Hillmorton is a suburb of Rugby, Warwickshire, England, 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',[2] this area however is part of a separate ward called 'Paddox'.[3]


Old village green, High Street, in upper Hillmorton
Location within Warwickshire
Population5,276 (2011 census[1])
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townRUGBY
Postcode districtCV21
Dialling code01788
AmbulanceWest Midlands
EU ParliamentWest Midlands
UK Parliament


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.[4]

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 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 is the oldest building in the locality with the oldest parts dating from the 13th Century.[5] It is now grade II* listed.[6]

At one time a market was held in upper Hillmorton, and remnants of the old village green still remain, as do the remains of a 14th-century stone cross. The market began in 1265 when a charter was granted to Thomas de Astley but was abandoned by the mid 17th century.[5]

The Oxford Canal was built around Hillmorton in the 1770s, where a flight of three locks known as 'Hillmorton Locks' was constructed (see below).[7] 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.[5]

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.[8] 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.[5]

Most of Hillmorton consists of 20th century housing estates, although a some older buildings survive around the older parts of the village.[5]

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.[5][9] The site is now used as a large housing development called Houlton.

Hillmorton Locks

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.[10][11] 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.[12]

Notable people

Hillmorton is the ancestral home of a U.S. president, James Garfield, his ancestor, Edward Garfield (1583-1672), having emigrated to America from this village in around 1630.[13]

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.[14][15] Her presence in the area was rumoured to have been a reason why Rugby was not bombed substantially by the Germans during the war.[16]


The main secondary school serving the area is Ashlawn School, which originally opened in 1958 as Dunsmore School.[8]


  1. "HILLMORTON Ward in West Midlands". City Population. Retrieved 13 October 2018.
  2. "RUGBY. HILLMORTON PADDOX". Our Warwickshire. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  3. "PADDOX Ward in West Midlands". City Population. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  4. "Recent Roman finds now on display". Rugby Art Gallery and Museum. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  5. "Parishes: Hillmorton". British History Online. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  6. Historic England. "CHURCH OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST (1035023)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  7. "A Brief History of Hillmorton Locks". hillmortonlocks.co.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  8. Rugby, Aspects of the Past, Volume 3 (2001) Rugby Local History Group, Pages 52-54
  9. "RUGBY RADIO STATION A short history". Our Warwickshire. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  10. "Hillmorton Locks". Canal & River Trust. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  11. "Shropshire Union Canal locks near Nantwich among busiest in UK". Nantwich News. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  12. Historic England. "HILLMORTON BOTTOM LOCK (LOCKS 2 AND 3), FORMER OXFORD CANAL (1393797)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  13. "Edward Garfield, "The Immigrant"". Geni.com. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  14. "The truth behind Hitler's spurned lover". Rugby Advertiser. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  15. "When Adolf Hitler confidante Unity Mitford came to stay". BBC News. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  16. Aspects of Rugby during World War Two (2009) Rugby Local History Group, Page 26
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