A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Ciltecumbe (xi cent.); Chiltecumbe (xiv cent.).
The parish of Chilcomb, chiefly divided into down and arable land, lies on the eastern outskirts of Winchester and contains 2,667 acres of the sweep of chalk down country which rises south and east of the city. Of the whole parish 947½ acres are arable land, 1,131¾ are pasture land, and 3 acres only are woodland. Owing to the growth of the city over the north-west corner of the parish on the estate called Highcliff and on Magdalen Hill after the year 1881, Chilcomb was in 1894 divided into two civil parishes, Chilcomb Within being this north-west part, included in the municipal borough of Winchester, and Chilcomb Without the rest of the parish (fn. 1) with the addition in the same year of the rural parts of Milland, St. John, St. Peter Cheesehill, and Winnall. (fn. 2) In November, 1900, part of Chilcomb Without was annexed to Chilcomb Within. (fn. 3) Chilcomb Within is necessarily the most populous corner of the parish, forming quite a suburb to Winchester, with its new red-brick houses and shops, and with the recent laying-out of the 'Highcliff Park Estate' off the Petersfield Road the houses are extending east to the borders of Chilcomb Without. Owing to the increase of population and the distance of the old parish church in the narrow valley away over the downs, the new church of All Saints was erected and completed in 1891, the modern rectory was built near by in 1892, and the schools, given by the bishop of Guildford, in the next year. While thus Chilcomb Within has become a modernized suburb, Chilcomb village, or as it is locally called Upper Chilcomb, the nucleus of Chilcomb Without, remains unchanged, a calm oldworld village.
About half a mile or so from Highcliff a lane branching south from the main road to Petersfield, which cuts across the parish, climbing the down-land, leads through thick luxuriant hedges to the low-lying village. As the lane approaches the village it joins with another lane which comes from the south-west from Winchester and then curves slightly west past the picturesque outbuildings of Chilcomb Farm which, lying to the left, mark the beginning of the village. A few yards beyond the farm the lane forks south and south-west, the two branches curving to meet again some yards further on. In the north of the island so formed by the two lanes are two or three groups of low thatched and timbered cottages, some lying back behind typical cottage gardens, while the old rectory, now a private residence known as 'St. Kilda,' stands in a wide garden almost in the middle. South of the island the lane rises steeply southwards to the small church of St. Andrew, which lies to the left with a background of high down and woodland, since Beacon Hill rises to the south to a height of nearly 500 ft. above the sea level.
Skirting this high down-land Chilcomb Lane continues south as a rough pathway to meet the Roman road from Bishop's Waltham to Winchester on the southern border line of the parish. From here the Roman road runs for some distance between the two parishes, then turning to the north and west enters Winchester at Bar End. As it turns north a rough road known as Bull Drove branches off westward through down-land and arable land to the River Itchen, and crossing the bridge leads through a shady lane between the flooded water meadows into Winchester. South of this road rises St Catherine's Hill, a well-known landmark, encircled by traces of an ancient fortification, and crowned by a clump of fine trees (fn. 4) which mark the site of the ancient chapel dedicated in honour of St. Catherine. This chapel, once annexed to the rectory of Chilcomb, had been suppressed before Leland visited Winchester (1536–42). Thus he says 'Ther was a very fair chapelle of S. Catarine on an hill scant half a mile without Winchester town by south. This chapel was endowid with landes. Thomas Wolsey, cardinal, causid it to be suppressid, as I hard say.' (fn. 5)
On the summit of the hill also, east of the supposed site of the chapel, is a maze which, with the school song 'Domum,' College tradition ascribes to the ill-fated Winchester scholar who, having cut the maze and written the song, died of a broken heart and pointed a moral against depriving boys of holidays. At least the maze is of some considerable age, dating back to the early seventeenth century, since such mazes are of Dutch origin and came to England with the Stuarts. On the south side of the hill immediately rising from the narrow valley are the Twyford Downs, while away to the west over the Itchen valley and the quiet meadows and village of St. Cross, with its square-towered Norman church, is down-land sweeping away to a group of trees silhouetted against the sky line, known as Oliver's Battery. To the north and west over the stretch of low-lying water meadows appear the roofs and towers of Winchester, the square cathedral tower and the delicately-turreted college tower rising behind a thick foreground of trees. To the north-east runs the railway bank of the Great Western Railway, east of which are sweeps of rolling arable land, in the distance the houses of Chilcomb Within, and rising behind them St. Giles's Hill, and again stretches of down-land.
Of the other hills in Chilcomb, both St. Giles's Hill (which is only partly in the parish) and St. Mary Magdalen Hill (locally known as Magdalen or Morn Hill) are in the north. The road from New Alresford, cutting through wonderful down-country, rises steadily over Magdalen Hill, and skirting the northern slopes of St. Giles's Hill enters Winchester. On the summit of Magdalen Hill a large group of tumuli can be seen to the south of the road, while to the north is the Victoria Hospital for infectious diseases, behind which is the site of the original hospital of St. Mary Magdalen. This hospital, founded probably in the twelfth century, (fn. 6) was used for Dutch prisoners of war by Charles II, who in 1665 ejected the master and inmates, obliging them to seek lodgings in Winchester. The hospital was not pulled down until 1788, but it had been entirely spoilt and the inmates never returned. The charity still exists, the houses now occupied by the recipients being a group of small, low houses in St. John's parish, Winchester.
Twice in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Magdalen Hill was the scene of historic incident. Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, went out to meet Empress Maud on Magdalen Hill 2 March, 1141, and from thence conducted her into the city in solemn procession. (fn. 7) In 1214 the downs of Magdalen Hill were the meetingplace of Archbishop Langton and other of the bishops and clergy with King John, who 'at the sight of them fell on his knees and shed many tears.' From thence the king was conducted to the cathedral, though he could not enter there until he had been absolved. (fn. 8)
The site of the ancient chapel of St. Giles is without the boundaries of Chilcomb parish, which only contains the southern portion of the hill, including the site of the celebrated St. Giles's Fair of old days.
The soil of the whole is calcareous loam with a subsoil of chalk, difficult of cultivation, but producing most kinds of grain and green crops. Hence the chief employment of the inhabitants is agriculture, while the lime works at Bar End and west of the village of Upper Chilcomb have become quite an industry.
Before the time of the Domesday Survey CHILCOMB was the name given to a large tract of country round Winchester, comprising nearly 100 hides, and called 'the Hundred Hides of Chilcomb,' (fn. 9) the whole of which is said to have been granted to the cathedral church of Winchester by Kinegyls between the years 608 and 634. (fn. 10)
The manor was evidently taken away from the church afterwards, but was restored about 856 by Athulf, king of the West Saxons, who also granted a confirmation of certain privileges to Winchester Cathedral for the land at Chilcomb, (fn. 11) and land and privileges alike were confirmed to the church by subsequent kings. (fn. 12) The origin and early history of this vast estate has been discussed by Professor Maitland, who rejects as spurious all the royal charters relating to it earlier than Ethelred's writ, which Kemble accepted as genuine, but the details of which as to the constituents of Chilcomb the Professor questions. (fn. 13)
At the time of the Domesday Survey Bishop Walkelin held the manor of 'Barton and Buddlesgate' in Chilcomb, Winnall, Morestead, St. Faith, Compton, Weeke, Littleton, and Sparsholt (fn. 14) for the support of the monks of St. Swithun. (fn. 15) Chilcomb was assessed at one hide with land for sixty-eight ploughs; seven tenants held land of this hide from the bishop. (fn. 16) The whole manor of Chilcomb was valued in the time of Edward the Confessor at £73 10s.; in 1086 the amount held by the monks was worth £80, and that held by the tenants £24. (fn. 17)
The manor of Chilcomb, together with many other manors and lands, was confirmed to the prior and monks of St. Swithun in 1205, (fn. 18) and again in 1285, (fn. 19) and remained in their possession until the time of the Dissolution. (fn. 20)
In 1535 the manor of Chilcomb was included among the St. Swithun's temporalities, and was assessed at £48 11s. (fn. 21) Upon the dissolution of the priory Chilcomb manor was granted to the dean and chapter of Winchester, (fn. 22) and remained in their hands until about the year 1893, when it was purchased by Mr. George Parker of Winchester, the present owner. (fn. 23)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were four mills in Chilcomb worth £4, but there seem to be no later records concerning them. (fn. 24)
The church of ST. ANDREW is a small building with chancel 17 ft. 4 in. by 13 ft. 6 in., and nave 30 ft. 6 in. by 17 ft. 8 in., with south porch, and a wooden bell turret over the west end of the nave. It is a plain little country church of about 1130–40, standing on the side of the down above the village, and in its essential features not much altered from its original condition. The chancel arch is semicircular of one square order with chamfered strings at the springing, ornamented with zigzag on the vertical faces. The north window of the chancel, a plain, round-headed light, remains untouched, but on the south is a tall and narrow thirteenth-century lancet and a squareheaded fifteenth-century window of two cinquefoiled lights, with a little old white and gold glass in the heads. The east window, of two square-headed lights with a quatrefoil over, is probably of no great age in its present condition, and at the west end of the north wall is a low-set round-headed opening, now blocked. At the north-east angle is a plain recess with a pointed arch, and the chancel arch is filled with a wooden screen of very rough Gothic design, perhaps of early seventeenth-century date. In the chancel floor are some good fifteenth-century glazed tiles with impressed slip patterns of usual types, lions, griffins, eagles, fleurs-de-lis, &c.
The nave has two small round-headed north windows, with internal rebates, the western of the two being set higher in the wall than the other, and its sill cut off by a late mural monument. In the south wall is a single round-headed window, widened and modernized, and a plain, round-headed south doorway of original date. The north doorway is of the same character, but blocked, all the twelfth-century work being in Binstead stone.
The west window is of the fifteenth century with two cinquefoiled lights and a cinquefoil in the head, and over the chancel arch are two pointed openings cut square through the gable, which probably held bells. The walls are of flint rubble, originally plastered over, but now stripped and pointed, the chancel walls being still plastered, and the roofs are red-tiled, the nave roof being hipped at the west. On the south-east quoin of the nave is an incised sundial.
The south porch is modern.
The roofs of nave and chancel are old, with trussed rafters, as are the main timbers of the bell-turret, which has weather-boarded sides and a red-tiled roof.
All internal fittings are modern, the font, with a small bowl on an octagonal shaft, standing on a marble coffin-lid with a much damaged cross of fourteenth-century date.
There are two bells, but pits for three, in the turret. The treble is of 1628, inscribed 'In God is my hope,' with the founder's initials I H (possibly for John Higden) and G R on the waist, and the tenor is a fifteenth-century bell from the Wokingham foundry bearing the characteristic cross, groat, and lion's face, but no inscription.
The plate consists of a communion cup and cover paten of 1569, a paten of 1683 bought with a bequest of 40s. made in 1680, and a pewter flagon and two alms dishes. All Saints' church possesses a silver gilt set of plate, consisting of two chalices, two patens, and a flagon, of modern date.
The first book of the registers contains all entries, 1556–1798, the second has baptisms and burials, and the third marriages, 1799–1812.
The modern church of ALL SAINTS already mentioned is of rough flint and brick, in thirteenthcentury style.
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were nine churches in Chilcomb, seven of which evidently belonged to the seven smaller manors which were included in Chilcomb, and the remaining two to Chilcomb itself. (fn. 25) Of these one became the parish church, and the other a dependent chapelry attached to it. In 1284 the king gave up to John bishop of Winchester and his successor all his right in the advowson of Chilcomb with the chapel of St. Catherine. (fn. 26)
At the time of Pope Nicholas's taxation the church of Chilcomb, together with a chapel attached, was assessed at £6 13s. 4d., (fn. 27) and by 1535 the value of the rectory of Chilcomb had risen to £10. (fn. 28) At the same date St. Swithun's prior owned a pension of £1 6s. 8d. from Chilcomb church. (fn. 29)
In 1657, in accordance with the Act providing that no living should have a stipend less than £100 a year, the parishes of Chilcomb and Morestead with benefices of the value of £60 and £40 respectively were united for a time under one incumbent, the presentation being made jointly by the patrons of the two churches. The services were held alternately at either church. (fn. 30)
Since 1284 the advowson of the church of St. Andrew has been in the hands of the bishop of Winchester. (fn. 31)