Warwickshire County Record Office Document of the Month

Welcome to the Collection Showcase section of Warwickshire's Past Unlocked. On this page you can explore some of the interesting and important documents that we hold at Warwickshire County Record Office and learn about the historical background to their creation.

Each month we will highlight a different Document of the Month and display links to PDF copies of the previous 12 months documents for your enjoyment.

For earlier editions of Document of the Month, please see our archive.

The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917


The Document of the Month for October is an Estate Agent’s catalogue listing the sale of the Dunchurch Estate in 1917. On display are two pages from the catalogue which give the schedule for lot 152, the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch, near Rugby. This document comes from the EAC collection held at the Record Office which contains a variety of catalogues advertising the sale of property and land across Warwickshire.

The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917
Warwickshire County Record Office, EAC0282.

The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917
Warwickshire County Record Office, EAC0282.

The Dunchurch Estate

Presented in the catalogue are the schedules for the sale of various property and land in the parishes of Dunchurch, Thurlaston, Stretton-on-Dunsmore and Bilton. The estate was to be sold at auction as a whole or in 125 separate lots, which comprised of 10 first class farms, 7 gentlemen’s farms and hunting boxes, 7 small holdings, accommodation holdings, gardens, allotments, building sites, 109 cottages and dwelling houses and the ‘renowned Dun Cow Hotel’1. The catalogue also provides black and white photos of some of the buildings, historical notes on each of the parishes as well as remarks and stipulations relating to the sale of each lot. Finally, accompanying the catalogue are a series of maps, colour coded and numbered to clearly show the location and scale of each lot being sold.

The auction was to be held by James Styles & Whitlock Auctioneers and surveyors of Rugby, under the instructions from the current owner, His Grace the Duke of Buccleugh, whose family had owned the estate for the previous two centuries. The auction was to take place at the Co-operative Hall in Rugby between the 19th and 20th November, at precisely 2 o’clock each day. The auctioneers note that the Dunchurch Estate is ‘one of the most important and desirable estates that they have ever had the privilege of dealing with’2.

The Dun Cow Hotel

As shown, lot 152, the Dun Cow Hotel, is described as a fully licenced, first-class historical hotel and posting house. The main building comprised of 3 floors, of which the ground floor included smoking rooms, drawing rooms, a telephone office, a coffee bar, a pantry, a large kitchen, a scullery and a drawing room, which opened into a flower garden and tennis court. The second floor held 15 bedrooms, a bathroom, a lavatory and a W.C, while the second floor contained a further 3 bedrooms and 2 box rooms. There was also an extensive yard, paddock, stables and multiple outbuildings3. In total, the lot is advertised as 3 acres, 3 roods and 21 perches, or 15,000m² in today’s measurements4.

At the time of the sale, it notes that the whole of the premises was let to a Mrs Weston at an annual rental of £60 per year, while two small roadside gardens were let to Messrs J Edmonds and C. Fox at 1 shilling each per year. This gave potential buyers an understanding of the amount of rent that could be collected from this investment.

Local folktales

The Dun Cow Hotel took its’ name from the local Warwickshire folktale of Guy of Warwick and the Dun Cow. The tale goes that a huge cow who gave milk freely to all who came, was enraged when greedy and malicious people milked her into a sieve and exhausted her supply5. She wrought terror across the landscape and was eventually slain on Dunsmore Heath, near Dunchurch by Guy of Warwick, who looked to prove himself with heroic deeds to win the hand of the Earl of Warwick’s daughter6.

Another Warwickshire folktale associated with the Dun Cow is the tale of the ‘Mickleton Hooter’, a ghostly creature reputed to roam Meon Hill whose booming sounds can be heard in the village of Mickleton, south of Stratford-Upon-Avon.7.


  1. The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917, Warwickshire County Record Office, EAC0282
  2. The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917, Warwickshire County Record Office, EAC0282
  3. The sale of the Dun Cow Hotel in Dunchurch 1917, Warwickshire County Record Office, EAC0282
  4. Converted using Millar Merrigan Toolkit (accessed 21/09/23)
  5. Roy Palmer, Folklore of Warwickshire, 1976
  6. Our Warwickshire, The Dun Cow: Mythic Beast (accessed 21/09/23)
  7. Our Warwickshire, The Mickleton Hooter (accessed 21/09/23)

Please click on the links below to view PDF copies of previous Document of the Month articles (opens in new window)

SeptemberAssessment of papist's land at Coughton (CR1998/J/Box 86/15)
OctoberClifford Chambers Overseer’s Accounts (DR 325/80)
NovemberLetters sent home from Flanders (CR2190/1-4)
DecemberChristmas Card from Cecil Kimber (CR5094/24)
JanuaryMutiny at Spithead (CR114A/329)
FebruaryReturn of number of children in a parish school, Astley (DR19/626)
MarchLetter from Joseph Arch to Miss Eleanor Archer (CR367/13/68-69
AprilCharter founding the church of St Mary, Warwick (DR1146/1)
MayRecipe for Royal Blue Dye (CR4855A/27)
JuneWilles family tree (CR4141/7/952)
JulyNotice of turnpike tolls to let (CR0202/10/3)
AugustIlluminated address from Warwick, USA, 1906 (CR1618/WA1/7)
SeptemberWarwick waterworks (CR26/1/5/27)
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