Local History

Weston under Wetherley lies 3.5 miles to the North East of Leamington Spa - between two river valleys, the northern part extending over the watershed into the River Avon and, just to the south, runs the River Leam. In days gone past, Weston Mill stood on this river.

Sadly this building is now demolished, but in its time it represented a key element in what historically was a farming community, centred around the church of St Michael. Built of red sandstone, the church dates back to the 12th century, and has been rebuilt and added to over the centuries. Of simple, yet pleasing style, it is included in the list of buildings of historic and architectural interest in Warwickshire.

Building on its agricultural heritage, Weston was chosen in 1856 as the site for the Warwickshire Reformatory School for boys - the history of which was recounted in 1964 by a one time resident of the village, Derek Smith (now deceased). He wrote in his degree dissertation of the actions of Lord Leigh, and notably Lord Palmerston, in Parliament in the 1850's to bring about changes in the treatment of young offenders.  Their 'Young Offenders Act' of 1854 aimed to replace deterrence and retribution (largely through prison sentences) with reformation and restoration to a useful place in society.

Having significant land holdings in the village, Lord Leigh envisaged a school where practical agricultural and horticultural skills would be imparted to inmates, as well as shoemaking, carpentry and metalwork. He and Lady Leigh donated 982 guineas and 30 acres of his land - along with 51 guineas per year for maintenance, and this enabled The Weston Reformatory School to be built. At its height, it housed 80 inmates who 'did their time' of up to five years before being placed back in society. In fact many were employed on the local farms or joined the Armed Services. It is said that in 1857, boys trained in carpentry put a completely new roof on the Grade 1 listed St Michael’s Church. The Reformatory School closed in 1928, and in 1929 it was purchased by the Warwickshire Health Authority who converted it into a hospital for non-violent, mentally retarded patients. The church still receives visits from ex-inmates of the School (from as far away as Australia,) and the war records show that many reformed young men from the school gave their lives for our country. (For more on the history of the Reformatory School, see Peter Higginbottom's excellent description here .

The significance of the hospital building, and its re-developed Old Courtyard (now the site of what has come to be known as Wetherley Rise) must not be under-estimated, having provided employment for many in the locality both when it was a school and then as a hospital. Now, many of the residents there and elsewhere in the village commute much greater distances to find employment.


The Shooting

Thomas Umbers gave evidence: The deceased who was a housemaid was placing out tea things on the table whilst I was taking down the gun from the beam. It by some means slipped and the deceased, thinking it was going to fall, came and caught hold of it by the muzzle when it accidentally went off, lodging its contents in the girl’s forehead… he did not remember how the gun slipped, but immediately it went off the deceased fell to the floor and her brains were knocked out about the floor.

Click here to read more about ... The Shooting (link to article on Our Warwickshire)


Escape from the Boys' Reformatory

This is a story about the escape of 41 inmates from the former Boys' Reformatory. The Courier reported “extraordinary and unprecedented occurrences at the Warwickshire Reformatory School for Boys at Weston under Wetherley, with 41 of the inmates making their escape committing great devastation in some allotment gardens and also engaging in a desperate encounter with the police at Coventry”

Click here to read more about ... The Escape (link to article on Our Warwickshire)


Newspaper Archives

Jane Jones has created the linked document of Weston Under Wetherley village history from the British Newspaper Archives 1833 to 1918.    These newspaper archives are publicly available for anyone to view http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/

We are aware that some names mentioned within the extracts here may still have living relatives in the village. If for any reason you would like to have your relative's information removed from the attached document, please get in touch with Jane Jones at janelj7@yahoo.co.uk or email westonpclerk@gmail.com.

Click here to see the document.


The following archive photographs are Historical Photographs of Weston under Wetherley Credit Image produced from the Windows on Warwickshire service with permission of Landmark Information Group Ltd. and Ordnance Survey.

Bramley Cottage in Weston Man with cart horse c1930s

Cottages Weston Circa 1910

Weston United Football team taken in front of the Bulls Head pub 1921

Weston village street and Glebe House circa 1930s