A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Before 1895 part of the parish of Bramshaw was situated in Wiltshire, but in that year this portion was transferred to Hampshire and made a new civil parish called Bramshaw East. (fn. 1) Bramshaw contains 3,497 acres of land, of which 5 are covered with water, and Bramshaw East 1,578 acres. (fn. 2)
Bramshaw is thickly wooded, there being 336 acres of woods and plantations in the parish, (fn. 3) including Bramshaw Wood in the north, which is said to have provided the timber for the roof of Salisbury Cathedral. (fn. 4)
The land rises from east to west, the height varying from 421 ft. above the ordnance datum in Bramblehill Walk in the north-west of the parish to 114 ft. near Brook in the south-east. From Bramblehill Lodge, in the north of the parish, one of the finest views in the forest can be obtained. A vast area of woodland stretches to the English Channel, broken only by Malwood Ridge over Minstead Valley, while the hills of the Isle of Wight can be seen in the distance.
The church stands on high ground in the north of the parish and until the Act of 1895 it had the curious distinction of having its nave in Wiltshire and its chancel in Hampshire. Most of the inhabitants of Bramshaw are engaged in agriculture. There are 84 acres of arable land and 446 acres of pasture land. (fn. 5) The soil is of a mixed character; the surface is clay and sand and the subsoil clay.
Fritham is a hamlet partly in Ashley Walk and partly in Bramshaw. It has a school and chapel opened in 1861, the latter being served by the vicar of Bramshaw. In East Fritham Plain there are three barrows locally called butts, the central one being known as Reachmore. In West Fritham are the Schultze Gunpowder Works, covering several acres of ground. Brook is a hamlet in the south of the parish, Furzley is a hamlet in Bramshaw East.
Two entries occur in Wiltshire Domesday relating to Bramshaw. One records that Ulnod held land in Bramshaw worth 10s. assessed at half a hide, which his father had held before him (fn. 6); the second that a certain Edmund held half a virgate worth 30d. (fn. 7)
Odo of Bayeux was overlord of these lands in Bramshaw at the time of the Survey. In the late 14th century they were said to be held of the fee of the Earl of Warwick, (fn. 8) and in the next century of the West family, (fn. 9) but no connected descent can be traced.
The larger of the two holdings in Bramshaw mentioned in Domesday Book (fn. 10) may probably be identified with the manor of Bramshaw, which, together with that of Britford (co. Wilts.), with which it was for some centuries associated, appears to have been granted by one of the Norman kings to the family of De Lacy sometime during the 12th century. The evidence in support of such a grant lies in the fact that Parnel the widow of Ralph de Toni, to whom her father Walter de Lacy had granted Britford as a marriage portion in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 11) was seised of lands in Bramshaw which she granted to William Pincerna, her servant. (fn. 12) Margaret daughter of Parnel married Thomas de St. Omer, and the latter was holding the manor of Bramshaw certainly as early as 1284, (fn. 13) and was still in possession in 1316. (fn. 14) He left by his second wife Alice a son William, who succeeded his father before 1341. (fn. 15) He was followed by a son Sir Thomas, who died in 1365. The latter by his second wife Margaret left a daughter Elizabeth, who married as her second and third husbands respectively Richard Horn and John Siward, each of whom held the manor in succession in right of his wife. (fn. 16) John Siward predeceased Elizabeth, (fn. 17) who lived until 1405. (fn. 18) By her second husband, Richard Horn, she had a daughter Joan, who had married (1) John Siward, son of her mother's third husband, and (2) Robert atte More. On the death of her mother the manor passed to Joan and Robert (fn. 19) in accordance with a previous settlement. (fn. 20) Since there was no issue of this marriage, Joan, who survived her husband, conveyed the property at Bramshaw in 1436 to trustees, by whom it was subsequently sold to Robert Lord Hungerford and Margaret his wife. (fn. 21) The former died in 1459. His son and successor Robert was attainted in 1461 as a partisan of the Lancastrian cause and was beheaded (fn. 22) after the battle of Hexham. Margaret his mother was allowed a life interest in the estate, but at her death in 1477–8 the manor passed by virtue of a royal grant made in 1474 (fn. 23) to Richard Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III, who on his accession in 1483 granted it to John Howard Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 24) When the latter was slain at Bosworth Field two years later the manor came into the hands of the Crown. In 1485 Henry VII, having reversed the attainder of Robert Lord Hungerford, granted the manor to Mary granddaughter of the latter and wife of Sir Edward Hastings in consideration of the sufferings both families had undergone during the Civil War. (fn. 25) It apparently passed from her to her son George Lord Hastings, created Earl of Huntingdon in 1529, whose grandson, Henry third Earl of Huntingdon, sold the manor of Bramshaw (which from this time seems to have been also known by the alternative name of MOORE CLOSES) in 1561 to Thomas Dowse, (fn. 26) who held it till his death in 1601, (fn. 27) leaving as heir a son Francis who had married Elizabeth daughter of Sir Hampden Paulet. In 1646 Thomas second son of Francis sold the manor to George Cony, (fn. 28) and he in turn appears to have sold it to Jonathan Rivil, who was holding in 1670. (fn. 29) Rivil is said to hold the manor together with eight ancient messuages, four ancient cottages and 180 acres of land parcel of the said manor without the metes and bounds of the forest. It next passed, probably by purchase, to Hugh Blynman, who gave the manor the alternative name of Blynman's Inclosures (fn. 30) and in 1688 transferred it by fine to William. Nichols. (fn. 31) In 1700 it was acquired by Henry Goddard of Birchenwood, (fn. 32) who left the whole of his property by will to Daniel Goddard subject to the payment of legacies amounting to £9,000. In 1713 the latter arranged to transfer the whole of the estates subject to this condition to Richard Paulet of Gray's Inn, who in return was to secure to him the possession of Birchenwood. The net gain of this transaction to Richard appears to have been the manors of Bramshaw and Canterton. (fn. 33) Bramshaw remained in the Paulet family until 1887, when it was purchased by Mr. George Edward Briscoe Eyre, J.P., the present owner. (fn. 34)
The estate of WARRENS in this parish probably takes its name from the family of Warren who held property here as early as the beginning of the 17th century. (fn. 35) Simon Warren of Bramshaw in 1639 left all his estates in Bramshaw to his grandson Edmund Warren, who in 1670 asserted his claim before the justice seat held at Lyndhurst to one messuage and 24 acres of land in Bramshaw, parcel of the manor of Moore Closes. (fn. 36) Edmund Warren, probably son of the latter, who inherited the estate, left it subject to a life interest on his wife to his cousin William Warren, whose son succeeded and in 1746 sold it to Samuel Young of Morecroft, near Romsey. The property passed in 1756 to his son William Young, who sold it in 1789 to Samuel Orr. From him it was purchased in 1798 by Mr. George Eyre, (fn. 37) who added to the property and built the large mansion which is the present seat of his grandson Mr. George Edward Briscoe Eyre.
A capital messuage called BIRCHENWOOD or BURCHENWOOD HOUSE in Bramshaw was sold for 1,000 marks in 1588 by Thomas Dowse, lord of the manor of Bramshaw, to Thomas Goddard of Southampton. (fn. 38) It continued in this family for several generations and was left at the beginning of the 18th century by Daniel Goddard to Elizabeth his daughter and heir, who had married Aaron Knight of Bramshaw. It passed from them to their son and heir Mylan, who in 1767 sold the estate to James Hibberd of Bishopstone (co. Wilts.). (fn. 39) By his will he left the estate to his great-nephew James Hibberd in tail-male, with contingent remainder in tail-male to John and William brothers of James, but owing to the failure of their issue the estate eventually devolved in 1787 upon his sister Rachel Brewer and his nephew James Turner, as co-heirs. Birchenwood fell by arrangement to the share of James, (fn. 40) after whose death it was sold to Mr. George Eyre of Warrens, whose grandson Mr. G. E. Briscoe Eyre is the present owner.
Birchenwood was termed a manor in the late 18th century, and Mr. George Eyre, the grandfather of the present owner, used to be called 'the laird of Birchenwood.' It had about seven tenants and was reputed to be one of the smallest and most interesting ' manors' in the locality on that account. (fn. 41)
There are five entries in the Domesday Survey relating to FRITHAM (Trucham, xi cent.). One records that Hugh de St. Quintin was holding 1 hide under Hugh de Port, which had been held by Wislac before the Conquest and was then worth 30s. (fn. 42); a second holding was that of 2½ hides which Walkelin, Bishop of Winchester, had held as part of the endowment of the cathedral church. (fn. 43) Alvric the Little had held 1 hide and 2 virgates in parage worth £4 (fn. 44); a certain Hunter I hide worth 30s. (fn. 45); while Earl Roger of Shrewsbury had held two manors at Fritham assessed at 2½ hides and worth 60s. (fn. 46) The whole of this land had been taken into the forest before 1086 with the exception of 1 acre held by Hugh de St. Quintin.
The first mention of Fritham after the Survey is early in the reign of Henry III, when Geoffrey de Baddesley was stated to be holding half a carucate of land and his bailiwick in Baddesley and Fritham by a rent of 60s. (fn. 47) From this date Fritham followed the descent of South Baddesley in the parish of Boldre (q.v.) until 1429, (fn. 48) after which its descent has not been ascertained.
The church of ST. PETER consists of a chancel 21 ft. 3 in. by 14 ft. with a small north vestry, a nave 39 ft. 3 in. by 16 ft., a north transept 12 ft. 6 in. square, a south transept 21ft. 2 in. by 16 ft. 8 in., and a tower at the south end of the south transept 10 ft. by 8 ft. The earliest part of the church is the west end of the nave, which is of mid-13th-century date, but from the west of the transepts eastwards the whole has been rebuilt, the transepts and tower belonging to the early part of the 19th century and the chancel and vestry being modern. There are large galleries with curved fronts at the west end of the nave in the south transept, the former dated 1828.
The east window of the chancel is a triple lancet, and there are single lancets to north and south. At the north-west is a small door to the vestry continuously roll-moulded. The head is modern but the jambs are of late 13th-century date. The chancel arch is modern, pf 14th-century design.
On the north of the nave to the east is the opening to the north transept with a plain chamfered arch. Above and a little to the east of this is a small modern lancet as a pulpit light. The opening to the south transept is without an arch, and west of it is the blocked south door of the nave of mid13 th-century date with heavy roll mouldings in the arch carried down as shafts with small circular capitals. West again of this is a 16th-century window of two uncusped lights. There is also a modern external door to the gallery staircase. This wall has also been much repaired, refaced brickwork being used in bands in the flint rubble. The west window is of mid-13th-century date, and consists of three grouped lancets with heavy hollow-chamfered mullions, a moulded rear arch and internal undercut label with human heads at the springing. Above it is a modern trefoiled opening.
The north transept is built of brick, and has a modern stone window of three grouped lancet lights. The south transept is also of brick, and is lit by three three-light wooden-framed windows. The tower, of the same date and material, serves as an entrance porch, and also contains a staircase to the north transept gallery. It is surmounted by a square weather-boarded timber bell-chamber with louvred sound holes.
The roofs of the chancel and transepts are modern, but that of the nave is of early 15th-century date much restored. The moulded wall plate remains and also moulded and cambered tie-beams. The circular bowl of the font is old but so scraped as to be undatable.
The registers are as follows: (1) has all entries 1597 to 1703 somewhat mutilated; (2) the same 1703 to 1784 incomplete; (3) baptisms and burials 1754 to 1804; (4) marriages 1774 to 1812 and (5) baptisms and burials 1804 to 1812.
The church of Bramshaw belonged at an early date to the Premonstratensian priory of Britford. (fn. 49) In 1158, however, Henry II granted the church, from which the monks had been expelled by Bishop Jocelin, to the cathedral of Salisbury, when it was appropriated to the resident canons. (fn. 50) From that date the patronage has been in the hands of the Dean and chapter of Salisbury, who claimed forest privileges for themselves and their tenants as holders of the rectory of Bramshaw. (fn. 51) In a survey of the parsonage or chapel made in 1649 it appeared that the lessees of the parsonage were bound to provide 'a sufficient curate and minister of honest and good reputation to serve the cure,' who was to be paid £8 yearly and be provided with a house and grounds. He was entitled to tithe eggs, to all fees and to the Easter offerings. (fn. 52) The rectorial tithes were sold at the end of the 18 th century under Pitt's Act for the redemption of land tax (fn. 53) to Mr. Samuel Orr, on whose death they were purchased by Mr. George Eyre, whose grandson, Mr. G. E. Briscoe Eyre, is the present lay rector. (fn. 54)
Bramshaw was a peculiar of the archdeaconry of Salisbury until that archdeaconry was abolished in 1847. (fn. 55)