We are greatly indebted to Vicky Airey who has provided most of the information for this page. Vicky hopes to publish a more complete history of the village at some time.
pictures dating from as early as 1918
The village is situated along the boundary formed by the River Avon between the Forest of Arden to the north and west and the more open area of Feldon to the south and east. Bubbenhall therefore includes characteristics of both Feldon (with the open-field system) and Arden (primarily forest). Waverley Wood to the south-east, however, is known to be the relic of a much larger wood called Echills which marked the eastern boundary of the Forest of Arden.
The earliest recorded instance of the name of the village is "Bubenhalle" in Domesday Book (1086). This shows that the village existed for some time before 1086 although no documented evidence has been found. The most likely explanation for the place name is that it means Bubba's Hill. Bubba is a fairly well recorded personal name in Anglo-Saxon times.
In 1086 there was a mill worth 4/-, woodland which was 2 furlongs long and two furlongs wide (presumably some 40 acres), and the whole village with an area of 5 hides (600-1200 acres) was worth 50 shillings.
Bubbenhall was in the hundred of Stoneleigh but this was later incorporated into the hundred of Knightlow.
In 1665 there were 157 people in the village and in 1730 there were still about 150. By 1801 the population had increased to 261. In 1811 there were 32 houses and the same population of 261 - about 8 people in each house. In 1821 there were 59 houses with 247 people - about 4 people in each house; a remarkable change in fortunes. In 1888 the area of Bubbenhall was 1114 acres. By 1891 the population was slightly less at 234 and the area of the parish was 1290 acres. In 1931 the population was 291; there were still 2 public houses, a miller, a butcher and a shop and post office.
Today the population is just over 600 - we currently await the results of the 2001 census which are due in May 2003.
The Domesday Book entry of 1086 records Bubenhalle as a manor in the hundred of Stoneleigh, owned by Robert de Stafford. In the manor there were 6 villagers, and 2 smallholders with 2 1/2 ploughs, and 1 1/2 ploughs and one serf in the lordship, held "freely" by Aelfric. A ploughland or carucate was in effect the amount of arable land that could be managed by a caruca or plough, and the beast belonging to it, per year. Therefore the number of ploughs is a description of the amount of arable land (though this is obviously variable according to type of soil, lie of the land, etc.).
In 1420 the lord of the manor, John Beauchamp, was created a baron by Richard II
In 1460 the lord of the manor was the Duke of Buckingham
A separate manor existed until 1717, when Bubbenhall became a joint manor with Baginton under the lordship of the Bromley family (subsequently the Bromley-Davenport family, when the Bromley line died out and these manors went to cousins.). The whole estate was then sold up in 1918.
It is possible that The Moat, latterly divided into two cottages, in Lower End (demolished about 1970), was originally a moated farm or the manor house. Some time after 1809 the present Top House the last large old house on the left-hand side going out of the village on the main road to Ryton - appears to have been built as the Home Farm of the manor of Bubbenhall.
Link with Pisford's Charity in Coventry
William Pisford was a grocer, Mayor of Coventry in 1500, and founder of the almshouses known as Ford's Hospital, Coventry. In 1528 William Wigston purchased five cottages and land in Bubbenhall as a form of endowment for the almshouses. These were the cottages, now mainly rebuilt or extended, starting next to the Three Horse Shoes and continuing down that side of the centre of the village, as far as and including The Cottage. They belonged to Ford's Hospital until the late 19th century. The charity was also endowed with lands in Coventry, Foleshill, Keresley and Weston under Wetherley.
Butchers, Bakers, Shoemakers, etc.
There was a village butcher's shop at the top of Church Road from at least the 1840s onwards. The premises were owned, until 1918, by the Lord of the Manor. The shop was latterly run by Dennis Ruck and continued until about 1990.
Village bakers, like the post office, have had various different locations in Bubbenhall. In the late 19th century, for instance, both were run from The Cottage in the middle of the village. Around 1950 the Post Office was at The Hollies, but there was no bakery any more, and bread was delivered to the village by van, as was fish. There was also an ironmongery van, and a fish-and-chip van.
The last shoemaker in Bubbenhall was William Abbey, who lived at the Bottom End.
Craftsmen into the 19th century were often part-time farmers, and some were carriers of goods from Coventry.
The last smithy was opposite the Malt Shovel. Earlier, though, there were several other smithies, including one in the 18th century sited near what became the Three Horseshoes.
Customs and traditions
There were many opportunities for merry making in the village.
There was a May Day Procession of children from the school, with a May Queen dressed in white and a floral arch. This event continued until the 1950s.
The Wakes were held on the first Sunday after St. Giles' Day, 12th September. These ceased during World War I. They were held on the Green and on Pit Hill and down the main street. There were Swingboats on the small green opposite The Cottage in the middle of the village, and roundabouts at the bottom of Pit Hill. An old sword was used by someone who was blindfolded to cut at a side of meat. The women used to chase a greased piglet and the one who caught it won it.
Bowling for a Pig was often a feature of village fetes and church bazaars after the Second World War.
The Wroth Silver Ceremony is held on Martinmas Eve, 11th November, on Knightlow Hill, the meeting place of the parishes of Knightlow Hundred. Bubbenhall is one of 25 parishes who contribute money by throwing it into an old hollow stone - 2 1/2d. for Bubbenhall ( now a half penny?). After the ceremony before sunrise, all repair to the Dun Cow at Stretton-on-Dunsmore for hot milk and rum, and tobacco smoked in churchwarden pipes.
Skating: used to take place on the pond on Pit Hill - the big end on the hill was used by older children, and the little end extending onto the Green was used by younger children
Local dialect words:
(Please send us more words! to Parish Clerk)
The Enclosure Award (1726), a manorial estate map of 1809, and the sale of the Baginton Estate in 1918 give us many local names, particularly field names, which have now largely died out. 17th century documents relating to the old perebendal estate give us more names - relating to the strips or furlongs in the old open fields.
Darfield Hill and Darfield Close were farmed by the Busby family, whose red sandstone tombstones stand in a row almost opposite the church porch.
Lambs Hill: Lammas land - reverted to common pasture at Lammastide on 1st August.
Moat Close: the close of land related to the old (moated?) farm at the Bottom End.
Monk's Meadow : belonged to the Cistercian monastery of Stoneleigh and later to Lord Leigh
Paget's Lane: the Paget family, who were in the 18th century connected with Yew Tree Farm, and were allocated land near the way to Princethorpe and Wappenbury.
(Does anyone know where March Lane was?)
1918 to 1960
The period from the break-up of the old Baginton Estate in 1918, to 1960 - between the wars and in the immediate post-war period - saw the building of the Council houses at the Bottom End at the beginning of World War II (the plans were drawn in 1938 and 1939, including necessary road widening to meet bye-law regulations), the building of houses near the Weston crossroads in the Forties, and new homes on the Stoneleigh Road in 1945 and 1946. A new rectory was also built in the early Fifties to replace the huge 19th-century one, which had been sold after the death of the Rev. William Sneath in 1947. Otherwise this was a period of survival after the casualties and shortages suffered by village families as a result of the two wars and in the aftermath of the Coventry Blitz.
By 1945 the roof of Old House Farm was caving in and the house was eventually bulldozed - a new farmhouse having been built c. 1932-33 at the top of Pit Hill as a modern and more comfortable replacement for the old house. The garden railings of the old farmhouse remained for many years as an unofficial bus stop for the Coventry bus service. At the same period, at the bottom of the village, opposite the Moat, were more empty, broken-down cottages, which were eventually demolished. There were also, at this time, dwellings still in use but actually condemned as unfit for human habitation: three half-timbered cottages in a row next to the Reading Room, demolished c. 1954 after the death of their owner, old Lady Carter; and nearby, "up the yard", a number of late 19th-century tenements built in redbrick round a narrow yard, demolished c. 1956. None of these sites was redeveloped at that time.The village had begun to have electricity installed in 1934 by the Warwickshire Electric Power Company, but otherwise lacked the prerequisites for development.
During the Fifties the centre of the village achieved proper street lighting for the first time. This was also a period of endless discussion at parish-council level as to how funding might be provided to establish a Village Hall, the Reading Room being a possible candidate. Meanwhile the hall at the back of the Three Horse Shoes and the Village School were used for whist drives, bazaars, and film shows.
Modernisation and redevelopment from 1960
In 1960 work started on laying pipes for mains water. This meant that people no longer had to rely on the spring ("the Spout") or the water tapped from there to standpipes outside the Cottage, Yew Tree Farm, and the Council houses.
Another essential facility, the sewerage scheme, was completed in 1965, and at this point work was already underway on building fourteen new houses and four old people's bungalows near The Moat at the Bottom End. From this time onwards, when old houses and cottages regarded as being too damp and uncomfortable for modern living were got rid of, new and often high-quality houses were built in their place, e.g. Ashgrove and Malpas, replacing old Pisford's Charity cottages, and The Riverside Bungalows replacing the Mill. After many years of hard work and effort the funding of the Playing Field was also achieved in the Sixties with the purchase of Murcotts Ludgates. When the Post Office was established just opposite the renewal of the Bottom End, now known as Lower End, took a further leap forward.
Included in the sale of the Manor House in 1966 were Woodbine Cottage opposite the butcher's shop, and Town Barn, the field opposite Church House. Soon this former Green Belt land was made available for the building of several large new houses. The planning authorities of the Sixties and Seventies were open to such developments, particularly in villages near Coventry and Leamington providing dormitory accommodation for commuters and their families. Demolition, conversion and extension of existing old properties led, for instance, to the demolition of Church House outbuildings as a new housing site in 1973/74.
With the availablity of suitable land at the beginning of the Seventies Bubbenhall's first housing estate, Waggoner's Close/ Coopers' Walk, was built, thereby starting the large-scale process of overlaying the medieval village pattern of buildings and their adjoining closes, which had made up the middle of the parish for so many centuries. A comparison between maps of the village pre and post the development of Bryant's Estate shows this clearly.
Extraction of sand and gravel from Waverley Wood Farm, including water extraction, also started in the Seventies, and by the end of the decade a new access road had been built to the site parallel with Weston Lane. Further sand and gravel extraction, this time from former Glebe agricultural land, started in 1991. The village was now no longer a farming community. Gradually the spring water at the Spout was affected by the extraction industry and became unuseable, and around the turn of the century the traditional village water supply had dried up.
During the past thirty years large and small-scale development has continued. Older properties have been altered and/or extended. York Farm and Middle Barn and York Barn have been renovated. Darfield Court has been built on the site of Old House Farm. Building has also taken place on pieces of land released for new houses, e.g. the land belonging to the butcher's shop in the lane going down to the church. Until the latter part of the Sixties Church Road only contained three dwellings, with cattle in Town Barn, the big field opposite Church House, and the butcher's pigs in the field between the shop and Church House - though the chestnut trees planted along the lane by Mr. Cowley c. 1918 still stand. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the past fifty years, though, is the building of the Village Hall next to the Village Playing Field. Formally inaugurated in 1987, it is one of the most essential facilities for Bubbenhall's new and growing population.
Link to information about the ">Buildings in the Village
St Giles Church
Yew Tree Farm