A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Thorley, a parish 9 miles west of Newport, running north and south, comprises some 1,580 acres of land chiefly given up to wheat, oats and barley. Of this area 721 acres are arable land, 672 are permanent grass and 81¼ are woods and plantations. (fn. 1) There are also 27 acres of foreshore, 2 acres of land covered by water and 2 by tidal water. The soil is mostly stiff clay. The remains of the old church stand in a field close to Thorley Farm and consist of the south porch and the graveyard adjoining.
The manor of THORLEY was held in the reign of Edward the Confessor by Earl Tostig, and at the time of the Domesday Survey by Alsi, the son of Brisei, (fn. 2) but it afterwards came into the possession of the Crown and was granted by Henry I to Richard de Redvers. (fn. 3) It remained in the hands of the Earls of Devon until it was granted to the Crown in 1293, together with other lands in the Isle of Wight, by Isabel de Fortibus. (fn. 4)
Edward II granted Thorley to Piers Gaveston, (fn. 5) on whose death in 1312 the manor reverted to the king, who in 1314 granted the custody to Nicholas la Beche. (fn. 6) Before 1325, however, 'Edward the king's son' was the lord of the manor, for in that year he complained that certain persons unknown had felled his trees there and carried away the timber. (fn. 7) In 1331 Edward gave the custody of Thorley to John le White, 'to have for twelve years at a rent of £95 yearly,' (fn. 8) but in the following year he gave it to Hugh le Despenser 'in recompense of a farm out of the Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross, and certain manors which he had surrendered . . . in satisfaction of 200 marks in land and rent promised him by the king, until the king see fit to make the provision.' (fn. 9) In 1337 Thorley was permanently granted to Hugh le Despenser. (fn. 10) However, it is not given among his possessions at his death in 1348, (fn. 11) but appears to have belonged to Gilbert le Despenser, brother or nephew of Hugh. (fn. 12) Yet it is not mentioned in the inquisition taken on Gilbert's lands in 1381–2, (fn. 13) although it was evidently granted in April 1382 in custody to John Slegh at a yearly rent of £20 during the minority of Gilbert's heir Thomas, son of Edward Lord le Despenser. (fn. 14) Thus in October 1383 this grant was renewed to John Slegh, the custody being granted without rent 'in consideration of hisslow promotion to and great expense in the office of chief butler, and of his not yet being advanced to the rank of his estate.' His liabilities were to maintain the buildings, support all other charges, and find in summer one man at arms and two archers for the defence of the Isle. (fn. 15) Another grant in custody was made to John Bolt in January 1385. (fn. 16) Subsequently Thomas le Despenser came of age and into possession, and from that date the manor followed the descent of the manor of Mapledurwell (fn. 17) (q.v.) until on the death of 'the kingmaker' Thorley passed to his daughter and heir Isabel wife of George Duke of Clarence. Isabel died in December 1476, (fn. 18) and the duke held the manor of Thorley until February 1478, when it passed to the Crown by reason of his attainder. (fn. 19)
In the following November Thorley was granted, like Swainstone (q.v.), 'for six years from Easter last' to Anthony Earl Rivers, 'in consideration of the injuries perpetrated on him and his parents by George, late duke of Clarence, because the said duke intended that he should be recompensed.' (fn. 20) The manor was afterwards retained in the royal hands; it was leased for the term of twenty-one years at a rent of £30 yearly, with 20s. increase, to William Bowman, an officer of the king's butlery, and Henry Kyllavon in 1539, (fn. 21) and subsequently to Richard Belverge. (fn. 22)
Early in the reign of Elizabeth the estate was in the tenure of Robert Urry, (fn. 23) a member of a family which had been connected with Thorley as early as 1273. (fn. 24) He died before 1569, in which year his son David obtained a renewal of his lease for twenty-one years at the rent of £19 16s. 4d. yearly. (fn. 25) This lease was subsequently renewed, (fn. 26) and seems to have been at last exchanged for another grant, by which the rent reserved to the Crown was increased to £32 yearly. (fn. 27) David Urry died before 1625, in which year the manor of Thorley was in the tenure of his son Thomas, (fn. 28) who left it at his death to his son John. (fn. 29) Elizabeth, the daughter and heir of John Urry, married Richard Lucy of Charlecote (co. Warwick) (fn. 30); she sold her right in the manor in 1679, after her husband's death, with the consent of her son Thomas Lucy, to Sir Robert Holmes, governor of the Isle of Wight, (fn. 31) who had obtained a grant of the fee-farm rent from Charles II in 1675. (fn. 32)
Sir Robert Holmes seems to have settled the manor on his daughter Mary, for she and her husband Henry Holmes dealt with it by fine in 1727, (fn. 33) and their son Thomas, created Lord Holmes in 1760, was the owner in 1762. (fn. 34) From this date Thorley has followed the descent of Yarmouth (q.v.).
There was a rabbit warren in Thorley; the tithe of the rabbits therein was granted in 1292 by Isabel de Fortibus, lady of the Isle, to the canons of Christchurch Twyneham. (fn. 35) The warren was still one of the appurtenances of the manor in 1582, in which year it was mentioned in the lease granted by Queen Elizabeth to David Urry. (fn. 36)
Of the ancient church of ST. SWITHUN the only portion remaining is the porch and belfry standing within a small disused graveyard adjoining the manor farm. (fn. 37) The present church, a stone structure with a late 13th-century motif, was erected by subscription on a site further to the north, and consecrated 9 December 1871. It consists of nave, chancel, north and south transepts, and a tower in which hang the two 13th-century bells from the old church, inscribed in Lombardic letter 'Wallerandus Trenchard et Johannes Rector Ecclesie.' (fn. 38) In the vestry is a 17th-century altar-table, formerly in the old church.
The church of Thorley was granted by Richard de Redvers to the priory of Christchurch Twyneham, (fn. 39) with whom the advowson remained until the Dissolution, (fn. 40) when it was granted by Henry VIII to Thomas Hopson in 1544. (fn. 41) Thomas Hopson died seised of it in February 1594, (fn. 42) but it seems to have been afterwards recovered by the Crown, for James I granted it to Robert Morley and Nicholas Jordan before 1614, in which year Thomas Urry presented, by reason that Nicholas Jordan had granted him his turn. (fn. 43) In 1616 Robert Morley and Nicholas Jordan sold the advowson to Stephen March and John his son. (fn. 44)
In 1666 the Bishop of Winchester was the patron, but the advowson again came into private hands before 1686. (fn. 45) The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £95, now in the gift of Miss Landon. (fn. 46)