A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 6, Knightlow Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1951.
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Acreage: (before 1931) 1,688; (after 1932) 865.
Population: 1911, 220; 1921, 835; 1931, 564 (on pre-1931 area, 3,189).
Binley is a village 3 miles east of Coventry on the road to Lutterworth, which here makes two sharp bends, around which the nucleus of the village lies, and from which branch roads radiate to Walsgrave on the north, Brandon on the south-east, and Baginton on the south-west. The area of the parish has undergone changes in the present century, a large part having been transferred to the City of Coventry (fn. 1) and other parts to the parishes of Baginton and Combe Fields. (fn. 2) The surface is fairly level, varying from 311 ft. in the southeast to 225 ft. at Binley Bridge on the west. This bridge, which carries the main road over the River Sowe, was 'very ruinous' in 1669, when £100 was ordered to be collected for the repair of the portion in Warwickshire (fn. 3) (the remainder being in the County of the City of Coventry). Higher up the river, near the village, is Binley Corn Mill. The south-east portion of the parish has extensive woodlands, and the RugbyBirmingham line of the former L.M.S. Railway skirts the southern edge, but there is no station. Near the railway is Binley Colliery, at present the most easterly pit of the Warwickshire coalfield. This, and the proximity of the city of Coventry, have caused much residential development in the present century.
A survey of the manor of Binley, temp. James I, (fn. 4) gives the names of the tenants and the extent and value of their holdings. The bounds of the manor are there stated to run from Binley Bridge to Ernesford, thence to Mynolds Gate, eastward to Brawns Park and Brawns Common Gate, northwards to Combe and to Colly Bridge, thence as far as Wasbrow Gate and along the Sowe to Binley Mill and back to the bridge, a circuit by estimation of 2½ miles.
BINLEY was originally a 5-hide vill; 3 hides, which had formerly been in possession of Ealdgyth, wife of Griffith of North Wales, being held in 1086 by the Cathedral Priory of Coventry, who had bought them from Osbern son of Richard; the other 2 hides were held both in the time of Edward the Confessor and in 1086 by Hadulf of Turchil of Warwick. (fn. 5)
The overlordship of the Coventry portion remained connected with Osbern's honor of Richard's Castle on the Welsh border. In 1211–12 David de Lindesy held a quarter of a knight's fee in Binley of this honor, (fn. 6) and in 1235–6 a similar amount was held by an unnamed tenant of William de Stutevill, (fn. 7) then in possession of Richard's Castle. (fn. 8) In 1242–3 the Abbot of Combe and Geoffrey de Bilney are entered as tenants of the honor, (fn. 9) and in 1279 the abbot was stated to hold a quarter-fee of Geoffrey, who held of Robert de Mortimer (of Richard's Castle). (fn. 10) This holding began with a grant to Combe by Joceline and Robert, sons of Ralph de Bilney, of a hide of land (apparently at Binley Common) rated as 1/6 knight's fee. (fn. 11) Geoffrey son of Robert son of Joceline, confirmed to the abbey in detail lands in the west, south, and north fields. (fn. 12) Laurence, Prior of Coventry in the middle of the 12th century, had also given half a hide to be held in frank almoign at a yearly rent of 8s. (fn. 13) In 1287 it was stated that the Abbot of Combe held half the manor of Binley and the Prior of Coventry a free chapel, of Robert de Mortimer. (fn. 14) In 1307 the Abbot of Combe was returned as having held half a knight's fee in Binley of Hugh de Mortimer of Richard's Castle, (fn. 15) who had died in 1304, (fn. 16) and in 1401 (fn. 17) and 1407 (fn. 18) it was held of the Earl and Countess of Warwick respectively. A few years later the Prior of Coventry was said to be lord of one quarter of Binley, having a messuage and a virgate of land which Henry de Rokeby and Michael de Grenburgh gave for Michael's obit. (fn. 19)
A long series of licences to alienate land in mortmain to the abbey of Combe (fn. 20) left little of the original estate in possession of Coventry priory, whose lands in Binley in 1535 were worth only £1 6s. as compared with the Combe holding of £13 19s. 8d. value. (fn. 21) The remaining Coventry lands were after the Dissolution granted, in 1544, to Robert Burgoyne and John Scudeamore. They then consisted only of the holding of Richard Hall of Winnall and Agnes his wife, including two crofts formerly in the possession of Nicholas Taillour and John Elton. (fn. 22)
The 2 hides held from Turchil by Hadulf passed to Thurbert son of Hadulf (Hadhellwlfi) who gave the land, described as stretching from the stream of Ebleswelle (fn. 23) to the borders of Smite (i.e. Combe Fields), to the monks of Combe, his gift being confirmed between 1149 and 1153 by Robert Basset, (fn. 24) and by Henry de Arderne, (fn. 25) who held mesne lordships here. Henry de Rokeby, son of Thurbert de Bilney, confirmed his father's gift and added a moiety of his grove of Munechet and the mill of Binley (fn. 26) (which Hadulf held in 1086). His son Henry remitted his claims to the mill, its pond, and the monks' meadow from the upper issue of the pond over the mill-bay as far as the entry of the stream below the mill, conditionally on their not swamping his hay. (fn. 27) William Basset confirmed the grants made in his fee, (fn. 28) and in 1279 the Abbot of Combe held a quarter-fee of Henry de Rokeby, (fn. 29) who held of Ralph Basset of Sapcote, who held of Thomas de Arderne under the Earl of Warwick. (fn. 30) In 1291 the abbey's grange of Binley contained 2 carucates of demesne land, worth 50s., rents to the value of £4, stock worth £2 10s., and a windmill valued at 6s. 8d. (fn. 31) At this time the abbey had also the grange of Ernesford, where was a carucate of land, with waste attached, worth 10s., and stock valued at £2. (fn. 32) About 1410 Combe was said to have a manor in Binley and also a manor of Ernesford in the same parish; (fn. 33) but the latter was never manorial, and in 1544 it was granted as a grange to Thomas Broke, merchant tailor of London, and John Wyllyams, (fn. 34) and later in that year was conveyed to Christopher Warren, (fn. 35) whose namesake also acquired the Coventry Priory land in 1603 from William Cave, (fn. 36) to whom they had been sold by Robert Burgoyne. (fn. 37) The manor of Binley, however, after the Dissolution was granted in 1539 to Mary, Duchess of Richmond, (fn. 38) and has since descended with the estate of Combe Abbey (q.v.).
Other portions of Binley were held by local religious houses before the Dissolution. In 1279 the Hospitallers of Grafton held a small estate under Combe Abbey, (fn. 39) but no more appears to be known of it. In 1542 2½ acres of meadow beside the bridge, which had belonged to the Coventry Charterhouse, were granted to Richard Andrewys and Leonard Chamberleyne, (fn. 40) who sold the freehold to Henry Waver or Over; (fn. 41) in the following year a 21-year lease of these lands was made to Elizabeth Foxall. (fn. 42) The lands in Binley formerly held by St. John Baptist Hospital, Coventry, which in 1535 produced 32s. 4d. in rents, (fn. 43) were in 1545 granted to John Hales. (fn. 44)
The church of ST. BARTHOLOMEW is situated at a road junction in the middle of the village, standing in a long but narrow churchyard. It is a small church of severe classic design and consists of an apsidal chancel, nave, north chapel, vestry, and porch. It was built at the expense of William, Lord Craven, and completed in 1773. (fn. 45) It is built of a light-coloured stone, now washed over with cement, and the roofs are slate-covered, with projecting eaves. The west end has a slightly projecting central portico with a moulded pediment in line with that of the nave wall. The entrance has columns of the Doric order on either side with half-columns as pilasters, supporting an entablature, over which there is a shallow roundheaded recess with a lunette. Above the recess there is a clock dial and on either side of the pediment a vase on a square pedestal. On both sides there is a plain round-headed window with a plain flat string-course at sill level, and above each window there is a shallow rectangular sunk panel. At the west end of the nave there are cupboards on the north side and a staircase to a gallery on the south, formed by a cross wall to support the stone cupola. The cupola is octagonal with a moulded cornice and crowned with a circular dome finished with a ball finial and a weather vane; it rests on a square pedestal with a moulded capping, and has windows on the cardinal faces and dummy windows on the others. The south side has three windows and the flat string is continued. The north side has two similar windows, and towards the east end it is flanked by a building with a portico on the north with a moulded pediment supported on two columns of the Doric order. This porch leads into the vestry, beyond which is the chapel, with a round-headed window on the east and a dummy on the west to correspond. Externally the apse is quite plain and is lighted by a single window; the string-course is omitted.
The chancel is 16 ft. wide, with a radius of 7 ft. 3 in. The floor is of white marble with black circles in a radial pattern. The walls are decorated with rectangular moulded panels, one each side of the altar, and the ceiling, which is coved, is decorated with gilt stars on a blue background and gilt radiations from a dove in relief. The east window, said to have been painted by William Peckitt of York, represents the Madonna and Child. There is one step to the altar, which is a marble slab fixed to the wall and supported in front on two legs. The entrance to the apse has two alabaster columns with carved capitals and half-columns as pilasters with an entablature supporting a slightly cambered lintel. On each side of the entrance, which is closed with contemporary rails, there is a coved round-headed niche.
The chapel (14 ft. by 14 ft.) has an open alabaster screen of the Ionic order, the frieze carved with swags. The ceiling is slightly coved and decorated with an oval of bay leaves in low relief, with a central rosette, medallions, and sprays of leaves. The walls are made out in panels with plaster mouldings.
The nave (48 ft. 6 in. by 21 ft.) ceiling is similar to that of the chapel. The walls, between the windows, have medallions with swags of leaves tied with ribbons. (fn. 46) Over the entrance to the apse there is the Craven shield and crest with swags held at each end by a wyvern. Across the west end there is a small gallery with an oak-panelled front. The pulpit, placed on the south side of the chancel, is of oak, open panelled with turned balusters and an egg-and-tongue capping. Also on the south side at the west end is the font, a small octagonal one of stone, each side decorated with a sunk quatrefoil, and resting on a marble shaft with a form of Ionic capital. The floor is black and white marble, boarded under modern varnished oak seating.
There is one bell, (fn. 47) dated 1728, by Joseph Smith.
The plate consists of a silver gilt flagon, chalice, and two patens, the gift of the Rt. Hon. Lord Craven, 1773.
The registers commence 1656.
Ranulf, Earl of Chester, in the reign of Henry I granted to the priory of Coventry the church of St. Michael, Coventry, with its chapels, including that of Binley, (fn. 48) which grant was confirmed by his grandson Earl Ranulph in 1192. (fn. 49) It remained in the hands of the priory until the Dissolution, after which the 'rectory', presumably including the right of appointing to the chaplaincy, passed with the Coventry lands in Binley to the Burgoynes and in 1603 to Christopher Warren. (fn. 50) By 1730 the chapel was a donative in the gift of the Earl of Craven, (fn. 51) with whose descendants it remained until shortly before 1929, when it became a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Bishop of Coventry. (fn. 52)
It is recorded that William, Earl Craven, gave by his will £100 to the parish where he should be buried. He died in April 1697 and was buried at Binley.
It appears that in 1755 Stephen Sleamaker gave £10, which was added to the above-mentioned bequest.
The charities are now regulated by schemes of the Charity Commissioners dated 19 December 1924 and 10 November 1933 which appoint a body of trustees to apply the income of the charities under various heads for the general benefit of the poor of the parish. The annual income of the charities amounts to £2 7s. 8d.