Ansley Village

words supplied by Sandra Noon

The Village of Hanslei, Ansley as it is known today, predates the Doomsday Book, which was written in 1086. As with near-by Astley, Ansley was a clearing in the forest of Arden, the village began alongside the Bourne Brook close to the place were the church of St Lawrence stands today, the brook forming part of the border on the south west side.

During the 11th century due to the death of her husband Leofric, Lady Godgifu, Godiva as she is more commonly known, owned the land. It is believed that the oldest part of St Lawrence’s church dates back to this time, and as the church is dedicated to St Lawrence; it may well have been commissioned by Abbot Lawrence a close acquaintance of Lady Godgifu.

St Laurence Church Ansley Village as it looks today

St Laurence Church Ansley Village as it looks today

In the early part of the 12th century Ansley, along with the neighbouring village of Hartshill, came in to the possession of William de Hardreshulle given to him by King John. William de Hardreshulle bestowed St Lawrence’s church to the nuns of Polesworth, who retained possession until the time of the Reformation when it once more became the property of the King. Tenants farmed the remaining land.

Interior Of St Laurence Church

Interior Of St Laurence Church

Lands belonging to the Hardreshulle’s were passed down to the Colepeper’s in the late 13th century. In the early part of the 14th century Sir Alexander Colepeper rented out 50 acres of land to Henry Ludford, and in the early 15th century he gave the land of Ansley and the land which Ansley hall stands on to Henry Ludfords grandson John, although this was contested by Alexander Colepeper’s descendents who claimed the deeds had been stolen, the mater was resolved by arbitration, and the Ludfords retained the land by agreeing to pay rent to the Colepeper’s, after changing hands several times it was finally purchased by George Ludford, descendent of Henry Ludford, in the early 17th century.
Ansley Hall evolved over several years under the supervision of the Ludford family, and was made up of a group of buildings set out in an irregular pattern around a central courtyard,

By the end of the 17th century Ansley Park had been established, and by 1814 it is described as being well stocked with deer.

Near by there is a place called the ‘hermitage’ believed to be constructed from the remains of ‘an ancient oratory’ of which Thomas Warton wrote a poem.

Thomas Wartons Poem

Beneath this stony roof reclined,
I soothe to peace my pensive mind;
And while, to shade my lowly cave,
Embowering elms their umbrage wave.
And while the maple dish is mine,
The beechen cup unstained with wine.
I scorn the gay licentious crowd,
Nor heed the toys that deck the proud.
Within my limits lone and still
The blackbird pipes in artless trill;
Fast by my couch, congenial guest,
The wren has wove her mossy nest;
From busy scenes and brighter skies
To lurk with innocence she flies;
Here hopes in safe repose to dwell,
Nor aught suspects the sylvan cell.
At mom I take my ‘customed round
To mark how buds yon shrubby mound,
And every opening primrose count
That trimly paints my blooming mount;
Or o’er the sculptures quaint and nide,
That grace my gloomy solitude,
I teach in winding wreaths to stray
Fantastic ivy’s gadding spray.
At eve, within yon studious nook
I ope my brass-embossed book,
Portrayed with many a golden deed,
Martyrs crowned with heavenly meed;
Then as my taper waxes dim
Chaunt ere I sleep my measured hymn.
And at the close the gleams behold
Of parting wings bedropt with gold.
While such pure joys my bliss create.
Who but would smile at guilty state ?
Who but would wish his holy lot
In calm oblivion’s humble grot?
Who but would cast his pomp away
To take my staff and amice gray.
And to the world’s tumultuous stage
Prefer the blameless hermitage?

The hermitage once looked very different from that which we see today, as the following pictures shows.

The Hermitage Ansley Hall

The Hermitage Ansley Hall

The hermitage is known locally as the ‘baron’s cave’, the purpose of this cave like building is unknown.

The Hermitage Ansley Hall

The Hermitage Ansley Hall

Inside The Hermitage Ansley Hall

Inside The Hermitage Ansley Hall

Until the late 19th century Ansley was predominantly an agricultural area, with a small number of weavers, and a small amount of mining. Around 1879 the Ansley Hall Coal and Iron company purchased land from the Ludford family and began mining on the opposite side of the road to the Hall, which was also purchased, and became a social club were the miners could relax after a hard days work. However the mine did not prosper until William Garside became the manager. Below is a picture take of the hall around this time.

Ansley Hall

Ansley Hall

As a result of the mine opening Ansley prospered and a road was built joining the existing village around St Lawrence’s Church with the mine and Ansley Hall. Which became the new centre for the village.

Today the only trace of the mine is the buildings situated on the same side as the hall; these were used as mine offices and shower room for the mines. These buildings have been used for motor repairs for some time now. The hall has now become flats.

Ansley Hall as it is today

Ansley Hall as it is today

Ansley Hall as it is today

Ansley Hall as it is today

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Stockingford

words supplied by Sandra Noon

In the 12th century Stockingford was just a clearing in the Forest of Arden known as Stoccingford. The name comes from the old English word Stocc, which was used to describe the uprooting of trees; this would have been located by a ford which crossed a stream, possibly the one which runs through the Whittleford area. The land at that time was owned by the Canons of St Mary de Pre of Leicester, which was bestowed to them by Earl Robert le Bosso and William de Newmarch.

It is thought that the first inhabitants were those who worked for the Augustinian Monks who were resident in the Priory that had been established on the land which now forms the Arbury Estate.

During the 13th century Alfred the Great decreed that the country should be divided up into counties, hundreds, and tithing’s, one tithing was ten families that owned their own land, and a hundred was ten of these tithing’s, each hundred was given a name, Stockingford formed part of the Hemlingford Hundred.

Stockingford Station

Stockingford Station

Coal mining was first recorded at Stockingford in the 14th century; the mine owner was William Waggestaf. The land which Stockingford stood on at this time was granted to William Jabet and his wife Maud on the understanding that it would be pasted on to their son William and his wife Ellen. It was this century when Stockingford was stuck by the Plague, and one third of the population of England were lost to this deadly disease.

In the 15th century the land was conveyed to the Augustinian Monks of Arbury Priory. The following century Henry the VIII brought about the reformation and confiscated all the land belonging to the Priory, the Arbury Estate and land was then bestowed on Charles Brandon, who later sold it to Edmund Anderson. The Priory was demolished and the Manor house we know as Arbury Hall was built in its stead. Towards the end of the 16th century the Newdigate family took up residence at Arbury Hall and became the new lords of the manor, and the hall was transformed into the ‘Gothic Gem’ we see today.

Haunchwood Brick & Tile Works

Haunchwood Brick & Tile Works

Stockingford became part of Nuneaton in the 17th century. It was about this time that silk ribbon weaving arrived in Stockingford as the industry started to spread from Coventry to Nuneaton and the villages surrounding it. It was also during this century that the farm land around Stockingford was being developed, there were already sheep being raised, and it was about this time cattle were introduced. Deer were also present, and were used for food, and their hides were used for leather goods. There was also the first recorded brick and tile maker called Henry Green, it was also around this time that Richard Newdigate purchased bricks from Adam Broughton’s yard which was adjacent to Arbury Hall.

During the 18th century around a quarter of the people of Stockingford were employed in by the silk merchants, they worked in their own cottages, that would have had large windows to let in the light, as there was no electricity, this did not arrive till many years later. They worked on hand looms, which producing one length of ribbon at a time, this allowed them to develop the skill needed to make intricate designs.

Haunchwood "Blue" Brick

Haunchwood “Blue” Brick

In the mid 18th century the first mine shaft was sank at Stockingford by John Barber, unfortunately this was short lived as there was a problem with the pumps, needed to pump the water out.

By the early 19th century the majority of people living in Stockingford were ribbon weavers, as demand for ribbons was high at this time due to the fashion for sewing ribbons to dresses and hats, particularly in London. Due to the growing population in Stockingford a church was built to administer to their spiritual needs and dedicated to St Paul. Shortly after this the ribbon trade was in turmoil as cheap imports began to flood the country, this was devastating for the people of Stockingford who relied heavily on this work to feed their families, soup kitchens were arranged to help the starving residents, the population at this time was 1386, almost half of which had not reached adult age. In the mid 19th century the prospects for the residents started to improve, as work was being carried out to pave the way for the Midland Railway to lay a line from Leicester to Birmingham a seam of blue clay was uncovered, and Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company was formed to extract the clay, for this workers were needed. In 1867 Reginald Stanley, along with his brother and brother in-law, also set up brick and tile manufacturing company producing blue bricks, they also produced decorated bricks which were very popular at the time, as they were used to decorate Victorian houses, examples of which can still be seen on buildings today, such as Barclays bank in Nuneaton, and the Gate hotel Abbey Street Nuneaton, which Reginald Stanley built, this has now become a clothing company. By the late 19th century Tomkinson and Hickman along with the trustees of Henry Stratford Dugdale and Henry Tretheny, the main land owners of the area, developed further brick and tile manufacturing also coal mining. There was also a mine opened in the village of Galley Common which was next to Stockingford, a short walk away, all this brought much needed jobs to the area. As Stockingford grew due to the new industries, further housing was also needed at this time, and work began to develop church road and Haunchwood Road.

Whittleford Park

Whittleford Park

The beginning of the 1900’s brought with it other changes in the lives of the residents of Stockingford, the installation of gas lighting, the opening of the Palace cinema and the arrival of the first petrol driven omnibus that allowed them the freedom to travel into Nuneaton. In 1922 a monument was erected in honour of the men who had worked in the Midland colliery, that were lost in the great war, this can be seen today, and stands in Whitlleford Road, a widow was also dedicated to the people who were killed. In total 201 people of Stockingford were lost during the war. In 1942 the Second World War came to Stockingford a once again the people were in the firering line, bombs were dropped close to the railway bridge, whittleford Road and also Cross Street.

Haunchwood Brick & Tile Chimney Pots

Haunchwood Brick & Tile Chimney Pots

Today the mines and brick and tile companies have all gone and there is little to show of their existence, the area were the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Co once stood, adjacent to Wittleford Road, is now known as Whittleford Park which local people have worked on to make it a pleasant area for all the communities in the surrounding area. Many of Stockingford’s residents now have to travel to work in other areas such as Nuneaton and Coventry. What was once a thriving industrial community is now just a village were people live. However some may feel it is better that way because of all the pollution the mines and tile manufacturing caused.

Wash Day In Nuneaton

words and photo supplied by John Veasey

This morning as I switched on the washing machine my thoughts went back to the years circa 1946 BWM (before washing machines) and I thought what drudgery doing the family washing was for my mother.
Monday was always washday at Edward St and my mum had a routine which was to fill the copper with water on Sunday evening, lay the paper, sticks and coal ready for my dad to light the fire before going to work on Monday morning. This meant that the water was hot enough for mum to put in the dirty washing as soon as we’d had breakfast.
She would then put the Oxydol or Rinso soap powder into the copper along with the dirty washing so that, while she was she was clearing the breakfast things and washing up, the copper would be boiling away for twenty minutes or so getting the dirt out.
Then comes the real hard work, she would trundle the metal ribbed dolly tub from the shed into the scullery and prepare to transfer the hot sodden washing from the copper to the tub with the aid of a wooden copper stick and a galvanised hand bowl. This was a precarious process with all that boiling water around and in the days when rubber gloves were not available. She frequently scalded herself quite badly.

Mrs Veasey

Mrs Veasey

The next procedure was to manhandle (or women handle) the tub into the yard where she would pound away for ten or fifteen minutes with what she called her “POSH”, which was a metal plunger like instrument with a long wooden handle. After this exhausting process she would again manhandle the tub over the drain emptying out the soapy water and refilling it with rinsing water and repeat the process
Although she must have been feeling very tired at this stage it would still only mid- morning and there was a long day ahead
Once she was satisfied that the washing was thoroughly rinsed, the next step was to sort out the “Whites” and give them a rinse in Dolly Blue. I am not sure at what stage it would be done, but somewhere along the way, the table cloths and shirt collars and cuffs would be starched.
Next she would trundle the tub to the shed, where we kept the mangle, for the wringing process which involved taking each individual piece and feeding through the mangle then folding it ready to hang out on the line.
She would then take the partially dried items and hang them on the line to ”give them a good blow” as she would say.
I should be mention that, on days when there was a particularly heavy load, most of the process so far would be repeated more than once
By this time she would be starting to get lunch ready for when my sister and I came home at mid-day.
As I walked up the yard I would see a clothesline full of sparkling white sheets and shirts and windows running with condensation. On one such day I arrived home to see steam billowing out of the scullery window and my mother on her knees on the floor trying to mop up water from under the lino in The Breakfast Room as we called it, which was the result of the copper boiling over and flooding the place
So lunch time came and went and I would go back to work leaving my mother to carry on with her washday chores . Firstly she would empty the remains of the soapy water from the copper putting it in a bucket and then use it to wash the concrete yard and clean the drain.

washingmachine

Next she would rake out the copper fire and dispose of the ashes and mop the scullery floor.
By this time the washing on the line would be dry and needed to be brought in which she did, neatly folding each piece ready for ironing
Now it was time for her to prepare the evening meal for my dad, my sister and me ready for when we came home about five thirty and I don’t ever remember it being late.
Having had our meal one would think that it was time for her to rest but no there was ironing to be done and In those days that was a labour in itself. Almost everything was made of cotton or linen , no Easy Iron synthetics, no Ironing boards, no steam iron. Her ironing board was an old blanket folded on top of a leaf of our polished top table which it ruined eventually. Her iron was plugged in to a lethal two pin socket, no earthing circuits then.
She would carefully take each item sprinkle it with water from a bowl on the table to create steam then iron away until everything was pristine. She ironed everything, even her dusters , she wouldn’t stop until everything was done, I have known her to be ironing at eleven O’clock at night.
So that was our washday nearly seventy years ago .
My Mum was a Drudge and a Saint .
God Bless Her

Nuneatons Larry Grayson Gets “Knighted”

information supplied by Andy Wilson

King Of Mirth in 1988 was Dennis Richards who, along with his Beefeaters bumped into Nuneatons most famous son – Larry Grayson. never one to miss an opportunity, King Dennis soon had Larry kneeling before him.

Larry Grayson Gets Knighted by "King Dennis Richards"

Larry Grayson Gets Knighted by “King Dennis Richards”

Tony Knights gets knighted at "Graysons" Club in Bond Gate 1988 watched by Larry Grayson himself. Andy Wilson is seen wielding the sword

Tony Knights gets knighted at “Graysons” Club in Bond Gate 1988 watched by Larry Grayson himself. Andy Wilson is seen wielding the sword