From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harbury Windmill.jpg
Harbury Windmill
Harbury is located in Warwickshire
Location within Warwickshire
Population2,420 (2011 Census)[1]
OS grid referenceSP3760
Civil parish
  • Harbury
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLeamington Spa
Postcode districtCV33
Dialling code01926
AmbulanceWest Midlands
UK Parliament
WebsiteHarbury parish council
List of places
52°14′28″N 1°27′03″W / 52.2410°N 1.4507°W / 52.2410; -1.4507Coordinates: 52°14′28″N 1°27′03″W / 52.2410°N 1.4507°W / 52.2410; -1.4507

Harbury is a village and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district of Warwickshire, England. It is about 3 miles (5 km) west-southwest of Southam and about 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Royal Leamington Spa. The parish includes the hamlet of Deppers Bridge. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 2,420.[1] The village is on a ridge of lias up to 390 feet (119 m) high that runs roughly northeast – southwest. The parish covers 3,397 acres (1,375 ha). It is bounded by the River Itchen to the east, Fosse Way to the northwest, a minor road to the south and field boundaries on its other sides. Adjoining parishes are Bishop's Itchington, Bishop's Tachbrook, Chesterton, Ladbroke and Southam. The A425 road and the Chiltern Main Line pass through the parish just north of Harbury village. Junction 12 on the M40 motorway is about 3 miles (5 km) south of the village.


The Crown Inn, built in the 18th century

A middle Bronze Age burial (carbon dated 1530-1320 BCE) has been found near a Neolithic pit to the north-west of the village.[2] Bronze Age pits and hearths, carbon dated to c. 1000 BCE, were found in 1972 near Sharmer Farm in the north of the parish.[3] Although Harbury is close to the Fosse Way, a major Roman Road, only a few artefacts from this period are listed. The toponym "Harbury" is from Old English, said to be derived from Edgar, an early tribal leader. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the manor as Edburberie where it is listed amongst lands granted to Henry de Ferrers[4] by William the Conqueror. The land employed five ploughs and was valued at £4.

At the time of the Hundred Rolls in 1279 two windmills were recorded in the parish. The present brick-built tower mill in Mill Lane is late 18th-century.[5] It is disused and has no sails.[6] The earliest known bridge over the river Itchen at Deppers Bridge was built by the Lords of the Manor of Ladbroke. It is known to have existed by 1397, when it was out of repair and their lordships were ordered to have it renewed.[6] In 1611 the legacy of Thomas Wagstaff, late Lord of the Manor, established a school in the parish. An inscribed panel on the building records that his will was contested until settled by a Decree in Chancery in 1637. The former schoolhouse is an early 17th-century building of limestone, with mullioned and transomed windows,[7] a schoolroom and Tudor fireplaces.[8]

The cover of a silver chalice from the parish church is inscribed Harberbery 1576.[6] Christopher Saxton's 1576 map of Warwickshire and Leicestershire marks the village as Harburbury.[9][10] An open field system prevailed in the parish until an Inclosure Act passed by Parliament in 1779 was implemented, enclosing 120 yardlands (3,600 acres (1,457 ha)) of common land.[6] The earliest known record of a post office in the village is from September 1847, when a type of postmark called an undated circle was issued.[11] The Harbury Heritage Group maintains a heritage room at the village primary school.[12]

Parish church[edit]

The Church of England parish church of All Saints has a 13th-century chancel with lancet windows. The southwest tower is later 13th-century, also with lancet windows. The south and north aisles and arcades were added in about 1300. The font and the embattled top of the tower are Georgian additions. In 1873 the church was restored and the south aisle widened and new Gothic Revival windows inserted in the east and north walls of the chancel.[7] The stained glass in several of the windows is from the 1890s.[13] In 1811 Thomas II Mears of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry recast the tower's bells as a ring of five. This may be when the top of the tower was rebuilt in brick.[6] In 1959 John Taylor & Co of Loughborough recast the bells as a ring of six, and in 1981 Taylor & Co cast a new treble and second bell, increasing the ring to eight.[14] The parish of All Saints is now part of the benefice of Harbury and Ladbroke.[15]

Railway and cutting[edit]

A CrossCountry Voyager train in Harbury cutting

Building of the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway between Birmingham Moor Street and Fenny Compton through the parish started in 1847 and was completed in 1852. Southam Road and Harbury railway station opened that year, at Deppers Hill about 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the village.[6] By the time the line opened in 1852 it was part of the Great Western Railway. In 1948 it was nationalised as part of British Railways, which closed the station to goods traffic in 1963 and passenger traffic in 1964. The station has since been demolished. The railway remains open as part of the Chiltern Main Line, carrying both Chiltern Railways and CrossCountry passenger trains and much freight traffic. The railway passes through the ridge northeast of the village.

Originally a tunnel was planned, but its geology of Jurassic Blue Lias proved too unstable. Instead a cutting up to 110 feet (34 m) deep was dug between 1847 and 1852,[16] which in 1850 was described as "one of the deepest in the Kingdom, being 104 feet deep and 600 wide".[17] There is a tunnel, but for a distance of only 73 yards (67 m) through a high part of Deppers Hill where there is a road junction. The tunnel portals were built with high retaining walls to protect them from subsidence.[16] Parts of the cutting have suffered subsidence a number of times. In 1884 the Great Western Railway widened the cutting to make its slopes shallower in the hope of preventing further slips.[18]

On 14 February 2014 part of the cutting at the end of the tunnel near Bishop's Itchington subsided.[19] All train services were suspended for several days while Network Rail worked to clear the damaged section of the slope and try to stabilise it. Network Rail was still working on the cutting by 31 January 2015 when part of it subsided again, and again the line had to be closed to all train services.[20] The next day it was announced that about 350,000 tons of unstable rock and earth would have to be removed, and assessment of the site before clearance could start could take several days.[21] On 3 February Network Rail chairman Mark Carne described the landslip as "a massive incident" and said the line may be closed for "several weeks".[22] A fortnight later NR announced that it would reopen the railway "by Easter", i.e. 2 April.[23] On 4 March it brought the reopening date forward by three weeks to 13 March.[24]

Harbury quarry[edit]

Mitre Pool, part of the former cement quarry at Bishop's Bowl Lakes

As well as linking Birmingham and Oxford, the new railway provided a connection for the Greaves Works in Bishop's Itchington that since 1820 had been quarrying Blue Lias and turning it into cement. The business became Greaves, Bull and Lakin and in 1855 opened a new cement works. Production increased in phases over the next seven decades, and quarrying extended across the parish boundary into Harbury. Allied Cement Manufacturers, makers of Red Triangle Cement, bought the quarry and works in 1927 but went bankrupt in 1931. Associated Portland Cement, now Blue Circle Industries, bought ACM's assets in 1932 and continued production. Cement-making was ended in 1970 and the site was turned into a depot. The site was cleared in 1994.[25] The deep quarries on the Harbury side of the parish boundary have since been converted into Bishops Bowl Lakes, which is a coarse fishing facility.[26] During a heat wave in the summer of 2018 a 17-year-old boy from Daventry drowned after getting into difficulty in the lake,[27] this prompted the tightening of security at the site.

Natural History and Geology[edit]

Harbury plesiosaur fossil in the Natural History Museum
Macroplata: the Harbury plesiosaur

Harbury lies on the Blue Lias, a Lower Jurassic marine sediment that also forms the unstable sea cliffs at Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast. As at Lyme Regis, the Blue Lias at Harbury is rich in marine fossils. In 1927 and 1928 the skeletons of two marine reptiles were found in Harbury quarry. They are an ichthyosaur and a plesiosaur, and both fossils are now in the Natural History Museum, London. The plesiosaur is the unique example of the early Jurassic species Macroplata tenuiceps.[28][29]

Harbury Spoilbank[edit]

Harbury Spoilbank nature reserve,[30] a Warwickshire Wildlife Trust site, is located 1 km east of Harbury on the B4452 on the left going towards Deppers Bridge. It covers 6.7 hectares and the clay spoilbanks host species-rich grassland with flowering plants including cowslip, early forget-me-not, hairy violet and orchids such as Twayblade and Common Spotted-Orchid. More than 20 species of butterfly have been found, including early species such as brimstone, green hairstreak, holly blue, the grizzled skipper and dingy skipper. The Harbury Spoilbank nature reserve is part of the larger Harbury Railway Cutting Site of Special Scientific Interest that extends westwards from the nature reserve along both sides of the railway for approximately 2 km.[31]


Harbury has a primary school with about 200 pupils. A day nursery provides childcare for children aged 3 months to 5 years.[32] A pre-school provides sessional early years education for children aged 2 yrs 9 months to school entry.[33] The village has a GP practice[34] and a volunteer-run public library.[35] The village has three pubs: The Crown Inn,[36] The Gamecock, and the Shakespeare Inn.[37] Two other pubs in the village closed in recent years: the Dog Inn (converted into a day nursery[32]) and the Old New Inn. There is a village hall[38] and a village social club.[39] There are playing fields behind the village hall with a playground, netball court, football pitches, a BMX track, a skate park, an all-weather walking route and a car park. The recreation ground has three tennis courts that are used by the village tennis club.[40] Harbury has a Rugby football club with its own ground and clubhouse,[41] which it shares with the village Cricket Club. The village also has a junior football club.[42]

Harbury has a pharmacy and two supermarkets, one is a branch of the Co-Op and the other has a sub-post office. The nearest filling station is on the Fosse Way, approximately 1.5 miles away. Harbury Village Library is a community library run in association with Warwickshire County Libraries. The Library is open from 9-5pm, Monday to Friday, and 10-12 noon on Saturdays and has full access to County and National books, materials and wide-ranging online resources, as well as its own excellent book collection, and free online use of Ancestry and British Newspaper Archive. It offers a car park, free computers, free Wi-Fi, ongoing art exhibitions, regular half hour song and story sessions for pre-schoolers, and pop-up displays of local interest. Biblio's Cafe is in the library and serves home-made cakes and coffee 9.15 - 12 noon Wednesday to Friday and 10 to 12 noon on Saturday.[43]

Notable People[edit]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Harbury Parish (1170219160)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Middle Bronze Age human cremation burial". Our Warwickshire. Heritage and Culture Warwickshire. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Prehistoric features at Sharmer Farm". Our Warwickshire. Heritage and Culture Warwickshire. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  4. ^ Domesday Book: A Complete Transliteration. London: Penguin Books. 2003. p. 663. ISBN 0-14-143994-7.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Harbury Windmill (Grade II) (1184961)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Salzman 1951, pp. 103–108.
  7. ^ a b Pevsner & Wedgwood 1966, p. 307.
  8. ^ Historic England. "Wagstaffe School House (Grade II) (1184894)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  9. ^ Saxton, Christopher (1576). WARWIC LECESTRIAQUE Comitat. British Library: Royal MS. 18. D.III; Item number: f.49: manuscript.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  10. ^ Saxton, Christopher. "WARWIC LECESTRIAQUE Comitat". British Library. British Library. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  11. ^ The Undated Circular Marks of the Midland Counties. The Midland (GB) Postal History Society. 1997. p. 150. ISBN 0-9513311-3-2.
  12. ^ "Harbury Heritage | Looking after Harbury's Heritage". Archived from the original on 21 October 2014.
  13. ^ Historic England. "Church of All Saints, Church Street (Grade II) (1184836)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  14. ^ Chester, Mike (12 July 2009). "Harbury All Saints". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  15. ^ Archbishops' Council (2015). "Benefice of Harbury and Ladbroke". A Church Near You. Church of England. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  16. ^ a b Musson, Mike. "Harbury Cutting: gwrhc94". GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton. WarwickshireRailways.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  17. ^ History, Gazetteer, and Directory, of Warwickshire. Sheffield: Francis White and Co. 1850. p. 614.
  18. ^ Ferris, Robert. "Harbury Cutting and Tunnel: gwrhc1575". GWR Route: Banbury to Wolverhampton. WarwickshireRailways.com. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  19. ^ Evans, Sarah (14 February 2014). "Landslip near Harbury Tunnel suspends rail services". Stratford-upon-Avon Herald. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  20. ^ "Media statement – Harbury tunnel landslip". News Releases. Network Rail. 31 January 2015. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  21. ^ "Media statement – Harbury tunnel landslip – update 1 Feb". News Releases. Network Rail. 1 February 2015. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  22. ^ "Harbury Tunnel landslip to close railway for several weeks". News Releases. Network Rail. 3 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  23. ^ "Railway between Leamington Spa and Banbury to reopen by Easter". News Releases. Network Rail. 15 February 2015. Archived from the original on 5 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  24. ^ "Railway between Leamington Spa and Banbury to reopen three weeks ahead of schedule". News Releases. Network Rail. 4 March 2015. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  25. ^ Ferris, Robert. "Harbury Cement Works". Miscellaneous. WarwickshireRailways.com. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  26. ^ Bishops Bowl Fishery Archived 22 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Perring, Rebecca (27 July 2018). "Body found in search for missing teenage swimmer in Bishops Itchington quarry". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  28. ^ Ketchum, H.F.; Smith, A.S. (2010). "The Anatomy and Taxonomy of Macroplata tenuiceps (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Hettangian (Lower Jurassic) of Warwickshire, United Kingdom". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30 (4): 1069–1081. doi:10.1080/02724634.2010.483604. JSTOR 40864386. S2CID 85081282.
  29. ^ "Specimen record for Macroplata tenuiceps". Natural History Museum Data Portal. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  30. ^ "Harbury Spoilbank". Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Harbury Railway Cutting SSSI citation". Natural England. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  32. ^ a b Banana Moon
  33. ^ Harbury Pre-school
  34. ^ Harbury Surgery
  35. ^ Harbury Village Library
  36. ^ The Crown Inn
  37. ^ Shakespeare Inn
  38. ^ Harbury Village Hall
  39. ^ Harbury Village Club
  40. ^ Harbury Tennis Club Archived 23 August 2014 at archive.today
  41. ^ Harbury Rugby Football Club
  42. ^ Harbury Juniors Football Club
  43. ^ Harbury Village Library & Biblio's Cafe
  44. ^ Everiss, Bruce (4 July 2008). "Philip Bushill-Matthews MEP". Villagebuzz Harbury and nearby villages. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  45. ^ Dereli, Cynthia (2004). "Elizabeth Hands (bap. 1746, d. 1815): 2004". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/45851. Retrieved 24 August 2017. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  46. ^ Burns, F. D. A. "Jago, Richard (1715–1781) 2004; online edn, May 2006". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  47. ^ Brown, Oliver. "F3 driver Jordan King admits it has helped his racing career being the son of Sainsbury's chief executive". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
  48. ^ Stringer, John. "Amazon.co.uk John Stringer: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle". Amazon. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  49. ^ Stringer, John. "Amazon.co.uk John Stringer: Books, Biography, Blogs, Audiobooks, Kindle". Amazon. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  50. ^ "Teacher notes Project ICT". TES magazine. 27 August 1999. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  51. ^ "John Stringer: Bloomsbury Publishing (UK)". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  52. ^ Sudden, Nikki. "In Case Of Fire", The Times, London, December 1986. Retrieved on 14 June 2017.


External links[edit]