THE WARWICK SOCIETY
Current interests and concerns:
John Archer Esq.,
Chief Planning Officer,
Warwick District Council,
P.O. Box 2178
Royal Leamington Spa.
Planning Application W2008/305. Warwick Castle,
While not objecting to a children's playground within the
castle grounds we do strongly object to the proposed location of the playground
which is the subject of this planning application.
Warwick Castle grounds are a grade one registered landscape. The view from
the conservatory to the river is a very important, carefully contrived,18th
century landscape and is clearly visible from the motte. Under no circumstances
should this lovely setting be blighted by any sort of development.
We would ask Warwick District Council to refuse planning permission for
this application in its present form.
Speed Limit changes proposed
for West St. & Stratford Rd.
The Society, and various members, have written to object to the proposals,
partly on the grounds that the County road engineers have still not grasped
that lower speeds in the town are part of their own council's policy !
The Warwick District Council (W.D.C.)are planning
an application to the Lottery Fund to 'improve' the lovely St. Nicholas Park.
As WDC views on 'improving' the park may not be
shared by Warwick people I suggest you watch this space for up-dates.
WDC have now adopted their
new policy for parking in new developements.
The Warwick Castle Park
The propery company owners of this Grade listed Park
have hired a company called 'Green Issues' to investigate the historical
background, and the ecological and environmental issues involved if they
were to submit a planning application to Warwick District Council (WDC)
for developement of any part of the 700 acre park. Warwick Society has taken
an active part in attending meetings and visits to the park, and played
a large part in getting previous applications for developement rejected
(Various proposals have been submitted over the years by previous owners
of the park).
We will consult widely with members if any new
proposals are made. Watch this space!
The recent 'Heritage'
Opens Days at various venues in the town, and at which Society members acted
as guides to the building, led the Society to prepare a 'History briefing'
on the Courthouse. This is reproduced below.
THE WARWICK SOCIETY
The Warwick Court House
A house on this site formed part of the Castle
estate from an early date, and was one of the perquisites of the office
of constable and porter of the Castle in 1510. It was called the Cross Tavern.
It took this name from the medieval High Cross, which stood in the middle
of the road at the crossing of the east-west and north-south streets and
was regarded by John Leland in 1535 as the beauty and glory of the town.
The burgesses of the new Warwick Borough were given the use of the building,
now called the Court House, by their Charter of 1554, but the Castle still
claimed an interest and it was not until after the establishment of the
Leycester Hospital as their Guild Hall in 1571 that the Court House was
finally conveyed to the burgesses.
Courts were held here. Part of the building, later known as the Mayor's
Parlour, incurred bills for wood, ale and pipes, which implies that Corporation
hospitality was also dispensed here. In 1694 the Mayor's Parlour was damaged
in the Great Fire, which luckily did not cross Castle Street, but the High
Cross, an arcaded building, was removed during the rebuilding of the town
and never replaced. Damage to the Court House was estimated at a mere £15;
it was repaired and continued in use, but in 1724 a decision was taken to
The architect chosen was Francis Smith of Warwick, and ironwork was by Thomas
Paris and Benjamin King, also local men. The cost during the years 1725-31
came to £2254, which was considered extravagant and provoked a Chancery
suit, on complaints that it was used 'only for feasting and card playing';
the building was in the hands of the sequestrators until 1761. The reason
for rebuilding was probably a social one, since the grandest feature of
the new building is certainly the ballroom, with its musician's gallery.
Outside, the figure of Justice, in a central niche over the door, serves
as a reminder that the magistrates' courts were also held here. The figure
was cast in lead by Thomas Stayner in 1731, painted to look like stone.
Canaletto, on one of his visits to the Castle in 1748 or 1752, not only
painted the Castle itself, but also made a drawing of St. Mary's church
and Church Street, showing the new Court House on the right. It was exact
in every detail except that in the picture it is surmounted by a balustrade
topped with slender urns. A balustrade with urns was used on the rebuilt
St Mary's church, to join the old work to the new, on which Francis Smith
was also employed as a mason, but opinions differ as to whether this was
actually carried out in the Court House. Canaletto is known to have altered
buildings in his pictures to improve the composition, and he included in
this drawing a wholly fictitious building in place of the Aylesford Hotel.
A photograph of the Court House taken in about 1900 shows a solid parapet.
This may have been installed in the nineteenth century, and this remained
until the present balustrade, without urns, was constructed in about 1979.
The Court House is built of Warwick sandstone which has been repaired many
times using stone from other quarries, such as Hollington near Cheadle in
North Staffordshire. There have been many changes internally. The ground
floor room now used as the Council Chamber by the Town Council was the Magistrates'
Court until 1974. The earlier names on the panel of bailiffs and mayors
until 1902 were compiled by Thomas Kemp, himself a former Mayor. Two unusual
portraits in this room are of Nicholas Eyffeler and his wife Katherine.
He was a glazier who died in 1591 and founded the town's earliest charities.
The Ballroom upstairs has been redecorated many times. The chandeliers were
the finishing touch to a scheme in 1953-55; one of them was presented to
the Borough by the then newly-formed Warwick Society. In the most recent
repainting, the wooden Ionic pilasters were marbled to great effect.
The original Cross Tavern property included three shops in Castle Street,
which were let, but there were numerous small private houses in what is
now the Pageant Garden. The garden takes its name from the very successful
1906 Warwick Pageant. The large house next to the Court House in Jury Street
belonged in the nineteenth century to the influential Greenway family, and
by 1850 its garden had extended behind the Court House to a gateway into
Castle Street. George Cattell Greenway became Town Clerk and a partner with
his brother Kelynge Greenway, in Greenway, Smith and Greenways Bank; both
were implicated in the bank's spectacular failure in 1887 and served terms
in goal. The house was on the market at the time of the Pageant. It was
bought with the proceeds and presented to the town; it became the Pageant
House and its enlarged garden the Pageant Garden, now a much valued green
oasis in the town centre.
Written by Michael Farr on behalf of the Warwick
Society © 2006
Membership Secretary: John Fletcher, 4 Chapel Street, Warwick CV34 4HL
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