A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Hartley Wespall is a parish and small village on the River Loddon situated 6 miles north-east from Basingstoke. The altitude of the parish ranges from about 180 ft. above the Ordnance datum by the River Loddon in the west to above 290 ft. above the ordnance datum in the extreme east. The village is grouped round St. Mary's Church in the centre of the parish on ground about 250 ft. above the ordnance datum, and is separated from the river by a large stretch of common land called Hartley Wood Common. Hartley House, in the extreme north of the parish, was formerly the rectory house, and is now the residence of Mr. Richard Durnford, C.B. It was considerably enlarged by his grandfather, the Rev. John Keate, D.D., who, on his resignation of the head-mastership of Eton in 1834, retired to Hartley Wespall, the living of which he had obtained in exchange for the rectory of Nether Stowey in 1824 (fn. 1) In 1840 Dr. Keate acquired the house and adjoining land as his freehold, and erected the present rectory house in the glebefield called Sandpits. (fn. 2) He died at Hartley Wespall on 5 March 1852, and was succeeded by his only son, the Rev. John Charles Keate, who was also rector of Hartley Wespall till his death in 1894.
On 22 December 1879 a detached part of Stratfield Turgis was transferred to Hartley Wespall, (fn. 3) and by the Divided Parishes Act, 1882, part of the latter parish was added to the former. At the present time the area is 1,399 acres, of which 404 acres are arable land and 432½ acres permanent grass. The many detached copses in this parish together cover an area of 107½ acres. (fn. 4) The soil is various, while the subsoil is clay. The chief crops grown are wheat, oats, and beans.
Among place-names mentioned in early documents are the following:—Cockeleslond (fn. 5) (xiii cent.); Morenses (fn. 6) (xv cent.); Clarkes Land, (fn. 7) Easton Lands (fn. 8) (xvi cent.); Dorcrofte, Church Doune, The Marsh, Marsh Grove, Broomehille, Wild Furlong, Oldbury, Great and Little Gorrell and Gorrell Grove (fn. 9) (xvii cent.).
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were two holdings in HARTLEY WESPALL—one of 1½ hides held by Aubrey the Chamberlain, who had succeeded Alvric in its possession, (fn. 10) and the other of 1 hide held by Alvric, who had purchased it from William Earl of Hereford for two marks of gold. (fn. 11) The history of the latter estate cannot be traced further with any certainty, but the former passed into the possession of the Waspail family, most probably with the manor of Smallbrook in Warminster (co. Wilts.), (fn. 12) which was also owned by Aubrey the Chamberlain in 1086. (fn. 13) An undated 12th-century charter whereby the Prior of Merton granted 44 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in the parish of Hartley to Geoffrey Fitz Walter makes mention of the wood of Osbert Waspail, (fn. 14) and an entry on an assize roll of 1249 records that Geoffrey Waspail had failed to make suit at the hundred court of Holdshot, (fn. 15) but beyond this, with the documentary evidence at present available, there is nothing to connect the Waspails with the manor from this date until the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 16) At the beginning of the 14th century John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath and Wells, was holding the manor (fn. 17)—most probably on lease from the Waspails. In 1318 a commission of oyer and terminer was granted to Sir John Foxley and others to try John Turgis and others accused by the bishop of breaking his close at Hartley, fishing his stews, and carrying away his fish and other goods. (fn. 18) Described as lord of Hartley, the bishop presented a rector during the episcopacy of John Stratford (1323–33), (fn. 19) but at his death in 1330 he was not seised of the manor, (fn. 20) which had most probably by this time reverted to the Waspails. In 1346 John Waspail was stated to be holding half a fee in Hartley Wespall formerly belonging to John de Drokensford. (fn. 21) He died seised of the manor of Hartley Wespall in 1362, leaving a son and heir William, (fn. 22) on whose death (c. 1405) (fn. 23) it passed to his son and heir John, who dealt with it by fine in 1409. (fn. 24) As lord of Hartley Wespall John manumitted a bondman in 1413, (fn. 25) but before 1428 he had been succeeded by a second John, who in that year was returned as holding half a fee in Hartley Wespall lately belonging to John Waspail. (fn. 26) In 1445, in return for a payment of 100 marks, John granted the reversion of the manor, after the death of himself and his wife Joan, to Hugh Pakenham, son of his wife by her first husband, John Pakenham. (fn. 27) He died seised of the manor in 1448, (fn. 28) and lies buried in Hartley Wespall Church. On the death of his widow three years later, (fn. 29) Hartley Wespall passed, in accordance with the settlement, to Hugh, who as lord of the manor presented to the church during the episcopacy of William Waynflete (1447–86). (fn. 30) He had sold the manor before 1461, for in that year, as 'Hugh Pakenham esquire, late of the soke of Winchester alias late of Hartley Wespall,' he obtained a general pardon for all offences, (fn. 31) but the name of the purchaser is unknown. However, within the next twenty years it had passed into the possession of Sir Thomas St. Leger, who in 1481 obtained licence from the king to grant the manor and advowson of Hartley Wespall to the Dean and Canons of St.George'sChapel,Windsor. (fn. 32) At the same time the dean and canons obtained permission to grant a yearly rent of £23 1s. 8d. proceeding therefrom to two chaplains, who were to celebrate divine service daily in the chantry founded by Sir Thomas in the chapel. (fn. 33) From this date the manor remained in the possession of the dean and canons and their lessees until 1649, in which year it was included in the general sale of the dean and chapter lands, being sold for £1,077 5s. to Robert Doyly of Lincoln's Inn and John Bristol of Hartley Wespall. (fn. 34) However, it was restored to the dean and canons at the Restoration, and remained in their possession until 1876, (fn. 35) when it was sold to Arthur Richard Wellesley, second Duke of Wellington. (fn. 36) It now belongs to his nephew Arthur Charles Wellesley, fourth Duke of Wellington.
The water-mill called Hartley Mill probably marks the site of the mill which existed in 1086. (fn. 37) A water-mill and a fishery are mentioned in the sale of the manor in 1640, (fn. 38) and Lord Stawell, the farmer of the manor, dealt by recovery with a free fishery in Hartley Wespall (fn. 39) in 1707.
The property of the Prior and convent of Merton extended into the parish, as is apparent from the charter of Walter, Prior of Merton, granting 44 acres of land and 1 acre of meadow in Hartley to Geoffrey Fitz Walter, (fn. 40) and from a composition between the prior and Alexander, parson of the church of Hartley, dated Christmas 1193, whereby it was agreed that the prior and convent should continue to pay to the rector of Hartley such tithes as they had been accustomed to pay, viz. the third part of the full tithes from some of their lands and no tithes at all from the rest, but that the men whom they had in the parish should pay tithes in full from their lands. If at any future time, however, the prior and convent acquired additional property in the parish they were to pay the tithes in full, as were also the purchasers of any of the abbey's property. (fn. 41) The lands of the abbey in this parish naturally followed the same descent as the manor of Holdshot in the parish of Heckfield (q.v.) (fn. 42)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 23 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft. 8 in.; a nave 45 ft. 6 in. by 21 ft. 10 in.; a north porch and a north tower 8 ft. 10 in. by 7 ft. 9 in. Externally the building is entirely modern, except the west end of the nave, but its walls inclose the main timbers of the nave of a half-timber church of c. 1330, a very remarkable and interesting survival.
The windows throughout are modern, with tracery of 14th and 15th-century design, dating from 1868–9. The chancel, which was rebuilt in memory of Dr. Keate, has at the north-west an arched opening to the tower, while on the south are a modern credence, aumbry, and tomb recess of 14th-century design. There is no chancel arch, but chancel and nave are separated by a fine modern screen with open traceried panels surmounted by a large cross, with medallions at the ends of the arms carved with the symbols of the four evangelists.
The nave is in three bays, with heavy story posts between each bay having filleted half-round shafts on the face, from the moulded capitals of which spring arched braces to the underside of cambered tie-beams. On the tie-beams are king-posts with struts, and the rafters are very heavy and have arched braces beneath. The tie-beam at the east of the nave is level and not cambered, and has formed the head of a wooden screen perhaps of much the same character as its modern successor. The struts and principals over it are cusped like those in the west wall of the nave. Both doors of the nave are original, but only on the north can the outer elevation be seen. It is a most interesting piece of detail, the doorway having a two-centred arch, with a label of the same section as that of the architrave of a rectangular frame in which it is set, and with which it mitres at the springing. The spandrels are filled in solid, the whole framing being extraordinarily massive.
The west wall is original, and is of half-timber construction filled in with plaster. It has angle and central posts with cusped diagonal struts and a cambered tie-beam, with king-post and cusped struts in the gable. The effect is curious, the figures formed by the lower struts being far too large in scale for the building, and the whole cannot be said to be a very successful piece of design. On the central post is planted a shallow wooden pilaster offset in imitation of a stone buttress.
The tower is quite modern and of two stages, the lower being of stone, while the upper is of wood, and is the upper part of a wooden belfry which stood outside the west end of the church, and was moved to its present position in 1868. It is tile hung and finishes with a wooden spire.
The pulpit contains a little 17th-century carving, but the seating, fittings, &c., are all modern. There is a record that the church was re-seated in 1759 from the proceeds of Paice's Charity. The font is modern, in 12th-century style, with an arcade of interlacing arches, placed in the church by Dr. Keate in 1852.
On the north of the nave is a fine grey and white marble monument to 'the Right Honourable Abigail Lady Dowager of Ralph Lord Stawell,' who died in 1692. She was daughter and heiress of William Pitt, and above are the arms of Pitt on a lozenge, while on consoles beneath are the arms of Stawell: Gules a cross lozengy argent, and the same impaling Pitt.
In the chancel floor is a brass inscribed, 'Johannes Waspail quondam huius ecclesie patronus viam universe carnis vicesimo die mensis Novembris anno domini quadringentesimo quadragesimo octavo transiens, ac Johanna relicta Johannis Pakenham vidua eius quae obiit vicesimo die mensis maii mcccclij hic tumulantur, quorum animabus propicietur Deus. Amen.'
The tower contains three bells. The treble and second bear a plain cross, a shield of the three leopards of England, and the mark of Robert Crowch a London founder of c. 1440; the third was cast by Mears and Stainbank in 1883.
There are five books of registers. The first contains baptisms, burials, and marriages 1558–1677; the second the same, 1678–1733, with gaps in baptisms 1678–85 and 1713–23. This book was found in an empty house in Pentonville in 1852. The third contains baptisms and burials 1733–83, with a gap in baptisms 1748–54, and marriages 1733–58. The fourth has marriages only 1755–1812, and the fifth, baptisms and burials 1784–1812. There are churchwardens' accounts from 1751 and a tithe account book from 1776.
The advowson of the church followed the descent of the manor, being granted with it in 1481 to the Dean and Canons of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, who have retained it till the present day. (fn. 43)
In 1840 certain land belonging to the Dean and Canons of Windsor—a field called Great Colemans, purchased from the Duke of Wellington, and Broca Pightle, purchased from Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, afterwards Lord Eversley—were added to the glebe, which now consists of 25 a. 24 p. (fn. 44) The school premises were erected in 1848 upon the waste of the manor, and were until 1891 vested in the Rev. J. C. Keate. In that year they were conveyed to the Dean and Canons of Windsor as a national school for the parishes of Hartley Wespall and Stratfield Turgis. A body of managers was constituted by the deed, but this provision was modified by an Order of the Board of Education made under the Elementary Education Act of 1902. (fn. 45)
The Charity of William Paice (will 1641) and Lady Abigail Stawell is now endowed with £836 19s. 11d. India 3 per cent, stock with the official trustees, representing the proceeds of the sale of a house and land in Sherfield-upon-Loddon, formerly belonging to the charity.
By an Order of the Charity Commissioners of 7 June 1895, made under the Local Government Act 1894, the sum of £495 stock, part thereof, was apportioned as the eleemosynary branch of the charity, and £341 19s. 11d. stock as the ecclesiastical branch. In 1907 the sum of £61 19s. 9d. stock was sold out for providing funds towards rebuilding the church wall, subject to replacement within ten years.