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Medieval Market Town - From 1100 to 1836

Market Town

While Rugby is mentioned in the Domesday Book the form of the settlement at that date is not known for certain. However most midlands villages had evolved open fields around a single central settlement by the end of the 11th century.

The large open market place may be very old but the row of uniform plots along the east side of High Street suggests an element of planned urban development by the Lord of the Manor. Laying out market places was popular in the 11th century and a market would have been well developed before the Lord of the Manor invested in obtaining the market charter in 1255.

Sometime in the mid 13th century the manor house moved from south of the church to near where Regents Place is now. The new house was moated, which was the fashion in that period. The old site became the rectory.

The Manor

The manor of Rugby was treated as being worth a half of a knight's fee. It was part of the Earl of Warwick's lands from before 1086 to around 1500. In 1086 the manor was held from the Earl by Edwulf and his family remained Lords of the Manor until about 1310. The line included the two Henry de Rokebys who probably developed the market. The first Henry also split up the manor by leaving 200 acres of the fields to Pipewell Abbey and this land remained separate until 1720.

When the granddaughter of the second Henry de Rokeby married, the tenancy of the manor was passed to the Gobaud family as part of the dowry. They obtained the right of frankpledge in 1327 before selling the tenancy to the Earl of Stafford in 1349.

The manor was passed between various members of the Stafford family. In 1421 it was given to a nephew, the son of the Duke of Buckingham. The Buckingham branch of the Staffords got into trouble with the law and forfeited their lands to the crown around 1500. They lost all interest in the manor of Rugby when the third duke was executed in 1521.

The crown then granted the manor to Sir Gilbert Talboys and by 1556 it had passed by marriage settlement to Ambrose Dudley, later Earl of Warwick. However in 1560 he sold the rights to the Wyrley family

The Church

Rugby did not have a priest in 1086. The church at Clifton-upon-Dunsmore served as the mother church for quite a large area. A chapel of ease had been built by 1140 and the names of a Deacon is known from 1220. Rugby probably became an independent parish about this time.