Temple Grafton

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Temple Grafton
Temple Grafton (11).JPG
St Andrew's Church, Temple Grafton
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Location: 52°11’18"N, 1°49’0"W
Population: 462  (2011[1])
Post town: Alcester
Postcode: B49
Dialling code: 01789
Local Government
Council: Stratford-on-Avon

Temple Grafton is a village and parish in Warwickshire, situated about four miles east of Alcester and 14 miles west of the county town of Warwick. The parish extends right to the River Avon, which here forms the border with Gloucestershire. The place name is misleading, the Knights Templar never having any association with the place but owing to a naming error made in the time of Henry VIII the mistake has been perpetuated. During the reign of Richard I the estate in fact belonged to the Knights Hospitaller.[2] During the reign of Edward III in 1347 the village was recorded as Grafton Superior while neighbouring Ardens Grafton was named Inferior[3]


Temple Grafton was alleged to have been granted to Evesham Abbey by Ceolred King of Mercia in 710. But it is also said to have been given by Edward the Confessor in 1055, and is included among the 36 manors acquired by Abbot Ethelwig (1055–77); the 8th-century charter is probably a forgery made about this time to strengthen the title. Of these 36 manors, 28, including Grafton, were seized by Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, quasi lupus rapax, (like a ravaging wolf) after Ethelwig's death.[4] The village is then recorded in the Domesday Book as part of the lands of Osbern son of Richard, having been given to him by Odo,[4] where the entry states, "In Ferncombe Hundred Gilbert holds 5 hides in (Grastone) Temple Grafton. Land for 5 ploughs. In lordship 2; 4 slaves; 6 villagers with a priest and 6 smallholders with 5 ploughs. Meadow, 24 acres. The value was £3; now £4. Merwin,Scroti, Toti and Tosti held it freely before 1066."[5]

The first mention of the Knights Hospitallers here occurs in 1189, when they received a grant of land from Henry de Grafton.[3] In 1275–6 they were holding 2 carucates, formerly belonging to Ralph and Bernard de Grafton, which were declared to have evaded taxation for forty years. In 1316 they held the manor for a knight's fee of Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. By 1338 they had a Preceptory here, which was united with that of Balsall, and they continued lords of the manor until the suppression of their Order in 1540 when the manor passed to the crown.[4]

It is known as one of the Shakespeare villages. William Shakespeare is said to have joined a party of Stratford folk which set itself to outdrink a drinking club at Bidford-on-Avon, and as a result of his labours in that regard is said to have fallen asleep under the crab tree of which a descendant is still called Shakespeare's tree. When morning dawned his friends wished to renew the encounter but he wisely said "No I have drunk with "Piping Pebworth, Dancing Marston, Haunted Hillboro', Hungry Grafton, Dodging Exhall, Papist Wixford, Beggarly Broom and Drunken Bidford" and so, presumably, I will drink no more." The story is said to date from the 17th century but of its truth or of any connection of the story or the verse to Shakespeare there is no evidence. The hungry epithet refers to the poverty of the soil.[6]


The land rises to an altitude of over 300 ft in the northern part of the parish and slopes down to about 180 ft by the river-bank at Hillborough, two miles to the south. The village, with the church, stands on the edge of the hill, commanding views across the valley to Bredon Hill and the Cotswolds.[4]

Notable buildings

The parish church of St Andrew was entirely rebuilt in 1875 to a design by Frederick Preedy[7] on the site of an older edifice.[2] Consisting of a chancel with a north organ chamber and vestry, nave, north aisle, and a south-west tower serving as a porch, it is built of lias stone with sandstone dressings, and has tiled roofs. On the north wall of the chancel is a repainted stone shield of arms of the 17th century with the six quarterings of the Woodchurch-Clarke family, impaling the quarterly coat of De la Hay, Winterbourne, Sheldon, and Ruding. In the organ chamber is a 17th-century oak chest with panelled sides, a carved top-rail, and a panelled lid. Another chest is of the 18th or early 19th century.[4] The blunder regarding the Knights Templar is repeated in the symbols of that order being depicted in the glass and encaustic tiles of the interior.[2]

Many scholars believe it to be the place where William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, since records of the marriage do not appear in Stratford itself, and a licence was issued for Shakespeare to marry in Temple Grafton. However marriage records for the period have been lost.

Sports and leisure

It has a cricket club,[8] a Pub (Blue Boar) and a Bus stop.

Situated on New Road is Graftons Village Hall serving both Temple Grafton & Ardens Grafton.


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Temple Grafton)
  1. "Civil Parish population 2011". http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadKeyFigures.do?a=7&b=11129486&c=B49+6DS&d=16&e=62&g=6472063&i=1001x1003x1032x1004&m=0&r=0&s=1450792267328&enc=1. Retrieved 22 December 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Old Warwickshire Churches, W Hobart Bird 1936
  3. 3.0 3.1 William Dugdale, The Antiquities of Warwickshire, 1656
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 'Parishes: Temple Grafton', A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3: Barlichway hundred (1945), pp. 94–100.Date accessed: 11 February 2011.
  5. Domesday Book for Warwickshire, Phillimore edited by John Morris ISBN 0-85033-141-2
  6. Highways and Byways in Shakspeare's Country, Hutton 1914
  7. Nikolaus Pevsner and Alexandra Wedgwood, The Buildings of England, Warwickshire, 1966, ISBN 0-14-071031-0
  8. Temple Grafton CC