Parishes: Chilbolton

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

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'Parishes: Chilbolton', A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, (London, 1908), pp. 403-405. British History Online [accessed 18 June 2024].

. "Parishes: Chilbolton", in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, (London, 1908) 403-405. British History Online, accessed June 18, 2024,

. "Parishes: Chilbolton", A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, (London, 1908). 403-405. British History Online. Web. 18 June 2024,

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Chelbaltone (xii cent.).

Long undulating lines of hilly country sweeping down towards the north and west to the valley of the Test make up the 3,122 acres of land which are included in the parish of Chilbolton, while the Test supplies the 12 acres of water. It is not surprising that the village lies on the edge of the valley close by the Test, where the first settlers made their encampment, valuing the Test as their water supply and the Downs as their pasture land.

The main road from Winchester to Andover, going in a north-westerly direction, leaves Barton Stacey on the east and winds uphill to the west of the low hedge that forms the north-eastern boundary line of Chilbolton. Close by Newton Cottages, which are actually in Newton Stacey parish though they seem locally in Chilbolton, a narrow lane branches to the west from the main road and passing by Gravel Hill Farm on the left turns abruptly north-west into the village. In the centre where the road broadens stands a large oak tree planted on the twenty-first birthday of Bishop Richard Durnford, whose father was rector of Chilbolton. It is surrounded by a wooden seat and a triangular grass plot. A turn to the right leads to the rectory, which is a picturesque red-brick house with hipped red-tiled roofs, H-shaped in plan. Originally an early seventeenth-century building, it was much altered and refitted at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and has much good panelling of the latter date, and a little of the former. At the back of the house is a fine avenue of about forty lime trees. Below the rectory is the village school, built in 1844 on the site of the original school, on a tenement which the lords of the manor gave 'to the rectory of Chilbolton for ever for the purpose of a school' in 1837. (fn. 1) Opposite the rectory is the church of St. Mary standing in a long and rather narrow churchyard, and behind the church is Manor Farm or House, close to the Test and on the site of the original manor-house. The houses of the village lie south-west of the church and rectory, being scattered along a straggling village street. There are now groups of modern cottages, but except for these and two or three large houses built of red brick, the village might belong to the sixteenth or seventeenth century with its low-roofed, tiled, thatched, and half-timbered cottages, their beauty neightened during the autumn months by masses of bright-coloured creepers. The River Test, separating the parish from Wherwell, forms its northern and western boundary line and runs almost parallel with the village street. Hence while the Downs stretch away behind the houses on the south-east of the village, the Test valley is on the north-west, and beyond it are the Wherwell hills. Chilbolton Common lies to the west between the village and the river. There is a difference in the soil marking the same change from hill to valley. The Downs on the south and east are mostly chalk with a chalk subsoil, but near the river the soil becomes more of a mixture of chalk and gravel, and even the subsoil is in some places gravel. Root crops are the most plentiful on this soil, though wheat and barley are also grown.


CHILBOLTON was granted by King Athelstan to the church of Winchester, (fn. 2) and was said at the time of the Domesday Survey to have always belonged to the minster (in monasterio). (fn. 3) Five hides and 3 vi gates of it were then held by the bishop for the monks, while 1 hide was held of him by Richard Sturmy. (fn. 4) In the days of Edward the Confessor the 5-hide manor of the church had been assessed at 10 hides, while the 1 hide held by Richard Sturmy had been assessed at three and had been held of the bishop by a certain Ordwald. The latter was probably the 'certain steward' of one entry who 'could not betake himself anywhere' and who held two of the hides by villein tenure (quasi villanus). Chilbolton was confirmed to the prior and convent in the general confirmation of their manors made by the pope in 1206 and again in 1243, (fn. 5) and Edward I gave them free warren in their demesne lands in Chilbolton in 1300. (fn. 6)

Robert de Berton and Matilda his wife received licence in 1332 to grant to the prior and convent one messuage and a carucate of land in Chilbolton, and it seems possible that this may have been the land which Richard Sturmy had held at the time of Domesday. In connexion with this transaction there is an entry on the Receiver's Roll of 1334 of an annual payment of £10 to Robert de la Berthone 'pro terris et tenementis ab eo perquisitis in manerio de Chilboltone.' (fn. 7) Evidently the manor was valuable chiefly for sheep-farming, since the Receiver's Roll of 1334 shows that while the rents from the manor were only worth 20s. yearly, the receipts for wool reached £37 9s. 11d. (fn. 8) Also it was evidently one of the manors where the prior went hunting. It is especially mentioned in an entry on the Receiver's Roll of the same year giving expenses for fish, flesh, and various other provisions, including salt meat for the expeditions made during that year. (fn. 9)

With the surrender of the priory in 1539 the manor passed into the king's hands to be granted in 1541 (fn. 10) to the dean and chapter of Winchester. They in the usual way leased out the manor for a set term of years at an annual rent of about £23, and then seem to have cared little more about the management of the estate except to see that the rent was paid. A lease made in 1622 for twenty-one years to Edward Tutt of Chilbolton of the 'site of the manor place of Chilbolton' with the appurtenances includes all the customary services of the tenants, a parcel of ground called 'Nytherne,' a mead called Titcombe, (fn. 11) and a cottage called 'Shepheard's Coote.' During the period of the Commonwealth, when deans and chapters, canons and prebends, were abolished, and their land confiscated, the manor of Chilbolton, with the fishing, hawking, hunting, and fowling in the same, was sold to John Lisle by the commissioners appointed by the Long Parliament. (fn. 12) With the Restoration the dean and chapter lands were restored, but in 1861 the manor of Chilbolton was vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who are now lords of the manor in place of the dean and chapter.

The prior and convent had ordinary manorial rights in the manor of Chilbolton, and the Court Rolls and Compotus Rolls preserved in Winchester Cathedral Library (fn. 13) show how there, as elsewhere, they carefully guarded their rights.

The mill at Chilbolton existed at Domesday, and was then worth 15s. Rent from and repairs of this mill are entered duly throughout the Compotus Rolls. Thus in the earliest, that for 1384, there is a note of no rent for that year; in 1444 John Hale paid 60s. rent for the farm of the mill. As examples of the repairs done are accounts in 1475 and 1497. In the former year 'le courbe molendini' was renewed, 15 lb. of iron were bought for lengthening 'le spyndell' of the mill and 'le necke' of the same 'spyndell' was renewed. In 1495 new 'Flodgates' were made for the mill, the materials for which alone cost 28s. 4d.

From the first the lords of the manor had right of multure. In the late leases of the mill with the manor in the seventeenth century the dean and chapter especially reserved for their tenants the right to grind their corn at the lord's mill. The rent of the mill was worth £3 6s. 8d. in 1622. (fn. 14)

A dove-house was also one of the other valuable possessions of the prior and convent in the manor, and 100 pair of doves seem to have been the average 'ferm' from the same. The old dove-house, with its tiled roof and its interior walls composed of line upon line of chalk blocks at regular intervals, still exists.

The fishery of the manor has also played an important part in its history. The farm of 'the fishery at Titcombe' is given throughout the Compotus Rolls at rents varying upwards from 10s., that given in 1384. According to the custom of the manor right of fishing in the lord's water with a rod and net called a shoe net from Testcombe Bridge (Titcombe) to Butcher's mead, and incident thereto a right of way along the river bank between these points, was always enjoyed by the copyhold tenants of the manor. Under the Inclosure Award of 1838 all these rights of fishery, with full liberty of ingress and egress for purposes of fishing, were reserved to the copyhold tenants. Incident to this was the cause célèbre of 1890, in which the owners and occupiers of ancient copyhold tenements, then enfranchised, failed to make good their title to these rights, since it was held they could not be claimed by prescription, and had ceased on the enfranchisement of the copyholds. (fn. 15)


The church of ST. MARY is built of flint rubble with chalk and Isle of Wight stone dressings, and has red-tiled roofs to nave and chancel, while the tower is of wood on a stone base, with a red-tiled spire. The church stands at the east end of the village, being approached through a small wooden gate leading to the south porch, and consists of a chancel 31 ft. 6 in. by 18 ft., with a modern vestry on the north; a nave 38 ft. 8 in. by 20 ft. 4 in.; north and south aisles 11 ft. 2 in. and 8 ft. 3 in. wide respectively; and a south-west tower.

The nave preserves its twelfth-century length and width, and a good deal of walling of that date; but the chancel seems to have been entirely rebuilt in the first quarter of the thirteenth century, and enlarged in both dimensions, being now only 27 in. narrower than the nave, and 7 ft. shorter. The aisles were added to the nave early in the fourteenth century, and there is nothing to show that any earlier aisles existed. The only detail of the twelfth-century work is a window set high in the wall at the south-west of the nave, having a plain round head built in plastered rubble. Its outer face is built up and cannot be seen, so that any question as to its exact date must remain doubtful, but its sill is no less than 15 ft. from the floor level, a fact which in itself suggests an early date. The rough walling, 2 ft. 6 in. thick, contemporary with this window, is clearly to be seen above the nave arcades, having been underbuilt in the usual fashion.

The chancel has three modern lancet windows at the east, a reproduction of the original arrangement, of which traces were found during repairs. The three original lancets had been replaced by a fifteenth-century window, and it in turn by a wooden frame. In the north wall of the chancel are two lancet windows, the sill of the eastern of the two being higher in the wall than that of the other, and in the south wall is a like arrangement. The heads of all four windows have been renewed, but the rear arches are original, and show traces of colour. West of the north window is a modern arch to the north vestry and organ chamber, while in a similar position in the south wall of the chancel is a plain priest's door, and to the west of it a square-headed fifteenth-century window of two cinquefoiled lights. In the north wall of the vestry is set a fifteenth-century two-light window, with a recess below it containing various architectural fragments found in the course of repairs.

The chancel arch and nave arcades of two bays are of very poor and plain detail, with pointed arches of two chamfered orders, octagonal pillars, and moulded capitals. The bases of the nave arcades point to a date at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and it is possible that all the work may be of this date, though the poverty of its detail suggests a much later period. Remains of painting, no doubt a Doom, were formerly to be seen over the chancel arch, but have now entirely disappeared.

The north aisle has an early fourteenth-century east window, of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil in the head, and there is another window of like detail in the north wall. West of it is a plain pointed doorway, and beyond it a single trefoiled light, the west window of the aisle being of the same description.

The east window of the south aisle is of the same design as that of the north aisle, except that the opening in the head has no cusps, and this detail also occurs in the easternmost window in the south wall. The south door is 4 ft. 7 in. wide, with a moulded arch of fourteenth-century date, and modern jambs, and over it is built a porch of plastered masonry dating from 1867. To the west of it is a single trefoiled light, as in the north aisle. The west window of the nave is of three cinquefoiled lights, with tracery of fifteenth-century style, and was, till 1893, the east window of the chancel.

The lower stage of the tower is of masonry, and of comparatively recent date, the upper stage and spire being of wooden construction. The roof of the nave is modern except for the tie-beams, and the aisle roofs are modern (1893), while that of the chancel is hidden by plaster.

The fifteenth-century stair to the rood-loft remains at the north-east angle of the nave, and at the west of the chancel is an oak screen with a central doorway, and six openings on either side with pierced tracery in the heads, the lower panels being solid. It is much patched, but in part of fifteenth-century date, and against its eastern face on either side of the central opening are set three seats with linen-panelled fronts of a late type, probably of the second quarter of the sixteenth century. The pulpit, a good specimen of early seventeenth-century work, is a half-hexagon with tall moulded and carved panels, and guilloche ornament on the styles. It has a projecting bookboard, carried by scrolled brackets, and stands on a modern linen-panelled base. At the south-east of the chancel is a plain arched piscina recess, with a stone shelf, probably coeval with the wall in which it is set, and the altar table is a good example of early seventeenth-century work, with carved ornament. At the east ends of both aisles are piscinae, that in the north aisle with a trefoiled head, and the other with an uncusped ogee head; both are probably contemporary with the aisles.

The font, near the south door, is modern, octagonal with carved panels, and none of the fittings of the church, beyond those already mentioned, are ancient.

There are three bells, the treble having an inscription common enough in itself, but notable for the badness of its lettering and spelling.

I am the forst and thof bot smal
It wil be herd abofe you al. 1641.

On the waist are the initials T.H. T.H. The second bell, cast in 1890 by Taylor, retains its former inscription: 'Rejoice in God, I. D. 1630,' the initials being those of John Dunton of Salisbury. The tenor, of about the same date, bears only 'Feare God.'

The church plate includes a good Elizabethan cup, with cover paten, undated; a very fine two-handled secular cup or posset-pot of 1659, and a plated alms dish.

The only monument in the church that has any interest is a seventeenth-century brass close by the pulpit on the north wall of the chancel, to the memory of Thomas Tutt, (fn. 16) the date of whose death is not filled in.

The earliest parish register begins with mixed entries in 1699, and continues until 1772, with a few stray entries to 1776. Inductions to the rectory and names of the rectors at a later date are inscribed in this book, and among them are Dr. Alured Clarke, dean of Exeter, prebendary of Westminster and Winchester, and rector of Chilbolton; Dr. Thomas Cheyney, dean of Winchester, inducted 1748; Dr. Jonathan Shipley, dean of Winchester, inducted 1760; and Matthew Woodford, prebendary of Winchester, inducted 1789. Evidently the living was a sinecure for the deans and prebendaries of the eighteenth century, giving them good fishing in the Test, and good hunting on the Downs. The second book is also a mixed register from 1722 to 1769. The third book gives baptisms and burials from 1774 to 1813. These fill up about one-third of the book, and the rest of it is practically a journal of 'remarkable occurrences under Crosbie Morgill, collated to the rectory in 1830.' He tells how the parish clerk was suspended for liquor, how the machinery riots of 1830 told on the nerves of the parishioners, how the cholera visited the neighbouring villages in 1832, and how influenza began as a 'national judgment' in 1837. The marriages from 1784 to 1812 are given in a separate book.


The advowson of Chilbolton, with sole jurisdiction over the church, (fn. 17) has belonged to the bishops of Winchester probably from the time when Chilbolton itself was granted to the church at Winchester by King Athelstan. (fn. 18) The church existed at the time of Domesday, (fn. 19) was taxed at £23 6s. 8d. in 1290, (fn. 20) and at £30 at the time of the Dissolution. (fn. 21)

William of Wykeham changed the feast of the dedication of the church of Chilbolton from 23 August to 4 October, because at the former date the parishioners were so busy harvesting that they were unable to keep the festival. (fn. 22)


In 1710 the Rev. Charles Layfield, D.D., by will gave one-fourth part of his estate to the poor of Winchester, Chilbolton, Wrotham in Kent, Croston, Lancashire, and Tewin, Hertfordshire. As the result of proceedings in the Court of Chancery in 1751, the trust fund was apportioned in regard to population, and one-eighth part assigned to this parish, now represented by £273 9s. 2d. consols, and applied for the benefit of the poor.

In 1844 a building and site was conveyed in trust for a National school.


  • 1. Chilbolton Parish Register, sub anno. The school was enlarged in 1874, 1878, and 1894.
  • 2. Dugdale, Mon. i, 210; Kemble, Codex Dipl. v, 215.
  • 3. V.C.H. Hants, i, 464.
  • 4. Ibid. 494.
  • 5. Cal. of Pap. Letters, i, 21, 201.
  • 6. Chart. R. 29 Edw. I, No. 94, m. 12.
  • 7. Obed. R. of St. Swithun (Hants Rec. Soc.), 233.
  • 8. Ibid. 118. The Compotus Rolls for the manor in Winchester Cathedral Library also show this very plainly.
  • 9. Ibid. 236.
  • 10. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. 9, m. 5–10.
  • 11. This name occurs in the earliest Compotus Rolls from 1384, and continues through them all. In 1384 is the entry of '12d. de pastura in Titecumbe.' At a later date, in 1497, is an entry of 2s. for rent arising out of a meadow containing by estimation 2 acres called 'Tytcombe' and held by John Titcumbe of the lord of the manor. The modern survival is Testcombe Cottage, which nestles at the foot of West Down in the valley of the Test, and close to the western border line of the parish.
  • 12. Close, 1650, pt. 4, No. 37.
  • 13. Seen by permission of the librarian, Rev. F. T. Madge.
  • 14. From lease made in that year to Edward Tutt.
  • 15. a Law Rep. Chan. Div. 1890, xlv, 98–126, Tilbury v. Silva.
  • 16. Edmund Tutt farmed the manor of Chilbolton in 1622. He may have been some relative of Thomas.
  • 17. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 507.
  • 18. See 'Manor.'
  • 19. V.C.H. Hants, i.
  • 20. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 210b.
  • 21. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 16.
  • 22. Wykeham's Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc.), ii, 369.