The borough of Warwick: Introduction, the central area from c. 1600

Pages 427-434

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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By the end of the 16th century a relatively accurate picture of the centre of Warwick may be reconstructed by means of a survey of the properties of the late Earl of Warwick made in 1590, (fn. 1) and Speed's plan of the town, drawn c. 1610. (fn. 2) Within the line of the medieval walls, and particularly along the lines of Leland's 'Quadrivium' (fn. 3) - High Street, Jury Street, Castle Street, Church Street, and its extension, Northgate Street, - the houses seem to have been built fairly close together. Within the segments formed by these axes less regularity is apparent. The survey indicates a distinction between two kinds of property within the town held of the castle. Most tenancies were freehold at low rents irrespective of their position. A small number, however, were copyhold at much higher rents, and most of these were concentrated in High Street. John Weale, senior, had a tenement and garden there, together with a croft by St. Lawrence's Way, and meadow in Lea Meadow at a combined rent of £1 13s. 4d. (fn. 4) Most of the properties in the survey were described simply as burgages or tenements, but a few were shops, including one formerly belonging to the Guild of Warwick in High Market, described as a shop or workshop 'now called a parlour'. (fn. 5)

Outside the line of the medieval walls the houses were much less closely built and were interspersed with barns, gardens, and crofts. In Hoggesford, Saltisford and Wallditch stood a large number of barns; cottages and crofts were to be found in Friar Lane, and gardens in Linen Hill. In West Street were a number of vacant plots, and in Brittain Lane at least four barns and ten gardens. On the other side of the town the pattern was similar, cottages in Coten End having small attached closes. This 'open' settlement around the town is indicated in Hollar's plan of 1654. (fn. 6) Particularly noticeable are the gardens between West Gate and the river to the south-west of the castle, later to become part of the castle grounds, (fn. 7) and large open spaces to the north-east of the castle. The complex of lanes to the south of High Street and around the Market Place is also evident. Contemporary prospects of the town (fn. 8) indicate its well-wooded surroundings.

The increasing importance of Warwick in the 17th century as a shire town (fn. 9) is reflected not only in the popularity of large inns but also in the appearance of town houses for more permanent residence and extensive conversion of existing properties. Already the Priory, a residential property on a much larger scale, stood to the north of the town. (fn. 10) A smaller town house stood opposite St. Nicholas's Church, on the spot where now stands the entrance to the castle. (fn. 11) This was the residence successively of the Bromes, the Boltons, and Dr. Hadow. A stone building of five bays, it had two stories and an attic. The central door was approached by semi-circular steps, and windows formerly 'of the time of Elizabeth' (fn. 12) were later replaced. The house was demolished in 1800.

One distinctive feature of this house was the ogeeheaded attic gables above the three central bays. Gables of this shape became extremely popular in Warwick and persisted until fairly late in the 17th century. The principal range at the Priory (probably remodelled c. 1620), Marble Yard (before 1650) and St. John's (partly rebuilt c. 1666) all display variations on the design of these gables. (fn. 13) They were also to be found on two other houses, subsequently demolished, Joyce Pool House and Jury Street House. The former was built in 1633-4 and stood facing down Joyce Pool overlooking Wallditch, on a site later occupied by the Bridewell. It was a stone house of three stories and attics, five bays long and two bays wide. On the front elevation there was a central projecting porch with a two-storied oriel window above a four-centred arch. The end bays had projecting bay windows rising through all three stories and surmounted by carved strapwork parapets, another favourite feature of 17th-century stone houses in Warwick. It was built by Edward Luckman of Lapworth and Francis Overton of Warwick for William Fetherston of Packwood, but was acquired by Aaron Rogers and remained in his family until about 1785 when, having become ruinous, it was sold to Francis Hiorn who sold it to the county. (fn. 14)

Jury Street House was built by one of the Wagstaffes of Tachbrook and was later owned by John Rous. In 1654 it was acquired by Sir Simon Archer; (fn. 15) he or his heirs appear to have made extensive alterations including re-facing some of the stone walls with brickwork. (fn. 16) Described as 'a very good, large, substantial house', (fn. 17) its front, from at least the late 17th century onwards, was of brick with stone dressings. It consisted of a central block of three bays, having two stories and an attic; the central doorway had Corinthian pilasters and a segmental pediment, the latter with a cartouche bearing the Archer arms at its apex. Two wings projecting towards the street enclosed a small forecourt. Both terminated in ogee-headed gableends with two-storied bay windows. The eastern wing continued eastwards for a further three bays, the central one having a matching bay window. A round-headed doorway was in the end bay. (fn. 18) This house remained in the Archer family until 1800, though before that time it had ceased to be their town house and had been converted into the Three Tuns Inn. A Mr. Evans bought the house in 1800 and divided it, the western part being sold to the Revd. Mr. Baynes, rector of Upton-on-Severn (Worcs.), who pulled it down and covered the site of the courtyard with a dining room, which had a brick frontage and sash windows. The eastern part of the house was purchased in 1820 by a Mr. Wilson, of Exhall, who refronted it, destroying the bay windows. The Lord Leycester Hotel now incorporates part of the house.

Towards the end of the 17th century heavy moulded cornices and hipped roofs began to take the place of the more flamboyant geometrical gables. The Market House (1670) and Landor House (1692-3) (fn. 19) were precursors of a style which, with variations, was adopted by the builders in the town after the fire of 1694. As the result of a petition to the corporation that the Booth Hall was inadequate, a committee was set up early in 1670 to bargain for stone to erect a Market House. (fn. 20) William Hurlbut, who was working at Warwick Castle and was later employed on the county buildings, was appointed to supervise the work, (fn. 21) and money was collected by public subscription. (fn. 22) It was built on stone pillars, (fn. 23) and from 1700 parts were rented to tradesmen. (fn. 24) In the centre of the ground floor was a small prison, later known as the Black Hole, where, until 1848, prisoners were kept before trial by the magistrates. (fn. 25) Part of one of the upper floors was used as a Leather Hall, for which £2 rent was paid to the corporation in 1697-8, and also for plays and wild beast shows. (fn. 26) During the rebuilding of the Shire Hall the justices used the Market Hall for their sessions. (fn. 27) In 1749 they leased it for four years, but remained there until 1757. (fn. 28) From 1764 the county militia used some of the rooms as a store for arms and equipment, and from 1811 until 1830 it was used by a wool stapler as a warehouse. (fn. 29) In 1840 the Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeological Society acquired the use of the upper rooms. (fn. 30) About 1880 the arches were filled in with glass but markets for corn and provisions continued to be held underneath until after 1905. (fn. 31) Thenceforward the whole building was used as a museum, first by the society and from 1937 by the county council. (fn. 32)

The hall is of local sandstone ashlar, 3 bays long and 5 bays wide. The lower story, originally consisting of a continuous round-headed arcade and in 1810 fitted with iron palisades between the piers, (fn. 33) is now glazed, with doors in the centre of each of the north and south sides. The upper story has windows with moulded architraves, and above is a heavily-moulded stone cornice at the eaves beneath a hipped tile roof; dormers were restored in 1965. The present lantern is probably a 19th-century replacement for the original cupola, which was topped by a ball, mended in 1693-4. (fn. 34) A bell was cast to hang in the cupola in the same year, costing £2 16s. (fn. 35) It was removed to Warwick School in the 19th century. (fn. 36)

Another feature of the 17th century was the conversion of existing timber-framed houses either by the insertion of floors in medieval halls or by the addition of rear buildings and upper stories. Thus in the centre of the town a floor was inserted in the hall of the house, now part of Lord Leicester's Hospital, on the corner of High Street and Brook Street and, later, in the Elizabethan House. Parallels may be found in the suburbs, such as the Game of Bowls Inn in St. Nicholas Church Street, and Nos. 17-19 Mill Street. (fn. 37) Rear extensions were added, often at the solar end, but sometimes in the form of warehouses or barns. Such additions may be found, for example, in the rear of Nos. 37 and 35 Jury Street, or the Cavalier Inn in Smith Street. The process of heightening may be illustrated by Nos. 23-25 Jury Street, (fn. 38) probably originally of two two-storied wings divided by a hall range. This house became threestoried early in the 17th century, as demonstrated by the stone fireplace with a four-centred arch and moulded jambs on the second floor.

The third decade of the 17th century, in particular, also saw the construction of many completely new timber houses throughout the town, several of them having common characteristics in decoration. The large timber-framed building at the corner of New Street and Swan Street was built c. 1634 (fn. 39) as two or more houses of two stories and attics in one range, each house having two large attic gables. The first and attic floors are jettied out on exposed joists at their street fronts, with a dragon beam at the corner on each floor. There is a grotesque carved figure at the angle to the lower dragon beam. The framing pattern, of small square panels with chevron work to the first floor and quarter-rounds and chevron work to the attic wall and gables, is also found in the Tudor House Hotel in West Street. Similar threestoried houses of the early 17th century with jettied fronts include Nos. 12-14 and 22 Jury Street, the former being decorated with quarter-rounds in small panels, now plastered. The gables have carved bargeboards, found also in Smith Street and Bridge End. (fn. 40) In general, however, adaptation and extension seem to have been more common than complete rebuilding in the centre of the town during the 17th century.

The face of the centre of Warwick was radically changed by a fire which in five or six hours rendered more than 250 families homeless on 5 September 1694. First estimates put the damage at over £90,000, (fn. 41) but later some 460 buildings, including barns, malt houses, and stables were said to have been consumed or damaged, and total losses were thought to be about £120,000. (fn. 42) The fire probably started at the entrance to a small lane off the south side of High Street (fn. 43) and, fanned by a south-west wind, proceeded to Castle Street, destroying the south side of High Street entirely. The fire also spread to the north side of the street and then eastwards across Swan Street and Church Street until it was halted in Jury Street by the stone construction of Jury Street House. A few properties in Swan Street and Castle Street were burnt, but the main fire proceeded up Church Street and then westwards along Pebble Lane, the top of New Street and part of the Market Place. Thinking that St. Mary's Church would provide a safe shelter for belongings, some of the townsfolk are said to have taken furniture there for safety. This, already smouldering, set fire to the church, a large part of which was destroyed. (fn. 44) The flames also spread northwards into Sheep (now Northgate) Street, damaging parts of the west side and destroying the east side. Several houses in the Butts were also lost before the fire burnt itself out.

Immediate measures for the relief of the homeless (fn. 45) were succeeded, some three months after the fire, by the establishment of a body of commissioners to supervise the rebuilding of the town according to the terms of an Act of Parliament. (fn. 46) This Act had as its general aim the restoration and rebuilding of the town, and specifically the regulation of new buildings to prevent any recurrence. In the execution of these aims the work of the rebuilding commissioners had an effect on the town of prime importance. One of the first reactions of the commissioners was to seek information from Northampton, which had been extensively burnt in 1675, and had been rebuilt within ten years under the supervision of a body of commissioners sitting as a court of record. (fn. 47) But in practice Warwick's commissioners, unlike those of Northampton, took full advantage of the powers vested in them to rebuild the town in a more spacious style, exercising their dual role of providing adequate materials for the actual building, and forming plans for improving the layout of the town.

'For the ornament, common convenience and safety of the borough' it was decided that 'all public streets and lanes therein should be of a convenient wideness'. (fn. 48) The Act provided for the improvement of Swan Lane (Swan Street), Pebble Lane, Church Street, and Sheep Street, and it is evident that the rebuilding commissioners also widened Jury Street and High Street. Thus in May 1695 the main lines from the top of Sheep Street to the High Cross and from Jury Street House to the west end of High Street were staked out, and the builders were ordered to be governed by them. (fn. 49) At the same time a survey was to be made of Swan Lane to determine what demolition was needed in order to straighten it. (fn. 50) Foxes Lane, off High Street, was staked out a year later. (fn. 51) The only other major change was the alteration of Pebble Lane: in its place Old Square was opened at the west end of St. Mary's, the effect of which was later impaired by the need to build the new church tower over the road. (fn. 52)

Having marked out the general lines of the new streets and awarded compensation for loss of property, (fn. 53) the commissioners proceeded to administer the Act as it applied to detailed rebuilding. The regularity still so apparent in the town is the result of rigid building specifications. Houses were to be of brick or stone and roofed with tile or slate; two stories were to be the general rule, though three could be allowed, and the height of each was specified. Party walls were to be of uniform thickness, brickwork between adjoining houses was to be bonded together so that no straight joints would appear, timber framing and thatch were forbidden. (fn. 54) The commissioners employed surveyors to ensure that all conformed to their regulations. Samuel Dunkley, mason, was regularly employed in this work, and was aided at various times by John Phillips of Broadway (Worcs.), carpenter, and William Smith, bricklayer. (fn. 55) Their reports resulted in orders that one owner should dismantle his upper row of dormer windows, (fn. 56) that proprietors should pave the streets in front of their houses, (fn. 57) that dormers fronting the streets should be pedimented and framed in lead. (fn. 58) But uniformity might be set aside in favour of the influential: Mr. Newsham was allowed the liberty of a projecting cornice, and pilasters whose pedestals projected three inches beyond the ground gable. (fn. 59)

The highlight of this planning was the scheme for the cross roads at the centre of the town. The houses at three of the corners belonging to Devereux Whadcock, mercer, Robert Blissett, woollen draper, and John Bradshaw, apothecary, (fn. 60) were to be built on a more grandiose scale. The financial difficulties of the corporation (fn. 61) presumably prevented them from rebuilding the Court House at the same time, although the Mayor's Parlour at the fourth corner was slightly damaged. (fn. 62) The three rebuilt houses were to be of equal height, the first two stories each of ten feet, the third of eight feet, with garrets as the commissioners should later determine. (fn. 63) This order was given in May 1695 and by August building had reached roof level. (fn. 64) An order was made that the matching cornices should be of wood, with uniform projection. Dormers constructed on his new house by Mr. Blissett, however, were not allowed. (fn. 65) Later, in June 1696, he was permitted to add pilasters, though he had to adhere to strict measurements. (fn. 66)

Rebuilding was spread over about ten years, and was hampered both by lack of materials and individual lethargy. Brick- and tile-makers were early given space to work, (fn. 67) and quarries were established in St. Mary's churchyard, and behind New Street. (fn. 68) Rates for bricks and tiles were fixed, and the activities of foreign joiners and carpenters were circumscribed in favour of local craftsmen. (fn. 69) Progress in reconstruction also depended on the amount of compensation available: in July 1695, 25 people were ready to rebuild but were not to be paid until the houses had reached first floor level. (fn. 70) By October of that year scaffolding was set up along High Street, and rubbish in front of the empty plots was causing obstruction. (fn. 71) The High Cross was temporarily removed at the same time. (fn. 72) The builders of nine new houses, including the owner of the 'Black Raven' in Sheep Street, were paid compensation for completed buildings in April 1697. (fn. 73) At the same time the commissioners recited the section of the rebuilding Act which allowed disposal of property not yet developed. (fn. 74) In June 1698 a similar order was issued, owners of vacant plots having to start rebuilding or to give security for so doing by a given term, the alternative being sale of the land at a fixed price. (fn. 75) There were still vacant plots in High Street in 1704, (fn. 76) and Old Square had not yet been completed. (fn. 77) The last recorded session of the court of commissioners in September 1704 evidently did not mark the completion of rebuilding. (fn. 78)

The rigid lines drawn up by the rebuilding commissioners imposed a striking uniformity of architectural style on the parts of the town affected by the fire. In general the houses seem to fall into two types, comprising either two or three stories of brick, having stone dressings which included prominent key-blocks, horizontal platbands between the stories, and angle-quoins; or houses of ashlar, mostly of three stories, with similar features, and the addition of tall pilasters to the principal facade. Typical of the first, and the most common type, are Nos. 6-8 Jury Street, and of the second No. 30 Jury Street. Several houses, for example Nos. 30-44 High Street, were modified in the 19th century to three full stories, and others, such as those on the eastern side of Northgate Street have both early- and late18th-century details. No. 2, a good post-fire example, retains its original mullioned and transomed casement windows at the side and rear, its 'M' shaped roof, and a bolection-moulded door-frame with eared architrave.

The uniformity of the frontages contrasts sharply with the asymmetrical appearance of the rear elevations, often a pointer to the probable survival of earlier walls. The fire in some cases may merely have destroyed those parts of the houses nearest the streets, leaving some timber-framed structures in the rear standing. (fn. 79) Similarly, many houses of timber were refronted or re-roofed in contemporary style in areas completely unaffected by the fire. No. 35 Jury Street (the 'Porridge Pot'), was refronted in brick with stone dressings c. 1700; a more extreme example is the Bear and Baculus Inn at the corner of Brook Street and High Street, and its neighbours Nos. 46-50 High Street which just escaped the fire. The houses were refronted in brick early in the 18th century, the inn probably later. The structural evidence suggests, however, that the inn's 15thcentury roof was originally gabled towards High Street, and only in the 18th century, when refronting took place, was it hipped towards the adjacent streets. As a cheaper alternative to rebuilding or refronting in brickwork or masonry in the late 17th and 18th centuries, there was a general move in Warwick, as elsewhere, to conceal exposed framing under plaster. (fn. 80) Associated with this was a refenestration of the building concerned.

In the late 17th century, even before the fire had given an impetus to the building trades, a number of exceptionally skilled craftsmen were working in the town. Some had been employed on improvements at the castle between 1670 and 1690, notably Samuel Dunkley, mason, and the brothers William and Roger Hurlbut, carpenters. (fn. 81) Much of the rebuilding after the fire was carried out by local builders and craftsmen who were capable of designing their own work and were later styled 'architects'. In the 18th century Warwick became noted for several outstanding men of this type, the best-known being Francis Smith, members of the Hiorn family, and Thomas Johnson. (fn. 82) One of the results was that an unusually high architectural standard was maintained in the town itself between the end of the 17th century and about 1800.

The enforced rebuilding of the centre of the town gave impetus to the spread of new houses in areas unaffected by the fire. Castle Street House, for example, was built in 1720 by Thomas Warde, of Barford, at a cost of £3,000. (fn. 83) It was constructed of brick with stone dressings, and comprised two stories and attics. The central block of three bays had a pedimented central doorway. Projecting wings, two bays deep, had angle pilasters facing the street. Inside, there was said to be a 'curious marble chimney piece' brought from Africa by Capt. Newsam. (fn. 84) The house had a short life, being sold by the builder's grandson to the Earl of Warwick in 1765 for £500, after which it was demolished and the site used for the castle stables. (fn. 85) Also in Castle Street was the Cross Keys Inn which, too, was of brick with stone dressings. It had five bays, of two stories and attics, with a central projecting porch and round-headed entrance arch. This, again, was demolished when the castle grounds were extended. (fn. 86) The stone house known as 'Abbotsford' at the northern end of the Market Place, now incorporated in the Shire Hall, was built in 1714 (fn. 87) on the site of the Bull Inn, and was probably designed by Francis Smith. (fn. 88) The principal front of five bays has Corinthian pilasters rising through all three stories and a central doorway with a broken segmental pediment. At the same period the houses on the east side of Northgate Street, rebuilt soon after the fire, were altered and in some cases refronted. Public buildings followed private enterprise and culminated in the rebuilding of the Shire Hall on the west side of Northgate Street in 1753-8, and of the adjoining county gaol and house of correction between 1779 and 1787. (fn. 89) Northgate Street thus became, and has remained, a predominantly 18th-century street of great architectural distinction.

The construction of the Court House on the site of a medieval building as a suitable centre for the activities of the corporation, formed a fitting complement to the group already standing at the central cross-roads of the town. A house or tavern by the High Cross, formerly held by William Edmondes and called either Edmonde's Place or the Cross Tavern, was granted in 1510 to William Compton as part of the perquisites of his office as keeper of the castle. (fn. 90) It was held by two of his successors, (fn. 91) but in 1554, described as the Court House, it was granted to the bailiff and burgesses for use as a common hall to hold the borough courts. (fn. 92) Evidently their title was not secure, for the Court House was among those properties which the bailiff and burgesses tried to secure from the Earls of Leicester and Warwick in 1571 in exchange for their guild hall, though it is not specifically mentioned. (fn. 93) In 1576 the 'old suit of the town for the assurance of . . . the Cross Tavern' was successfully revived, the town acquiring the property. (fn. 94)

Thenceforward the Court House was used as the meeting place of the corporation until 1590. (fn. 95) Shops and rooms attached to it were leased: in 1581 four tenants, including the warden of the shoemakers, paid a total rent of 16s. 4d. (fn. 96) When the castle estate passed to the Crown on the death of Ambrose Dudley in 1590, the Court House, though not valued, was included in the survey of his property. (fn. 97) It was leased to the corporation by the Crown in 1595 for 40 years. The Crown in 1600 granted the property to Richard Dawes and Thomas Wagstaffe, and in the same year they sold it to William Spicer who sold it to the corporation. (fn. 98)

During the 17th century the Court House was used as the normal place for corporation business. Part of the house, fronting on Castle Street, was known as the Parlour as early as 1613 (fn. 99) and after 1664 this was known as the Mayor's Parlour. The regular provision of pipes, wood and ale for the Mayor's Parlour (fn. 100) suggests it was the place where corporation hospitality was dispensed. The Parlour was damaged in the fire of 1694. (fn. 101)

In 1724 the corporation resolved either to repair or rebuild the Court House. Evidence was produced on enquiry both that it was 'a good old strong building' and that it was so unsafe as to have to be supported by props. (fn. 102) It was eventually decided to rebuild it, and work began in the following year, continuing until 1730. Francis Smith, a borough alderman, was the architect, and ironwork was made by Thomas Paris and Benjamin King. The cost of the work during the period 1724-31 was about £2,254, a severe strain on corporation finances which produced considerable opposition. (fn. 103) The Relators in the Chancery Suit brought against the corporation in 1735 complained that the Court House was used 'only for feasting and card-playing'. (fn. 104) As a result of this same suit the Court House and its furnishings were taken into the hands of Sequestration Commissioners in 1742. (fn. 105) The corporation resumed use if not possession in 1761. (fn. 106)

By the beginning of the 19th century the Court House, while still retaining an assembly room for the corporation and a courtroom for borough sessions, was a centre of social life in the town. Annual entertainments were given there by the mayor, public meetings and lectures of all kinds were held there and, at least until 1815, monthly winter dancing assemblies were regularly organized. (fn. 107) Meetings of the corporation continued to be held there until 1926, when the present council chamber, in the Pageant House next door, was opened. (fn. 108)

The Court House is a two-storied building of rusticated ashlar masonry with facades to Jury Street and Castle Street of five and three bays respectively. The ground floor has round-headed openings while on the upper floor the bays are divided by Roman Doric pilasters surmounted by a triglyph frieze, cornice, and parapet. On the Jury Street front a central niche contains a figure of Justice by Thomas Stayner (fn. 109) with the Royal Arms above and the badge of the town below. Internally a first-floor ballroom with Ionic pilasters and a coved ceiling extends the whole length of the building. The exterior was restored in 1960. (fn. 110)

The effect of expanding population in the first decades of the 18th century may be gauged to some extent by the increasing use made of land within the central area, as well as in the established suburbs. A comparison between the rolls of commoners of Lammas land in 1698 and 1755 (fn. 111) reveals that 95 new houses had been built in St. Mary's parish between the two years, including fourteen in High Street, ten in Church Street, and nineteen at the north end of the Market Place, which may be directly attributable to the fire. A number of large inns had by 1755 given place to the houses of several private individuals: Swan ground had four houses in place of the Swan Inn, the Dolphin ground had three, the Bear and Bell grounds two each. Subdivision of houses is particularly noticeable in West Street. (fn. 112)

Of much greater effect on the form of the town was the expansion of the castle grounds. (fn. 113) Between 1777 and 1790 the boundary of the castle was pushed northwards to take in a number of small lanes, eventually closing the ancient entrance to the town from the south, which had been via Mill Street beneath the castle walls and thence along Castle Street. From 1788 the main approach was across the new bridge, along a new road through the western end of St. Nicholas Meadow, and then via Back Hills to the East Gate. Such alterations must have had widespread effects. Three large houses, Castle Street House, the Cross Keys Inn and Dr. Hadow's house, were bought and demolished; part of St. Mary's Poor Houses in the Saltisford (fn. 114) was erected in place of almshouses formerly in Rosemary Lane which had now disappeared; the Presbyterian chapel in Meeting House Lane was removed, and what is now the Unitarian chapel in High Street was provided in its stead. (fn. 115) Smaller private houses, too, must have been demolished in some numbers. In 1800, when the castle improvements were virtually completed, there remained a number of small, poor houses opposite St. Nicholas's Church, near the main entrance to the castle. When it was rumoured that the king and the royal family were coming from Cheltenham to stay with the Earl of Warwick, these houses were purchased and pulled down in a single day. (fn. 116)

The sharp increase in population at the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, while felt most strongly in the Saltisford and West Street suburbs (fn. 117) was also of some significance in the centre of the town. Cramped quarters were constructed in the framework of already established properties in the form of courts: Albion Court was built off the east side of Bowling Green Street, Pickett's Court in Swan Street, Carnall's Court in Brook Street, and Bryant's, Edward's, and Lapworth's Courts off Market Street. (fn. 118)

Despite these additions the face of the centre of the town changed little during the 19th century. Increased traffic inevitably led to minor roadwidening improvements, and Warwick was later remembered by a barrister as the only town in the midland circuit whose streets were completely flagged, 'the pathways being formed of stones, their small and pointed ends turned upwards, presenting to the eye the appearance of petrified kidneys'. (fn. 119) Arguments for the removal of markets and fairs from the town were put forward as much to prevent traffic congestion as on grounds of public health. (fn. 120) By the middle of the century (fn. 121) three small factories had been established in the area: there was a candle factory between Theatre Street and Market Street, a pipe factory also off Market Street to the south of the 'Woolpack', and a soda water factory at the corner of High Street and Brook Street, now forming part of Lord Leicester's Hospital. The Market Place was still used for the sale of pigs, but considerable improvements had been made. The removal of the Booth Hall in 1791 (fn. 122) was followed, in 1804, by the construction of the iron bridge over the Holloway, giving improved access. (fn. 123) The demolition of the Flying Horse Inn, which had stood opposite the west end of the Market House, in 1839, further opened the market space to traffic. (fn. 124)

The professional and commercial centre of the town was still, in 1851, concentrated around High Street, which contained the Warwick and Warwickshire Bank and the Warwick Advertiser and Stamp Office. In Castle Street, besides the Dispensary, was the Royal Naval Insurance Office; in Back Lane stood the Standard Life Imperial Fire Office; and in Church Street a branch of the Leamington Priors the northern end of the Market Place, which backed on to the county gaol and the Judges' Lodgings. Some of these properties were replaced in the last decades of the 19th century, to make way for the Coffee Tavern (1880) and the new post office (1886). (fn. 125)

Figure 16:

Warwick 1965

1. St. Mary's Poor Houses. 2. Site of County gaol. 3. Site of Joyce Pool House. 4. The Deanery. 5. Site of St. Mary's College. 6. Judges' Lodgings. 7. 'Abbotsford'. 8. Site of Booth Hall. 9. Site of Theatre. 10. Site of St. John's Church. 11. Site of Corn Exchange. 12. Market House (Museum). 13. Site of Jury St. House. 14. East Gate and St. Peter's Chapel. 15. Eyffler's and Oken's almshouses. 16. Site of Vineyard. 17. Pageant House. 18. Court House. 19. Site of St. Peter's Church. 20. Site of Puckering's 'almshouses'. 21. Lord Leicester's Hospital. 22. West Gate and St. James' Chapel. 23. Friends' Meeting House. 24. Site of Saunders Row. 25. Site of Brittain (or Rosemary) Lane. 26. Site of Walkers (or Avon, or Watercart) Lane. 27. Castle Bridge (rems.). 28. High Ladsome. 29. Site of Crosse St.

To the west of the Market Place, where the land and Warwickshire Bank, next to the Athenaeum. Inns, though plentiful elsewhere, were particularly concentrated around the Market Place, which also boasted the Warwick and Leamington Bank (now Lloyds Bank) and the post office. This latter formed part of a range of small properties in Old Square and drops away towards the racecourse, stood the theatre. (fn. 126) Behind it, approached from Market Hill, was the lock-up, complete with prisoners' yard, the successor of the 'Black Hole' in the Market House. (fn. 127) Until 1855 the Castle Hotel and Excise Office stood at the top of Market Street. It was bought by the Corn Exchange Company in that year, and was demolished to make way for the Corn Exchange, designed by James Murray of Coventry. (fn. 128)

Beyond the complex of county buildings in Northgate Street (fn. 129) lay an area between the Butts and Chapel Street which has undergone considerable change since the middle of the 19th century. In 1851 it was still the gardens of Landor House, and stretched from Smith Street to a point opposite St. Mary's vicarage. Trees and extensive lawns became after 1875 the site of Warwick Middle School (later Warwick Technical School) and later part of the Girls' High School. (fn. 130) The Butts, originally an open space for archery practice, known until the 18th century as 'Bachelors' Butts', (fn. 131) was used for the sheep fair by 1837. (fn. 132)

Major changes in the central area of the town have been left to the 20th century. The tramway track in High Street and Jury Street frequently caused inconvenience and congestion, (fn. 133) and general traffic problems began to be voiced in the 1920s. (fn. 134) Since the Second World War Warwick has become 'a serious bottle-neck in the regional road system'. (fn. 135) A by-pass, mooted as part of a redevelopment plan in 1947, (fn. 136) is now (1965) under construction. A Central Area Redevelopment Plan, (fn. 137) prepared by the Civic Trust, the Warwickshire County Council and the borough council began in 1965 with the demolition of the western side of Market Street for the erection of new shops. The plans involve the rebuilding of the Market Place area, of which the new extensions to the Shire Hall are an integral part. The Market Place itself will become a precinct, with shops concentrated in the southern part. A new bus terminus is to be provided, together with multi-story and underground car parks.


  • 1. L.R. 2/228 ff. 209-25.
  • 2. P. D. A. Harvey and H. Thorpe, Printed Maps of Warws. 1576-1900, 76-77.
  • 3. Leland, Itin. ed. Toulmin Smith, ii. 41.
  • 4. L.R. 2/228 f. 216.
  • 5. Ibid. f. 211v.
  • 6. Dugdale, Warws, after 424.
  • 7. See p. 463.
  • 8. Dugdale, Warws. after 424.
  • 9. See p. 511.
  • 10. See p. 440.
  • 11. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 43; this includes a small drawing.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. See pp. 436, 440, 441.
  • 14. Fetherston-Dilke MSS. at Maxstoke Castle, ex. inf. Mr. M. W. Farr; there are several drawings of the house including interiors, in B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 79 ff.
  • 15. P. Styles, 'Sir Simon Archer 1581-1662', Dugdale Soc. Occasional Papers, no. 6, p. 14n; illustrated in Warws. Co. Recs. iv, pl. x.
  • 16. During alterations of c. 1800 it was found that the original walls were of stone: B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 80.
  • 17. A. M. Mimardiere, 'Finances of a Warwickshire Gentry Family, 1693-1726', Univ. of Birmingham Hist. Jnl. ix. 133.
  • 18. See pl. facing p. 427, taken from B.M. Add MS. 29264, f. 82. For the later history of the house see ibid. ff. 80, 81, 82.
  • 19. See p. 443.
  • 20. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 190-1; Corp. Order Bk. 1664-90, 7 Feb. 1670.
  • 21. Ibid. 21 Mar. 1670. See pp. 460-1.
  • 22. Styles, Corp. Warw. 57.
  • 23. Described by Thomas Baskerville after a visit not long after it was built: Hist. MSS. Com. 13th Rep. App. II, Portland, II, 291.
  • 24. Corp. accts. 1701-2.
  • 25. The Black Hole was presented by the court leet jury as a disgrace in 1833 and thenceforward every year until 1848. In 1842, having been interviewed by the jurors, the chief police officer reported that it measured 8 ft. 8 in. x 3 ft. 8 in. and that 13 people had been confined there at one time: court leet presentments (WA 1/22).
  • 26. Corp. accts. 1697-8.
  • 27. Ibid. 1694-5, 1726-7.
  • 28. Warws. Co. Recs. vii. pp. cxxv, cxxxix; Accts. of King Henry VIII's Estate, 1753-69 (WA 12/5), acct. 1756-7.
  • 29. Ibid. accts. 1764-5; 1809-22 (WA 12/8), acct. 1811-12; 1822-34 (WA 12/9), acct. 1830-1; 17th Rep. Com. Char., H.C. 426, p. 478 (1826-7), x.
  • 30. Draft accts. of King Henry VIII's Estate, 1838-41 (WA 12/18), acct. 1840.
  • 31. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 192.
  • 32. Char. Com. file 232862.
  • 33. Accts. of King Henry VIII's Estate, 1809-22 (WA 12/8), acct. 1809-10.
  • 34. Corp. accts. 1693-4. For a drawing of c. 1683 by N. Hawksmoor see pl. facing p. 427. The cupola and dome were still in place in 1850: White, Dir. Warws. (1850), 460.
  • 35. Corp. accts. 1693-4.
  • 36. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 192.
  • 37. See pp. 443-4, 446.
  • 38. Also e.g. 96-98 West Street.
  • 39. Date on fireplace overmantle.
  • 40. See pp. 443, 447; also 10 Castle Street, 41-43 High Street.
  • 41. Warws. Co. Recs. ix, pp. xxix-xxx.
  • 42. B.M. Harl. MS. 6839, f. 318; Hist. MSS. C4m. 14th, Rep. App. II, Portland, III 555.
  • 43. Kemp, Hist. Warws. 59.
  • 44. P. B. Chatwin, 'The Rebuilding of St. Mary's Church, Warwick', T.B.A.S. lxv. 1-49.
  • 45. Warws. Co. Recs. ix. pp. xxix-xxx: and see p. 507.
  • 46. 6 William & Mary, entitled 'An Act for the rebuilding of the town of Warwick, and for determining the differences touching houses burnt or diminished, by reason of the dreadful fire there. Westminster, 12 Nov. 1694'; T.B.A.S. lxv. 4-5.
  • 47. WA 4/1, ff. 47v-48; V.C.H. Northants. iii. 31-33.
  • 48. Act for rebuilding. . . .
  • 49. Commissioners for rebuilding: Book of Orders (WA 4/1), f. 47.
  • 50. Ibid. f. 51.
  • 51. Ibid. f. 101.
  • 52. Ibid. ff. 73-73v.
  • 53. Ibid. f. 82v.
  • 54. Book of Orders ff. 49v, 110v, 149.
  • 55. Ibid. e.g. f. 64.
  • 56. Ibid. f. 77.
  • 57. Ibid. f. 108.
  • 58. Ibid. f. 139.
  • 59. Ibid. f. 109.
  • 60. Respectively Nos. 1, 2 and 4 High Street and 1 Jury Street.
  • 61. See p. 501.
  • 62. An Estimate of the Losses . . . in the Fire (WA 4/1), f. 8: £15 worth of damage was done.
  • 63. Book of Orders, f. 51v.
  • 64. Ibid. f. 74.
  • 65. Ibid. f. 77.
  • 66. Ibid. f. 112.
  • 67. Ibid. ff. 16v-17.
  • 68. Ibid. f. 99; T.B.A.S. lxv. 8-9.
  • 69. Book of Orders, ff. 16v-17, 84v-85, 128-128v.
  • 70. Ibid. f. 65.
  • 71. Ibid. f. 90v.
  • 72. Ibid.
  • 73. Ibid. ff. 124-124v.
  • 74. Ibid. f. 124v.
  • 75. Ibid. f. 138v.
  • 76. Ibid. f. 166v.
  • 77. Ibid. f. 163v.
  • 78. Ibid. f. 166v.
  • 79. e.g. behind No. 27 High Street.
  • 80. e.g. Nos. 12-14 Jury Street.
  • 81. See p. 460.
  • 82. See p. 508. For a portrait of Smith see pl. facing p. 514.
  • 83. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 43; this includes a small drawing.
  • 84. Ibid.
  • 85. Ibid.; see p. 462.
  • 86. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 43; see p. 463.
  • 87. Pevsner, Warws. 462.
  • 88. Ex inf. Mr. E. G. Tibbits. See pl. facing p. 434.
  • 89. See p. 450 and pl. facing p. 417.
  • 90. L. & P. Hen. VIII, i (1), p. 344.
  • 91. Ibid. v, p. 59; xx (1), p. 655.
  • 92. Charter of 1554 (WA 1/1).
  • 93. Black Bk. 45.
  • 94. Ibid. 221, 224-5.
  • 95. Ibid. 218, 220, 286, 306, 383-5.
  • 96. Survey of corporation lands, 1581 (WA 12/1), ff. 15, 17.
  • 97. L.R. 2/228 f. 210v.
  • 98. Black Bk. 224-6; C 66/1543; WA 1/3/4.
  • 99. Minute Bk. 1610-62, 11 May 1613, p. 47.
  • 100. Corp. accts. 1693-1728, passim.
  • 101. Estimates of the losses in the fire (WA 4/1).
  • 102. Styles, Corp. Warw. 72.
  • 103. Ibid. 72-73.
  • 104. Styles, Corp. Warw. 68.
  • 105. Ibid. 78.
  • 106. Ibid. 85.
  • 107. Field, Hist. Warw. 80-81.
  • 108. Warwick Official Guide, 34.
  • 109. Pevsner, Warws. 458.
  • 110. Ibid. 35. For a view of c. 1900 see pl. facing p. 434.
  • 111. WA 5/21, 22.
  • 112. See p. 434.
  • 113. See p. 463, and map on p. 433.
  • 114. See p. 552.
  • 115. See p. 537.
  • 116. B.M. Add. MS. 29264, f. 43.
  • 117. See pp. 434, 437.
  • 118. W. T. Rhys, 'Warwick, a study in Urban Geog.' (Univ. Wales, Aberystwyth, M.A. thesis, 1961), 90-91. See pl. facing p. 515.
  • 119. R. Walton, Random Recollections of the Midland Circuit, 9-10.
  • 120. See p. 519.
  • 121. 1851 map.
  • 122. See p. 506.
  • 123. Kemp, Hist. Warw. 211.
  • 124. Tenders for removal were invited in Warw. Advertiser 5 and 12 Jan. 1839.
  • 125. Inscription on building; Warw. Advertiser, 28 Nov., 12 Dec. 1885; the architect of the post office was Mr. H. Tanner of the Office of Works.
  • 126. See p. 512.
  • 127. See p. 428.
  • 128. Corn Exchange Co. Minute Bk. (WA 16/16).
  • 129. See p. 451.
  • 130. See p. 542.
  • 131. WA 12/12/1.
  • 132. See p. 519.
  • 133. Court leet presentment bk. 1885-1936 (WA 1/top of box 22), presentments e.g. 1913, 1917, 1919-20.
  • 134. Ibid. passim.
  • 135. P. Abercrombie and R. Nickson, Warwick, its preservation and redevelopment, 41.
  • 136. Ibid.
  • 137. Ex inf. borough surveyor.