A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The parish of Nutley, containing only 1,524 acres of land, lies between Farleigh Wallop and Preston Candover on the slope of the high ridge of downland which sweeps down from the north, from a height of over 600 ft. above the ordnance datum at Farleigh to less than 300 ft. in the north of Preston Candover. The main road from the Candovers climbing this high country towards Farleigh cuts through the centre of Nutley parish, entering it from the south at Axford, which, with its two fine old thatched farm-houses of the farms of Upper and Lower Axford, is partly in Nutley and partly in Preston Candover. Leaving Axford Lodge, the residence of Captain Richard Purefoy, R.N., and the Crown Inn on the east, the road curves slightly west between rising fields and downland, and then turning due north again approaches the quiet village. To the east, behind short front gardens, is a group of two or three thatched cottages, beyond which a sloping field, rising to the sky-line, runs along the side of the road to the low brick wall which, curving with the road to the east, incloses the farmyard with its pond and some of the thatched outbuildings of the Manor Farm. Opposite, along the west side of the road, run other long straight barns and outbuildings of the farm, while the house itself, a substantial square red-brick building, stands on high ground immediately behind the barns. North-east of the farm on the curve of the road as it turns east is the church of St. Mary, standing behind a low brick wall. East of the church fronting on the road is a picturesque block of two thatched and timbered cottages, beyond which high downland stretches to the north-east. Up the downland the road curves, and being lost to sight from the village passes on the north between fine woodland and down country, past two or three outlying thatched cottages, out of the parish. Bermondspit House is in the south-east of the parish on the border between Nutley and Preston Candover.
The soil of the whole parish is chalk and clay with a subsoil of chalk, and crops of wheat, turnips, oats, and barley are produced on the 556½ acres of arable land which lies for the most part south and east of the village. The 174¾ acres given up to permanent grass are for the most part in the west where the downland stretches away to Dummer. Of the 386¾ acres of woodland, Norton's Wood, bearing the name of early lords of the manor of Nutley, covers nearly the whole of the north-east of the parish, while Nutley Wood covers the north-west part of the parish that lies between the main road and the western boundary.
At the time of Domesday Survey, Henry the treasurer held NUTLEY, assessed at 2½ hides. Of this manor, Geoffrey Mareschal held ½ a hide, and at the same time 1 virgate, but not of the manor. (fn. 1) No further information exists concerning the treasurer's lands, and probably the family of Geoffrey Mareschal, or de Venuz, obtained the whole of Nutley, as in the thirteenth century John de Venuz held Nutley by serjeanty of being marshal of the king's household. (fn. 2)
In the reign of Henry III, Constance de Venuz, daughter of the above-mentioned John, and lady of the manor, conveyed 24 acres in Nutley to Gilbert de Dene, evidently her tenant. (fn. 3) Gilbert afterwards brought an unsuccessful action against her for trespass. (fn. 4) It was through his marriage with the same Constance, heiress of Nutley, that the famous Adam Gurdon became possessed of the manor. (fn. 5) In the reign of Edward I Joan daughter of Adam Gurdon received licence from the king to enfeoff James de Norton and Elizabeth his wife of the manor, (fn. 6) described as held of the king in chief as a member of the manor of Worldham, by John de Venuz, the service due being that of great serjeanty, namely, 'that Joan together with the said John should carry a Marshal's rod yearly in the king's house.' (fn. 7) The Nortons continued in possession (fn. 8) for 400 years, ever described as holding of the crown by great serjeanty, once varied by the term 'knight service.' (fn. 9) In the eighteenth century Elizabeth Norton married Francis Paulet of Amport, and their son Norton Paulet became lord of the manor. He disposed of Nutley to Thomas Hall in 1745. (fn. 10) With Elizabeth Hall, his granddaughter, heiress of her brother Thomas Hall of Preston Candover, the manor passed to George Purefoy Jervoise of Herriard, she being his first wife. (fn. 11) His descendant, Captain Richard Purefoy Purefoy, sold it in 1905 to Mr. J. C. A. Hall and Mr. C. Wade, in whose hands the manor now is. (fn. 12)
It is evident that some property in Nutley remained to the family of de Venuz after the marriage of Constance de Venuz to Adam Gurdon, as in 1317 John le Mareschal, then lord of East Worldham, (fn. 13) granted that manor with its rent from Nutley Manor to John de Burghersh. (fn. 14) The grant was said to be only for the grantor's life; however, in 1374, John, the son of the said John de Burghersh, granted the manor of East Worldham and all lands and rent from Nutley to the crown. (fn. 15) In spite of this, Alice de la Pole, duchess of Suffolk, a descendant of John de Burghersh, petitioned Edward IV for the restoration of lands in Nutley and East Worldham 'once held by John de Venuz,' which she said had been granted to her and the duke of Suffolk by King Henry VI. (fn. 16) The same had come into the hands of Edward IV in the first year of his reign, but were regranted to the duchess upon her petition. (fn. 17)
Upon the attainder of Edmund, duke of Suffolk, these lands must again have passed into royal possession, which perhaps accounts for the fact that Humphrey Bridges (to whom a grant may have been made), holding land in Nutley of the crown, received licence to alienate the same to John Myllyngate and Anne his wife. (fn. 18) In 1669 there was a lawsuit between the granddaughters of John Myllyngate, Mary wife of John Coates, and Amy wife of William Soper. (fn. 19) The plaintiff Mary stated that her father had settled his estates upon his daughters, but that William Soper had carefully lived close to his father-in-law, and had obtained the family deeds from him as well as a settlement to the use of his wife. The defendants, however, maintained that the land had been settled upon Amy as eldest child, and that the plaintiff and her husband had been non-suited when they laid claim to the moiety seven years back, and for yielding up their claim had received money from William Soper. The defendants apparently won their case, (fn. 20) and the Sopers continued to hold their property. In 1736 Patience and Frances Soper, daughters and heirs-at-law of John Soper of Preston Candover, sold to Stephen Terry of Long Sutton Dummer Grange Farm and land in Nutley and Basing and other places. (fn. 21)
In 1757 the name of Soper again occurs in connexion with Nutley and Axford, when resettlement of his lands was made upon William Soper, yeoman, and his heirs. (fn. 22)
In 1578 William Fauconer of Laverstock, Wiltshire, sold to Philip Wateridge of Axford for £400 his messuage commonly called Axford or Axor Farm, and lands in Nutley. (fn. 23) A fine in 1652 occurs between William Soper and John Wateridge concerning a messuage and 150 acres of land besides pasture, meadow, and woodland. (fn. 24) As the Soper settlement of 1757 has reference to a messuage in Axford and 150 acres of land and woodland, (fn. 25) it seems probable that Axford Farm had been sold to the Sopers by Philip Wateridge.
Glimpses of the history of Axford hamlet can be found here and there. The prior of Southwick in early times held land there, (fn. 26) and his villeins owed suit at the hundred of Bermondspit, which William de Valence, so said the prior, hindered them from paying. (fn. 27) The Valences also had land there, as Aylmer de Valence earl of Pembroke held three parts of a fee in Axore (Axford) before 1323. (fn. 28)
The church of OUR LADY is entirely modern, having been rebuilt with chancel, north vestry, nave, south porch, and west bell-turret, in 1845. One voussoir of a mid-twelfthcentury arch, with zigzag ornament, is preserved in the vestry, as a relic of the former church. The font has an octagonal bowl, and stands near the south doorway of the nave; it is modern, together with all the fittings of the church. There is one bell without inscription, possibly from the old church.
The vicarage of Nutley is annexed to Preston Candover. The priory of Southwick held the advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 31) It was then probably annexed to Preston Candover, and granted with Preston Candover to the dean and chapter of Winchester, (fn. 32) who presented in the time of Bishop Gardiner, (fn. 33) and are the present patrons.