A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Bighton is a parish with an area of 2,095 acres, situated 2 miles north-east by east from New Alresford Station, on the London and South-Western Railway. The village is almost in the centre of the parish, and is reached from New Alresford by a road which runs east from the main Alresford and Basing-stoke Road, between Old Alresford House on the north and Old Alresford Pond on the south. The village is set partly on the northern slope of a valley opening westward towards Alresford and partly along the road running down the middle of the valley. The church and manor house are at the highest point to the north, with the rectory immediately south of the church. From the church the road makes a steep descent, and turns sharply to the east towards the schools, the general shop, and the smithy, and then again southward with a second descent to the road in the valley. At the bottom of the hill stands the inn, with three horse-shoes nailed up as a sign, and there are many quaint thatched cottages on either side of the road. Higher up the valley, near to High Dell Farm, a substantial-looking building, the road forks north-east and south-east. To the north-east a shady lane runs to Bighton Wood House, the residence of Col. Heathcote, which is situated on the outskirts of Bighton Wood, in the north of the parish. The house was built in 1844, at a cost of £10,000, by the Rev. John Thomas Maine, and is surrounded by 280 acres of copse and woodland. The road to the south-east leads to Medsted. Woodlark Farm, which is situated south of the village, is mentioned as early as 1545. (fn. 1) The earliest mention of Breach Farm, the occasional residence of the duke of Buckingham, which lies a little to the east of Bighton Wood House, seems to be in 1734. (fn. 2)
The manor house, which has an early eighteenth-century south front with very good moulded brick details, is now occupied by the bailiff of Col. Hanning-Lee. In 1770 Haydell Farm is mentioned, which is represented by the modern High Dell Farm. (fn. 3) In the low-lying ground in the south of the parish near Drayton Farm, a stream rises which feeds Old Alresford Pond, and there are also numerous springs which afford an abundant supply of pure water.
Woods and plantations in the parish cover an area of 295 acres. (fn. 4) The following are found as names of copses in a patent roll of 1545:—'Rosselwayes Coppe, Wike Coppies, Chorlewode Coppe, Rede Coppe, Pikedfelde Coppe, Wilkyns Coppe, Lordesdowne Coppe, and Jelyan Grove.' (fn. 5) 'Golberfield or Goblenfield Coppice or Goldberryfield Coppice or Groveryfield Coppice, Devil Acres Coppice, Spoyle Coppice, Gores Coppice, and Barnes Coppice' are found in a recovery-roll of 1734. (fn. 6)
The soil is for the most part a harsh flinty loam (fn. 7) resting on chalk, from which many flints are collected for the repair of the roads in this and the neighbouring parishes. Following the direction of the little brook which takes its rise in the parish the land is intermixed with gravel and is of a better quality. The chief crops grown in the neighbourhood are wheat, oats, barley, and turnips. Truffles are found in the beech woods, and in the autumn the wages of the labourers are considerably augmented from this source.
Arable land covers an area of 1,186 acres in the parish and permanent grass 572 acres. (fn. 8)
MANORS OF BIGHTON
As is shown under Bishop's Sutton, it seems probable that a large part of the manor and parish of Bighton, if not the whole of it, was included in a grant of land said to have been made by Ine to Winchester Cathedral in 701. (fn. 9) In 959 King Edwy granted 10 mansae in the parish of Bighton to Hyde Abbey (the monastery of St. Peter by Winchester, as it was then called), and shortly after this gift the monks, with the consent of the king, granted this land to a certain minister of the king, called Ælfric, for life, in return for a gift of 60 marks of gold. (fn. 10)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor of Bighton was held by Hyde Abbey, and was assessed at 7 hides. The monks, however, did not keep the whole of the manor in their own hands. They only retained 3 hides, the other 4 hides being divided equally between Fulchered and Borghill. What the abbey held was worth £8, while the tenants' holding in the manor was only worth £4. (fn. 11)
The manor continued to be held by the abbey or by tenants of the abbey until the dissolution. (fn. 12)
In 1256 Guy de Heydene granted a carucate of land in Bighton, which he probably held of the abbey, to Roger, abbot of Hyde, and his successors for ever. In return for this grant the abbot promised that he and his successors thenceforth would find a certain secular chaplain to celebrate divine service in the church of the abbey at the altar of St. Grimbald, and would pay this chaplain 5 marks a year. In addition the abbot and his successors were to pay an annuity of £10 to Guy, and on Guy's death an annuity of £6 to his brother Thomas. After the deaths of Guy and Thomas the annuities were to cease, but the convent was to receive yearly from the abbot and his successors 20s. for pittance on Guy's obit. (fn. 13) In 1329 the abbot and convent obtained a grant of free warren in their demesne lands of Bighton. (fn. 14) An inquisition was held in 1388 to ascertain what manors, lands, and tenements had been assigned as the portion of the abbot of Hyde, and what belonged to the convent as its portion. The manor of Bighton was returned as one of those which had belonged to the convent from time immemorial. (fn. 15) In the same year the king by letters patent granted to the abbot and convent and their successors that the premises assigned for the maintenance of the convent, distinct from the abbot's portion as a prebend, should on voidances of the abbey be exempt from seizure. (fn. 16) The manor of Bighton was assessed at £14 16s. 1d. in 1291. (fn. 17) It was worth almost twice as much in the reign of Henry VIII. (fn. 18) After the dissolution of the abbey the king granted it to a Venetian, Dr. Augustine de Augustinis, physician to the king, Cardinal Wolsey, and Cardinal Campeggio, to hold for the term of his life, (fn. 19) but in July, 1545, Augustine received a grant of the reversion for a rent of £2 18s. 5½d. (fn. 20) Three months later Augustine and Agnes his wife by fine granted the manor to Thomas Wriothesley and his heirs. (fn. 21) On the death of Thomas, Bighton was one of the manors assigned to his widow Jane as dower. In 1581 Henry earl of Southampton died seised of the reversion of the manor of Bighton, which Jane was holding for the term of her life. (fn. 22) His heir was his son Henry, aged eight, who seventeen years later sold the manor to John Wither of Manydown (co. Hants). (fn. 23) The property was then settled for life upon the wife of John Wither's eldest son William as a marriage-portion. (fn. 24) Three years after her death in 1632 William Wither and his eldest son Paul sold the manor to Robert Eyre, Giles Eyre, and William Eyre. (fn. 25) William Eyre was still lord of the manor in 1665, for he then presented to the living which went with the manor. (fn. 26)
The descent of the manor has not been discovered from this date (fn. 27) till 1692, when Sir Robert Worsley, bart., purchased it from John Pathurst, (fn. 28) and presented to the living in 1701. (fn. 29) In 1726 Edward Stawell, George Pitt, and Sir John Cope, bart., bought the manor from Sir Robert Worsley and Frances his wife, (fn. 30) and they presented to the living in 1732. (fn. 31) They were probably trustees for Frederick Tilney of Tilney Hall in the parish of Rotherwick. Frederick's heir was his daughter Anne, who married William, Lord Craven. On the death of Anne in 1730, (fn. 32) her only daughter having predeceased her, the manor passed to Dorothy wife of Richard Child, Viscount Castlemaine, only daughter and heir of John Glynne and Dorothy his wife, the niece of Frederick Tilney. On his wife's succeeding to her inheritance Richard Child assumed the name of Tilney, and in 1731 was created Earl Tilney. The manor in 1734 was settled upon the Hon. John Tilney, Lord Castlemaine, the son and heir of Earl Tilney and Dorothy his wife, and his heirs and assigns. (fn. 33) From him it passed into the possession of Christopher Eyre, one of the prebendaries of Winchester Cathedral. (fn. 34) Christopher died in 1743, and was succeeded by his eldest son Philip Eyre, (fn. 35) who on his own petition presented himself to the living of Bighton in 1767. (fn. 36) On his death without issue the manor went to his brother Joseph Eyre, who in 1770 settled it on himself and his son and heir John and their heirs and assigns for ever. (fn. 37) From the Eyres it passed by purchase into the possession of James Brydges, duke of Chandos, whose only daughter and heir Anne Eliza married Richard, Earl Temple, in 1796. The latter being seised of the manor in right of his wife, dealt with it by fine in 1809, (fn. 38) and presented to the living in 1811, and again in 1827 under the title of duke of Buckingham. (fn. 39) It was in the latter year that the duchess built the schools at a cost of £100. (fn. 40) On the duke's death in 1839 the manor passed to his son and heir Richard Plantagenet, second duke of Buckingham and Chandos, who sold it in 1841 to the Rev. John Thomas Maine. (fn. 41) It remained in the latter's possession for over thirty years, (fn. 42) being sold on his death to Mr. Lee Lee of Dillington Park, Ilminster, Somerset, whose descendant, Col. Edward Hanning Hanning-Lee, is the present lord.
A portion of the parish of Bighton, equal in value to the manor of Bighton held by the abbey of Hyde, still formed part of the bishop of Winchester's lands in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and was held of the bishopric by the family of Gervays. In 1263 William Gervays granted the third part of a virgate of land to John de Bonehetone and Agnes his wife, to hold to them and their heirs of William and his heirs for the rent of a pound of cummin at Michaelmas. (fn. 43) William's heir was another William Gervays, who in 1332 obtained a grant of land in Bishop's Sutton and Ropley from Robert le Botiller. (fn. 44) On William's death his property in Bighton passed to his son Roger, who was holding it in 1346. (fn. 45) Roger's son Andrew in 1370 granted all his property in Bighton to William Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, for an annual payment of £20 for the term of his life. (fn. 46) The bishop granted the land to his college at Winchester, (fn. 47) and in 1428 it was stated that the warden of New College, Winchester, held in Bighton the fourth part of a fee in frankalmoign which Roger Gervays formerly held. (fn. 48)
The church of ALL SAINTS, BIGHTON, consists of a nave and chancel without a structural division, 48 ft. long by 18 ft. wide, the chancel taking up 21 ft. of this length; north and south chapels and aisles, north-east vestry, south porch, and west tower. The exterior is uninteresting, all the windows except the east window of the chancel and a small cinquefoiled light west of the porch being single lancets of the plainest detail and modern appearance. The walls are plastered and the roofs red-tiled, that of the nave being carried without a break over the aisles.
The oldest feature in the churchappears to be the north window of the chancel, a narrow round-headed light with inclined jambs on the inner splay, its outer face being hidden by the vestry roof. It may belong to the first quarter of the twelfth century, and, if in its original position, suggests a rebuilding and widening of the chancel at this date, the thickness of the wall in which it is set being 2 ft. 10 in. as against 2 ft. 5 in. in the nave. The dimensions of the present nave may be those of an earlier nave, 18 ft. by 27 ft., parts of whose walls may still exist above the arcades. In the last years of the twelfth century north and south aisles were added to this nave, with chapels to the east, a little wider than the aisles, and overlapping the chancel. The south chapel is 15 ft. long from east to west, while that on the north is only 7 ft., but the former may have been lengthened eastward at a later time, perhaps c. 1300, when work was evidently in progress here.
The chancel has an east window of three lights with modern tracery, but the rear arch and jambs, the latter with engaged angle shafts, date from c. 1300. Near the south-east angle of the church is a trefoiled piscina of the same date, with a projecting bowl for the drain, and close to it on the west a squint from the south chapel. The chapels open to the chancel with plain pointed arches of one square order, 6 ft. wide, with a chamfered string at the springing, of the same date as the nave arcades. The north chapel has an east window of two trefoiled lights, c. 1300, now blocked by the modern vestry, and in the east jamb of the arch opening to the chancel is a pretty trefoiled piscina of the same date as the window, with a shelf. The north window of the chapel is a plain lancet of the type already noted, with a semicircular rear arch. The south chapel has a south window of this type and a larger lancet at the east, on either side of which is a plain round corbel for an image. At the west ends of both chapels are thin walls carried by plain pointed arches, approximately on the line of the original chancel arch, which must have been destroyed at an early date.
The nave has arcades of two bays with pointed arches of a single square order, plain responds, and round central pillars with square capitals and moulded bases with angle spurs. The capital in the south arcade is scalloped, while that on the north has scrolled foliage, the date of the whole being about 1180–90. The aisles are lighted, very insufficiently, by lancets of the type already noted, and the ground stage of the tower, which is fitted with seats, is equally ill-lighted, though it has lancet windows on north, south, and west, as all are darkened with poor modern glass, and the absence of a clearstory in the nave is much felt. The south doorway has a pointed arch plastered over and showing no detail, and the south porch is plastered and of uncertain date. The tower, which is of masonry in the lower stage only, opens to the church with a modern pointed arch, and has a groined plaster ceiling. Its upper stages are of timber, the main beams being old, but covered with modern weatherboarding, and the tower is capped by a low slated roof. Of late years the church has been fitted with a good painted and gilt chancel screen, with a beam above it, and the roofs of nave and aisles have been panelled and coloured with very good effect.
The font, at the west end of the nave, is of a common late twelfth-century type, of Purbeck marble with a shallow square bowl having round-headed arcades on each face, and carried on a round central shaft. Four smaller angle shafts have disappeared, though their marble bases remain. Near the font, against the west respond of the south arcade, is set as a pedestal to a money-box a very good pillar piscina, with leaf-work on the bowl like that of the capital in the north arcade, but combined with leaves of normal thirteenth-century type. Its date is c. 1190.
In the tower are pits for three bells, but only one bell now remains, of early sixteenth-century date, with Roger Landon's lettering and stamps, the lion's head, groat, and cross, but not his founder's mark. The inscription, in black-letter capitals and smalls, is blundered, reading: SANCTA ANN OAR, for SANCTA ANNA ORA PRO NOBIS.
The first book of the registers contains baptisms and burials from 1573 to 1805, and marriages 1573–1754; the second, baptisms and burials 1805–12, and the third, marriages 1754–1812. In the first book is a list of rectors from 1621.
There was a church in Bighton at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 49) The advowson has throughout followed the descent of the manor (q.v.).
In 1772 James, duke of Chandos, gave a bond to the rector and parish officers for £50 with interest at 5 per per cent., which is supposed to include a sum of £15 set aside to produce 15s. a year derived from the gift of John Pink in 1642. The fund is known as 'poor's money,' and with accumulations is now represented by £93 5s. consols with the official trustees. (fn. 50)