The Shakespeare connection…
There is some circumstantial evidence that William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in the original Chapel in Luddington in 1582. Unfortunately the original Chapel, along with all the records, burnt down in the 19th Centuary.
Descendants of Anne Hathaway, John Hathaway and his son, were tenant farmers of Manor Farm in Luddington from 1706 – 1775
A Very Brief History of Luddington, Warwickshire.
By Chris Sharpe
Pre-Roman period: Prehistoric flint object and shard found close to village.
200 – 440. Roman occupation period: Large quantity of Romano British pottery found near Little Luddington Farm. Wine grapes were cultivated on the south facing hills above the Avon. The Romans built the great roads that gave easy access to the area and formed the present character of the village. Created the salt trade from Droitwich across the area.
500 – 874 Kingdom of Mercia: Tribes of Middle Angles from Jutland populated the area. King Offa made Tamworth, Warwickshire, his capital. Village acquired its first name “Luditone” – a place owned by Luda.
1066 Battle of Hastings: Comte de Meulan, commander of the Norman right flank, appointed first Earl of Leicester and, amongst many other titles, first Lord of the Manor of Luddington.
1086 Great Domesday Book: “In Pathlow Hundred ..The Count himself holds 12 hides in Luddington and 4 knights hold of him. There is land for 9 ploughs. In demesne are 5 ploughs and 20 villans and 9 bordars with 5 ploughs. There are 42 acres of meadow. It was worth £8: now £6. 4 thegns held it freely TRE as 2 manors”
1366 Edward 111: A silver groat of this period was unearthed by a farmer, in 2006, on land adjoining the ancient field track that ran north/south through the village and across the river to Milcote and beyond.
c1420 All Saints Chapel built: Guild of the Holy Cross, in Stratford, lists five priests in charge of this Chapel, in the century before the Reformation (circa 1530). There continued to be a priest with responsibility for Luddington until about 1648, when the Vicar and curates of Holy Trinity took sole charge.
The villagers chose to go elsewhere, after the loss of their own priest, and whether it was a shorter walk or a matter of High Church or low, opted to cross the River Avon to Weston on Avon rather than attend Holy Trinity, in Stratford. The Chapel fell into disuse in the middle of the eighteenth century.
c1582 William Shakespeare: It is believed that Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in All Saints Chapel but there is no solid evidence of this. However, there is no evidence of this marriage in any other church records either. The records of All Saints were lost during, or just after, the Chapel’s destruction by fire in before 1800.
1591 Ragley Estate: The Conway family, Lords of the Manor of Luddington (and many other places) purchased the Ragley Estate, doubling the size of their land. Luddington remained part of Ragley until well into the twentieth century. The Village Green is still owned by the Marquis of Hertford (Ragley’s owner).
1610 John Speede: First definitive printed map of Warwickshire, including Luddington.
1636 River Avon: This river was the first, in England, to be canalised, in about 1641. This enabled water transport of agriculproduce from Stratford to Bristol and imported goods to reach the Midlands of England. Later, Luddington was the site of a very rare circular lock. This had two functions. The first was to enable shallow draft vessels, travelling up the river to Stratford, to turn through 90º to negotiate the weir. The second was to enable deep draft vessels to tranship goods to lighter vessels, which could navigate the shallow waters upstream. Then the larger vessel could be turned through 180º to return towards Bristol. The site of this lock can still be seen today. The navigation fell into disuse about 1857, because of competition by the railways, and was only made fully navigable again, after the Second World War, when the Upper Avon Navigation was formed.
1642 – 1646 Civil War: There are many records of Parliamentarian and Royalist troops (esp. Scottish) being billeted in Luddington, prior to Edgehill and beyond. Engineers were here, in November 1645, charged with demolishing one arch of Clopton Bridge, in Stratford, against an advancing Royalist army. It was not repaired until 1651.
1704 A Map of the Lordship of Luddington…: This beautifully illustrated document is held in the County Records Office. It shows the name, size and boundaries of every field. Each has a unique number. The names are often those of earlier villagers (e.g. Cook’s Field and Fletcher’s Field). Every dwelling is clear as to its size, location and surroundings (hedges, trees etc). Twenty four dwellings are shown. Of these twenty one are still occupied today, although several of them housed more than one family in the nineteenth century. Three dwellings were demolished to improve the views when a new rich farmer arrived, in the village, in 1853.
c1790 All Saints Chapel: Destroyed by fire.
1841 to 1891 Censuses of Victorian Luddington: The 1821 Census shows a population of 112. That number reached its peak in 1861, at 119, falling to 91 in 1881. The number of occupied dwellings fell, from 30 in 1861, to 22 in 1881. Nonetheless, remarkable consistency when, with mass rural migration to the new industrial centres, many villages were being depopulated.
Snippets from the Censuses: In 1841 the two oldest women were both eighty-nine years of age. In 1852, one man was ninety-three and another eighty-four. Most villagers were indoor servants or agricultural workers but there were a few exceptions: In 1841 there was a fisherman and a baker. In 1851 there were two dressmakers. In 1861, a brush keeper, a laundress and milliner, as well as dressmaker. An eight year old was a ploughboy. By 1871, as Manor Farm developed, it had a butler, a groom, a cook and a housemaid. The village also housed two blacksmiths, a glover, three carpenters and three carters.
Eight families represented the core of the population and they all intermarried. They represented 40% of the population in all the years up to 1871. In 1891 the figure had fallen to about 24% despite the presence of sixteen Tysoes, in a total of ninety eight.
1872 Luddington Chapel at Ease: John Cotton of Bromsgrove was the architect of this fine small church in the village
For other sources of background and history of the village please try one of the following: