Monks Kirby is a village and civil parish in north-eastern Warwickshire. The population in 2011 was 445. One of the largest and most important villages in this part of Warwickshire from the Anglo Saxon to the early modern period, by the nineteenth century Monks Kirby had become a small farming community.  Monks Kirby is today an attractive, wealthy commuter village with many residents working in Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester and London.

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Monks Kirby is dominated by the priory church of St Edith, a site of Christian worship since at least the 10th century AD.

The priory is long since gone but the church remains, seeming out of proportion to the size of the village. The first church at the site is said to have been founded in 917 by Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great and the good soils, strategic location (near the meeting point of the Fosse Way and Watling Street) and size of the parish suggest it was the dominant village in this part of Warwickshire before the Norman Conquest. “Kirby” is a norse place name roughly meaning “church town”.

The Fielding family (elevated to the aristocracy as Earls of Denbigh) owned most of the village and the land around it until the mid-twentieth century.

Up to the industrial revolution and the coming of the railways, Monks Kirby was one of the most important villages in this part of Warwickshire.  The ecclesiastical parish of Monks Kirby still includes several neighbouring villages and hamlets, Pailton, Stretton-under-Fosse, Newbold Revel, Copston, Brockhurst, Street-Ashton and Easenhall.  Historically, there was also a further hamlet in the parish of Monks Kirby: the village of Cesterover, abandoned in the Middle Ages.

Monks Kirby has been a local centre for the Catholic faith since the conversion of the 8th Earl of Denbigh to Catholicism in 1850. St Joseph`s convent and girls school/orphanage were established in the village in the 1870`s and in the 1980`s was converted into the first congregation of Mary, Mother of the Church (now called “Mater Ecclesiae”) by sister Catherine Mulligan as a new convent for mature women looking to enter religious life.  In the early 2000`s the Mater Ecclesiae congregation moved to Street Ashton House in the neighbouring hamlet of Street Ashton, where it is still based. The old convent buildings have now been converted to housing but a new church, St Joseph`s Church, was built in the 1990`s.

The cemetery on the outskirts of Monks Kirby is a Roman Catholic burial site, originally a private graveyard for the Fielding family. Today the Catholic cemetery is used for burials from St Joseph`s.

For more indepth information please see the Monks Kirby entry on London University's website British History Online

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