The church at Clifton Campville: lordship and community 12th and early 13th centuries

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Figures 7a–b:

Heraldic shields, as seen on the wall painting

  1. The shield of the Camville family. It is possible that this is the shield which is shown on the wall painting, between Christ and the kneeling woman who is possibly Maud Camville.

  2. The shield of the Vernon family. This can be seen on Tristram’s reconstruction, painted over the face of the Virgin

The later 14th century

At some later stage in the 14th century, further considerable additions were made to the church: the tower and spire were built, the chancel was extended, an aisle was added to the south side of the nave, and a chapel was constructed adjoining the south side of the chancel.32 [see Fig. 1]

There is some disagreement about the timing and sequence of these additions. Some writers attribute them to the first half of the 14th century, a time of mixed fortunes for the Camville family. On the one hand, William, who was lord of the manor from before 1308 until the late 1330s, was 2nd Baron Camville and thus clearly of some status. On the other hand, the succession of the family estate must have seemed uncertain after the death in 1323 of Richard Vernon (either William’s son-in-law or his grandson), leaving William with no male heirs. This situation might have encouraged William to invest further in the manor in order to strengthen the family’s position.
It is therefore possible that the 2nd Baron, William, was responsible for additions to the church, continuing what the 1st Baron had begun. However, recent research attributes the new building to the second half of the 14th century, specifically to the period c.1353 to the 1370s.33 This period seems to have marked a peak in Clifton Campville’s manorial status, despite the male Camville line having died out when William, the 2nd Baron, died, apparently in about 1337/8.34 What happened next is unclear, as it depends on whether the Richard who died in 1323 (see above) was Maud’s son or her husband. If Maud was still married, she would have unable to inherit the manor in her own right and the manor would have passed to her husband.35 If she was a widow, she could possibly have inherited the land herself. Whatever happened immediately after William’s death, it seems that by 1338 the manor had passed to his son-in-law, Richard Stafford.36
Richard Stafford was descended from a cadet line of the powerful Stafford family. As a junior member of the Stafford family he was perhaps anxious to make a name for himself in some way. In his youth he had been outlawed but he seems to have redeemed himself though service with Edward III and with the Black Prince in the Hundred Years War during the 1340s and 1350s.37 His marriage to Isabella Vernon in about 1337 led to his becoming lord of Clifton. Although military service took him out of the country, particularly during the late 1350s and early 1360s,38 it seems likely that he maintained close links with Clifton through his wife and also through his association with Hugh de Hopwas.
Hugh de Hopwas was rector of Clifton for over thirty years. He had obtained his first benefice in 1346, through the patronage of Richard Stafford, and he was subsequently appointed to a total of seven benefices – some concurrently – before he was appointed to Clifton Campville in July 1353.39 He remained as rector in Clifton until his death in 1384, during which time he held a number of other benefices and was also a canon of Lichfield Cathedral.40

It seems that the partnership of Richard Stafford and Hugh de Hopwas, both of whom probably lived in Clifton, could have made possible the extensive additions to the church at Clifton during the period 1353 to 1384.41

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