Members have carried out a number of research projects since 1997. Earlier projects by Warmington Women’s Institute will also be available to view.
The foundations of the Priory buildings were discovered in 1957 when Southam Rural District Council built twelve houses in Court Close. The foundations of the buildings were used as the footings for the new houses.
The Priory was built soon after the Domesday Book was written in 1086. At that time Arlescote had already been given by its Norman owner to the Abbey of Preaux in Normandy. The manor of Warmington was soon to follow. Warmington and Arlescote remained monastic property, with one short break, until the Dissolution of religious houses in 1534.
A small part of Horley, an Oxfordshire parish adjoining Warmington across the Sor Brook, also belonged to the Abbey of Preaux (see the Victoria County History, Oxfordshire).
Here is William Dugdale’s account of Warmington Priory in his Antiquities of Warwickshire, published in 1656.
Extract from Dugdale’s Antiquities of Warwickshire (Published 1656)
The lands which the Earl (of Mellent) had in Warwickshire came to Henry de Newburgh Earl of Warwick (his brother) which Henry gave it wholy, excepting the hamlets belonging thereto, to the monks of Preaux, in Normandy; who built a Cell here, and sent over part of their Covent to reside therein, and to be subordinate to their house of Preaux; of which Cell the said Earl Henry is reputed to have been founder: which Religious House stood about the midst of the town, as the Inhabitants, by tradition, do affirm.
This grant so made to Preaux by Earl Henry, was in Edward I time confirmed by William de Beauchamp then Earl of Warwick, it being then found that there were 20 tenants here, that held their lands by a servile tenure; viz. each one providing a labourer one day every week, for the lord’s employment, or to give 1d. ob for every day in the week, which would amount to 10d and so in the year to 43s 4d. And that every one of them should plough for the Lord thrice in the year, or give 10s per annum, and mow his meadowing, or give 40d.
As also that every yardland should find two men for three days in Harvest, or give for every day instead of a man 2d which comes to 30s in the year: that they should carry the Lord’s Hay, or give 40d. That each man should perform one day’s carriage in harvest or give 40d. That they should make the Lord’s Hay, or give 10d. Rake his corn, or give 10d. Harrow each of them one day with a single horse, or give 10d. And lastly, carry once in the year at Warwick or give 40d. Howbeit afterwards I find, that this whole town paid only a mark per annum to the Earls of Warwick at two terms, viz Candlemass and Whitsuntide for all services.
But this manor so belonging to Preaux grew afterwards reputed to be parcel of the possessions pertaining to the Priory of Toftes in Norfolk (which religious house was founded by those foreign monks after they had the grant of the manor of Toftes by Robert Earl of Mellent before mentioned) the monks here being either recalled into Normandy, or transmitted to Toftes: and upon the seizure of those lands which the Priors Alien had in England (whereof in Wolston I have fully spoke) was in 33 Edward III committed to the custody of John de Herdewyk: howbeit afterwards, the king allowing some favour to the monks of those cells, the prior of Tofts had permission to farm it; who, whilst he was tenant thereto, made much waste here, by falling 200 ashes, prized then at £20 the yearly value thereof being about that time rated at £29 11s 6d per annum.
Certain it is, that the frequent seizures of such lands, by reason of the wars with France, made those foreign monks willing enough to sell their interest in them, during those troubles at least; as well to diverse lay persons, as unto some religious houses in England about this time: amongst which this manor of Warmington, as also that of Toftes, with some others, was by those monks of Preaux granted to Lewis Clifford for life, with remainder to Lewis his son for life also upon a certain rent reserved to the king during the continuance of those wars. After which, in 6 Henry IV, the king by his letters patent, dated 15th March, granted the said Priory of Toftes, with the manor of Toftes and this of Warmington thereunto belonging, to Thomas Erpyngham and John Heylles Clerk, for the life of the said Thomas: which Thomas and John passed away all their right therein to the Carthusian Monks at Wytham, in Selewood in the county of Somerset first Henry V who not only had the king’s confirmation thereupon, but his grant, to hold them after the decease of the said Thomas, during the time that the wars should last with France: as also licensed to purchase from the said monks of Preaux all the right and title that they had therein: howbeit such was the poverty of those monks of Wytham, that they were not able to go through with the bargain, before the Parliament held at Leicester in 2nd year Henry V wherein there was an Act of Reassumption made, for seizing all the lands and possessions of the priors alien into the king’s hand to be possessed by him, his heirs and successors forever. Which his son (viz King Henry VI being a pious prince) considering, and no whit inclining to convert that to lay uses, which had been formerly dedicated to God’s service…………………not only remitted to the said monks of Wytham all the arrears of that annual rent reserved to the crown for this and the other manors they so settled; but, without reservations of any further payment at all, granted them to that monastery of Wytham to hold and enjoy till he should make a revocation of his patent: and in 19th year of his reign, by his patent dated at Westminster 28th November wherein he recited his former grant out of a most devout affection to the said house of Wytham, as being the first of that strict and holy rule that had been founded in this kingdom; and to the intent that the monks there, serving God, should more especially pray for the souls of his Royal progenitors; as also for his own soul after his departure out of this life, gave unto them and their successors this manor of Warmington with that of Toftes and some other, to hold and enjoy forever in pure almes: But that patent being judged invalid after Edward IV had got the crown, the said monks of Wytham obtained a new grant of them, which bears date at Westminster 20th July (1461), and held it accordingly until the general dissolution of the religious houses by King Henry VIII whereupon coming to the crown it was 27th January 35 Henry VIII granted unto William Sheldon and Francis Sheldon gentleman and their heirs.
This little hamlet standing under Edgehill…..was in the Conqueror’s days possessed by the Earl of Mellent and at the time of the general survey contained five hides and three virgates; which five hides were then certified to belong unto the monks of Preaux in Normandy and valued at £3.
…….I find that Robert Wandard had to do here, in King John’s time…….Betwixt which Robert and the Abbort of Preaux, in Normandy, there was a fine levied in 5 Henry III touching the advowson of this church; whereby it being settled upon the said Robert, he granted a yearly pension of 10s to the church of Warmington of the patronage of the said Abbot, to be forever received of the parson’s encumbant there……….