A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Lavrochestoche, Laverkestok (xii cent.); Laverstok (xiii cent.); Larchestoke (xvi cent.).
The parish of Laverstoke is a long narrow strip of land 6 miles long and not more than a mile in breadth stretching from the Port Way, leading from Silchester to Salisbury in the north, to the main road from Stockbridge to Basingstoke in the south, and bounded on the east by Overton and on the west by Whitchurch and Freefolk. Through the centre of the parish from east to west flows the River Test. Here the ground is low-lying, but it slopes up gradually towards the north and south, a height of 493 ft. above the ordnance datum being attained in Ridgeway Copse in the north.
Laverstoke House, standing in a park of 275 acres which slopes down to the right bank of the river, is a fine mansion built by Harry Portal in 1798 from the designs of the well-known architect Joseph Bonomi, A.R.A. The former Laverstoke House, which was then demolished, was a brick-built late Tudor edifice with gabled and mullioned windows. It stood on the lower ground in the Park near the south-western side of the old parish church of St. Mary. (fn. 1) Along the left bank of the Test, following closely the course of that river, runs the main road from Basingstoke to Andover. The soil is light, the subsoil chalk. The chief crops are wheat, oats and turnips. The area is 1,966 acres, comprising 145 acres of arable land and 201 acres of permanent grass. (fn. 2) Among place-names mentioned in early records are Brokforlong, Westhanstygh, La Slade and Prouesdell (fn. 3) (xiii cent.).
LAVERSTOKE from an early date formed part of the possessions of Hyde Abbey (the abbey of St. Peter by Winchester as it was then termed), and in the reign of Edward the Confessor was held of it by a certain Wulfgifu surnamed Betteslau. (fn. 4) On her death, according to the entry in Domesday Book, William the Conqueror for the repose of his own soul and that of his wife restored the manor to the abbey. (fn. 5) This statement, however, is slightly erroneous. It was really Maud the wife of William the Conqueror who made the restitution, as is evident from a charter contained in a cartulary of the abbey, whereby Maud queen of the English restored the manor which ' Wluve bettes laf' held of the abbey for the term of her life to ' Rivallonus' the abbot, and the brethren of the New Minster for the health of the bodies and souls of herself, her husband and her children, and in order that Wulfgifu might be deemed worthy of a place in the orisons of the brethren. (fn. 6) Free warren in their demesne lands in Laverstoke was granted to the abbey by Edward III, and the manor remained in the possession of the abbey until its dissolution. It then became the property of the Crown, (fn. 7) and in 1539 Henry VIII sold the manor and advowson for £389 19s. 2d. to Richard Andrewes of Freefolk, (fn. 8) reserving a rent of £2 2s. 5½d. Richard Andrewes died three years later, leaving three infant daughters, Katherine, Constance and Ursula. (fn. 9) In 1544 Laverstoke was assigned as dower to Katherine, Richard's widow, who married as her second husband William Fortescue. In 1562 Katherine and William made good their title to the manor, (fn. 10) and they were still living in 1570, in which year Richard Lambert and Constance his wife, the second daughter of Richard Andrewes, died seised of the reversion of the third part of the manor after the death of Katherine the wife of William Fortescue. (fn. 11) The heir of Richard and Constance was their son Thomas, a minor. The other daughters of Richard Andrewes, Katherine and Ursula, married respectively John Paulet of Herriard and Henry Norris. (fn. 12) Ursula died without issue, and in 1582, on the death of Katherine Fortescue, a partition of property was made between Katherine widow of John Paulet and Thomas Lambert as co-heirs of Richard Andrewes, the former taking the manors of Freefolk and Chalgrove subject to a rent-charge of £20 to Thomas Lambert and his heirs, and the latter Laverstoke. (fn. 13) Thomas obtained a grant of free warren in Laverstoke from James I in 1619, (fn. 14) and was shortly afterwards knighted. He died seised of the manor in 1621, leaving a son and heir Thomas, aged thirty-five, (fn. 15) who died four years later, his heir being his son Robert, aged eight. (fn. 16) In 1636 it became known that Robert intended to sell the manor immediately he attained his majority. Intending purchasers were numerous, Dr. Matthew Nicholas going so far as to survey the property for his brother Edward. An interesting description of the manor is contained in a letter which he wrote to his brother on the subject on 16 January 1636. (fn. 17) He describes the house as 'a very fayre brick built house not big, but as it seems of a good receit seated harde by the water but so high from it that it is not nor can be any whit annoyed by it, besides that water is between the sunne and the house which makes it the healthier.' However, he laments the lack of stable accommodation, but praises the country as excellent for hawking and hunting, describes the River Test as but small but 'a cleare streame such as should seem to breed good trout,' and finally concludes that he does not know of 'a finer seat anywhere to the value after a few conveniences supplied at a little charge.' The obstacles in the way of completing the purchase were so numerous, however, that Dr. Matthew Nicholas in another letter to his brother writes: 'If there had not been a divine hand against you, I cannot think how you should not have been fitted ere this time.' (fn. 18) The manor was ultimately sold in 1637 to Thomas Hussey. (fn. 19) Thomas sold it about 1653 to Sir John Trott, (fn. 20) and for some time after this the manor followed the same descent as Ashe, passing from the Trotts to the Stewkleys and from the Stewkleys to the Shuck burghs. On the death of Sir John Shuckburgh in 1724. Laverstoke passed to his son and heir Sir Stewkley Shuckburgh, (fn. 21) who sold the property for £9,500 to James Dawkins in 1754. (fn. 22) In 1759 the latter sold the manor to Joseph Portal, and from this time it has remained in the Portal family. Joseph Portal died in 1793. He was succeeded by his son Harry, who died unmarried in 1801. Harry Portal's heir was his brother William of Ashe Park, who died in 1846, leaving an only daughter, and the estate consequently passed to his brother John of Freefolk Priors, who died two years later. John Portal's heir was his son Melville, who died in 1904 and was succeeded by his brother Sir Wyndham Spencer Portal, bart., of Malshanger, who died in 1905, leaving a son and heir Sir William Wyndham Portal, bart., who is the present owner. (fn. 23)
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two mills in Laverstoke (fn. 24) —both probably worked by the River Test. In course of time one of these fell into disuse, one water-mill only being included in the sale of Laverstoke Manor to Thomas Hussey in 1637. (fn. 25) Its site is marked by Laverstoke Mill which Henry Portal held on a ninety-nine years' lease from 1718 'at the yearly rent of £5 payable half-yearly to Sir Stewkley during his life and after his decease to Dame Abigail if she survived him . . . and also one reame of fine foolscap paper neatly cut.' This mill was rebuilt in 1719, and in 1724 employed by Henry Portal for the manufacture of the paper for the Bank of England notes, to which purpose it has been continuously devoted to the present time. (fn. 26)
The old parish church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of chancel 18 ft. 8 in. by 13 ft. 4 in. and a nave 28 ft. 10 in. by 19 ft. 3 in. It became a mortuary chapel for the Portal family in 1874–5 and stands in the grounds of Laverstoke House. At that date the east wall was rebuilt, the chancel floor was raised to allow headroom for a vault beneath and the remaining walls of the building were refaced. The eastern angles of the nave have quoins of very early character, probably pre-Conquest, and parts of the north and south walls of flint rubble are of the same date. The west end of the church has been rebuilt.
The chancel has a blocked 13th-century lancet in the north wall and a trefoiled lancet, also blocked, in the south wall. It is lighted by a small east window and a two-light window with trefoiled heads in the south wall, both being modern. The chancel arch is old and has one chamfered order which springs from the walls of the chancel and is without a base or label. It is perhaps of 13th-century date.
The nave has two north and two south windows, each being a modern single trefoiled lancet.
Between the two windows of the north wall in the rebuilt portion is a blocked doorway which has square jambs and a large irregular lintel on which is a mark which appears to be a sundial: it cannot of course in that case be in its original position. Opposite this in the south wall is another blocked doorway which has square jambs and a segmental head, all of old stonework. There is little evidence of its date, but it is, at any rate in its present condition, not very early. The west doorway is modern. The walls are of flint and stone, the new parts being full of old stones, moulded and plain built in. The roofs are tiled and at the west end of the nave is a wooden bell-turret with a small shingled spire. In the turret is one bell dated 1624. The roofs are of old timbers both in the chancel and nave.
In the chancel are several 17th-century monuments to the family of Trott, including one to Katherine wife of Sir Hugh Stewkley and daughter of Sir John Trott, who died in 1679. It has a very quaint inscription and a large white marble bust in a canopy. Another is to Sir John Trott, 1672, set up by his widow Elizabeth, afterwards wife of the Honourable James Russell. She died in 1693. There are also monuments to John Trott, 1658, and to his wife Katherine, 1661, and to John son of Sir John Trott, 1664, and Edmund his brother, 1667. All are very good examples in black and white marble.
The nave is full of the Portal monuments, two modern ones to Sir Gerald Portal, 1893, Melville Portal, 1904, and his wife Lady Charlotte Portal 1899.
The modern church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN is a well-proportioned structure built of flint and stone in 1896 to serve as the parish church for the combined parishes of Laverstoke and Freefolk. It is in the style of the 13th century and has a chancel 30 ft. by 18 ft. 6 in., nave 55 ft. by 20 ft. 3 in., north aisle 9 ft. 9 in. wide, south transept 12 ft. square, above which rises a tower, and south porch. The chancel has, no east window; the side windows are pairs of lancets with quatrefoils over. An arcade of five bays divides the nave from the north aisle. The nave windows are generally lancets. The porch is an open one of wood. A tall spire rises from the tower and is covered with oak shingles. A stone and marble font is placed at the west end of the aisle; the pulpit is also of stone of 13th-century style. Two old monuments are placed in the church; they were brought from Freefolk Syfrewast Chapel in 1892; this is recorded by inscriptions near the monuments. The larger and older one in the transept is to Sir Richard Powlett, 1614, the full inscription reading: ' Death hath added to the Ornamt of this place ye blessed memorialls of the Right Noble and Worthy Knight Sir Richard Powlett of Heriard by bloud and ancestry descended from Richard Powlett second sonne to Sir John Powlett of Basing, brother to the first Marques of Winton. He married Anne daughter of Sir Henry Wallop of Farley Wallop of Co. of Southn Knight Tresuror of Warrs in Ireland by whom he had issue only two dgts Lucy maried to Sir Thomas Jervoise Kt. and Anne first maried to Sir William Younge Kt. After to Richard Hutton Esqe, which Anne died without issue. Animam Redemptori reddidit Ao Salutis 1614 vicessimo Septimo die Julii Anoque aetatis suae 56.' The tomb has a panelled base carrying a flat canopy with Corinthian columns, under which lies the armed effigy of Sir Richard, all the colouring on effigy and tomb being carefully renewed. The effigy is well executed, but in a very stiff posture, lying on its right side, with the right hand on a helm and the feet on gauntlets. In a niche between two panels in the base are the two kneeling figures of his daughters. At the back is the inscription with an hour-glass on one side and a death's head on the other in strapwork cartouches. The frieze above has various shields of arms. The soffit of the canopy is enriched with roses. Over it is a pediment with pinnacles, obelisks, &c, and a Paulet shield of 28 quarters in a strapwork border. There are nine other smaller shields on the monument, all repainted, and some of them have as usual been incorrectly coloured. Those on the base appear to be Wallop impaling Gifford, and Paulet between Young and Hutton, the latter referring to the second daughter's marriages.
The other monument is a wall tablet to Thomas Deane, who died in 1686, and Anne his wife, daughter of William Farr, who died in 1706.
The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten of 1669 with the arms of Sir John Trott and an inscription, ' Leverstoke June 10. 70'; a pair of patens of 1738 given respectively by Miss Mordaunt and Miss Collins in that year; a circular cup of 1869 used as a chalice; a silver-gilt chalice of 1892; two silvergilt patens of 1886 and 1891; a flagon of 1890; a pair of glass cruets with silver mounts of 1864; another pair with silver-gilt mounts of 1891, and a silver-gilt spoon of 1805. The silver-gilt service was given by the late C. Swinburne of Andover.
The registers are kept at Freefolk and are in three books, the first containing baptisms and burials from 1657 to 1812, and marriages 1657 to 1754, and also several briefs dating from 1709. The second book contains marriages from 1760 to 1804, and the third also marriages from 1808 to 1811.
A church existed in the parish at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 27) Its annual value was returned as £14 13s. 4d. in 1291, (fn. 28) £8 10s. in 1535, (fn. 29) and as 'not fourscore pounds' in 1636. (fn. 30)
The rectory was united with the vicarage or perpetual curacy of Freefolk Syfrewast in 1872, and from this time the benefice became the united benefice of Laverstoke-cum-Freefolk. (fn. 31)
On 15 November 1872, upon application of Melville Portal, the patron of the benefice, and with the unanimous consent of the vestry, a faculty was granted by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Winchester, declaring that the church of Freefolk Syfrewast should from henceforth be the parish church of the benefice, and that the church of St. Mary Laverstoke should from henceforth be a mortuary chapel only. The conversion of the church into a mortuary chapel was completed in 1876 by Mr. Melville Portal under the direction of Mr. Woodyer as architect, at a cost of about £2,000.
The advowson has throughout followed the same descent as the manor, the patron at the present time being Sir William Wyndham Portal, bart. (fn. 32)
The parsonage house and the schoolhouse were built in 1858 and 1860 respectively, by Mr. Melville Portal from the design of Mr. G. Street, R.A.