A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Estune (xi cent.); Eston, Eston Croc, Crockes Estone (xiii cent.); Crokeston (xiv cent.); Crookes Eston (xvii cent.).
Crux Easton is a remote parish, distant 3½ miles west from Burghclere station on the Great Western Railway. The general rise of the ground is from south to north, the height above the ordnance datum ranging from 459 ft. in the south-western extremity of the parish to 870 ft. near Sidown Warren in the north-east. The parish is intersected by the main road from Andover to Newbury, which enters it at the south-west at a height of about 427 ft. above the ordnance datum and climbs up to a height of 771 ft. at the Three Legged Cross in the northwest, in less than a mile and a half. The little group of buildings comprising the village stands on high ground a short distance to the east of the main road.
A female skeleton with a Romano-British vessel was discovered under the lawn at the rectory in December 1856, (fn. 1) and Roman pottery and other remains were discovered in the parish in 1889. To the east of the village is a fine bell-shaped barrow, and some distance to the north-east is Grotto Copse, containing the site of the famous Grotto constructed by the Lisle sisters (see infra).
The parish covers 1,099 acres, about one-half of which is grass and about one-quarter arable land, the remainder being woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The soil is heavy, while the subsoil is chalk. The chief crops are wheat, oats and turnips.
CRUX EASTON, which in the reign of Edward the Confessor had been in the possession of one Linxi, at the time of the Domesday Survey was held of the king in chief by Croch the huntsman. (fn. 3) It continued with his descendants for over two centuries and derived its name from this family. Between 1160 and 1173 the church of Andover was holding of the fee of Matthew Croch 3 virgates of land in Easton which it leased to Philip Croch for life. (fn. 4) Matthew's son and heir Ellis had only one child, a daughter Avice, who became the wife of Michael de Columbers. (fn. 5) An inquisition was held on the petition of Matthew Croch, who desired that one of his own name should keep the manor, as to whether he held the fee of the king in chief and could alienate it to his younger brother Philip, the uncle of Ellis. (fn. 6) He must have died almost immediately afterwards, for in 1200 his son Ellis gave the king 30 marks and a palfrey for the judgement. (fn. 7) Although there is no mention of its result, it was presumably settled in Matthew's favour, for in 1202 Ellis, apparently carrying out his father's wishes, granted the vill of Easton to Philip Croch to hold of him and his heirs by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 8) The overlordship continued with the heirs of Ellis, Crux Easton being held of them as of their manor of Chute. Matthew de Columbers, heir of Michael de Columbers and Avice, (fn. 9) died seised of one and a half knights' fees in Enham and Crux Easton early in the reign of Edward I, leaving a brother and heir Michael, aged sixty and more. (fn. 10) Nichola, daughter and co-heir of Michael, married John de L'Isle (Lisle) and brought the forestership and manor of Chute to her husband, (fn. 11) and from this time the Lisles were overlords of Crux Easton. (fn. 12)
From Philip Croch (fn. 13) the manor passed to his son
Thomas, who was dead in 1230, for his son was then
in the wardship of the Bishop of Chichester. (fn. 14) In
1291 a second Thomas, probably this son, in return
for an annuity of 25 marks, granted the reversion to
John de Drokensford, (fn. 15) afterwards Bishop of Bath and
Wells (1309–29). Thomas presumably died in the
same year, as in 1292 John de Drokensford obtained
licence to impark a wood in Crux Easton. (fn. 16) On the
death of John the manor passed to his brother Michael
in accordance with a settlement of 1294. (fn. 17) From
Michael it went to his son John, from whom it was
claimed in 1332 by William Avenel and Joan his
wife. (fn. 18) Joan asserted that she was kinswoman and heir
of Philip Croch and his wife Joan, and that she was
therefore entitled to the manor because it had been
settled on them in fee-tail. She made no mention of
the alienation by Thomas heir of Philip Croch, who
was probably her father or uncle, although in some
pedigrees she is called the daughter of Philip Croch and
Joan his wife, the sister of John de Drokensford, Bishop
of Bath and Wells. (fn. 19) The case was not decided at this
time, ostensibly because Alice, mother of John de
Drokensford, was holding one-third of the manor in
dower. (fn. 20) The Drokensfords therefore remained in undisturbed possession of the manor, John de Drokensford,
who was by this time a knight, dying seised in 1341,
leaving a son and heir Thomas, (fn. 21) on whom the manor
was settled in 1345. (fn. 22) Four years later Sir Thomas
de Drokensford made provision for his brother
Michael, granting him an annuity of £10, a gift of a
robe or 20s. at Christmas, and permission to reside for
life either in his manor of Eastwick (co. Herts.), his
manor of Stapleford (co. Herts.) or his manor of Crux
Easton. (fn. 23) However, within the next ten years John
Avenel, son and heir of William and Joan Avenel,
succeeded in regaining the manor from the Drokensfords, and died seised in 1360, leaving a son and heir
John. (fn. 24) The latter granted it in tail-male to Sir
Edmund Avenel, who was probably his brother. (fn. 25) Sir
Edmund died seised in 1383, leaving no issue, and
accordingly Crux Easton passed to his next heir,
Robert Avenel, a minor, grandson of John Avenel by
his son John. (fn. 26) Robert Avenel died in 1387, (fn. 27) while
in the wardship of Sir Robert Belknap, (fn. 28) and on the
attainder of the latter in the same year the manor was
taken into the king's hands. Thomas Bradfield of
Barrington (co. Cambs.), who had married Isabel,
next heir of Robert Avenel (viz. daughter of Agnes,
daughter of Alice, daughter of Philippa, daughter of
Alice, who was the sister of John Avenel, great-greatgrandfather of Robert), petitioned the king for the
restoration of the manor, (fn. 29) but without success. Instead
Henry IV granted it in 1399 with manors belonging to Sir Robert Belknap to his brother Thomas
Beaufort, (fn. 30) who in his turn granted it for life to a
certain John Rixton. (fn. 31) Margaret wife of Sir Peter
Courtenay brought forward a claim to the manor in
1404 as granddaughter or great-granddaughter of
Philip brother of John de Drokensford, (fn. 32) Bishop of
Bath and Wells, while at the same time an inquisition,
taken in 1429 to ascertain the next heir of Robert
Avenel, shows that Edmund Bendish, son of Thomas
Bendish and Alice his wife, daughter and co-heir of
Thomas and Isabel Bradfield, was also pressing his
claim. (fn. 33) Neither side, however, succeeded in securing
the manor, which reverted to the overlord, John
Lisle, (fn. 34) whose title was assured in 1441 by the quitclaim of John Wilford and Joan his wife, (fn. 35) sister of
Edmund Bendish. (fn. 36) Sir John Lisle, grandson of John,
died seised of the manor in 1523, leaving no issue. (fn. 37)
By his will he bequeathed Cruz Easton to Lancelot
Lisle, first cousin of his father, Sir Nicholas Lisle, (fn. 38)
who died seised in 1542, leaving a son and heir
Thomas, (fn. 39) who died early in
Elizabeth's reign. Anthony
Lisle, son and heir of Thomas,
died in 1604, his heir being
his son William, (fn. 40) who was
knighted in 1606 and died
about the middle of the reign
of Charles I. (fn. 41) His son and
heir, Sir William Lisle, (fn. 42) was
a zealous Royalist, who, after
suffering great hardships, accompanied Charles II in his
exile and consequently forfeited all his possessions. Crux
Easton passed to his younger brother John Lisle of
Moyle's Court (fn. 43) (one of the judges in the trial of
Charles I), who dealt with it by fine in 1659. (fn. 44) At the
Restoration, however, John Lisle was obliged to fly the
kingdom and the manor was restored to Sir William,
who died in 1665, leaving a son and heir Edward. (fn. 45)
Edward settled at Crux Easton in 1693 or 1694, and
determined to make the study of agriculture one of the
chief occupations of his life. (fn. 46) The outcome of his experience he embodied in a book entitled Observations
in Husbandry—an interesting work abounding with
local information—which was published in 1757, more
than thirty years after his death, with an advertisement
written by his son Thomas Lisle, rector of Burghclere.
His nine daughters constructed in the manor grounds
a curious grotto, celebrated in the following lines by
Pope, who frequently visited the family at Crux Easton:
Here, shunning idleness at once and praise,
This radiant pile nine rural sisters raise—
The glittering emblem of each spotless dame,
Pure as her soul and shining as her fame—
Beauty which nature only can impart,
And such a polish as disgraces art;
But fate dispos'd them in this humble sort,
And held in deserts what could charm a court.
The 'radiant pile' has long since disappeared, but its site is still perpetuated in the name Grotto Copse (see supra). On the death of Edward Lisle in 1722 the manor passed to his son and heir Edward. (fn. 47) He sold it to Dr. John Burton, (fn. 48) who was head master of Winchester College from 1724 to 1766. In 1778 Crux Easton was the sole property of his nephew. (fn. 49) The manor then passed to the Kingsmills, from whom it was a few years later purchased by the Herberts and descended to the present Earl of Carnarvon.
In the latter part of the 13th century there was a park in Crux Easton which John de Drokensford in 1292 obtained licence to make out of his wood of Horseley and land of his adjoining the wood. For it had appeared by inquisition that the king would only lose amercements for vert and venison in the wood, while the making of the park would conduce to the preservation of his deer, which in passing between the forest of Chute and the wood had been frequently taken within the liberty of the Bishop and the Prior of Winchester. (fn. 50) In the following year the keeper of Breamore was ordered to give John de Drokensford two live bucks and six live does of the king's gift to stock his park, (fn. 51) while in 1303 he obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Crux Easton. (fn. 52) He was careful to maintain his right to free warren and to free chase, and in 1297 and again in 1306 commissions of oyer and terminer were issued to try persons accused of hunting and carrying away deer from his park. (fn. 53) The site of the park is marked' at the present day by Easton Park Wood in the south-eastern extremity of the parish.
The church of ST. MICHAEL is a small structure re-erected on the old site in 1775, chiefly in blue and red brick. A church is known to have stood here in the 12 th century, but the only fragment remaining of it is a piece of stone in the rectory garden carved with zigzag ornament. The plan of the present building is a plain rectangle 32 ft. 7 in. by 17 ft., with a small chancel 5 ft. 10 in. deep and 17 ft. wide, having an apse to the east. The windows are all round-headed; there were three on either side of the nave, but the south-west has been partly filled in and its place taken by the entrance doorway; the former entrance was evidently in the west wall, which has been rebuilt at a later date. The roof is gabled and tiled; the ceiling is barrel vaulted in plaster. Over the west end is a small wood bell-cot, on which hangs a small modern bell. The furniture is all modern except an 18th-century pulpit, and the font, which has a white marble bowl carved in relief with cherubs' heads and foliage; the stem is of stone, and has a band of carving in high relief, with figures apparently representing the bringing of the children to our Lord, the head of every one wherever possible having been broken off, evidently a work of premeditated malice or mischief. The work appears to be Italian and of 18th-century date, the stem and the bowl having originally no connexion.
The plate consists of a silver chalice, paten and alms dish of 1707, the gift of Maria Phillips. (fn. 54)
The registers before 1812 are in a single book, baptisms beginning 1702, marriages 1754and burials 1742.
In the churchyard south of the building is an old yew tree.
There was a church in Crux Easton at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 55) The advowson followed the descent of the manor (fn. 56) until the latter half of the 18th century, when it was sold by the Lisles. In 1795 it was in the possession of a certain John Smith (fn. 57) and since that date has passed through many hands, being at the present day in the gift of Mrs. Charles de Havilland.
The schools were erected in 1847 at a cost of £333 for thirty children.
There are, it appears, no endowed charities in this parish.