Hillmorton is a suburb of Rugby, Warwickshire, England, around 2 miles (3.2 km) south-east of Rugby town centre, forming much of the eastern half of the town. It is also a ward of the Borough of Rugby. Hillmorton was historically a village in its own right, but was incorporated into Rugby in 1932. Hillmorton also encompasses the Paddox housing estate to the west of the old village, which is shown an many maps as 'Hillmorton Paddox', this area however is part of a separate ward called 'Paddox'.
Old village green, High Street, in upper Hillmorton
|Population||5,276 (Ward 2011 census)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Settlement in the Hillmorton area spreads into prehistory. Archaeological digs at near Ashlawn Road in 2017 found remains of human settlement dating back to the Bronze Age (1000 – 500 BC), as well as numerous finds of occupation from the Roman period, including items of pottery and the remains of pottery or tile kilns.
Before Rugby spread to the east, Hillmorton was a village. The village was formed by amalgamation of two settlements: Hull and Morton: The former being the part on high ground, the latter being the part on lower ground to the north where the church of St. John the Baptist stands, and where the canal runs through. Morton was mentioned in the Domesday Book as land that belonged to Hugh de Grandmesnil. To this day, a division exists between the upper and lower parts of the old village. The church of St.John the Baptist in lower Hillmorton is the oldest building in the locality with the oldest parts dating from the 13th Century. It is now grade II* listed.
The main road between Coventry and Northampton (now the A428 road) runs through upper Hillmorton, and at one time a market was held there. The market began in 1265 when a charter was granted to Thomas de Astley. The market at Hillmorton was originally more important than that of nearby Rugby, but it died out and was abandoned by the mid 17th century. The old village green still remains, as do the remains of a 14th-century stone market cross which is grade II listed.
The Oxford Canal was built around Hillmorton in the 1770s, where a flight of three locks known as 'Hillmorton Locks' was constructed (see below). Later the London and Birmingham Railway was constructed around Hillmorton in the 1830s. Hillmorton gives its name to Hillmorton Junction, where the direct line from Rugby to London (the West Coast Main Line) diverges from the Northampton Loop Line.
Suburban expansion of Hillmorton westwards began in 1912 when land was sold off west of the village for the construction of the large Paddox housing estate, the development of which continued until the late-1930s. This development linked Hillmorton with Rugby. In 1932 Hillmorton was formally incorporated into Rugby, when the civil parish was abolished and most of its area absorbed into the Rugby municipal borough, the remainder went to Clifton-upon-Dunsmore.
Most of Hillmorton consists of 20th century housing estates, although a some older buildings survive around the older parts of the village.
To the east of Hillmorton was the former Rugby Radio Station, which opened in 1926, and contained radio masts 820-ft (294 metres) high. For many years this was a major landmark, until 2007, when the last masts were demolished. The site is now used as a large housing development called Houlton.
Hillmorton is possibly most well known for its flight of canal locks on the Oxford Canal. The Hillmorton locks are the busiest flight of locks on the national canal network. They consist of three pairs of parallel twinned locks. They were originally built as single locks during 1769-74, but were rebuilt as twin locks in 1840 in order to relieve congestion. The bottom locks are Grade II listed.
The botanist James Petiver (c. 1665–1718) was born in Hillmorton.
During the Second World War, Hillmorton was home to a notorious character, Unity Mitford; socialite and close friend of Adolf Hitler, following her return to Britain following a suicide attempt. She stayed with a local vicar and his family under close supervision. According to local legend, her presence in the area was a reason why Rugby was not bombed substantially by the Germans during the war.
Old market cross remains, upper Hillmorton
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hillmorton.|
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- "Parishes: Hillmorton". British History Online. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
- Historic England. "CHURCH OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST (1035023)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
- Historic England. "MARKET CROSS (1035012)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
- "A Brief History of Hillmorton Locks". hillmortonlocks.co.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
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- Historic England. "HILLMORTON BOTTOM LOCK (LOCKS 2 AND 3), FORMER OXFORD CANAL (1393797)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
- "Edward Garfield, "The Immigrant"". Geni.com. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
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- "When Adolf Hitler confidante Unity Mitford came to stay". BBC News. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
- "Former Advertiser reporter examines legend that Luftwaffe spared Rugby because it was home to Hitler's ex-lover". Rugby Advertiser. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
- Aspects of Rugby during World War Two (2009) Rugby Local History Group, Page 26