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Coughton Court

A Pink Lady was said to haunt  the area around the Tapestry Bedroom in the Grade I listed Coughton Court, though she is thought to have been exorcised in the early 20th century.  The seat of the Throckmorton family, who owned the estate from 1409, Coughton Court is probably best known for its links with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.

Two of the plotters Francis Tresham (Born 1567 – Died 23 December 1605), and Robert Catesby (Born after 1572 – Died 8 November 1605)  were grandsons of Sir Robert Throckmorton of Coughton Court(Born 1513 – Died 12 February 1581), a son of Sir George Throckmorton (Born before 1489 –Died  6 August 1552).  

Another failed regicide plan is associated with the family.  Sir Francis Throckmorton (Born 1554 – Died July 1584) conspired to kill Queen Elizabeth I in 1583 in what is known as the Throckmorton Plot.  He was a grandson of Sir George Throckmorton, through another son, John Throckmorton.

The following extract from ‘A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 3: Barlichway hundred (1945)’ gives a brief description of the building the Throckmorton family’s history. 'Coughton Court is built partly of timber-framing and partly of stone and brick. It is ranged about three sides of a courtyard, c. 32 yards by 19 yards, the stone gate-house being on the west, and the timber-framed wings forming the long north and south sides. An eastern range was removed in 1780.
The long timber-framed wings were built probably by the first Sir Robert Throckmorton early in the 16th century. His son Sir George, according to Dugdale, 'built that stately castle-like gatehouse of freestone . . . intending (as it should seem) to have made the rest of his house suitable thereto'; but this probably refers only to the upper stories of the present gate-house. The lower part, which is of different design and material, was probably built by the Spineys, who held the manor before the Throckmortons. The south range was widened and altered later in the 16th century and the present upper hall created, the north range being at the same time heightened by another story. The damage of the Civil War was repaired by Sir Francis, the second baronet, after the Restoration, and the short parallel wing on the south side, with its 'Dutch' gables, seems to have been added about the end of the century. In 1780 the west front was remodelled, the east range removed, and the moat filled in. In 1835 the windows of the west elevation were 'Gothicized', and probably the north wing on this front was added to make it symmetrical. The chief work since 1835 has been the introduction by Sir William, the 9th baronet, of the main staircase in the Long Hall, which was brought from Harvington Hall, Worcestershire.
Owing to the adherence of the Throckmortons to the Roman Communion the house had an eventful history in Tudor and Stuart times and there is much interesting material on recusancy among the family muniments. A return of recusants in Warwickshire in November 1592 includes Mrs. Mary Arden (daughter of Sir Robert Throckmorton) at Coughton, and owing to the suspicious character of those who frequented the house, the Privy Council sent an order for her arrest the following year. Twelve years later came the Gunpowder Plot. Many of the conspirators were connected by marriage or friendship with the Throckmorton family, so when they required a refuge or rallying point in a district where they were likely to find supporters it was natural that they should think of Coughton. Sir Everard Digby therefore rented or borrowed Coughton Court from Thomas Throckmorton, who had prudently gone abroad. There he installed his wife in the autumn, there swift horses waited in the stables, thither came the Jesuit Fathers Garnett and Greenway, there Mass was said and, as was alleged by the prosecution but denied by Garnett, Catholics were bidden to make special prayers at the opening of Parliament for the success of their cause. A room in the tower is said to have been used as a chapel: its windows command a view of the countryside in all directions and on the approach of danger priest, sacred vessels, and ornaments could be thrust into a small cell concealed below a more obvious 'hide' in a turret. In the room below the women of the family and the priests are said to have sat waiting for news of the Plot. However, when Thomas Bates came from the 'hunt' at Dunchurch he brought news of disaster; the priests went away to death and some of the wives were soon widows. In the Civil War the Throckmortons naturally took the side of the king. Some loyalists from Coughton were summoned to London in the company of Mr. William Dugdale of Shustoke. On 20 Oct. 1643 the house was occupied by a Parliamentary garrison from Warwick, whereupon an opposing force of Royalists from Worcester set out to relieve it. On 28 Oct. Major John Bridges wrote to Colonel Purefoy that 600 men were set down before Coughton Court. 'You know how concerned we are to give them speedy relief; if that place is lost, all that part of the country is gone. Our men have little ammunition, therefore I beseech you get orders that all the horse and foot that can possibly be spared be sent'. However, the 'forces from Worcester went towards Coughton House, but could not agree about their commands and so returned without doing anything'. On 17 Jan. 1644 the Rebel garrison, hearing of the king's approach, quitted Coughton after setting fire to the house in three places.  The extent of the damage can be judged from a note on Sir Robert Throckmorton's case dated 21 Apr. 1648, which speaks of 'his house at Coughton made a garrison and the gate house dismantled and the house quite ruined, his estate given unto the Prince Elector'. Sir Robert died in 1650, and the sequestrated property was restored to the guardian of his infant son in 1651. The house again suffered at the Revolution. Sir Robert Throckmorton, the 3rd baronet, had built a private chapel on the east side of the quadrangle and on 3 Dec. 1688, which came to be known as 'Running Thursday', this was attacked and is said to have been 'demolished' by a Protestant mob from Alcester. Probably the damage amounted to little more than sacking the interior of the chapel; for the quadrangle is still shown as completely inclosed on the very fine estate map of 1746 now at Coughton Court, and there are numerous references to the eastern range having been taken down about 1780.'


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