A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The parish of Droxford lies in the Meon valley, the River Meon, which here runs due north and south, flowing just within its eastern boundary for nearly three miles. The western boundary of the parish runs along the chalk downs on the west side of the valley, the highest point being 400 feet above sea level. The village is built along the main road from Fareham to Alton, which here runs parallel to the river on the west, taking an undulating course on the lower spurs of the downs. The church, manor house, and rectory stand in the middle of the village, a little to the east of the road, and at the bottom of a dip between two ridges; the houses of the village being to the north, west, and south. Hazleholt Park, the residence and property of Mrs. A. Taylor, occupies some 280 acres in the north-west corner of the parish, in a depression of the down land. Droxford parish (exclusive of the now separate parishes of Swanmore and Shedfield) comprises 2,469 acres, of which 906¼ are arable land, 401 permanent grass, and 357¾ woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The chief crops are wheat, oats, and barley. The common lands of the parish were inclosed in 1855. (fn. 2)
In the latter part of the thirteenth century Droxford comes into notice as the native place of an interesting person, John de Drokensford. He was keeper of the wardrobe to Edward I, and accompanied that king on some of his Scotch campaigns. He afterwards became bishop of Bath and Wells, and Lord Chancellor of England. John de Drokensford is said to have been the son of the local squire, and an effigy of a lady in the south side of Droxford church has been supposed to be that of his mother. (fn. 3)
The connexion of Izaak Walton with Droxford has recently been emphasized by Canon Vaughan. Walton's son-in-law Dr. Hawkins, prebendary of Winchester Cathedral, was instituted rector of Droxford in 1664, and held the office till his death in 1691. Walton passed the last years of his life with his daughter and her husband, and a passage in his will says: 'I also give unto my daughter all my books at Winchester and Droxford, and whatever in these two placesare, or I can call mine.' Mr. John Darbyshire, who was Dr. Hawkins's curate, and Mr. Francis Morley, were Droxford residents and great friends of Walton. (fn. 4)
The civil parish of Swanmore was formed out of parts of Bishop's Waltham and Droxford in 1894, (fn. 5) the name having originally been borne by a tithing in Droxford manor. (fn. 6) The present parish consists of 2,362 acres, of which 1,457¾ are arable land, 598½ permanent grass, and 162½ woodland. (fn. 7) The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, and roots. The north-west portion is a continuation of the down land of Droxford, and on this high land stands Swanmore House, the residence of Mr. Myers, M.P., one of the principal landowners in the parish. To the south, at a lower level, lies the village, at the junction of the chalk with the clay, the change of soil being marked by the existence of brick-works. The southern part of the parish, which is bounded on the south-east by the Meon River, was formerly all comprised in Waltham Chase. The bishop of Winchester being lord of both Bishop's Waltham and Droxford manors, the queston arose in 1761 as to whether the tenants of Waltham, as intercommoners with the tenants of Droxford, had a right to cut bushes and underwood 'in that part of the common that is within the manor of Droxford.' It is interesting to note that this document gives to Waltham Chase its other name of 'Horderswood Common,' the two names being clearly stated to be interchangeable. (fn. 8) The wood called 'Bishops Wood' lies across the boundary between Swanmore and Shedfield. It is so called from the fact that when Waltham Chase was inclosed in 1870, this was the only part left to the bishop. It has since been sold by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to Major Daubeney.
Shedfield, also a former tithing of Droxford, was created a civil parish in 1894. (fn. 9) The chief natural feature is an outlying spur of the downs called Shirrell Heath, 250 ft. above sea-level. It is well wooded on the north and east slopes, and a farm called 'Hawk's Nest' lies on the eastern side. On the summit are several houses, including a convalescent home. The water-works for Gosport are also in process of erection here. From its isolated position, Shirrell Heath commands a magnificent view of the Hamble and Meon valleys, with the blue hills of the Isle of Wight on the horizon. Shedfield village consists of a few houses, with church and school, lying on either side of a cross road in the fork formed by the branching of the Fareham road to Bishop's Waltham and Botley respectively. The common behind the school, though called Shedfield Common, is really in Wickham parish. Three fine estates in this parish are Hall Court, Shedfield House, and Shedfield Lodge, owned and occupied respectively by the Rev. A. Murray-Aynsley, Lady Phillimore, and Mrs. Franklyn.
The parish comprises 2,003 acres, of which 801¾ are arable land, 691½ permanent grass, and 158½ woods and plantations. (fn. 10) The soil is sandy loam, and the chief crops are wheat, barley, and oats. Fruit is also cultivated.
Traces of the old tithing of Hill (fn. 11) are to be seen in the place-names Hill Place (the residence of Major Daubeney), Hillpound, and Hill Grove.
The manor of DROXFORD, like its neighbour Bishop's Waltham, was one of the manors of the see of Winchester. The first grant of the land was in 826, when King Egbert, 'in gratitude to God for his coronation as king of all England,' gave the vill of 'Drokeireford' to the prior and monks of St. Swithun, Winchester. (fn. 12) In 953 King Eadwig granted twenty mansae of land in Droxford to the noble lady Ædelhild, who probably held as a tenant of the monks. (fn. 13) According to the Domesday Survey Droxford was among the lands held by the bishop for the support of the monks of Winchester. (fn. 14) It was then assessed at 14 hides, in contrast to the 16 hides of the time of Edward the Confessor. In 1284 the manor passed wholly to the bishop, the monks renouncing 'all right and claim which they have or shall have in the said manor, for ever.' (fn. 15) This agreement marked the termination of a long series of disputes between successive bishops and priors. The credit for the peace was due to Bishop John of Pontoise, who in return for the manor of Droxford (inter alia) granted to the monks certain advowsons and rights. In the same year Edward I granted to the bishop the return of all writs within the manor of Droxford. (fn. 16) After this Droxford remained in the hands of the bishops of Winchester until the reign of Edward VI, when in 1551 Bishop Poynet surrendered the whole hundred of Waltham, including Droxford manor, to the crown. (fn. 17) Thence it passed the following month to William, earl of Wiltshire. (fn. 18) Queen Mary, however, restored it in 1558 to the bishopric. (fn. 19) The bishops retained the manor until the great Civil War, when the Long Parliament found a purchaser for Droxford in one Mr. Francis Allen, who gave £7,675 13s. 7d. for it. (fn. 20) On the Restoration, the bishops recovered their possessions, and Droxford remained attached to the lands of the Winchester see until the Bishops' Resignation Act of 1869. (fn. 21) Droxford then passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who have since continued to be lords of the manor.
In 1376 John de Garton of Erehutte, late citizen of London, died seised of lands and rents in MIDDLETON held of the bishop of Winchester, with suit of court to the manor of Droxford. (fn. 22) This is evidently the same as Midlington, a tithing in Bishop's Waltham Hundred. (fn. 23) There is no descent traceable of the owners of this property, and the lands seem to have been split up. At a court baron held at Droxford Manor in 1761, it was presented that 'all lands that did heretofore belong to the manor of Midlington have no right of common in Waltham Chase.' (fn. 24) Midlington is now owned and occupied by Mr. F. H. Christian.
Steeple (? Stepple xv cent. (fn. 25)), now represented by STEEPLE COURT, is a well-wooded piece of land situated on the right bank of the Hamble, before it widens to an estuary. It formed a part of Droxford parish until 1884, when it was transferred to the parish of Botley by order of the Local Government Board. (fn. 26) In the reigns of Mary and Elizabeth, Steeple Court was called a manor, (fn. 27) which seems to have owed suit to the parent manor of Droxford. At a court baron held at Droxford in 1761 it was decided that 'Steeple Court farm has no rights of common in Horderswood' (fn. 28) (Waltham Chase). In the sixteenth century Steeple Court was in the hands of the family of Faukener, (fn. 29) a name which is found in connexion with the neighbouring parish of Swanmore as early as the thirteenth century. (fn. 30) By the eighteenth century it belonged to the family of Warner, (fn. 31) which had long owned land in South Hampshire, particularly in Titchfield, Waltham, and Botley. (fn. 32) The Rev. Henry Jenkyns, canon of Durham Cathedral, bought Steeple Court from Mr. William Warner about 1875. It is now the property of Lady Jenkyns.
The church of OUR LADY AND ALL SAINTS, DROXFORD, has a chancel 28 ft. 3 in. long by 15 ft. 6 in. wide, north and south chapels of equal length, 13 ft. 7 in. and 13 ft. 2 in. wide respectively, nave 45 ft. 2 in. by 19 ft. 6 in., with north and south aisles 8 ft. 8 in. wide, south porch, and west tower 13 ft. 3 in. square—all measurements being internal.
The earliest details belong to 1150–60, at which time the church possessed an aisleless nave and chancel, whose walls still stand for the most part, though pierced with arches opening to the aisles and chapels. The chancel arch of this church remains intact, and the north and south doorways of the nave, though not in their original positions, are part of it. The chancel had two small round-headed windows on each side, and remains of those on the south are still to be seen. Towards the end of the twelfth century a north chapel was added to the chancel, and a north aisle to the nave, and in the first half of the thirteenth century a south aisle was built. At the beginning of the next century the north chapel was rebuilt, probably on a larger scale, and the south chapel either newly built or enlarged from a previously existing building.
The aisles of the nave were widened in the late years of the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century, and in 1599 the present tower was built, leaving no evidence of the size of its predecessor, if it had one. In the eighteenth century the church was fitted with new roofs and ceilings, and the clearstory windows of the chancel remodelled. The walls of the church are of flint rubble with ashlar dressings, and the roofs are red-tiled.
The chancel has a fifteenth-century east window of three cinquefoiled lights with tracery in the head, and is also lighted by two clearstory windows on north and south, the internal masonry of which is probably of fifteenth-century date, but externally they are of the eighteenth century. The chancel opens to the chapels by wide arches, that on the north of late twelfth-century date, being of one order pointed, with a chamfered label and an edge-roll towards the chancel, and a plain chamfer towards the chapel. At the springing are square-edged strings, hollow-chamfered beneath, and the edge-roll of the arch continues down the southern angles of the jambs. Over the south arch are remains of two round-headed lights, the original south windows of the chancel, with wide internal splays.
The north chapel, c. 1300, has an east window of three trefoiled lights, and two two-light north windows, with cusped piercings in the head. In the south-east corner is a locker with a shouldered lintel, and rebated for a door, with a shelf-groove, and to the west of it a piscina recess with a plain arched head. The chapel opens to the north aisle by a late fifteenthcentury pointed arch of two hollow-chamfered orders, the outer dying out at the springing and the inner carried by half-octagonal moulded corbels. The south respond of this arch is the north-east angle of the original nave, and preserves its quoin-stones unaltered.
The south chapel, probably built at the same time as the north chapel, has an east window of three trefoiled lights with intersecting tracery in the head, the openings being cusped. In the south wall are two two-light windows like those in the north chapel. Near the south-east angle is a trefoiled piscina, and north of the east window is a large canopied and crocketed niche for an image, with a panelled base. The arch at the west end of the chapel is of the same date and design as that in the north chapel; but the corresponding east angle of the aisleless nave has been cut back and the original quoins destroyed.
The chancel arch is semicircular, of two orders on the west face, the outer with a large roll, and the inner with a good zigzag pattern and an edge-roll, and of one plain order on the east face. The outer order on the west has nook-shafts with foliate capitals, and small shafts with scalloped capitals are worked on the western angles of the inner order.
The nave is of three bays, with a north arcade of wide pointed arches of a single order springing from plain rectangular piers, with square-edged chamfered strings at the springing. All arches have a plain chamfered label towards the nave, and the eastern arch has an edge-roll on arch and jambs, the other having plain chamfered angles.
The south arcade has pointed arches of two chamfered orders without labels, the outer order dying into the walls at the east and west of the nave without responds, while the inner is carried on half-round moulded corbels of mid-thirteenth-century character. There is a clearstory on the north side only, of two three-light windows, a pointed light between two square heads; on the south the roof is carried without a break over the nave and south aisle.
The north aisle has two square-headed north windows of late fifteenth or early sixteenth-century date, each of two cinquefoiled lights with pierced spandrels, and in the west wall is a plain squareheaded two-light window of the date of the tower. The wall in which it is set is in part of late twelfthcentury date, the original north-west quoins of the former aisle being visible and showing the extent to which the aisle was widened at the later rebuilding. The blocked doorway in the north wall was formerly the north doorway of the aisleless twelfth-century church, and like the contemporary south doorway must have been twice moved and reset. Both have semicircular arches of two orders with a chamfered label, the label enriched with tooth-moulding on the upper member and a zigzag on the chamfer, while the outer order has a beaded cable mould and three rows of horizontal zigzag, and the inner order is plain. The outer order has nook-shafts in the jambs with moulded bases, and capitals scalloped in the north doorway and simply foliate in the south. On the east jamb on the south doorway is an incised sun-dial.
The south aisle has the same arrangement of windows as the north, of the same detail and dates, and in its west wall is similar evidence of widening. The west tower, built in 1599, is finished with modern red-brick battlements, the north and south windows of the upper stage being of two lights in brick, while the east and west windows are of modern stonework, with four-centred heads to the lights. In the middle stage is a square-headed window of three lights, and another in the ground stage over the west doorway. The stonework is nearly entirely modern here, and over the latter window is a tablet with the date 1599, also in modern stonework. At the northwest angle of the tower is a projecting rectangular stair turret.
The roofs of the church seem to have been entirely renewed in the eighteenth century, when plaster cornices and ceiling were added, and the chancel roof was tiled and hipped at the east. Plaster coved eaves were added to the north and south chapels, and a cornice with mutules to the chancel, and there are traces of internal painted decoration of this date. The altar rails are an interesting example of seventeenth-century date, with heavy rails and posts crowned by finials in two cases, and balustrades of turned shafts. The other fittings of the church are modern, the panelling round the east end of the chancel being a very good piece of work. In the north chapel on the south and east walls parts of an eighteenth-century masonry pattern decoration remain in red lines, with floral sprays in each block.
In the north chapel is a brass plate with an inscription to Edward Searle, farmer, 1617, and close to it a marble slab with the indent of an inscription plate. In the south chapel is the effigy already referred to, a poor figure in Purbeck marble of a lady in long gown with hanging sleeves and a jewel hung round her neck.
The registers begin in 1633, the first book going to 1736, but the marriages end in 1701 and the burials in 1727. The second book is of burials in woollen, 1678–1739, and the third has baptisms 1778–1812, marriages 1732–54, and burials 1740–1812. The fourth and fifth have marriages 1754–90 and 1790–1812.
The earliest mention of Droxford church is in 1280, when the king presented to the living because of a vacancy in the see, (fn. 33) the usual patron being the bishop of Winchester. (fn. 34) The advowson was surrendered with the manor to the crown by Bishop Poynet in 1551, (fn. 35) was granted by the king in the same year to William earl of Wiltshire, (fn. 36) and restored to the bishopric in 1558. (fn. 37) The living is a rectory, and was entered in the Valor Ecclesiasticus among the 'peculiar benefices' of the bishop, (fn. 38) in whose gift it still remains. (fn. 39)
Swanmore was constituted a consolidated chapelry and ecclesiastical district in 1846. (fn. 40) The living is a vicarage in the gift of the bishop of Winchester.
In 1829 Shedfield was constituted an ecclesiastical parish. The living is a vicarage in the gift of the rector of Droxford. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel at Droxford, built in 1886; another on Shirrell Heath (now in Shedfield parish), built in 1864; and another at Swanmore, built in 1863.
Henry Collins, by will 1679, charged a close called Clever's Close in Bishop's Waltham with the payment of 30s. a year, 5s. to be paid to each of six of the poorest people in Swanmore yearly for ever on the Thursday before Easter.
John Arthur, by will 1722, gave to the poor of the tithings of Droxford and Hill £30; John Dee, by will 1749, gave to the poor of this parish £50; and the Rev. James Cutler, formerly rector of the parish, by will 1782, left £50. These sums, with accumulated interest, were laid out in the purchase of £215 1s. consols, now held by the official trustees, the dividends, amounting to £5 7s. 4d., are applied with the next mentioned charity.
In 1850 James George Boucher, by will, bequeathed to the rector and churchwardens a sum now represented by £190 18s. 7d. consols, with the official trustees, for the benefit of the poor of the parish. The dividends, amounting to £4 15s. 4d., were together with the charities of John Arthur and others applied in 1905 as follows: to the vicar of Shedfield £4 3s. 8d., to the vicar of Swanmore £3 5s. 6d., to be distributed in those districts, and £2 13s. 6d. was given in money to ten poor persons of Droxford.
Poor's Allotments. By Inclosure Award of 9 May, 1855, two allotments of 4 acres each (numbered respectively 213 and 284) were allotted for the use of the poor of Shedfield, the rents whereof, amounting to about £25 a year, are applied for public uses, subject, however, to a yearly rent-charge of £3 5s. and of £3 respectively. Under the same award 5 acres of land were allotted as a recreation ground.
Poor's Allotments. By the Inclosure Award of 1855 an allotment of 7 acres was allotted for the use of the poor of Swanmore, producing about £10 a year, which is subject to a yearly rent-charge of £6. Under the same award 5 acres were allotted as a recreation ground.