Marton Village, Warwickshire

Local History Group: October 2015 Update

Anne_0796This month the Group had a talk by Anne Langley (pictured) on Warwickshire Alms Houses. More about this talk in this article.

The next Group meeting is on Monday November 23rd 7.30pm in the village hall. The theme for the evening is “World War 2 memories of Marton villagers”. As well as individuals’ memories there will be photos and news articles from that period.

All welcome, entrance fee £3 includes a glass of wine.

The full programme can be seen on this page.

Alms Houses in Warwickshire

Alms houses_0798Anne Langley has researched into Alms Houses in Warwickshire and has a book about to be published on the subject. The following are some brief notes of the talk she gave to the Group in October 2015.

There is no universally recognised definition of what an “Alms House” is but Anne decided on the following definition for her research: they are created by an endowment, are purpose-built, and are for elderly people who are often given a pension as well as the accommodation. On this basis Anne has identified 34 Alms Houses in Warwickshire, the closest to Marton being the one at Leamington Hastings (pictured on the left of the image on the left).

Very early (Middle Ages) Alms Houses were often called “Hospitals”, although not all such institutions would have fitted the criteria of an Alms House as inhabitants may have been selected on the basis of ill health or poverty, rather than just age. (The Leamington Hastings Alms House appears to have been known as a “Hospital” at the time of the 1804 enclosure map for Marton. This shows fields owned by “Hospital” and “Allotment Leamington hospital”.)

Many Alms Houses were founded by “self-made” business men, who made their fortune in London and then returned to their home town and bequeathed the funds to set up an Alms House. There was great religious significance to this act, as it was believed that such generosity would help them reach paradise following their death. Some of these founders were childless and had so had no direct descendants to pass their wealth onto.

There were strict rules that occupants of Alms Houses had to comply with which might include attendance at church and general good conduct (no drunkenness). In some the rules were such that a widow would be evicted soon after the death of her husband. Special clothes, such as gowns, were frequently supplied to residents, perhaps to be worn on special occasions such as church.

Residents sometimes had family members living with them such as children or grandchildren. Given the pension they received the resident may well have been the main breadwinner of the family. Some residents had a carer living with them. Residents that could no longer look after themselves and had not made arrangements for someone else to look after them would have been moved out, perhaps to a workhouse, or to an asylum if they had mental problems.

More information about Alms Houses can be found by internet searches. For example, Anne has written a short article about Leamington Hastings Alms House for “Our Warwickshire” see this link.

Local History Group: May 2015 Update

Group small border 0793This month’s meeting consisted of a guided walk around Warwick, ably led, as usual, by Mike Johnson (pictured on the right of the group photo). There are no more Group meetings until the new season starts at the end of October.

Mike devised the route for the group walk around some of the highlights of Warwick’s old centre, and there are many leaflets available from the tourist office which provide plenty of information about Warwick’s walk opportunities and the historical background of what you will see en route. This article adds some of Mike’s insights to these existing publications.

At the corner of Castle Street and Castle Lane is a section of cobbled road leading into what is now the castle grounds wall. Many centuries ago this was part of the main road into town when the old bridge was in use; the old bridge crossed the river near the western end of Mill Street and the road continued straight through to Castle Street from there. The grounds of the castle were extended eastwards after the new bridge was built in 1785, to butt up against Castle Hill.

The Great Fire of 1694, which started in High Street and spread up Market Street and Castle Street, caused great damage to St Mary’s church. Following the fire new construction rules were brought in about the design of houses and the minimum width of roads. Half-timbered and jetted houses were no longer allowed and houses could be no more than two stories high – although an exemption seems to have been   given at what was then the main central cross-roads where High Street and Castle Street meet as three story buildings surround this point.

The old town wall can be seen from Puckering’s Lane, as it heads North West from West Gate and then around the back of Lord Leycester Hospital.

Today The Holloway is a dead-end street but historically it ran all the way to Saltisford having been cut into the rock along this route. At one time this old road passed under an iron bridge (built 1804) which connected market Place to Theatre Street.

On the corner of Barrack Street and Northgate Street is an old cell door which belonged to the prison on this site when it was badly damaged by the Great Fire. In a courtyard off Northgate Street in the old County Court buildings can be seen a grill which is in the roof of an octagonal dungeon below. This dungeon was built in 1680 and was in regular use until 1797.

Read moreLocal History Group: May 2015 Update

Local History Group: April 2015 Update

B Allen - borderThis month the Group had its AGM followed by a talk by Biddy Allen (photo, left) on the old Marton Co-Op store. Biddy (and Roy) were the first people to move into what was once the “Old Co-op”. The talk was very well received and a summary is at this link.

There are no more Group meetings in the village hall until next October. However, the Group are having a walk around Historic Warwick led by Mike Johnson on Monday 18th May, meeting at St Nicholas car-park at 6:45 pm.

Local History Group: March 2015 update

Joe Paget (with a picture of his great-grandfather William Hands)
Joe Paget (with a picture of his great-grandfather William Hands)

This month the Group had a talk by Joe Paget (pictured with a photo of his great grandfather William Hands) about the history of the Hands family who were Marton blacksmiths. The talk generated a great deal of interest and a very brief summary of the presentation is at this link.

The next Group meeting is the AGM and is on Monday April 27th 7.30pm in the village hall. This will be followed by a talk by Biddy Allen on the old Marton Co-Op store. Entrance to the AGM, including a glass of wine, is free.