A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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The small parish of Otterbourne, covering roughly an area of 1,412 acres, of which 1,385 are land and 27 land covered by water, lies about four and a half miles from Winchester at the base of one of the chalk downs which rise south-west of the city. From the comparatively low-lying village, which is in the north of the parish, the ground rises to a height of 237 ft. above the ordnance datum at Otterbourne Hill at the south end of the village, and then falls again in the south and south-east of the parish to the low ground west of Allbrook which is traversed by the Itchen.
The road from Winchester to Southampton cutting through the parish forms the main village street. As it runs downhill from Shawford towards Otterbourne a group of three or four houses near by the lane which leads north-west to Silkstead and Hursley seems to mark the beginning of the village, but is in reality in Compton parish, and Otterbourne only begins at the bridge over the narrow river—a branch of the Itchen—which feeds a water-cress bed a few yards away north of the road.
Beyond the bridge is a small group of well-worn cottages, some of which were built of the stones from the old church when it was rebuilt by Keble in 1837–9. Here the road curves slightly to the west past the vicarage with its quaint chimneys, up a slight incline to the main group of cottages and houses composing the village, some thatched and half-timbered, others red brick and modern. A large white house standing in good grounds on the east side of the road is Otterbourne House, the residence of Mrs. Christian. The village inn stands well back from the road on the west side, and so a small front courtyard is formed in which stands the familiar sign of the 'White Horse.' Higher up the road on the opposite side is 'Elderfield,' where Miss Charlotte Yonge the authoress lived for many years. The house is now the property of Mr. G. Norsworthy, by whom it has been much modernized and enlarged. On the west, close by the entrance to Cranbury Park (see under Hursley) at the bottom of Otterbourne Hill, stands the church of St. Matthew, half hidden from the road by high shrubs and trees planted inside the churchyard wall. The village school, erected in 1874, is north-east of the church.
From the base of Otterbourne Hill the soil changes from clay to gravel. At the top of the hill on the east is the village green, round which roughly grouped in a half circle the cottages of this part of the village used to stand. Now, however, the cottages here are mostly modern, and the name Maypolefield, applied to some allotments here, suggests that this was once the scene of the yearly maypole dance. From the top of the hill a fine view opens to the south over woods and hills to the distant Southampton Water, beyond which is the dim outline of the Isle of Wight. Passing over the hill the main road continues towards Southampton over the stretch of woodland country, comprising Otterbourne Park, on the southern outskirts of which is 'The Grange,' the residence of Mr. Jones Bateman. Almost opposite the church of St. Matthew a lane, known as Kiln Lane, branches east from the village street, and passing the pound, near which the stocks originally stood, leads to Otterbourne Farm, and to a rough stile which leads across a field to the ruins of the original parish church, the chancel of which is still standing. An effort has been made during the last few years to utilize this chancel for gild and other services. At the back of the ruined church runs the London and South Western Railway main line from London to Southampton, the rush and roar of the trains contrasting sharply with the sense of quiet and decay and desolation that seems to hang around this bit of grey weatherbeaten building standing in the midst of old headstones, round which grow rank grasses and weeds. Across the water-meadows that stretch to the south a short lane leads up to the old moated manor-house, that is now no longer even a farm-house, the house being dilapidated and the moat choked with weeds and rushes. The old panel picture representing a battle, possibly between Turks and Austrians, was removed from the house a few years ago. (fn. 1) Parallel with and east of the railway line as it cuts from north to south through the parish, the River Itchen, one branch of which is here diverted into an aqueduct, runs down to Allbrook, and after taking a circuitous course to the east goes south to Bishopstoke, and thence to Southampton Water.
Allbrook itself, once a hamlet of only one or two cottages, has now become quite a flourishing modern village, owing to the success of its saw-mills, which are at the extreme east of the village near the railway line. Monotonous modern cottages, small provision shops, and a small school-chapel compose the village. Allbrook Farm is on the north side of the street near the saw-mills, and close by is the village school, built in 1874. Passing out of the village to the west the road curves north-west, uphill past 'Rookwood,' a modern house, the residence of Mr. Coombes, owner of the saw-mills, to Boyatt Farm, becoming a rough narrow lane between ploughed fields and hedges. At the back of the farm-house, which is a square redbrick building, dating from the seventeenth century, are the Boyatt brickworks. Until 1840 a pound and stocks stood opposite the farm-house. Boyatt Wood and the lands west and south of the farm are in a detached portion of South Stoneham parish.
To the east of Allbrook is Highbridge, where is another small hamlet, half in Otterbourne, half in Twyford. Here was the small Roman Catholic chapel, where tradition places the secret marriage between George IV and Mrs. Fitzherbert, though modern research has definitely proved that the marriage took place in London. (fn. 2)
The soil of the parish is gravel, with a subsoil of gravel and chalk, and on the 438¼ acres of arable land crops of wheat, barley, and turnips are grown. A belt of woodland, including Freemantle Copse and Great Moorlands Copse, stretches away to the west of the parish, and this, together with Peverell's Wood, which is in the extreme south-west, makes up the 227 acres of woodland. The greater part of the parish, however, 627¼ acres, is given up to permanent grass. (fn. 3)
Otterbourne Common, which covers the top of Otterbourne Hill, was inclosed under the general Inclosure Act by the award of 24 June, 1837.
Among place-names mentioned in extant records are Millands or Millhouse (fn. 4) and Aldermoore and Boyton Mead (fn. 5) (xviii cent.).
Lands in OTTERBOURNE as parcel of the district of Chilcomb were granted by King Edgar to the church at Winchester about 978, (fn. 6) and were confirmed to the church by King Ethelred in 984. (fn. 7) In the reign of King Edward the Confessor Cheping held Otterbourne of the bishopric of Winchester, and 'could not withdraw himself from the church.' (fn. 8)
At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor had been alienated from the church, and belonged to Ralph de Mortimer, (fn. 9) whose descendants held half a fee in Otterbourne as late as the fifteenth century. (fn. 10) In 1212–13 Richard Ferebraz alienated 1 virgate of land in Otterbourne with appurtenances to Henry de Capella. (fn. 11) This virgate evidently became parcel of the manor of Otterbourne, and passed from Henry de Capella to his son Bartholomew in 1248. (fn. 12) In 1253 the king licensed Bartholomew de Capella to inclose his wood of Otterbourne, called Parc, which was within the royal forest of Ashley. (fn. 13) Bartholomew died seised of the manor of Otterbourne in 1258, held of Sir Brian de Brampton in chief of the fee of Roger de Mortimer. (fn. 14) Joan de Capella his daughter and heir was a minor only one and a half years old, and the guardianship of the lands of Bartholomew, granted in 1259 to Eubold de Montibus, probably included Otterbourne. (fn. 15) She seems to have married John de Bohun, for in 1279 John and Joan quitclaimed the manor of Otterbourne from themselves and the heirs of Joan to Simon the draper, sometimes called Simon de Winton, to hold of them by the annual payment of a pair of gilt spurs. (fn. 16) In 1280 Simon was summoned to show cause why he amerced his men at his court of Otterbourne against their will. (fn. 17) From Simon the manor passed to his grandson, Richard de Winton, son and heir of Richard de Winton, (fn. 18) who was holding the same in 1316. (fn. 19)
There is no inquisition on the death of Richard, but the manor evidently passed to his son or kinsman, John de Winton, (fn. 20) who died seised of it in 1361. (fn. 21) His brother and heir, Richard de Winton, conveyed the manor for life in 1378 to Hugh Craan or Crane of Winchester and his wife Isabel. (fn. 22) However there seems to have been some flaw in the transaction, since two years later Hugh Crane petitioned against Richard de Winton and Agnes his wife that they had with certain others schemed to dispossess him and his wife of the manor, and had forged a recognizance of the statute of merchants for £550 purporting to have been made in 1348 during the life of John de Winton, and had caused a certificate to be delivered in Chancery for obtaining execution in respect of the manor and other lands belonging at that date to John de Winton. (fn. 23) However, Hugh Crane was evidently successful in his petition, and in 1386 Thomas de Winton, son and heir of Richard, who had died in 1383, (fn. 24) released to Hugh Crane all right in the manor. (fn. 25) Richard de Winton's wife Agnes survived her husband, and seems to have married (2) Nicholas Brus (fn. 26) and (3) Richard Caas; and after the death of Hugh Crane she and her husband Richard Caas made claim to a third part of the manor of Otterbourne against Isabel the widow of Hugh. The suit was begun in 1404 and lasted until 1405. Agnes claimed the third in dower by donation of Richard de Winton, but Isabel maintained that Agnes had no right to dower in the same since Richard de Winton had not been seised of the manor until after his marriage to Agnes, and this seems to have been the case, since his brother John had held it until 1361. (fn. 27)
The result of the suit is not given, but unquestionably the right lay with Isabel. Except for this third, which Isabel evidently had in dower for her life, Otterbourne had been sold by Hugh Crane to William of Wykeham in 1386. (fn. 28) Within the next few years William of Wykeham granted the manor to his great-nephew William Perot, who took the name of Wykeham. (fn. 29) William Wykeham had been admitted to New College in 1387, but probably owing to ill-health had left the same year. (fn. 30) In 1396 he married Alice Uvedale, the daughter of John Uvedale of Titsey (co. Surrey), sheriff of Hants from 1388 to 1399 and a great personal friend of the founder. (fn. 31) On the death of William Wykeham and Alice his wife at an early age without issue Otterbourne passed in tail male to his second brother Thomas, to whom reversion had been granted in 1400. (fn. 32) Thomas Wykeham, who was knighted early in the century, had also been at New College, admitted in 1390 and leaving in 1394. (fn. 33) Surviving both his brothers he became William of Wykeham's sole heir-at-law on his death in 1403. Several years before his death, which occurred in 1443 or 1444, (fn. 34) he evidently settled the manor of Otterbourne on his eldest son William, probably on his marriage, and in 1440 William himself settled the manor on his younger brother Thomas and Agnes his wife. (fn. 35) Nevertheless Sir Thomas seems to have lived at Otterbourne until his death, as there is an entry on the Compotus Roll of Winchester College for 1444 marking a land transaction made between Warden Thurburn and Sir Thomas, and noting 9d. for wine brought and sent to the latter at Otterbourne. (fn. 36) William his eldest son died in 1457 leaving a daughter and heir Margaret, who on the death of her uncle Thomas without issue became possessed of Otterbourne. (fn. 37) This Margaret married William Fiennes, Lord Saye and Sele, who sold the manor to William Waynflete, bishop of Winchester, in 1458. (fn. 38)
In 1464 Lord Saye and Sele publicly declared his sale to the bishop by his own declaration and that of Thomas Danvers his attorney, probably before the bishop granted the manor to Magdalen College, Oxford. (fn. 39) In 1535 Magdalen College was seised of the manor, which was charged with an annual payment of £4 to the chamberlain of Winchester and a fee of a noble to the bailiff. (fn. 40) The president and fellows of the college are still lords of the manor. The court of the manor was held at the old moated manorhouse by the president of Magdalen on progress until the early half of the nineteenth century.
BOYATT (Boviet, Boneta, Bometa xii, xiii, and xiv cents.) in Otterbourne was held by Godric in the time of Edward the Confessor and was then assessed at two hides. At the time of the Domesday Survey it was held of the king by Herbrand, and was assessed only at half a hide. (fn. 41) In 1167 William son of Martin rendered account of half a mark for Boyatt. (fn. 42) Between that date and 1189 it was granted to Waverley Abbey, since at the later date the farm or grange of 'Bomata' was confirmed to the abbey by Richard I, (fn. 43) while King John made a similar confirmation in 1206. (fn. 44) In 1219 Adam abbot of Waverley granted one messuage, 11 acres of land, and two of meadow in Boyatt, to Nicholas Malherbe to be held of the abbot and his successors for an annual rent of 12d. (fn. 45) Nine years later the abbot granted him common of pasture in his foreign pasture, namely outside his wood, and arable land, while Nicholas quitclaimed to the abbot all right in the common of pasture in the arable land of the abbot in Boyatt. (fn. 46) Boyatt continued in the possession of Waverley until the sixteenth century, and in 1535 its rents had risen to £13 18s. 0½d., while its perquisites of court were worth 6s. 8d. (fn. 47) Hence by this time the messuage and 11 acres of former times had come to be considered as a manor, and after the suppression of Waverley it was granted in 1537 as 'The Manor of Roviat' (sic) to Sir William Fitzwilliam, together with the site of the late monastery and most of its possessions. (fn. 48) Sir William, who was Comptroller of the King's Household, (fn. 49) was created earl of Southampton in 1537. (fn. 50) In 1539, as lord admiral, he conducted Anne of Cleves to England. His letters to the king and Cromwell give an account of the voyage, of the numerous delays caused by contrary winds 'which blew as all would have gone asunder,' (fn. 51) and give some picture of Anne herself with her distaste for court ceremony, and yet her princesslike manner. (fn. 52) The earl died in 1542, (fn. 53) and Boyatt passed by virtue of a settlement made in 1538 to his widow Mabel, with contingent remainder to his half brother Sir Anthony Browne, Master of the Horse. (fn. 54) The latter died in 1548, (fn. 55) two years before the widow, (fn. 56) and the reversion passed to his son Anthony, who in 1554 was created Viscount Montague. (fn. 57) In Elizabeth's reign he was very active in furnishing horse and men against the Spanish Armada, (fn. 58) and won the queen's friendship, although he favoured the old religion. (fn. 59) Unlike the other estates which had passed into the Browne family on the death of the first earl of Southampton, Boyatt was alienated during the lifetime of this first Lord Montague, who obtained licence to convey to Gilbert Welles in 1566, (fn. 60) and made conveyance by fine and recovery within the next few months. (fn. 61) Gilbert Welles was the first recusant member of a family whose endurance for the sake of their religion was to be well tried within the next century. It was reported in March, 1594, that two Jesuits were harbouring with him, and he was ordered by the council 'with divers other recusants of Hampshire to confine himself to Ely.' (fn. 62) In May of the same year Grafton, 'a learned Jesuit,' was supposed to be 'at the house of Welles a confirmed recusant.' (fn. 63) On the death of Gilbert in 1598 his son and heir Thomas held Boyatt, until in 1605, in accordance with the statute against recusants of 1605, (fn. 64) two parts of the manor were seized towards the nonpayment of the £20 a month which had been inflicted on popish recusants in 1581; (fn. 65) 'whereas' the letters patent ran, 'he hath of late tyme absented himself from the church and refused to come to divine service and other spiritual exercises . . . . and doth continue his recusancie contrarie to the form of divers good laws and statutes,' two parts of his estates were forfeited and granted to John Pierson for a term of forty-one years. (fn. 66) In 1613 these two parts of the manor of Boyatt were granted to John Gray for the term of twenty-one years by reason of the continued recusancy of Thomas Welles and his mother Elizabeth. (fn. 67) During the same year the third part of the manor was alienated, probably mortgaged, by Thomas to George Dowse and Francis Perkins, (fn. 68) and in 1627 came a similar mortgage to Henry Manfeld and others. (fn. 69) In 1630 Thomas Welles died and all his right in the manor passed to his son Gilbert, who in 1634 received the whole manor for a term of forty-one years. (fn. 70) Boyatt remained in the Welles family until towards the end of the eighteenth century, (fn. 71) when, in accordance with the will of Henry Welles dated 2 August, 1762, it passed to his cousin Walter Smythe, (fn. 72) second son of Sir John Smythe, bart., to hold for life, with remainder to his son and heir Walter Smythe. (fn. 73) The further history of this manor has not been ascertained.
ALLBROOK FARM, described as a 'very good house' in 1726, with lands belonging to it called Aldermoor, Boyton Mead, and Otterbourne Mead, was owned by John Wybarne, who died intestate about 1717. In 1715 he had conveyed it to Thomas Goodwin to dispose of it by sale and to pay his debts from the proceeds. After the death of John Wybarne Walter Curll offered £680 for it, and entered into possession, alleging that his money was in London. For six years he remained in possession without payment, and was consequently ordered to pay an additional £185 8s. by the Court of Chancery in 1726. (fn. 74)
The church of ST. MATTHEW was built in 1840, and has an apsidal chancel, north and south transepts, a nave with north aisle, and a bell-turret containing two bells on the west gable. It is in a poor Gothic style, and has but little architectural interest, but the low screen at the west of the chancel, formerly in a Premonstratensian abbey in Flanders, is in its way a remarkable piece of seventeenth-century woodwork, being adorned with carvings, the subject of which is the adoration of the Holy Sacrament, with kneeling figures of men on the north side, and of women on the south. The top rail is carved with flowers and fruit, and there are cherubs holding bunches of grapes and ears of corn, with figures of saints on the uprights dividing the bays of the screen; on the south side St. Dominic and St. Norbert, and on the north St. Clara and St. Anthony of Padua.
At the north-east angle of the churchyard stands the modern schoolhouse, the east doorway of which is a fine piece of thirteenth-century work, with a pointed arch of two orders enriched with dog-tooth ornament.
There are two bells of 1838.
The church plate is silver-gilt, and consists of a chalice of foreign make, with foliage round the base of the bowl, a paten of 1641, and an almsdish with indistinct date letter. There is also a spoon of Norwegian manufacture.
The first book of registers contains all entries from 1648 to 1653, the second runs from 1690 to 1746, and the third from 1747 to 1812. There are marriage registers also from 1754 to 1786, 1786 to 1812, and 1747 to 1812, and burial registers from 1654 to 1666, 1666 to 1695, and 1805 to 1812.
The old church of Otterbourne stood at some distance to the south, on lower ground; its chancel is all that is now left. This is of thirteenth-century date, with two lancets on the south side, and a twolight east window with a quatrefoil in the head. The chancel arch is part of the thirteenth-century work, and is small, with a single chamfer on the pointed arch; on either side of it are contemporary arched recesses but little narrower than the arch itself, having an inner order with jamb shafts and moulded capitals and bases. These recesses have flat sills, and both they and the chancel arch are filled in with modern brickwork. They were not pierced, but formed backings to the nave altars.
The eighteenth-century altar rails remain in the chancel, which is seated with chairs, but there are no other fittings of interest. The walling is of flint with good limestone ashlar dressings, and under the east window parts of a Purbeck marble coffin slab are built in. Part of another marble slab lies in the churchyard.
Otterbourne was a parochial chapelry dependent upon Hursley until 1876, when by order in council dated 23 August, 1876, it was constituted a separate ecclesiastical parish and perpetual curacy. (fn. 75) The advowson at the present time belongs to Mr. Anthony Gibbs.
The Rev. John Keble, M.A., author of the Christian Year, who was vicar of Hursley from 1836 to 1866 built the present vicarage-house. There is a stone to his memory in Otterbourne churchyard.
'The Touchet Charity' was founded by Miss Clara Olivia Elgie and Miss Edith M. C. Elgie, who by deed dated 4 September, 1891, settled a sum of £181 16s. 4d. consols upon trust that the dividends should be applied as to three-fifths for repair of the grave of their brother-in-law John Hastings Touchet in the churchyard, one-fifth for the benefit of a Working Men's Club, and the remaining fifth in aid of the Charitable Institutions in the parish.
In 1901 Miss Charlotte Mary Yonge by her will, proved this date, left £100 to the vicar for the time being for the benefit of the parish schools so long as they should be voluntary Church of England Schools.
The legacy was invested in the purchase of £96 10s. New South Wales 3½ per cent stock.
The above-mentioned sums of stock are held by the Official Trustees of Charitable Funds in trust for the respective charities.