Some History of Lapworth
I cycle through Lapworth quite regularly. Of course, I have stopped from time-to-time to have a look at some of the buildings. It is an unusual place, the old village nucleus being some distance from what feels like the modern centre at Kingswood - not that there is much there as the old shops have long gone. There was some sort of central character to the area by the railway station but this is on the parish boundary, though this part of Kingswood traditionally made up a section of the old parish, the rest being in neighbouring Rowington. Bushwood is another oddity, the hamlet being part of Lapworth's ecclesiastical parish.
For those who like off-road cycling there is plenty to enjoy at Lapworth, from the locks, unique split-bridges and barrel roof houses, along with the canal junction itself. The lanes of the Tapster Valley and around Bushwood roll gently and make for a pleasant ride. The pubs of Lapworth are handy for those visiting Packwood House in a neighbouring parish.
Transportation links via the canals and railway led to the development of Kingswood but the old village nucleus was clustered around the remarkable parish church of Saint Mary which stands on the edge of the Tapster Valley. The building stands on the site of its Norman predecessor and dates from between the 13th and 15th centuries. However, where the nave now stands, there was a Saxon wattle and wooden church that existed during the 10th century if not before. Today's church is most unusual in that it has a vestibule leading from the north aisle to what was originally a detached fourteenth century tower with its later stone spire.
The west end of the church has a two-storey porch with a processional path underneath. It is possible that this marked the line of an earlier public highway. Two staircases lead to the upper chamber and it is thought that this displayed a sacred relic. Pilgrims would leave the highway by going up the one staircase and, after seeing and praying in front of this relic, they would leave via the second staircase.
Lapworth in 1912 Kelly's Directory
Lapworth in Domesday "Lapeforde," with Kingswood, is a parish 2 miles west from Lapworth station on the direct main line to Birmingham, of the Great Western railway, 4 miles north from Henley-in-Arden, 9 north-west from Warwick and 98 from London, in the South-Western division of the county, Warwick division of the hundred of Kineton, petty sessional division of Henley, union and county court district of Solihull, rural deanery of Solihull, archdeaconry of Aston and diocese of Birmingham : the parish is intersected by the Stratford-upon-Avon and the Warwick and Birmingham canals. The church of Saint Mary, belonging from a very remote period to the wardens and scholars of Merton College, Oxford, is an ancient battlemented edifice of stone, in the Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel with a chantry chapel on the north side, clerestoried nave, with a kind of open porch and chapel above annexed to its western end, aisles and an embattled tower connected with the north aisle by a vestibule, with a turret at its north-west angle and a spire, and containing 5 bells, one of medieval date, bearing an invocation to St. Katharine, whose altar once stood in the church; two others are dated respectively 1600 and 1656, and the remainder 1786: excepting the chancel, which, from the close resemblance its windows bear to those of Wroxall, is probably by the same builder, the whole church was reconstructed in the 15th century: the chantry chapel, north of the chancel, presents features similar to it, and is probably a portion of a more ancient structure; the western porch, though annexed to the church, does not immediately communicate with it: the chapel above, reached by two small stairs in the angle, has a window in the east wall looking into the church; this appears to have been the chantry founded by Richard de Montfort and others A.D. 1374: within, the arches and walls of the nave up to the clerestory and of the nave roof clearly assign them to a later date: in the west window remain some fragments of ancient stained glass; other stained windows are of modern work; in the north aisle is a stained glass memorial window to the 5th Marquis of Townshend: the carved wood rood screen, a work of the 15th century, has been converted into altar rails and a reredos; panelling of a similar character also surrounds the sacrarium: here, as at Rowington, a fine example of Elizabethan furniture is afforded by the communion table, which has massive urn-shaped legs, richly carved: the font, standing westward of the north-west pier, is a plain octagonal basin, with sculptured hands beneath: at one time there stood in the churchyard a "cross built of stone with arches, wherein twelve men might have stood dry, and was a very convenient cross for a preacher:" The church was restored in 1872-3, at a cost of £1,520, and in 1884 the spire was partly taken down and rebuilt under the direction of Mr. J. A. Chatwin, architect, of Birmingham, at a cost of £248: there are 248 sittings. The register dates from the year 1561. The living is a rectory, net yearly value £213, including 26 acres of glebe, with residency in the gift of Merton College, Oxford, and held since 1897 by the Rev. Francis Lendon Bell M.A. of that college. The Lapworth charity estates produce about £400 yearly, out of which income are paid the expenses of the parish school, maintenance of parish roads and church expenses, the balance being devoted to the relief of the poor. At Hockley Heath is an Institute, erected in 1892 by George Frederick Muntz esq. [d. 1898], and comprising coffee room, refreshment bar, reading room and a lecture hall etc. The manor belonged to the families of Brandestone and de Montfort from the reign of Henry III. to that of Henry V. when it was purchased by the Catesbys, who lost it on the death and disgrace of William Catesby after the battle of Bosworth, August 22nd, 1485. Robert Catesby, to whom the contrivance of the Gunpowder Plot is usually ascribed, was born at Bushwood Hall, in this parish, in 1573, and was the sole representative of one of the most distinguished families in England, and the lineal descendant of William Catesby, the favourite counsellor of Richard III.: he died, with other conspirators, during the assault on the mansion at Holbeach, Staffordshire, where they had taken refuge, in December 1605. John Doughty D.D. rector in 1643, and a strong Royalist, resigned on the breaking out of the Civil War to avoid sequestration and imprisonment, but on the Restoration was made Prebendary of Westminster, and died in 1672. John Edmund Watts esq. who is lord of the manor, Cornwallis Philip Wykeham1Martin esq. of Leeds Castle, Maidstone, Kent, Mrs. Dering, of Baddesley Clinton, Edward Thomas Wright esq. of Oldswinford, Stourbridge, Mr. John Hildick, of Walsall, the trustees of the late William Udal esq. [d. 1880], the trustees of the late W. Garrad esq. the Charity trustees and Henry Billing esq. are the principal landowners. The soil is a loamy clay; subsoil, gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley and beans. Area, 2,954 acres of land and 30 of water; rateable value, £7,747; the population in 1911 was 853.
Lapworth in September 2020
This set of photographs are a few that I took during a cycle ride on September 14th, 2020. I covered a lot of the parish, along with elements of Packwood and Rowington. It was a glorious day of sunshine and the temperature was in the mid-20s. Sadly, due to the Covid-19 situation I did not call into any of the public-houses. It was not possible to take photographs of some notable buildings because they sit behind high fencing, walls, hedges. Quite often, this is for security rather than privacy, a sign of the times I guess.
Have Your Say
If you would like to share any further information on Lapworth - perhaps you drank in one of the pubs in the past? Or maybe knew a previous publican running one of the boozers? Whatever the reason it would be great to hear of your stories or gossip. Simply send a message and I will post it here.
Related Newspaper Articles
"A fearful thunderstorm visited this village on Friday, the 1st of June, causing the loss of one life, and slightly injuring four other
persons. The storm commenced about half-past four p.m. The direction of the storm was from S. E. to N. W., wind north. It came on rapidly, with vivid flashes of
lightning, accompanied by heavy thunder. About five o'clock the rain began to fall in torrents, and the storm continued in all its violence to six o'clock.
About a quarter-past five there was a terrific flash, which was instantly followed a clap of thunder which seemed to shake the very place. It was this discharge
which was the cause of the sad calamity. The fluid entered tbe house of Mr. Linney [the father of the unfortunate boy] by the attic window, which was open,
taking a downward course, ripping the plaster from the wall in its descent in the attic, passing through a crevice of the floor, attracted, no doubt, by an uncased
clock which was hanging in close contact to the ceiling beneath, the support to the bell of which nearly touched the plaster. This, to all appearance, was the
conducting power, as the pendulum was removed, and cast to the ground; from the pendulum its course was unmistakably shown, as it struck a post supporting the
staircase, splintering it in several places until the stairfoot door was reached. Its course was then a little eastward, shattering a deal board of the staircase,
striking the unfortunate boy beneath the left ear, passing down the left side, and shivering his boot lace into shreds; the body was much discoloured from the ear
to the toes on the left side, but no apparent marks on the right. He died about five minutes after being struck. By his side were sitting his sister, two brothers, a
boy from the next house, and a man who had taken shelter from the storm. The father was sitting by the fire-side, and scarcely felt the shock. The man was struck
to the floor, and was some time before he had the use his legs. The little girl was much scorched about the face, and was feared for some time that she had lost the
sight of her right eye. Tbe two brothers were struck to the ground, but soon recovered from the shock. The boy from the next house was struck the arm, the fluid
passing from the elbow to the wrist, leaving marks of curious character, somewhat in appearance to the branch of a tree. No other trace of the electricity was
discernible, and would appear to have passed from this boy to the street door, which was open at the time. I have little hesitation in saying that had the stairfoot
door been open and the current of air unchecked, the fluid might have passed in an uninterrupted course from the stairs to the front door, and so sad a catastrophe
probably avoided. If, as appears a common error, people will fling open their windows during thunderstorms, they should also be very careful not to stop the current
of air by closing any of the doors, and be very cautious not to sit in the current, as it is as dangerous as sitting beneath an oak tree."
"The Late Thunderstorm"
Leamington Spa Courier : June 9th 1866 Page 8
"At the schoolroom, Lapworth, on Friday afternoon, last week, an investigation was made by the Deputy Coroner for South Warwickshire
[Mr. G. F. Lodder] into the circumstances attending the deaths on Wednesday, shortly after mid-day, of four boys, whose bodies were recovered after much
difficulty from a deep pool, known locally as the Spring Pit, upon which the lads ventured very soon after they had left a service at the church. The deceased were :
Frank Wise  and Arthur Wise ; sons of a machinist at Catesby Farm, William Spight , son of a gardener; and Sidney Warren
, the son of a bailiff, all living in Lapworth Street. The Coroner, at the outset, said he had no doubt that no one present could recollect a more
distressing accident in the village, and he was sure they would all join with him in an expression of sympathy with the parents. The first witness was the father of
the boy Warren who gave evidence of identification, and said that his boy had been repeatedly warned against going on the ice, both by himself and the schoolmaster,
William Kettle , told how, when the church service was over at 11.50, a number of boys went to the pool, including Frank and Arthur Wise. When they were
upon the ice they commenced to play hockey, employing sticks, and a piece of wood as a ball. Sidney Warren and Spight were detained at a choir practice, but they
joined the others at hockey on reaching the pool. Altogether there were about thirty children on the ice. The Coroner asked the witness if the boys had ever been
warned not to go on the ice, and the lad said that Mr. Davey, the schoolmaster, had told them several times not to go. He did not know that some part of the ice was
dangerous. Kettle then related how, after they had been playing about ten minutes, the ice gave way. "Ernest Spite, Sidney Warren, and Frank Wise were in a bunch,"
he said, "trying to get possession of the piece of wood, and the ice breaking under them, they fell in together. The three of them came up out of the water. Arthur
Wise rushed to try and save his brother." The Coroner: Did he have a stick with him: "No," answered the witness, "but he put his hands out and
the ice gave way under him, and he fell into the water. Arthur Wise got out, the ice being strong enough to bear him. He left the pool and went on top of the bank. Then
he went back again, and tried to help Frank a second time. Frank nearly got out, but Arthur then fell in, and all were struggling together, and at last sank. They tried
hard to get out." Witness ran for assistance, and meeting Mr. Warren, the father of the deceased boy Warren, he told him of the disaster. Luther Hammond, who was
also upon the ice, said he heard the ice crack before the accident. The Coroner : Didn't it frighten you? "Yes." And what did you do? "I
went to the bank, and did not go back again." At this stage Mrs. Wise, dressed in deep black, and crying bitterly, came forward to give evidence of identification
of Frank and Arthur Wise, and the Coroner afterwards proceeded with the evidence of the boy Hammond, who said that when the deceased had fallen in he went away and
fetched a "prop," with which he hoped to be able to reach them. He was too late, however; when he got back the boys were out of sight, and he did not see
them again. Another lad, Arthur Jenkins, said he was on the ice, but went off when he heard it crack. He added that play continued after the cracking. He also saw
Arthur Wise endeavouring to save his brother Frank. Arthur tried to reach his brother, but the ice was breaking, he too fell in. Evidence concerning the recovery of
the bodies was given by Harry Booth, groom, and Richard Warren, coachman. Booth said he was told of the accident by the boy Hammond, and he hastened to the scene with
some clothes props. When he reached the pool he could not see the boys, but on the ice there was a cap, and on the water, which was perfectly still, there were three
caps. Witness assisted in the recovery of the bodies. Asked how long the boys had been in the water before they were got out, witness said he thought it would be quite
a quarter of an hour. "Did you try artificial respiration?" asked the Coroner. No, answered witness, I helped Warren, there were people there, and a doctor
came afterwards." The Coroner remarked that apparently there was no one at the time who understood ambulance work. Richard Warren stated that Booth placed a rope
around his body and he went into the water and recovered three bodies. Afterwards he felt ill, but had now recovered. John Corbett, farmer, whose field the pool is
situated, said that where the boys were drowned the water was 4ft. 6in. deep, but in other places the water was 6ft. deep. The boys fell in at a spot distant 20ft.
from the bank. He had warned children - he did not say those particular children - against going on the ice. There were two pools, and they were not properly
fenced. Dr. Hollick, Knowle, said he was passing the Rectory at two o'clock, when he heard of the occurrence; the boys, he was told, had been dead about an
hour. The Coroner : How long is artificial respiration helpful? Is it of use after an hour? Witness said it might be, but the cases were rare. Twenty
minutes or half hour was the usual period, in ordinary cases. These boys had been shut in under the ice. Addressing the jury, the Coroner said that the lad Arthur
Wise seemed have lost his life in attempting to save his brother. One was very sorry that there was no one present capable of applying artificial respiration when the
bodies were brought out of the water. The Rector [the Rev. Frank Bell] interposed with the remark that Mr. Davey, the schoolmaster, applied artificial
respiration. Mr. Davey was there before he arrived, and told him that they had done everything possible. Mr. Davey had had experience. The Coroner : I am glad you
have said that, because none of the witnesses have been very clear about it. The schoolmaster was then called, and said that when he got to the pit two bodies had been
brought out, and he tried artificial respiration. He applied it slightly, because he found the bodies cold - they had been in the water half an hour. The Coroner
: Are you satisfied that everything possible was done? "Quite, and great credit is due to those who were there; they did everything in their power."
The Coroner said he was now satisfied that everything possible was done for the lads. The witness Warren was to be particularly complimented. The jury returned a verdict
of "Accidental death," finding also that the boy Arthur Wise was drowned in attempting to save his brother. The funerals of two of the boys took place on Saturday,
and two on Monday."
"The Ice Tragedy at Lapworth"
Warwickshire Advertiser : February 23rd 1907 Page 6