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Coleshill

Warwickshire coat of arms
Coleshill town council crest warwickshire

Coleshill began life in the Iron Age, before the Roman conquest of 43 AD at the Grimstock Hill Romano-British settlement, north of the River Cole. Evidence of hut circles was found by archaeologists at the end of the 1970s. These excavations showed that throughout the Roman period there was a Romano-Celtic temple on Grimstock Hill. It had developed over the earlier Iron Age huts and had gone through at least three phases of development. The area was at the junction of two powerful Celtic Tribes – the Coritanii to the east from Leicester, and to the west the Cornovii from Viroconium Cornoviorum. In the post-Roman or Arthurian period (The Dark Ages), the nucleus of Coleshill moved about a mile to the south, to the top of the hill. Here the present church is set and the medieval town developed around it.

By 1066 the town was a Royal Manor held by King Edward the Confessor and is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as land held by William the Conqueror and the site of the court for the ancient hundred of Coleshill. In 1284/5 John de Clinton, elder, was granted Coleshill Manor by King Henry II, and claimed by prescription within the lordship of Coleshill, Assize of bread and ale, gallows, pillory, tumbrell and court leet, infangthef and utfangthef, a market, fair, and free warren. He died in 1316. His heir was his 12 year old grandson, John, who subsequently married a daughter of Sir Roger Hilary, and died in 1353 or 1354 leaving one daughter Joan. She had as her first husband Sir John of Montfort, illegitimate son of Sir Peter de Montfort of Beaudesert.

Coleshill Manor then passed to this branch of Sir Simon de Montford who moated the manor houses at Coleshill and Kingshurst. King Henry VII granted Coleshill Manor and its lands to Simon Digby in 1496 following the execution and forfeiture of Sir Simon de Montford for supporting the rebellion of Perkin Warbeck. The (Wingfield-Digby) family descendants still hold the titles. Coleshill village was granted a market charter by King John in 1207, alongside Liverpool, Leek and Great Yarmouth. During the era of stagecoach and the turnpike trusts, Coleshill became important as a major staging post on the coaching roads from London to Chester, Liverpool and Holyhead. The Coleshill to Lichfield Turnpike dates from 1743.

As an important stop off town during the height of the coaching era, Coleshill once boasted over twenty Inns. Sadly that number is down to eight mainly along the High Street, or as the locals call it, "up the hill"..

The coach arches that would lead off High Street to the stables at the rear of the inns are still in place. 

Swan Hotel Coleshill warwickshire B46
coach hotel coleshill warwickshire b46

One of the most notable buildings is the Church of St Peter and St Paul perched high on Church Hill.

It is a landmark that can be seen for miles with its prominent position and with one of the finest and tallest steeples in Warwickshire.

The oldest part of the church dates back to the 14th century, but most of the rest of the church was built in the 15th century. There is a clue to a church before this with the Norman font in the church. There is evidence of a priest here as far back as 1086. Norman foundations were found here during excavations but it is not known when the first church was built at this site. Due to the wooded area that used to surround Coleshill, it is thought that before the current church began construction there must have been a church made from timber, almost certainly on the site of the current church.

 

The spire was rebuilt in the 15th century. During extensive renovations of the church in the 1860s, including replastering of most of the building and replacing the roof with tiles, the spire was rebuilt again.

In 1961 many buildings up and down the country were listed. The church was included in this and on 8 September 1961 the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul gained the Grade I Listed status, the highest level possible

st peter and st paul church coleshill

To the north of the town at the bottom of the hill runs the River Cole which gives the town its name. Coleshill is blessed with three rivers, the Cole, the Blythe and the Tame. The Cole and Blythe join together northeast of the town to become one river for a very short distance before it then joins the larger river Tame.

When entering the the town from the north, you cross a sandstone bridge built in the mid-16th century, although the bridge has gone through repairs circa 1700 and extensive repairs in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Cole End bridge Coleshill Warwickshire b46

Another more sinister structure that is unique in Warwickshire and possibly the whole country is the town Pillory. It is unique because of its three functions in one post, Pillory, stocks and whipping shackles.

It stood for many years in front of the Market Hall until 1865 when the market was demolished and the pillory moved the short distance to itspresent site.

It has a post about 4.6m high with a turned moulded head, a platform or standing board and a transom with holes for the heads and hands of two persons. Lower are the shackles for whipping and at the foot one of the former pair for the stocks.

Coleshill pillory stocks and whipping post warwickshire B46
Almshouses sumner road coleshill b46

Coleshill was the starting point for two major worldwide brands, Typhoo Tea and Brylcreem.

The Typhoo Tea (Tipps) company was started by Sir John Sumner who, through his philanthropy, funded the building of Coleshill Town Hall, the building in which Coleshill Lodge meets. There is a road named Sumner Road that runs parallel with the Town Hall. Coleshill's almshouses, built in 1930 and 1934 are situated on opposite sides of this road, all funded by Sir John and his Typhoo Tea empire.

The word Tipps as in the registered company name Typhoo Tea (Tipps) was a typing error when the company was formed, but remained for many years.

 

 

County Chemical Company first opened its doors on Coleshill High Street in 1895. Their main products were lubricants for the cycle and early motor car industries. In 1896 the small chemist was trying to develop a new grease-free hair product.

As the lubricant market was booming due to the new motor industry, the development of the new hair product was put on hold.

The company was doing well and soon they needed bigger premises and so moved to a suitable site in Bradford Street, Birmingham. Between 1905 and 1910 the company changed names to become Chemico, (it's not known if it is short for Chemical Company or Chemical Coleshill or neither).

With the outbreak of the First World War, thoughts of hair cream were put to one side to concentrate on lubricants, oils and weapons such as the gas bomb (the first one ever dropped from the air was made by Chemico) for the war effort.

When the war was over, production of lubricants continued and nothing much changed. Then in 1928 the hair cream dream came true and Brylcreem was invented.

Sales were huge, selling to all corners of the globe. Demand was so great that they finally sold Brylcreem in 1939 to the Beecham Trust Ltd. At that point, Chemico was selling 400 bottles of Brylcreem a day.

Brylcreem 1920's advert diving head first brilliance
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