Garden of Rest Stonework part 1 – Then & Now

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework - part 1
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework – part 1

According to The Abbey of St Mary guidebook by E. Carey-Hill (Odiboure Press, 1985) “When the north cloister wall of 1890 was rebuilt in 1984, the carved stones were grouped according to architectural type”.

Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework - part 2
Garden of Rest walls being built from the Abbey Stonework – part 2

He goes on to say “Not all examples of each type have been exposed, as some are buried in the wall for better preservation. The majority of stones are from the Decorated period, c1280 – 1370, and from the Priory Church, which was given an extensive facelift at this time, including new windows. The length of the wall is approximately 95 feet.”

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The Tannery, Warwick Road Updated – Then & Now

Today’s Then & Now pairing is an updated version of an earlier post showing the Tannery, Warwick Road. Thanks to Robin Leach for pointing out that the original ‘now’ photo was taken from the wrong angle. The updated ‘now’ photo is taken from as close to the original spot as today’s buildings will allow, as can be seen by the distant buildings on Station Road in the bottom left of the picture. The original post can be found here: khas.co.uk/the-tannery-warwick-road-then-now/

The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in 2016
The Tannery, Warwick Road 1965 and today in 2016

This remarkable colour photograph shows the Tannery, Warwick Road, on the site now occupied by Talisman Square, prior to its demolition in 1965.

According to the Our Warwickshire website, the tannery was operated by Thomas Day & Co in the late nineteenth century, but was owned by Samuel Barrow after whom Barrow road is named. It later changed name to the Kenilworth Tannery Ltd, run by Charlie Randall, after whom Randall Road is named. The nearby Tannery Court owes its name to the site, having been built on land belonging to the tannery company.

Harry Sunley provides some interesting snippets in “A Kenilworth Chronology” (Odibourne Press, 1989). Firstly, that on the 26th October 1942 the Rover Players set up a production of ‘The Children to Bless Us’ in a hut behind the tannery. They would go on to become The Talisman Theatre Company, and the square would eventually adopt the Talisman name. The company moved the theatre to its present Barrow Road site in February 1969.

Also, Harry Sunley records the ultimate reason for the tannery’s closure, namely that “the need for leather had fallen from 1500 hides a week in 1950 to 500 a week in 1957 due to the plastic boom”.

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St. Nicholas Church from South-West, 1963 – Then & Now

St.Nicholas Church from the South-West,1963
St.Nicholas Church from the South-West,1963

This pair of pictures from 1963 and 2016 shows the Abbey’s Tantara Gatehouse with St Nicholas’ Church in the background. The 1963 shot is labelled as having been taken by a J. Tarver.

As can clearly be seen from the ‘then’ picture, the gatehouse had become overgrown and it was later designated as dangerous and fenced off altogether in 1967. That same year the abbey ruins were finally reburied to prevent deterioration. The gatehouse was later extensively consolidated and repaired in 1977, at a cost of £20,000 raised by the Abbey Advisory Committee.

The ‘now’ photo shows that the graveyard is much more neatly trimmed than in 1963. A few gravestones have developed a lean and the cross in the foreground has lost its head, as seems to be the case in many of these now and then photo pairings.

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Free Guided Walk of Kenilworth Abbey – 31st July

Free Guided Walk – 31st July 2016

Festival of Archaeology 2016

A reminder: On 31st July 2016 KHAS members will be hosting a free guided walk of  Kenilworth Abbey ruins in support of the CBA’s Festival of Archaeology 2016.

KHAS Events for 2016
Council for British Archaeology (CBA)

Take a walk back in time to when Kenilworth’s St. Mary’s Priory, later Abbey, was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious Augustinian houses in the Midlands. Hear about the men who lived here, what their lives were like and what happened to them and their beautiful buildings.

2016 is the 750th anniversary of the Great Siege of Kenilworth. In 1266 King Henry III (the Priory’s Royal patron) spent six months besieging Kenilworth Castle. Hear how this momentous event affected the Priory and its Canons.

The Abbey Barn
The Abbey Barn

The walk will commence at 3pm and lasts about one hour. We will meet outside the Abbey ‘Barn’ Museum and Heritage Centre on Abbey Fields, Kenilworth.

Jan Cooper
Chairman, KHAS.

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The Mill in 1964 from Forge Road – Then & Now

The Mill in 1964, taken from what is now called Forge Road
The Mill in 1964, taken from what is now called Forge Road

This black and white photo from 1964 shows the mill taken from what is now Forge Road, Mill End, shortly before its demolition. Originally built as a mill for bread flour, it was later used as an oat mill for cattle feed.

According to Harry Sunley in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odibourne Press, 1989) the mill was demolished in April 1964:

April 1964: The Oatcake Mill is demolished, to be replaced by Forge Road. The mill was fed from Finham Brook via a channel that ran alongside School Lane and The Close. It was last run just after World War II. Between 1899 and 1929, it was owned by J. G. Eagles for the production of cattle cake.”

In fact, Robin Leach points out that the mill was operated by not owned by J G Eagles, who had a similar but larger concern in Leamington. He was renting the mill from at least 1891. Robin also points out that strictly speaking the mill building extended further into the modern day roadway than is shown here, so a little artistic license has been shown to get a good ‘now’ picture!

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The Mill, Mill End, from the yard 1964 – Then & Now

The Mill, Mill End, from the yard,1964
The Mill, Mill End, from the yard,1964

The mill was powered by water wheel, fed from a pool called Woodmill Pool, located over the modern day allotments between Manor Road and Lower Laydes Hills. The pool was created by damming Finham brook at the spot where the mill stood (off screen, to the right of the photos above).

According to Rob Steward in Kenilworth History 1997 – 1998: “At the Dissolution in 1538 and shown on the 1628 Harding map are two pools from Townpool Bridge to the ‘Woodmill’ at Mill End separated at Park Street. The upper one presumably called ‘Townpool’ and the other ‘Wood-mill Pool’. The Townpool seems, then, to have flooded out the brook. A leat has been dug at some time or other to the north of the original brook down to Park Road, it can still be seen as it is now the course of Finham Brook. Though the original brook is shown on the 1885 OS map, by the 1955 map it had gone, but can be traced by following the fence line at the end of the back gardens to the houses in School Lane. Houses have now been built over it at the lower end.”

Robin Leach offers a slightly different explanation, in that the brook course would follow the low lying ground at the bottom of the valley and the excavated mill race was higher up alongside School Lane and the gardens. However, the original course was altered at some time, hence the zig-zag in the middle of the school lane section.

A curious piece of graffiti is visible in the ‘then’ photo from 1964, reading simply “Wells Fargo”. Either the US bank of the same name had some stake in the mill, or more likely this relates in some way to the Tales of Wells Fargo western which was being broadcast on the BBC in 1964!

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