A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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Hamele, xiii cent.
The parish of Hamble-le-Rice, one of the smallest in Hampshire, comprising nearly 950 acres, of which more than half is tidal water or foreshore, lies in the extreme south of the county. It is roughly triangular in shape, and occupies the tongue of land between the mouth of the Hamble River and the eastern bank of Southampton Water. The southern extremity, called Hamble Spit, is a long mud-bank which is completely covered at high tide. Behind the spit lies the common, a flat and barren stretch of about 20 acres.
The village itself, situated in the north-east of the parish, consists of a single street of small river-side cottages, which rises abruptly from the river landingplace to the top of the hill, on which are the church and a few modern villas. The church and vicarage are situated close to the site of the ancient priory, while opposite is Hamble House, the residence of the Rev. Joseph Curling, M.A.
As far back as the fifteenth century the place was famous for its oysters, 20,000 of which the prior of Hamble rendered at mid-Lent to the monks of St. Swithun's as a corrody. (fn. 1) An extensive trade is still carried on in shellfish—principally lobsters and crabs —which are imported from Devon and Ireland, and fattened for the market. The majority of the inhabitants are employed in the yacht-building yard situated on the river just above the landing place. The industry is a growing one, the place being peculiarly suitable, for, besides being perfectly sheltered, there is ample accommodation for the laying-up of boats on the excellent mud-berths, where they can be left safely without any fear of their becoming foul.
There is a little general farming, and the soil, which is light, on a gravel subsoil, is suitable for growing small crops of wheat, oats, and barley. There are 380 acres of arable land, and 297 acres of permanent grass in the parish. (fn. 2) Hamble, however, is residential rather than agricultural, owing to its salubrity.
A little higher up the river than the village is anchored the Mercury, a training ship financed by Mr. C. A. R. Hoare, one of the well-known banking firm, in which boys are trained for the navy and army or the mercantile marine service.
On the Netley road, which connects Hamble with the parish of Hound, stands Sydney Lodge, the seat of the earl of Hardwicke, while the Hon. Mrs. Eliot Yorke lives at 'Hamble Cliff,' near to Netley Hospital. 'Ravenswood' is a large house facing the river, owned by Mr. A. G. Beale, and in School Lane is the house of Sir John Fullerton, late captain of the royal yacht. Other important houses are the manor house, occupied by Colonel Dugmore, J.P., 'The Copse,' occupied by Mr. H. Emmons, and Grantham Cottage, the residence of the Hon. Alexander Yorke.
There is no mention of HAMBLE-LERICE in Domesday, but by the middle of the twelfth century monks from the great Benedictine abbey of Tiron were settled here, having obtained the land from William Giffard, bishop of Winchester (1100–38). (fn. 3)
Hamble remained a cell of the abbey of Tiron for more than two centuries, during which period the prior probably leased the manor to laymen. (fn. 4)
Edward I in 1294 seized most of the alien priories in England owing to the war with France. At that time the possessions of Hamble Priory do not seem to have been considerable, and the total annual value is given at £18 14s. 8d. (fn. 5)
The French at this time made an expedition against England, and wrought considerable havoc on the south coast towns of Hampshire. (fn. 6) The possessions of the Hamble monks suffered so severely that exemption from the payment of farm rent was granted them, that they might rebuild and repair. (fn. 7)
In 1391 William of Wykeham, bishop of Winchester, bought Hamble-le-Rice with its appurtenances, for the endowment of St. Mary's College, Winchester, (fn. 8) with which it still remains.
The wardens of the college did not come into full possession until later in 1401, on the death of Sir Bernard Brocas and Tidman the monk, on whom Hamble had been settled for their lives during the French war by the king. (fn. 9)
A considerable sum of money was then spent on improvements, and the manor was provided with a new dovecote. (fn. 10)
The church of ST. ANDREW has a chancel and nave of equal width, 19 ft., and approximately equal length, about 43 ft. in each case. The unusual proportion is due to the fact that the chancel was the church of the alien priory of Hamble, while the nave served for that of the parish. There is a modern vestry on the north of the chancel, and a large modern chapel on the south-west, and the nave has a north-west porch and a west tower. At the junction of the nave and chancel are north and south doorways, the latter now opening by a curved passage to the south chapel, and the former blocked; it seems to have led into a small square porch or turret which had a doorway at the west. Traces of what seems to have been a second instance of this may be seen at Idsworth. The nave and west tower are of twelfth-century date, while the chancel belongs to the thirteenth century, and was probably rebuilt about 1250 round an older and narrower chancel. It has a fine east window of three uncusped lights with cusped circles in the head, two quatrefoiled and one septfoiled; the rear arch is moulded and has engaged shafts in the jambs. On the north side is a widely-splayed lancet at the east, and a pair of similar windows at the west, with the modern vestry door between them; to the west of the single lancet is a wide arched recess in the wall rebated for a door. The south wall had a pair of lancets at the east, of which one yet remains perfect, but the other has been partly destroyed in building the new south chapel; below the remaining lancet is a very fine cinquefoiled piscina recess with two drains, and a single sedile, quite plain except for an edge chamfer; both are of the date of the chancel. The nave has a single twelfth-century round-headed light at the north-east, and no other window in this wall, but on the south are a pair of wide roundheaded lights, splayed like the pair of lancets in the chancel, but with nook-shafts and capitals of late twelfth-century detail, the middle capital being foliate. To the west are two more lancets under a single head with a plastered rear arch. The north and south doorways at the east end of the nave are of twelfth-century date, the southern having a plain round head and the other a line of zigzag on its inner order. The turret or porch into which it opened was of the same date, the south jamb of its western doorway, with a foliate capital, still remaining on the nave wall. The principal doorway of the nave is at the north-west, close to the west end, under a fifteenth-century porch, and has a segmental arch with a label and zigzag on the outer order, the inner order being plain and slightly pointed, while the outer is round-headed. In the jambs are single nook-shafts with foliate capitals, and the abacus of the east jamb is moulded in late twelfth-century style, while the other is plain and has been recut. There is a recess for holy water inside the nave to the east of the doorway. The north porch is probably of the fifteenth century, with a chamfered outer arch.
The tower is of three stages, faced with small ashlar stones; it is probably not later than 1140, and has had plain round-headed belfry windows, into which cinquefoiled fifteenth-century heads have been inserted; the plain parapet is also of the fifteenth century. In the second stage on the west is a wide round-headed window with zigzag in the arch and nook-shafts with foliate capitals of fairly early style; its opening has probably been widened. At the base of each of these stages is a string with billet moulding. In the ground stage are blocked archways, 4 ft. wide, cut straight through the wall, in the north and south walls; that on the north has a semicircular head, while the other is segmental; they may have been made for the purpose of a procession path round the west end of the church, and the existing west boundary of the churchyard supports the idea, if it occupies the ancient line. The arch opening from nave to tower is tall and of a single order, with a semicircular head and a chamfered string at the springing; it is to be noted that it is entirely in the nave wall, and that there is a taller arch built against it on the west with a straight joint, which carries the east wall of the tower. There can be but little difference of date between the two, but the tower and nave are separate buildings, and the east wall of the tower is much thinner than its other walls, presumably for the reason that the support of the west wall of the nave made an equal thickness unnecessary.
A site at a little distance to the south-east is pointed out as that of the monastic buildings of the priory, but no vestige of them remains above ground. It would be natural to suppose that some part of them adjoined the church, but there is little to suggest that this was the case, and the building of the new south chapel may have destroyed some evidence. The western part of the south wall of the nave has no window in it, and on the outer face is an arched recess, 6 ft. 7 in. wide, which has somewhat the appearance of the wall-rib of a vault running in a southerly direction, but there are no other traces of the abutment of a building here. Excavations would doubtless throw light on the matter, and until they are undertaken the question must remain unanswered.
The timbers of both nave and chancel roof are old; they are of the trussed rafter form with tiebeams, king posts, and pole pieces. The north door of the nave is also old, but within the church are no ancient wood fittings. If there was anything in the nature of the pulpitum of a monastic church between the chancel and nave it has left no trace, but that some substantial division existed there can be little doubt.
The arrangement of the doorways at the east angles of the parochial nave is interesting, and it may be that a passage ran between them, with the parish altar immediately to the west, the stalls of the monastic quire being returned against the east side of the passage.
The font, which stands under the tower, is modern and of the same design as that in Littlemore Church, Oxfordshire.
There are three bells, the treble and second by Clement Tosier, 1715, and the tenor, a fifteenthcentury bell inscribed 'Ave Gracia' in Gothic capitals. The inscription on the treble, like that on the treble at Chilbolton, is a model of bad spelling:—
Tho I ham but lettel and small all (sic)
I will be hard above tham all.
The plate consists of a cup of 1651, inscribed 'For the church of Hamble, James Carter churchwarden'; a standing paten of 1710, another of 1873, and a flagon of 1863, given 1865.
The oldest register book contains the entries for 1660 to 1715 and 1760 to 1763 for the parishes of Hound, Sachell, Netley, and Sholing; the second contains the Hamble baptisms and burials, 1674–1717; the third the same entries for Hamble, Hound, and Bursledon, 1720–60; the fourth the marriages for the same parishes, 1754–95; the fifth the Hamble marriages, 1759– 1801; the sixth the baptisms and burials for Hamble, Hound, and Bursledon, 1760– 91; the seventh the Hamble marriages, 1792–1812; and the eighth the same for Hamble, Hound, and Bursledon, 1795– 1812.
The church of Hamble-le-Rice was confirmed to the abbot of Tiron in 1147 by Pope Eugenius III, and again in 1175 by Pope Alexander III. (fn. 11) The church was held from this date by the Benedictine monks of the priory of Hamble until the year 1391, when it was sold with the other possessions of the priory to William of Wykeham, to assist in the foundation of his college at Winchester. (fn. 12)
From this time the advowson has always been held by the wardens of St. Mary's College. (fn. 13)
In 1854 Mrs. Margaret Lind Henville by her will bequeathed to the vicar for the time being a legacy for the poor to be applied in clothing. The trust fund consists of £166 7s. 6d. consols with the official trustees. The dividends, amounting to £4 3s., were in 1905 expended in warm clothing among seven poor persons.