A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The parish of Bramley, covering an area of 2,297 acres, is situated about 5 miles north from Basingstoke, and is served by Bramley station on the Reading and Basingstoke branch of the Great Western Railway. The site of the Roman road from Winchester to Silchester cuts through the extreme west of the parish and in its vicinity finds of Roman pottery have been made. Bow Brook or the Little Loddon spanned by Bow Bridge (built in 1830) forms roughly the southern boundary of Bramley, and in the extreme southeast of the parish empties itself into the Loddon. The level of the parish varies little; in the south by the river the ground is comparatively low-lying, but in no place does it reach a greater height than 240 ft. The village is situated in the south of the parish about half a mile north of the Little Loddon. It is a well-built and picturesque little place of some four hundred inhabitants, the cottages, which are dotted about at irregular intervals, being excellent and far above the average in comfort and appearance. The stocks originally stood on the village green under the chestnut tree. In the first half of the 19th century new roads were made in the parish, farms were consolidated and hedgerows grubbed up, while allotment schemes were set on foot, to meet, however, with little success. (fn. 1) The soil and subsoil are chiefly sand and clay, and the chief crops raised are wheat, beans, oats and barley. The parish contains about 1,328 acres of arable land, 672 acres of permanent grass and 312 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The schools were built in 1848.
The following are place-names mentioned in documents relating to the parish:—Le Swapes, (fn. 3) Poblyngesperke, Helfelyngs, Le Strode, Alissislond, Osegodesstret, Voxham, Prevetmede, Wodemede, Farylane, Trandelmede, Barksdale (xiv cent.); Stertemede, Sadelerscroft, Le Smythes Place (fn. 4) (xv cent.); Hyde House, Greet and Little Dockes (fn. 5) (xvi cent.).
The manor of BRAMLEY, which had been held under Edward the Confessor by Alvric, belonged to the great Hampshire landowner Hugh de Port in 1086. (fn. 6) It continued in the possession of the Ports and their successors, the St. Johns, (fn. 7) until the death without issue of Edmund de St. John in 1347. (fn. 8) Bramley was assigned in dower to Elizabeth widow of Edmund, (fn. 9) and on her death in 1362 reverted to his sister and heir Isabel the wife of Sir Luke de Poynings. (fn. 10) Isabel died in 1393 and was succeeded by her son Sir Thomas de Poynings, (fn. 11) on whose death in 1428 it passed to his granddaughter Constance, the wife of John Paulet. (fn. 12) From this date Bramley followed the same descent as the manor of Basing (q.v.) until 1642, (fn. 13) when John fifth Marquess of Winchester sold it to Edward Pitt, lord of Stratfieldsaye. (fn. 14) Its later history is given under Stratfieldsaye (fn. 15) (q.v.), Arthur Charles Wellesley fourth Duke of Wellington being at the present day lord of both manors.
Not far from the church is a mid-16th-century half-timber building known as the manor-house, now divided into several tenements. Internally there is little of interest, except some panelling with butted mouldings, for the whole building has been a good deal modernized; but externally the old design is fairly complete. The construction is entirely halftimber, and the main front which is on the line of the village street faces north-east, and has a central block with a projecting wing at either end, the whole being of two stories: in the case of the central block the upper story overhangs. The ground story of this block has been as usual the hall, with the screens at the west, the four-centred doorway to which is still the principal entrance to the house; the door is also original and retains its strap hinges. The windows are set in slightly projecting frames with moulded sills and where not under the eaves or the projecting upper story have small tiled pentise roofs; all are now fitted with metal lattice casements, which add largely to the general effect. The best features, however, are the bargeboards to the gables of the two projecting wings carved with pierced quatrefoil tracery. The roofs are of red tiles and the cut brick chimneys are modern, of very good design.
There were two mills worth 20s. in the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 16) but they were apparently separated from it at an early period, (fn. 17) and may possibly represent the mills owned in the 13th century by the de Linlee family, who gave their name to the modern Lillymill Farm. In 1307 William de Linlee settled the reversion of one messuage, two mills and 26½ acres of land in Bramley and Stratfieldsaye upon his daughter Eleanor (fn. 18) on her marriage with Richard son of John de Oakland. (fn. 19) In 1333 Richard and Eleanor granted the same holding to Thomas de Wandlesworth and Katherine his wife and their issue. (fn. 20) Thomas Stiff was the owner of two water-mills and a free fishery in Bramley and Stratfieldsaye in 1707. (fn. 21) There is one mill in the parish now—Lillymill, situated on its eastern boundary and worked by the River Loddon. The old mill-house stood where the mill now stands. It was pulled down and rebuilt by the first Duke of Wellington. (fn. 22)
In 1245 Robert de St. John obtained licence to inclose his wood of Bramley, which was within the metes of the forest of Pamber, provided that the king's deer had free entry and egress. (fn. 23) This marks the formation of Bramley Park, which is mentioned in an inquisition of 1347. (fn. 24) Its site is perhaps marked by Bramley Frith Wood, which is situated about half a. mile north of the village.
In 1252 Aimery de Chanceaus, in return for an annuity of 10 marks of silver, granted 1½ carucates of land with appurtenances in BRAMLEY which he held of Robert de St. John as of his manor of Bramley to his son Aimery to hold of him and his heirs by the rent of 6d. (fn. 25) Aimery the younger dealt with premises in Bramley in 1257 (fn. 26) and 1259, (fn. 27) and in the latter year called upon John de Kendale and Joan his wife, granddaughter and heir of Aimery the elder, as intermedian lords to acquit him from the services which Robert de St. John demanded of him for the freehold which he held from them in Bramley. John de Kendale and Joan promised that in the future they would do so, and in return Aimery granted that if he had no issue his property should pass to his brother Thomas in fee-tail. (fn. 28) Aimery was returned as holding one-twentieth of a knight's fee in Bramley of John de St. John in 1275, (fn. 29) but before 1277 it had passed into the possession of Robert de Say, who in that year died seised of 20s. rent in Bramley which he held of John de St. John by the service of the twentieth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 30) From this date this holding followed the same descent as the manor of Stratfieldsaye (q.v.), (fn. 31) the Dabridgecourt property in Bramley comprising in the 16th century a capital messuage, 40 acres of arable land, 40 acres of pasture, 10 acres of wood, 14 acres of meadow called Bells and a fulling-mill with 30 acres of land, 30 acres of pasture and 10 acres of meadow adjacent to it. (fn. 32)
In the reign of Henry III John de St. John, lord of Bramley, gave in free alms to the Prior and convent of Monk Sherborne a wood in Bramley called 'The Parke,' containing 20 acres of land. (fn. 33) The priory had land in the parish worth 13s. 10d. annually in 1291, (fn. 34) and Queen's College, Oxford, which acquired the priory and all its possessions in the 15th century, still owns property in Bramley.
Joan the widow of Bartholomew Pecche (fn. 35) bought a messuage and a carucate of land in BRAMLEY from John son of Edmund de Swynebrok in 1318, (fn. 36) and four years later Richard Terry and William Noreys granted to the same Joan lands in Bramley which they had of the enfeoffment of John de Swynebrok. (fn. 37) In 1327 Joan granted the reversion of a messuage, a carucate of land and 12s. 6d. rent in Bramley to her son John Pecche, the lord of Beaurepaire, (fn. 38) receiving in return from him an annual rent of £6 14s. 2d., issuing out of tenements in Ellisfield and Bramley. (fn. 39) This estate was held of the St. John barony like Beaurepaire, (fn. 40) and was soon incorporated in the Beaurepaire estate, the history of which is given under Sherborne St. John (q.v.).
The manor of BULLESDENS or BULLESDONS (Bulsdens, xvi cent.; Bulsden, xvii cent.) owed its name to the family of Bullesdon, which owned it from an early period. Very little is known of this family, the names of only two or three of its members having come down to us. In 1313 William Bullesdon and Lucy his wife purchased 15 acres of land and the fifth part of a messuage in Bramley from Thomas Peperwhyt and Elizabeth his wife, (fn. 41) and it was probably their descendant concerning whom the following presentment was made at the view of frankpledge held at Basingstoke on 17 November 1464:—'John Bullesdon of Bramley is a common malefactor, because at different times contrary to law he has wounded, injured, and ill-treated and killed several animals belonging to his neighbours, with certain sharp instruments called gags put into the mouths of these animals by the said John Bullesdon, to wit a pack-horse of William Cowfold's worth 6s. 8d.' (fn. 42) John was apparently succeeded by a Thomas Bullesdon, who at his death left two daughters and co-heirs. One of them married William Wadham the younger, and in 1483 in conjunction with her husband sold her half of the estate described as half a messuage, 200 acres of land, 12 acres of meadow, 40 acres of pasture and 20 acres of wood to Thomas Windsor, (fn. 43) and it is probable that the sale was accompanied by a similar quitclaim on the part of her sister. Thomas Windsor was already possessed of an adjoining tenement called Little Bent worth, the early history of which is given below, and the estates consequently merged, being afterwards known as the manor of Bullsdens alias Bentworth, Bullsdens alias Little Bentworth, Bullsdens Bentworth, or Bullsdens cum Bentworth. The property remained in the Windsor family, its history being identical with that of the manor of Bentworth in the hundred of Odiham (q.v.) until 1557, when William Lord Windsor sold it to Richard Puttenham. (fn. 44) From the latter it passed by sale the following year to Sir Richard Pexall of Beaurepaire, (fn. 45) and from this date followed the same descent as the manor of Beaurepaire (q.v.) until as late as 1678, in which year it was included in the quitclaim of the Beaurepaire estate from the Gardiners to Thomas Brocas. (fn. 46) In 1717 it was in the possession of Jane Fitz William, widow, and John Dally and his wife, (fn. 47) but before 1757 it had passed into the hands of the Haskers, who had been located at Bramley for many generations, (fn. 48) John Hasker and Mary his wife in that year conveying it to Thomas Hasker. (fn. 49) On the death of Thomas Hasker in 1776 the manor passed to his only daughter Dorothy, who married John Lee of Woolley Firs, White Waltham, (fn. 50) and left a son Henry Pincke Lee, who conveyed it to John Cole in 1816. (fn. 51)
The manor was subsequently purchased by the first Duke of Wellington, and his grandson, the fourth duke, is the present owner. (fn. 52)
The site of the manor is now marked by Bull's Down Farm, situated a little to the north of Bow Brook and some distance east of the Reading and Basingstoke branch of the Great Western Railway. Bull's Down Copse, which borders on the banks of the brook some way southeast of the farm, is all that is left of the park, of which several mentions occur in extant records. Thus in 1602 Pexall Brocas claimed compensation for the trees that had been felled in the parks of Beaurepaire and Bullesdens by Dame Elinor and her second and third husbands, Sir John Savage and Sir Robert Remington, and her stepson Edward Savage. (fn. 53) Again, in the inquisition held on the death of Sir Pexall Brocas in 1631 the park of Bullesdens and a messuage called the Lodge in the park are mentioned. (fn. 54)
In 1317 the tenement afterwards called BENTWORTH or LITTLE BENTWORTH was probably in the possession of William de Bentworth and Maud his wife, who in that year settled a messuage and 22 acres of land in Bramley on Thomas Peperwhyt and Elizabeth his wife, receiving in exchange from them a garden, 48 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in the same parish. (fn. 55) In the course of the century the holding passed to the Windsors, Sir Miles Windsor dying seised of a toft, 80 acres of waste land and 3 acres of meadow in Bramley in 1385–6. (fn. 56) His widow Alice held the estate in dower, and it was not until her death nine years later (fn. 57) that it passed to his son Brian, who died seised of a messuage and 60 acres of land in Bramley called Little Bentworth worth four marks, and held of Lord St. John in 1399. (fn. 58) Thomas Windsor, the great-grandson of Brian, purchased Bullesdens in 1483, since which date the history of the two estates has been identical.
The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel and nave in one range 23ft. 2 in. wide and together 65 ft. 6 in. long, the chancel occupying 17 ft. 8 in. of this; a south transept, 18 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft. 3 in.; a west tower, 12 ft. 11 in. by 12 ft. 2 in.; and a south porch. The nave and chancel were built on their present plan, with no masonry division, late in the 12th century, the south transept, which was the Lady Chapel, was probably added at the end of the 13th century, and the west tower of brick replaced one of timber in 1636. The Lady Chapel was rebuilt early in the 19th century, and the porch is a late 18th-century addition, succeeding a mediaeval one of wood.
The east window of the chancel is of 15th-century date, and three rather wide cinquefoiled lights with sub-mullions and smaller lights over. Above this in the gable head are traces of an original window with shafted jambs. Externally it shows as a round-headed recess, a good deal of which is in new stonework. In the north wall of the chancel is a square locker and above it an original window with a semicircular head. Externally it has a small glazing rebate, but is very much restored. Internally the wide splay and semicircular rear arch have a continuous roll with small moulded bases at the sill. At the south-east is a late 12th-century pillar piscina, the head of which with a foliated capital is old, and is fitted to a slender mixed shaft, which is entirely modern. There is now no drain to be seen, and the capital formerly projected further from the wall. The window on the south of the chancel, c. 1360, is a single cinquefoiled light, and just west of it is a door of the same date with a continuous chamfer and a pointed head.
In the nave on the north are two windows of the same detail as that in the north wall of the chancel, the eastern of the pair being modern. Between them is a 15th - century window of three cinquefoiled lights under a square head—an original north door probably occupied this position. At the east end of the south wall of the nave are remains of the rood stair and the door to the loft, formerly entered from the Lady Chapel; there is a short flight of steps in the thickness of the wall. West of this is the plain pointed arch opening to the transept, of one chamfered order and somewhat uncertain date. It takes the place of an original window, and the east jamb of another original light may be seen over the present south door. The original late 12th-century south doorway remains about midway in the south wall, now covered externally by a small brick heating chamber. It was only discovered at a recent restoration, and remains of shafted jambs are said to have been found. The present entrance is further west and is made up of 15th-century stones reset. It is continuously moulded with two hollow chamfers, and is of a distorted two-centred form, the original opening having apparently been a wider one. Between the two doors is a late 16th-century window of three uncusped lights of equal height with rounded heads. The tower is of three stages, built of red brick with an embattled and pinnacled parapet, the latter very much restored. The belfry openings are of two uncusped lights in a square chamfered stone frame, and there is a single light of similar detail in the second stage. The west window is of three cinquefoiled lights under a square-headed label, and is possibly a copy of Gothic work dating from 1636. All the windows are stone dressed in the brickwork. The tower arch is of two chamfered orders and of plain workmanship. It is thickly plastered and whitewashed but probably of stone.
The south transept is of brick with a plaster ceiling in the form of a ribbed barrel vault. It has a door to the east and a large 'perpendicular' window of five lights to the south, and was the tomb-chapel of the Brocas family of Beaurepaire. The south portion is a plain brick building of late, probably 18th-century, date.
The font is probably contemporary with the earliest parts of the church. It has a shallow square Purbeck bowl, much defaced, the sides of which are decorated with fluting, rough cheveron ornament and a grotesquely drawn agnus dei. The bowl is supported on a central shaft with a modern capital and four restored angle shafts.
The roofs of nave and chancel are of early 16th-century date, both having panelled bays at the east, the rest being plastered. The chancel panelling is modern, but that in the nave roof is old, and on the north side pierced by a wooden rood window made in 1531. The panelling or ceiling over the rood is contemporary, having been made between 1529 and 1531.
The rood loft seems to have been set up in 1525. It was destroyed in 1573 and its place filled with boarding, but this is now removed and a modern beam and cross set up. The lower part of the rood screen still exists, with an arched central doorway of two wide tracery bays on each side of it, and the grooves for the boarding of the panelled covering below the loft may be seen. Some of the old seats with buttressed bench ends remain, and are doubtless those mentioned in 1535–6. The chancel rails are of late 17th-century date with carved twisted balusters and a moulded rail. Filling the west end of the nave is a good early 18th-century gallery designed in three bays of an Ionic order with a superimposed Corinthian one, the entablatures being complete with modillions, crown moulds, &c., to both. The Ionic order has flat fluted wall pilasters and two circular fluted columns. The capitals of the pilasters are very well carved. The columns are modern and the detail of the pilasters has been carefully followed. The wall pilasters of the upper order alone remain and are a good deal mutilated. The place of the columns is taken by the modern organ case. The pulpit and reading desk are also of 18th-century woodwork.
Many traces of mediaeval painting remain. Over the 12th-century south door of the nave is the martyrdom of St. Thomas of Canterbury, Fitzurse being distinguished among the three knights by the three bears' heads on his shield. The painting is 13th-century work, and there were evidently two tiers of figure subjects of the same date on the south wall, and perhaps on the north. Sixteenth-century texts have been painted over them. Opposite the south door of the nave is a large 15th-century painting of St. Christopher, and under the north-west window a consecration cross, probably of late 12th or early 13th-century date. On the east wall of the chancel are some much repaired late 13th-century paintings, one of St. James to the north of the window, and one of our Lady and Child to the south. (fn. 59) Above is part of a quatrefoiled circle cut into by the head of the inserted 15th-century window, and the wall surface is worked into masonry patterns in red.
On the south wall of the chancel is a marble and alabaster monument to Reginald Hannington, 1604, and there are brasses to Richard and Alice Cartel, 1529, and to Gwen More, mother of Elizabeth Shelford, Abbess of Shaftesbury, 1504. The arms on this brass are on a pale three roses, impaling a cheveron between three boars' heads razed. In the south window of the transept are a number of panels of interesting Flemish glass of the 16th century, and four older shields of English work, with the arms of St. John, Vere, Stafford and Nevill.
In the middle of the transept is a large white marble tomb with a life-size effigy of Bernard Brocas of Beaurepaire, 1777, of excellent workmanship, with allegorical subjects on either end of the tomb and an extravagant inscription.
The church is fortunate in having preserved its churchwardens' accounts complete from 1521, and many of the details of the foregoing description are taken from them. Many mentions of the churchhouse, called the cross-house or court-house, occur, the Whitsun ales being held in it. In 1523 the confessional, or 'shriving place,' was made, and a wooden 'palm cross' in the churchyard was set up two years later.
In 1532 a set of alabaster images were ordered for the rood loft and set up there in 1533. A locked chest stood in the loft, its lock was renewed in 1534. The font was repaired in the same year, and a lock and bolt made for it. The roofs of the church were covered with oak shingles, which needed constant renewal, in 1540, 1576, 1582, 1589, &c. The rood loft door had a lock, for which a key was provided in 1535; the rood seems to have been painted on a partition, as it was washed out in 1562; in 1584 the commandments were set up. The Lady altar was fitted up with a coved canopy, the cresting of which was painted in 1525, and the canopy itself in 1528. Our Lady window was glazed in 1534; this was probably the predecessor of the present south window. The chapel was called the 'side chancel' in 1585.
The tower was of wood, and a new groundsill was put into it in 1535, and three brick buttresses set against it in 1564. In 1632 it was decided to rebuild it in wood, but this scheme was abandoned and the tower built in 1636 with brick, as it now is.
Repairs to the church palings and gate are common, the latter evidently shut to with a counterpoise, a pulley and cord being mentioned in 1533. There was also a wooden church storehouse, repaired in 1541.
The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten cover of 1713 given by the parishioners of Bramley in that year, two silver patens of 1708 bearing the Brocas crest; a silver flagon of 1713 given in 1714 by Thomas Brocas of Beaurepaire, 'as was also another of greater value by his late pious mother Mrs. Mary Brocas which was lately stolen out of this church'; and a silver alms plate of 1728 also bearing the Brocas crest.
There are three books of registers; the first, the original paper book, contains baptisms, burials and marriages from 1580 to 1726 with several gaps, the years 1616 to 1642 being entirely missing; the second contains baptisms and burials from 1724 to 1812 and marriages from 1725 to 1751; the third contains marriages from 1754 to 1812.
There was a church in the parish at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 60) It followed the descent of the manor until the reign of Henry I, when Henry de Port the son and successor of Hugh de Port granted it together with the tithes to the abbey of St. Vigor at Cerisy in Normandy. (fn. 61) The Prior and convent of Monk Sherborne or West Sherborne as representatives in England of the Norman house (fn. 62) kept the advowson of the vicarage until the general suppression of the alien houses. (fn. 63) Edward IV in 1462 granted the priory and all its possessions to the hospital of St. Julian or God's House in Southampton (fn. 64) and the warden, chaplains and brethren of that hospital presented to the church three times between 1462 and 1492. (fn. 65) God's House had, however, been given by Edward III to Queen's College, Oxford, (fn. 66) and hence the endowments of the priory, including the advowson of Bramley, were transferred to that college. During the episcopacy of Fox a vicar was instituted at the presentation of 'the provost of Queen's Hall, Oxford, guardian of St. Julian called Domus Dei in Southampton and the scholars of the same college.' (fn. 67) The living is at the present day a vicarage of the net yearly value of £108 with residence in the gift of the Provost and fellows of Queen's College, Oxford.
Thomas Shaw, the famous African traveller and the author of A Geographical Description of the Kingdom of Tunis and Travels or Observations Relating to Several Parts of Barbary and the Levant, was presented to the vicarage of Bramley by Queen's College, Oxford, in 1742. (fn. 68) He died on 15 August 1751 and was buried in Bramley Church, where a monument was erected to his memory with a long Latin inscription by his friend Dr. Joseph Browne.