A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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In 1881 Widley was a small parish about five miles north of Portsmouth. It was about two miles in breadth and a mile in length, and contained 1,109 acres of land. In 1894, however, it was amalgamated with Wymering and formed into the present parish of Cosham. (fn. 1)
Widley is now a small secluded hamlet to which the most direct approach from Cosham and Wymering is by a track down the northern slope of Portsdown, at the back of the Alexandra Hospital. Its only buildings, beyond a few cottages, are the little church of St. Mary Magdalen and a farmhouse close to it on the west, called the Mill Farm. A little to the north of the church a tributary of the Wallington, which rises in Purbrook Park, runs north-west towards Southwick, Purbrook Heath House and Broomfield House lying to the north of its course.
The soil is loamy, the subsoil chalk; the chief crops are wheat, oats, and barley. The common lands in Widley were inclosed in 1811–12. (fn. 2)
At the time of the Domesday Survey Geoffrey held Cosham under Hugh de Port; Bricsmar had held it from King Edward as an alod; it was assessed at two hides. (fn. 3) These two hides evidently became later the MANOR OF WIDLEY, which was held in the fourteenth century of the St. Johns, the descendants of the Ports, and was closely connected with Cosham and Wymering.
The earls of Albemarle held Widley in the thirteenth century as under-tenants; William de Fortibus, earl of Albemarle, died seised of the manor in 1260, (fn. 4) leaving five children, four of whom died young. The youngest and only surviving child Avelina married Edmund earl of Lancaster, (fn. 5) and on her death without issue in 1274 the manor passed to Isabel countess of Albemarle, widow of William de Fortibus. (fn. 6) She died without children in 1293, and the manor reverted to the St. Johns as overlords. (fn. 7)
The Scures family evidently succeeded the Albemarles in Widley, and in the reign of Henry III Lord William de Clynton and Eva his wife, the daughter and heir of Roger de Scures, gave five acres of land to the chapel of Widley. (fn. 8)
John de Scures, probably the nephew of Eva de Clynton née Scures, held Widley in 1316, (fn. 9) and was probably the same John de Scures who was holding one fourth of a knight's fee in the manor in 1346; (fn. 10) between this date and 1428 Widley must have passed from John de Scures to the Uvedale family. In 1428 and 1431 John Uvedale held the fourth part of one knight's fee in Widley, which had formerly been held by John de Scures, (fn. 11) and the family must have continued to hold Widley; for Dorothy, widow of William Uvedale, greatgrandson of John Uvedale, died seised of the manor in 1531, and from her it passed to Arthur her son and heir. (fn. 12) Arthur Uvedale was succeeded by his son William, who died in 1569, (fn. 13) and was followed by his son William, who married Mary daughter of Sir Richard Norton. (fn. 14) The Uvedales were deprived of two-thirds of their lands for recusancy in 1605, and Widley was granted among other manors to Henry Wriothesley. (fn. 15) By 1607, (fn. 16) however, they had recovered their lands, and in 1616 Sir William Uvedale senior died, and Widley passed to his son William. (fn. 17) This William conveyed the manor to Sir Francis Neale and Edward Woodward in 1618 evidently for the purpose of a settlement. (fn. 18) After this date, however, there seems to be no record of the manor of Widley until the year 1766, when it was in the possession of John Suffeild Brown and Roger Griffith and was conveyed by them to William Woodrow. (fn. 19) The manor was still in the hands of the Woodrow family and their connexions by marriage, the Maidments, in 1823; but after that date the manor was sold to Mr. Thistlethwayte, in whose family it remains at the present day. (fn. 20)
A fair, for three days from 15th July, with a court of pie powder, in the manor of Widley, was granted to Richard Turner in 1715. (fn. 21) This fair was still among the appurtenances of the manor in 1823, (fn. 22) but in 1862 an order was issued that the fair called Portsdown Fair, held under charter in the manor of Widley, was to cease henceforward. (fn. 23) There was a windmill in Widley in 1823, (fn. 24) but there is no trace of it at the present day except in the name Mill Farm.
The church of ST. MARY MAGDALEN was entirely rebuilt in 1849, in an imitation of twelfth-century style, and has an apsidal chancel and a nave with north aisle and south porch, and a bell-cot for one bell on the west gable of the nave
Nothing of the old church has been preserved except a small font with a slender bowl on which is IS 1690. It is built into the north wall of the chancel to serve as a credence, three faces of the bowl being exposed, on one of which is the date already noted, and on the others an acanthus leaf and a crowned rose respectively.
The earliest mention of a church at Widley seems to be in the year 1291, when the rectory of Widley was assessed at £4 6s. 8d. (fn. 25); by 1535 the value had increased to £7 4s. (fn. 26) The advowson of Widley was granted to the prior and convent of Southwick by Matthew de Scures, and was held by them until the time of the Dissolution. (fn. 27) From 1538 down to the year 1817 it followed the descent of the manor of Southwick (q.v.). From 1817 to 1847 the advowson was held alternately by Thomas Thistlethwayte, the lord of the manor, and Winchester College. (fn. 28) In 1847 the advowson was bought by F. J. Nugée, and has remained in his family until the present day. (fn. 29)
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century the living has been a consolidated benefice, consisting of the rectory of Widley and the vicarage of Wymering; joint net yearly value, £280. (fn. 30)
In 1771 John Taylor, rector of Widley and vicar of Wymering, by deed gave £100 consols for the benefit of the said two parishes, and declared that out of the annual outcome £2 should be applied in purchasing Bibles, Prayer Books, and other pious books, to be distributed amongst the poor of the two parishes. When that end had been fully answered, the £2 should be applied in instructing poor children of the two parishes to read and write, and the residue of the income towards repairing the almshouses at Wymering founded by Honor Wayte. The income of the charity has for some years, at the discretion of the trustees, been applied for the benefit of the Cosham almshouses. See parish of Wymering.