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History of Warmington & Arlescote

Some History of the Parish

Warmington and Arlescote together form a small parish of about 120 houses just five miles north of Banbury. Like many villages in the ‘Cotswold fringe’ it has a long history of occupation as demonstrated by recent finds of a hoard of Roman coins and a bronze-age beaker. The village is situated near the Iron-age Hill-fort of Nadbury Camp and several Saxon burials have been discovered nearby. Soon after the Norman Conquest, the Manor of Warmington was given by Robert de Beaumont, the Earl of Warwick to the Abbey of Préaux in Normandy together with “5 hides in Orlavscoth” (now Arlescote). A small priory was founded by Henry de Newburgh in the reign of Henry I - more or less where Court Close now stands. Although the Priory has long gone its influence lives on in the architecture of the parish church (Grade I) and perhaps in the planned layout of the village around a large Green complete with pond and sheep-wash.

The parish includes the hamlet of Arlescote which in the main was always part of the Manor of Warmington. Arlescote House was owned and built by the same person who owned Warmington Manor. It was the principal property in the hamlet and included two farms, both originally known as Home Farm. The Warmington Manorial Court records show that Arlescote was subservient to Warmington and paid chief rents to the Manorial Court. At one time there was a chapel in Arlescote, reportedly behind the current Home Farm, but all trace and records seem to have disappeared. A smaller holding of 3 hides in Arlescote was withheld from Préaux and passed in time to the monks at Stoneleigh and now forms Primrose Hill Farm, which lies to the west of Arlescote House.

In 1642 the villages found themselves caught up in the battle of Edgehill and Captain Alexander Gourdin, a Royalist who was killed in the battle, lies in the churchyard. The two young princes, Charles and James, are reported to have stayed at Arlescote House with their tutor William Harvey (first to describe the circulation of the blood in detail) the night before the battle.

The Genius Loci

The Parish of Warmington and Arlescote lies in the Feldon, a predominantly rural, agricultural open landscape, crossed by numerous small rivers and tributaries.

The name Feldon refers to the old English term feld meaning ‘open cleared land’ and expresses the contrast, in medieval times, with the more wooded Arden area to the north-west. The area is framed by the steep limestone escarpment of the Cotswolds and is just within the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The landscape is strongly influenced by post-medieval enclosures of former strip fields and there is still much evidence of ridge and furrow.