A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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'Parishes: Crawley', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, (London, 1908) pp. 408-413. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol3/pp408-413 [accessed 1 March 2024]
Crawanlea (x cent.), Craule (xiii cent.).
The open chalk downs which run north-eastwards from Winchester and continue onwards to Chilbolton comprise the 3,608 acres which are included in the parish of Crawley.
The road from Winchester to Crawley running north-west branches at Weeke Mark to Littleton and through Littleton to Crawley along a steep ascent which rises to a height of about 360 ft. From the top of this hill comes a first glimpse of Crawley village as a group of houses lying away to the north-east against a background of wooded country. From here the road descends steeply and loses sight of the village, then it suddenly rises again, to swerve again sharply downhill and curve round the village pond into the village itself. North and south of the village street as it rises westwards to the church and rectory are picturesque thatched and timbered houses. The Fox and Hounds Inn stands on the left hand at the bottom of the hill, and close by is one of the oldest cottages in the village now tumbling to ruin and uninhabited. Higher up the street, on the right and left, sloping garden paths lead up to quaint deep-roofed cottages. On the left again is a clump of fir trees, and beyond these the village school built about 1835. Almost opposite the school, behind a low brick wall, is the other village inn, 'The Jolly Sportsman.' Further up the hill the road curves to the left, and on the right is the church of St. Mary almost encircled by trees, and opposite is the rectory. Behind the church is Crawley Court, a modern residence built in the grounds but not on the site of the old Crawley Court. North and east of the village are Crawley Warren and Crawley Down, the latter stretching away to the thickset hedge with its belt of hedgerow growth mingled with beech, oak, ash, yew trees and crabapple trees, which runs along to the left of the Roman road from Winchester to Cirencester and forms the eastern boundary line of Crawley parish. South and west of the village towards the Sombornes is the arable land with only here and there a group of trees or strip of hedgerow. Close on the borderline in the south-west corner of the parish, seeming locally to be in Little Somborne, is Rookley House, known to fame as the favourite residence of George IV. (fn. 1) In the south-east corner is Northwood Park, sandwiched between the parishes of Littleton and Lainston. Northwood House is now used as a naval college.
Hunton parochial chapelry is an outlying district about five or six miles to the north-east of Crawley parish, yet it has been connected with Crawley parish since 909, when King Edward the Elder granted twenty mansae at Crawley and eight at Hunton to Frithstan, bishop of Winchester. (fn. 2) Hunton itself seems to have quite an individual existence, as is natural considering the distance from the mother parish. The village is in the south on the lowest lying ground of the 1,075 acres which comprise the parish, close to the Test, which forms the boundary line between Hunton and Wonston and Hunton and Stoke Charity. Hunton Lane running east from Wonston, between Hunton Moor and the Test, forks just beyond the church which lies on the right between the road and the river, the south-eastern branch leading to Stoke Charity, the north-eastern up through the length of Hunton parish and on to Basingstoke. It is at the fork in the road that the cottages of the village are grouped. At the corner facing the lane is a thatched and timbered cottage, with an overhanging upper story, with shaped brackets and moulded ends to the beams, dating back to the beginning of the seventeenth century. (fn. 3) The other dozen or so houses of Hunton are all thatched and covered with gay creepers, while the quiet peacefulness of the village, hardly broken by the drowsy hum of the water-mill on the Test, seems to tone with the picturesqueness of the houses and give the complete atmosphere of an old-world village. The red-brick manor-house, rebuilt in the eighteenth century on a site north-west of that of the former manor-house, stands to the north of the village on the right-hand side of the road. It is a pretty specimen of the smaller type of country house, with the usual accessories of moulded brickwork, good panelling and chimneypieces, and a staircase with turned balusters, while the garden in its entirety might belong to the eighteenth century, with its grass lawns and paths, cut yew-trees, and thatched mud wall. One of the dove-houses of the manor originally stood in the garden; the other, which still exists, stands among the farm buildings west of the house, and is apparently of the fifteenth century. It is practically square, measuring 21 ft. by 20 ft. outside, and built of flint with sandstone quoins, the nests being formed of chalk blocks. The original four-centred entrance doorway, now blocked, is in the east wall, and in the west wall, which has been refaced externally, is a second doorway, also blocked, near the north-west angle, leading originally into a building adjoining on the west, but now destroyed. The present entrance is by a hole broken through the south wall. The roof is not ancient, and there are no remains of a revolving ladder or other contrivance for reaching the nests. These dove-houses are noted in the various extents of the manor, together with the water corn-mill on the Test, free fishery in the river, 300 acres of heath and gorse, and 20 acres of moor as among the appurtenances. Parts of the moor and downs were the common lands of the manor, and in 1733, when the common lands were inclosed, special provision was made 'for the watering of the moor called Hunton Moor three times in every week.' The water for watering the same depended on a weir standing in the parish of Stoke Charity. (fn. 4)
The soil of the whole of the parish of Crawley, including the outlying district of Hunton, is loam with a sub-soil of chalk. On this the chief crops are wheat and oats, with a small crop of barley, but of late years, here as elsewhere, much of the land has been laid down for hay.
The manor of CRAWLEY was granted to Frithstan bishop of Winchester by King Edward in 909 as '20 mansae in Crawanlea.' (fn. 5) The boundaries as given in the charter are almost impossible to identify. They seem to start from some point in the south-east, to go northwards, probably along the Roman road (ðonne norð to lunden haerpaðe) to Wonston parish (to þinstanes stapole), then west and south probably along the modern Drift road, thence along the border of a forest, possibly Whiteberry Copse, on to the road from Stockbridge to Winchester, along by the shambles (to ðam scamelan), west along the valley and by the wood to Somborne (? Sþinburnam), then north from 'the heathens' burial-places' (of ðone aeþena byrigels) back across hills and valleys to the starting-point.
At the time of the Domesday Survey the bishop held the manor in demesne. (fn. 6) It was then assessed at 6½ hides, and of the manor a certain Hugh held 3 hides, (fn. 7) which Alwin Stilla had held of the bishop in parage, (fn. 8) and 'could not betake himself anywhere.' The bishop's demesne was worth £30, and what Hugh held was worth £7, while in 1291 the value of the manor was given at £31. (fn. 9)
In the year 1274 the bishop complained against the sheriff of Hampshire that, in lieu of the 500 marks owed by the bishop to the crown from a group of his manors of which Crawley was one, the sheriff had seized cattle from the various manors and had driven them to Winchester Castle, detaining them there for two or three nights. At Crawley he had seized five horses, twenty oxen, six cows, seventeen bullocks, and 350 sheep, and had detained them for two nights. As a result of this complaint the sheriff was ordered by writ to release the cattle on condition that the bishop gave sufficient security for the payment of the 500 marks. (fn. 10)
The manor remained the property of the bishopric until 1648, when it was included in the sale of the episcopal possessions, being sold to John Pigeon. (fn. 11) It was restored to the bishop at the accession of Charles II, and continued to be held by the bishops of Winchester until 1869, when the lands belonging to the see were taken over by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
The manor of HUNTON (Hundatone, x cent.) was granted as eight mansae to Frithstan bishop of Winchester in 909. (fn. 12) The boundaries of the land are given as starting from the river (fram ðaere ea) close by Wonston (foran gean ðaes abbodes byrig), (fn. 13) then going north along the green way to Cranborne (lang ðaes grenan weges to Crammaere). (fn. 14) The landmarks of the northern boundaries are difficult to identify, but they evidently reached to the wood in the north and then swept down again towards Stoke Charity (ðonne be slade to ðaere byrig), then to a ford over the Test, (fn. 15) and along by the river back again to Wonston.
The next reference we have to the manor is that Margaret widow of John son of Matthew held it in dower in 1286–7 of the inheritance of Matthew son of John, to whom the reversion belonged. However, in that year Matthew, with the consent of Margaret, conveyed the reversion to the king and Queen Eleanor, (fn. 16) and in the same year received it back for life, with reversion on his death to the king and queen. (fn. 17) Many other manors and lands in Devonshire and Wiltshire and the manor of Warblington in Hampshire went with this grant, and all reverted to the crown on the death of Matthew son of John in 1309. (fn. 18) Dowry in the manor of Erlestoke (Wiltshire) was granted, on appeal, (fn. 19) to Eleanor widow of Matthew, but the manor of Hunton and the other possessions of Matthew were granted by Edward II in 1309 to Ralph de Monthermer, who had married Joan daughter of Edward I, and to his two sons Thomas and Edward, the king's nephews. (fn. 20) Evidently Matthew son of John had died leaving many debts, since in 1313 came an order to the barons of the Exchequer to supersede the demand they had made on the various lands that had belonged to Matthew, among them on the manor of Hunton, and not to molest Ralph de Monthermer and his sons on account of these debts. (fn. 21) On the death of Ralph de Monthermer in 1325 his sons made a partition of the lands that had belonged to 'Sir Thomas Matthew son of John,' and the manor of Hunton fell to the share of Edward, (fn. 22) who was holding in 1337, when he mortgaged it to Peter de la Mare. (fn. 23) Ralph de Monthermer becoming Baron Monthermer through his romantic marriage with the king's daughter, had been summoned to Parliament as baron from 1309 to 1324, (fn. 24) and had played an active part in the Scotch wars of Edward II, and thus the details of his life are fairly well known. (fn. 25) Of his son Edward, however, little is known except that he served in Scotland in 1334, and that, although he was the second son, was summoned to Parliament as baron in 1337. (fn. 26) In all probability he died unmarried soon after the latter date, and the manor of Hunton passed to his elder brother Thomas, who after seeing active service in Scotland was killed at the naval victory off Sluys in 1340. (fn. 27) The manor was held by his wife Margaret in dower until her death nine years later, when it passed to their only daughter and heir Margaret, the wife of Sir John de Montagu, (fn. 28) second son of William first earl of Salisbury. Sir John died seised of the manor held in right of his wife in 1389, (fn. 29) and she held it until her death in 1394. (fn. 30) Their son and heir John, the famous third earl of Salisbury, who became earl as heir of his uncle in 1397, then held the manor until his notorious execution at Cirencester in 1400. According to Dugdale he was 'a great favourite of King Richard the second,' who granted him the sequestered lands of Thomas earl of Beauchamp, and constituted him marshal of England in 1398. (fn. 31) When the news of Bolingbroke's arrival reached Ireland, whither Salisbury had gone in attendance on the king, he was dispatched to Conway, North Wales, to gather the Welshmen in the king's cause. (fn. 32) Their dispersion when they found that Richard tarried in Ireland is a well-known story, best known perhaps through its introduction into Shakespeare's Richard II. (fn. 33) Henry IV tried to win his adherence by a policy of propitiation, but in his faithfulness to Richard he 'confederated with the earls of Huntendon and Kent in designing Henry's destruction.' Under the disguise of Christmas players they came to Windsor, intending to murder Henry and his sons and restore Richard, but being discovered they fled by night to Cirencester in Gloucestershire. There the townsmen, being 'much affrighted at their coming thither with such numbers at that unseasonable time,' blocked their way and a sharp fight ensued. The conspirators yielded and were given sanctuary in the abbey, but a priest of their company having set fire to some houses as a means of escape, the enraged inhabitants, without stopping to quench the fire, brought them out of the abbey and beheaded them. (fn. 34) From the hands of this self-sacrificing supporter of Richard II, on whom an attainder was passed after his death, the manor went by the generosity of Henry IV, 'much compasionating the low estate of the widow and her children,' to his eldest son and heir Thomas. (fn. 35) The latter in 1414 appealed to Parliament to reverse the attainder passed on his father, but without avail. (fn. 36) He himself rendered Henry V much valuable service in his wars in France, was present at Harfleur and Caen, was constituted lieutenant-general of the duchy of Normandy, and remained in France until he was accidentally killed before Orleans (fn. 37) on 3 November, 1428–9. (fn. 38) He left an only daughter and heir Alice, married to Richard Nevill, who was created earl of Salisbury in right of his wife by letters patent of 1442. (fn. 39)
The new earl, although favoured by Henry VI and made warden of the West Marches, (fn. 40) was one of the first to espouse the cause of York, and, after fighting in many brilliant victories, at the Yorkist reverse at Wakefield he was taken prisoner and beheaded, and his head fixed to a pole over the gates of the city of York. (fn. 41)
On Richard's death the manor passed, when after the battle of Towton Edward earl of March had become king, to his more famous son Richard earl of Warwick, better known perhaps as 'Warwick the Kingmaker.' His life and deeds are too well known to need any record, and his death on Barnet field in 1471 is almost without historic parallel in its picturesqueness. His estates, together with those of his wife, Anne Beauchamp, were taken from the latter by Act of Parliament, 'as if she herself had been naturally dead,' and settled upon their two daughters Isabel and Anne. (fn. 42) The manor of Hunton was settled on the former, who had married George duke of Clarence, and on her death in 1476 (fn. 43) it passed to her husband during his lifetime. On his death in the Tower in 1478, in the traditional butt of Malmsey wine, (fn. 44) Hunton passed to his son Edward earl of Warwick, who nominally held the same until attainted and beheaded in 1499. It was then granted by Henry VII to his mother, Margaret countess of Richmond, who held it until her death in 1509. (fn. 45)
In February of the next year Henry VIII granted the manor to William Arundel Lord Maltravers and Anne his wife, to hold in chief by the service of one red rose. (fn. 46) However, this grant became void in 1513 when the king created Margaret Pole, daughter of George duke of Clarence and Isabel sister of Edward earl of Warwick, countess of Salisbury, reversed her brother's attainder, and restored to her the family lands of Salisbury. (fn. 47) On her attainder in 1539 Hunton once more passed into the king's hands, untill sold in 1547 to John Whitehorne and his daughter Alice, the wife of Thomas Salmon, as 'part of the possessions of Margaret countess of Salisbury, lately attainted of high treason.' (fn. 48)
In the particulars for the sale the yearly value of the manor was reckoned at £15 4s., since the annual fixed rent from the free tenants was 2s., from the customary tenants £12, from the farm of the dove-house 12s., from the farm of the water-mill 26s. 8d., and from average perquisites of courts 23s. 4d. There was a coppice containing 2 acres of wood of nine years' growth, 'the kynd whereof is hassyll and thorne, worth 7s. the acre'; also fourteen oaks appraised at 6d. apiece. On the side of the common forty more old oaks were growing, 'appraised at 6d. the piece, which cometh to 30s.' The 'soyll or grounde' of the manor was also yearly worth 6d. or 4d. the acre.
The purchase was made for £307 4s. 4d., and the king discharged John Whitehorne and Alice of all encumbrances, but specially reserved all advowsons of churches, chantries, and chapels. (fn. 49)
In December of the same year Elizabeth granted Thomas Clerke, jun., gentleman, and Anne his wife licence to alienate the manor, with free fishing, for purpose of settlement on himself and his wife. (fn. 52) Another licence to alienate to Thomas Clerke, sen., was granted to the same Thomas Clerke, jun., in December, 1592. (fn. 53)
In the same year Thomas Clerke, sen., and Thomas Clerke, jun., demised and granted the manor, excepting one messuage, tenement, and yardland 'to several persons by several leases for 3,000 years for a yearly quit rent.' (fn. 54) By the year 1746 the manor had descended in tail male to George Clerke, but the title deeds and writings belonging to the same were in the custody or possession of Thomas Dummer of Cranbury, 'or in the custody or possession of some other person or persons who had no right or title to the same.' (fn. 55)
John Pitter son of John Pitter the elder of Crawley purchased the manor in 1746, 'with all mills, dovecotes, barns, stables, &c., lying in the tything of Hunton, in the parish of Crawley.' (fn. 56) George Clerke and Thomas Dummer of Cranbury released all their rights and title to John Pitter, but it seems to have been impossible to recover all the title deeds, as it was not known in whose possession they were. (fn. 57)
John Pitter's only son and heir, the Rev. Robert Pitter, succeeded to the estate on the death of his father, and held it until his death in 1801. It then descended to his eldest son Robert Pitter, who died in 1866, leaving the estate to his son Robert Pitter, the present lord of the manor and owner of the whole parish.
The church of ST. MARY, CRAWLEY, stands on the north of the village street, the churchyard being bounded by a low wooden fence. A fine avenue of lime trees leads up to the church porch, and in the churchyard to the east are some fine yew trees, while to the west and north of the church are the trees of Crawley Court.
The church has a chancel with modern organ transept and vestry on the north, nave with north and south aisles, modern south porch, and west tower. The chancel and north vestry date from 1887, a thirteenth-century lancet window being re-used in the north wall of the former, while a good deal of defaced twelfth-century stonework is built up in the walls. The jambs of the chancel arch are the only surviving part of a church of the middle of the twelfth century, from which the present building has developed. The chancel was probably rebuilt in the thirteenth century, and the body of the church in the fifteenth, nothing of the older nave being retained, and the tower belonging to the sixteenth century. In 1887 the chancel was rebuilt and the north vestry added; the nave has been thoroughly repaired, and the top of the tower was rebuilt in 1901. The walls are of flint and stone and the roofs red-tiled.
The chancel has three lancets in the east wall, three trefoiled lancets and a doorway on the south, and in the north wall a single thirteenth-century lancet re-used.
The chancel arch has a span of nearly twelve feet, with nook-shafts having scalloped capitals, and on the east face of the north respond a few stones of the springing of the twelfth-century arch, enough to show that it had a line of zigzag and a moulded label with zigzag and pellet ornament. The existing arch is pointed, of two chamfered orders, perhaps of fourteenth-century date. To the north of the arch is a large squint from the nave.
The nave arcades are of wood, of three bays with octagonal posts and arched braces to the head beams; they afford little evidence of date, but may be of the fifteenth century. They are not set out from the same centre line as the chancel arch, but from one considerably to the north of it, and the same is true of the west wall of the nave, suggesting its rebuilding at the same time. All the nave windows and the south doorway have been retooled or renewed; in the north aisle are three of two cinquefoiled lights with square heads, and in the south aisle two of the same description, but with four-centred rear arches with rolls at the angles. The aisles are very narrow, averaging about four feet seven inches in width.
The tower is small, its internal measurements being only 5 ft. 7 in. by 5 ft. 10 in. its eastern arch being the head and jambs of a window whose sill has been cut down to the ground level. The window is apparently not older than the fifteenth century, giving a limit of date to the tower. In the belfry stage, dating from 1901, are square-headed windows of three trefoiled lights, and the west window on the ground stage is a single uncusped pointed light.
The font is of fifteenth-century style, with an octagonal bowl with quatrefoiled panels.
The most interesting monument in the church is a brass on the south wall of the chancel to Michael Renniger, D.D., archdeacon of Winchester and rector of Crawley, who died on 26 August, 1609. He was evidently exiled under Mary, but returning to England when Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, was made rector of Crawley (fn. 58) in 1560.
There are five bells: the treble by Robert Wells of Aldbourne, 1802; the second by Warner, 1900; the third by Wells, 1789; and the fourth and tenor by John Stares, 1746. The two last have large arabesque patterns on the shoulder.
The church plate consists of an old plain silver chalice and paten without date or inscription, a silver chalice, paten, and glass cruet given in 1875 by members of the Pern family, and a small silver-gilt chalice, paten, and cruet for private communion given by Arthur Percival, curate, in 1824.
The oldest parish register gives mixed entries from 1649 to 1812.
The earliest existing poor book for the parish dates from 1776 to 1797, and there is another from 1797 to 1822. The old book of churchwardens' accounts, which has lately been rescued from a book shop in Reading, dates from 1766 to 1832.
The church of ST. JAMES, HUNTON, stands to the south-west of the village in a fenced-off space in the middle of a field, between the River Test and Hunton Lane. It has a chancel 15 ft. 6 in. by 8 ft. 6 in. built of flint rubble with wrought-stone dressings, a brick-faced nave 43 ft. 9 in. by 19 ft. 10 in., with a south porch of brick, and a brick tower at the west end. All the windows are in modern stonework of fifteenth-century design, and the chancel arch is covered with plaster, and has a four-centred head dying into the walls at the springing. The south doorway of the nave has brick jambs, but its pointed head, worked with a hollow chamfer, looks like mediaeval work, and, with a small fifteenth-century piscina in the chancel, is the only architectural feature which is old. There is therefore practically no history to the building, and the most interesting thing which it contains is the front of a raised tomb, set in a recess in the north wall of the nave, and now half buried beneath the floor. It is of the latter part of the fifteenth century, with panels of foliage alternating with the 1 h s monogram and with that of our Lady, and is by tradition part of the tomb of Thomas Hunton, prior of St. Swithun, Winchester, from 1470 to 1498.
The west tower is very small, finished with brick battlements, and contains one bell by I. Earley of Winchester, dated 1751.
The church plate consists of an old plain silver chalice and paten, and a modern glass cruet with a silver top.
The earliest parish register contains mixed entries of baptisms from 1564 to 1773, burials from 1564 to 1753, marriages from 1575 to 1744, and burials again from 1678–9 to 1702, with two or three stray entries for 1717 and 1721. The next book contains baptisms from 1775 to 1812. There is also a book of banns from 1755 to 1810.
The patronage of the church of Crawley had always belonged to the bishop of Winchester (fn. 59) until the year 1860, when Bishop Wilberforce exchanged it with Queen's College, Oxford, for six small livings in Portsmouth and Gosport of the same aggregate value. In 1896 Queen's College, Oxford, sold the advowson to Mr. G. Bliss, the present patron.
Fremund Lebrun, a rector of Crawley, was appointed papal chaplain in 1259 by special provision. (fn. 63)
In 1325 Pontius de Tornamira, another rector, was allowed to hold a canonry of Salisbury as well as the living of Crawley. (fn. 64)
William de Dereham, who was rector about 1330, and Nicholas de Alton, parson of Middleton, were appointed in that year to survey the jewels, goods, and chattels belonging to John de St. John of Basing, which were to be forfeited to the crown for debt. Nicholas de Alton complained that William de Dereham had seized and 'carried to the church of Crawley' jewels and goods worth £32 16s. 8d., for which he, Nicholas, had been charged 'as if he had them.' Nicholas was discharged, and a jury was formed to ascertain that William took and had the jewels, and in all probability he was obliged to forfeit the same. (fn. 65) Within two years this same William was provided with a canonry and prebend of Chichester, although he was rector of Crawley. (fn. 66)
The church, or as it was originally, the chapel of Hunton, has always been attached to the church of Crawley, and has been under the same patronage. (fn. 67) The church of Crawley cum capella of 1291 means Crawley with the chapel of Hunton. (fn. 68)
In the year 1768 a sum of £26 12s. 4d. was due to the churchwardens and overseers from one Robert Pitter. This sum was increased by subscription in the parish to £32, which was in or about 1869 placed in a savings bank and interest distributed in bread.