The History of Whitnash
Today Whitnash is a small, largely residential town with approximately 3500 homes and a population of over 9000 people. The town has 4 junior schools, Whitnash Primary, St Joseph’s RC Primary, St Margaret’s Middle School and Briar Hill First School.
It has three pubs, The Plough & Harrow, The Heathcote Inn, and The Hodcarrier. In addition there is also The Whitnash Sports & Social Club.
The town has three shopping areas: Coppice Road, Heathcote Road, and Home Farm Crescent.
The Civil Parish of Whitnash is approximately rectangular, 3 miles long and 1 mile wide running north-west to south-east. This is about 1200 acres or 500 hectares with an estimated population of 12,000.
Whitnash is mentioned in the Domesday Book, but there is evidence of a settlement in the Iron Age. The
name Whitnash is generally thought to derive from the Anglo-Saxon ‘AT THE WHITE ASH’. However other derivations include “PLACE BY THE WOOD”, ‘SACRED ASH’ or the “Meeting Place of the Wise.
There are a number of leylines (prehistoric tracks) traversing Whitnash. The “Regia Via” was the main Roman road from Radford Semele to Whitnash that passes through the Whitnash Brook Valley. The Valley is of great interest as it was the original site of the early collection of huts that constituted Whitnash as
an ancient village.
A nearby field is called Castle Hill Field, close to the site of an ancient Holy Well; it has been suggested that at one time it was the site of an important fortification in Celtic times.
The village of “Witenas” features in the Domesday Book in 1066 as part of the Stoneleigh Hundreds area (later merged into the Knightlow Hundreds). It then comprised around 250 acres owned by Humphrey and there were 11 villagers and 8 smallholders, with 6 ploughs and a meadow. The value of the land was estimated at 100 shillings!
Until about 1850, the only access to Whitnash was through paths and lanes across surrounded cultivated fields. It is likely that this relative isolation has bequeathed to the residents a strong sense of belonging to a distinct locality.
Although there is no marked town centre as such, a handful of half-timbered thatched cottages centred on St Margaret’s Church mark the nucleus of the old village. The Church itself dates back to Saxon times, but was extended in the 14th century with an embattled tower and porch. Sir George Gilbert Scott, the celebrated Victorian architect, later added a south aisle.
The Church also contains a fine collection of stained glass and ancient brasses recognised to be amongst the finest in the country. The church was the main focal point in Whitnash, and most of the major civic events today, for example Remembrance Service, are commemorated here.