A Little History of Cherington and Stourton, Warwickshire
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Cherington and Stourton

Present-day pronunciation: Cherington rhymes with "herring-tun"; the (River) Stour rhymes with "hour"; Stourton is "store-tun"; Warwickshire, "Warrickshear". An old spelling of Stourton is Stowerton, which suggests the first part of the name was pronounced (perhaps more logically) like that of its river. Cherington, formerly also spelt "Cherrington", should not be confused with the larger Cherington in neighbouring Gloucestershire.

The county of Warwickshire is divided by the River Avon into two parts; north-west of the river once lay the Forest of Arden which covered most of that half of the county, while in contrast to the Arden, to the south-east is the Feldon, or more open country. Cherington and Stourton are on the southern edge of the Feldon and at the northern tip of the Cotswold Hills.

Since 1910, these small villages (population 245 and 131) have formed a single ecclesiastical parish. They lie side by side about 23 miles (37 km) north-west of the university city of Oxford, on the upper reaches of the River Stour, in the southern part of Warwickshire. The Stour is a tributary of Shakespeare's Avon, which it joins just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, the town of the poet's birth. Stratford is some 13 miles (21 km) by road from our two villages, again to the north-west.

Most of Cherington and Stourton is built a little away from the river, which though no more than a stream at this point, is somewhat liable to flooding and occasionally leaves parts of the lower road through the villages under water. This fertile valley here rises from a height of some 80 metres (260 feet) at its centre, to about 180m (nearly 600 ft) on Cherington and Green Hills, bounding the villages to the north, and Margett’s Hill, just over a mile (2 km) to the south. The rich water-meadows left generations of haymakers yearning for a cool drink of the potent cider formerly made hereabouts; railways and main roads having passed the villages by, mixed farming is still an important village activity. Nevertheless, in terms of numbers, most of the active population now do non-agricultural work, many in towns in the area, such as Banbury, in Oxfordshire, or indeed in Stratford.

Many houses are in the attractive local limestone which came from quarries on Margett’s Hill. A few date from the 16th and 17th centuries, a larger number from the early 1700s. This probably stems from the fact that Cherington was devastated by fire on 27 April 1716.

An interesting feature of some houses, mentioned in Margaret Dickins’ Little History, enables us to ascertain not only the building date but also the identity of the then inhabitants or owners: this is the date or name stone.

 A few of the original thatched roofs remain, and just one thatched barn (Stockleys, on Margett's Hill).

    On a frosty morning, the fine stone of these Cherington cottages glows in the winter sun.

No typical English village is complete without its fine old Parish Church, and that of Cherington, dedicated to St John the Baptist, is described in Chapter 6 of the Little History, as well as in the pages of the Victoria County History (A History of the County of Warwick, vol.5). As the result of a magnificent fundraising effort, long overdue church bell restoration was achieved in 2006. For photographs of the church, as well as many other images, have a look at the Photo Album. The villages also boast many other "listed buildings", those designated as of historical merit and therefore enjoying legal protection.

Reference is sometimes made to "Little Cherington", which is the area of the village bounded by Featherbed Lane to the east, to the west by Church Lane, which climbs north from Cherington Mill up to the church, and to the north and south by roads which complete the rectangle.

When the village had local telephone numbers, these were prefixed by the name Little Cherington, e.g. Little Cherington 123, as the telephone exchange was housed in a hut situated in a field in that part of the village.

The final short chapter of the Little History refers to the once grand estate of Weston near Cherington, itself the subject of an interesting book, included in the Bibliography; an illustration from the volume is reproduced in the Weston photo gallery. The estate, for many years an important source of local employment, once covered some 6500 acres (2630 hectares) and still retains over 4000, (1620 ha.), a considerable size for lowland England. Lords of the manor and residents at Weston Park in the 16th and 17th century were the Sheldon family, when they produced the famous Sheldon tapestries at nearby Barcheston and elsewhere. Some of the largest of these hung in the family mansion at Weston. Weston Park had a brickworks, which was a principal source of material for the older brick-built buildings in Cherington and Stourton.

When a house in the villages is sold, it often commands a high price. This is frequently beyond the reach of local families, who may then tend to move away. Be that as it may, of the families recorded in the census of 1901, at least sixteen were still represented in a 1999 village survey. The names involved were Bailey, Bartlett, Bradley, Bryan, Castle, Compton, Crossley, Dyer, Gillett, Hands, Jarrett, Long, Randall, Simkins, Smith and Taylor.

This survey was part of the research carried out for the Millennium History of Cherington, Stourton, and neighbouring Sutton-under-Brailes.

A full description of the villages, particularly its buildings, was published in 1999. This is the finely illustrated Cherington and Stourton Village Design Statement, available here:

#top CherStourVill.designstatement1999.pdf