A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The small parish of Morestead, covering an area of 1,701 acres, is on high ground south-east of Winchester, the Roman road from Bishop's Waltham to Winchester forming the northern part of its western boundary. The village lies on comparatively low ground in the south-west of the parish at the junction of the Roman road to Winchester, which forms the main village street, with a narrow lane running across the fields from Twyford, which here crosses the main road and continues a north-westerly course, as Fawley Lane, over Fawley Down to meet the main road from Petersfield to Winchester, just outside the boundaries of Morestead parish. The few cottages that comprise the village, with Complin's Farm, Burgers' Farm, and the church and rectory, lie south of the junction, the church, near which is a reputed Roman well, lying to the east of the main road. South-east of the church is the rectory surrounded by a beautiful old-world garden. On either side the land rises from the village, Morestead Down sweeping away north-east of the Roman road, which cuts its way north between the down and a thick belt of hedgerow. Again to the south-west is Hazely Down, while north and east are Fawley Down and Longwood Warren, where there is a rabbit warren of some local fame. Patches of woodland, St. John's Copse, Grove Copse, and Old Down Copse, mingle with the open country to the south between the village and Old Down Farm, which lies in the furthest south-west corner of the parish. Immediately south of the village, on a branch road leading to Owslebury, is Morestead Farm, south again of which is Morestead House, the property of Mr. R. Eden Richardson, whose large game farm supplies many of the neighbouring estates with birds. To the south-west is a fine house 'The Firs,' the residence of Mr. Joseph Storey Curtis, who owns a large training stable and to whom the lately-inclosed 'No Man's Land,' consisting of about five acres in the extreme south of the parish, belongs.
The soil being loam on chalk is very poor, and although there are 515 acres of arable land as compared with 340 of permanent grass and 35 of woodland, much of the arable land is now being rapidly converted into pasture. A considerable number of sheep are reared on the downs, and these with the game farm and racing stable furnish occupation for the inhabitants.
The common lands were inclosed on 10 February, 1859. (fn. 1) The tithe map is at the vicarage. Some field names in the parish were 'Suffle, Barrow Croft, Hern Croft, Dungerts, and Winderane.'
There seems to be little doubt that MORESTEAD was originally one of the eight sub-manors in Chilcomb mentioned at the time of the Domesday Survey; and one of the nine churches included in Chilcomb at this date probably became the parish church of Morestead. (fn. 2) The bishops of Winchester seem to have retained possession of Morestead until nearly the end of the thirteenth century; for Morestead is not mentioned by name in the charter of 1205, under which various manors in Hampshire passed into the hands of the prior and convent of St. Swithun, Winchester; (fn. 3) but by 1284 the manor was in the possession of the prior and convent, and owed suit at the bishop's court. (fn. 4) In 1316 the vill of Morestead was in the hands of the prior of St. Swithun's, (fn. 5) and there are a few records of leases by him. In 1338 Philip Marmyon conveyed a messuage, a carucate of land, 20 acres of wood, and 8s. rent in Morestead to John Sauncere and his wife Julia, to be held by John and Julia and the heirs of Julia; (fn. 6) and in 1525 John Dyker conveyed the manor of Morestead, together with lands, tenements, and rent in Morestead, to William Thorpe and others. (fn. 7)
After the dissolution of the monasteries Morestead with many other lands formerly belonging to St. Swithun's became part of the endowment of the dean and chapter of Winchester Cathedral; (fn. 8) they granted Morestead Manor to Richard Lyster, who died possessed of it, held of the dean and chapter, in 1558. (fn. 9)
Richard Lyster had sold a great deal of his land to Sir John Leigh in 1556; (fn. 10) and the Leighs evidently bought Morestead Manor, for it was in their possession in 1567. (fn. 11) In 1612 Sir John Leigh, son of the Sir John Leigh mentioned in 1556, died seised of the capital messuage of Morestead, which he held from the dean and chapter of Winchester, as of their manor of Barton formerly Chilcomb. (fn. 12)
In 1682 Morestead was in the possession of the cathedral church of Winchester, (fn. 13) which continued to hold it until the middle of the nineteenth century. At some date between 1859 and 1866 the earl of Northesk must have bought the property, his grandson, the present earl, being lord of the manor. (fn. 14)
The church (no dedication known) is a small building with a twelfthcentury nave 14 ft. 8 in. wide, a modern chancel of 1873, a modern south porch and western brick bell-cot, and a brick building dating from 1833 set against the west wall of the nave, which has served its turn as a school, and is now disused. Its site is said to have been occupied by the old rectory pulled down in 1833. The chancel is lighted by modern round-headed windows, and has a modern chancel arch springing from corbels, while the nave has one north and two south windows, likewise modern. Its walls are 2 ft. 5 in. thick, and the north doorway, which has a plain round head with a chamfered string at the springing, is of mid-twelfth-century date, while the south doorway has a head which may be of the same period but reworked, its jambs being modern. At the west end of the nave is a pointed window blocked up. The nave roof with its tie-beams is old, but all other fittings in the church are modern except the font, which stands near the south door, and is of a common late twelfth-century type, of Purbeck marble, with an octagonal bowl on a central and smaller flanking shafts, each face of the bowl being worked with two pointed arches.
The first book of the registers, a parchment copy apparently made about 1656, begins in 1549 and goes to 1811, the marriages not being entered after 1754. The second book is a copy of the baptisms and burials 1800–11 taken from the first book, and the third is the marriage register 1760–1811. There is also a book of the overseers of the poor, 1813–35.
Morestead church was probably among the nine churches mentioned in Domesday as belonging to the manor of Chilcomb (fn. 15) (q.v.). The advowson is now, and always has been, held by the bishop of Winchester. (fn. 16) In 1285 the prior and convent of St. Swithun received confirmation of a charter by which they received the Easter offerings and a pension from the church of Morestead. (fn. 17) In 1291 the church was assessed at £5; (fn. 18) and by 1535 the value had risen to £6 3s. 8d. (fn. 19) In 1658 Morestead was temporarily united with Chilcomb parish by order of the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers. (fn. 20) The living is now a rectory.
Joseph D'Arcy Sirr, D.D., rector of Morestead 1859–68, was the author of A Memoir of Archbishop Trench and the Life of Archbishop Usher. (fn. 21)