Parishes: Durley

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.

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'Parishes: Durley', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, (London, 1908) pp. 288-290. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

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Durlye, Durle (xiv cent.); Dyrle (xvi cent.).

Durley is a parish of 2,497 acres, lying between the upper waters of the Hamble River and its tributary Ford Lake, the latter forming its western boundary. The levels fall from 250 ft. at the north to 60 ft. at the south. In the north-east corner of the parish, where the boundaries of Durley, Upham, and Bishop's Waltham meet, is the old Robin Hood posting-house, on the southernmost point of the hill on which Wintershill stands; it commands a fine view of the Hamble valley. About half a mile south-east of the Robin Hood is another piece of high ground, on which is Durley Manor Farm, but except at these two points the parish nowhere rises to more than 200 ft. above sea level. It is intersected by winding lanes, their surface covered in many cases with a loose shingly sand, which in wet weather has earned for the parish the nickname 'Dirty Durley.' The only road of any size or definite direction is Durley Street, which strikes north-east across the parish, with a gradual rise to the Robin Hood Inn, whence it dips sharply to meet the new Waltham to Winchester road at the foot of Wintershill. Along Durley Street, between the schools at the west and the inn at the east, lies the village, in scattered groups of cottages, its two extremes more than a mile apart. At a short distance to the east of the school, a road turns southwards to a group of newer-looking houses and some saw-mills, quite a modern growth in comparison with the rest of the village.

The church and rectory stand near each other to the north-west, quite half a mile away from the nearest point of the village, and approached by a narrow lane which leads northwards from Durley Street and eventually joins the Waltham to Winchester road at Lower Upham. To the north of the church is Greenwood, the residence of Lady Jenner. In the field now used as a playground, across which a short cut can be taken from church to school, the old stocks are said to have stood. South of Durley Street, where the road falls quickly to the River Hamble, a lane leads to Durley Mill, one of the prettiest parts of the district. (fn. 1) The stream has here been widened, and the lane crosses it by a low bridge above the mill, passing under the branch railway line to Bishop's Waltham, and continuing southwards to join the Botley road.

From its position in a low-lying valley, sheltered by the South Downs on the north-east, the parish of Durley is very fertile, the surface soil being a sandy loam. There are 1,102 acres of arable land, the chief crops being wheat, oats, and barley; 1,046¼ acres are occupied by permanent grass, and 328¾ acres by woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The saw-mills tell of plentiful timber in the district. That part of Wintershill Common which lies in this parish was inclosed in 1858. (fn. 3)

Gilbert White, the naturalist, became curate of Durley in September, 1753, and held the curacy for a year and a half. He did not, however, reside at Durley, but had lodgings at Bishop's Waltham, paying to Mr. Gibson, the rector of that place, £20 for one year's board. His biographer notes that during his tenure of this curacy White's expenses exceeded his stipend by nearly £20. (fn. 4)


The earliest mention of DURLEY is in a grant of land to the abbey of Newminster by Edward the Elder in 900. (fn. 5) In this grant the boundaries of Durley (then called Deorlaage) are given, and it is interesting to note that these are in part identical with the boundaries of the parish at the present day. (fn. 6) Whatever rights over Durley were signified in this grant, they soon became obsolete, for Durley became the property of the bishops of Winchester, as part of their manor of Bishop's Waltham. The history of Durley is therefore the history of Bishop's Waltham (q.v.).

Among the tenants of the bishop in Durley, the family of Wodelot or Wodelok were holding a considerable amount of land in the fourteenth century, (fn. 7) and possibly it was the same estate which was in the hands of Sir John Phylpot, knt., in 1508. (fn. 8) In 1575 a moiety of lands and tenements in Durley was possessed by one Francis Perkins, (fn. 9) who in 1586 conveyed the 'Manor of Durley' to Francis Fortescue. (fn. 10) The house attached to this socalled manor would be that now known as Durley Manor Farm. Early in the seventeenth century the estate came to the family of Hersent, (fn. 11) whence it passed by descent to John Hersent Thorpe in 1778, (fn. 12) and thence to the Heathcotes of Hursley. (fn. 13) Durley Manor Farm was sold by that family towards the close of the nineteenth century, and is now the residence of Mr. Cross.

Phylpot. Sable a bend ermine.

It is said that Richard Cromwell's daughters, the granddaughters of the Protector, lived for a time at Durley Manor Farm. (fn. 14) This coincides perfectly with some of the marriage connexions of the Hersent family in the seventeenth century. The connexion with the family of Barton is not very clear, but it is believed that Jane, the wife of Peter Hersent, was the daughter of John Barton, whose wife (afterwards the wife of Nicholas Pescod) was sister to Richard Major of Hursley. (fn. 15) If this was the Richard Major of Hursley whose daughter married Richard Cromwell, (fn. 16) the presence of the Misses Cromwell at Durley Manor Farm would easily be accounted for.

Heathcote. Ermine three roundels vert with a cross or upon each.

Wintershill, partly in this parish, is sometimes called a manor, the old manor house of which, Durley Hall Farm, stands within the boundaries of Durley. The present Wintershill Hall is in the parish of Upham (q.v.).


The church of the HOLY CROSS (fn. 17) has a chancel 25 ft. by 14 ft. 6 in., with north vestry, north and south transepts 17 ft. 6 in. east to west, the north transept being 11 ft. deep and the south 12 ft. 6 in., and the nave 49 ft. 3 in. by 18 ft. 3 in., with south porch and wooden bell-turret at the west.

The south doorway of the nave, c. 1200, is the oldest detail remaining, and the nave walls are probably of this date. The chancel shows evidences of thirteenth-century work, and the transepts are additions of the early part of the fourteenth century. Externally the church is covered with rough-cast, and the roofs are red tiled, the western bell-turret being boarded and its roof shingled.

The chancel has an east window of three lights with fourteenth-century tracery, but the lower part of the external north jamb seems to be of thirteenthcentury masonry, part of an earlier window here. Below the window on the outside is a dwarf buttress, which with the whole of the walling is probably of thirteenth-century date. In the south wall is a square-headed window of two trefoiled lights, —c. 1340, except the heads of the lights, which are modern—and in the north wall is a corresponding window, having on its west splay traces of a painted figure holding a scroll and standing under a trefoiled arch. At the south-west of the chancel is a blocked doorway, probably of thirteenth-century work, and the chancel arch is modern, of thirteenth-century style.

Both transepts have widely splayed single-light windows on the east, that in the north transept having on its north splay the painting of a ship, with a man climbing up to the yard. There is a small square-headed recess near this window on the south side. The north transept has a north window of two uncusped lights with a pierced spandrel, and the south transept has a like window on the south, and below it a wide arched recess, probably for a tomb, and of early fourteenth-century date. There is also a piscina at the south-east of this transept.

The nave is lighted only by dormers on the north and south, but has a two-light window in the west wall, and below it a doorway which may be fourteenthcentury work; the south doorway of the nave, as already noted, is c. 1200, and has a slightly pointed arch with an edge chamfer, and a label chamfered above and below. There is a recess for holy water east of it within the church. The roofs of chancel and nave are old, of plain design, and the bell-turret at the west stands on old posts coming down to the floor of the church. The south porch is modern.

The pulpit is a good specimen, octagonal with two tiers of panels, the upper with arabesque ornament, and the lower arcaded. Over it is an octagonal tester with a panelled soffit, incribed AW · ED · TC · 1630.

The font is of late twelfth-century type, with a square Purbeck marble bowl on a central and four angle shafts; on each side of the bowl are four shallow round-headed arches. It stands near the south door of the nave.

There are three bells, the treble uninscribed, while the other two bear the names of John and Robert Cor, Aldbourne, bell-founders, and are dated 1730.

The plate consists of a communion cup and paten of 1721, given to the church in 1722, and a flagon of 1841. There is also a plated almsdish.

The first book of the registers goes from 1599 to 1728, with a gap in the marriage entries between 1647 and 1661; the Commonwealth registrations were doubtless kept in a special book now lost. The second book has baptisms and burials 1731–1812, and marriages to 1735, and the third marriages 1754– 1812.

In the churchyard on the south is a very large yew, evidently of great age, even if the conventional thousand years claimed for it be more than its due.


Until 1853 Durley was a chapelry of Upham, the living being a curacy in the gift of the bishop of Winchester. (fn. 18) In the twelfth century the advowson of Durley went, together with that of the mother church, to the hospital of St. Cross, Winchester, in accordance with a grant made by Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, to that body. (fn. 19) In 1284 however Upham was among the advowsons concerned in the dispute between the bishop of Winchester and the monks of St. Swithun's, when the latter finally renounced their claim in favour of the bishop. (fn. 20) The grant to St. Cross cannot therefore have been more than temporary. As a chapelry of Upham, the patronage of Durley was transferred from the bishop of Winchester to the bishop of Lichfield in 1852 (fn. 21); and it remained in the gift of Lichfield after the separation of Durley from Upham in 1853. In 1890 the patronage of Durley was transferred to the Lord Chancellor. Since the separation the living has been a rectory.

There is a Wesleyan chapel at Durley, built in 1851. There is also a mission room, the private property of Captain Thresher, R.N., who is a considerable landowner in the parish. (For school, see article on 'Schools,' V.C.H. Hants, ii, 398).


By an award of 25 June, 1858, an allotment of 3 acres on Wintershill Common was set out for the benefit of the poor of this parish; the rents amounted to £5 5s. a year.


  • 1. It seems not unreasonable to suppose that this is one of the three mills mentioned in Domesday as belonging to Waltham Manor; for though without the park boundary, Durley was within the manor lands.
  • 2. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. 1905.
  • 3. Parl. Blue Bks. Inclosure Awards, 158.
  • 4. R. White, Life and Letters of Gilbert White, i, 48.
  • 5. Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 245.
  • 6. Durley Parish Mag., July 1900, March 1901.
  • 7. Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 11 Edw. III.; Feet of F. Hants, East. 2 Ric. II.
  • 8. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), vol. 16, No. 100.
  • 9. Feet of F. Hants, East. 17 Eliz.
  • 10. Feet of F. Div. Cos. East. 28 Eliz.
  • 11. From information supplied by Rev. E. Heathcote; Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 28 Geo. II.
  • 12. Recov. R. East. 18 Geo. III, rot. 219.
  • 13. Feet of F. Div. Cos. Hil. 23 Geo. III; cf. Berry, Hants Geneal. 82; Feet of F. Div. Cos. Trin. 26 Geo. III.
  • 14. Another theory is that it was the sisters of the Protector who lived here. Hants N. and Q. vi, 45.
  • 15. The arms of the Hersents were formerly identical with those of Barton; and the arms of John Barton's widow were in a window, now destroyed, in Durley Manor Farm. It is possible that John Barton once owned the place (from information supplied by Rev. E. Heathcote).
  • 16. Harl. Soc. xxxviii, 434.
  • 17. William Hazell, 1410, wills his body to be buried in Capella Sanctae Crucis de Durley. Will in Muniment Room of Winchester College.
  • 18. Wykebam's Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc.), i, App. 391.
  • 19. Harl. MS. 1616, fol. 9.
  • 20. Add MSS. 29436.
  • 21. Lond. Gaz. 4 June, 1852.