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Barford (St. Peter)

BARFORD (St. Peter), a parish, in the Warwick division of the hundred of Kington, union and county of Warwick, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Warwick; containing 849 inhabitants. Barford was for three centuries the residence of the ancestors of Charles Thomas Warde, Esq., now of Clopton, in the county. Of this family was Rowley Warde, an eminent lawyer in the reigns of James and Charles I., commonly called Old Serjeant Warde, and in the parish register styled the Right Worshipful Rowley Warde; who died at the age of 96, about the year 1650. His son, Thomas Warde, barrister at law, served as an officer in the army of Charles at the battle of Edge Hill, and kept the royal flag flying on the top of the church tower here, facing his own house; which caused Cromwell's army after the battle, on its march to Kenilworth Castle, eight miles distant, to fire shots at the tower, the marks of which still remain. The mill on the river Avon at Barford, now belonging to the Earl of Warwick, was either granted or sold by Charles II. to this Thomas Warde, he having been instrumental in obtaining for the king and his royal father several sums of money to assist them in their distress, in the rebellion. The parish is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Avon, which flows through a finely varied tract of country from the grounds of Warwick Castle; it comprises 1594 acres of land, and the higher parts present very fine views. The village contains several handsome houses.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £11. 11. 0½.; net income, £869; patron, John Mills, Esq.: the tithes were commuted for land and a money payment in 1760. Thomas Warde, Esq., an eminent antiquary, sold the advowson for £500, in 1740, to the Rev. John Mills. The old church was built in the reign of Henry VI.; the late church in that of Henry VII.; and the present edifice, which incorporates the ancient tower, in 1844: it contains 604 sittings, and cost about £2500. The windows are of painted glass: the eastern one is in five compartments, embellished with figures of the Four Evangelists and the patron saint; the colours are peculiarly rich, and the effect of the whole window striking and beautiful; it was executed at the cost of the neighbouring families, to the memory of Jane, widow of the late Charles Mills, Esq., and daughter of the Hon. Wriothesley Digby. Under the chancel is a vault for the family of Mills, to members of whom are five urns on pedestals in the chancel wall. Formerly there was a tomb to the memory of a rector of Wellesbourn, who died about the year 1200; the tomb was long since destroyed, but the inscription, on stone, has been built into the wall of the church. Among other relics is a curious tablet of freestone, part of a monument, which the rector, the Rev. William Somerville, has had placed in the wall of the vestry, with this inscription: "Here lyeth the body of Thomas Warde, Gentleman, parson of Barford, 2d son of Thomas and Martha Warde; he died in 1532." A school here is endowed with about £48 per annum, arising from benefactions of John Beale in 1672, and the Rev. Thomas Dugard in 1677.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.