'Stoneleigh Abbey is one of the most important country houses in the Midlands, for four hundred years the ancestral home of the Leigh family, but before that a thriving Cistercian monastery.'
Stoneleigh Abbey was founded when Henry II granted lands to a small community of Cistercian monks in 1154 and work started on the Abbey the following year. The Abbey was surrendered in 1535 during the dissolution of the monasteries commanded by Henry VIII. The history of Stareton is very much part of the history of Stoneleigh Abbey and like Stoneleigh Village actually dates back to the settlements that existed before the monks came to Abbey.
The records of Stoneleigh Abbey & the land around the estate are some of most detailed & best preserved in England and because of this there is a rich supply of information on Stareton. One of the earliest references to Stareton after the Doomsday book is in the Stoneleigh Ledger book.
Thomas Pype is thought to be the original compiler of the Ledger when he became abbot at Stoneleigh in 1352.
1352 Stoneleigh Ledger
Book copyright Stoneleigh Abbey Ltd (SBTRO/DR18/31/1)
The Abbey expanded & prospered over 381 years. By the dissolution in 1536 it owned 548 acres of woodland and received rent from properties as far as Cryfield, Nuneaton, Leamington Priors & Coventry. in the end it was past onto Henry VIII's brother in law, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.
The Leigh family first acquired the Abbey & estates in 1561 and they were to become one of largest land owners in Warwickshire. The subsequent documentation of the estate from this period to the present day is unique because the house remained in the Leigh family until the 1980's. Below are examples of some of finest maps & records of life in England over the past 500 years including :
1683 Plan of Stareton copyright Stoneleigh Abbey Ltd (SBTRO,DR 671/12)
1749 Thomas Wilkes's Map of Stoneleigh copyright Stoneleigh Abbey Ltd (SBTRO,DR 671/24)
1776 Matthias Baker's map of the Stoneleigh Estate (SBRTO, DR 671/30a) copyright Stoneleigh Abbey Ltd