The City of Coventry: The outlying parts of Coventry, Harnall, Radford, and Whitmore Park

Pages 71-77

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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Harnall is the former name of the district in Holy Trinity parish, part of which was later known as Hillfields, lying immediately to the north-east and east of the city wall. The district was bounded on the north-west by Leicester Row and Foleshill Road, on the north by Great Heath in Foleshill parish and Broad Oak Waste (a detached part of St. Michael's parish), on the east by Swan Lane, and on the southeast by Far Gosford Street. (fn. 1) The north-west of the district is crossed by the old Leicester Causeway and Stoney Stanton Road, a former turnpike, and the north by the Coventry Canal and the branch railway to the Ordnance works. The road said in the 12th century to lead 'through the middle of Harnall along the country of Stoke', and in the 15th century to run 'through the middle of Harnall towards Wyken', (fn. 2) was probably the modern Harnall Lane. The medieval Sewal Pavement, leading towards Bulkington, (fn. 3) may have been an earlier form of Leicester Causeway.

The land rises from the River Sherbourne towards Stoke Heath and Great Heath. It was crossed by two streams, the courses of which are now partly lost. In the west the Springfield Brook, the medieval Endemere, (fn. 4) later known as the Harnall or Swanswell Brook, ran south across Foleshill Road and by Swanswell Pool above the mill there. In the east the Spitalmoor Brook ran south-west from Stoke Heath to Spital Moor to meet the Springfield Brook which in its turn was absorbed by the Sherbourne. In the east of the district the land rises to Primrose Hill.

Most of the area of Harnall was included in the Prior's Half that was claimed by Coventry Priory in the early 12th century as part of its original endowment. The boundary of the half followed the course of the Endemere and the road 'through the middle of Harnall'. (fn. 5) Une place appellez Harnale lay within the liberties of the city in the late 14th century, but Prior's Harnall was apparently left outside. (fn. 6) Harnall was one of the members of the county of the city created in 1451, and remained in the new municipal borough of Coventry after the county of the city had been dissolved in 1842. (fn. 7)


Harnall was one of the estates of Roger de Montalt in 1279, (fn. 8) when the property consisted of six cottages, and a number of crofts and other pieces of land. The tenurial arrangements were complex. Five men held of Roger; each of them had one or more tenants; and some of these themselves had under-tenants. John le Fevre held land directly of Montalt, and was at the same time a tenant and an under-tenant of the Prior of Coventry. The Abbot of Combe, who had acquired a messuage and land there in the 12th century, (fn. 9) was both a tenant and under-tenant of the prior. This complexity is reflected in the many charters of the 13th to 16th centuries by which under-tenants freely disposed of their small holdings of land. (fn. 10) A number of such freeholds existed, beside the larger estates which were built up from time to time, until the building development of the 19th century.

Coventry Priory held land in Harnall, then called a manor, by 1221, (fn. 11) and bought other land there in 1223, 1232, (fn. 12) and 1369. (fn. 13) By 1410-11 the priory had a considerable estate there, the rents from which were paid directly to its officers. The demesne land, consisting of a house or grange and five fields, was held by William Poteger for a rent of 20 marks. St. John's Hospital held another house and seven fields. Other tenants included the Abbot of Combe and Corpus Christi Guild. (fn. 14) Land in Harnall belonging to the priory had first been granted to the hospital in 1328, (fn. 15) and during the 14th century the hospital held lands there of the priory described as anciently and newly acquired. (fn. 16) Some of the hospital's land in Harnall was said in 1425 to lie between Swanswell Pool on the north and the city wall and Bastille or Dern Gate on the south. A leet order of 1439 confirmed the hospital's ancient right of access by a foot-way to their 'field and pasture' at Swanswell Pool. (fn. 17)

In 1302 John, son of John de Bromley, sold property in Harnall to Henry Bagot. (fn. 18) John de Bromley was probably the heir of the Henry de Bromley who held a small estate as an under-tenant in 1279. Henry Bagot sold his property in Harnall and elsewhere to Robert de Stoke in 1309, and land in Harnall remained part of the Stokes' manor of Stoke until the 16th century, (fn. 19) when the manor and most of its lands were acquired by Coventry corporation as trustee of Bond's Hospital. A close in Harnall was included in the hospital's endowment from the 16th to the 19th centuries. (fn. 20)

The priory's demesne estate, which was still worth 20 marks in 1535, (fn. 21) was probably that leased to Edward Davenport in 1534-5. (fn. 22) The estate was apparently among the lands granted in 1542 to the corporation, (fn. 23) and in 1551 the Prior's Orchard with two pools - Swans Pool and New Pool - lying under the city wall on its north side, 'a great field' called Harnall Field, the Stripe Close, Swan's Croft, Parson's Meadow, and a close beside Harnall were included in the endowment of Sir Thomas White's Charity. (fn. 24) Davenport still held 74 acres from the charity in 1581, and Christopher Davenport, mayor in 1642, renewed a lease of 81 acres in 1636, but surrendered all or part of his land in Harnall Field in 1638-9. (fn. 25)

The Prior's Orchard became the site of Prior's Orchard Mill, which was in existence by 1579, and of the Swanswell waterworks, which were developed about 1630. From 1646 onwards this property was held on a 200-year lease from the charity, for much of the term by members of the Bewley family who operated the mill and the waterworks and lived in the adjoining mill-house, Old Swanswell House. (fn. 26) This was a substantial building of the 17th century or earlier, which was also known about 1800 as 'Harnale House'. (fn. 27) In 1803-4 21 closes, amounting to some 72 acres, and comprising most of the charity's estate in Harnall fields, were sold. (fn. 28) Part of this land was used for the construction of East Street and South Street in the 1830s, and the land round Swanswell was sold for street development in 1848. (fn. 29)

The priory's manor-house, which had been included in the property leased for 20 marks, did not come to White's Charity, and nothing is known of it in the 17th and 18th centuries. However, when leases of land in Harnall were renewed by the corporation in 1753, the lease of Primrose Hill House was also dealt with, (fn. 30) and this may suggest that the house, to which there is no earlier reference, was on the site of the manor. Both lay near the quarries in the south-east of the district. The corporation had sold Primrose Hill House by the mid 19th century, when it was owned by Richard Gilbert. (fn. 31)

After the Dissolution the estate that had belonged to St. John's Hospital, consisting of a mansion or grange, thirteen fields and Harnall or Swanswell Pool (to be distinguished from the pool on the White's Charity estate), part of it held from the priory, was granted in 1545 to John Hales, who had also acquired the hospital itself. (fn. 32) The estate, including Harnall Grange, remained in the hands of the Hales family until at least 1624, and was sold shortly afterwards to the Norton family. (fn. 33) The estate may have included the 'house at the end of the town, with a park' (possibly on the site of the former Harnall Grange) owned by Sir Thomas Norton, Bt., in the late 17th century, (fn. 34) but its later history has not been traced.


Harnall was first mentioned in the Combe Abbey charter and in the bounds of the Prior's Half of Coventry of the 12th century. (fn. 35) Most of Harnall was in the ancient Hasilwood, (fn. 36) and the northern part of the district was uncultivated waste in the 14th century. Harnall was one of the estates which it was determined in 1355 were not to be commonable by the citizens of Coventry but to be several to the priory. (fn. 37) The estate then included Gosfordfield and five other fields - Earlsmeadow, Harnall Waste, Bishop's Waste, Beechwaste, and the Beeches. Other fields were named in 1410-11, including Quarelfield, Ludlowfield, Labour, and a field and meadow called Combewell. (fn. 38)

The Combe Abbey charter mentions both ridges and furlongs, suggesting open-field cultivation, and 'new divisions' in the fields of Harnall. (fn. 39) Several estates had land in a field called Harnall or Great Harnall Field in the 16th century. (fn. 40) Most of the cultivated land in the 15th and 16th centuries, however, seems to have lain in separable crofts, (fn. 41) and there was no trace of open-field cultivation in the mid 19th century. (fn. 42)

There are indications that the Harnall fields, like others around the city, were used to feed stock for the Coventry market. A butcher had beasts on a pasture in Harnall in 1365, and there were 60 sheep and cattle in a field there in the early 16th century. (fn. 43)

Two localities, Prior's Harnall and Potters Harnall, were mentioned in the 14th century and later, but it is not clear whether both were hamlets. Field names and boundaries suggest that Prior's Harnall and the priory's demesne estate lay largely in the south and east of the district, near Swan's Lane, Gosford Street, and Spital Moor, and that Potters Harnall lay in the north. These two estates both included land in Stoke parish; the field called Labour in the hospital's estate, and Parson's Meadow in the priory's estate. Ludlowfield in the priory's estate was also sometimes said to be in Stoke. (fn. 44) It is possible that there was some connexion between the name Potters Harnall and the kilns in Stoke. (fn. 45)

In 1374 'the prior's quarry' was a landmark on the boundary of the city liberties, and in 1410-11 there was a great quarry near the priory's manor-house and another quarry near Stoke held by the Abbot of Combe. (fn. 46) There were extensive quarries on Primrose Hill in the mid 19th century. (fn. 47) Well Croft was mentioned in the 13th century (fn. 48) and a lane leading to the well in 1365, (fn. 49) and there was a well and conduit in Harnall Field in the 16th century. (fn. 50) It was probably this well which was utilized in 1632 for the construction of the Swanswell waterworks, in use until the mid 19th century. (fn. 51)

In 1610 there were houses outside the city wall along Dog Lane (also called Brickkiln Lane and later Leicester Street). (fn. 52) By 1837 several streets had been built between Dog Lane and Swanswell Terrace and the wall, and buildings, among them a brewery, had spread along the Foleshill road opposite the Coventry Canal basin. (fn. 53) In the south there were houses along Far Gosford Street as early as the 13th century. (fn. 54) Apart from these areas near the city, there were only a few scattered buildings in the district in the early 19th century. Primrose Hill House stood in the east of the area by the mid 18th century, and the house near Earl's Mill, which was called Spring Garden in 1837, (fn. 55) may have been in existence by 1807. (fn. 56) There were also farm buildings on Harnall Lane. (fn. 57)

The buildings below Swanswell Pool included the mill and Old Swanswell House. The latter, at one time a residence of some standing, had become an inn by the early 19th century, but later grew dilapidated and was occupied by a number of poor families. (fn. 58) It had an early- or mid-17th-century stone exterior which was of two stories on the side facing the pool, and three on the south side where the ground fell away. The building had projecting quoins and stone-mullioned windows, some of which were oriels. A two-storied porch on the north front was formerly surmounted by a pedimented gable with a weather vane. At the east end a tall brick addition had the appearance of an industrial building. This may have been part of the waterworks in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 59)

The suburban development of the district began with the laying out of eight streets east of Swanswell Pool at Hillfields in 1828; this was for a time called the New Town. (fn. 60) Other streets were cut further to the east on land bought in 1850, and houses were built along Harnall Lane. After 1848 an estate of rather better houses was built south of Swanswell Pool, the Old Swanswell House being demolished during the construction of White Street. (fn. 61) By 1837 roads and houses had appeared in the fields north of Far Gosford Street, (fn. 62) and in 1855 another estate was laid out in Spital Moor (Spitalmoors), joining these streets with those below Swanswell Pool. (fn. 63) Other estates were built between Foleshill Road and Stoney Stanton Road.

Much of the district had the features of 'mushroom' housing development. In 1849 the inspector from the General Board of Health described its bad drainage, sewerage, and roads: 'in wet weather the wheels literally sink in up to the naves, the ruts containing stagnant water and filth unfavourable to health'. (fn. 64) The estates were occupied by the industrial population of the city. At Hillfields, in particular, there was a concentration of ribbon weavers and many of the houses were built with top-shops to accommodate the looms of the cottage industry. In 1850 there were thirteen ribbon manufacturers, about 120 ribbon weavers with three or more looms, and five machinery makers in the district; there was also - a common feature of 19th-century Coventry - a horticultural nursery. (fn. 65) In 1858-9 one of the largest 'cottage factories' for ribbon weavers, consisting of 67 houses, was built in the triangle between Berry Street, Vernon Street, and Brook Street. (fn. 66)

Beside the Foleshill road in the extreme north of the area, inclosed by the northward loop of the Coventry Canal, were a few early Victorian middle-class houses in large gardens. The house occupied by George Eliot and her father between 1841 and the latter's death in 1849 was the most southerly of these, being one of a pair approached by carriage drives from the main road; (fn. 67) it was later known as Bird Grove and a late-19th-century south wing was added to it. (fn. 68) When the area was built up in the early 20th century the northern half of the pair was demolished and George Eliot Road was constructed immediately south of Bird Grove. In 1958 the house was converted into a chapel and social centre by the Mormon Church. (fn. 69)

One of the first modern churches in Coventry, St. Peter's, Harnall, was built in 1840-1 to meet the needs of the growing population. The vicarage, still standing in 1965, occupied a large garden near Primrose Hill House. St. Peter's was followed by St. Mark's, Bird Street, in 1869, and All Saints, Far Gosford Street, which was consecrated in the same year. A number of schools and nonconformist churches and chapels were built in the district in the 19th century, and the Coventry and Warwickshire Hospital was built north of Stoney Stanton Road in 1864. (fn. 70)

The north and east of Harnall were built up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By 1906 roads were being built on and around Primrose Hill, and the Coventry City football ground had been laid out between the hill and Swan Lane. Primrose Hill House itself, which had been a private school in 1850, was demolished and the Coronation Road baths, built on the site, were opened in 1913. (fn. 71) The garden, in which old quarry workings were incorporated, became a small park and recreation ground. There were ten factories in the area by 1889, and after the First World War others, the largest being the Singer works, were erected among the early Victorian streets of Hillfields. In the northeast, the Ordnance works had appeared by 1906, and was greatly enlarged before and during the First World War. Brett's Stamping Company was established in Harnall Lane in 1897, and two housing estates built between Harnall Lane and the canal before 1906. The last area of open land in the district, around Primrose Hill Farm on Harnall Lane, was occupied by houses immediately before the First World War. A small area of allotments left there was later occupied by an extension of the corporation's bus depot. (fn. 72) The district was extensively damaged by bombing in the Second World War, and much of it is being rebuilt by the corporation as a comprehensive redevelopment area. The old street pattern in the west of the area is largely obliterated by the construction of the new Inner Ring Road.

The name Harnall was seldom used for the district after the building of the first housing estates. Of the streets which took the name, the part of Harnall Street off Far Gosford Street which survived 19thcentury rebuilding became Harnall Row, Harnall Place became West Street, and another Harnall Street (running north from Primrose Hill Street) (fn. 73) became Back Street and then Cross Street. The name survives in the municipal ward, which occupies only part of the district, and in Harnall Row and Harnall Lane.


Radford, formerly a hamlet of Holy Trinity parish, lay north-west of the city, beyond Bishop Gate, along Radford Road, a medieval highway and later turnpike. The Radford Brook runs south under Radford Road, enters the city at the site of the former Hill Mill, and joins the River Sherbourne. The ancient hamlet lay along the road on both sides of the brook. The south-east of the district is crossed by the railway from Coventry to Nuneaton, with sidings at the Daimler factory and a branch line to the Ordnance works in Harnall, and the extreme east by the Coventry Canal. The district has been covered almost entirely by housing estates during the 20th century.

The eastern half of Radford seems to have lain within the Prior's Half since Hill Mill and Radford Mill on the Radford Brook were landmarks on the boundary between the Prior's Half and the Earl's Half in the mid 12th century. (fn. 74) Radford lay beyond the area of the city liberties which was defined in the late 14th century. (fn. 75) It was included in the county of the city in 1451, and after this had been dissolved in 1842 it remained in the rural area outside the new municipal borough of Coventry until the first boundary extension in 1890. (fn. 76)


In 1279 two estates in Radford were held of Roger de Montalt, by Thomas de Ardern and Coventry Priory. Thomas had seven and the priory six tenants, some of these having under-tenants. There was considerable complexity in the tenurial arrangements: Robert de Chilton, for instance, had three holdings as an undertenant on the priory's estate, and two on Ardern's estate. (fn. 77)

Throughout the 14th century the priory acquired further lands, forming part of the endowment of chantries, (fn. 78) so that by 1410-11 the priory had some twenty tenants in Radford, holding of the cellarer and the pittancer, with sixteen cottages and other land. (fn. 79)

Shortly after 1279 Robert de Ardern granted his land there to Guy de Tilebrook, from whom it was purchased by Robert de Stoke. (fn. 80) Some of this land came into the possession of the priory, but the residue descended with the manor of Stoke until the 16th century when Stoke was bought by Coventry corporation as trustee of Bond's Hospital. (fn. 81) There were other freehold estates in Radford in the 14th and 15th centuries (fn. 82) and the corporation had land there by 1480. (fn. 83)

In 1542 part of the priory's estates in Radford was granted to Richard Andrewes and Leonard Chamberlain. (fn. 84) A second grant of former priory land was made to Coventry corporation in the same year (fn. 85) which in 1551 was included in the endowment of Sir Thomas White's Charity. This was a substantial holding which amounted to some 118 acres in 1833. (fn. 86) No other comparable estate was formed in Radford, but a number of charitable trusts were endowed with small pieces of property there in the mid 16th century. These were Bond's Hospital, which held about 8½ acres besides the chief rents due out of the manor of Stoke, (fn. 87) Swillington's Charity (c. 30 a.), (fn. 88) Bablake Boys' Hospital (c. 14 a.), (fn. 89) and Cockesonne's Charity, founded in 1566. (fn. 90) Holy Trinity Church also held land in Radford. (fn. 91) Most of these holdings remained undisturbed into the mid 19th century. (fn. 92)


Radford anciently included Whitmore Park, but by the early 18th century the two were for most purposes distinct. (fn. 93) In the early 15th century Radford was bounded on the north by the fence of the park, and on the east by a stretch of the Endemere (the Springfield Brook) as far as Ounetsford, probably the later Honeyford. On the south the boundary crossed Sandy Lane and St. Nicholas Street immediately north of St. Nicholas's Church, and ran to a cross on Radford Road and thence to Hill Mill meadow. On the south and west the boundary followed lanes and fieldboundaries roughly along the line of the later Barkers Butts Lane, to Scots Lane, along which it ran to Radford Road and the south-west corner of the park. (fn. 94) Radford Road may have been the road through Keresley to Astley mentioned in the 12th century, (fn. 95) and was the highway to Coundon of the 15th century. (fn. 96) The road was maintained as a causeway by Coventry corporation in the 17th century. (fn. 97) As the road from Coventry to Whitacre, it was turnpiked in 1761-2, and there was a toll-gate just south of the village. (fn. 98) The stone cross on the city boundary was mentioned in 1410-11. (fn. 99)

References to virgates and selions suggest that there were some open fields in Radford in the early 15th century, but most of the land seems to have been held in separable fields, and there was no trace of open-field arrangements in the 16th century. (fn. 100) The acquisition of the three parts of Barkersfield by the priory may be an instance of consolidation and inclosure. (fn. 101) The anciently inclosed fields of the priory in Radford were among those determined to be several to the priory in 1355; (fn. 102) most of the Radford fields were until 1860, however, Lammas lands commonable by the citizens of Coventry. (fn. 103) Many of the medieval field-names, such as Ashmore, Priorsfield, Crampers Field, Steeplefield, Chiltern Leys, Bateman's Acre, Holloway Field and Thistley Field, have been used for modern streets. The headlands of Barkersfield gave their name to Barkers Butts Lane. (fn. 104) Radford Green was mentioned in the early 17th century; the piece called Radford Common was allotted to the corporation when Radford Green and the strips of common land along Radford Road were inclosed in 1875. (fn. 105)

The medieval quarry (fn. 106) was probably the quarry called Stoneydelph which was in the possession of Holy Trinity Church by 1545. (fn. 107) In the 18th century the quarry was apparently disused and was called a croft; (fn. 108) Quarry Close lay between Radford Road and St. Nicholas Street, and just south of the railway, in the late 19th century. (fn. 109) Sandy Lane was formerly Sandpit Lane, but there is no other evidence of sand-working there. (fn. 110) There was a kiln in Radford in the 16th century. (fn. 111)

In 1410-11 a water-pipe ran from a moor in Radford south of Radford Mill to the priory's property in Coventry. (fn. 112) It may have been this supply which was used in 1675 by the King family, brewers and prominent citizens of Coventry, who laid lead pipes from a well near the later Grapes Inn to a trough in King Street and to malt-houses in Well Street. (fn. 113)

There was no manor-house in Radford. The only house mentioned individually in Radford before the 19th century was The Porched House on the estate of Cockesonne's Charity. (fn. 114) Radford House, near Radford Common, appears only in the 19th century. (fn. 115) It was converted into the Radford House Hotel about 1929. (fn. 116) There was an inn called 'The Globe' in Radford in 1758. (fn. 117)

Radford had become one of the weaving districts of suburban Coventry by the early 19th century. In 1831 about half the men were employed in manufacturing, (fn. 118) and in 1838 it was estimated that twothirds of the population were weavers and the remainder agricultural labourers. A depressing picture of conditions in the village was given at that time by the superintendent of the Sunday school run by West Orchard Chapel who spoke of 'recovering these most industrious though degraded classes of society from that state of moral degradation into which they have been plunged by the iron hand of tyranny and oppression'. The Sunday school had until recently provided the only 'moral or religious instruction' in the village, but some Wesleyan Methodists had then begun to use a room in the Sunday school for preaching. (fn. 119)

As an industrial suburb distinct from, but close to, the city, Radford became for a time a centre of popular political activity. In 1802 one of the rival parties in the Coventry election held meetings at Radford and Keresley, and in a mock election 'chaired' Thomas Sammons of Radford, a cobbler and parish pauper. 'Cobbler Sammons' became a fictitious character in local politics. In a mock election address from 'my castle of Radford' a writer using the name ironically promised not only 'to make the working man dissatisfied with his employer, but to put away by hanging or drowning every half-pay apprentice at present employed'. (fn. 120)

Between 1841 and 1851 the population rose from 251 to 604, (fn. 121) a rise attributed to the introduction of plush weaving in the district about 1844. (fn. 122) The ribbon-weaving factory of J. & J. Cash was built by the side of the Coventry Canal at Kingfield in the east of the district in 1857. This building was designed on the 'cottage-factory' system and included two terraces of three-storied houses at right angles to one another, each house having a workshop on the top floor to contain power-operated looms. Most of the cottages, for many years considered models of their kind, were still occupied in 1965, though the factory itself was largely housed in new buildings. (fn. 123)

Development in the first half of the 19th century was confined to the area of the ancient village along the main road. Several groups and terraces of redbrick cottages of this period still survived in 1965, although many of them were empty and derelict. They included houses on the south-west side of the main road at the old village centre, three weavers' dwellings with top-shops in Villa Road, and, opposite Radford Common, Bambury's Buildings and Summer Row. In contrast the high ground in the south-east, between Radford and Coventry, became in the 19th century an area of large residences in spacious gardens. One of these was Rosehill, which stood between Radford Road and St. Nicholas Street, on a site now occupied by the Coventry Coachmakers' Club. (fn. 124) Rosehill, as the home of Charles Bray, was a centre of intellectual life in Coventry in the mid 19th century. (fn. 125)

For some years after 1849 Coventry Races were held on fields in the south of Radford between the village and the Allesley road, (fn. 126) and at the end of the century there was a rifle-range in the fields northeast of the village. The corporation built a sewage tank in the south, and a reservoir in the north, and established many allotments in the district. (fn. 127) The first streets of smaller suburban houses had appeared south of Cash's factory by 1906. The Daimler Motor Company was established in 1896 (fn. 128) in a disused cotton factory standing between St. Nicholas Street, Sandy Lane, and the Coventry Canal. The company built a new factory on a site immediately to the west of the railway before the First World War, and greatly extended it during and after the war. There was for a short time an airfield west of the factory. (fn. 129) More suburban streets were at the same time built south of the Daimler factory, and new streets in the village itself were being built at the beginning of the First World War. (fn. 130)

In 1920 most of the district still consisted of agricultural land. The corporation decided to build its Radford housing estate there in 1924. (fn. 131) A new main road, Moseley Avenue, was constructed between Radford Road and Holyhead Road, and a complex of streets laid out on both sides of it, and to the north on the Hill Farm estate. By 1927 there were 1,000 houses built by the corporation and 625 by private builders. (fn. 132) The district had been completely built up by the Second World War, the only remaining open areas being playing fields and allotments.


Whitmore Park, once in Radford, lies about a mile north of the city, and formed a salient of Holy Trinity parish stretching northwards between Keresley and Foleshill. Two streams from the high ground in Keresley cross the area of the former park from west to east; the Hall or Hol Brook in the north joins the River Sowe in Foleshill, and the Springfield Brook in the south joins the River Sherbourne below Swanswell Pool. Lockhurst Lane, which formed the eastern boundary of the park, probably takes its name from the Roger Locard who held land in Radford and Whitmore in the 13th century. (fn. 133) The south-east corner of the former park is crossed by the railway from Coventry to Nuneaton, and there are sidings near the British Piston Ring factory. The whole area is now (1964) covered with factories and modern housing estates.

The Prior's Half seems to have extended northwards from Radford into Whitmore since its boundary in the mid 12th century ran among the lands of Robert Scot, Robert Beaufitz, and Anketil Locard (see below). (fn. 134) Whitmore Park was not mentioned by name in either of the charters creating the county of the city in 1451, but was presumably included in it with Radford of which it was then reckoned to be a part. (fn. 135) After the county of the city had been dissolved in 1842 Whitmore Park remained outside the municipal borough of Coventry in the rural area which in 1894 was formed into the civil parish of Holy Trinity Without in Coventry Rural District. This area was finally taken into the city in the boundary extension of 1928. (fn. 136)


Lands of Robert Scot, Robert Beaufitz, and Anketil Locard, and the field called Blakemore, in the district afterwards known as Whitmore, were mentioned in the 12th century. (fn. 137) In the 13th century Whitmore was an area of arable and waste in the north of Radford in the hands of a number of freeholders, among them Coventry Priory, Combe Abbey, and Geoffrey de Langley. (fn. 138) It was not separately described in 1279 and was presumably included in the Radford holdings. The priory made regular purchases of land there in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 139)

In 1332 the priory obtained a licence to empark 436 acres of wood and waste, and added it to its earlier acquisitions to form the manor and park of Whitmore, possibly in imitation of Cheylesmore Park south of the city. (fn. 140) A small part of the park lay in Hasilwood and so in Foleshill parish, but the greater part was determined to be several to the priory by the agreement of 1355. (fn. 141) It was administered as an independent unit in 1410-11, although still said to be in Radford, but the positions were reversed by 1538-9 when the priory's property in Radford was described as part of Whitmore. (fn. 142) There were two houses, those which had been Roger Locard's and Henry Beaufitz's, and a lodge in the park in 1410-11. Although used for hunting much of the land remained arable. The park was elaborately ditched and fenced, (fn. 143) but the citizens of Coventry frequently trespassed there in the 15th century. (fn. 144)

The grange or manor of Whitmore was leased for 21 years by the Crown to Michael Cameswell, possibly a relation of the last prior, in 1539. (fn. 145) The reversion was granted to Sir Ralph Sadler in 1547, (fn. 146) and he in the same year granted it to John Hales. (fn. 147) The rent to the Crown at that time included a payment for the tithes. (fn. 148) At his death in 1572 John Hales devised Whitmore to his nephew John Hales, (fn. 149) and in 1586 the second John built 'a very fair house' called New House there. (fn. 150)

New House was sold in the early 17th century to Sir Richard Burnaby. It passed through the hands of a Mr. Cooke, of Sir Christopher Yelverton, who was the owner of it in 1640, and of George Bohun, and by 1730 had descended to Gilbert Clarke, husband of Bohun's daughter, Susan. (fn. 151) The house built by John Hales in 1586 was a stone mansion with a long front flanked by polygonal domed turrets. In the centre was a two-storied porch surmounted by a curvilinear gable; there were similar gables to the dormer windows behind a balustraded parapet. At the back of this range an additional wing was built about 1700. The house was demolished in 1778 and another erected on the site; in the early 19th century this was owned and occupied by a Mr. Smith. (fn. 152)

The manor of Whitmore was retained by the Hales family until 1720, when it was sold to John Montagu, Duke of Montagu. Montagu sold it to Richard Hill in 1722, and it was held by the Hill family until sold by them in 1806; it was later acquired by a Mr. Lee. (fn. 153)

The principal estate in the middle of the 19th century was that of Edward Phillips, who held Whitmore Hall (possibly the rebuilt New Hall) and 148 acres of land. (fn. 154) Other estates in 1846 were those of R. H. Lamb (175 a.), Thomas Sheepshanks (116 a.), and John Hollick (99 a.). (fn. 155) Miss Phillips was still living in Whitmore Hall in 1875. (fn. 156) The four groups of farm buildings in the park in 1887 correspond with the holdings of Phillips in the north-west, Lamb in the west, Hollick in the east, and Sheepshanks in the north-east. (fn. 157)

During and immediately after the First World War a number of factories, hostels for factory workers, and a corporation housing estate were built in the east of the park. The largest factory was that of the Dunlop Rim and Wheel Company, on the site of Hollick's farm, which employed 1,400 workers in 1933. (fn. 158) In 1950 there were in addition to two Dunlop factories, the factories of the Albion Drop Forgings Company, the Brett Patent Lifter Company, the British Piston Ring Company, Motor Panels, Unbrako, and timber, felt, and upholstery works. (fn. 159) The remainder of the park was occupied by housing after the Second World War, notably by Monks Park, a large corporation estate of 335 dwellings which was awarded a housing medal by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. (fn. 160) It consists of two-storied terraced houses built round a series of square greens or closes.


  • 1. See E 164/21 ff. 62-62v and passim.
  • 2. Cal. Chart R. 1341-1417, 101; E 164/21 f. 62v.
  • 3. E 164/21 f. 62v.
  • 4. Cal. Chart R. 1341-1417, 101.
  • 5. Ibid.; see p. 2.
  • 6. Cal. Chart R. 1341-1417, 242; see p. 72.
  • 7. See pp. 3-4.
  • 8. E 164/15 f. 51.
  • 9. B.M. Cott. MS. Vit. A. i, f. 160.
  • 10. See A. 120, s.v. boxes 25, 74; C. 45, 53, 60, 79, 141;C.R.O., Cal. Gregory-Hood deeds, no. 23; Warws. Ft. ofFines, iii, pp. 10-11; see also corpn. deeds.
  • 11. Cal. Papal Regs. i. 84-85.
  • 12. Warws. Ft. of Fines, i, pp. 65, 93.
  • 13. Cal. Pat. 1367-70, 255; E 164/21 ff. 119v-120v; seealso C. 60, and corpn. deeds.
  • 14. E 164/21 ff. 62-63.
  • 15. Cal. Pat. 1327-30, 395; Sharp, Cov. 155; W. G.Fretton, 'Hosp. of St John Bapt., Cov.' T.B.A.S. (1886),33-34.
  • 16. E 164/21 f. 178.
  • 17. T.B.A.S. (1886), 36-38, 39; Leet Bk. 190.
  • 18. A. 219.
  • 19. Ibid.; A. 83; C. 79, 92, 128.
  • 20. Acct. of Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 26; 28th Rep.Com. Char. 134, 139, 141; see pp. 97-98.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 50.
  • 22. A. 120, s.v. box 151.
  • 23. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 321; Bailiffs' Accts. Warws.63.
  • 24. Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 134, 136.
  • 25. A. 120, s.v. box 151; ex inf. Miss D. A. Leech.
  • 26. Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 140; 28th Rep. Com.Char. 180-1; F. B. Burbidge, Old Cov. and Lady Godiva,185, 201; see pp. 195, 293.
  • 27. B.R.L., Aylesford Coll., 'Seats, Castles, etc.' 364, 366.For a descrip., see p. 73.
  • 28. 28th Rep. Com. Char. 185.
  • 29. Poole, Cov. 397-8; ex inf. Miss Leech; see pp. 27, 32,195.
  • 30. A. 14(g), 220, 222.
  • 31. Tithe Redemption Com., Holy Trinity Tithe Award,1846.
  • 32. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (1), p. 666.
  • 33. C 142/432/127; ex inf. Miss Leech.
  • 34. T. W. Whitley, Parl. Reptn. of Cov. 111; for Norton,see G.E.C. Baronetage, iii. 223.
  • 35. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 101; B.M. Cott. MS. Vit.A. i, f. 160.
  • 36. Leet Bk. 11; E 164/21 f. 52v.
  • 37. E 164/21 f. 53v.
  • 38. E 164/21 ff. 62-63.
  • 39. B.M. Cott. MS. Vit. A. i, f. 160.
  • 40. A. 120, s.v. box 151; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (1), p.666; C 1/464/50.
  • 41. E 164/21 ff. 62-63, and passim; L. & P. Hen. VIII,xx (1), p. 666.
  • 42. Tithe Redemption Com., Holy Trinity Tithe Award,1846.
  • 43. S.C. 2/207/18; C 1/464/50.
  • 44. E 164/21 ff. 62-63, and passim.
  • 45. See p. 101.
  • 46. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 242; E 164/21 ff. 62-63.
  • 47. Marked as 'old quarries' on O.S. Map 6", Warws.XXI. SE. (1889 edn.); these were not shown in 1837 or1846.
  • 48. Corpn. deeds.
  • 49. S.C. 2/207/19
  • 50. Poole, Cov. 340.
  • 51. Ibid. 341; see pp. 72, 293.
  • 52. J. Speed, Ground Plot of Cov. (1610).
  • 53. C.L., map of Cov., 1837.
  • 54. Corpn. deeds.
  • 55. C.L., map of Cov., 1837: the neighbouring area wasknown as Spring Grove in the mid 19th cent.: Poole,Cov. 80, 345.
  • 56. T. Sharp, Map of Cov. (1807).
  • 57. Tithe Redemption Com., Holy Trinity Tithe Award,1846.
  • 58. Poole, Cov. 398.
  • 59. For views see Dr. Troughton's Sketches of Old Cov. pl.XXXIX; Poole, Cov. pl. facing p. 398; and this vol. pl.facing p. 88.
  • 60. Poole, Cov. 397, 411.
  • 61. Ibid. 397-8.
  • 62. C.L., map of Cov., 1837.
  • 63. Poole, Cov. 398, and see map of 1869 facingp. 424.
  • 64. Smith, Cov. 131, 134.
  • 65. Lascelles, Dir. Cov. (1850).
  • 66. J. M. Prest, Ind. Rev. in Cov. 102-3.
  • 67. O.S. Map 1/328 (1851) in C.L.; C.L., photographs;D.N.B.
  • 68. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1890, 1906 edns.).
  • 69. See p. 390.
  • 70. See pp. 286, 299, 319, 381.
  • 71. Lascelles, Dir. Cov. (1850); Spennell, Dir. Cov. (1911-1912); see p. 282.
  • 72. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Warws. XXI. 12 (1889 edn.); O.S.Maps 6", Warws. XXI. SE. (1890, 1906, 1919, 1926edns.) and XXI. NE. (1889, 1906, 1915, 1926 edns.).
  • 73. C.L., map of Cov., 1837.
  • 74. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 101; see pp. 193, 196.
  • 75. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 242.
  • 76. See pp. 3-4.
  • 77. 164/15 f. 39.
  • 78. E 164/21 ff. 50-51v, 101-120v; Warws. Ft. of Fines, iii,p. 63; Cal. Pat. 1361-4, 475-6; 1367-70, 255; B.R.L.,168237.
  • 79. E 164/21 ff. 1-2v, 41-43, 137v-139; the precise relationship between these three rentals cannot be established.
  • 80. A. 120, s.v. box 99.
  • 81. A. 219; 28th Rep. Com. Char. 147, 148; see pp. 97-98.
  • 82. A. 120, s.v. boxes 74, 137, 194; Warws. Ft. of Fines,iii, p. 110.
  • 83. Leet Bk. 453, 467.
  • 84. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 260; cf. Bailiffs' Accts.Warws. 63.
  • 85. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvii, p. 321.
  • 86. Acct. of Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 135-7, 138-9,201; 28th Rep. Com. Char. 179-80, 184.
  • 87. A. 120, s.v. box 42; 28th Rep. Com. Char. 134, 139,141, 147, 148.
  • 88. 28th Rep. Com. Char. 251-3; Loans, Benefactions, andChars. 110-12.
  • 89. 28th Rep. Com. Char. 149, 150, 151, 158, 159; Loans,Benefactions, and Chars. 34.
  • 90. A. 120, s.v. box 20; Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 56;28th Rep. Com. Char. 195-7.
  • 91. Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 193, 195, 196.
  • 92. Tithe Redemption Com., Holy Trinity Tithe Award,1846; 28th Rep. Com. Char. 281, 282, 285.
  • 93. See pp. 76-77.
  • 94. Leet Bk. 7-8; E 164/21 passim.
  • 95. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 104.
  • 96. E 164/21 ff. 1-1v.
  • 97. Smith, Cov. 153.
  • 98. A. Cossons, 'Warws. Turnpikes', T.B.A.S. lxiv. 90.
  • 99. Leet Bk. 7-8.
  • 100. E 164/21 ff. 1-2v and passim.
  • 101. Ibid. ff. 1-2v.
  • 102. Ibid. f. 54v.
  • 103. W.R.O., Cov. Inclosure Award, 1860.
  • 104. Leet Bk. 7-8, 576, 731; E 164/21 ff. 1-2v and passim.
  • 105. Smith, Cov. 153; W.R.O., Cov. Inclosure Award,1875.
  • 106. E 164/21 f. 138.
  • 107. C.R.O., Cal. Holy Trinity Church deeds, no. 72;Acct. of Loans, Benefactions, and Chars. 195.
  • 108. Cal. Holy Trinity Church deeds, no. 279.
  • 109. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1890 edn.).
  • 110. E 164/21 ff. 1-2v.
  • 111. A. 120, s.v. box 20.
  • 112. E 164/21 ff. 1-2v, 41v-43.
  • 113. C.L., Andrews's cuttings, iv; Poole, Cov. 341; see also28th Rep. Com. Char. 184, 253.
  • 114. 28th Rep. Com. Char. 196.
  • 115. Lascelles, Dir. Cov. (1850); see O.S. Map 6", Warws.XXI. NE. (1890 edn.).
  • 116. See P.J. Ltd., Dir. Cov. (1929).
  • 117. A. 14(g), 351.
  • 118. Census, 1831.
  • 119. Rep. Hand-Loom Weavers' Com. 123-5; see p. 393.
  • 120. T. W. Whitley, Parl. Reptn. of Cov. 230.
  • 121. Census, 1841, 1851.
  • 122. Lascelles, Dir. Cov. (1850).
  • 123. J. M. Prest, Ind. Rev. in Cov. 102-6; see also AlfredHerbert News, May-June 1958.
  • 124. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1890 edn.).
  • 125. See pp. 231-2.
  • 126. Poole, Cov. 401; White, Dir. Cov. (1850), 484.
  • 127. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1890, 1906 edns.).
  • 128. See p. 177.
  • 129. St. J. C. Nixon, Daimler, 1896-1946, 35, 138, with planon p. 36 and pl. LII; C.L., photograph 1 (970).
  • 130. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1915, 1926edns.).
  • 131. Alfred Herbert News, Sept.-Oct. 1954.
  • 132. A. 287.
  • 133. See note by M. D. Harris in Cal. Holy Trinity Churchdeeds (C.R.O.).
  • 134. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 101.
  • 135. E 164/21 f. 3.
  • 136. Census, 1901, 1931; see p. 4.
  • 137. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 101.
  • 138. B.M. Cott. MS. Vit. A. i, f. 144; B.M. Harl. MS. 7,ff. 98-98v, 165-165v.
  • 139. E 164/21 f. 3 and passim; see also corpn. deeds.
  • 140. Cal. Pat. 1330-4, 361.
  • 141. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3737 mm. 296-306.
  • 142. E 164/21 ff. 52v-53v.
  • 143. E 164/21 f. 3; Poole, Cov. 178, 207, 352.
  • 144. Leet Bk. 443-73 passim and especially 444, 445, 446,455, 458.
  • 145. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xv, p. 559; Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 257-8.
  • 146. Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 257-60.
  • 147. Ibid. 225.
  • 148. Bailiffs' Accts. Warws. 54, 64.
  • 149. C 142/163/9.
  • 150. Dugdale, Warws. 202.
  • 151. Ibid. 202-3.
  • 152. J. Britton, Arch. Antiquities of Gt. Britain, ii. 101, andpl. on facing page from a sketch of 1703.
  • 153. Ex inf. County Archivist, Salop. Co. Rec. Office, fromHill papers.
  • 154. Tithe Redemption Com., Holy Trinity Tithe Award,1846; W.R.O., Keresley Inclosure Award, 1848; WhiteDir. Warws (1850), 495.
  • 155. Holy Trinity Tithe Award, 1846.
  • 156. White, Dir. Warws. (1875).
  • 157. O.S. Map 6", Warws. XXI. NE. (1890 edn.).
  • 158. P.J. Ltd., Dir. Cov. (1929); Cov. Official Handbk.(1933).
  • 159. Dir. Cov. Manufacturers (1950); see also Barrett, Dir.Cov. (1955-6).
  • 160. Development and Redevelopment (1961), 33.