By Gillian Ashley-Smith
The old village of Kineton comes to life when we look at the second oldest monument, the small brass on the wall over the font which commemorates the life of John Venour, ‘surgeon’. The brass tells us (in Latin), he was a man of ‘noble’ birth, who died in 1722 at the age of 52. If you look carefully on the floor nearby, you can see the indentation where the brass has been lifted from his tombstone. Church records also tell us that he was made Churchwarden in 1705.
A search at the Warwick Record Office will reveal that he left a Will and an Inventory of his property – and, what’s more, you can touch and handle that very Will, and read the signature that he put on the parchment in Kineton nearly 300 years ago. He was a wealthy man, whose estate was valued at £2276 8s 6d. He had several sisters, but no direct heir, and he left his money to them, and to Kineton Church. £20 was to be for a silver flagon and chalice, and £30 was to be for ‘gowns for the poor of the parish’. Although Kineton received several charitable gifts over the years which are still paid out, John Venour’s gift lapsed in the 1780s, when the last recorded payment was made by another John Venour of Wellesbourne.
At the time John Venour lived, much of Kineton was owned by the Earl of Warwick. In 1776, some 50 years after John Venour’s death, the Earl’s agents made a detailed survey of his Kineton properties. From descriptions in that survey, and from the details in John Venour’s inventory, which describes a house with 3 bedrooms and 3 garrets, it is possible to make an educated guess that John Venour lived at Dene House in Bridge Street. The Inventory describes exactly the tools of his trade – drugs, medicines, gallipots, boxes ‘and other things’, the second chamber is described as being ‘over the shop’ and had a bed, a bedstead, bolsters, blankets and (inevitably) ‘other things’, while the parlour contained two tables, 12 chairs, a looking-glass, pictures, a fire shovel and tongs, and a fender plate.
© Gillian Ashley-Smith