A BRIEF HISTORY OF ULLENHALL
Most of the area was once heavily wooded. The network of country lanes throughout the parish may have been medieval main routes. In this area the routes were formed by forest clearance and 5 tend to be winding with high earth banks . These lanes, along with tracks and paths, were to link a scattered settlement of greens, farmsteads and cottages.
Aerial photography has suggested that there may have been more houses at Deans Green, Blunts Green and Hall End, and so the Old Chapel may have once been quite centra1
The Old Chapel is a building of the late thirteenth century, and was the main place of worship for 600 years. Only the Chancel is standing today. In 1875 a new parish Church was built and the Old Chapel was said to be in a dilapidated state so that it was necessary to take down the nave.
Donations enabled the Chancel to be repaired as a Mortuary Chapel. The Chapel Yard was consecrated in 1835, before this time Ullenhall burials took place at the mother Church in Wootton Wawen.
Ullenhall was part of the ecclesiastical parish of Wootton Wawen, but became a separate ecclesiastical parish in 1861, incorporating Aspley, Forde Hall and Mockley.
However it was not until 1957 that Ullenhall became a separate civil parish, with its own elected Parish Council.
In the 1670s there was a population of approximately 2007 . During this century parishes had a duty to provide for their poor. It was the role of the Overseer of the poor, elected by the ratepayers annually at the Easter vestry meeting, to look after poor relief. They were under the general supervision and authority of the justices of the peace, who would hold Quarter Sessions to hear various offences and determine them. In 1650 William Alsop had been denied poor relief and his case was determined by the Justices of the Peace.
Easter 1650 – William Alsop of Ullenhall, 9d. per week – Upon the petition of William Alsop settingforth that he is a poor blind man offourscore years of age, his wife distracted, that he is reduced to extreme necessity and in danger ofperishingfor want of maintenance, that the inhabitants of Ullenhall in the parish of Wootton Wawen have withdrawn their charityfrom him upon pretence of a legacy of eight pounds bequeathed to him and his wife by a brother of the said William Alsop’s wife who lived in the county of Derby, which legacy is not yet received nor likely to be received without suit in law, which this court taking into consideration doth thinkfit and order that the overseers of the poor of the parish of Wootton Wawen aforesaid shall pay to the said William Alsop (for the relief of him and his wife) 9 pence per week weekly until he receive or recover the said legacy or this court order otherwise.(County of Warwick – Quarter Sessions Records Vol I – IX, published 1935-1956)
Situated in the Stratford-on-Avon District, in the county of Warwickshire, the present day parish boundary of Ullenhall stretches from the A34 Birmingham Road in the east, follows the outside edge of Henley Golf Course, incorporates Hunger Hill to the south, roughly follows the Redditch Road to the west, cuts across the Ullenhall Lane just above Heath Lodge, circles Mockley Wood, and then approximately follows the Tanworth Lane back to the A34. It consists of the village of Ullenhall, the hamlets of Deans Green and Blunts Green, and individual houses situated along the many country lanes.
Running through the Parish, at Deans Green, is an embankment known as the Hob Ditch Causeway. The name, Hob Ditch, appears on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map, 1831. Excavations in the area in the late 1960s revealed evidence of Romano-British occupation and the Hob Ditch Causeway is believed to be a Roman Road’.
Between 723 and 736 King AEthelbald of Mercia authorised AEthelric, king of the subject people of the Hwicce, to allocate twenty hides of agricultural land from his estate within a regio or territory, called Stoppingas, for the support of a monasterium or minster, at a place called wudu tun, on the banks of the River Alne. The mission-ground or parochia of this minster founded at Wootton Wawen probably extended to Ullenhall.
When William the Conqueror ordered the Domesday book to be compiled in 1086, Ullenhall had ‘land for 15 ploughs’, with six teams working. The population of 17 villagers and 11 smallholders were probably mainly occupied in pastoral farming. With their wives and families the total population may have been between 140 – 150. There was woodland measuring 1/2 league by 1 furlong. Previously held by Waga, a Saxon Thane, overlordship had passed to Robert de Stafford, a relative of William the Conqueror 3 . The descent of the manor of Ullenhall, as well as those of Aspley, Mockley, Forde Hall & Barrells, is well documented in the ‘Victoria County History’ for Warwickshire (Volume Ill, p212-215).
In 1730 Ullenhall is defined as a ‘liberty’, meaning a group of manors, with one, by the eighteenth century, holding a position of primacy and prestige. Thus the sub-manors of Aspley, Fordehall, Mockley, Crowleys, Barrells & Botley are referred to as ‘parts’ of Ullenhall.
Pauperism was a continual problem in the parish. In 1747 the cost of maintaining the poor in Ullenhall was �44 7s 101/4 d, and in 1820 it is estimated that around one quarter of the population of Ullenhall were paupers8. In 1834 the Poor Law Amendment Act made willingness to enter the Workhouse a test of relief and this lessened the use of out-door relief. The poor of Ullenhall would have had to enter the Workhouse at Stratford-on-Avon, and from the parish magazine we learn that on January 8 th 1891, Ann Astley of Ullenhall died at the Union Workhouse, Stratford-on-Avon, aged 42 years.
Ullenhall’s best-known inhabitant of the eighteenth century was Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough. Half-sister to viscount Bolingbroke, a minister in Queen Anne’s government, she married Robert Knight in 1727. Three years later he purchased Barrells from his second cousin Raleigh Knight. ‘Barrells’ had been in the possession of the Knight family since 1554. In 1681 it was called the Manor House and the residence, orchards and gardens covered a little more than one-and-a-half acres, the whole estate including the waste being 400 acres. When Robert Knight purchased Barrells in 1730 it had become a small country residence. At that time there were 86
families in the hamlet of Ullenhall which included Aspley, Mockley, Fordhall, Crowley & Botley
Henrietta Knight caused a society scandal when news broke of an alleged romance with a young man named Dalton, a tutor employed by her friend Lady Hertford, Duchess of Somerset. Whether anything improper did occur is the subject of debate but nevertheless she was ‘banished’ to Barrells in 1736 and lived there, separated from her husband, for the rest of her life.
Whilst living at Barrells she made improvements to the house and garden and became part of a local Literary Coterie which included Shenstone, Somerville, Jago and Richard Graves. There are a number of books that include details of Lady Luxborough’s life: – ‘The Warwickshire Coterie’, Colin Hey; ‘Henley-in-Arden’, Williarn Cooper; ‘The Knights of Barrells’, Arthur Carden; ‘Lady Luxborough goes to Bath’, Marjorie Williams.
Lady Luxborough died in 1756. Robert Knight, who was elevated to the Earl of Catherlough in 1770, is reputed to have had numerous affairs but spent the last years of his life living with Jane Davies, the daughter of his tenant of the Moat Farm in Ullenhall.
None of the buildings of Barrells that Lady Luxborough or the Earl of Catherlough would have known stand today. A fire in 1933 badly damaged that part and Barrells Hall has not been lived in since. What remains today, at the time of writing still a ruin, is the ‘Bonomi’ building.,
Although it seems that they never married, the eldest son of Lord Catherlough and Jane Davies, Robert Knight (b1768), inherited the Barrells estate and he doubled the size of the house by adding the elegant ‘Bonomi’ building.
On the death of this Robert Knight in 1855 there were two claimants to the Barrells estate Robert’s nephew, Charles Raleigh Knight, and Henry Charles Knight. Henry Charles Knight (b 1813) was the son of Robert’s wife Frances whom he had married in 1791, but despite having the ‘Knight’ name it appears that he was not Robert’s son and Robert did not want him to inherit the estate.
A compromise was agreed between the two claimants and in 1856 the Barrells Hall estate was put up for sale. The Rev H C Knight bought parts of it, but Barrells Hall itself and other parts of the estate were sold to Mr William Newton, a Birmingham merchant. The Newton family made additions and alterations to the Hall, including adding a servants’ wing which is also standing today.
In the mid-nineteenth century there were 461 inhabitants and 97 houses in Ullenhall Many people were farmers or agricultural labourers. Others were tradesmen. Residents included M. Godwin, blacksmith; William Cooke, shoe maker & shopkeeper; Richard Green, horse broker; George Podmore, brhs. and cooper; William Pugh, shoe maker; Benjamin Turner, tailor; W. Turner, tailor & fr; Alfred Winter, blacksmith & wheelwright; Williarn Cox, victualler & cattle dealer, Spur Inn . The Spur Inn, like many farms and cottages in the parish, was part of the Barrells Hall Estate, and therefore many people were tenants.
Other people were tenants of St Marks Charity. Dating from the 1680s, St Marks Charity was originally founded to help in the repairs to the chapel and to contribute to ‘levies, wars, musters and other common charges”‘. In 1865 St Marks Charity received income from the rent on ten cottages – two at Deans Green, four at the Old Chapel, & four in the village (the latter of which it still owns today – Crowleys Cottages next to the Village Hall & St Marks Cottages next to the Winged Spur) – and land at Deans Green and in the village.
Trustees managed the Charity, deciding who to let the Meeting of the Trustees of property to, what repairs to authorise, how to allocate the Charity monies & what to do if a tenant was in arrears. One of the tenants of the Old Chapel cottages in 1865 was tenants of Deans Green Abraham. Kelsey. At their annual meeting in April 1880 the Cottages; complained that Trustees resolved “that A. Kelsey be not ejected from his their Lavatory Pails were cottage tho’ greatly in arrears with his rent”. The following faulty. It was unanimously year it is reported that he was not ejected and died penniless. decided that Taylor being a According to the Parish Magazine, Abraharn Kelsey was new tenant should be buried on May 17’h 1880. He was reportedly 95, the oldest provided with a fresh Pail, inhabitant of the parish, and “cut off to a great extent, by his but that Enston would have extreme deafness, from communicating his thoughts to those to find his own. around”.
In the late nineteenth century four significant buildings were built in the parish by the Newton family – the Church of St Marys, the Vicarage, the School and the Coffee House.
In 1875 St Mary’s Church “was built to the glory of god and in memory of William & Mary Newton late of Barrells” by their three sons and two daughters. It was opened for divine service on January 5th 1875, and was consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Worcester on Tuesday 18 h May 1875. The parish school children were given a holiday to mark the occasion. The Choir children attended the Consecration Service, whilst the others were marched up to the Church to see the procession enter and then quietly dispersed to their own homes. After the consecration service, the visitors, farmers, and principal inhabitants of the parish & neighbourhood were entertained to luncheon by THG Newton in a marquee at Barrells.
As they stood at the door of the Church and looked to the left, a short distance over the field, those attending the Consecration service would have seen the newly built Vicarage. The vicar, Rev George, moved into it in May 1875, and it remained the home of successive vicars of Ullenhall for nearly 100 years. In 1972 when the then vicar of Ullenhall, Rev James Worsley, left the parish, the ecclesiastical parish of Ullenhall was united with that of Henley & Beaudesert, and the Rector of Henley also became the Vicar of Ullenhall. The Vicarage, being no longer needed, was sold, demolished and replaced by two houses.
Along the village street, at the end of the Vicarage drive and almost opposite the pub, the village schoolroom and adjoining teacher’s house were built in 1876. There had been some form of teaching in the parish for at least 100 years, and by 1855, a room at Barrells Hall was being used as the village schoolroom. School began in the new schoolroom on September 1 lth 1876, although it is interesting to note that many of the children were absent as they were still helping with the harvest.
The Coffee House opened in April 1883. Two upstairs rooms had beds in them to let to ‘respectable gentlemen’. A room downstairs was set aside for the ‘all-day sale’ of tea, coffee, cocoa, lemonade, ginger beer, meat, eggs, biscuits, bread, cheese etc. Another room housed the Village Club’. This had been formed in 1880, and was originally housed in a room at Park Barn. Members could buy coffee, cocoa & biscuits; play games such as bagatelle, chess, draughts, dominoes, etc; and read the newspapers that were provided. The Village Club also arranged excursions.
July 14th 1892 – The twenty-six members of the Village Excursion decided again, as last year, on a trip to Portsmouth. For the railway journey Mr A. Daniel secured a saloon carriage which left Knowle soon after 2 a.m. and only stopping at Leamington, Oxford, and Basingstoke, reached Portsmouth in 4 1/2 hours. The Victory was at once visited and the places pointed out where Nelson fell and died. The dockyard, which opened at ten was found full of interest. The Malabar, which takes 2000 in crew and troops; the black torpedo boats, which for their size are so deadly in naval warfare; the convicts working in gangs under supervision, showing the punishment and folly of crime, were in turn pointed out. The party then divided, some going by steamer the 62 miles round the Isle of Wight in 5 1/2 hours, and obtaining good views of Osborne, Yarmouth, the Needles, Ventnor, and Ryde, while others satisfied themselves with the crossing to Ryde. Southsea and its lively beach were afterwards visited by all. The return journey home was soon afterwards made. Portsmouth was left at 8.15, and Knowle reached at 20 minutes before 1 o’clock. (Ullenhall Parish Magazine August 1892).
In 1891 126 houses were recorded in Ullenhall and Aspley of which 115 were returned as inhabited. The population was 508. One hundred years later in 1991 the population of Ullenhall had increased to 612.
In 1924 Hugh G. Newton, the owner of Barrells died, and the estate was put up for sale. This had quite an impact on house and land ownership in the parish as the Estate included many houses such as the three Perry Mill Cottages, Mount Pleasant Farm, The Brook House, Crowley’s Farm, The Winged Spur, and several cottages.
Development also took place in the parish. Either new houses were built or old houses were replaced with newer ones. In the 1920s four council houses were built on the right hand side of Church Hill, with a further twelve opposite in the 1930s. The latter were knocked down and replaced by 10 new council houses and two OAP bungalows in 1973 – St Marys Close. The council housing at St. Marks Close was built in 1949 on land which St Marks Charity sold to the Rural District Council. Since the 1980s a number of these have become private houses. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s private houses and bungalows were built along the main street & Henley Road.