Leamington, like any medieval parish, was defined by its boundaries at a time when it was important that villagers and their neighbours should know and respect the limits of the parish, – hence the yearly walking of the boundaries at Rogation time. The parish boundaries were often marked by natural features in the landscape, such as streams, large trees or boulders, which could all be used to define the parish size and shape. Where there was no obvious geographical feature, boundary stones were erected. These vary in size and shape and sometimes the site is also marked by other boundary stones from adjacent parishes.
In Leamington, even though the old Leamington Priors parish itself has now been subdivided into smaller units, there are still a few boundary stones that marked the extent of it. A good place to start looking for boundary markers is the highest point, and in Leamington’s case, giving fine views over the town, this is at the rear of the Newbold golf course close to the site of Newbold Beeches. There seem to be several markers at this point, including one that looks quite modern.
The next surviving boundary stone is at the rear of the Sydenham Estate, where the boundary leaves the Rad Brook to cross what were open fields in a westward direction. This stone is angled to emphasise the change of direction away from the stream.
The next surviving stone is in the gateway to Brunswick Street cemetery, lying on its side. There are two potential sites for this stone. Quite where it ought to be is not certain. It may have come from the opposite side of Brunswick Street, or from within the cemetery itself, where a marker stone is known to be missing.
The next stone also presents something of a mystery. It can be found on the north bank of the River Leam at the rear of Warwickshire College, adjacent to Princes Drive and the riverside track. It is however of a different form to all the other stones and looks like the remains of something bigger, a wall, or perhaps a bridge parapet. (Unless of course I have the wrong stone, but it is however in the correct place.)
The parish boundary now follows the River Leam until it reaches the Binns Brook outfall at the rear of the council offices. The Binns Brook then takes the boundary north to where it turns to cross Kenilworth Road, where the next marker stone can be found encased in a brick wall. it is difficult to spot as the pavement has been raised by repairs and hides half of the stone.
The last stone is also enclosed in a brick wall, at the junction of Lillington Road and Clarendon Street. The wall is built at right angles to the road so some agility is required to see the marker, which is just inside the dividing wall of the two houses, behind the street sign.
Finally, if anyone knows of any more boundary stones or the answer to the riddle of the cemetery stone, I would be pleased to hear.