A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 10. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.
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Beechingstoke, (fn. 1) also known simply as 'Stoke' until the 19th century, (fn. 2) is situated on a small rise of greensand at the south-east corner of Cannings marsh midway between Pewsey and Devizes, and is about 5 miles distant from each. Roughly oval in shape, the parish contains 891 a. and is bounded on three sides by the river Avon and its head-streams. (fn. 3) It measures 1¼ mile from the northern boundary to Puckshipton in the south and 1½ mile across at its widest point on a line with the Patney-Woodborough road. The main area of settlement lies directly north of the road to Woodborough near the north-western parish boundary and a small settlement known as Piccadilly lies ¼ mile east. Broad Street, a hamlet strung out along the secondary road from Hilcott (in North Newnton) to Woodborough, marks the probable course of the Ridge Way and stands about a mile to the east at Bottle. That area, known until the mid 19th century as 'Botwell' and in 1970 as Bottle, takes its name from the north-eastern boundary stream, called 'botan waelle' in the 9th century. (fn. 4)
The narrow strip of alluvium which borders the boundary streams of the parish on the south, west, north, and north-east lies at about 350 ft. (fn. 5) The marshy ground there is characterized, as in earlier times, by beds of withies and alders. From the alluvial soils the ground rises gently over the Upper Greensand which covers most of the parish and on which the settlements of Beechingstoke and Broad Street are sited. The heavier soils near the boundary streams were formerly exploited as watermeadows and in 1970 the greensand soils there were still largely devoted to pasture. (fn. 6) The triangle formed by Broad Street, Puckshipton Lane, and the PatneyWoodborough road encircles an outcrop of Lower Chalk which rises to over 400 ft. As early as 1773 its highest point was marked by 'Stoke elm'. (fn. 7) Open arable fields occupied the area in the 18th century and much land there was still under arable cultivation in 1970.
The late-Neolithic henge monument known as Marden earthwork, the largest enclosure of its kind so far known, stands on the north bank of the river Avon in the south-west corner of the parish. It is transected by the road from Marden to Woodborough and comprises an irregular oval of about 50 a. enclosed by a ditch with a bank outside. It formerly contained Hatfield barrow, a large bowlbarrow apparently destroyed at some date before 1818, and a smaller saucer-barrow. (fn. 8)
In 1377 there were 62 poll-tax payers, one of the smaller totals for Swanborough hundred as then constituted. (fn. 9) The parish had 174 inhabitants in 1801, a total which had decreased to 156 in 1821. There were 196 people in 1841 and thereafter the population declined steadily until 1931 when there were 137 inhabitants. There were 183 people in 1951 and ten years later 235 people lived in the parish. (fn. 10) In 1971 205 people lived there. (fn. 11)
An ancient track, 'Frith Herpath', still a footpath in 1970, forms part of the south-east boundary of Beechingstoke. (fn. 12) The road through Broad Street, which probably follows the ancient Ridge Way, the road from Marden as far as its junction with Puckshipton Lane, and that lane itself (called Hilcott Way in 1793) were turnpiked in 1840. (fn. 13) The road to Woodborough north of Broad Street was rerouted on a more easterly course and redirected over a railway bridge when the Berks. & Hants Extension Railway, opened in 1862, was constructed across the parish. (fn. 14) Woodborough station was situated in Beechingstoke north of Manor Farm on the site of the old turnpike road. The station was closed in 1966 and the buildings demolished. (fn. 15)
Beechingstoke village lies near the north-western parish boundary and is entered by the secondary road from Patney, tree-lined in 1970 as in 1726. (fn. 16) Beechingstoke Manor (see below) stands on the south side of the road and opposite is Stoke Farm, a late-18th-century house with a lattice iron porch. The village itself, comprising the former school, teacher's house, and a range of thatched cottages, lies along a narrow lane, probably that called 'the street' in the earlier 19th century, which runs westwards from Stoke Farm. (fn. 17) At its western end the lane widens into a semicircle around which are grouped church and Rectory. South of the Rectory, the house known in 1970 as 'Fairings' was converted from cottages, formerly fronted by a pond, in the early 20th century. (fn. 18) East of the village a few cottages of late-18th- and early-19th-century date stand along the lane which links the Woodborough and Marden roads. Houses are shown there in 1773 and by the later 19th century the area was called Piccadilly. The hamlet of Broad Street, also first shown in 1773, lies along the former turnpike road in the east of the parish and contains a few cottages, a butcher's shop, and a corn merchant's store. (fn. 19) A number of more recent buildings, including Woodborough school, stand along the east side of the road north of Broad Street. Manor Farm, which stands at the junction of Broad Street and the road to Beechingstoke, was originally a symmetrical late-18thcentury house, but was subsequently altered and a one-bay western extension added. A large contemporary thatched barn stands to the west. Recent development in Beechingstoke has been mainly confined to council housing. A few such houses stand at the junction of the Marden road with that which runs to Woodborough, and in 1952 Corpus Christi College, Oxford, sold land west of the church belonging to Puckshipton farm for the construction of a small council estate, which was apparently completed in 1958. (fn. 20)
Manors and other Estates.
In 941 King Edmund granted his vassal Adric two mansae at 'Stoke'. (fn. 21) At an unknown date the land was acquired by Shaftesbury Abbey, whose overlordship is last expressly mentioned in 1316. (fn. 22)
T. R. E. Harding held a life estate but restored it to Shaftesbury of his own accord. In 1086 Turstin held it of the abbey. (fn. 23) By 1242 Hawise Cusin (d. 1243) was tenant in socage and was succeeded in turn by her son Andrew Wake (d. 1285) and grandson Ralph Wake, who held the manor of BEECHINGSTOKE in 1297. (fn. 24) By 1303 land at Beechingstoke was held by Andrew Wake, presumably Ralph's son, and Andrew's wife Joan. (fn. 25) In 1357 Joan, wife of Richard Monck and possibly daughter and heir of Andrew Wake, conveyed land at Beechingstoke to John Wroth. (fn. 26) Thenceforth the manor apparently descended with that of Puckshipton (see below) and was allotted in 1502 to Anne, wife of Sir Adrian Fortescue, as great-granddaughter and coheir of Joan, Lady Ingoldisthorpe. (fn. 27) In 1513 Anne and her husband conveyed the estate to Richard Foxe, bishop of Winchester (d. 1528). (fn. 28) Bishop Foxe assigned it to the cathedral priory and in 1535 the lands were included among estates allotted to the hordarian, William Basyng. (fn. 29)
In 1541 the king transferred the estate to the newly-formed chapter of Winchester, who retained it until 1845 when they sold the land to their copyhold tenant, Joseph Hayward (d. 1851). (fn. 30) Hayward devised the land upon trust for sale and in 1865 390 a. were sold to Welbore Ellis Agar, 2nd earl of Normanton (d. 1868). The estate then comprised two farms, one worked from Bottle House (known in 1970 as Manor Farm) and the other from Stoke House (known in 1970 as Beechingstoke Manor). (fn. 31) It descended with the Normanton title until 1917 when the 4th earl (d. 1933) sold it, being then represented by Beechingstoke (later Manor) farm, to his tenant Robert Eavis. (fn. 32) It was owned in 1970 by English Farms Ltd. and farmed in conjunction with Bottle farm (see below). (fn. 33)
Beechingstoke Manor, which was sold separately in 1917, stands at the entrance to the village on the south side of the secondary road from Patney to Woodborough. (fn. 34) The older, west-facing wing dates from the early 18th century. (fn. 35) It was refronted on the east and extended to the south c. 1830. A large thatched barn inscribed 'IK 1818' on the north wall stands west of the house.
The estate known in the 14th century as the manor of PUCKSHIPTON was probably included in Shaftesbury Abbey's Domesday estate at Beechingstoke. Shaftesbury retained its overlordship in 1396. (fn. 36) In 1470 the earl of Arundel and in 1494 the prior of St. Swithin, Winchester, were named as overlords. (fn. 37)
In 1210 Matthew FitzHerbert held a fee in 'Stoke', an estate identifiable with Puckshipton manor. (fn. 38) Between 1341 and 1347 conveyances of various fractions of the manor to Adam de la Folye and his wife Joan by John Enfield and his wife Margaret and by Henry de la Folye, Adam's father, and his wife Isabel suggest that Joan, Margaret, and Isabel were coheirs to the manor or two-thirds of it. In 1350, however, the whole manor was granted to the same Margaret and her husband John Wroth, and in 1368 Margaret's son Francis Enfield released his rights to Margaret and John. (fn. 39) John Wroth (d. 1396) was succeeded by his son John (d. 1407), and grandson John (d. 1412), whose heir was his sister Elizabeth, wife of William Palton. (fn. 40) Elizabeth Palton (d. 1413) was succeeded by her cousin Sir John Tiptoft (d. 1443), son of her father's sister Agnes, Lady Tiptoft. (fn. 41) Sir John was succeeded by his son, another John (cr. earl of Worcester 1449 and executed 1470), and grandson Edward (d.s.p. 1485). (fn. 42) Edward's heirs were his father's three sisters, of whom Joan, Lady Ingoldisthorpe (d. 1494), succeeded her nephew at Puckshipton. (fn. 43) In 1502 the manor was allotted to her granddaughter and coheir Isabel, Lady Huddleston (later Dacre, Smith). (fn. 44) During 1515 and 1516 she conveyed it to Richard Foxe, bishop of Winchester, who subsequently gave it to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, which he founded in 1515–16. (fn. 45) The college sold the estate in 1953 to Miss Betty Horton of Wilsford Manor. (fn. 46) Mr. J. H. Noble owned the farm in 1970.
During the 16th and early 17th centuries, Puckshipton was let to members of the Miles family, during the 17th and early 18th centuries to members of the Raymond family, and during the remainder of the 18th century to the Dicker family, who were not resident and sub-let it. (fn. 47)
Charles Raymond (d. 1716), who succeeded his father Matthew as tenant at Puckshipton in 1690, built the house known as 'New House' and first mentioned in 1704. (fn. 48) The south-east-facing house is depicted in 1726 as standing amid a formal walled garden approached by an avenue of trees from Puckshipton Lane. The house then comprised two storeys, basement, attic with three dormers, and flanking chimneys. The south-east front of five bays included a central doorway approached by steps. (fn. 49) The house had apparently been demolished by 1790 but may have stood east of the present house. Some bricks from it may have been re-used in the construction of a large quadrangle of farm buildings to the east, which in 1970 included a thatched, timberframed barn. (fn. 50) The smaller house which stood to west of the mansion in 1726 is identifiable with the 'old farm-house' which Joseph Gilbert, tenant 1790– 1849, incorporated in a new house some time before 1834. (fn. 51) Gilbert's house was represented in 1970 by Puckshipton House, the central wing of which dates partly from the 17th century and the west front from the earlier 19th century. It was then approached by a tree-lined drive from the Marden road.
Some time after 1243, a small estate which comprised a house and 20 a. of demesne arable, to be identified with land known as Bottle farm in 1970, was subinfeudated to Richard Pinckney by Andrew Wake (d. 1285), lord of Beechingstoke manor. (fn. 52) The land was held in 1443 by John Pinckney, whose son and successor Thomas settled his land at Botwell on himself for life with remainder in tail male to his son Henry in 1502. (fn. 53) Thomas apparently died in 1512 or 1513. In 1513 his son Henry sold certain pasture rights in Botwell to John Button of Alton Priors and the following year sold him two messuages and other lands in Botwell. (fn. 54) The estate descended to William Button (d. 1591) and to his second son William (d. 1599), its descent thereafter following that of the manor of Lyneham. (fn. 55) It is last expressly mentioned in 1793 when it was owned by John Walker-Heneage (d.s.p. 1806). (fn. 56) In 1865 the land was included in that part of Joseph Hayward's Beechingstoke estate (see above) farmed from Bottle House (known in 1970 as Manor Farm), and was sold that year to the 2nd earl of Normanton. (fn. 57) In 1917 the 4th earl sold Bottle farm (79 a.), then worked from a farm-house directly east of Broad Street, to his tenant Robert Eavis, who acquired Beechingstoke (later Manor) farm at the same time. (fn. 58) It was owned in 1970, as was Manor farm, by English Farms Ltd. (fn. 59)
Shaftesbury Abbey's estate at Beechingstoke, which then included Puckshipton farm (see below) paid geld for five hides and was worth £3 T.R.E. In 1086, when its value had increased to £5, the estate had land for five ploughs. Two serfs with two ploughs worked the three demesne hides, while elsewhere on the estate there were six villeins and six coscez with three ploughs. There were 28 a. of meadow and 40 a. of pasture. A mill then paid 12s. but no more is known of it. (fn. 60)
By the 13th century the land in the parish was divided between Beechingstoke manor, represented in 1970 by Manor farm, which lay in the north, and that of Puckshipton, which lay in the south. In 1513 the manor of Beechingstoke comprised 23 small copyhold estates, mostly of half a yardland each, held by eight copyholders. Of these, the most substantial, John Adams alias Clark, held five, which included land called Knight's, Gabriel's, 'Swofters', Swain's, and 'Allabors'. (fn. 61) By the 17th century the Hayward family had acquired John Adams's lands and from then on began to accumulate other copyholds until by 1793 Richard Hayward the elder (d. 1823) held three much enlarged estates, all formerly held by his ancestors. (fn. 62) By 1807 he held six copyholds and by 1814 a total of 250 a. (fn. 63) His estate, considerably augmented, seems eventually to have passed to his grandson Joseph Hayward, who in 1839 held a total of 475 a. (fn. 64) In 1845, as explained above, Joseph Hayward (d. 1851) acquired the freehold of the estate, which was represented in 1970 by Manor farm. (fn. 65)
Puckshipton manor, unlike that of Beechingstoke, was leased out as a single farm by Corpus Christi College, Oxford, for terms of 20 years from at least the early 16th century. Farmers included members of the Miles family (1534–c. 1582), the Raymond family (1616–1719), and the Dicker family (1736– 90). The Miles and Raymond families lived in the parish but the Dickers sub-let the estate. (fn. 66) Joseph Gilbert farmed at Puckshipton from 1790 until his death in 1849. (fn. 67) Members of the Bruges family were farmers in the later 19th century. (fn. 68) Reckoned in 1601 at 279 a., the farm contained 167 a. of arable land, of which 50 a. were inclosed and the remainder in the open fields. The meadow land (38 a.), lay chiefly in Great mead, Mill mead, and Wall mead. Pasture land was estimated at 74 a. and, divided into closes, lay mainly in Great and Middle leaze and in the Slays. (fn. 69) The farm's acreage varied little and was reckoned at 289 a. in 1834, of which 206 a. were arable, 45 a. pasture, and 22 a. meadow land. Another 12 a. were apparently laid out by Joseph Gilbert as water-meadows. (fn. 70) One of 4 a. called Mill mead, probably the site of the mill mentioned in 1086 (see above), lay south-east of Puckshipton near the river Avon, while another near Beechingstoke church was watered by the stream which forms the north-western parish boundary. (fn. 71)
The parish had an open field common to all estates in the parish and known as 'Stoke field' in 1599. Land there was inclosed that year by private agreement between the most substantial landowners in the parish, Winchester chapter, lords of Beechingstoke manor, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, lords of Puckshipton, and William Button (d. 1599), owner of the estate known as Bottle farm in 1970. The parish's old inclosures lay north of the PatneyWoodborough road in 1793. (fn. 72) In the later 17th and early 18th centuries the parish included open fields known as Gold hill and Drove furlong, and common meadows called North mead, Fowl mead, and Scotchfall. (fn. 73) The open fields, named as Gold hill, Drove furlong, North, and Middle fields in 1793, then lay roughly in a triangle formed by Broad Street, Hilcott Way (in 1970 called Puckshipton Lane), and the Patney-Woodborough road, an area which still contained arable land in 1970. Under parliamentary inclosure in 1793 a total of 287 a. was inclosed: Winchester chapter, as lords of Beechingstoke, received an allotment of 172 a. and the lords of Puckshipton, Corpus Christi College, 85a. (fn. 74)
No woodland is recorded in 1086. (fn. 75) It seems likely that willows and alders have always flourished beside the streams which partly encircle the parish. Puckshipton farm contained an alder bed c. 1609 and in 1834 had two withy beds totalling 3 a. One, known as Moon's meadow, lay north-east of Beechingstoke village and another, called Osier Bed bank, bordered the stream west of Marden earthwork. (fn. 76) By 1839 there were 14 a. of woodland in Beechingstoke, including five willow beds, five alder beds, and a plantation of 2 a. on Puckshipton farm. (fn. 77) One withy bed on the northern parish boundary, which occupied the 'tithing plot', formerly the perquisite of the parish constable, was let to a basketmaker in 1874. (fn. 78) Willows still grew along the strip of low-lying land around the parish boundary in 1970.
There were four farms in the parish in 1970, of which three, Manor, Bottle, and Puckshipton farms, represented earlier estates. (fn. 79) The fourth, Stoke farm, may perhaps have emerged after parliamentary inclosure in 1793 and is first mentioned in 1839 when it was owned by George Ruddle and reckoned at 31 a. (fn. 80) Manor and Bottle farms (300 a.), worked together in 1970, were devoted to dairy and arable farming, as was Puckshipton farm (392 a.). Stoke farm (70 a.) was solely a dairy farm. (fn. 81) Corn, seed, and cattle cake were marketed at Broad Street in 1970 by R. F. Ford & Sons Ltd. (fn. 82)
Records of manorial courts held for the manor of Beechingstoke are preserved in the library of Winchester cathedral. The earliest extant roll is for 1513 and further rolls cover various years in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Courts for the 18th and earlier 19th centuries are also recorded in a series of books compiled on progress by the bailiffs of Winchester chapter. The 16th-century courts dealt with small agricultural matters such as the infringement of pasture rights and maintenance of ditches. Tenants also surrendered, and were admitted to, copyholds, business which occupied the later courts exclusively. A manorial court for Puckshipton is recorded in 1512, but no more seem to have been held. (fn. 83)
Two overseers of the poor are listed yearly for 1622–78 in the earliest parish register and in a series of overseers' accounts for 1678–1799 which record little more than yearly disbursements. (fn. 84) In 1835 Beechingstoke became part of Devizes poorlaw union. (fn. 85) In the earlier 19th century, seven cottages at Broad Street were set aside for the use of paupers. They were sold by the Devizes guardians in 1853. (fn. 86) Parish constables were appointed in the earlier 19th century and were entitled to a small withy bed on the northern parish boundary known as the 'tithing plot'. (fn. 87)
Norman moulding discovered built into the walls in 1861 suggests an early origin for a church at Beechingstoke. (fn. 88) Its existence, however, is first recorded in 1291. (fn. 89) The rectory was united with Woodborough and Manningford Bohune in 1961, the benefice with which it had been held in plurality for the preceding ten years. (fn. 90) In 1970 the united benefice became part of the Swanborough Team of Parishes, served by a rector, who lived at Wilcot, and a vicar who lived at Woodborough. (fn. 91) The enlarged benefice so formed was in 1972 officially constituted that of Swanborough. (fn. 92)
The abbess of Shaftesbury presented to the church in 1304. Thereafter the abbess continued to present rectors until the house was dissolved in 1539, except in 1350, 1354, and 1389 when the bishop presented. (fn. 93) At the Dissolution the advowson passed to the Crown, who in 1545 granted it to William Button (d. 1547). (fn. 94) It descended like that of Sutton Veny in the Button, Walker, and Walker-Heneage families to Major J. D. G. Walker-Heneage (d. 1950). (fn. 95) So far as is known, the family delegated their right of patronage only once, in 1737, when the Revd. John Mayo the elder of Calne presented. (fn. 96) In 1961 (see above) the advowson was vested in Salisbury chapter, patrons of the benefice of Woodborough with Manningford Bohune. (fn. 97)
The church was assessed for taxation in 1291 at £5. (fn. 98) Its value in 1535 was £7 14s. (fn. 99) During the years 1829–31 the value of the benefice averaged £293 net yearly, a sum representative of the value of the tithes, in place of which the rector was allotted a rent-charge of £295 in 1839. (fn. 100)
In 1671 the rector had 33 a. of glebe, of which meadow land lay in North mead, Fowl mead, and Scotchfall, while arable lay chiefly in Gold hill and Hatfield. (fn. 101) By the early 18th century, c. 16 a., including the meadow land, were already inclosed, and at the time of parliamentary inclosure in 1793 the rector was allotted c. 12 a. in Drove furlong, south of Piccadilly, to replace glebe in the former open fields. (fn. 102)
In the later 17th and early 18th centuries the rector had a house of two bays, which was replaced in 1743 by John Mayo, rector 1737–79, at his own expense. (fn. 103) Mayo's house was rebuilt by Edward Warren Caulfield, rector 1829–46, in 1830. (fn. 104) As explained above, after 1951 the incumbent of Woodborough with Manningford Bohune, who lived at Woodborough, also served Beechingstoke and in 1956 the Rectory, which stands east of the church, was sold as a private residence. (fn. 105)
The absence of the rector in 1414 resulted in an order for the sequestration of the revenues of the benefice. (fn. 106) In 1560 parishioners reported that the rector, Henry Brian, held two benefices and did not reside. (fn. 107) His successor, Henry Twychener, was reported non-resident in 1584 and 1585. At that time, although parishioners were uncertain whether he was licensed to do so, Andrew Neate, curate of Woodborough, took services at Beechingstoke, during which he expounded the Gospel and Epistle from the pulpit. (fn. 108) John Cleavely, rector 1630–70, was ejected some time after 1655 as 'an ungodly man, no diligent preacher'. He was restored c. 1660. (fn. 109) John Chapman, rector 1715–37, lived at Bath and employed curates at Beechingstoke. (fn. 110) John Mayo, rector 1737–79, was also vicar of Wilcot but lived at Beechingstoke. So did his son and successor Charles Mayo, rector 1779–1829, also rector of Huish, and author of several historical and theological works, including A Compendious View of Universal History 1753–1802 (1804) in four volumes. (fn. 111) Edward Warren Caulfield (d. 1871), rector 1829–46, resigned the living because he no longer felt able to preach Anglican doctrines and subsequently justified his views in a pamphlet which advocated a return to 'biblical Christianity'. (fn. 112) His successor, Edward Wyndham Tufnell, rector 1846– 58, was later consecrated first bishop of Brisbane (Australia). (fn. 113)
In 1553 and 1585 parishioners complained that no quarter sermons were preached. (fn. 114) In 1783 services were held once on Sundays and on weekdays when the rector thought parishioners would attend. Holy Communion, celebrated four times yearly, was then attended by eight to twelve communicants. (fn. 115) In 1851 an average congregation of 60 was reported to have attended Sunday services over the past year. (fn. 116) In 1864 services, generally attended by 60 or 70 people, were held twice on Sundays and also on great festivals. The Sacrament was administered once a month and on great festivals. Evening services, attended by some 30 people, were then held on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. (fn. 117)
The church of ST. STEPHEN is built of rubble and ashlar and has a chancel and nave with south porch. Of the medieval church only the 14th century chancel arch and part of the surrounding wall survive. (fn. 118) The plan of the nave is possibly of the same date and there is evidence that the contemporary chancel was wider than that which now exists. In the later 17th century the churchwardens constantly reported the need to rebuild the church completely. (fn. 119) In 1692 Winchester chapter, lords of Beechingstoke manor, gave £5 towards the proposed reconstruction. (fn. 120) Charles Raymond (d. 1716), tenant of Puckshipton farm, also offered to contribute in exchange, it is said, for the lead from the roof of the old church. The nave was rebuilt in 1693 (which date is inscribed on the east gable), roofed with shingle tiles, and given plain, square-headed windows. The chancel was rebuilt by the Revd. Charles Mayo (d. 1829) whose initials and the date 1791 appear above the priest's door in its south-east wall. He also provided an east window in the style of the 14th century and copied from an original in Westminster Abbey. (fn. 121) It was removed to the school at Wilsford (N.) c. 1848 and replaced by a window in the 15th-century style. (fn. 122) The whole church was thoroughly restored under the direction of S. B. Gabriel of Bristol in 1861, when much of the walling was again rebuilt and both nave and chancel reroofed. The wooden bell-turret on the west end of the nave roof was then replaced by a stone gable pierced for two bells. (fn. 123) A new window was cut high in the west wall, the east window restored to a 14thcentury design, and tracery inserted in the nave windows. The fittings date from Gabriel's restoration and the 19th-century stained glass commemorates members of the Hayward, Gilbert, Mayo, Caulfield, and Tufnell families.
In 1553 the king's commissioners allowed the parish to keep a chalice. The church in 1970 had a pewter chalice of 1776, a silver chalice and paten made in 1864 from an alms-dish and paten of the earlier 19th century, and a silver wafer box. (fn. 124) There were two bells in 1553, which were probably replaced c. 1604 by two bells cast that year by Robert Becconsall. In 1909 one bell was recast and the other replaced. (fn. 125) Registrations of baptisms and burials begin in 1566 and those of marriages in 1590, but entries for some years in the mid 17th century are wanting. (fn. 126)
In 1808 twelve children in the parish were taught to read at the rector's expense. (fn. 127) A school was supported by the incumbent and parishioners in 1818. (fn. 128) Another, begun in 1833 and supported by parents, was then attended by ten boys and girls. (fn. 129) A new school, with a teacher's house attached, was built shortly before 1859 on the south side of the lane leading to the church and fifteen children were taught there by a mistress. (fn. 130) It was associated with the National Society (fn. 131) and was apparently closed when the school north of Broad Street, afterwards known as Woodborough school, was opened. That school was provided in 1872 by the earl of Normanton and was attended by children from Woodborough, North Newnton, and Bottlesford (then in Wilsford), as well as Beechingstoke. (fn. 132) In 1914 an average number of 121 infants and juniors attended. The number had declined to 89 in 1922. (fn. 133) In 1970 68 children from Beechingstoke, Woodborough, Hilcott (in North Newnton), and from Bottlesford and Manningford Bohune (in Manningford) were on the roll. The former schoolroom in Beechingstoke village was then used as a parish hall and the teacher's house was a private dwelling. (fn. 134)
Nonconformity first appears in Beechingstoke in 1841, when a house at Broad Street, occupied by Isaac Tilley, was registered by an unspecified group. (fn. 135) The meeting may have flourished, since in 1864 there were about twenty 'Wesleyans and Baptists' at Broad Street and one nonconformist in Beechingstoke. (fn. 136) There were no chapels in the parish in 1970.
Charities for the Poor.
The Revd. Charles Mayo (d. 1829) bequeathed £100 stock, the income on which was to be used to buy clothing for the old and bibles and prayer books for children who attended church regularly. (fn. 137) In 1834 it was used to buy clothing. During 1867–9, however, the annual income of £3 was apparently distributed in accordance with the original bequest but was afterwards variously given out in doles, blankets, bibles, prayer books, and books for confirmation candidates. In 1900 four people received 10s. each and another two 5s. each.
By 1877 the 'tithing plot' (see above) was sold to Lord Normanton and £42 invested as a charitable fund. (fn. 138) In 1901 the income, £1 4s. 4d., was paid into the parish coal fund. The incomes of the Mayo and 'tithing plot' charities, which produced £1 2s. and £2 10s. respectively, were distributed together in 1969 among seven people who each received 10s. at Christmas. (fn. 139)