Chapel Ascote to Southam SignpostJust south of Southam along the A423 are the four deserted medieval village sites of Chapel Ascote, Radbourne, Hodnell with Wills Pastures and Watergall.  They were all separate Saxon villages, but mostly all under the same manorial ownership after Domesday and into the Norman period.

The earlier famines of 1315 and 1317 started the desertion of these villages alongside enclosure for the grazing of sheep, so the Black Death in 1348 was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back, until little was left between them other than two chapels, four manor houses and a few shepherd’s cottages.

The two chapels were both called St Helen’s, one at Radbourne and one at Ascote, hence at a later date called Chapel Ascote.  Prior to the 16th century dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, Combe Abbey and the Nuns of Nuneaton owned most of the land along with the chapels, and ancestors of such prominent families as the Spencers and Catesbys lived and farmed there.  Indeed, Thomas Spencer in 1531 in his will asked for his body to be buried before the image of Our Lady in the chancel at St Helen’s Chapel in Ascote. Eventually both chapels disappeared and All Saints Church at Ladbroke took over the ecclesiastical parishes.

Today there are many excellent footpaths and bridleways that cross these deserted village sites, including Walks 3 and 3a of the Blue Lias Rings.