A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The parish of Bishopstoke, as originally constituted, covered about 3,430 acres of land rising from west to east from the arable lands round Great and Little Eastley farms, a height of 40 ft. to 50 ft. above the ordnance level, to the woodland round Fair Oak Park, a height of 190 ft. to 220 ft. However, in 1894, Fair Oak, the eastern part of the parish, was formed into a civil parish of 1,680 acres independent of Bishopstoke. In 1899 Stoke Park was also separated and made a civil parish of 1,250 acres, of which two are water, leaving the original parish with an area of only 500 acres, of which thirteen are covered by water.
The main road from Winchester to Southampton, passing through Fair Oak, leaves to the west the lowlying ground composing the modern parish of Bishopstoke. A road branching off westward leads from the main road through fields and meadows to the village. About a quarter of a mile east of the village this road turns sharply northward for a few yards to the National School built in 1895, then east again past Manor Farm and across the bridge, to enter the village near Bishopstoke (corn) Mill, which is said to be on the site of the mill of Domesday. North of the mill, almost on an island formed by two branches of the Itchen, is the Manor House with its enormous fish pond. The greater number of the older houses of the village with the two inns, 'The Anchor' and 'The Angler,' are grouped here and higher up the road beyond the old church of St. Mary (rebuilt in 1825, now disused) and the Rectory. Many modern redbrick cottages are now in process of building at both ends of the village to supply the needs of the men who are employed in the Eastleigh Railway Works, which are rapidly increasing in size. The new church of St. Mary, opened in 1891, is north of the village, close to the new church schools. Further north, its well-wooded grounds of about 100 acres stretching away west to the River Itchen, is The Mount, the residence of Mr. Thomas Atkinson Cotton. The house, which is surrounded by a fine park in which a herd of deer is kept, is modern and has a tower at one end. The grounds contain a fine collection of conifers, many rare plants, and a rock garden, while in the house is a large collection of British birds numbering over a thousand specimens. There is also a clock tower in the grounds containing a clock with carillon chimes which play fourteen tunes. Longmead, another fine house, the residence of Mr. Gubbins, stands east of the village in a park and grounds of about 46 acres. Longmead Farm is on the edge of the estate. Stoke Lodge, the residence of Mr. George Young, is north-east of The Mount near Stoke Common.
The soil of the parish is mixed clay, loam, and sand; subsoil, clay and sand. The proportion of land in the parish is as follows: 13¼ acres of arable land, 175 acres of permanent grass, and 8 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats, peas, and beans. The following place-names occur: 'the High Bridge and Davis,' (fn. 2) 'Mortimers and Crowdhill' (name still preserved); (fn. 3) Mayles Thomas and Strowdelonde; (fn. 4) The Reeve's Gore, Lower Beddemeade, Breathfield, (fn. 5) Woodrowes Purrockes, (fn. 6) and 'Maveland.' (fn. 7)
Stoke Common itself is the hamlet which is the nucleus of the small parish of Stoke Park. It is reached from Bishopstoke by the road running northeast from the village, and consists of a few scattered houses, a Bible Christian Chapel, a smithy, and an inn, 'The Foresters' Arms.' Stoke Park Farm lies away to the east, surrounded by a belt of arable land which stretches away to woodland, Upperbarn Copse, Crowdhill Copse in the east, and Stoke Park Wood in the south. The meadow land west of Stoke Common is often flooded, as the Itchen, which here divides into many branches, overflows its banks during the rainy season. On the lower part of the river is Withymead Lock, where the several branches of the river meet in one, and Stoke Lock still lower, where the Itchen Navigation joins the River Itchen.
The village of Fair Oak consists of widely scattered houses and farms reaching from Crowdhill on the north to Horton Heath on the south. From Crowdhill, part of which is in Fair Oak, a fine view can be gained of the surrounding country, the Itchen valley stretching away to the south-west towards the Solent, and the chalk downs which lie round Winchester sweeping away to the north. A Wesleyan chapel and two or three houses belonging to Crowdhill are in the north in Fair Oak parish. In the north of Fair Oak village itself is Stocks Farm, south of which are the houses of the village grouped round the church of St. Thomas erected in 1863. Close by are the church schools, the smithy, and the inn. A few cottages are scattered along the road to the south towards Knowle Hill, which rises to a height of about 160 ft. above the ordnance datum. Horton Heath, a detached portion of Fair Oak village, lies round the four cross roads formed by the road known as Burnett Lane as it crosses the main road from Winchester. Here is a Union Chapel, Hammersley Farm, the Rising Sun Inn, and the post office. Fair Oak Park, the residence of Mr. George Pember, stands east of the village; the house commanding a fine view of the well-wooded park and grounds, which cover about 120 acres. On the northern edge of this estate is Hall Lands House. Stroudwood is to the north-east. Fair Oak Lodge, the property of Sir Arthur Grant, bart., of Monymusk, N.B., lies south-west of the village. The estate covers about 120 acres, and in the park is a lake of about seven acres in extent called Quableigh Pond, the home of several varieties of water fowl.
The earliest reference to BISHOPSTOKE seems to be in the year 948 when King Edred granted 11 mansae at Stoke to the thegn Ælfric. (fn. 8) Sixteen years later King Edgar (fn. 9) endowed Winchester Cathedral with lands at Bishopstoke, together with numerous other manors in Hampshire, and at the time of the Domesday Survey the bishop was holding Bishopstoke in demesne as he had formerly done; it was assessed at 5 hides and was worth £8. (fn. 10) In 1284 the king gave up to John bishop of Winchester and his successors all his right in the manor of Bishopstoke. (fn. 11) The manor remained in the hands of the bishop from this date (fn. 12) until the sale of the bishops' lands in 1650, (fn. 13) when it was sold to Dr. Thomas Cox and Malachy Dewdney for £1,601 4s. 6d., (fn. 14) and five years later the site of the manor also was sold to Dr. Cox for £479 3s. 4d. (fn. 15) Bishopstoke was restored to the see of Winchester at the Restoration and remained in the bishop's possession (fn. 16) until the year 1869, when the lands belonging to the bishopric were vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who are lords of the manor at the present day. The bishop of Winchester had a park here at an early date. In 1305, and again in 1334, certain persons were indicted for hunting in the bishop of Winchester's park at Bishopstoke. (fn. 17) At the sale of the bishops' lands Stoke Park was sold to Dr. Cox and Malachy Dewdney for £221 18s. 4d. (fn. 18)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there was a mill in Bishopstoke worth 10s. (fn. 19) In 1523 Nicholas Poule was miller and chief toll collector in Bishopstoke, (fn. 20) and in 1594–6 Thomas Carpenter, miller of Bishopstoke, claimed to have a right of way by the bridge called Cutbridge, 'in order to repair the weirs by the water-course.' (fn. 21) In the following year Francis Serle and his heirs were enfeoffed of one toft, one corn mill, and one fulling mill in the tithing of Bishopstoke. (fn. 22) 'The waste soil near the mill' is spoken of in 1648 (fn. 23); at the present day there is a (water) cornmill in the parish. In 1709 Robert Smith was holding a fishery in Bishopstoke. (fn. 24)
The modern church, also dedicated in honour of St. Mary, was built in 1891 of shaped flints with quoins and dressings of Bath stone, and consists of a chancel with vestries and an organ chamber on the north, and a nave and south aisle with baptistery at the west end.
There are three bells, the treble of 1600 by John Wallis of Salisbury, inscribed 'Seeke the Lord'; the second of 1598 by R.B., an unknown founder, bearing 'Geve thanks to God'; and the tenor, also by Wallis, 1589, with 'In God is my hope.'
The first book of registers runs from 1650 to 1700, and the second from 1700 to 1781, the marriages ceasing in 1753. The third book contains baptisms and burials 1781–1812, and the fourth marriages 1754–1812.
The church of ST. THOMAS, FAIR OAK, built in 1863, is of brick with stone dressings, in Early English style, consisting of apsidal chancel and nave, and turret containing one bell. The register dates from 1871.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there was a church at Bishopstoke. (fn. 25) In the fourteenth century the church rendered a pension of 40s. annually to Hamble Priory; this pension was afterwards received by Winchester College, to which the priory was given by William of Wykeham in 1391. (fn. 26)
The advowson of Bishopstoke has always been in the hands of the bishops of Winchester (fn. 27); except for a time in the fourteenth century, when John bishop of Winchester alienated it in mortmain to the four chaplains celebrating divine service daily in the chapel of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence at Marwell, in lieu of the sum of money which they used to receive in alms from the bishop's exchequer at Wolvesey. (fn. 28) In 1291 the church of Bishopstoke was assessed at £8, (fn. 29) but by 1535 the value had risen to £14 4s. 8d. (fn. 30)
In 1558–9 the rectorial tithes of the church of St. Mary at Bishopstoke were granted to the notorious 'fishing grantees' William Tipper and Robert Dawe. (fn. 31) The living is now a rectory in the gift of the bishop of Winchester.
In 1632 Richard Dummer charged a close called 'Five Acres' with the payment of 40s. annually for the use of the poor at Michaelmas and Lady Day. In 1653 Thomas Dummer charged certain copyhold land with 40s. a year for the poor at Easter and Christmas. The annuities are duly paid out of a close known as the Poor Close.
In 1630 Mrs. Joan Bassett by her will left £20, interest to be distributed amongst the poor sort of the inhabitants at Easter for ever, now represented by £20 9s. 8d. consols with the official trustees.
In 1834 Henry Twynam by deed charged four acres of copyhold land at Stoke Common with the annual payment of 40s. to be applied on 21 December in every year in the distribution of fuel and clothes among the poor on the west side of the parish. The donor, by the same deed, granted to trustees a messuage, garden, and orchard situated at Fair Oak, the net rents to be applied in the same manner for the benefit of the poor on the east side of the parish. The annuity is duly paid, and the messuage and premises now consist of five cottages, known as Everett's, which are let to weekly tenants, producing £26 a year.
In 1846 George Twynam, by a codicil to his will, bequeathed £200, income to be applied in the distribution of bread or fuel amongst poor residents of the parish. The legacy was invested in £208 13s. consols, held by the official trustees. By an order made in 1896 under the Local Government Act, 1894, the parish councils of Fair Oak and Bishopstoke have elected representatives on the governing body, by whom the income of the several charities is applied in the distribution of coal and other articles in kind.