A Little History of Stockton, Warwickshire
The village of Stockton Griffin's Lime Works Stockton Fields Links Contact
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Stockton, Warwickshire - introduction

The village of Stockton lies in the local government district of Shakespeare’s town of Stratford-on-Avon, and is located just to the east of the A426 road, two miles (3 km) north-east of Southam, and eight miles (13 km) south-west of Rugby. At the 2011 census it had a population of 1,347.

The Victoria County History of the County of Warwick states that Stockton is not named in the Domesday Book, the record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. It is first known of in connection with Gualter (Walter) de Somerville, born in Normandy, who owned land in Stockton in the reign of King Henry II (1133-1189), a great-grandson of William.

The origin of the name Stockton is not entirely clear. "Ton" is a typical Anglo-Saxon place-name ending meaning farm or homestead, but "Stock" is open to different interpretations. The Anglo-Saxon word stocc means log, tree trunk or wooden post, so 'Stockton' could mean a farm built of logs, or a fenced enclosure. However, when the word stocc forms the first part of a place-name it is usually derived from stoc, meaning cell, monastery or simply place. 'Stoc' names, along with places called Stoke or Stow, usually indicate farms which belonged to a manor or religious house.

Walter de Somerville gave the church at Stockton (which would have had lands to support it) to the Priory of Hertford, so it does seem possible that in this case the place-name meant a settlement owned by a religious community.

Six hundred years later, Stockton was still just a small agricultural village, covering some 1,400 acres (500 hectares). It occupies a low hill in the gently sloping countryside of south-eastern Warwickshire, with no very prominent natural features, but the top of the hill is a windy spot and the first record of a Stockton windmill dates back to 1356. In the nineteenth century, there were two corn-grinding windmills on the hill, not far apart.  

This photograph shows what became known as the Stockton Boulder. The lump of granite was found along the road to neighbouring Napton-on-the-Hill and identified in the 1880s by the then Rector of the Parish, William Tuckwell, as a glacial boulder that the ice had carried down from the area of Mountsorrel in Leicestershire, some 60 miles (100 km) to the north. Today, Mountsorrel Quarry is said to be the largest granite quarry in Europe. The rock still stands in the village street, but is no longer surrounded by metal railings. They were removed and melted down in the 1940s to support the war effort.

Rev. Tuckwell was known as The Radical Parson. A Christian Socialist, he believed in the nationalisation of land and divided up some of the Glebe (church) land into allotments for the villagers.

A second notable Stockton incumbent was the Edwardian “Archdeacon” Colley (apparently a self-attributed title). He was an eccentric spiritualist, and a good number of websites carry photographs of him and accounts of his activities.

In 1801 the population of Stockton was just 274, but by the end of the nineteenth century it numbered nearly a thousand. What sparked the greatest changes in the entire history of the village was the discovery in 1792 of "a rock of limestone". With increasing urban and industrial expansion, what proved to be stone of exceptional quality was in great demand and Stockton became an industrial village with quarries and cement works. The renowned Blue Lias waterproof cement was used in iconic projects from the Eddystone Light to the Houses of Parliament and the British Museum. The Blue Lias limestone, early Jurassic, was laid down 200 million years ago, and  is famous for its marine fossils, especially ammonites. The National History Museum in London houses a fossilised ichthyosaurus, almost three metres long, found at Stockton in 1898. This strange fish-lizard evolved from land reptiles that returned to the sea.

Today, quarrying is still carried on in the area around Stockton, while the visible local legacy is deep pools where once the quarrymen toiled, and rows of former cement workers’ cottages built of yellow brick made from clay taken from the pits and fired locally. The brick works are at no. 7 on the Late Victorian map - link under the Village of Stockton button.    

This website focuses on the Griffin family who farmed at Stockton for 150 years, and in the nineteenth century also had a small lime and cement works, the history of which is described. The family therefore represented the two faces of this Warwickshire village.


#top The mills are at no. 8 on the 1884-93 Ordnance Survey map - click on Late Victorian map on the menu under the Village of Stockton button.