Barcheston's Location
Domesday Book
Medieval Settlements
Sixteenth Century
Seventeenth Century
Eighteenth Century
Nineteenth Century
The Church
More Information
The font, St. Martin's, Barcheston
The fourteenth century font
Image © Hilary L Turner
An unknown priest carving

An unknown priest. An inscription below his feet has been chiselled away; the inscription round the edge comes from the Old Testament book of Job. The stone was re-used by a later rector
Image © Hilary L Turner

Medieval Settlements

Another national survey, this time of the king’s rights and his subjects’ obligations, is the next document to provide any information. The settlement at Willington was entered by name within the hundred of Kineton (also spelt Kington) in the Hundred Rolls of 1279 and its inhabitants, or some of them, listed; the heading for Barcheston is lost and its inhabitants may have been included amongst those of Willington(1). In a later document of 1316, the Nomina Villarum (names of towns), both settlements were significant enough to be noted. Its purpose was to list places considered wealthy enough to be taxed in order to pay for a man at arms to serve in the army; it is no guide to the size or legal status of the places named.(2)

Returns from a group of taxes (subsidies) from 1327, 1332 and 1334, do not indicate great prosperity in either community. They were lower than most places in the hundred. In 1327, eleven people in Willington were taxable and paid 21s; seven Barcheston inhabitants paid 14s 4d.(3) Four of the same people there contributed towards the sixteen shillings collected in the subsidy of 1332, the smallest contribution in the hundred, while in Willington eleven people, nine of them previously taxed also in 1327, paid 26s 8d.(4) The totals in the subsidy of 1336, assessed on a new basis which long remained the model, were slightly higher in both places, 17s and £1 8s 8d respectively, and presumably levied on a similar number of inhabitants.(5) Some of those named, amongst them the Duraunt family, were landowners also in neighbouring parishes. Two were widows.

Such prosperity as the inhabitants enjoyed was, it seems, interrupted by the Black Death, the bubonic plague which entered England first in 1348. Repeated outbreaks followed until around 1500 and it was at its most severe in Warwickshire in 1374.(6) None of the poll taxes of 1377-81 survives for the parish so its effects here cannot be directly estimated; in adjacent parishes, however, decline in numbers is noticeable.(7) In 1428 the parish was exempt from taxation because it was reported to have fewer than ten houses.(8)

When, in the fifteenth century, information about the village becomes more abundant, the country was dominated by the still continuing Hundred Years War (1337-1453) with France and then by the struggles between opposing factions supporting rival claims to the English throne, known as the Wars of the Roses (1455-85), fought largely across the Midland counties.(9) Although the parish never experienced any fighting, the alignment of political factions certainly had an influence on Barcheston’s history.

By this time it is clear that in practical terms the existence of the four Domesday manors had virtually disappeared and the control of the chief lords was slipping. In Barcheston one overlordship can be traced until 1435, not without some confusion. One manor had been in the hands of the de Bercheston family from 1208 until traces fade away in the 1370s.(10) They enjoyed the right to present the rector to the church and must have played some part in county administration because some family members were named amongst those acting as collectors of taxes in the fourteenth century.(11)

One of the two overlords of Willington can be identified until 1325, the other until around 1394. It seems likely, however, that the numbers of people assessed for tax in the 1330s already indicates a strong body of freeholders which in turn implies that already manorial control was lax, and possibly even lacking. One family, the Duraunts, seems to have been in a position to jockey if not for power then for land. Taxed in 1332 they already held a considerable amount of land in Willington.(12) By the end of the century their influence in the parish seems to have eclipsed that of the de Berchestons and in 1430 they were holding the manorial court in Barcheston, the first for which there is any record.(13) From the 1420s they also appear in county administration, which they clearly saw as an opportunity for self-advancement. They were, however, far from honest. More than one member of the family was punished for peculation of the taxes they were appointed to collect; John in 1423,(14) and again in 1446.(15) Failure to pay over the taxes he had been appointed to collect resulted in confiscation of his manor and its administration by Ralph Boteler, first baron Sudeley, a prominent Lancastrian supporter. By some means it seems he acquired the other manor and then agreed that at his death that it should pass into the Duraunts’ hands. However, the de Berchestons, though absent from the records, were still living though possibly disadvantaged because the Duraunts had enjoyed superior political protection in the course of the Wars of the Roses.

Matters came to a head in the 1490s when the Barcheston family went to law against the Duraunts in an attempt to reclaim ownership of their manor.(16) They were forced to admit that they were in a weak position because their opponents had possession of the title deeds. By 1497 a compromise had been reached; it may only have been a temporary measure to last until the final settlement, but in 1497 the Duraunts were bound over to respect court proceedings.(17) In the end the de Berchestons lost.

The eight surviving court rolls paint an intermittent picture through the century of residents fighting each other, aggressive towards the inhabitants of neighbouring parishes and entirely lacking respect towards the Duraunt family, not above attacking their womenfolk if they became involved in village brawls.(18) The villagers’ obstreperous behaviour may, however, have been provoked by the Duraunts. Some of their demesne land was leased out to graziers from elsewhere, whose flocks of sheep must have required the fencing off or enclosure of some areas to prevent the animals wandering freely over the remaining open fields farmed by the few remaining villagers. When William Duraunt promised year-round grazing, and not just summer pasture, there was a riot and an attempt to throw down the barriers he had erected. Slowly, therefore, the villagers were being pushed off the land they had worked, in some cases for several generations. Numbers dwindled, to the extent that it was no longer worth keeping the alehouse open. By the end of the century there seem to have been only four freeholders still resident in Barcheston.

The Duraunts were by then themselves in financial difficulties; they first leased and then, in 1507, sold the manor to William Willington.(19) Born in nearby Todenham around 1485, Willington married advantageously into the locally influential family of Middlemore, themselves related to the Throckmortons of Coughton. Like his father before him, Willington was a merchant of the Staple – ie he had licence to export wool – with offices in London and Calais.(20)


1. E 164/15, edited by Trevor John, The Warwickshire Hundred Rolls of 1279-80 Stoneleigh and Kineton, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, new series xix, OUP 1992, pp. 419-20. The hundred was an administrative unit within the county.

2. ; E 370/2/9. Feudal Aids 1284-1431, HMSO London 1908, vol 5, p.175.

3. Transcript of the 1327 subsidy, Transactions of the Midland Record Society, ed. Wright Wilson, vol vi (1902), p. 23; the original does not appear to survive. Tax_Lists.pdf

4. E179/192/5; The Lay Subsidy of 1332, ed. W. Fowler, Dugdale Soc, vol. 6, (1926), p. 14.

5. E 179/192/7 as printed in The lay subsidy of 1334, ed. R.E.Glasscock, London 1975, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, new series II.

6. VCH Warwickshire, V, p.5, 7,

7. Carolyn C. Fenwick, The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381, London 2001, reveals its effects elsewhere in the county.

8. Feudal Aids 1284-1431, HMSO London 1908, vol 5, p.187.


10. for Victoria County History, Warwickshire vol. V, 1949, pp. 5-6.

11. Calendar of Patent Rolls 1358-62, p.346; Calendar of Fine Rolls, 1369-77, p.111.

12. The Lay Subsidy of 1332, ed. W. Fowler, Dugdale Society, vol. 6, (1926), p. 14; Feet of Fines for the County of Warwickshire, Dugdale Society, vols XI, XV, XVIII, (1932-43), XV, no. 1681.

13. WaCRO, CR 580/2.

14. C 131/227/14, 26 Nov 1423.

15. Cal of Fine Rolls, vol. xvi, p.284 and ibid, vol.xviii, p.16. A third was a corrupt minor official in county administration, C. Carpenter, Locality and Polity, A study of Warwickshire landed society, 1401-1499, Cambridge 1992, pp. 496, 501, 654.

16. The National Archives, C187/52.

17. WaCRO CR 580/9/3.

18. C.Dyer and R. Jones eds., Lost Villages Revisited, (Hatfield, 2010), pp.40-44. Originals at WaCRO CR 580/2-8.

19. WaCRO CR 580/9/15, 16, 18,22 ,24; a draft agreement survives at CR 580/12 and Dyer, Lost Villages Revisited, p.42.

20. See