An enjoyable stroll around the main historical features of Polesworth. The route follows pavements, footpaths and the Coventry Canal towpath.
Roughly 2km / 1.25 miles
Start outside the Tithe Barn.
End at Pooley Country Park
Parking available in Hall Court, off Bridge Street, Polesworth or at Pooley Country Park.
This is a renovated 17th Century Grade ll listed building which won awards when it was opened in July 1995. Retaining its original beamed ceilings and stone floor.
(Take path round buildings towards the Church.)
Polesworth Abbey was founded in 827 by King Egbert and his daughter Editha was the Abbess. It prospered for 700 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1544 the lands of the Abbey were granted by the Crown, to Francis Goodere, who used the stones of the Abbey to build a manor house Polesworth Hall.
Henry Goodere, son of Francis, was a patron of the Arts and Polesworth Hall was a centre of culture during Elizabethan times. The poet Michael Drayton was in the service of the Goodere family around 1580 and his works contain references to Polesworth and the River Anker. It is rumoured that William Shakespeare also spent some time as a fellow page boy here, and they remained companions in adult life. Polesworth Hall no longer exists.
King Egbert had one son who was a leper. In Ireland there was a Nun Modwen who healed all diseased people, so King Egbert sent his son to her to be cured. In gratitude the King invited Modwen to come to England, promising her he would found a monastery for her convent. The King also recommended his daughter Editha to her, to be instructed in the rule of St. Benet. He gave Modwen a dwelling place in the Forest of Arden, then called Trensale, where St. Editha, St. Lyne and St. Oisthe lived together in Holy Orders Soon after her founded a Monastery for them on the banks of the River Anker at a place called Pollysworth. Pol meaning deepness of Water and Worth meaning a dwelling or habitation. Editha became Abbess of this Monastery.
(After visiting the church, walk along the drive towards the stone archway.)
The Nunnery Gateway is an attractive stone and timber frame building. The small archway is part of the original 11th century gateway through the walls. This was extended in the 14th century, when a porter’s lodge was added on the ground floor. Above is the 14thC extension pf timber frame infilled with brick. This provided accommodation for pilgrims. In the 16thC there was a stone extension added on the right hand side. After the Dissolution this houses a school on the first floor with the village lock-up on the ground floor. Nowadays the Gatehouse is again visitor accommodation.
(After going through the arch turn left into High Street. At the corner of the road junction is the Nethersole Building.)
The Nethersole Apartments Building was erected in 1818 by the Nethersole Trustees to replace the original school buildings endowed in 1628 by Sir Francis and Lady Lucy Nethersole to educate local boys and girls. The building continued as a school until 1973 when the present Nethersole School was built at the other end of High Street. The building was used for a wide variety of community activities prior to its conversion to apartments.
(Walk left through Bridge Street, past the shops and over the river bridge.)
Polesworth Bridge over the river Anker was first built in the medieval period. It has ten arches spanning the river and was widened in concrete in 1924.
(At the crossroads turn right and walk to the canal bridge by the Bulls Head, turn right onto the canal towpath. Walk a short distance along the towpath and you will see on your left Pooley Hall.)
Pooley Hall is a Manor House on the outskirts of Polesworth, said to include some of the oldest brickwork in the country. It was built in 1509 by Sir Thomas Cockayne who was knighted at the Battle of Tournai by King Henry V11. The family split their time between Pooley Hall and their estate at Ashbourne Hall in Derbyshire. Sir Aston Cockayne, 1st Baronet Cockayen, lived quietly at Pooley Hall. During the English Civil War he took the Royalist side and was made a Baronet in 1642.
Sir Aston joined the future Charles II in exile for a time and chose to return to Pooley Hall to ‘lie low’. He was famous for his gambling and the family were forced to sell Pooley Hall after his death.
In 1789 the Coventry Canal opened running through the Pooley Hall estate and in 1847 a coal mine was sunk on the estate. It was completed in 1849 and coal extraction began in 1850. In 1897 the Pooley Hall colliery was formed and a wharf constructed on the canal. A branch line was built to connect to the then Trent Valley Line (now West Coast Line). The colliery closed in 1965.
Today 62.5 hectares of the estate and colliery site has been transformed into Pooley country Park. Pooley Hall is again a private residence and the Pooley Hall Farm was once the home of the late Edwin Starr, American Soul and Motown singer.
(Carry on along the towpath until you reach Pooley Country Park or retrace your steps back to the centre of Polesworth.)