A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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STRETTON-UPON-DUNSMORE AND PRINCETHORPE
Population: 1911, 587; 1921, 612; 1931, 648.
Population: 1911, 357; 1921, 324; 1931, 298.
These two parishes, which are united for ecclesiastical purposes and were formerly both hamlets of Wolston, lie in the centre of the county about equidistant (some 8 miles) from Rugby, Leamington, Kenilworth, and Coventry. The villages, which are about a mile apart, are on opposite sides of the valley of a small stream rising on Dunsmore Heath and flowing west and then south (Stretton village being near the change of course) to the river Leam, which forms the southern boundary of Princethorpe. The ground is undulating, the highest point, rather over 350 ft., being found on the heath north-east of Stretton, and falling to just under 200 ft. where the stream joins the Leam at the south-west corner of Princethorpe. There is a fair amount of woodland in the western part of both parishes. Stretton is of a somewhat elongated shape, measuring about 4 miles from east to west by only about one mile north to south, and merits its distinguishing name more than most of the villages 'on Dunsmore', the greater part of the heath being in the long eastward extension of the parish. The parishes are well served by roads, being crossed not only by the Fosse Way, from which Stretton derives its name, but also by the main roads from Coventry to London and to Oxford, and the direct road from Rugby to Warwick. Princethorpe village is situated where this last road, that from Coventry to Oxford, and the Fosse Way intersect; Stretton is just west of the Fosse Way, and linked up with the main roads by a number of lanes. There are no railways through either of the parishes; the nearest stations are Brandon and Wolston on the Birmingham main line (2½ miles north of Stretton) and Marton on the Leamington branch (2½ miles south of Princethorpe).
In 1704 an inclosure of 1,700 acres of common fields in this parish was carried out, (fn. 1) presumably by agreement, as no Act can be traced. A further 14½ yardlands, or 1,000 acres, of common field in Princethorpe were inclosed by Act of Parliament in 1762. (fn. 2)
Both parishes have contained institutions of more than average interest. In Stretton, the Warwick County Asylum for Juvenile Delinquents was established in 1818. It was a private venture, taking charge of convicted boys of 14 to 16 years of age, who were kept for two years and taught shoemaking and tailoring. This reformatory was closed before 1900, (fn. 3) and is now commemorated only by Asylum Farm, ½ mile southeast of the village. A Gardeners' Allotment Association, providing plots of about 20 perches each, was established in Stretton in 1825. (fn. 4)
Princethorpe contains St. Mary's Priory, founded in 1833 for nuns of the Order of St. Benedict, with a girls' school attached. The buildings, which include a church with a bell-tower, are a prominent feature in the landscape.
It seems probable that the name of Stretton was in early times applied to a much larger piece of Wolston, or possibly used as an alternative for that name, as 'the mill of Stretton called Purimulne' in 1226 (fn. 5) appears to be the same as 'the mill of Stretton on the Avon' (which river does not touch the present Stretton), and to be on the site of the existing Wolston Mill.
The 5-hide vill of STRETTON [UPON DUNSMORE], held in the reign of Edward the Confessor by Ailmund, was in 1086 the property of Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, whose tenant was Rainald de Bailleul. Its value had increased from £3 to £5 and in 1086 to £6. (fn. 6) Earl Roger, amongst his other estates and dignities, held the castle and earldom of Arundel, (fn. 7) and Stretton appears to have been regarded as an appendage of this earldom in its various creations. In 1235 it was reckoned with Wolston and Church Lawford at 2½ knight's fees held of John Fitzalan, (fn. 8) Stretton by itself being a half-fee held of the same overlord by the heir of Ralph Strange (Extranei) in 1242. (fn. 9) A quarter of a fee in Stretton and Princethorpe was in 1428 stated to have been formerly held of the Earls of Arundel. (fn. 10)
The next recorded tenant of the manor after Ralph Strange was Thomas de Garshale, who with his wife Maud in 1262, for a consideration of 20 marks silver and an annual rent of 1d. or a pair of white gloves, passed property in Stretton and Princethorpe consisting of 2 messuages, 2½ virgates of land, and 10 acres of wood to Robert Heriz of Stretton. Though not specifically described as a manor it included demesnes, homages, rents of freemen, wards, reliefs, escheats, and other manorial appurtenances and represented the whole of the Garshales property in the two vills. (fn. 11) Robert Heriz soon regranted the estate, at the same rent but for a consideration of 30 marks, to Henry de Hastings, son and heir of Sir Henry de Hastings. (fn. 12) He or his son Sir John subinfeudated Thomas de Bray, who held a fifth of a knight's fee in Stretton of the latter in 1313, (fn. 13) and in 1282 had made a settlement of his estates in Warwickshire and Bedfordshire on himself and his wife Alice, with remainder to his son Thomas and his heirs, his sons Henry, Roger, and Richard, and their heirs successively. (fn. 14) The Bray family continued to be tenants of the Hastings (later Earls of Pembroke). (fn. 15) This fifth of a fee in Stretton was identified in the inquisitions on Joan widow of Sir William Beauchamp (1435), who inherited through the entail made by the second Hastings, Earl of Pembroke, on his cousin William de Beauchamp, (fn. 16) and on Sir Edward Neville (1476), her grandson. (fn. 17) The last of the Brays in the male line was Richard (temp. Henry VI), one of whose daughters and coheiresses, Helen, married Edmund Starkey. (fn. 18) His descendant, William Starkey (died 1555), left two sons, Thomas, who died in 1557, and William, aged 18 at that time; (fn. 19) the latter was dealing with his share in 1560, (fn. 20) perhaps as a settlement on his coming of age, and sold it two years later to Anne, widow of Sir Thomas Longueville, (fn. 21) on whose death in 1564 it came to her son by a former marriage, Bartholomew Tate of Delapré (Northants.). (fn. 22) The latter conveyed it in 1581 to his younger brother Anthony, of Sutton Bonington (Notts.) and it was sold by Anthony's son George to Richard Taylor of Binley in 1620. (fn. 23) This manor remained in the Taylor family for over a century, (fn. 24) Samuel Taylor being returned as lord between 1715 and 1742. (fn. 25) A Samuel Taylor was dealing with it in association with William Butler and his wife, probably his brother-in-law and sister, in 1750, (fn. 26) and William Butler was lord up to at least 1759, when with his wife Mary, son William, and several other members of the family he sold it to George, Earl of Halifax. (fn. 27) The latter died without surviving male issue in 1771, (fn. 28) when this half of the manor disappeared as a separate entity, becoming merged with the half already held by the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, who was distantly related to the Earl of Halifax and in the previous year had acquired manorial interests in Stretton through his marriage with the heiress of the Montagus (see below). The Dukes of Buccleuch remained lords of the manor, but the manorial rights seem to have lapsed.
The descent of the other half of the manor, which is not noticed by Dugdale, is very obscure. A fine was levied on a half-manor between Clement Cave, third son of Richard Cave of Stanford (Leics.) (fn. 29) and Margery his wife and Edward Mountague and John Croke in 1527, (fn. 30) and between Nicholas Charnell and Gabriel Chambers in 1571. (fn. 31) Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, was lord of Stretton in 1656 (fn. 32) and his daughter and coheir Elizabeth with her husband Jocelyn, Lord Percy (later Earl of Northumberland), were dealing with the manor in 1668 (fn. 33) and she with her second husband Ralph, Baron Montagu of Boughton in 1673. (fn. 34) John, Duke of Montagu, and Mary his wife were dealing with the manor in 1711; (fn. 35) no members of this family are mentioned as lords of the manor in the Gamekeepers' Deputations, but there is little doubt that the two halves of the manor became merged after 1771 (see above).
In 1330 Richard le Fevre was licensed to alienate property in Stretton, Princethorpe, and other places to the prioress and nuns of 'Kynewod'. (fn. 36) The nunnery of Henwood had property worth £1 0s. 5d. net in 1535. (fn. 37)
The hamlet of PRINCETHORPE is first mentioned in 1275–6, when William de Holeweye and Henry Coc' held 1 virgate here. (fn. 38) In 1357 it was described as a manor, when it was settled on William de Peekes, for life with contingent remainders to Sir Richard Treweloue in tail, John de Hockeleye and Cecily his wife in tail, or Nicholas le Eyr and his heirs. (fn. 39) From about this date till the middle of the 15th century Princethorpe figures with Wappenbury and Eathorpe as 4 knights' fees held of the Mowbrays and the Earls of Norfolk. (fn. 40) In the 15th century the immediate lords of the manor were the Hugford family, (fn. 41) and in 1517 John Hugford was reported to have inclosed the sites of 2 messuages and 50 acres of land in Princethorpe. (fn. 42) In the same year he sold the manor to Sir William Compton, (fn. 43) who died in possession in 1528. (fn. 44) Henry, 1st Lord Compton, Sir William's grandson, was dealing with his manor of Princethorpe in 1583, (fn. 45) and William, 2nd Lord Compton, made a settlement of it in 1629 (fn. 46) shortly before his death, when his younger brother Sir Henry succeeded him. (fn. 47) It was finally conveyed by Richard Compton and others to Richard Jennens in 1665. (fn. 48) Another Richard Jennens appears as vouchee in recoveries in 1708 and 1739. (fn. 49) His youngest daughter and coheiress Anne married William Peareth, of Usworth (Durham), in whose family the manorial rights remained as late as 1906. (fn. 50)
Another manor appears in the middle of the 16th century; in 1560 Matthew Knyveton settled the manor of Princethorpe on his wife Elizabeth and at the same time made a lease thereof for 40 years to William Fletewood of the Middle Temple. Knyveton died in 1562 when his son William was 10, the wardship of his lands being granted to Sir William Cordell and Richard Alington. (fn. 51) William Knyveton was dealing with this manor in 1576 (fn. 52) and passed it in 1580 to Martin Chamberlyn, when the appurtenances included two mills and fishery in the Leam. (fn. 53) This manor remained with the Chamberlayne family till the end of the 18th century, Stanes Chamberlayne of Stoney Thorpe being vouchee in a recovery of 1792. (fn. 54)
The existing church (fn. 55) of ALL SAINTS is situated to the west of the village on the summit of a hill and stands in a large churchyard. It was completed in 1837 from designs by Rickman, and except for the addition of a choir vestry and a new east window inserted in 1936 as a memorial, it is unaltered. It is built of brick faced with stone ashlar and consists of a chancel, nave, north and south aisles, west tower, vestry and choir vestry. The east end has diagonal buttresses at the angles, moulded coping to the gable with a cross finial and is lighted by a pointed traceried window of five lights, the centre light cinquefoil and the others trefoil, the hoodmould being taken round a quatrefoil piercing above the window in ogee form, terminating in a foliated finial. The north and south sides each have a threelight traceried window. Both aisles have pointed twolight windows above the vestry roofs. The vestries on either side of the chancel are of one story with flat roofs, pierced parapets, and diagonal buttresses at the angles. The aisles and clearstory are divided into four bays by buttresses, with a string-course at sill level and a plain parapet to the low-pitched slated nave roof. The aisles have three pointed traceried windows of two trefoil lights with hood-moulds and the four clearstory circular lights are of trefoiled cusping with ogee hood-moulds terminating in floriated finials. The tower rises in three stages, with buttresses at each angle, and finishes with a plain coping on a moulded string-course. The west door has a pointed moulded arch flanked by small buttresses with crocketed gabled heads terminating in floriated finials. The second stage has a single trefoil light with a hood-mould and the belfry two-light windows with ogee crocketed labels on each face. The north side has two single pointed lights and a clock dial in the second stage. The south side has a single trefoil pointed window in the lower stage. The west ends of the aisles have single trefoil lights, with circular windows above to light the gallery.
The chancel (20 ft. by 12 ft.) is paved with stone and has five steps from the nave to the altar. The ceiling is quadripartite vaulting with moulded ribs, carved bosses, and slender attached shafts with moulded capitals on foliated corbels. In the side walls there are shallow niches with segmental heads, cusped and supported on attached shafts with moulded capitals and bases.
The nave (49 ft. 6 in. by 20 ft.) has a vaulted ceiling continued from the chancel, which is without a chancel arch, and a boarded floor. The arcades are of four bays of moulded pointed arches, the inner order supported on attached shafts and the outer continued to form hexagonal pillars with splayed stops on a plain hexagonal base. The clearstory windows are in moulded recesses with segmental-pointed arches, the lower part of the recesses being panelled. The font, placed under the gallery on the south side of the entrance, is octagonal, with panelled sides, small buttresses at the angles, moulded capping and a circular basin of white enamel. The pulpit, south of the chancel, is of stone, octagonal with trefoil-headed panels on a circular moulded base and opposite a somewhat similar reading-desk.
The aisles (47 ft. by 10 ft.) have similar vaulting to the nave, supported on moulded corbels. A gallery extends right across the church at the west end supported on a stone arcade of seven segmental arched bays on clustered shafts. At the back of the gallery there is a deep splayed pointed arch recess to the tower with a door to the tower staircase. In the centre of the gallery are the pipes of an organ.
The tower (12 ft. 6 in. by 13 ft. 6 in.) forms a lobby to the west door. The tower staircase is carried in straight flights round the walls and gives access to the gallery. On the west wall there is a list of charities from 1687 to 1839.
The plate consists of a silver flagon, silver chalice, and silver paten, all inscribed 'Francis and Thermuthis Fauquier of Stoneythorpe in the County of Warwick to the Parish of Stretton on Dunsmore 1795'. There are also a silver chalice with hallmark of 1673, a silver spoon, and three pewter plates.
There are three bells, one by Hugh Watts, 1620, and two by Joseph Smith, 1705. (fn. 56)
The registers of burials begin in 1681 and those of baptisms and marriages in 1695.
Stretton-upon-Dunsmore and Princethorpe were hamlets of Wolston till 1696, when William Herbert demised two cottages valued at £40, held on a 1,000year lease in Long Itchington of the lord of the manor of that village, to provide a stipend for a vicar for the two villages. (fn. 57)
There is no mention of a chapel in the Taxatio, but in 1345 Thomas de Wolvardyngton, parson of Lubenham (Leics.), was licensed to alienate 3 messuages, 3 virgates of land, 4 acres of meadow, and 3 of wood, with 20s. rent, in Stretton and Princethorpe, to provide two chaplains to celebrate at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr in the chapel of All Saints at Stretton for the souls of himself and Peter de Wolvardyngton and Aline his wife. (fn. 58) This chantry may have lapsed owing to the Black Death, for in 1350 Robert de Stretton, Bishop of Lichfield 1360–86, had licence to alienate to provide a chantry priest here, though he did not carry out his scheme till 1378, when he set aside 4 messuages and 8 virgates in Stretton, valued at £4, for the good estate of the king, his father, and grandfather. (fn. 59)
In any case, only one chantry is mentioned in the Valor, when its value was £4 14s. (fn. 60) In 1545 this chantry was surrendered by John Shyrborne its priest and Richard (Sampson), Bishop of Lichfield, the patron, and the possessions thereof granted for life to Francis Everarde of London, with remainder to the king. (fn. 61) In 1581–2 it was regranted to Sir Christopher Hatton and his heirs, (fn. 62) and in 1673 Charles Hatton, 2nd son of Christopher 1st Lord Hatton, and Mary his wife, passed it to John Rushworth. (fn. 63)
On the formation of the separate parish the patronage was vested in Mary Chamberlayne, her executors or assigns (2 turns) and Fisher Wentworth (patron of the mother church of Wolston), his executors or assigns (1 turn); the Act lays down that every vicar presented 'shall be approved by the major part of the inhabitants . . . of Stretton and Princethorpe'. (fn. 64) The two shares of the Chamberlayne family, at that time lords of a manor in Princethorpe, passed to the Fauquiers through Elizabeth, wife of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia; (fn. 65) a Francis Fauquier sold his next turn to Henry Sawbridge in 1795. (fn. 66) The Wentworth share was in 1850 in the hands of the Rev. H. T. Powell, the incumbent. (fn. 67) This latter share remained with the Powell family till between 1900 and 1915 when it was transferred to the Bishop; the Fauquier shares were before 1900 handed over to the Simeon Trustees. (fn. 68)
Henry Johnson, by will dated 18 August 1719, charged his estate in Stretton-on-Dunsmore with the yearly payment of 10s., to be distributed in bread by the churchwardens and overseers to the poor of the parish on the Sunday next before 'Twelfth Day'.
Rhoda Marriott, by will dated 23 February 1827, bequeathed £10, the interest to be expended in bread on every New Year's day and given to such aged poor widows and widowers of this parish who should have attended divine service on that day.
William Smith. This parish participates in this charity to the amount of 4s. each year, which in accordance with the terms of the bequest is required to be distributed in bread to the poorest people of the parish. For particulars of the charity see under parish of Bilton.
Elizabeth Taylor by will, date unknown, charged certain land in the parish with the payment of £3 every seventh year, to be applied towards putting out an apprentice.
Mary Turner. This parish participates in this charity to the amount of 6s. 8d. each year, to be applied for the relief of the impotent and most needy people dwelling in the parish. For particulars of the charity see under parish of Ryton-on-Dunsmore.
The above-mentioned charities are regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 5 October 1915 which appoints a body of trustees to administer the charities. The annual income of the charities, excluding the charity of Elizabeth Taylor, amounts to £1 5s. 8d.
Poor's Plot. It is stated in the printed Parliamentary Reports of the former Commissioners for Inquiring Concerning Charities dated in 1834 that the lands belonging to this charity have been applied to the use of the poor from a very early period, but the first formal notice found occurs in an indenture dated 2 June 1704 whereby an inclosure was made of certain open fields in the parish of Stretton. It is also stated in the Report that the rents, after deducting expenses for repairs, is divided on St. John's Day (27 December) among all the poor of the parish according to the members in family, and is laid out in coals.
Church and Poor's Land. It is also stated in the Report that the origin of the property belonging to this charity is not known, but it appears from old parish books that the rents have been divided between the church and the poor for a great number of years.
William Herbert, by will dated 15 August 1694, bequeathed his property at Shilton in trust to pay yearly out of the rents and profits £12 to three aged men and three aged widows of the town of Strettonupon-Dunsmore, if such should be there found, or else to six such other persons as should have most need, 40s. each for life by half-yearly payments; and upon further trust to pay 20s. for the yearly preaching of two sermons at Stretton Church, one on Ascension Day and the other on 21 October, to be paid to the minister that should preach them; and upon further trust to employ the residue of the yearly profits for putting out one poor boy or girl of Stretton to be an apprentice to some good trade every two years. In 1786 a case was laid before Sir Pepper Arden, then Attorney General, inquiring whether the trustees would be justified in applying a part of the rents towards the support of a school, as being a charitable use consonant with the will of the donor, the rents having then increased to £30 a year. Under the sanction of his opinion a school was then established.
The above-mentioned charities are regulated by a scheme of the High Court of Chancery dated 8 August 1859. By an Order dated 20 March 1906 the Charity Commissioners determined what part of the endowments ought to be applied to educational purposes.
Princethorpe Allotment Charity and Stretton Field Charity. By an Award under an Act of Parliament for the inclosure of the Princethorpe open common field dated 18 December 1762 the Commissioners awarded to the trustees and feoffees of the poor of Stretton and Princethorpe three plots of ground containing 7 a. 1 r. 23 p., 3 a. 1 r. 5 p., and 2 a. 1 r. 7 p. The charities are now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners dated 5 April 1918 which directs that the income of each charity shall be applied for the benefit of the poor of the respective parishes in such ways as the trustees think fit. The annual income of the Stretton Field Charity amounts to £22 15s. 8d.