Empty Plot of Liggins Bakery – Then & Now

Liggins' Bakery Demolished
Liggins’ Bakery Demolished

This somewhat forlorn picture shows the final stages of clearing the plot of the former Liggins’ Bakery site at the junction of Park Hill and Stoneleigh Road. A Midland Red bus turns from Park Hill into Albion Street and a Renault 5 starts the steep climb up the hill.

Behind can be seen the 1970s housing estate on Redfern Avenue and Stoneleigh Avenue. These houses were built to replace a batch of 50 prefabs built after WWII for returning servicemen and their families.

The former Liggins site is now occupied by flats built by the Orbit Housing Association, which manages properties for families, couples, single and older people living in a mixture of rented, leasehold, supported and home ownership properties.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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Résumé of the ‘English’ de Montfort Family

During the course of 2016 there has been a lot of interest in Simon de Montfort, the 2nd Barons’ War and the Great Siege of Kenilworth. Numerous talks have been delivered on these subjects and two questions have been repeatedly asked:

13th century image of Simon de Montfort "the younger" or Simon VI de Montfort
13th century image of Simon de Montfort “the younger”

Firstly: “Why did the young Simon de Montfort not return from France with an army to assist his fellow rebels still inside Kenilworth Castle?”

Secondly: “What became of the remainder of Earl Simon de Montfort’s family?”

I will endeavour to answer these questions as best I may.

Young Simon, and his brother Guy (the most warlike and volatile of the two), did indeed try to raise an army but King Louis IX took steps to ensure that they were not successful. England may have been France’s hereditary enemy but King Louis did not wish to create a precedent by helping rebels against another anointed King.

Guy of Montfort (1244)
Guy of Montfort (1244)

Simon and Guy eventually entered the service of the Count of Anjou. Guy soon distinguished himself in battle, was created Count of Nola and married into one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Italy – the Aldobrandeschi family.

In March of 1271, whilst in Tuscany, they heard that their cousin, Henry of Almain, had just arrived in the nearby town of Viterbo where they went intent upon revenge for the killing of their father and elder brother at Evesham. They found their cousin at prayer in the church of San Silvestro where they murdered him as he clung to the altar begging for mercy. Both Simon and Guy were excommunicated and Guy was stripped of his titles but, with the assistance of his very influential family, he escaped justice and re-joined the Count of Anjou. Several years later, whilst on campaign in Sicily Guy was captured and eventually died in a Sicilian prison. Simon became a wandering fugitive, weighed down by guilt for the sacrilege committed at Viterbo, and soon died in Siena. Interestingly, 40 years after Guy de Montfort’s death, his infamous reputation had not diminished. Danté, when creating his ‘Divine Comedy’, placed Guy de Montfort in the 7th Circle of Hell in his ‘Inferno’ where he “slid into a river of boiling blood” – clearly what Danté considered to be his just deserts!

Eleanor Countess of Leicester
Eleanor Countess of Leicester

Of the remainder of Earl Simon’s family his Countess, Eleanor, went into exile in France after her husband’s death where she lived out her life at Montargis in a house rented from the nuns. She was eventually buried in Montargis Abbey.

Their son Amaury who was the most highly educated and charismatic of the de Montfort siblings had a very successful career in the Church; studied medicine in Padua; became a Papal Chaplain and was instrumental in persuading Pope Clement to intercede with King Henry III to have Earl Simon’s mangled remains exhumed and reinterred in consecrated ground back at Evesham Abbey.

Richard, their youngest son, died in France aged around 20.

Edward I of England
Edward I of England

So, that just leaves their only surviving daughter Eleanor who, prior to the battle of Evesham, had been betrothed to her father’s ally Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, Prince of Wales. Following Earl Simon’s defeat and death Llewelyn withdrew from the betrothal and Eleanor accompanied her mother into exile in France. Several years later Llewelyn renewed his suit and Eleanor, accompanied by her brother Amaury, set sail for Wales. Unfortunately their ship was captured by pirates and they were delivered into the hands of their cousin Edward, now King Edward I of England. Edward has sworn revenge on all of the de Montfort brothers for the murder of their cousin Henry of Almain. Amaury is known to have been in Padua at the time of the murder but, nonetheless, Edward had him incarcerated in the notorious stronghold of Corfe castle where he languished for several years before he was eventually released and returned to France.

Meanwhile Eleanor had been forced to remain at court ostensibly as Edward’s honoured guest though in reality as a hostage for Prince Llewelyn’s good behaviour. He did eventually let her go and she did marry her Welsh Prince but sadly died giving birth to their only child, a daughter, the Princess Gwenllian. Llewelyn was later killed in an ambush and King Edward had the child Gwenllian delivered to the nuns at the isolated Sempringham Priory in Lincolnshire where she grew up and joined the very strict Gilbertine Order, eventually dying aged 58 – the last of the ‘English’ de Montfort line.

Jan Cooper
December 2016

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Demolition of Prefabs – Then & Now

Demolition of the Prefabs
Demolition of the Prefabs

This pair of Then & Now images shows the demolition of the estate of post-war prefabricated houses (or ‘prefabs’), just off Stoneleigh Road in the mid 1970s and the housing estate that replaced them, shot in 2016.

In case you are struggling to place the scene, the modern day vantage point is at the junction of Stoneleigh Avenue and Redfern Avenue. In the distance can be seen the backs of the houses on Stoneleigh Avenue and on the horizon is the windmill on Tainter’s Hill.

The prefab site was sandwiched in between the embankment of Park Hill as it rises up to cross the railway line to the south, the railway itself to the east, Mill End to the north and Stoneleigh Road to the west.

According to A Portrait of Kenilworth in Street Names – Third Edition by Robin Leach and Geoff Hilton (Rookfield Publications, 2015) the Stoneleigh Avenue site, which had originally been set aside for industry, was instead used to build prefabs at the end of WWII. Fifty prefabs were built on the site and allocated to ex-servicemen and their families. Prefabs, or pre-fabricated houses, were deployed up and down the country by the government as part of measures to alleviate the post-WWII housing crisis following widespread damage to the country’s housing stock in the Blitz.

Kenilworth was one of the last places in England to get rid of its prefabs. The prefab site was eventually redeveloped in 1976 when Stoneleigh Avenue, Glendale Avenue, Redfern Avenue and the suitably patriotic Churchill Avenue were built in its place.

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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December 2016 Newsletter

KENILWORTH HISTORY & ARCHÆOLOGY SOCIETY – December 2016 Newsletter

» Last Meeting: We learnt a lot about the strange adventures of Bertie Greatheed from Anne Langley. The tale was almost bizarre: an object lesson in the value of keeping a diary!

Bertie Greatheed by John Jackson, 1821
Bertie Greatheed by John Jackson, 1821

» Tonight: Anything could happen, although we are assured that our Chairman will have the last word to say on the Siege that we have been commemorating this year.

» Next month (and Year), Jan 9th: Gillian White will enlighten us on Bess of Hardwick. All at the usual time of 7.30 for 7.45 at the Senior Citizens’ Club.

» Sue Tyler who has been Committee member for the last three years is finding family commitments are making her unable to continue. Consequently, there will be an election at the AGM in February. Please let the Secretary have the name (and permission) of someone you would like to see proposed as her successor. Nomination forms available.

» Kenilworth Family History Society Wednesday 11th January: The very popular Dr Rebecca Probert, an expert on the history of marriage law, will give a talk titled ‘Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved?’ The talk deals with marital breakdown, separation, widowhood, and remarriage, from 1600 to the 1970s, and is likely to be illustrated with case studies and stories. Senior Citizens’ Club, Abbey End, Kenilworth, CV8 1QJ, from 7.30. Non-members welcome

» Kineton Local History Group: Friday 20th January – Banbury during the first Civil War 1642 – 1646  by Gregg Arthur   7.30 in the Village Hall

» Warwickshire Local History Society Tuesday 21 February 2017 The history of the NHS in Warwickshire and the West Midlands. Start at 8.00pm, preceded by coffee at 7.30pm, in The Friends’ Meeting House, 39 High Street, Warwick, CV34 4AX

» CADAS 10th January: Rediscovering the Icknield Way: New insights from excavations at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire  Lecturer: Mathew Morris 7.30pm at Friends’ Meeting House, Hill Street, Coventry

But now it’s almost Christmas and we wish all our members a peaceful and happy one!!

Contacts: Chairman – 01676 532654; Secretary – 01926 858670; Treasurer – 01926 852655; Vice Chairman & Editor – 01926 858090 Chairman's Email Website www.khas.co.uk

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Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery – Then & Now

The Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery
The Demolition of Liggins’ Bakery

This Then & Now pairing shows the demolition of Joseph Liggins’ bakery buildings which stood at the corner of Park Hill and Stoneleigh Road, opposite the Wyandote pub.

The Victorian buildings of the Albion Street area have suffered badly over the last 50 years, culminating in the recent demolition of the Albion Tavern. The Victorian Liggins’ bakery building was seemingly somewhat needlessly demolished in the late 1980s having stood empty for some time. The sites is now occupied by flats built in an ill-matched red brick approximation of the surrounding building styles.

Helen Scott and Richard Storey record in A Third Kenilworth Collection (Odiborne Press, 1989) that the bakery’s demolition and redevelopment was courtesy of the Orbit Housing Association. A picture accompanying the piece shows the yard to the rear of the premises shortly before its demolition in the late 1980s, having latterly been used as the depot of a removals firm

We are very grateful to Mrs Joan Heatley for providing the Then photo.

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Tainters Hill – Then & Now

Tainters Hill windmill, later water tower, 1963 and 2016
Tainters Hill windmill, later water tower, 1963 and 2016

This then and now shows the windmill on Tainters Hill, built in 1778. Rob Steward records in Kenilworth History 2000 – 2001 that “this mill battled on, driven by the wind, grinding com for the inhabitants of Kenilworth for seventy-six years until it succumbed to the power of steam”.

Rob also speculates, that whilst the “Balsall Common tower windmill has [a] boat type cap, with a transom at the back as well to accommodate a large wheel and chain which enabled the cap to be turned by hand from the ground. The tower-mill on Tainters Hill most likely had a cap of this type, with a wheel and chain”. Regarding the ownership of the windmill, Rob goes on to say that  “A will, dated 15th June 1793, shows that at that time, the windmill on Tainters Common and a malt-house in New Way (later New Street) belonged to William Parker of Kenilworth, a baker, and was left to his mother Susannah Parker.”

The windmill was converted to a steam powered mill in 1854. It is shown in the 1963 ‘then’ photo as it appeared having been converted to a water tower in 1885 / 85, which was used to supply Kenilworth’s water, pumped from an adit which collected water from various springs around the Common.

Robin Leach tells us in Kenilworth History 2013 (in a piece extracted from Kenilworth People and Places, Volume 2) that “The initial water supply was from an adit, 280ft long, 5ft wide and 16ft deep, cut in the rock to collect water from a large number of springs, in particular one known as ‘top spring’, on the Common. The adit ran roughly parallel to the brook at a distance of about 5ft from it at the western end and 3ft at the eastern end. It was estimated that 5,000 gallons an hour in the dry season, and 8,000 in the wet, could be pumped to the water tower situated in the formerly wind- and subsequently steam- mill on Tainters Hill.”

The water tower was later converted to a residence by Michael & Ann Hill in 1973.

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