A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Bentworth lies to the west of Alton, and has an acreage of 3,763 acres, of which about 280 acres are woodland, and the remainder divided equally between arable and grassland. (fn. 1)
The soil is clay and loam, the subsoil chalk; the chief crops are wheat, oats, and turnips. The village is in the centre of the parish, and the large estate of Bentworth Hall stands on rising ground some way to the south. Bentworth Lodge, originally called Binstead Hill, is I mile east, on the boundary of the parish, and is the property of Captain Frederick Stephens, J.P., who purchased it from Mr. Coulthard in 1874. (fn. 2) The hamlet of Burkham is in the extreme north-west corner of the parish. Wivelrod, also a hamlet, in the south-east, is mentioned as early as 1259, in which year William le Clerk and Cecily his wife conveyed it to Ralph de la Sale on condition that Ralph and his heirs should give one quarter of wheat and one of barley at Michaelmas during the life of William and Cecily, besides an annual rent of 1d. (fn. 3)
Gaston Grange, with a wood attached to it, also belongs to the Bentworth Hall estate, and is on the south-eastern boundary of the parish. There are several farms in the village, on the northern side of which is the church, with the rectory close by standing in its own grounds. A Congregational church was built in 1896, and the schools were erected in 1848.
Hall Place, now called Manor Farm, in the village of Bentworth, represents the old manor-house of Bentworth Hall, which in the 18th century was called "Bentworth Hall Place," the present hall having been built in the middle of the last century. (fn. 6)
The old house dates probably from the 14th century, but retains little of its original character; the outer and inner doorways at the entrance have two-centred arches of two splayed orders, and in the lobby there is a trefoiled light. Above the entrance are the arms of Hunt: Argent a bend between two water bougets or with three leopards' heads gules on the bend.
There is a double-chamfered lancet window in the east wall of what was originally the chapel, now used as a dairy, and a blocked doorway with a segmental arch. In a passage there is a shield of fifteen quarterings.
Some place-names of interest are Le Bole, La Cou, (fn. 7) Childer Hall, (fn. 8) Little Chichdells, (fn. 9) Heath Crofts and Gatwicke, where the widow of the poet George Wither lived. (fn. 10) Such names as Colliers Wood and Nancole Copse point to the early operations of the charcoal burners, the colliers of the Middle Ages.
The names of Windmill Field and Mill Piece indicate the site of one or more ancient mills. (fn. 11) The commons were inclosed in 1799. (fn. 12) George Wither was born at Bentworth in 1588, but at the beginning of the Civil War he sold his estate in the parish, which he had inherited from his father, in order to raise a troop of horse for Parliament. (fn. 13) In 'Abuses Stript and Whipt' he more than once alludes to the 'beechy shadows' of 'our Bentworth.' (fn. 14)
The manor of BENTWORTH is not mentioned in the Domesday Survey, and it was probably included in Odiham at this date. It was, however, recognized as a manor in the reign of Henry I, when it was given by the king to Geoffrey, Archbishop of Rouen, between 1111 and 1116. (fn. 15) Confirmations of this gift were made in the reigns of Henry II and Richard I, and an inspeximus of the original deed was made in 1286 by Edward I; (fn. 16) there are also references to the debts which the Archbishop of Rouen owed the king concerning Bentworth. (fn. 17)
In the reign of King John, January 1207–8, Peter de Roches, Bishop of Winchester, was granted temporary possession of the manor of Bentworth, (fn. 18) and in 1222 Geoffrey de Cauz (fn. 19) was appointed a custodian of the same manor during the king's pleasure. The Archbishop of Rouen was still holding the manor in 1316, (fn. 20) but it was in the king's hands nine years later owing to a vacancy in the see of Rouen, and in that year Edward II appointed Peter de Galicien custodian of the manor. (fn. 21) In February 1336 licence was granted to Peter, Archbishop of Rouen, to enfeoff Richard Bentworth, Bishop of London, of the manor and advowson of the church for a yearly payment of 6s. 8d.; (fn. 22) but he does not appear to have ever held the manor, as four months later a similar licence was granted for the enfeoffment of William de Melton, Archbishop of York, who entered into possession before the date of this licence, and obtained a pardon for having done so. (fn. 23) The archbishop died in 1340, leaving his possessions to his nephew William de Melton, son of his brother Henry, (fn. 24) who did homage to the king for his manor of Bentworth in that year. (fn. 25) In 1348 William obtained the king's permission to give his manor to William Edendon, Bishop of Winchester; (fn. 26) but it evidently returned to him, as it is mentioned among his possessions in an inquisition taken in 1362–3, and descended to his son Sir William de Melton. (fn. 27)
John de Melton inherited the manor on the death of his father Sir William in 1399, (fn. 28) and he was returned as owner of Bentworth in 1431; (fn. 29) he died in 1455, and was succeeded by his son John, who died in 1474 seised of the manor, his heir being his grandson John; (fn. 30) the latter did not actually succeed to the manor until the death of his grandfather's second wife Cecily in 1484. (fn. 31)
The last-named John died in 1510, and the same year his son John suffered a recovery by John Rudston and others, which recovery was had to the use of Guy Palmes. (fn. 32) The latter died in 1516, and Brian Palmes his son and heir held Bentworth of the king as of Winchester Castle until his death in 1528, when his son Francis was a minor. (fn. 33) Francis died seised of the manor in November 1580, and his son Sir Francis (fn. 34) was succeeded on his death in 1613 by his son Sir Guy, (fn. 35) who in 1616 conveyed the manor to Edward Nevill. (fn. 36)
The descent of the manor immediately after this conveyance is not clear, but in 1704 the manors of Bentworth and Bentworth Hall (q.v. infra) were held by Thomas Urry, (fn. 37) and from this date onwards the two manors had the same descent. (fn. 38)
There was a sub-manor in Bentworth held of the lord of the main manor which was called BENTWORTH HALL, or BENTWORTH HALL PLACE, or THE HALL, or simply BENTWORTH or BENTWORTH JUXTA ALTON, (fn. 39) and it seems probable that the land held by Maud de Aula in the early years of the reign of Henry III was this manor. (fn. 40) She inherited it from her husband John, who was possessed of a free tenement in Bentworth, and in 1223 conveyed her share of that tenement to Ralph de Aula. (fn. 41) In February 1281 William de Aula of Bentworth was possessed of what appears to be the same tenement, and he seems to have acquired more land in 'Halle' in 1297. (fn. 42) Between the years 1333 and 1345 licence was given to Maud de Bentworth to have service in the oratory of her manor, (fn. 43) and this may possibly have been Bentworth Hall. The first mention of the property as a manor is in 1372, when it is so described in the inquisition taken on the death of Elizabeth the wife of James Windsor who died in January 1371–2. (fn. 44) Her son Miles inherited the estate and died seised in 1386; (fn. 45) his heir was his son Brian, but the manor was assigned as dower to his widow Alice, who married a second time, and died in 1394–5. (fn. 46) Brian was holding Bentworth of John de Melton at the time of his death in 1399, (fn. 47) and his widow Alice continued in possession until her death seven years later. (fn. 48)
Miles, the son and heir of Brian and Alice, died while still under age in 1401, (fn. 49) and consequently on the death of Alice 'that manor in Bentworth called The Hall' passed to his younger brother Richard, (fn. 50) who died in 1428 leaving a son and heir Miles. (fn. 51)
The manor remained in possession of the Windsor family for another hundred and fifty years; Andrew the grandson of Miles was summoned to Parliament as Lord Windsor of Stanwell, and died in 1543, and the four generations who succeeded in turn to the barony all held Bentworth Hall. (fn. 52)
Robert Hunt acquired the manor from the fifth Lord Windsor in 1590, (fn. 53) and it passed from him to Sir James Wolveridge in 1610. (fn. 54) Sir James, who died in 1624, settled the manor on his nephew John, (fn. 55) and there is a record of a jointure in 1641 on the marriage of John Wolveridge with Frances Jephson of the manor of Bentworth. (fn. 56)
Thomas Urry and his third son William dealt with the two manors of Bentworth and Bentworth Hall in 1705, when William was declared heir of Thomas. (fn. 57) Thomas Urry, grandson of Thomas and probably son of William, bequeathed his property in Bentworth in equal shares to his sister Anne and his niece Elizabeth Heneage, who was the daughter and heiress of John Browne by his wife Elizabeth Browne, née Urry. (fn. 58) This will was proved in 1777, and Anne died in 1780, when in accordance with the terms of her brother's will her share went to Elizabeth Heneage. (fn. 59) Elizabeth had two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who married respectively two brothers, William Fitzherbert-Brockholes of Claughton and Basil Fitzherbert of Swynnerton, the former having taken the name of Brockholes when he acquired the property of that family. (fn. 60) Elizabeth Fitzherbert died in 1799, having had seven children, three of whom died unmarried, and her mother died about two years later; Mary Brockholes, surviving her husband, died in 1832, when the property was sold and the proceeds divided between the surviving children of Elizabeth and of Mary; the latter had a large family, but several children died young. (fn. 61) The property in Bentworth which was to be sold is described as 'all that or those the manor or manors lordship or lordships called or known by the name of Bentworth and Bentworth Hall otherwise Bentworth Hall Place or by what other name or names the same is or are called and known situate lying and being in the parish of Bentworth or elsewhere in the county of Southampton.' (fn. 62)
Hall Place Farm and the manors of Bentworth and Bentworth Hall were bought by Mr. Fisher for £6,000; ' sundry enclosures of Useful and Eligible Land situate at Wivelrod,' but not including the farm, were sold for £900. (fn. 63) Roger Staple Norman Fisher was returned as the owner and occupier in the Tithe Rent Charge Award of 1840, (fn. 64) but Charles Bush of Bentworth Hall was lord of the manor in 1848, and from him the lordship passed to J. Robert Ives, Sheriff of Hampshire in 1854, who died in 1865; his widow held the manor until her death in 1897, when their son, Colonel Gordon Maynard Gordon-Ives, acquired the lordship. He died in 1907, leaving a son Lieutenant Cecil Maynard Gordon-Ives as his heir.
BURKHAM (Brocham, xiv cent.; Barkham, xvi cent.; Berkham, Burcum, xviii cent.) is mentioned in the gift of Bentworth to the Archbishop of Rouen c. 1111–16, where it is described as a 'berewite' or outlying farm. (fn. 65) In the return of the feudal aids in 1316 a certain John Daleron held 'Brocham,' which was probably Burkham. (fn. 66) In the 16th century it followed the descent of Bentworth Hall, Robert Hunt acquiring the manor of Burkham with Bentworth by fine from Henry Lord Windsor in 1590. (fn. 67) In the same year Robert Magewick purchased it for £160, (fn. 68) and George Magewick is described as the owner of Burkham Farm in 1684. (fn. 69) In 1748 James Magewick Battin, presumably a descendant, held the manor, (fn. 70) and he is given as the owner in a 1778 Survey of Hampshire. (fn. 71) J. Battin Coulthard, a descendant in the female line, sold the property in 1881 to Mr. Arthur Frederick Jeffreys, whose son, Captain G. Darrell Jeffreys, is the present owner. (fn. 72)
The church of ST. MARY, situated at the north-east of the village, stands in the centre of a churchyard which is inclosed by a wood paling and surrounded by tall trees. It consists of chancel 27 ft. by 17 ft. 4 in., with a small north vestry; nave, 48 ft. 7 in. by 17 ft., with north and south aisles and south porch; and west tower 9 ft. 6 in. square, these dimensions being internal.
The nave arcades date from the last quarter of the 12th century, and the chancel arch is of the same period. The chancel was built round an older chancel about 1260, and the lower part of the tower is of the same date or a little earlier. The aisles of the nave seem to have been rebuilt in the 14th century, and in modern times the fabric has been thoroughly repaired. The church has been entirely refaced with dressed flints, the ashlar work renewed, and the whole church re-roofed. The present tower arch dates from 1890, and the wooden belfry placed upon the tower, and finished with a short octagonal spire covered with tiles, is of the same date.
The modern dressings and facings, and the new stonework of all the nave windows, give an entirely modern appearance to the building, the only interesting piece of external detail being the south doorway of the chancel.
The chancel retains all its original windows, more or less repaired, the east window being of three pointed lights inclosed externally by a single pointed segmental arch, and internally by a beautifully moulded rear-arch with dog-tooth ornament in the head, and having engaged filleted jamb-shafts, moulded capitals, and carved dripstones to the label. The bases of these shafts are hidden behind a modern reredos; the whole of this work is in a splendid state of preservation, and is a very beautiful example, dating from c. 1260. To the south of this window there is a large trefoiled piscina of the same date, doubtless moved from the south wall, the arch of which is delicately moulded with a filleted roll between two hollows, in both of which is a line of dog-tooth ornament, now much broken away; in the jambs are shafts with plainly-moulded capitals and bases, and the drain, which is circular on plan and projected from the wall-face, has been partly broken away. In the north wall are two narrow lancets with widelysplayed inner jambs and arch, having the vestry door between them, and there are two similar, but wider, lancets in the south wall. Between them is the south doorway, which is an admirable piece of work, its outer arch having a roll with three fillets between deeply-cut hollows, and filleted jamb-shafts with moulded capitals and bases, an extension of the abaci of the capitals forming the label stops, with tiny cone-shaped corbels below them. The chancel arch is pointed, of a single order, with a small edge-chamfer and square abaci; the arch is somewhat distorted, so as to be now almost four-centred.
The nave arcades are of four bays, with pointed. arches of a single edge-chamfered order and hollowchamfered labels on both sides. The springing line is only about 7 ft. 6 in. from the floor, and the arches are carried by sturdy circular pillars with square scalloped capitals and moulded bases on low square plinths.
The nave windows are all of 14th-century style, with modern tracery, but old inner jambs; the blocked north doorway is round-headed, of a single hollow-chamfered order dying on to plain-chamfered jambs, and is also 14th-century work, while the south doorway is contemporary with it and of the same detail, but pointed and of two orders.
The font at the west end of the nave dates from the 13th century, and has a large bowl about 2 ft. 6 in. square, with five trefoiled panels on each face; the stem is octagonal, with two trefoiled panels on each face, and is flanked by four little baluster shafts with moulded capitals and bases; there is an interesting pyramidal oak cover with a carved finial, and round the base an inscription, ' I am geven bi Martha Hunt anno 1605.' The altar table is 18th-century work, and another now standing in the tower is of about the same date, but all other wood fittings are modern.
A small mural monument at the south-east of the chancel is to Nicholas Holdip, 'pastor of the parish' 1606, and his wife Alicia (Gilbert). Above the tablet there is a small kneeling figure of the pastor.
In the north aisle wall is another mural tablet to 'Robert Hunt of Hall Place in this Parish,' 1671, with the arms, Azure a bend between two water bougets or with three leopards' heads gules on the bend. The crest is a talbot sitting chained to a halberd.
There are three books of registers. The first contains entries for baptisms, marriages, and burials from 1604 to 1688, with one entry of 1559, and entries from 1695 to 1708; also burials 1709 to 1725, and a copy of the registers of baptisms, marriages, and burials transcribed from a paper copy, 1719 to 1802, and burials from 1802 to 1812; baptisms at other end of the book, 1754 to 1812; a few parchment pages bound together of burials, 1681 to 1765; and also a book of marriages, 1754 to 1812.
The church of Bentworth, together with the churches of Odiham and Liss, was granted to the church of St. Mary of Salisbury by King Stephen. (fn. 73) It was probably lost, like Odiham (q.v.), to the cathedral, and in 1165–6 Henry II granted it to Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen, who was holding the manor of Bentworth (fn. 74) About a hundred years later there was a dispute about the church, when it was asserted that the Bishop of Salisbury held it by charter of Henry II, as pertaining to the prebendal church of Odiham. (fn. 75) However, the right of the Archbishop of Rouen to present was confirmed by Edward I in 1278–9. (fn. 76)
In 1637 the Crown presented, probably owing to a lapse, and forty years later the family of Acton held the living and the advowson (fn. 79) Early in the 18th century John Henley presented, and in 1762 Joseph Acton, with others, was patron. Joseph Hinton presented in 1776, and Alban Acton in 1791; John Calland in 1801 and Lord Carteret in 1807. (fn. 80) In 1848 the living was in the gift of Sir S. Matthews, and the Rev. H. Matthews presented in 1859. He was succeeded by the present patron, the Rev. W. G. Cazalet, in 1887.
In 1749 there was a dispute about the tithes, when various witnesses deposed that ' times out of mind' it was the custom of the parson of the parish ' to gather five eggs or one penny every Good Friday which penny is called the Egg Penny,' and that he was also entitled to a 'Tythe Pig,' provided that the tithe consisted of more than seven. (fn. 81) Edward Acton was the rector who took part in the dispute, and his father, or grandfather, Edward, was rector in 1684–5, and also engaged in a dispute about tithes. (fn. 82) The present rector of Iwerne Minster, Blandford, is a lineal descendant, and is the seventh bearing the same name. (fn. 83)
Land and tenements in Bentworth of the annual value of 1s. 9½d., which were left to maintain a light, were among the lands forfeited for superstitious uses in the reign of Edward VI. (fn. 84)
In 1640 Sarah Greaves by her will charged certain lands near Alton with an annuity of £1 for the poor. The property charged is now occupied by the Paper Mills of Messrs Spicer, and the annuity is divided among ten poor widows.
In 1897 Anne Garrett by her will bequeathed to the rector and churchwardens £100, income to be distributed among the poor in coal and clothing. The legacy is represented by £94 11s. 3d. 2½ per cent, annuities with the official trustees, producing yearly £2 7s. 5d., which is duly applied.