The Domesday Survey of 1086 contains the earliest documentary records of Ashow. The reference to ‘Asceshot’ is the first mention of the area by name. Etymologists are uncertain as to the exact meaning. Ashow (Old English AEsceshoh) could be explained as ‘AEsc’s hill-spur’. It could equally well be a ‘hill-spur characterised by ash trees’. Either way, the spelling preferred by one of its residents in 1200 was ‘Esseho’!
Separate entries occur in Domesday for Asceshot (Ashow) and for the (now abandoned) village of Bericote on the south side of the river. Bericote is reported as having a mill worth four shillings whereas Ashow had two mills worth twenty shillings. There were ‘4 villeins and 3 bordars with 2 ploughs’ in Bericote but ‘9 villeins and 13 bordars with 4 ploughs’ in Ashow. From this it seems clear that Ashow was the larger although the very fact that it merited an entry in the Domesday Survey means that Bericote was by no means an insignificant settlement. Its size was to increase further. The Warwickshire Hundred Rolls of 1279 record 13 cottagers and 16 freemen so the total population, including family and servants, could have been as high as 80. An additional measure of importance is the presence of both a fulling mill (in which woollen cloth was processed) and a water corn-mill in Bericote in 1291
The manor and mill of Bericote, valued at 100 shillings, passed to the Crown during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). In turn it was given by the king to his serjeant ‘in return for looking after a white hound with red ears and at the end of the year returning the hound to the king and receiving another to bring up and half a quarter of meal’!
Bericote village was abandoned by 1540. The fulling mill is known to have fallen down by 1547. Population levels in Warwickshire fluctuated widely during the fourteenth century causing instability in many settlements. One reason was the occurrences of the Black Death in 1348/9 and 1361. The frequency with which priests had to be replaced in most of the parishes of the middle Avon Valley, including Ashow, suggests that the mortality rate locally was especially high. The primary reason for rural depopulation in the fifteenth century however was land enclosure associated with the switch from arable into sheep farming. It is highly probable that this was the cause of Bericote’s demise. Certainly, all the land in Bericote had been enclosed by 1597, whereas the Ashow village side of the river was not enclosed until about 1647. The site of the former Bericote settlement is best viewed at a distance, from the junction of the southern access road to Ashow with the B4115. In winter the low sun clearly picks out the irregularities in the ground that define the street plan of the deserted village.