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, 50; 1921, 55; 1931, 28.
This parish, the most northerly in Knightlow Hundred, is a small, fairly level, and open tract across which the Harrow Brook, Sketchley Brook, and other small streams wind their way to the River Anker, which forms its south-west boundary. On the north-east it is divided from Hinckley in Leicestershire by the Watling Street, but there are no other metalled roads. Small readjustments of boundary were made with Hinckley and Burbage in 1934. (fn. 1) The parish now contains only a few scattered farms and cottages, the village having been extinguished in the inclosures of the late 15th and early 16th century, and the population has shown a more or less steady decline ever since 1801, when eighty-one persons were enumerated. Stretton lies just too far outside the orbit of both Hinckley and Nuneaton to develop as a residential suburb of either place. By 1636 Stretton Baskerville was considered to be a part of Burton Hastings, (fn. 2) and Dugdale, writing about the same time, states that there is 'not now any part of the Church standing'. (fn. 3)
The medieval township constituted a group of a dozen or so houses on a ridge which runs parallel with the stream near the south-east corner of the parish. The site is approached from the Watling Street by a drive which skirts the stables of Stretton House and then turns west along a farm track. This track, which formed the village street, was apparently cobbled and led to a small plateau on the west which was the site of the church. Recent trial excavations on this site have yielded roofing slates, plain red paving tiles, small pieces of glazing leadwork, and fragments of building stone, including a large semicircular block, possibly parts of an internal arcade. (fn. 4) A belt of elms divides this western part, known as 'the Little Township', from the field to the east called 'the Township', where a series of depressions, yielding fragments of pottery, marks the sites of insubstantial cottages of timber or clay. A long field slopes down to former fish-ponds, of which the central borders the stream for about 105 yds., is between 25 and 30 yds. wide, and has two small ponds at each end. The banks vary in height from 5 ft. to 10 ft. and along the north bank are pieces of worked and unworked stone, (fn. 5) from the foundations of the church, and bricks of 15th-century type.
STRETTON BASKERVILLE was rated at 3 hides in 1086, and was held by Roger of Ralph de Mortemer, being the latter's only vill in Warwickshire. Edric had held it freely before the Conquest. (fn. 6) The connexion of the village with the family giving its distinguishing name dates back to the reign of Henry I, during which William de Baskerville held three fees of Robert, Earl Ferrers, of which one was in 1166 in the hands of William's son Ralph. (fn. 7) The manor was stated to be held as a member of the Ferrers Honor of Tutbury as late as the 17th century. (fn. 8)
The last of the Baskervilles to hold Stretton was Walter, William's grandson, who in 1208 gave 3 palfreys for having respite of a fine of £10 owed to the king and £25 owed to the Jews, (fn. 9) and whose widow Isolde six years later paid 100 marks and 1 palfrey to have possession of her inheritance. (fn. 10) The manor in 1219–20 is found in possession of Ralph son of Nicholas, steward of William, Earl Ferrers. (fn. 11) In 1229 and 1231 the constable of Kenilworth was ordered to grant him 200 bream for his fish-pond at Stretton, (fn. 12) and in 1230 his lands here and elsewhere were exempted from suits of shires and hundreds and from sheriff's aid. (fn. 13) During the latter part of his life he was the king's steward, dying in 1257. (fn. 14) Robert his son and heir did homage for his lands the following year (fn. 15) and was a partisan of Simon de Montfort, but was restored to favour under the terms of the award of Kenilworth, (fn. 16) one of his sureties being Ralph Pipard, his nephew and successor, who was returned as lord of the manor in 1275–6. (fn. 17) Pipard in 1284–5 claimed view of frankpledge, assize of bread and ale, and waif, in his manor of Stretton, the former two privileges being allowed, having been exercised from time immemorial. (fn. 18) In 1301 he granted the manor to John de Twyford, reserving a life tenure for himself at a rose rent. (fn. 19) John de Twyford was returned as lord of Stretton Baskerville cum membris in 1316. (fn. 20) In 1381 Sir Robert de Twyford entailed the manor on his son Robert, with contingent remainder to his other son Ralph. (fn. 21) The Twyford family continued to hold the manor till 1488, in which year Thomas Twyford evicted the tenants of 4 messuages and 3 cottages so as to inclose the 160 acres thereto belonging. Soon afterwards he sold the manor to Henry Smyth, who in 1493 completed the inclosure, evicting 80 persons from 12 messuages and 4 cottages on 640 acres, the value of which, as arable land, had been £55. (fn. 22) Henry Smyth left a widow Joan (Stafford) on whom he settled the manor, with remainder if he died without issue to his sister Elizabeth Porter, but his successor was his son Walter, aged 11 at his father's death in 1514. (fn. 23) The transfer of the manor from the Twyfords to the Smyths was confirmed by Robert Twyford of Brooksby (Leics.) to Walter Smyth in 1525. (fn. 24) Walter Smyth apparently leased the demesnes to William Astill before 1522, when the latter made a settlement of 'the manor' (held of Walter Smyth) on his marriage to Elizabeth Poley; (fn. 25) Astill's son and heir Richard was aged 5 at his father's death in 1529. and was apparently dead by 1553, when Walter Smyth leased the manor for £50 annually to Thomas and John Chetwynd. (fn. 26) William Astill, probably Richard's son, died in 1577, seised of the reversion of 'tenements' in Stretton after the death of Elizabeth widow of Robert Sacheverel, (fn. 27) probably the Elizabeth Poley mentioned above.
The Smyths, a Coventry family by origin, also held the neighbouring manor of Shelford or Sherford in Burton Hastings (q.v.), and Stretton Baskerville descended with this till the late 18th century. By 1788 it had passed to William Brown of Hinckley (Leics.). (fn. 28) Thomas Brown was a principal landowner in 1850. (fn. 29)
In 1221 Ralph son of Nicholas granted to Nuneaton Priory the virgate held by William son of Ranulf and the half-virgate held by Henry de Cleiwey. (fn. 30) This became part of the priory demesnes, and was in 1535 worth 8s. (fn. 31) In 1540 it was granted along with other Nuneaton estates in tail male to Sir Marmaduke Constable, (fn. 32) and confirmed to Robert Constable and his heirs in 1560–1. (fn. 33)
Between 1210 and 1214 there was a lawsuit between Walter de Baskerville and the prioress of Nuneaton about the presentation to this church; the latter claimed it as a chapelry of her church of Burton Hastings, producing Bishop Nonant's confirmation of the original grant by Ralph de Turville and also a document (cartam) from Alice de Baskerville, Walter's grandmother, to the bishop waiving her rights. Walter discounted this because Alice had had no interests in Stretton except in dower, and stated that none of his ancestors had made any direct grant of the advowson to the priory. (fn. 34) The suit was apparently compromised, for in 1221 the prioress quitclaimed the advowson to Ralph son of Nicholas, Walter's successor, saving the ancient portion due from the church to her own church of Burton Hastings, in return for certain lands and 15 marks silver. (fn. 35)
The advowson descended with the manor until the end of the 17th century. After the extinction of the village by the inclosures of 1488 and 1493 the church fell into ruins. In 1633 Bishop Wright of Lichfield wrote to Laud asking whether Stretton, in common with the churches of other decayed villages in his diocese, should be rebuilt or the parishes united with neighbouring ones. (fn. 36) The church was not rebuilt, and the parish was served by the clergy of Burton Hastings (since 1927 united with Wolvey).
The advowson of the sinecure rectory was acquired, with that of Wolston (q.v.), by Charles Pinchin, who presented to it in 1719, (fn. 37) as did his daughters Hannah Pinchin and Letitia Wilcox, widow, jointly, in 1737. (fn. 38) These ladies were still named as patrons in 1859, (fn. 39) but about 1900 the Crown was said to hold the patronage. (fn. 40) In 1926, when the benefice was worth £63 net and was held with Burton Hastings, the patron was 'uncertain'. (fn. 41)