The Throckmorton Family of Coughton Court

Coronation celebrations at Coughton Court. 1911.
Warwickshire County Record Office reference PH350/435.

The Throckmorton family have been living at Coughton since 1412. Their house, Coughton Court, is now open to the public though the National Trust. The oldest part of Coughton Court probably dates from the time of Henry VIII, but the property has been much altered since. As a staunchly Catholic family they suffered considerably over the years. In the 16th century they were fined for recusancy and not attending the parish church. They were indirectly involved in the Gunpowder Plot (see below) and lucky to escape with their lives and property intact. The Parliamentarians plundered and then confiscated the property during the Civil War, but it was restored to the family in 1651. A local mob sacked the chapel in 1688.

The Gunpowder Plot

Thomas Throckmorton prudently went abroad in the run up to the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, but let Coughton Court out to one of the chief conspirators, Sir Everard Digby, who installed his family and Jesuit priests there with its convenient priest’s hole. The conspirators met at Dunchurch, intending to seize the young Princess Elizabeth – living at Coombe Abbey nearby – in order to declare her Queen. When news of the failure of the Plot reached Dunchurch the conspirators scattered around Warwickshire; most of them and the priests were captured, tried and executed. It is extraordinary that the Throckmortons managed not only to escape with their lives, but that their property was not confiscated. Clearly the family were great survivors.

The Throckmorton family papers

In 1872 a survey of the family papers revealed an ‘interesting looking coffer’ that could not be opened. Later on it was discovered to contain documents dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries. These are now deposited at the Warwickshire County Record Office (reference CR 1998), along with many other family and estate papers and maps, and more can be found at the Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive.

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