Time and time again in these Then & Now images, we see how the push for modernity in the 1950s, 60s and 70s swept away old properties of historic value and local character. A nation confident of a better future, with a buoyant economy for the first time since WWII, sought to clear away the old and bring in the new. In the days before the conservation movement came onto the scene, it was all too easy to demolish a damp, draughty old cottage and build functional modern houses in its place. Mutters of disaffection over this loss of character and heritage usually fell on the deaf ears of the town planners.
You might imagine that a timber framed and sandstone cottage within spitting distance of the Castle would survive such a push for modernity, but you’d be wrong. The cottages at 81 – 83 Clinton Lane, shown here in the mid 1960’s ‘then’ photo, stood on Clinton Lane less than a quarter of a mile from the Castle. Both photos are taken from the mouth of Avenue Road looking back towards Clinton Lane.
Harry Sunley records in A Kenilworth Chronology (Odiborne Press, 1989) that a timber-framed and sandstone building he refers to as The Old Cottage was demolished in 1965. Today the plot is occupied by properties numbered 85 and 87 Clinton Lane.
KENILWORTH HISTORY & ARCHÆOLOGY SOCIETY – February 2017 Newsletter
Richard Morris was an inveterate collector of guide books, particularly of places of architectural note. Jenny has so many of them that she is offering them to Members of the Society for free. Tonight you will find the first batch. We suggest that you take what you want (no fighting!) and make a donation. Monies will be shared between the Harry Sunley Memorial Project and Myton Hospice. Please – they must go!
» Last Meeting: Gillian White gave us a most thorough biography of Bess of Hardwick. Some of us had no idea how involved her subject was in affairs of state, and how much of a switchback her life had been. A most remarkable lady!
» Tonight: is the AGM. All officers and committee members are to be (re)elected, one new committee member being needed since Sue Tyler has proffered her resignation. Nominations are closed. After the formal meeting, our Webmaster, Chris Blunt, will be speaking about “KHAS on the Web”. He may surprise us all!
» Next month: Dr Bob Pryce will speak on “Some aspects of Stereo Photography in Warwickshire”. At the usual time of 7.30 for 7.45 at the Senior Citizens’ Club.
Subscriptions are now due. Please see the Treasurer tonight. There is no increase on last year: £10 single; £15 double.
Kenilworth History 2017 is now available
» Kenilworth Family History Society Wednesday, 8th March. Local historian Jan Cooper (of whom you may have heard) will give a talk called ‘War and Worship’ which explores the close relationship between Kenilworth Castle and the Abbey/Priory. Senior Citizens’ Club, Abbey End, Kenilworth, CV8 1QJ, from 7.30. Non-members welcome
» Kineton Local History Group: Friday 11 March – AGM and Supper (At 7.00pm) 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: 14th February Buildings, Burials and Bones Lecturer: Vicky Score 7.30pm at Friends’ Meeting House, Hill Street, Coventry
» Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group: Dr Gawen Jenkins from the University of Leicester: Can we get metals out of the ground in a “green” sustainable way? Wednesday 15th Feb. At S Francis’ Hall, 7pm for 7.30pm The Society still needs a new Editor, and a compiler of the Newsletter. Please speak to the Chairman if you think you can help.
The Society still needs a new Editor, and a compiler of the Newsletter.
Please speak to the Chairman if you think you can help.
Developments in the Town
As you have realised, or you probably wouldn’t be here tonight, history oozes out of Kenilworth’s pores. Whenever the spade goes in the ground, there is the likelihood that something historic will come up with it. It has been the Society’s policy to keep an eye on any sort of development – Members go to trenches to peer in and look for traces of archæology. Sometimes it is very well worth it. A lesson learned long ago was not to leave it to the local professionals, because even after they have given an allclear, something crops up. This happened when the Bronze Age funerary urn was unearthed at 25 Clinton Lane. Fortunately, the archæologists had stayed on-site, and no further damage was done beyond slicing the thing in half.
At the moment, a major rebuild is happening 100 yards away from that site, on the edge of Purlieu Lane. Exploratory trenches were dug but nothing was found, we understand. Consequently the professionals, sadly under extreme pressure these days after severe financial cut-backs, were unable to keep a watching brief. A member of the public, now a member of this Society, had been keeping an eye on things, and took a few photographs of the material being excavated wholesale. One photograph showed what could be a small Stone Age hand axe. Being a conscientious sort, he forbore to ‘rescue’ it. More’s the pity because, on return, it had gone. Someone else recognised it for what it may have been, and now we have lost the opportunity to determine whether occupation of this bit of Kenilworth extends even further back in time than the Bronze Age.
One would like to think that the person who ‘liberated’ the artefact would present it to Warwick Museum for dating and explain it provenance. Fear of being accused of theft may inhibit such an action, but let’s hope a real concern for historical knowledge will overcome that fear. The Society would certainly back anyone who took such an action. We can’t expect contractors’ men to look out for these things. The fact that we have a photograph is at least some sort of consolation. Oh to be able to date it! Think of what the Society contributed in the early 70s to the discovery of an important Mesolithic site at Blacklow Hill. Is the axehead Palæo- , Meso- or Neolithic? Or simply old technology still being used in the first metal age, the Bronze Age?
So, follow in the footsteps of the founders of this (rapidly becoming) august Society, keep your eyes open and be prepared to open your mouths!
This slightly sinister looking scene shows Bridge Street, presumably taken from Kenilworth Hall. The ‘then’ photo shows what might conceivably be a local bobby peering suspiciously round a gas lamp at the photographer. Warwickshire, like all counties nationally, had been forced to provide a constabulary by Act of Parliament since 1858.
Kenilworth Hall was owned by William Thomson Pears who, as was covered in the Kenilworth History 2016 article ‘Mythbusters’ had no connection to the family that owned Pears Soap, despite a widely held misconception to the contrary. Our Pears made his money as a solicitor.
Behind the ‘constable’ can be seen the area of Abbey Fields now occupied by the Bridge Street car park and the avenue of lime trees running up to St Nicholas’ church. As per the recent St Nicholas Church Then & Now, the absence of this avenue of trees helps date our ‘then’ picture to no later than the turn of the century. The car park wall was apparently rebuilt in about 1925 when the Abbey excavations were completed and there was a lot of loose stone about, which might explain why it’s difficult to match up the wall exactly between the two photos.
The Friends of Abbey Fields website details how the land bordering Bridge Street shown here was, just like the parcel of land in the Bridge Street from Abbey Fields Then & Now, donated in 1884 to William Evans and Joseph Roberts in their capacity as Churchwardens of the Parish of Kenilworth, as trustees, by Henry Street, George Marshall Turner and others.
In the distance, on the horizon of the ‘then’ photo, can be seen the distinctive three-gabled sandstone house on Abbey Hill near the War Memorial (top, centre). Also visible on the horizon is the 220ft tannery chimney (top, left). It fell in 1894 and was replaced by a shorter one, thus our ‘then’ photo must pre-date 1894.
Strictly speaking, if the ‘now’ photo was taken from the correct vantage point from up in Kenilworth Hall that it may be that the correct match for the position of the ‘policeman’ would actually be a bit further back than shown here, about where the air raid shelter is today. The location of the car park steps does not assist us to align the two images, unfortunately, since they were not inserted into the wall until 1984.
Thanks to Robin Leach for additional dating information for this article.
Just to remind you that the Society will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Monday February 13th at 7.45pm in the Senior Citizens’ Club at Abbey End. This will be followed by a talk from our Webmaster, Chris Blunt, about “KHAS on the Web”.
Members are also reminded that Annual Subscriptions fall due at the AGM, at a cost of £10 for individual members and £15 for couples. Anthony Manning will be pleased to receive subscriptions on Monday, either before or after the meeting.
We look forward to seeing you.
Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society (KHAS)
One thing that is apparent when trying to recreate Then & Now pictures is how much leafier today’s scenes are than those of yesteryear. Sometimes it’s difficult to match the exact vantage point for the ‘now’ photo because it would result in a photo containing a wall of foliage that obscures the scene to be captured! This is definitely the case with the Then & Now pairing above.
The ‘then’ photo shows a late Victorian long shot of St Nicholas’ Church and the Abbey Fields with an equivalent modern image taken from the top of the grassy embankment on Rosemary Hill. Today there is a line of trees along Finham Brook which would completely obscure this view in mid-summer, so the ‘now’ photo was taken in early February 2017 to at least get a line of sight to the church spire. In the foreground of both photos the line of Finham Brook can be seen.
The ‘then’ photo can be dated to before the turn of the century, purely based on the absence of the avenue of lime trees which now runs from Bridge Street up to St Nicholas’ church, bordering the car park today. A picture of these lime trees as saplings can be seen in A Kenilworth Collection (Odibourne Press, 1986) by Helen Scott and Richard Storey in a postcard which is dated at 1911, so that narrows the date down to around this period.
In fact, Robin Leach has helped out with dating our ‘then’ photo a bit more accurately. He points out that the churchyard wall is partly built but incomplete so so the image must be post 1885 but there is a hedge across the middle so it is pre-1897. Also, he observes that the photo was taken before Abbotsfield House was built in 1895, which today looks imposingly over Abbey Fields. The big tree visible at the top of the hill was famously taken down in the 1990s too, he adds.
Given the elevation of the church spire against the horizon it can be deduced that the ‘then’ image photographer was situated up in a high window of the newly built Abbey Hotel, built between 1885 and 1886, situated immediately behind the ‘now’ image’s vantage point. Initially named the Bowling Green Hotel after the hotel it replaced when Priory Road was knocked through the site, it was renamed Abbey Hotel in January 1887.
Thanks to Robin Leach for additional information for this article.
As we reported recently, for a number of years a KHAS member has been researching and creating a virtual 3D model of Kenilworth Castle as it might have been in 1645. Here is another preview of his model, this time a video time focusing on Leicester’s Stables:
This recreation is based on archaeological survey reports, English Heritage plans and elevations, and the building fabric now standing. However, many details remain unknown or unclear, particularly because the building has been repurposed and also substantially repaired over the years. New brick buttresses were added over a century ago, and more recently it was used as a tea shop and had two fireplaces with chimneys.
It is still generally accepted that there were two surface drains the length of the building, even though (as shown) every horse would then be partly standing in a drain! – so the drains would have to be covered with gratings. The location and extent of upper level flooring is also unknown, as is whether rain water from the roof was used to augment the adjacent well/cistern, or whether or how the drains ultimately connected to the drain known to run under the Water Tower.
This Leicester’s Stables 3D video, his original Abbey of St Mary 3D model and other KHAS videos can be found here: www.khas.co.uk/khas-videos/