Warwickshire is an inland county, bounded on the north-east by Leicestershire; on the east by Northamptonshire; on the south-east by Oxfordshire; on the south-west by Gloucestershire; on the west by Worcestershire; and on the north west by Staffordshire. It is about 50 miles in length from north to south; and where broadest 35 miles from east to west; and in circumference about 150 miles. It contains 984 square statute miles, equal to 639,760 square acres, of which about 154,530 acres are in a constant course of tillage; having 190,000 acres arable, and 300,000 pasturage.
The air of Warwickshire is mild, pleasant, and healthy; and more so since the woodlands have been thinned, and laid more open than formerly, by the great consumption of wood in the iron works. The northern part of the county was anciently almost an entire forest, which is now for the most part cleared and cultivated, yet it still retains something of its original wild character, being interspersed with heaths and moors, and a large tract still bears the forest name of Arden. The southern portion formerly called the Feldon, is a tract of great fertility, and very productive of corn.
Name, Ancient History, &c.
Warwickshire is derived from the name of its principal town Warwick, which stands nearly in the centre of the county. The Saxons called it Weringscire, which signifies a station of soldiers. It is one of the five counties which in the time of the Romans were inhabited by the Cornavii, a word of which the derivation is not known; and under the Saxon heptarchy it was part of the kingdom of Mercia.
Of the ancient military ways of the Romans, three pass through this county; Watling-street, Ikenild-strect, and the Fosse-way; and upon each of these, which are still visible in many places, there have been discovered several considerable remains, of Roman antiquity.
Watling Street separates this county from Leicestershire; Ikenild Street passes through it, along the borders of Worcestershire, into Staffordshire; and the Fosse-way crossing Watling-Street out of Leicestershire, at a place now called High Cross, and formerly the Benones of the Romans, runs south west through Warwickshire into Gloucestershire.
The population of this county consisted, according to the late returns, of 208,190 persons, viz. 99,942 males, and 108,248 females, of whom 91,922 were returned as being employed in trades and manufactures, and 34,756 in agriculture. Warwickshire sends six members to parliament, viz. two for the county, two for the city of Coventry, and two for the town of Warwick.
Civil And Ecclesiastical Divisions.
Warwickshire is divided into four hundreds, viz. Barlichway, Hemlingford, Kineton, and Knighlow, besides the liberties of Coventry; containing one city, Coventry; one borough, Warwick; and 11 other market towns, viz. Atherstone, Alcester, Birmingham, Coleshill, Henley, Kineton, Nuneaton, Rugby, Southam, Stratford-on-Avon, and Sutton Coldfield; and 193 parishes, containing 43,783 houses, occupied by 44,028 families. Warwickshire is comprised in the province of Canterbury and dioceses of Lichfield, Coventry, and Worcester, and is included in the Midland circuit.
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The River Avon from Warwick Castle,Warwickshire.
The principal rivers that water this county are the Avon, the Leam, and the Tame. The Avon enters this county from Northamptonshire, and adding great beauty to the delightful territory of Warwick Castle, as it flows beneath the cliff on which those lofty towers, projecting before the town and church of Warwick, are situated, glides through a charming country to the celebrated spot of Stradford-on-Avon, the birth-place of our immortal bard, and the repository of his bones. From thence it traverses the great level of Worcestershire by Evesham, having received the Lesser Stour at Stratford, and turning to the south at Perthshore, meets the Severn at the flourishing town of Tewkesbury. The Avon is navigable by barges to Warwick.
The Leam rises on the eastern borders of the county, and with a winding course passes near several villages, till it falls into the Avon at a small distance from Warwick.
The Tame flows out of Worcestershire, and enters this county near Birmingham; from whence it proceeds to Tamworth, where it passes into Staffordshire. In its way thither, like the Avon, it receives several rivulets, and particularly one that rises to the west of Coventry, and falls into the Thanet near Coleshill.
The lesser streams that water this county are the Anker, the Arrow, the Alne, the Swift, and the Stour. Great numbers of various kinds of fish are caught in all these rivers; and the Avon in particular is said to produce salmon equal to any in England.
Warwickshire derives great advantage from its canal navigation communicating from Birmingham to Stratford with the Avon, and from Warwick with the Oxford and Grand Junction and the Coventry canals through the north of the county from its junction with the Oxford at Braunston, to Nuneaton, Atherstone, and Tamworth.
Birmingham Canal.— This canal begins at Birmingham, and proceeds to Wilsdon Green and Smethwick, by Blue-gates, West Bromwich, Oldbury, over Puppy-green, by Church-lane, Tipton, and Bilston; by the skirts of the town of Wolverhampton, by Gosbrook Mill, near Aldersley, into the Staffordshire Canal, which unites the Grand Trunk with the Severn, being a course of 22 miles, with a rise from Birmingham to Smethwick of 18 feet; from Smethwick to Wolverhampton is a level; and from thence to Aldersley there is a fall of 114 feet in the short space of one mile and three quarters. Out of this canal, at West Bromwich, there is a cut or branch which passes over Ryder's-green, to the colleries at Wednesbury, being four miles and three quarters, with a fall of forty-six feet. A canal commences about a mile from the town of Dudley, near the engines, which are next Netherton-hall, and proceeds across Knowle-brook, and along Dudley-wood side, through Urchill coppice and Brierly-hill coppice to Black-delft; and taking a large circuit round Brierly-hill church, and across Brittle-lane, between the fire engine and Seaton's engine, falls into a canal on the left of Brockmore-green, which comes from the right from Bromley-fens and Pensnett-chace, where there is a large reservoir of water, for a head to the navigation, of near 12 acres. It then proceeds in nearly a straight line to Wordsley, across the high road from Stourbridge to Hampton, along Wordsley-field, and across the river Stour, which runs up to Stourbridge, and runs on the left by Bell's Mill, through Affcott-meadows, into the Grand Trunk, at 34 miles from the Trent navigation, and 12 miles from the Severn. At the elbow and confluence of the river Stour with the river Smestall, very near Stourton, a branch goes off to the left by Wordsley-field, along Addenham-bank, by Woollaston, Holloway-head, round Sot's-hole, into the river Stour, at the extremity of the town of Stourbridge. The distances, &c. are as follow:
From the junction of the Wolverhampton Canal to that of the Dudley Canal, five miles, and the rise 191 feet three inches; the branches to Stourbridge and to Pensnett reservoir are two miles one furlong, and level; from the Wolverhampton Canal to the reservoir on Pensnett-chace, the distance is six miles one furlong, and the rise 191 feet three inches; from Stourbridge to the branch of the reservoir, one mile and a quarter, and level.
The Coventry and Oxford Canal is ninety-two miles in extent, and proceeds out of the Grand Trunk at Fradley Heath to Fazeley, where there is a cut to Birmingham and the colleries in the neighbourhood of Wednesbury. From Fazeley it is carried to Atherstone with 87 feet rise, and passing by Coventry and Hill Morton on a level, is continued to Marslon Doles with a rise of 76 feet; whence it proceeds to Oxford, having in the last 36 miles a fall of 180 feet. The length of the canal from Birmingham to Fazeley is sixteen miles and a half, having an aqeduct across the river Tame, near Birmingham, and a fall of 248 feet. This includes the collateral cut to Digbeth, in Birmingham. The length of the canal from the Grand Trunk at Stoke, near Newcastle, to Froghall and Caldon coal-pits and limestone quarries, is 10 miles, three furlongs, 18 chains, with a rise of 75 feet in the first six miles, and three quarters to Stanley Moss, and a fall of 60 feet 10 inches, the remainder of the way to the coal pits and lime quarries. Another canal has also been cut from Rider's- green, near Birmingham to Broad-water fire engine coal mines, being four miles and a half and six chains, with a fall of forty-six feet.
Warwick and Birmingham Canal. — This canal commences on the western side of the town of Warwick, and passes Budbrook, Hatton, Rowington, Badesley, Clinton, Knowle, Solihull, Yardley, and joins the Digbeth branch of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal on the eastern side of Birmingham, being a course of about 25 miles.
Ashby-de-la-Zouch Canal. — This canal joins the Coventry Canal at Marston-bridge, about two miles to the south of Nuneaton, and taking an easterly course passes Hinckley, from whence it takes a north course, and passes Stoke Golding, Dadlington, through Bosworth-field, and within a mile of Market Bosworth, after which it crosses the river Sence, and, passing to the east of Gopsal-park, arrives at Snareston, where is a small tunnel, from whence the canal winds along, and passes Measham, Okethorpe, and over Ashby Woulds, whence passing through Blackfordby, it reaches the north-west side of Ashby-de-la-Zouch; the canal is then continued about one mile and a half beyond the town, where passing a tunnel of near one mile, a branch bends to the west and goes to Ticknall; another branch goes to the east, and finishes at the lime-works at Cloud-hill; on the Ticknall branch, near the commencement, is a short cut to the lime-works at Staunton; there is also a branch on the north edge of Ashby Woulds, which goes to the coal works at Swadlincote. The total length of this canal, with the branches, is 50 miles, with 252 feet lockage.
Stratford-on-Avon Canal. — This canal joins the Worcester and Birmingham Canal at King's Norton, about six miles from Birmingham; from the junction, it takes an easterly course to Yardley Wood Common, whence it bends to the south, and passes- Shirley-street, Monkford-street, Lapworth, Preston Bagot, where it crosses the river Alne, thence by Wootton to the north side of Stratford: there is a branch by Billesley to the stone quarries near Temple Grafton, and another to the quarries near Tamworth: the total length of the canal, exclusive of the; branches, is 24 miles and a half, with 309 feet fall to Stratford. The branch to Tanworth is near two miles and a half, and level; that to Grafton Field is near four miles, with 20 feet rise in the last mile and a half.
Worcester and Birmingham Canal. — This canal commences at Birmingham, from whence it takes a course through the parishes of Edgbaston, Northfield, King's Norton, Alvechurch, Tardebig, Stoke- Prior, Dodderhill, Hanbury, Hadsor, Himbleton, Oddingley, Tibberton, Hinlip, Warndon, Clains, St. Martin's, and, at Diglis, adjoining the south side of Worcester, falls into the Severn. The length of this line is 31 miles and a half, of which the first 16 miles from Birmingham are upon a level; the remaining 15 miles and a half have a fall of 448 feet.
Warwick and Braunston Canal. — This canal joins the Warwick and Birmingham Canal in the parish of Budbrook, on the north-west side of the town of Warwick; and crossing the Avon, proceeds by Radford, Offchurch, Long-Itchington, where it crosses the river Watergall, by Lemington-Hastings, Granborough, where it crosses the river Leame; and at Braunston joins the Oxford Canal. The length is about 20 miles.
Source: Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Warwick, by George Alexander Cooke. c.1820