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Burton Green Local History

Overview of Development of Burton Green

The present administrative Parish of Burton Green was formed in 2011. The new Parish boundary was drawn without any awareness of the history of Burton Green.

The Interactive Map of Burton Green shows all of the buildings colour coded to reflect their dates.

This image is taken from the interactive map

The oldest areas are starred mauve. Old Burton Green was the circled area on the Western side of this map, along Hob Lane. Most of that area lies outside the present boundary. There was also a seperate area of development around Hurst and Bockenden, the circled area in the East. This was not formerly part of Burton Green.

The dark red squares show development during the 19th Century, which was along Cromwell Lane and Hob Lane. The green squares show early 20th Century development, along Cromwell Lane. The blues squares show late 20th Century development - infill along Cromwell Lane, and new developments along Red Lane.

Early History - Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age finds in the vicinity

We don't know exactly when people first lived in Burton Green. But parts of Warwickshire, including Burton Green, have been occupied for several thousand years.

People have lived in Warwickshire since at least 5,000 BC. One of the most important Stone Age finds in Warwickshire, a green stone axe-head was found near Gibbet Hill. Bronze age (3000BC - 600BC) artefacts have been found near Baginton, and bronze age swords found at Meriden. A bronze artifact has been found at Westwood Heath.

In 2001, during the construction of a sports pitch at Warwick University, builders unearthed 17 Iron Age (600BC onwards) roundhouses. 

Various artifacts have been discoved in the area South of Westwood Heath Road. A housing development was planned to cover part of that area in 2017. A survey of the area was undertaken by Oxford Archaeology. More details here:

Domesday and The Middle Ages

The Norman invasion of 1066 brought the Domesday Book (1086) and the first detailed documentation of the entire country. In the Domesday book, the country was divided into administrative areas called Hundreds. The Hundred was an ancient grouping of communities, in use at least from Saxon times. The name may refer to 100 homesteads, which was the approximate size of a Hundred.

This map shows places in Warwickshire that are mentioned in the Domesday Book, and the boundaries of the Hundreds. You can click on this map to enlarge it. There is no reference to Burton Green in the Domesday Book. Though the line which now forms Cromwell Lane, then formed the boundary between Coleshill Hundred and Stoneleigh Hundred.

This boundary line between Coleshill and Stoneleigh remained in effect until just a few years ago, and formed the modern boundary between Solihull (Coleshill) and Warwick (Stoneleigh).

You can search the Domesday Book on-line. The entries for Berkswell and Stoneleigh are here:
Domesday Book - Berkswell
Domesday Book - Stoneleigh

Manors and Parish Boundaries

During the Middle Ages the old boundaries between the two hundreds became the boundaries between three Manors.

The area to the West of Cromwell Lane (shaded green) was part of the Manor of Berkswell. The area to the East (shaded blue) was part of the Stoneleigh Estate. And the area to the South (shaded red) was part of Redfern Manor, which was part of the Kenilworth Castle Estate.

This junction was also a point on the old cattle droving road from the Welsh hills to London. This track runs down from Brownhills, through Stonebridge, Berkswell, via Burton Green, then through Kenilworth, Chesford, and to London.

Burton Green (formerly known as Barton Green)

In Medieval times the name Burton Green was confined to the area around Hob Lane and Moat Farm (shown left).

A settlement seems to have been established here sometime before 1500.

Witches in Burton Green

We know from Shakespeare, and many other sources, that beliefs in Witchcraft were common in England in Medieval times. There is some evidence of this at Burton Green. The principal road in old Burton Green was named Hob Lane. There is a also Hob Farm in Hob Lane. The 1841 Tithe Apportionment shows that one of the fields along Hob Lane was named Hob field. Hob was a familiar name for Robin Goodfellow, Puck, and the god of the witches.

One of the cottages in Hob Lane (recently demolished) was named Hobgoblins. The Hobgoblin is the same character as the character represented by Puck in Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.

During the Victorian period, part of Hob Lane was named Wiches Lane.

Oliver Cromwell

Cromwell Cottage
Near to Tile Hill station is Cromwell Cottage, built partly of stone (shown right). Many people have asked whether this cottage, and Cromwell Lane, have any connection with Oliver Cromwell.

The road name Cromwell Lane is modern and dates from the 1960s. There is more about the naming of Cromwell Lane further below.

What we do know about Cromwell, is that in 1649 Kenilworth Castle was dismantled under his orders. Kenilworth Castle had been in Parliamentary hands. This action was simply to prevent the castle from being captured by Royalists.  The destruction of the castle was not the consequence of a battle, and Cromwell was not in the area at the time.

Cromwell did visit Coventry on 15 May 1645. Cromwell returned to Coventry, followed by an army, on 25 August 1651. This was for the purpose of defending the City. From Coventry, the army then marched to Worcester.

Squatter Cottages 1650-1766

Between 1650 and 1730 many cottages were built on waste land particularly on Westwood Heath and the verges of lanes in the area.The black dots on this modern map indicate the locations of squatter cottages in 1766. 

Almost all of those buildings have disappeared. Many were swept away in 1816 when Westwood Heath and other commons were enclosed.

Burton Green Common

In 1756 some of the agricultural land in the Parish of Kenilworth was enclosed, and an area of land near Moat Farm was set aside as Common Land, for use by the poor, for communal grazing.

Breakup of the Manorial Estates

The three manorial estates were all broken up and their farms sold to private individuals around the end of the 19th Century.

The last owner of Berkswell Manor was Josha Wheatley. Much of his land, including some farms in Burton Green, was broken up and sold in 1888.

The last owner of Redfern Manor (part of the Kenilworth Castle Estate) was the Earl of Clarendon. His estate was broken up and sold in 1917. Several of the farms on his estate were bought by the farmers who had farmed them.

The image at the left shows the first page of the Kenilworth Castle Estate sale catalogue. 

Several as plots of building land were sold for £100 per acre. A detached cottage with garden was sold for £170.

The last owner of Stoneleigh Manor was Lord Leigh. His estate was broken up and sold in 1928. 

The image at the right is from the Stoneleigh Estate sale catalogue. You can click the image to enlarge it and to read the details.

Some of the farms on the estate were sold as working farms. Some other land, including 12 plots in Burton Green and 8 plots in Westwoood, were sold as plots of land for building.

3,286 square yards of land at Burton Green realised £75. A detached cottage with 1,663 square yards of land at the junction of Red Lane fetched £170. A cottage and holding with slightly over five acres of land at Burton Green fetched £530. £400 was obtained for a site of 4 acres with a frontage of 200 yards in Westwood Heath Road.

Burton Green - Victorian Period (1837-1901)

The reign of Queen Victoria brought many innovations, and two important changes to Burton Green - the schools and the railways.

The history of Burton Green School, and its origins in Victorian philanthropy, are described here:
Old Photographs, History and Memories of Burton Green School

The map at the right shows Burton Green as it appears in the first edition of the Ordnance Survey, around 1831. Note that there are no railways on this map.

At the time of this map you will see that the name was Barton Green, and that the name is placed along Hob Lane, beyond Moat Farm.

1841 brought the first national census since Domesday, and also very detailed maps of the entire country, which were made for taxation purpose (tithes).

The image at the left shows areas of land ownership and is based on the 1841 Tithe Map map.

This is a revised version of the 1831 Ordnance Survey map, made around 1870, which includes the two newly-built railways.

You can see that at this time there were no houses on the East side of Cromwell Lane.

Burton Green is still referred to as Barton Green.

This is the original railway station at Tile Hill (from a collection of old photographs collected by Albert Smith)

The ecclesiastical parish of Westwood was formed in 1846. Westwood Church was built in a traditional Medieval style on land given by Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh. Westwood included the hamlets of Fletchamstead, Canley and Tile Hill. In 1927, local government boundary changes moved Fletchamstead, Canley and Tile Hill to within the Coventry City boundary.

In 1899 The Victoria History of the Counties of England was published. This is a comprehensive account of the entire country produced for Queen Victoria. The Victoria History has undergone several revisions since the time of Queen Victoria. These documents are available on-line. The entries covering this area are here:
Victoria County History - Stoneleigh Parish
Victoria County History - Berkswell Parish

The First World War

At least 8 men from Burton Green served in WWI.

Three of them were killed in action.

Full details of their stories are on this page:
WWI Armistice Centenary Remembrance

Burton Green within Living Memory

Several former residents have very kindly put into writing their reminiscences of Burton Green from the 1940s and 1950s. Some of these essays are quite detailed, and a few also have their own rare photos. We are also fortunate in having some short videos in which elderly residents recall some of their memories.

In this first video, an eye-witness talks about several key developments in Burton Green since the Second World War. They include how Cromwell Lane became built up, an attempt to use the wood behind the school as a car distribution depot, the construction of the new village hall, the naming of Cromwell Lane, and the construction of the electricity substation....

Huts and temporary accommodation along
Cromwell Lane in 1947, detail from
a photo provided by Stuart Barratt
These are some of the written reminiscences, that you can read on their own pages:

Memories of Burton Green in the 1950s by Stuart Barratt - includes several photos from the 1940s; describes post war house-building, construction of the mains sewer, shopping the the 1950s, memories of the railway, Westwood Heath School, and memories of Westwood Heath.

Reminiscences of Burton Green by Anthony Richards - memories of the railway line, the Peeping Tom, Mrs Whitehead's Shop, Burton Green School, the buses, Seaton's Field Caravan Site, Baughan’s Field, the Water Tower, the Village Hall, Black Waste Wood, the Villagers of the 1950s.

In this video, a former resident talks about her life in Hob Lane in the 1940s...

Some more written reminiscences...

Reminiscences of Burton Green by Rick Jowett - includes several more rare photos of Cromwell Lane from the 1940s-1960s.

Photos of the Burton Green Light Railway from Judith Risley - Hob Lane in the 1960s

Reminiscences of Burton Green by Joan Pulham and Angela Loughran - from 1956 and 1976

Seize the Opportunity - a short article by Val Brown, who lived in Burton Green in 1972

Creation of the Modern Parish of Burton Green

 In 2011 it was decided that a new Parish of Burton Green should be created.

A new Parish was formed, consisting of part of old Burton Green that had been within the Parish of Stoneleigh, plus part of Westwood, plus the areas around Bockendon, Hurst, Crackley and Red Lane.

This map shows the area of old Burton Green , compared with the new Parish boundary, outlined blue.

Much of old Burton Green that had formerly been within the Parish of Berkswell was not incorporated into the new Parish.

Interactive Map

The dates of all of the buildings and locations of all the historical features are indicated on the Burton Green Map. Click on 'Map' on the tool bar at the top of the page.

Additional Articles

Article about Burton Green in The West Midlands Village Book
History of Westwood Heath
Memories and Old Photographs of Burton Green School 
History of The Peeping Tom
Garden Archaeology in Burton Green
Archaeology at Westwood Heath
Geological History of Warwickshire
Bockendon Grange
Cromwell Cottage

Written by John Webb