone with a slated roof and has its entrance in the west wall. It is lighted by three-light trefoil windows on the north and east sides.
The interior of the church is not imposing; the walls are plastered and much of the work is modern and of poor design. The chancel (38 ft. by 23 ft.) was drastically altered in 1864, when the flat ceiling was removed, the chancel lengthened, a pitched roof erected, south chapel, north and south transepts added, and a new chancel arch inserted. It has a floor of glazed tiles laid in 1879, with one step from the nave, two to the altar rails, and one to the altar. On the south side is the modern arcade of three moulded, pointed arches constructed of alternate courses of red and yellow sandstone, the arches being supported on octagonal pillars with foliated capitals and moulded bases. Built into the east bay about 1920 and facing the chancel are sedilia, which had been ejected from the church, probably in 1864. They are of late-14th-century work of rather crude design with three seats on one level, having ogee trefoil heads which die into a sunk splay. The sides and divisions are splayed, making the seats narrower at the back, and the divisions have slightly chamfered arrises. A modern elaborately moulded capping has been added. To the east of the sedilia there is a modern piscina with a cinquefoil ogee head, and crocketed label terminating in a poppy head and resting on bosses of male and female heads. The modern chancel arch has two splayed orders, with its floriated capitals cut away for the insertion of a carved oak screen in 1913. In the north-west corner there is a wide splay with evidence of a blocked doorway which probably gave access to a rood-loft. Just south of the chancel arch is a rectangular opening 1 ft. high by 8 in. wide, and 3 ft. above the floor, with splayed reveals on the chancel side and with chamfered head, jambs, and sill to the nave. The windows have splayed reveals and the internal arches follow the external. The altar table is a modern one constructed of oak, as are the altar rails. The modern roof consists of curved trusses supported on traceried brackets resting on moulded stone corbels and matchboarded on the backs of the rafters.
The nave (71 ft. 6 in. by 26 ft. 2 in.) has an arcade on the north side of four bays with pointed arches of two splayed orders supported on pillars with splays following the arches, with simple moulded capitals and bases of the mid 14th century. The eastern bay differs from the remainder, the arch being supported on inserted foliated capitals on modern short engaged trefoil shafts terminating on corbels, probably part of the alteration to form the north transept of 1864–5. This bay is now occupied by an organ and a passage to the vestry on the site of the 1864–5 north transept, of which little trace remains. The clearstory windows have flat heads, with slightly splayed reveals, the lintels chamfered on the lower edge. The aisle windows have square reveals and project beyond the wall-face, forming a splayed moulding supported on moulded corbels, the splay being carried up to mitre with a cornice having a corresponding splay at wall-plate level. The western end has a four-centred arch doorway from the north porch. In the north-west corner there is a splayed projection formed by the circular staircase to the tower. The tower arch is pointed, with three splayed orders which continue down the jambs and have no stops. The south arcade has five bays with arches of the same detail as the north, but supported on octagonal pillars with moulded capitals and bases typical of the beginning of the 15th century. The arch of the eastern bay, which leads into the modern south transept, is supported on modern corbels. None of the blocked openings mentioned on the exterior are visible under the wall plaster. The west bay is used as a baptistry. The font is circular, of light sandstone, and is dated 1614. The basin has a moulded rim with a running scallop at the top and bottom of the frieze, which has four small rosettes at intervals and the date. Around the tapering stem are eight small attached shafts resting on a plain circular drum moulded at the base. It has a modern carved oak cover. The nave and both aisles are paved with stone slabs, some of them inscribed.
The base of the tower forms a west porch (12 ft. by 12 ft.). Painted on the north and south walls is a list of charities. The ceiling is formed by the underside of a modern pitch pine floor to the ringing chamber, the beams and joists are stop-chamfered. Between the ringing chamber and the belfry a modern floor has been inserted to house the clock works; the clock is dated 1865.
The nave roof is a modern one of the king-post type with moulded tie-beams, tracery brackets resting on moulded stone corbels, and matchboarded between the trusses. Both the aisle roofs are of the same period, matchboarded between moulded purlins.
The north porch (9 ft. by 9 ft.) originally had an upper floor, which has been removed, leaving the doorway to the turret stair high up in the wall and now reached by a flight of wooden steps. The door to the north aisle has a four-centred arch with a rather deep moulded splay continuing down the jambs and is without stops. The doorway to the turret stair has a fourcentred arch without mouldings, but is rebated for a door, now missing. The turret stair has been blocked at the level of the belfry, and below this point a passage has been roughly hacked through the thickness of the tower and turret walls to give access to the ringing chamber. The belfry is now reached by a ladder from the ringing chamber. The blocked opening on the west side is not visible on the inside.
The south transept (14 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 4 in.) has no features, the walls are plastered and the floor is of stone slabs. It has a roof similar to that of the south chapel.
The south chapel has one step from the transept and one to the altar. The walls are plastered and the floor is of wood block. The open roof is of pitch pine with curved braces and a circular collar-beam, slightly moulded.
The pulpit is of carved oak, dated 1911, and is placed on the north side of the chancel arch. The lectern is also of carved oak of about the same date and is placed on the south side of the chancel arch.
In the chancel is a large elm chest bound with plain iron bands and straps, probably of the early 17th century, and fitted with three drawers on each side, added in the 18th century, all locked with a single clasp. All the original locks are missing.
Against the step to the chancel is placed a large boatshaped lead casting, 4 ft. 4 in. long by 1 ft. 3 in. wide, dug up in the churchyard in 1888. (fn. 106)
All the seating is modern varnished pitch pine put in in 1864–5, and the stained glass is all of 19th-century work. There are a number of mural tablets and memorials of little artistic merit, and none earlier than the 18th century.
In the churchwardens' accounts is a faculty from the Bishop of Lichfield for the erection of a gallery in the north aisle which was built in 1751, and another faculty for a gallery in the south aisle erected in 1760 (a late-18th-century print shows a row of dormer windows in the aisle roof, no doubt to light the gallery). Both these galleries were removed about 1850. In 1766 an agreement was made for reroofing the church, and in 1767 £335 4s. was paid in cash and timber for the new roof. In 1693 an agreement was made with Charles Hewitt, a goldsmith of Coventry, for a new clock for the sum of £5 and the old clock. In 1700 repairs were made to the dial in the churchyard, and there still stands opposite the west door a stone column on two steps, with the matrix of a sundial on its cap.
The communion plate is of exceptional interest: it includes a silver-gilt cup of 1568, its cover having a ring handle, engraved with the bear and ragged staff, the badge of the Earl of Leicester. There is another large plain cup, of 1626, given by Elizabeth, Countess of Monmouth; but the chief feature is the remarkable set of silver-gilt plate given by Alice, Duchess Dudley. This, made in 1638, comprises a chalice of medieval form, a paten, a flagon engraved and embossed with floral patterns, and a ciborium in the form of a tazza with cover. (fn. 107)
There are six bells, (fn. 108) five recast by J. Taylor & Co. of Loughborough in 1875; the other is the sole survivor of five cast at Coventry by Brian Eldridge in 1656. The great bell described by Dugdale (fn. 109) as brought from the Abbey and bearing the name of Prior Thomas Kidderminster [1403–39] was recast in 1734 by either Abraham Rudhall or Thomas Eayre, and again in 1875.
The registers begin in 1630.
Kenilworth was originally part of Stoneleigh and as the latter church was from an early date appropriated to Kenilworth Priory no difficulties would have arisen when the canons built a church here. It is probable that for a century or more after the establishment of the priory the inhabitants of the neighbourhood used the nave of the monastic church, and that a separate parish church was not built until the middle of the 13th century. A casual reference to a 'rector' of Kenilworth in 1285 (fn. 110) is rather puzzling; but in 1291 the church is definitely returned as appropriated to the priory and worth £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 111) In 1535 the rectory was farmed for £7 6s. 8d. and the canons were paying £6 13s. 4d. yearly to the vicar. (fn. 112) After the Dissolution the rectory was included in the various leases and grants of the manor, but the advowson of the vicarage was retained by the Crown and the Lord Chancellor is still the patron.
A benefaction table in the church of this parish records that the following gave sums of money, the interest on which was to be distributed in bread: Thomas Councell (£10); Francis Power (£10); Thomas Johnson (£10); Thomas Cook (£5); Joseph Tyrer (£6); Thomas Sutton (£6); William Brooks (£5).
Thomas, Earl of Clarendon, by will dated 5 May 1810 gave £100 to the rector or vicar and churchwardens of Kenilworth, the interest to be applied for the use of the poor of the parish.
George Denton by will dated 10 May 1644 gave a messuage in Kenilworth in trust, the rents and profits thereof to be applied towards the relief of the poor. He desired that the three tenants of the messuage should each enjoy their several parts and rooms during their lives at the yearly rent of 6s. 8d. each, they keeping their several parts in good repair.
Mary Dolphin by will dated 8 June 1834 gave £200, the interest to be given to aged parishioners at Christmas in warm clothing, coal, money, or meat.
Alice, Duchess Dudley. For particulars of this charity see under parish of Ashow. The share of the charity applicable for this parish is two-seventeenths of the income amounting to £75 6s. 6d. annually to be applied for the general benefit of the poor of the parish.
Ann Fox. A memorandum in an old churchwardens' book of this parish, dated 16 February 1724–5, states that Ann Fox by her will charged certain land at Kenilworth with the annual sum of 20s. towards putting a parish boy apprentice, according to the discretion of the minister and churchwardens.
Edward Simpson by will dated 5 May 1848 gave certain residuary personal estate to his executors to convert into money and to invest the same and, subject to certain life interests, to transfer one moiety to the vicar and churchwardens of Kenilworth to pay the interest towards the education and partial clothing of children of poor inhabitants of the parish, being members of the Established Church, provided that if the annual interest should exceed £30 the surplus up to £10 should be annually expended in fuel, clothing, or money among such poor and aged inhabitants being members of the Established Church.
By an Order dated 4 May 1906 the Charity Commissioners determined that the sum of £1,200 Consols, part of the sum of £1,461 14s. 9d. Consols constituting the endowment of the charity, ought to be applied to solely educational purposes.
Mary Turner's Charity: 6s. 8d. is received each year for the benefit of the poor of this parish. For particulars of the charity see parish of Baginton.
Stephen Waite by will dated 15 September 1727 gave £100 to the minister and churchwardens of Kenilworth to be laid out in the purchase of land, the rent and profits to be applied in putting out a poor boy to be apprenticed to some trade. The land, which was purchased in 1729, has since been sold and the proceeds invested.
The above-mentioned charities are regulated by a Scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 19 June 1914 under the title of the United Charities. The scheme appoints a body of trustees to administer the charities and directs that the income of the charity of Alice, Duchess Dudley, shall be applied in accordance with the provisions of the scheme dated 13 June 1879, the income of the charities of Ann Fox and Stephen Waite shall be applied towards apprenticing deserving and necessitous children, and that the income of the remaining charities shall be applied for the general benefit of the poor. The annual income of the charities amounts to £140 (approximately).
Church Lands. It is recorded in the printed Report of the former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities, dated in 1827, that there are several parcels of land in the parish, the rents of which are applicable to the repairs of the church, but the origin of which is unknown. The charity is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated 19 June 1914, appointing the vicar and churchwardens of St. Nicholas to be trustees and the income of the charity to be applied towards the repair and insurance against fire of the fabric of the church. The annual income of the charity amounts to £87.
Ann Floyd. By an Indenture dated 1 August 1855 yearly rents issuing out of land in Birmingham amounting to £20 19s. 6¾d. were settled upon trust to provide the following yearly payments, viz.:
Alfred William Hordern by will proved on 15 September 1938 gave £100 to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Nicholas, the interest, amounting to £3, to be applied for the upkeep of the churchyard.
William Daniel Shard by will dated 27 January 1934 gave £100 to the Parochial Church Council of St. Nicholas Church, Kenilworth, the interest to be applied for the upkeep of the churchyard. The annual income amounts to £3 8s. 8d.
Arthur William Street by will dated 29 June 1934 made a similar bequest of £200. The annual income amounts to £6 17s. 4d.
Elizabeth Hannah Street by will dated 23 June 1937 gave £100 to the Parochial Church Council, the income (£3) to be applied for the general purposes of the church.
Emily Henrietta Wilson by will dated 4 November 1924 gave £100 to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Nicholas, the income to be applied for the upkeep of the churchyard and the fabric of the parish church. She gave a further sum of £1,000 to them, the income to be applied in augmentation of the stipend of the vicar.
Harry Quick by will dated 23 January 1924 gave £100 to the vicar and churchwardens, the income to be paid in augmentation of the Assistant Clergy Fund of the parish. The annual income amounts to £3 6s. 4d.
Ethie Gilbert Dennison by a codicil to her will dated 29 May 1914 devised a cottage at Kenilworth upon trust to be let, rent free or at as low a rent as possible, to poor ladies or women. She also bequeathed £200, the interest to be applied towards the maintenance of the cottage. Trustees of the charity were appointed by an Order of the Charity Commissioners dated 13 January 1942.
William Edwards by will dated 29 January 1722 devised certain property in the county of Warwick for the establishment, among other purposes, of a fund for the distribution of clothing and Bibles to the poor of Kenilworth and Hatton. The charity was formerly regulated by a scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 28 July 1818 under the title of The Coat and Gown Charity of William Edwards, but is now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 15 June 1909. This appoints a body of local trustees to administer the share of the charity applicable for this parish (£60) and directs the trustees to pay yearly £6 to the vicar and churchwardens for the purchase of Bibles, Prayer Books, or Testaments for poor persons resident in the parish, and the balance of the income to be applied for eleemosynary purposes.
Harriett Anne Amherst by will dated 10 November 1883 gave £3,000 to the Roman Catholic Bishop or other person for the time being exercising episcopal jurisdiction over the Roman Catholics at Kenilworth, the interest to be applied for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Mission of St. Austin's at Fieldgate. The annual income of the charity amounts to £157.
Abraham Arlidge's Charity is regulated by a scheme made under the Endowed Schools Acts on 19 July 1883, as altered by schemes of the Charity Commissioners dated 25 November 1884, 4 August 1891, and 1 February 1901. The part of the endowment of the charity applicable for purposes not educational consists of £8 yearly payable to the Minister or Pastor for the time being of the Abbey Hill Congregational Chapel, and of a yearly sum of not more than £100 for the benefit of poor members of the congregation.
Kenilworth Convalescent Home. By an indenture dated 20 March 1886 Jane Woodcock conveyed to trustees a messuage in High Street then used, and to continue to be used, as a Convalescent Home. By a further indenture dated 3 June 1886 in consideration of £200 (which had been raised by subscription) two messuages also in High Street were conveyed to the said trustees.
Harriett Faulconer Hamilton by will dated 13 March 1894 gave £150 to be invested, the income to be applied by the vicar and churchwardens of the district church of St. John the Evangelist in Kenilworth towards the repair and maintenance of the memorial window of her mother, and the window to be erected in memory of herself. Any surplus income to be applied towards the maintenance of the fabric of the church. The annual income of the charity amounts to £4 8s. 4d.
The Hon. and Rev. Charles Samuel Twisleton by will dated 4 February 1888 bequeathed £1,000 Consols, the interest to be paid to the vicar for the time being of St. John's, Kenilworth.