A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Population: 1911, 59; 1921, 64; 1931, 65.
Wibtoft, one of the few Warwickshire parishes with a Danish name, is a very small parish and village on the north-east border of the county 5 miles north-west of Lutterworth. It forms a roughly equilateral triangle, the northern angle being formed by the junction of the Fosse Way and the Watling Street, though owing to boundary changes (fn. 1) the actual site of the Roman station of Venonae (High Cross) (fn. 2) is now in Sharnford (Leics.). Though the county boundary has always more or less followed the line of the Watling Street (fn. 3) the watershed between the Avon and the Soar, the natural division between Warwickshire and Leicestershire, runs here a little to the south-west, and Wibtoft has always been more closely associated with the latter county; it is included for ecclesiastical purposes with Claybrooke.
The village itself lies close to the Watling Street, near the source of one of the head waters of the Soar, the only stream of any consequence in the parish. The lie of the land is north-easterly, from 461 ft. at the southwest corner near Cloudesley Bush to about 100 ft. lower near the village; there is no woodland except a few small spinneys. The nearest railway station is at Ullesthorpe (Leics.), 2 miles east, on the RugbyLeicester branch of the former L.M.S. Railway.
In 1004 Wulfric Spott bequeathed land at WIBTOFT to Athelric for life, and afterwards to his newly founded abbey of Burton in Staffordshire. (fn. 4) Either the amount was small or Wulfric's intention was not carried out, for Burton Abbey is not afterwards recorded as a landholder in Wibtoft. In Domesday Book the vill is entered with Willey as two estates assessed at ½ and 2½ hides, held respectively by Fulk and Robert of the Count of Meulan, and before 1066 held freely by Sexi. (fn. 5) The overlordship passed to the earls of Leicester and later of Winchester; in 1271 Wibtoft was held of Roger, Earl of Winchester, by Arnold de Bois, as four fees together with Weston-in-Arden, Bulkington, Cliftonon-Dunsmore, and Brownsover. (fn. 6) Arnold's son John in 1284–5 successfully claimed view of frankpledge, gallows, assize of ale, and other privileges in these manors, including 'Wygtoft', (fn. 7) except in the part of the last-named where Roger de Quency, Earl of Winchester, had quitclaimed it to Leicester Abbey. (fn. 8) John de Bois's niece Maud married William la Zouche of Harringworth (Northants.), (fn. 9) in whose family Wibtoft continued (fn. 10) as a member of Weston-in-Arden, the descent of which it followed (q.v.). (fn. 11) Edward, the last Lord Zouche (died 1625), was a spendthrift and had to sell most of the family estates, the Warwickshire portions coming to Humfrey Davenport and Richard Bucknam, by whom they were divided into two moieties, being again sold to Sir Christopher Yelverton and George Purefey respectively. (fn. 12) By 1730 the Yelverton portion had come to the Hayward family (fn. 13) of whom Richard Hayward was recorded as in possession of manorial rights at Wibtoft in 1749 and 1786. (fn. 14) This portion was in 1809 in the hands of the Rev. P. De Bary, a member of a family representing the Haywards. (fn. 15) The Purefey half was passed by George's son Gamaliel to Anthony Stoughton; (fn. 16) George Stoughton (joint lord in 1759) (fn. 17) left a daughter Eugenia who married Col. James Money, (fn. 18) and their son William was lord of half the manor in 1786. (fn. 19) The rights are now in possession of Lord Leigh, (fn. 20) whose family have been principal landowners since at least 1850. (fn. 21)
Ralph de Arraby gave to Leicester Abbey a third of Wibtoft, comprising 7 messuages, 10 crofts, 5½ yardlands, and a mill. (fn. 22) In 1284–5 the abbot successfully claimed view of frankpledge and other privileges in respect thereof. (fn. 23) This estate was worth £4 17s. 6d. in 1477 (fn. 24) and £5 14s. 2d. in 1535. (fn. 25)
Nuneaton Priory held property in Wibtoft besides the rectory and advowson, amounting at the Dissolution to a messuage, croft and 2 virgates, let to Joan Hulley, widow, worth 53s. 4d., and a cottage, 2 crofts, and 6 acres of land worth 6s. (fn. 26)
The church of ST. MARY, to the east of the village, stands in a small plot of ground in which there are no burials. It is small, consisting of a chancel (15 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft.) and nave (40 ft. by 17 ft. 10 in.) with tiled roofs. In the 19th century it was rebuilt in red brick on the sandstone plinth of the earlier church (fn. 27) except at the west end, where the lower half of the original wall, of alternate courses of ashlar and rubble, has been retained. The arch of the original pointed doorway which was in the south wall has been rebuilt into the west wall on red brick jambs and its place taken by a window. On the west gable there is a bell-cote for a single bell. It is lighted by a window on the east and by two on both the north and south. All the windows are pointed, with wooden frames.
The interior is plastered, the floor tiled, and the western end of the nave is partitioned off as a lobby and vestry. There are no memorials and all the fittings are modern.
The chapel of Wibtoft dates back to medieval times; it has always been served from the mother church of Claybrooke (Leics.), the advowson of which was in the hands of Nuneaton Priory up to the Reformation, (fn. 28) and since then held by the Crown. (fn. 29)
Celia Caldecott by will dated 4 March 1868 gave £100 to the chapelwarden and overseers, the interest to be applied in the purchase of blankets or given in money to poor persons residing in Wibtoft on the day before Christmas day or as soon after as conveniently may be. The annual income of the charity amounts to £2 13s. 8d.