A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Stratfieldsaye is a village and parish on the Berkshire border of the county, 3½ miles south-east from Mortimer station on the Reading and Basingstoke branch of the Great Western Railway. The River Loddon forms its eastern boundary, while the great Roman road from London to Bath, from which it derives its name, now generally called The Devil's Highway, forms the county boundary on the north. The elevation of the parish ranges from about 160 ft. above the ordnance datum in the extreme east by the Loddon to nearly 300 ft. above the ordnance datum in the west. Stratfieldsaye Park, which is about 1 mile broad by 1½ miles long, and contains altogether 1,500 acres, covers the eastern corner of the parish, and extends into the neighbouring parishes of Hartley Wespall, Stratfield Turgis, Heckfield, and Swallowfield (co. Berks.). It is much diversified, and has some fine old trees, oaks, elms, and hawthorns, scattered over its heights and hollows. Stratfieldsaye House is pleasantly situated, overlooking the Loddon, which is expanded into several sheets of ornamental waters. From Swallowfield it is approached by a very fine avenue of Cornish elms about a mile in length, and another well-known avenue of Wellingtonias leads out to Heckfield Heath. In the grounds north of the house are some cedars of Lebanon, and some tulip-trees, said to be the finest in England, while in a paddock near the south-eastern corner, under the shade of a Turkish oak, is the grave of the great duke's famous charger, Copenhagen, who died in 1825, and was buried with military honours. The rectory house and the church of St. Mary the Virgin are situated near the western extremity of the park. This church was built by the first Lord Rivers in 1784, and superseded one which stood to the northwest of the stables on what is now called the old churchyard. The village, with the New Inn, the schools, and a recreation ground, lies a short distance to the west of the junction of cross roads in about the centre of the parish. Farther to the west there are two small hamlets, West End Green and Fair Oak Green, the latter of which contains an iron church which was erected in 1881 as a chapel of ease at the sole expense of the then rector, the Rev. Horace George Monro, M.A., of Trinity College, Cambridge. Stratfieldsaye covers an area of 2,743 acres, of which 1,089¾ acres are arable land, 1,680 acres permanent grass, and 106¼ acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is various, while the subsoil is chiefly clay. Chequer Green, Fair Oak Green, and West End Green were inclosed by authority of the General Inclosure Acts on 14 March 1866. (fn. 2)
Beech Hill was formed into an ecclesiastical parish on 31 January 1868, out of the Berkshire portion of Stratfieldsaye, (fn. 3) and was transferred from the diocese of Winchester to that of Oxford on 30 April 1869. (fn. 4) It is situated 1½ miles east from Mortimer railway station. A short distance to the east of the village, on the banks of the Loddon, is the Priory, now used as a gentleman's residence, and hard by, the Cannon Bridge over the Loddon marks the connexion of the abbey of St. Mary Vallemont with the place. Beech Hill House, a large and plain mansion of brick, is the seat of Lieut.-Colonel Henry Lannoy-Hunter, B.A., J.P. It was purchased by his ancestor Henry LannoyHunter in 1740 from the Harrison family, who had long possessed it. The soil is clay, and the subsoil gravel. The chief crops are wheat, beans, and grass. The area is 945 acres of land and 4 acres of land covered by water.
The following place-names in the parish are found in extant records:—Meadows called 'Langhome,' 'Heywoodland,' 'Square Burghfield,' 'Rough Burghfield,' 'Goddard Hills,' 'The Wirgg,' and 'Yarrow Land, (fn. 5) (xvi cent.); messuages called 'Nutbeames,' (fn. 6) 'Fower Landes,' and 'Elains' or 'Faire Crosse House,' and a green called 'Foure Land Greene ' (fn. 7) (xvii cent.).
At the time of the Domesday Survey there were probably three estates in the parish of STRATFlELDSAYE (fn. 8) —one assessed at 7½ hides, which Bundi had held of Edward the Confessor, and which then belonged to Hugh the son of Baldri; (fn. 9) another which Hugh was holding of Gilbert de Breteville, the holder of the king's manor of Swallowfield (fn. 10) (co. Berks.), and the third assessed at 2 hides, and in the possession of Alvric, who had succeeded Godric and Siward, the holders in the reign of King Edward. (fn. 11) It is probable that the first two holdings merged and became the later manor of Stratfieldsaye, while the third estate possibly represents the later Hey wood's Farm, the history of which is given below. In the 12th century the manor was owned by the Stoteville family, as is apparent from various charters in the possession of Eton College, and from that circumstance it was called the manor of STRATFIELD STOTEVILLE. William de Stoteville, the founder of the hermitage of St. Leonard. Stratfieldsaye, a possession of the abbey of St. Mary Vallemont, in Normandy, was the lord of the manor towards the close of the 12th century, and in answer to his petition Joscelin, Bishop of Salisbury, and Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1193 and 1205, confirmed the grant made by him to Godard and his successors at the Hermitage. (fn. 12) Alice wife of Ellis de Boeles is called the heiress of Stratfield in the charter whereby she confirmed to Godard the hermit and the brethren of that place the gifts made by her father William de Stoteville, (fn. 13) but whether she succeeded William directly or followed Robert de Stoteville, whose gifts to the abbey of St. Mary Vallemont were confirmed by his relict Leonia, (fn. 14) is uncertain. It seems probable, however, that her father gave Stratfield to her in free marriage, for the manor was subsequently held of the Stotevilles. Thus John de Stoteville is given as the overlord in the Testa de Nevill, (fn. 15) and Robert de Stoteville as overlord (fn. 16) had the custody of the lands and heir of the deceased lord of the manor at the beginning of the reign of Edward I. (fn. 17) Alice married as her second husband Robert de Say, and in conjunction with him granted land at Stratfield to the monks of Stratfield. (fn. 18) The land of Robert de Say at Stratfield is mentioned in a charter of 1227 disafforesting certain parts of Berkshire, (fn. 19) but the exact date of his death is uncertain. He was apparently succeeded by Sir William de Say, in whose life-time the name of the manor was changed from Stratfield Stoteville to Stratfieldsaye. Thus in 1260–1 William, as "William de Say of Stratfieldsaye," released the abbey of St. Mary Vallemont and the hermitage of St. Leonard from the obligation of paying suit at his court, (fn. 20) whereas some time previously he had granted a piece of land at Stratfield Stoteville to the church of St. Leonard, and the monks there. (fn. 21) William at his death left a widow Sybil and a son Robert, (fn. 22) who died at the beginning of the reign of Edward I, leaving a widow Emma and an infant son Thomas. (fn. 23) In 1278 Sybil de Say was successful in recovering the third part of the manor as her dower from Robert de Stoteville, (fn. 24) but Emma de Say refused to give up her son to his custody, and therefore went dowerless. (fn. 25) Thomas de Say presented a rector to the church of Stratfieldsaye during the episcopacy of John of Pontoise (fn. 26) (1282–1304), and in 1312 the manor was settled on him and his wife Isabel in fee tail, with contingent remainder to John Bluet the lord of Silchester and his heirs. (fn. 27) Thomas, as Sir Thomas de Say, presented to the church between 1323 and 1333, (fn. 28) and died leaving as his heir his daughter Sybil. (fn. 29) His widow Isabel subsequently married John Wace, (fn. 30) who as lord of the manor presented to the church during the episcopacy of Adam Orlton (fn. 31) (1333–45). Even after the death of Isabel John seems to have retained the manor. Thus he obtained licence from William Edendon, Bishop of Winchester (1346–66), to hear mass in the oratory of his house in the parish of Stratfieldsaye, (fn. 32) and in 1346 it was stated that John Wace and Margaret his wife were holding three-quarters of a knight's fee in Stratfieldsaye formerly belonging to Thomas de Say. (fn. 33) It was probably on this account that Edward III in 1347 commanded the fine of 1312 to be inspected, (fn. 34) and soon afterwards no doubt John Wace surrendered the manor to Sybil, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas de Say. The name of Sybil's husband is unknown, (fn. 35) but before 1370 the manor had passed into the Dabridgecourt family (fn. 36) by the marriage of her only daughter and heir Elizabeth with Sir Nicholas Dabridgecourt. (fn. 37) Sir Nicholas died on 20 May 1400, (fn. 38) and on the death of his widow four years later the manor passed to his son Sir John Dabridgecourt, (fn. 39) who died on 18 August 1418, leaving a son and heir John. (fn. 40) The latter, who had married Agnes daughter of William Bekingham in 1428, (fn. 41) immediately after attaining his majority, (fn. 42) died in 1431, leaving an infant son Thomas, (fn. 43) and the manor then passed, in accordance with the terms of the marriage settlement, to his widow, (fn. 44) who subsequently married William Brocas of Beaurepaire. (fn. 45) Agnes granted 9 messuages, 1 mill, 9 gardens, 100 acres of land, and 6 acres of meadow in Stratfieldsaye to her son Thomas Dabridgecourt in 1453, (fn. 46) probably on the occasion of his marriage with his wife Beatrice, but remained lady of the manor of Stratfieldsaye till her death in 1470. Her heir was her grandson Thomas, son of her son Thomas, (fn. 47) who had died in 1466. (fn. 48) On his death in 1495 he was succeeded by his son and namesake, (fn. 49) who made good his title to the manor in 1538, (fn. 50) and died seised two years later. (fn. 51) George Dabridgecourt, son and heir of Thomas, died on 26 February 1559, (fn. 52) having by will dated on the day of his death bequeathed £100 each to his daughters Dorothy and Susan, with the proviso however that 'if it fortune eyther of my said daughters to contracte theymselves in marriage without the consent of my wyf or my overseer, then I will she so misbehavinge herself to be rewarded at their discretion.' (fn. 53) His son and heir Thomas, who was afterwards knighted, and was sheriff of Hampshire in 1583, died in 1614, and was followed by his son Henry. (fn. 54) The latter died fifteen years later, and was succeeded by his son and heir George, (fn. 55) who sold the manor for £4,800 to Edward Pitt, son and heir of Sir William Pitt, in 1629. (fn. 56) Edward Pitt died in 1643, leaving a son George, (fn. 57) concerning whom the major-general of Hampshire wrote as follows to the Council in 1656 (fn. 58) : 'That his father died in 1643 leaving him a minor to the tuition of his kinsman Sir Ralph Hopton then in arms. That petitioner had frequently to repair to him for advice in the management of his estate. That, as soon as he had means to travel he went to France in 1644, and remained till the end of the first war. That he was never sequestered and was acquitted on examination by the Committee of Dorset of ever having acted against the state. That this notwithstanding, on Parliament's vote for voluntary discoveries, he having been under a delinquent guardian offered himself for composition to the Commissioners at Goldsmiths' Hall and paid the £1,200 fine. That in 1648 he voluntarily lent Parliament £700 on the Public Faith, and bought on the state's title to bishops', deans', and chapters' lands, and on the whole matter the Commissioners could find no cause of delinquency against him, but because he had compounded they conceived themselves bound by instructions not to discharge him, yet for his good affection and the character given him by several of repute they recommend him for grace. That George Pitt be discharged from any proceedings against him or his estate by the Majors-Generals and that letters be written accordingly.' (fn. 59) On his death in 1694 he was followed by his son George, who died in 1734, leaving as his heir his son and namesake. (fn. 60) The lastnamed, at his death in 1745, left as his heir his son, likewise named George, who was created Lord Rivers of Stratfieldsaye on 20 May 1776, and died on 7 May 1803, aged eighty-two. (fn. 61) From his son and heir George Pitt, second Lord Rivers, the manor was purchased by the nation in 1817, (fn. 62) and granted to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, 'to be held to him and his heirs of the king and his heirs and successors as of his castle of Windsor in free and common soccage by fealty and rendering to his majesty, his heirs and successors on the eighteenth day of June in every year at the Castle of Windsor one tri-coloured flag for all manners of rents, services, exactions and demands whatever.' The owner of Stratfieldsaye at the present time is Arthur Charles Wellesley, fourth Duke of Wellington, nephew of Arthur Richard Wellesley, the second duke, who succeeded his father the first duke in 1852 and died without issue in 1884. (fn. 63)
Stratfieldsaye House is a plain building of little architectural interest. In plan it consists of a main block facing north-west and south-east with wings at either end, which form, with a central portico, an E-shape on the north-west front, but are only of slight projection at the back; beyond them at either end are later additions. The house is of two stories with plain rectangular windows, and an attic with square dormer windows in the roof. Between the first-floor windows on the main front are shallow Ionic pilasters, and there are also four round-headed niches for figures, and a small pediment as a central feature. The ends of the wings have curved and pedimented gables.
It is not improbable that some parts of the building date from the 16th century and the time of the Dabridgecourts, but it has been so much altered and enlarged since then that it is difficult to trace the original work. The greater part of these enlargements were carried out by Lord Rivers who, in 1795, added the long gallery, the dining-room, the library, the present billiard-room, the duke's sitting-room, and two ground-floor bedrooms; he also raised the ceiling of the hall to its present height by the abolition of the rooms then above it. The first Duke of Wellington built the first-floor rooms and attics to the two wings, also the rooms for the first duchess over the dining-room. In the long gallery, which is on the south-east front, are a series of engravings cemented to the finely-plastered walls. This was done by Lord Rivers, but the third duke had them inclosed with gilt frames and the walls painted a dead gold.
Under the floor of the 'steward's room' in the north wing there is a paved chamber containing a large copper or boiling apparatus supposed to have been used by Lord Rivers as a laundry or a structure wherein food was prepared for his dogs, and a number of sheep bones and other debris found below the drawing-room points to there having been a pond there before the space was inclosed in the house.
In the entrance hall is a number of portrait busts of various generals and other contemporaries of the first duke, one being a striking bronze of Marshal Massena; an interesting historic relic is the duke's banner which formerly hung nbove his stall as Knight of the Garter in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.
Several Silchester relics are preserved here, notably two of the earliest found pavements, and a bronze eagle. The tennis-court (built by the first duke) and the stables stand to the north-west of the house.
The elm avenue in the park already mentioned is said to be over 150 years old, planted by the first Lord Rivers; between the elms are horse chestnuts planted by the first Duke of Wellington. The avenue as it nears the house is succeeded by one of yew trees, which expands and surrounds the oval plot in front of the house. On the west side of the latter, and between it and the kitchen gardens, is the 'American garden,' laid out by the first duke's gardener with rhododendrons, azaleas, araucarias, etc., and with a basin and fountain in the centre.
There were two mills appurtenant to the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 64) In the inquisition taken after the death of Elizabeth Dabridgecourt in 1404. three mills are mentioned as belonging to the manor—two water-mills of the yearly value of £2 and one fulling-mill worth 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 65) A mill is included in the settlement made by Agnes Brocas on her son Thomas Dabridgecourt in 1453, (fn. 66) and this probably represents the modern Stanford Mill, north of the park just within the Berkshire borders. (fn. 67) A free fishery in the Loddon was another appurtenance of the manor. (fn. 68)
The park of Stratfieldsaye dates back to 1261, in which year Henry III granted licence to William de Say to inclose his wood of Hangre, which was within the metes of the forest of Pamber, and to make it into a park there. (fn. 69)
Towards the end of the reign of Edward III the bond-tenants of Stratfieldsaye claimed their freedom in accordance with an indenture made by Thomas de Say when lord of the manor. An inquisition on the subject was held in 1364, and it was ascertained that after the death of Thomas de Say the indenture had come into the possession of Robert de St. Manefeo, lord of the manor of Heckfield, who had sold it to the bond-tenants for £55, but that Thomas de Say and Isabel his wife and all other lords of the manor had been seised of the bond-services of the tenants as much after the date of the indenture as before. (fn. 70)
HEYWOOD'S FARM, in the south of the parish, a little to the west of the River Loddon, perpetuates the name of the Hey wood or Haywode family, by whom it was held for about three centuries. In the 12th century Osbert de Heywood granted an acre of land to St. Mary and St. Leonard-on-Loddon and the brethren serving God there. (fn. 71) In the 13th century a John de Heywood witnessed a grant of land in Stratfield made by William de Say, (fn. 72) while some time later John son of John de Heywood obtained an acre of land at Stratfield from William Neuman. (fn. 73) During the episcopacy of Adam Orlton (1333–45) licence to hold service in his oratory within the parish of Stratfieldsaye was granted to Nicholas de Heywood, (fn. 74) and in 1348 1 messuage, 2 carucates of land, 20 acres of meadow, 10 acres of wood, and 50s. rent in Stratfieldsaye were settled upon him in fee-tail with contingent remainder to Walter de Heywood, (fn. 75) who had obtained 1 toft, 50 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, and 3 acres of wood in the same place from John de la Penne and Agatha his wife four years previously. (fn. 76) Walter eventually succeeded, and in 1403, with Thomasina his wife, sold all his lands and tenements by the description of 6 messuages, 6 tofts, 240 acres of land, 30 acres of meadow, 66 acres of pasture, the crop and pasture of 20 acres of meadow, 12 acres of wood, a fishery, and a weir in 'Denemede,' and rents of 26s. 8d., one pound of pepper, and one pound of cummin in Stratfieldsaye and Bramley, together with the right of bearing the Heywood arms, to John Fromond. (fn. 77) This holding appears to have passed soon afterwards by sale, for it is probably represented by the 3 messuages, toft, and lands in Stratfieldsaye, Heywood, Bramley, Heckfield, &c., of which Agnes widow of William Brocas died seised in 1470. (fn. 78) In the 16th century, as the 'manor of Heywood,' it appears in the possession of the lords of Wolverton. Edward Barrett died seised in 1586, (fn. 79) and from that date Heywood has followed the descent of Wolverton (fn. 80) (q.v.), its present owner being Arthur Charles Wellesley, fourth Duke of Wellington.
The reputed manor (fn. 81) of BEECH HILL or BEECH HILL WYKE was held of the manor of Stratfield Mortimer, and followed the same descent as the manor of Stratfieldsaye (q.v.) until 1606, when Sir Thomas Dabridgecourt and Margaret his wife granted it to their daughters Elizabeth and Susan. (fn. 82) The former married Sir Stephen Leysyure, while the latter became the wife of Charles Evans. (fn. 83) In 1634 Charles Evans and Susan granted a twenty-one years' lease of the manor to Sir Francis Knollys, (fn. 84) while two years later they gave up all their right to Edward Pitt, (fn. 85) the owner of Stratfieldsaye. From this date this manor has again followed the same descent as the manor of Stratfieldsaye (q.v. supra), the present owner being the fourth Duke of Wellington.
In 1294, when difficulties arose as to the alien priories owing to the war with France, Edward I had the whole of their property and goods valued throughout England. (fn. 86) The Prior of Stratfieldsaye at that time held a messuage with dovecote within the precincts of the priory manor worth 6s. 8d. a year. He held also 100 acres of arable land worth 25s. a year, 7 acres of meadow worth 8s. 9d. a year, and 6 acres of underwood worth 1s. 6d.: total, £2 1s. 11d. There were seven free tenants holding 2 virgates at a rent of £1 15s. 9d. The prior also drew a pension of £3 11s. 8d. from the church of Stratfieldsaye, making the total annual value £7 9s. 4d. (fn. 87)
In 1342 another inquiry was held concerning the possessions of the priory, and it was ascertained that it held lands, rents, a mill, and a dovecote in Berkshire of the yearly value of £3 14s. 3d., and lands and rents in Hampshire worth £1 16s. 1d. a year. (fn. 88) It was also returned that it was burdened with the keep of two monks, and that it was incumbent on it to give one night's shelter and a meal to every one who sought the charity of the hermitage. (fn. 89) In 1378 a further extent of the priory was taken, and its gross annual value was given as £13 9s. 2½d., from which had to be subtracted every year £6 13s. 4d. for the support of one chaplain, 2s. rent to the lord of Stratfieldsaye, and 3s. rent to the lord of Burghfield. (fn. 90) The priory remained the property of successive kings of England until 1461, when Edward IV granted it with all its possessions in free alms to the 'Provost and the College of St. Mary's Eton by Windsor.' (fn. 91) The provost and fellows are still the owners of the priory, which retains no features in its existing portions later than 1648.
The church of OUR LADY is a brick building in the shape of a Greek cross, and was built by George Pitt, afterwards Lord Rivers, in 1784. It was dedicated on 1 September 1758 by John Thomas, Bishop of Salisbury, by permission of Benjamin Hoadley, then Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 92) It consists of a chancel, a nave, and north and south transepts, with a north organ chamber, and a west portico, and over the centre of the building is a low octagonal tower with a slated cupola. The exterior is very plain, with roundheaded brick windows and a brick cornice; but the proportions are not unpleasing, and the three arches of the west portico have a good effect. Within, the altar is set in a recess with a semicircular head, lighted by a triple window now filled with glass in memory of the third Duke of Wellington; the nave and north transept are filled with galleries, and all fittings are modern. There is a good 18th-century alabaster font at the west end of the nave, but the chief interest of the building lies in the monuments. There are mural monuments with busts of the second and third Dukes of Wellington in the south transept, but the earliest memorials to former possessors of Stratfieldsaye are two plates of brass on the north side of the chancel. The first one bears an inscription in black letter which begins as follows: 'Epitaph[u]m Georgii Dabrigecort armigeri (nup[er] dom[inus] de Stratfeldsay) a filio suo et herede Thoma Dabrigecort paulo post morte cōditu[..] obiit 27 die februarii anno d[omi]ni 1558,' &c.
On the west jamb of the arch opening to the organchamber is an inscription to John Howsman, rector, 'who here continued a paynfull Preacher by the space of 41 yeares.' He died in 1626. The inscription is set in a carved stone frame with an arched panel over containing a kneeling figure.
On the south side of the south transept is a large monument to Sir William Pitt and his wife Edith, set up by their eldest son Edward Pitt. The husband died in 1636 and the wife in 1633. The effigies of alabaster are of very good workmanship, as is the whole tomb, and the sculptors, John and Matthew Christmas, have set on it their name and the date 1640. The two effigies recline on their left arms, that of Sir William at a higher level than his wife; he wears a long, furred gown, and holds a scroll in his right hand; she rests her elbow on a cushion and holds a small book. Below is a panelled front, the side panels of which are carved in alabaster as grated openings through which skulls and bones are seen. The inscription is on a black marble slab above the effigies, and over it is a broken pediment with entablature carried by two Corinthian columns. In the pediment are the arms of Pitt.
There are also two shields on the back of the tomb,the first being Pitt impaling Gules a fesse vairy or and azure between three goats' heads razed argent, for Catesbury, which latter coat appears in the second shield.
The inscription reads:—' Here were inter'd in the year 1643 ye Bodyes of Edw Pitt Esq. Sonn & heire of Sr Wm Pitt Kt and Rachell his wife the eldest Daughter of Sr George Morton of Milborne in the County of Dorsett Barrt by whom he had issue Tenn Sonns (viz.) Wm and two Edwards who dyed unmaryed. Nichs and Samuel not maryed when this was ingraven. John maryed to Katherine Daughter of Nichs Venables of Andover in the County of South'ton Esq. Thomas Maryed to Frances Daughter of Giles Cossey of Cosseys Compton in ye County Glocester Esq. Francis Maryed to Eliz: Daughter of Jeffery Jefferyes of Alburcunick in ye County of Brecon Esq. Christopher ye youngest Maryed to Dionisia sister of Sr Wm Bassett of Carlton in ye County of Sum[m]ersett. He had allsoe four Daughters: Edith Maryed to Charles Sydenham Esq. Sonn and heire of Sr Edw. Sydenham Knigt-Marshall. Rachell Maryed to John Kingesmell of Sandelford in the County of Berkes Esqr. Katherine Maryed to Francis Whitaker of St. Martins in the County of Midelsex Esq. Eliz. the youngest dyed in her Infancy. George the third Sonn by Birth became (in ye yeare 1643) the Eldest Sonn and heire of Edward & Inter-Maryed with the Right Honourable Jane Lady Chandos 2nd Daughter to John Earle Rivers and Relict of George Lord Chandos Baron of Sudeley by whom he had four sonns George William John and Edward and four daughters Mary Eliz: Jane & Ann all living at the Death of theire Mother who departed this life the 6 of June 1676 to the greate Griefe of all that knew her,' &c. Her husband erected this monument in 1681, and was himself buried here in 1694.
On the south wall of the nave is a brass on which is inscribed an elegy on the death of Eustace Dabrigecourt, written by John Howsman, rector. He died at sixteen, and his father, Thomas, died in 1594, the date of the son's death not being given.
On the floor of the west portico are the indents of several brasses, one of which had the figures of a man and a woman with an inscription below and the figure of one child. A scroll from the man's mouth evidently bore an address to his patron saint, whose figure was above him, and close to its indent is a cross, from which it seems that the stone is an altar-slab re-used. There are, however, no signs of crosses at the other three corners of the slab. In one of them is the indent of a shield. To the right of the man is the indent of a vertical strip of brass. A second slab has the much-worn indents of two large figures under a canopy flanked by shields, and two other slabs preserve only the nails which fastened brasses to them.
The plate consists of a cup and cover paten of 1650 with the names of the churchwardens for 1667; a silver gilt cup of 1712, given by George Pitt and Lora his wife in that year; a paten belonging to it; another plain silver gilt paten; two flagons, silver, of the same date and gift; and a silver plate inscribed M.D.
The registers begin in 1539, the first book containing baptisms from 1671, marriages to 1672, and burials to 1673. The second has baptisms and burials from 1673 to 1770, and marriages to 1754; the third continues the marriages from 1754 to 1799, the fourth baptisms and burials from 1771 to 1812, and the fifth marriages from 1799 to 1812. They have also all been indexed into the names of the various families.
A church existed in the parish at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 93) The advowson was granted to the abbey of St. Mary Vallemont by William de Stoteville. His gift was confirmed by Alice wife of Ellis de Boeles, (fn. 94) but subsequently the abbey seems to have given up its right to the advowson to the lords of the manor in return for an annual pension. (fn. 95) The advowson has from this time followed the same descent as the manor, (fn. 96) the living at the present time being a rectory, net yearly value £383, with 18 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Duke of Wellington.
The question of tithes was dealt with by the Court of Exchequer in the reign of George II. (fn. 97)
From Mrs. Forbes, who created the living of Beech Hill by buying the tithes from the rector of Stratfieldsaye, the advowson passed to her only surviving child, Miss Forbes, who, dying in 1908, left it by will to her cousin, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Lannoy-Hunter, B.A., J.P.
The charity of George Pitt and others for educational purposes and for poor in sums of 5s. each, formerly consisted of a farm in Odiham of 33 acres, purchased in 1739, with donations of Mrs. Lora Pitt and other members of the family. The farm was sold in 1880 to Sir Henry Mildmay, bart. The trust funds, which were augmented in 1892 by a gift of £100 by the Rev. H. G. Monro, now consist of £1,163 14s. 2d. consols.
By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 13 October 1903, made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, three-fourths of the trust funds, namely, £872 15s. 8d. stock, producing yearly £21 16s. 4d., was determined to be the educational foundation, and one-fourth, namely, £290 18s. 6d. stock, to be the eleemosynary branch of the charity.
The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees. The income of the eleemosynary charities, amounting to about £20 a year, is applied in money gifts varying from 5s. to £1 to each recipient.