The borough of Warwick: Introduction, the medieval town

A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.

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'The borough of Warwick: Introduction, the medieval town', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969), pp. 418-427. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "The borough of Warwick: Introduction, the medieval town", in A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969) 418-427. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "The borough of Warwick: Introduction, the medieval town", A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick, (London, 1969). 418-427. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,


Continuous settlementbegan, perhaps in the 6th century, where a natural weir provided a crossing-point on the Avon, though evidence of Neolithic settlement is now (1966) being unearthed in the town. (fn. 1) The site was possibly on the south side of the river, on one of the terraces of sand and gravel that occur along the Avon and which offered easily cultivable land. (fn. 2) The settlement may have become a flourishing one, for two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries have been found nearby: one, about a mile above Warwick and on the north side of the Avon, has produced ornaments including a striking silver necklet; the other, about a mile south-west of Warwick and again on the north bank, has yielded numerous weapons and ornaments. (fn. 3)

When Ethelfleda, sister of Edward the Elder, established the burh at Warwick in 914, it was on a hill-top site overlooking the early riverside settlement. Much of the land along the Avon lies at about 150 feet and only in the north of Warwick are there continuous tracts above 200 feet, exceeding 350 feet within the area later occupied by Wedgnock Park. Nearer the Avon, however, several small, isolated, knolls reach over 200 feet, and one of these, lying close to the river, was chosen as the site of the burh. This is an outlier of the Keuper Sandstone outcrop which stretches north from Warwick; it provided a defensible area, and it was also a good source of building stone and well water. The burh was one of ten built for the defence of Mercia against the Danes; (fn. 4) it commanded both the river valley and the crossing, and it was strategically well placed to control the Fosse Way. Probably during the early 10th century Warwick acquired an administrative importance, too, with the establishment of a shire centred on the town. (fn. 5)

The area surrounded by Ethelfleda's fortfications may have corresponded to that within the medieval walls, and it almost certainly included the site of the later castle. The castle was built in 1068 when William the Conqueror was obliged to move north against the uprising in Yorkshire. (fn. 6) In the process four houses were destroyed, (fn. 7) and the mother church of Warwick, All Saints, was also enclosed within the castle precincts. The motte of the castle has become known as Ethelfleda's Mound, though it is unmistakably part of the Norman work. The subsequent building history of the castle is given elsewhere. (fn. 8)

Figure 14:

Communications c.1966

The fortification of Warwick was completed with the building of a town wall, possibly placed near Ethelfleda's ramparts. Preliminary excavations in 1965 (fn. 9) revealed an earth rampart inside the line of the town wall, and a ditch in places 25 feet wide and 9 feet deep cut into the sandstone. The wall was built on the top of the rock face. The date of this work is not known. According to Rous, Turchil of Arden, then owner of Warwick, on orders from William the Conqueror, constructed a ditch around the town and gated it, but did not build walls. (fn. 10) Grants of murage and pavage to Guy de Beauchamp, lord of Warwick, in 1305 (for seven years) and 1315 (for three years) (fn. 11) are likely to have been connected with the upkeep of the wall. It is said that Richard Beauchamp, who died in 1439, 'had purposed . . . to have walled the town and assigned rents to do it with', (fn. 12) but his intention must certainly have been renovation of the existing walls. George, Duke of Clarence, is also said to have planned to wall the town. (fn. 13)

Outside the walls ran 'the common ditch', mentioned as early as the mid 13th century (fn. 14) and again possibly following the course of a ditch constructed by Ethelfleda. There were three main gates through the walls, on the north, east, and west sides of the town. The North Gate is referred to in 1272 (fn. 15) but had been demolished by the early 16th century. (fn. 16) The East Gate, probably reconstructed in the early 15th century, when the chapel of St. Peter was built above it, (fn. 17) has a wide arch spanning the original roadway and a smaller arch for pedestrians to the north of it. The gate was again altered and re-faced in the late 18th century; it was probably at this time that the diversion of the roadway to the south was constructed. (fn. 18) In 1576 St. Peter's chapel, having been described as 'ruinous and ready to fall', (fn. 19) was acquired by the corporation. In 1788 the chapel was rebuilt in the Gothic style by Francis Hiorn. (fn. 20) A view from the west before this date (fn. 21) suggests that the main lines of the 15th-century chapel were followed at the rebuilding, but that various embellishments such as tall pinnacles and crenellations were added. The present building resembles a miniature church, raised above the gate on a platform with an embattled parapet. The small west tower is surmounted by angle pinnacles and a wooden turret. The turret on the former tower was larger and had been given, together with a clock, by Fulke Weale by will of 1729. (fn. 22) The present windows contain forking and intersecting tracery and the east end has a stepped gable flanked by pinnacles. The main part of the building is divided into two stories; in the early 19th century there were two schoolrooms on the lower floor and apartments for the master and mistress above. (fn. 23) Another schoolroom to the north, evidently rebuilt in the Gothic style in 1788, may have formed a small transept to the original chapel. (fn. 24) The buildings are now (1966) part of the Girls' High School.

The West Gate appears to have been reconstructed in the late 14th century together with the Chapel of St. James above it. (fn. 25) Both were extended westwards early in the following century when a tower was added to the chapel, its base being pierced by the main entrance arch to the gate. The central part of the gateway passage has a pointed and ribbed barrel vault of the 14th century; at their base the walls are cut through the solid rock. On the north side there are traces of an earlier wall and vault, perhaps part of a narrower passage. The parapet walk along the top of the town wall had originally skirted the east end of the chapel. After the wall was breached and the roadway diverted to the south of the gate, the walks along the south and east sides of the chapel appear to have fallen into disuse. They were rebuilt when the chapel was restored in 1863-5. A short extension was then made to the gateway passage at its east end to support the new path above it.

Most of the wall had already been demolished by the early 16th century: Leland saw remains of the wall only near the West and East Gates. (fn. 26) More, apparently, had been left in 1424-5 when a garden was described as being under the wall of the town opposite Lethenhull Gate. (fn. 27) The town ditch survived, at least in part, throughout the 15th century, (fn. 28) and Wallditch was still regarded as a watercourse in 1664. (fn. 29) The only remaining stretches of the town wall adjoin the north sides of the two gates, (fn. 30) but the approximate position of the rest is suggested by the lay-out of streets which encircle the old town. Outside the line of the wall and the ditch run the streets now called Bowling Green Street, Theatre Street, Joyce Pool, Chapel Street, Gerrard Street, and Mill Street. Inside the line of the wall run Market Street, Barrack Street, and the Butts. In the neighbourhood of the castle modern changes have obscured the pattern, but formerly both Brittain Lane and Back Hills seem to have run inside the line of the wall. (fn. 31)

There is no mention of a town gate on the south. Leland said that 'the strength of the bridge . . . stands for the south gate', (fn. 32) and the survey of the bridge in 1774 noted that one of the piers was larger than the rest, suggesting the existence of some kind of barrier. (fn. 33) There is no trace of this in Hollar's plan of the town in 1654, but by that time there was certainly a gate at the end of Crosse Street. (fn. 34)

It is not known when 'the great bridge' was built but it is probably referred to as early as 1208. (fn. 35) In 1373 half of the bridge was 'in ruins and almost broken to the ground', and it was stated that it had customarily been repaired only by charitable means. (fn. 36) Grants of pontage were made to a group of burgesses in 1374, 1377, and 1380, (fn. 37) and the upkeep of the bridge may have become the responsibility of the Guild of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary in 1383. (fn. 38) The Guild of Warwick was still responsible for it in 1545. (fn. 39) The bridge was rebuilt upstream in the 18th century and the old bridge was swept away by flood waters in 1795; (fn. 40) remains of the medieval structure include three arches in the centre of the river, and fragments on both banks, more extensive on the south where the bridge seems to have ended in a causeway.

The medieval street plan was much influenced by the line of the walls, as already mentioned. Two roughly circular lines of streets ran inside and outside the walls round the greater part of the town, broken principally on the south by the castle. Within the walls the chief feature, the 'beauty and glory of the town' as Leland put it, (fn. 41) was the crossing of two main lines of streets: one, consisting of High Street (or High Pavement) and Jury Street, ran from East Gate to West Gate; the other, formed by Castle Street, Church Street, and Northgate Street, intersected the first in the centre of the town. At this central point stood 'a right goodly cross', (fn. 42) and nearby - until moved to East Gate in the 15th century - was St. Peter's Church. Over West Gate was St. James's Chapel, and next to it the Guildhall. (fn. 43)

In the north-west quarter of the town was the High Market, with the Court House, (fn. 44) Booth Hall, and a market cross. Branches of the market were held in various streets and buildings round about it including the Moot Hall in Horse Cheaping. (fn. 45) Also in the market place was St. John's Church, which by the late 15th century was used for the grammar school. (fn. 46) The north-east quarter contained St. Mary's Church and the buildings of the college, and in the south-east quarter was one of the largest open spaces within the walls - the castle vineyard.

The chief houses in the town stood mostly on the two main lines of streets already mentioned. There, for example, were almost all the burgages, to judge from a rental of those belonging to the castle manor in 1482: 10 in High Pavement, 8 in Castle Street, 3 in Jury Street, one in Northgate Street, and one in Brittain Lane, near the castle. Many of the earls' messuages were in the same streets: 8 each in High Pavement and Northgate Street, 7 in Jury Street, and 4 in Castle Street in 1482; 7 others were in the High Market, Horse Cheaping, and Wallditch Street. Cottages were scattered throughout the town, but of 27 belonging to the manor in 1482 a many as 13 were in Castle Street. (fn. 47)

At least one of the chief houses was associated with a particular officer of the manor - the Steward's Place in Northgate Street. In 1482 the bailiff also lived in that street (fn. 48) but after 1504 he had use of the Booth Hall in the High Market. (fn. 49) Other houses in Northgate Street were at different times in the 15th century the residences of canons of St. Mary's College: Treasurer's Place and a stone-built house called Miles Place, for example. The college had other substantial houses in the same street, among them Stonehall and two called Lemynton, and nearby in Horse Cheaping it owned Berkeswell Place. (fn. 50)

In High Pavement in 1482 there was a burgage called Sotemays, where the 14th-century M.P., John Sotemay, had lived, (fn. 51) and two houses called the Swan and the Bear; (fn. 52) the latter was then described as a vacant plot, and the ground of a burgage called the Bear is mentioned in 1545. (fn. 53) St. Mary's College had houses in High Pavement called the Cheker and the Crown. (fn. 54) A house or tavern, called Edmonde's Place, next to the cross at the centre of the town went with the keepership of the castle in the early 16th century. (fn. 55) Other named houses were 'londonhede', (fn. 56) 'le Sterre', (fn. 57) and Bennett's Place, belonging to the M.P. and grazier Bennet Lee. (fn. 58) A house in Castle Street was on a site where the 'mewe' had formerly stood. (fn. 59)

Among the more modest property in 1482 was one cottage in the High Market, near the pillory, known as the 'pevette'. In High Pavement were a forge (fn. 60) and a garden adjoining the earls' Charter Stable, and barns are mentioned in various parts of the town. Among the open spaces were several gardens, and in Brittain Lane there was a quarry and a piece of waste land called the Old Pinfold. Behind the college were St. Mary's Butts. There are, too, signs of decay at this date. Four gardens had each formerly been a cottage, three barns had replaced five cottages, a vacant plot had been three cottages, another plot had formerly been a house, and a cottage had been built on a plot where the Staple Place had once stood. (fn. 61)

St. Mary's Church dominated the town from near the highest point within the walls, and round it lay the canons' houses, the college of vicars choral, and the choir school which formed 'an area like a cathedral precinct in the heart of the town'. (fn. 62) Little is known about the buildings of the college before their reconstruction between 1455 and 1464, though by 1336 there was a hall and residential accommodation. (fn. 63) The construction of the Beauchamp Chapel between 1442 and 1462 necessitated the removal of the Dean's house which had stood on the site, and also a rearrangement of the churchyard boundaries. In 1454 Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, gave to the college a small piece of land, formerly belonging to a prebend of St. Mary's, and also a narrow strip of waste ground. The first gift was expressly for the enlargement both of the house and gardens of the dean and vicars choral and of the churchyard; the second was to enlarge the churchyard. (fn. 64) Earl Richard's executors built new houses for the dean and vicars between 1455 and 1464, and also reconstructed the boundary wall which still remains. (fn. 65) The fifteenth-century college was a two-storied, timber-framed building constructed around a quadrangle, with passages on the ground and first floors on the inner sides, in the form of a two-storied cloister. Only two sides of the quadrangle, much altered, remained by c. 1830. (fn. 66) Inside, some of the rooms had later carved panelling. (fn. 67) At the entrance to the college gardens, close by the brewhouse, was an octagonal building, called the 'Tower', which had a 'very ornamental' alcove under it, and wainscotting, under which paintings of red rose trees were discovered. This building was demolished c. 1780. (fn. 68) The college building itself passed into private hands after its dissolution in 1540, and was owned by the Wagstaffes of Tachbrook until 1699. (fn. 69) The corporation purchased it in that year for £260 for use as a grammar school, and it remained so used until new buildings were opened for Warwick School at Myton in 1879. The buildings were then sold and demolished, 'an act which met with general condemnation'. (fn. 70)

The suburbs lay close outside the three gates and beyond the bridge over the Avon. The western suburb stood around West Street, Walkers Lane, and Queenwell Street (or Friar Lane) where the Dominican friary was situated. St. Lawrence's Church was in West Street. Outside North Gate the suburb was centred on Saltisford, with more houses in Hogford. It was by Saltisford that a salt-way from Droitwich reached Warwick. (fn. 71) St. Michael's Church and Hospital were in Saltisford, and St. Sepulchre's Priory was close to North Gate. The eastern suburb consisted of Smith Street, leading out to Coten End, together with St. Nicholas's Street, Mill Street, Gaol Hall Lane, Poke Lane, and Dog Lane. The chief buildings here were St. Nicholas's Church, the county gaol, and St. John's Hospital. South of the Avon was the suburb of Bridge End, where Mill Street, Cross Street, and Warytree Street met. One substantial house here was Brome Place, (fn. 72) and close by was the house of the Templars.

The rental of property belonging to the castle manor in 1482 suggests that most of the suburban houses stood along the main roads outside the gates - West Street, Saltisford, and Smith Street - and at Bridge End, in each of which there were fifteen or twenty properties; the other streets together contained another twenty. Everywhere cottages predominated over houses. There were numerous barns, gardens, and crofts, and such larger open spaces as the Old Vineyard of the castle. And in the suburbs as in the town itself many signs of decay were evident. Tofts, barns, gardens, and vacant plots had all formerly been houses and cottages: more than 30 dwellings had been replaced by fewer than ten. (fn. 73)

Little is known of the buildings of the religious houses in the suburbs. St. Sepulchre's Priory was founded in the early 12th century, and the church and churchyard were consecrated by Simon, Bishop of Worcester (1125-51). (fn. 74) Further work was presumably in progress in 1266, when timber was granted to the priory. (fn. 75) The Dominican friary was founded in the mid 13th century and building was in progress in 1263 when timber was granted for it. (fn. 76) More timber was given in 1265 and, for the roof of the choir, in 1267, (fn. 77) and the church was probably dedicated in 1268. (fn. 78) Other work was in progress in 1291 and 1295, when yet more timber was granted. (fn. 79) The site was several times enlarged during the 14th century: in 1317 the friars were pardoned for acquiring without licence an adjoining plot of 160 by 100 feet; (fn. 80) in 1344 they were pardoned for similarly adding 10 acres to the site; (fn. 81) and in 1361 they were licensed to acquire land of 300 by 100 feet. (fn. 82)

St. Michael's Hospital was founded in the early 12th century. (fn. 83) Timber was granted for building work in 1266. (fn. 84) The chapel was probably rebuilt in the 15th century, after it had ceased to be a parish church, and part of it remains. (fn. 85) The master's house, a two-story half-timbered building of the 15th century, still stands behind the chapel. St. John's Hospital was founded in the later 12th century (fn. 86) but nothing is known of its medieval buildings. A third hospital, St. Lawrence's Leper Hospital, mentioned in 1255-6, (fn. 87) may have been connected with St. Lawrence's Church in West Street. It was perhaps this hospital that was mentioned in 1287-8 when a piece of ground was described as lying between the towers (turri) of the castle and the river one way, and between the hermitage and the town ditch the other way. (fn. 88) Another grant of about the same period described certain ground as lying 'under the castle . . . between the chapel of St. Elene and the ditch of the town'. (fn. 89) 'St. Hellens' was the name given by Speed in 1610 to a chapel standing across the river in Bridge End, on the site of the Templars' house, but he may have confused this with the former hermitage chapel. The chapel is the only part of the Templars' house of which there is record: it is mentioned as early as 1309-10 (fn. 90) and still existed in 1540-1 after the dissolution of the Hospitallers. (fn. 91)

Extensive open country lay beyond the built-up suburbs. (fn. 92) The West Street suburb petered out before Goysel, or Gose, Brook was reached. (fn. 93) Beyond the stream, the Hampton on the Hill road led to Clay Pits Common. On the Stratford road was the small Hikmans Green. (fn. 94) Further west was Gog, or Hampton, Brook which the Hampton on the Hill road crossed by Gog Bridge. (fn. 95) Here the brook formed the borough boundary, but further south Warwick stretched on through the open fields of Longbridge as far as Horse Brook, which joins the Avon some two miles distant from West Gate. The bridges over this stream gave the hamlet of Longbridge its name; it is first mentioned as early as 1123. (fn. 96) In the early 16th century tenants of St. Mary's College were being ordered to keep the bridge in repair. (fn. 97) Fields in this part of Warwick took their names from a depopulated hamlet sometimes called 'La Lee next Warwick'; this, however, was probably over the river in Barford or Bishop's Tachbrook parish. (fn. 98)

The Saltisford suburb stretched along the Birmingham road as far as the ford through Goysel Brook. Also leading out from North Gate was Wedgnock Lane which went north into the park; Wedgnock Park is described elsewhere. (fn. 99) In this area, though not yet identified, was ground called Stokehill, (fn. 100) but there is no evidence to suggest that there was ever a hamlet there. (fn. 101) One depopulated village, Rykmersbury, did lie in Wedgnock Park but beyond the borough boundary, in Beausale parish. (fn. 102) Directly north of Warwick, and perhaps partly in Leek Wootton parish, was Woodloes (or Woodlow); there may at an early date have been at least one hamlet here (fn. 103) but by the later Middle Ages the estate apparently had few tenants. (fn. 104)

The Smith Street suburb reached as far as St. John's Brook, which flowed from Wedgnock Park and fed the fishponds of St. Sepulchre's Priory on its way to the Avon. Immediately beyond the brook was Coten End, a settlement known in the early Middle Ages as Cotes. (fn. 105) There appears, too, to have been a hamlet called Hardwick in this part of Warwick. The open fields of Coten End and Hardwick occupied much of the ground to the east and northeast of the town. (fn. 106) Beyond them, in the extreme north-east and close to the road to Coventry, were the caves and chapel of Guy's Cliffe, overlooking the Avon. (fn. 107) The road to Leamington crossed the Avon by Emscote Bridge, which is first mentioned in 1262. (fn. 108)

South of the Avon, beyond the Bridge End suburb, were the extensive open fields of Myton. (fn. 109) The three streets of the suburb continued as roads leading to and beyond the borough boundary. To the south the Banbury road crossed Tach Brook by a small stone bridge (fn. 110) near the Templars' water-mill. To the south-east Warytree Street led, as its name suggests, (fn. 111) to Warwick's gallows. Beyond was the ground known as Heathcote; (fn. 112) there is no evidence that there were ever more than a few houses at this place. (fn. 113) To the east of Bridge End the Leamington road passed through, or close to, the later-depopulated village of Myton. There was a recorded population of 39 here in 1086; (fn. 114) there were still nine tofts belonging to the earl's manor in 1482, (fn. 115) but it was at about this time that Rous included Myton in his list of depopulated villages. (fn. 116) The Leamington road crossed two streams in Myton, one of which may have been that called Cley Brook in 1540, presumably crossed by the Cley Bridge mentioned in 1507. (fn. 117)

The buildings of Lord Leicester's Hospital stand on the north side of High Street immediately inside the West Gate; they include the chapel of St. James above the gate itself. (fn. 118) The hospital buildings are set above the level of High Street and are separated from it by a sloping forecourt and a retaining wall. The forecourt, which is spanned by a stone archway, rises from near the junction of High Street and Brook Street. Here several ancient timber-framed houses were acquired by the hospital between 1934 and 1955. (fn. 119) The whole complex of buildings, as seen from High Street, forms one of the most well-known and picturesque groups in the town.

Before the 16th century the buildings now occupied by the hospital were the property of the combined guilds of St. George the Martyr and of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary. Their amalgamation took place early in the 15th century but the earliest of the buildings may have been erected soon after 1383 when the chapel of St. James above the West Gate was assigned to the priests of St. George's Guild. (fn. 120) The remainder appear to have been built, or in some cases rebuilt, before the end of the 15th century. They were originally entirely of timberframed construction and are set round the four sides of a rectangular courtyard which is entered from the forecourt by a gatehouse in the south range. The Guildhall, presumably used for meetings of the guild, is on the upper floor of this range. The west range consists of a long single-storied hall. It was later known as King James's Banqueting Hall, traditionally because James I was entertained there by Fulke Greville in 1617. (fn. 121) On the north side of the court is the present Master's House, a much-altered building of medieval origin with gardens behind it. The east range has a two-storied cloister facing the the King's School. Also mentioned in corporation accounts of this period were two houses under the Guildhall, which were let to tenants, and the guildhall kitchen. (fn. 122) In 1571 the buildings, including the chapel, were handed over to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, who was proposing to found a hospital in Warwick. They were then adapted for the accommodation of the master and twelve poor brethren of the new foundation. (fn. 123) Alterations appear to have taken place in the 18th century, notably to the Master's House. A view of c. 1800 from High Street courtyard and contains a third hall, perhaps used by the chaplains or priests of the guilds, on its upper floor. The architectural evidence suggests that this range may have survived from before 1400.

Figure 15:

Lord Leicester's hospital

After the dissolution of the guild in 1546 the burgesses of Warwick held the property for 25 years. (fn. 124) The Guildhall became their 'Burghall' and it is believed that the Banqueting Hall was used as the grammar school. (fn. 125) From at least 1548-9 until at least 1553-4 'the dove house at the late guildhall' was let to the schoolmaster. (fn. 126) A reference in 1549-50 to 'the King's Hall in the guildhall' (fn. 127) suggests that the Banqueting Hall had by then received part of its later name, perhaps because of its association with shows that the front had then been faced with plaster and that the original windows had been blocked or replaced. (fn. 128) In the early 19th century the brethren were living on the upper floors of both the south and east ranges which were divided by partitions. (fn. 129) A drastic restoration which had been in progress for at least seven years was completed in 1851. (fn. 130) The work included the rebuilding of several timber walls in brick and the application externally of much imitation half-timbering and plaster decoration. In the early 1950s the Guildhall was restored to its original from under the direction of P. B. Chatwin. (fn. 131) Soon after the government of the hospital had been reorganised in 1956 an extensive restoration of the remaining timber-framed buildings was put in hand. This work, which was completed in 1966, was carried out by Sapcote and Sons Ltd. under the direction of D. A. James. Many of the insertions and additions of later centuries were removed, exposing the medieval construction for the first time. The recently acquired properties to the east of the hospital were converted into dwellings for the brethren and three houses in Brook Street were demolished to provide a car park. In 1966 the so-called Chaplains' Hall in the east range was opened as the regimental museum of the Queen's Own Hussars.

The building which forms the eastern end of the south range and which contains the Guildhall on its upper floor is of four bays and of close-studded timbering throughout. (fn. 132) At first floor level it is jettied towards the forecourt, the overhang having originally been coved and plastered. Two small gables on this front are 19th-century additions. The ground floor seems always to have been divided into four rooms, probably with two doorways opening onto the forecourt. The Guildhall above is about 54 ft. long and 20 ft. wide. The three eastern bays of the open roof are divided by arch-braced collar-beam trusses. Placed centrally on the collars are large bosses carved with niches, one of which was moved to the roof of the Banqueting Hall in the 19th century but has since been replaced. The roof has single moulded purlins and curved windbraces, the spandrels between them containing the remains of foliage and tracery carving of late medieval character. The upper part of the hall's most westerly bay is partitioned off to form a room at a higher level, the floor-space of the hall itself being continued beneath it; access to the room is by a stair in the north-west corner. A restored window in the partition overlooks the main hall; traces of wall painting were found on the panels below it. Entrance to the Guildhall is by a doorway in the north wall leading from the upper gallery of the east range. There are indications that there was formerly a screen across the hall immediately to the east of the doorway. A smaller door in the west wall communicates with the first-floor room of the Gatehouse. The windows are mostly modern, but one with four traceried lights high up in the south wall has been restored in accordance with remains found in situ. Traces were also found of two former oriel windows, one in the easternmost bay of the north wall and one on the south front; these may have been later insertions. The Guildhall range probably dates from very late in the 15th century and is therefore the last of the medieval buildings erected in the quadrangle. There is evidence, however, that it replaced an earlier two-storied structure in the same position.

The Gatehouse, which adjoins the Guildhall at its west end, is of one bay and three stories, the top story being jettied and gabled, both at the front and back. External decorative features date from the mid 19th century. The gateway passage on the ground floor has a depressed arch at each end and its side walls contain blocked original doorways. The framing of the east wall is integral with the Gatehouse on the ground floor but forms part of the Guildhall on the floor above, suggesting that the Gatehouse was already in existence when the Guildhall was built. To the west of the gateway is a two-storied structure of one bay with a medieval cellar cut in the solid rock below and an early stone chimney against its north wall.

The Banqueting Hall is part of a very long structure occupying the west side of the quadrangle, overlapping the Master's House to the north and the gatehouse range to the south. At both ends the building was two-storied but the central portion, nearly 60 ft. long, formed a single-storied hall which was open to the roof. The recent restoration has revealed much of the original construction at the two ends. Across the north end was a screens passage with its further wall pierced by doorways leading to two ground floor service rooms, probably with an approach to an external kitchen between them. There was an entrance to the hall at the east end of the screens passage; a door-frame with pierced spandrels which was in existence c. 1800, although not in situ, may have belonged here. (fn. 133) Above the service rooms and passage were one or more upper chambers, open to the roof. There is a suggestion that the former pigeon house may have been in this position. (fn. 134) The whole two-storied block, including an early stone chimney against its east wall, was later incorporated in the Master's House. At the south, or upper, end of the hall evidence was found of a coved canopy which covered the original dais; this has now been reinstated. The two-storied structure behind the end partition of the hall projects beyond the south range and forms part of the western termination of the forecourt. The upper room has an external door which may have led to the north entrance of the chapel, while the ground floor had doorways to the hall itself and to the south range. The central open section of the Banqueting Hall is of four and a half bays. The roof has three purlins on each slope and its main bays are divided by arch-braced tiebeam trusses; between them intermediate trusses have smaller braces to their tie beams. The spandrels above the braces were originally filled with pierced tracery of which only two examples survive. The wall posts of the intermediate trusses form the mullions of three windows in the east wall. The framing of this wall rests on a stone base which has evidently been raised at various periods as the lower timbers decayed. A post-medieval doorway through the masonry near its east end has now been walled up. The wall-framing incorporates curved braces to its upper panels and may originally have had similar braces below. The whole west wall was rebuilt in brick in the 19th century but during the recent restoration was reconstructed as a copy of the east wall.

The Master's House has been so much altered that the function and extent of the original building are obscure. Framing exposed in the north wall appears to be similar to that of the Banqueting Hall. Several internal partitions, however, may be of 16thcentury date, and the same is true of the former south wall towards the courtyard. This wall, which was still in existence in the early 19th century, was of close studding with a single rail at first floor level and no jetty. Sash windows had been inserted and there were heraldic panels between them. (fn. 135) The present brick front, dating from the mid 19th century, is faced with imitation timbering and has three added gables. Decorative plasterwork includes two large crests, the Porcupine of the Sidneys and the Bear and Ragged Staff of the Dudleys.

The east range is two-storied and has four bays, that at the north end being longer than the others. Facing the courtyard the main roof extends over the upper gallery which projects forward over the lower one by about 2 ft.; the west wall of the building behind the galleries is similarly jettied. Both galleries have timber arcaded fronts, the bays of which correspond to the divisions of the main roof. The framing of the west wall differs from that of the other hospital buildings, notably in the use of large quadrant braces in the lower panels of both stories. The original windows to the upper floor have been blocked but several on the ground floor are still used. An external stair of Elizabethan date gives access to the upper gallery from the south-east angle of the courtyard; it evidently replaces an original stair in the same position. Most of the east wall of the range was rebuilt in brick in the 19th century, but a large stone chimney near its centre probably dates from 1571. The south gable-end of the building appears never to have been an external wall, but there are indications that it originally adjoined a structure which was replaced by the present Guildhall. The framed gable-end to the north, now roofed over with the Master's House, shows signs of former external weathering. Internally the upper floor of the range contains an open hall of three bays, the fourth bay at the north end forming a separate room or solar. The dividing partition was pierced by two symmetrically-placed doorways, one having an ogee head. It has been suggested that both hall and solar were used by the chaplains of the guilds. The original entrance to the hall was by a doorway at the south end of its west wall which led to the upper gallery directly opposite the external stair. Both this door, now blocked, and the gallery arch beyond it have flattened ogee heads. The present doorway from the Guildhall is a later insertion. The roof of the east range, now partly concealed by plaster, is of the trussed rafter, crown-post, and collar-purlin type. The crown-posts of the two open trusses above the hall stand on cambered tie beams, below which are large arched braces. At the junction of the braces at the centre of the tie beams are small carved flowers of four petals; there are similar flowers on the arches of the lower external gallery. All the main timbers of the roof trusses, as well as the wall plates, are continuously moulded. Tracery in some of the spandrels is, however, of later date and appears to have been brought from the Banqueting Hall. The ground floor of the range was originally entered by a doorway at each end of the lower gallery and may have consisted of a single room, later subdivided. Part of it became the kitchen of the hospital which, after about 1750, was also used as a dining room by the brethren; before this date they had dined in the Banqueting Hall. (fn. 136) The large stone fireplace has plaster decoration of the mid 19th century including a motto and the date '1571'. Whatever the original function of the east range, it would appear from the type of roof, from the character of the wall framing, and from the ogival door-heads that it is the earliest surviving building in the quadrangle and may therefore date from before 1400.

At least seven other medieval timber-framed buildings survive within the walled area of the town, of which the largest and probably the oldest is No. 37 Jury Street. This consisted originally of a 14thcentury cross-wing of two bays, which still preserves a central crown-post roof truss with straight fourway brackets. A contemporary hall-block may have stood along the street front which was replaced in the 15th century by the present two-bay structure. This later hall range has a central arch-braced collarbeam truss with side purlins and curved windbraces. A further, coeval, bay to the east was evidently two-storied. Timber-framed additions to the rear are of the 17th century. The present street front and internal alterations, including the stair-case with painted ceiling, indicate that the alterations made in 1856 were by some person with antiquarian leanings not unaware of the significance of the building.

No. 35 Jury Street (the 'Porridge Pot'), next door, retains behind a brick and stone-dressed facade of c. 1700 the remnants of a framed three-bay house of medieval origin, the central bay of which may have formed a single-storied hall. Additions to the rear were made c. 1700, coeval with the refronting and heightening of the house. Two houses in Castle Street are of medieval date. No. 10, now Price's House, one of the houses given by David Price in 1626 to provide income for his charity, (fn. 137) is no later than 1500. It comprised a small, single-storied hall at its north end spanned by an open truss and lit from the street by a mullioned window, together with a two-storied south end with entrance passage and service room on the ground floor. Late-16thcentury wall painting was found in the southern part. Opposite is Oken's House, now (1966) the home of the Warwick Doll Museum, restored to something like its probable appearance late in the 15th century. It is of two bays of two stories with a central stack; the gable end has large incurved braces and is jettied, a modern restoration. The house is small, and two further framed bays to the south may have formed part of it by the 17th century. Originally these bays formed a small house comprising an open hall (now a garage), and a bay of two stories. The framing encloses large wattle and daub panels.

No. 9 New Street is a timber-framed building, probably truncated by the construction of the large 17th-century house facing Swan Street; (fn. 138) it now comprises two bays, with close-set studs to the jettied first floor. It was probably built in the second half of the 15th century and may originally have been a 'wealden' house. (fn. 139) A variation on this type is to be found on the corner of Brook Street and High Street, now providing additional accommodation for Lord Leicester's Hospital. It had a central open hall between storied ends, that at the east end consisting of a jettied cross-wing. The western end, also jettied, was roofed with the hall. Externally the house is close studded; the hall front was originally recessed until the hall was floored c. 1600. The east wall of the 'Bear and Baculus' on the opposite corner of Brook Street with High Street, is timber-framed and contains a 15th-century ogee-arched door or window head with chamfered jambs. Smoke encrustation on this feature, which can only be seen from No. 50, indicates that it had been exposed towards an adjoining house whose hall had an open hearth.

Opposite Lord Leicester's Hospital is a timberframed building known as the Elizabethan House, constructed late in the 15th or early in the 16th century. It has a small central hall between end crosswings of two stories, jettied at their gable ends towards the street. The east wing may have contained the original entrance passage. Extensions at the rear include a single-storied, framed, one-bay structure, probably a kitchen, and a two-storied wing against the south end of the solar wing, probably built late in the 17th century. By the middle of the 19th century this served as a malting, probably its original purpose, and the south wall of the solar wing was removed on the upper floor for ease of access to it. The hall was floored probably as late as 1700, and the present stair was added in the mid 18th century.

The 16th century is less well represented in the centre of Warwick. Nos. 23-25 Jury Street, originally one house, incorporate a wing of c. 1550, but the most important house of this date is the former Anchor Inn, next to Lord Leicester's Hospital. An early-17th-century porch of two stories with decorated framework including chevrons, was added to a two-storied close-studded hall range of the first half of the 16th century. The hall has a cross-wing east of the porch with open framing, possibly an earlier feature. At the rear is a large framed two-story building with attics, added in the 17th century, originally having a lodging or parlour at first-floor level, lit with large windows. This was later used as a malthouse when the house itself became an inn and, like the porch, has framing decorated with chevrons together with quarter rounds.


  • 1. P.N. Warws. (E.P.N.S.), 259-60.
  • 2. H. Thorpe in Birmingham and Its Regional Setting (Brit. Assoc., 1950), 103.
  • 3. V.C.H. Warws. i. 258, 260-4; P. B. Chatwin, 'AngloSaxon Finds at Warwick', Antiq. Jnl. v. 268-71; T.B.A.S. li. 39-40.
  • 4. F. M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon Eng. (2nd edn.), 322.
  • 5. Ibid. 333.
  • 6. Ibid. 593.
  • 7. V.C.H. Warws. i. 299.
  • 8. See pp. 455-64.
  • 9. The Times, 23 Aug. 1965.
  • 10. Rows Rol, caps. 13, 29.
  • 11. Cal. Pat. 1301-7, 318; 1313-17, 301.
  • 12. Rows Rol, cap. 50.
  • 13. Ibid. cap. 59.
  • 14. E 164/22 ff. 9v-10; B.M. Add. MS. 28024, ff. 8v, 59, 64v.
  • 15. P.N. Warws. (E.P.N.S.), 261: this is apparently a reference to the road leading to the gate, later called Northgate Street.
  • 16. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 40.
  • 17. See p. 534.
  • 18. The road had not been diverted by 1773: see pl. facing p. 427.
  • 19. Black Bk. 45.
  • 20. H. M. Colvin, Biog. Dict. Eng. Architects, 286.
  • 21. See pl. facing p. 427.
  • 22. Ibid.; see p. 553.
  • 23. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 106.
  • 24. See pl. facing p. 427.
  • 25. T.B.A.S. lxx. 44-5. See pl. facing p. 426. For the chapel see p. 532.
  • 26. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 40. The wall near East Gate is mentioned in 1482: D.L. 43/9/21.
  • 27. E 164/22 f. 33v.
  • 28. e.g. D.L. 43/9/21; W.R.O., D 19/761.
  • 29. Warws. Co. Recs. vi, p. 150.
  • 30. What may represent part of the wall was visible in the basement of Messrs. Woolworth in Market Street in 1963, and there are the possible remains of a tower in a garden between the Butts and Chapel Street.
  • 31. See p. 463 for a consideration of the earthworks in the castle grounds.
  • 32. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 40.
  • 33. WA 6/44.
  • 34. Dugdale, Warws. after 424.
  • 35. Warws. Ft. of Fines, i, pp. 34-35.
  • 36. Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 333.
  • 37. Cal. Pat. 1370-4, 429; 1374-7, 423; 1377-81, 563.
  • 38. See p. 479.
  • 39. E 301/31 no. 35.
  • 40. See p. 463.
  • 41. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 41.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. T.B.A.S. lx. 112-13; see p. 532.
  • 44. Castle MS. 485.
  • 45. See p. 481; for Horse Cheaping as the early name for New Street: W.R.O., D 19/781.
  • 46. V.C.H. Warws. ii. 302.
  • 47. D.L. 43/9/21.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. S.C. 6/Hen. VII/865.
  • 50. Styles, Ministers' Accts. liii.
  • 51. See p. 479 and Cal. Pat. 1338-40, 7-8.
  • 52. D.L. 43/9/21.
  • 53. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 227.
  • 54. Styles, Ministers' Accts. liv.
  • 55. L. & P. Hen. VIII, 1, p. 344; v, p. 59; xx (1), p. 655. This was perhaps the later Cross House or Tavern; see p. 431.
  • 56. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3734.
  • 57. Hilton, Ministers' Accts. 22.
  • 58. J. C. Wedgwood, Hist. Parl. 1439-1509: Biographies, 530.
  • 59. E 164/22 f. 35v.
  • 60. See also Cal. Pat. 1476-85, 312; 1485-94, 138.
  • 61. D.L. 43/9/21. For the decay of rents of manorial property, see p. 488.
  • 62. Styles, Ministers' Accts. xxii.
  • 63. Ibid. xxxv.
  • 64. T.B.A.S. lix. 4-8.
  • 65. Ibid.
  • 66. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 41v; Field, Hist. Warw. 84. For illustrations see W.R.O. PV. War. Col. 2, and A. F. Leach, Hist. Warwick School, 54, 146, opp. 150, opp. 164, 179.
  • 67. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 41v; Leach, Hist. Warwick School, opp. 164.
  • 68. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 41v.
  • 69. Styles, Corp. Warw. 20n.
  • 70. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 105.
  • 71. T.B.A.S. liv. 16.
  • 72. See p. 488.
  • 73. D.L. 43/9/21.
  • 74. Dugdale, Warws. 454-5.
  • 75. Close R. 1264-8, 263.
  • 76. Ibid. 1261-4, 235.
  • 77. Ibid. 1264-8, 53, 331.
  • 78. V.C.H. Warws. ii. 102.
  • 79. Cal. Close, 1288-96, 165, 420.
  • 80. Cal. Pat. 1313-17, 674.
  • 81. Ibid. 1343-5, 246.
  • 82. Ibid. 1361-4, 82.
  • 83. V.C.H. Warws. ii. 116.
  • 84. Close R. 1264-8, 268-9.
  • 85. See p. 533.
  • 86. V.C.H. Warws. ii. 115.
  • 87. Cal. Pat. 1247-58, 445, 474.
  • 88. B.M. Add. MS. 28024, f. 59.
  • 89. Ibid.f. 56.
  • 90. S.C. 6/1039/11.
  • 91. Castle MS. 480.
  • 92. Dugdale, Warws. after 424.
  • 93. D.L. 43/9/21; Hilton, Ministers' Accts. 11. Perhaps also called Lethenhull Brook: Castle MS. 356.
  • 94. B.M. Add. Ch. 62234; Tithe Redemption Com., St. Mary's Tithe Map.
  • 95. S.C. 2/207/88. It was perhaps the Hampton road that was called Gog Lane in 1506 (Castle MS. 361) and Gog Bridge Lane in 1528 (Castle MS. 366).
  • 96. E 164/22 ff. 12v-13.
  • 97. S.C. 2/207/88.
  • 98. e.g. B.M. Add. MS. 28034, f.5; Warws. Ft. of Fines, iii, p. 46; T.B.A.S. lxvi. 94; see p. 483.
  • 99. See pp. 467-70.
  • 100. See p. 484.
  • 101. John Rous included it in his list of depopulated places: T.B.A.S. lxvi. 104.
  • 102. Ibid. 95.
  • 103. 'Both Woodlows' are in John Rous's list: ibid. 99. And see p. 477.
  • 104. See p. 477.
  • 105. See p. 483.
  • 106. See p. 483.
  • 107. See p. 534.
  • 108. P.N. Warws. (E.P.N.S.), 177.
  • 109. See p. 483.
  • 110. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 40.
  • 111. P.N. Warws. (E.P.N.S.), 261.
  • 112. See p. 483.
  • 113. e.g. Warws. Ft. of Fines, ii, p. 117; C 1/586/19. But n.b. that in the late 15th century St. Mary's College let the pasture of Heathcote together with 'the Town Place': S.C. 6/1041/4; S.C. 6/Hen. VII/874.
  • 114. V.C.H. Warws. i. 310, 324.
  • 115. D.L. 43/9/21.
  • 116. T.B.A.S. lxvi. 102.
  • 117. Castle MS. 361, 368. And see p. 484.
  • 118. For the chapel see p. 532, and for the gate p. 420. See also pll. facing p. 426.
  • 119. See pp. 426, 549.
  • 120. See p. 479.
  • 121. Early-19th-century drawings show an inscription in the hall commemorating the occasion: B.R.L., Aylesford Coll. 'Seats, Castles, etc.' 716; B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 52.
  • 122. See p. 495.
  • 123. E. G. Tibbits, 'The Hospital of Robert, Earl of Leicester, in Warwick', T.B.A.S. lx. 112, 123.
  • 124. Corp. accts. 1546-59, f. 47.
  • 125. Ibid. f. 25v.
  • 126. Ibid. ff. 11-14v, 16-16v.
  • 127. See pp. 548-9; T.B.A.S. lx. 114-120.
  • 128. T.B.A.S. lx. plate x, facing p. 112.
  • 129. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 52.
  • 130. T.B.A.S. lx. 144.
  • 131. For details, see T.B.A.S. lxx. 37-40.
  • 132. Unless otherwise stated the following architectural descriptions are based on those by P. B. Chatwin, T.B.A.S. lxx. 37-47 (1952), and on an investigation by S. R. Jones after new features had been uncovered by the restoration of 1958-66.
  • 133. B.R.L., Aylesford Coll. 'Seats, Castles, etc.' 716.
  • 134. T.B.A.S. lx. 144.
  • 135. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 53.
  • 136. T.B.A.S. lx. 134.
  • 137. See p. 551.
  • 138. See p. 429.
  • 139. See p. 147.