Kenilworth in 1940 Kelly's Directory
Kenilworth, in Domesday "Chinewrde," or more properly "Chineworth," is a town, parish and head of a petty sessional division, pleasantly seated in the road from Coventry to Warwick, with a station on the North Western section of the London, Midland and Scottish railway from Coventry to Leamington, 5 miles north from Warwick, 5 north from Leamington, the same distance south from Coventry, and 99 from London, in the Warwick and Leamington division of the county, Kenilworth division of Knightlow hundred, county court district of Warwick, in the rural deanery of Kenilworth and archdeaconry and diocese of Coventry. The town was formerly governed by a Local Board, constituted in 1877, but under the provisions of the Local Government Act, 1894 [56 and 57 Vict. cap. 73], an Urban District Council was established.
Kenilworth is lighted with gas by the Coventry Corporation, and with electricity; water is supplied by the Urban District Council, who obtain their supply from deep bore wells. The loop line of the North Western section of the London, Midland and Scottish railway, connecting this place with Berkswell, was opened in June, 1884.
The north part of Kenilworth, anciently called "Optone" [Uptown], and now "Hightown," together with the rest of the village, formed, at the time of the Survey, a portion of the King's. manor of Stoneley, and had within its precincts a castle, which was demolished in the wars between Edmund and Canute. In the time of Henry I. the town was granted to Geoffry de Clinton, a Norman, whom the king, in. 1123, made chamberlain and treasurer, and afterwards advanced him to be a Justice of the realm.
The Augustinian monastery of Kenilworth, founded by him in or about the year 1122, was at first a priory, but was raised to the dignity of an abbey before the Dissolution, when its possessions were valued at £643 14s. 9½d. yearly : it sustained much damage and loss during the siege of the castle by Henry III. but from its numerous and valuable endowments remained a wealthy community until its surrender by Abbot Jekys, 15th April, 1524, after an existence of 430 years. Dugdale records that a very great bell, made by Prior Kedermynstre, temp. Henry was removed to the parish church, where, at that date , it was still hanging.
The famous castle of Kenilworth was also built by this same Geoffry de Clinton, although his descendants did not long hold it, for Henry de Clinton, his grandson, released to King John all his rights in the same, and it remained a royal residence until Henry III, in 1253-4 granted it to Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who, being slain at Evesham, 4th August, 1265, it descended to his son Simon, and sustained a vigorous siege from the king's forces in November and December of the year following, and being at length delivered up, was bestowed by Henry III. on his son Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, created Earl of Leicester after Montfort's death.
Here, in January, 1327, Edward II. received the tidings of his deposition shortly before his final removal to Berkeley, in Gloucestershire; the castle was then restored to the Lancasters, and formed part of the possessions of the celebrated John of Gaunt, who began the erection of all the ancient buildings whose ruins now remain, except Caesar's tower, with the outer walls and turrets, towards the end of the reign of Richard II. his son, afterwards Henry IV. becoming king on the death of Richard II. it again reverted to the Crown, and so continued till Queen Elizabeth, on June 9th, 1562, granted it to Lord Robert Dudley, created in the next year Earl of Leicester.
In July, 1575, after great and costly preparations, the Earl of Leicester entertained the Queen for 17 days with a "variety of delightful shewes," at a cost of £60,000, and Dugdale quaintly estimates the expenditure by the amount of beer consumed, which, he says, amounted to not less than 320 hogsheads; Elizabeth had, however, on two previous occasions visited Kenilworth, in 1566 and 1568, but with less ceremony and expense.
The Earl died at Cornbury, Oxon, 4th September, 1588, leaving by his second wife, the Lady Dauglas Sheffield, one surviving son, Sir Robert Dudley of Kenilworth, known in Florentine history as "Il duca di Nortombria,' and born in 1573, to whom Prince Henry, eldest son of James I. made overtures for the purchase of Kenilworth and the land belonging thereto, at the sum of £14,500, which was agreed on in 1611, but the Prince dying, his brother, as heir, retained the property, though no part of the price ever reached Dudley's hands: he afterwards established himself at the court of Cosmo, Duke of Tuscany, and there wrote several remarkable works, of which the most famous is the "Arcano del Mare," a book of the greatest rarity, chiefly relating to navigation and branches subsidiary thereto, and published at Florence in 1637. In April, 1937, the castle was gifted to the nation by John Davenport Siddeley C.B.E. now Lord Kenilworth.
Kenilworth was formerly a market town. Descending into the vale is seen the outlines of the ruined abbey which was excavated by the Urban District Council, the funds being raised by subscription, a little beyond which stand the remains of the venerable castle, situated on a rising ground partly surrounded by a deep moat, now dry : the walls, encompassing an area of 7 acres, may still be traced, with their inter-posing towers, all of which are visible and one entire. The most beautiful portion of this noble ruin is, perhaps, the banqueting room, built by John of Gaunt, the windows of which are large and the tracery fine.
The lodge gate is also interesting and in good preservation. The castle is open to visitors from 9 a.m. to dusk, except on Sundays. The great gatehouse was built by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, in 1570-1 it contains the porch from Dudley's lobby, and embodied in the house are panellings, the alabaster mantelpiece from Lord Leicester's privy chamber, fire-places and carved cedar overmantels made for Queen Elizabeth's visit in 1575: these were removed from the castle by Col. Hawkesworth, who was given the castle by Oliver Cromwell, with orders to make it uninhabitable. The gatehouse is open to the public at a charge of 1s.
Nearby is Lord Leicester's Barn, now used as a restaurant. The eastern wall is the old curtain wall of the castle, while the timber work of the upper storey has rude foliations and notchings representing Lord Leicester's ragged staff. On either side are the ruins of Lunn's tower  and the 13th century water tower.
Near the ruins of the castle is the church of St. Nicholas, an ancient edifice of stone in the Norman, Early English and Decorated styles, consisting of chancel, north and south transepts, nave, aisles, and an embattled western tower with spire containing a clock and 6 bells; the west entrance through the tower has a fine and richly moulded Norman doorway : the church was restored and enlarged in 1865, when several stained windows were inserted : an additional vestry was added in 1894. Opposite the west doorway stands the pedestal of a sun-dial. There are 750 sittings. The register dates from the year 1630. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £558, with residence, in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, and held since 1938 by the Rev. Charles Henry Selfe Matthews M.A. of King's College, Cambridge.
St. John the Evangelist's is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1853. The church, a building of stone in the Decorated style, erected by subscription in 1852, at a cost of £3,000, consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, and a western turret with spire containing one bell. There are 500 sittings. The register dates from the year 1852. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £336, with residence, in the gift of Simeon trustees, and held since 1937 by the Rev. Ronald Alfred Bevis M.A. of Queen's College, Cambridge.
St. Barnabas Mission church, in Albion street, is an iron structure, erected about 1886. There is a Roman Catholic church, dedicated to St. Augustine of England, a Congregational chapel, founded in 1720, with 400 sittings, and a Methodist chapel.
Knowle Hill School for Girls, erected in 1906 arid certified March 11th, 1907, will accommodate 40 girls.
The Volunteer Fire Brigade has a steam fire engine delivering 250 gallons per minute, and a manual engine; there is also a motor escape tender with two trailer pumps, delivering 200 & 400 gallons per minute respectively, presented by Mrs. Albert Cay. A new Fire and Ambulance Station, with recreation room above, was erected in 1932. In September, 1989 it came under the control of the Urban District Council.
In Rouncil lane are the kennels of the North Warwickshire hounds, built in 1880, at a cost of considerably over £4,000; the pack hunts Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; Mrs. Arkwright is master; Col. J. L. Mellor is secretary. Leamington, Warwick, Coventry, Rugby and Kenilworth are convenient places for hunting visitors; Kenilworth, a mile distant, is the nearest railway station to the kennels.
The Convalescent Home, in High street, contains 33 beds, and is supported mainly by voluntary contributions. The Spring, the residence of Percy Martin esq. is a gabled house in the Old English style, seated in extensive grounds. The Earl of Clarendon P.O., G.C.M.G., D.L., J.P. is lord of the manor. Mrs. Wade is the principal landowner.
The soil is rich loam, varying from sand to clay. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The area is 5,967, acres; the population in 1931 was 7,596. The population of the ecclesiastical parishes in 1931 was 7,592, viz. : St. Nicholas, 5,057 and St. John the Evangelist, 2,535. By the Borough of Warwick Order, 1931, part of the borough of Warwick was transferred to Kenilworth by the Warwickshire Review Order, 1932, the parish and urban district was extended to include parts of the parish of Leek Wootton.
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Related Newspaper Articles
"At the Warwick County Petty Sessions, on Saturday, before Messrs. J. Staunton, E. Wheler, F. Granville, R. Greaves, and Sir Trevor Wheler,
Bart., William Baker, of Kenilworth, was charged with being drunk and riotous on the 13th inst. It appeared that he had a quarrel with his wife in the street and struck
her, being at the time in a drunken state. A crowd collected, and when Police Constable Edkins interfered he was very abusive, and challenged him to fight. The Bench
discharged him on promising to pay 6s. in a week, as he had been punished before the Leamington Bench for the assault upon his wife."
"Drunk and Riotous"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : June 20th 1864 Page 8
"On Saturday, at the Warwick County Petty Sessions, before Sir Trevor Wheler, and full bench, William Grainge, labourer, Kenilworth, was
charged with being drunk and riotous, in that village, on the 21st inst. Defendant pleaded guilty, and from the statement of Police Constable Carter, it appeared that
he was stripped, and challenging another man to fight in the High Street. He, however, went home quietly with a little persuasion, and Inspector Galloway, who was
present, said that he had previously borne an excellent character, being well-conducted and an industrious young man. He was discharged with a caution, on payment
of expenses 6s. 6d."
"Drunk and Riotous"
Birmingham Daily Gazette : August 29th 1864 Page 8
"Enoch Lucas, farmer, of Kenilworth, was charged in custody with having been drunk and disorderly at Kenilworth on the previous day,
September 28th. Defendant pleaded guilty. P.C. Baines proved the case. He said that on the previous evening he found defendant in New Street at Kenilworth drunk.
Defendant had neither jacket nor hat on, and was trying to get another man to come out of his house in order to have a fight. Owing to defendant's conduct,
witness was obliged to take him into custody. Two civilian witnesses were present in court, but as the defendant had pleaded guilty, they were not called.
Superintendent Ravenhall said the defendant had been convicted on four previous occasions at that court and once at Coventry. Defendant was fined one guinea or
a month's imprisonment. He was allowed three days in which to pay. After the hearing our representative was informed that the defendant's Christian name
was William, but he was charged in the name of Enoch Lucas."
"Kenilworth Farmer's Offence"
Coventry Herald : October 1st 1915 Page 8