Parishes: Itchen Abbas

Pages 191-192

A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Icene (xi cent.); Ichene (xiii cent.); Ichyn, Ichin Abbas (xv cent.).

The parish of Itchen Abbas is situated 61 miles from London, 3½ miles west of Alresford, and 4 miles from Winchester. It is bounded on the south by the River Itchen. The village stretches from west to east along the north bank of the river, and is on low ground gradually rising to over 400 ft. above the ordnance datum towards the north. The manor farm is situated at the west end of the village. The MidHants line of the London and South Western Railway crosses the parish from west to east and has a station near the village. The principal landowners are Lord Ashburton and Sir John Courtown Edward Shelley, bart., J.P., of Avington Park, who is the lord of the manor.

There are several old chalk-pits in the parish, especially in the north. Duthy records the discovery of two curious chalk coffins containing skeletons. (fn. 1) On the high ground north-west of the railway station is the site of a Roman villa. This was opened up, but the site was covered again, and no details of the find were preserved beyond the fact that a pavement was discovered. (fn. 2)

The soil is loam and chalk, the subsoil chalk. Turnips and most kinds of grain grow well. The parish covers an area of 1,951 acres, 8 of which are covered by water. About 1,200 acres are occupied by arable land, about 500 by permanent grass and 200 by woods and plantations; (fn. 3) common lands in the parish were inclosed by 1811. (fn. 4)


From the Domesday Survey it appears that the manor of ITCHEN ABBAS was in the time of Edward the Confessor held by the abbey of St. Mary, Winchester. It was subsequently granted to Hugh the son of Baldri, but was restored to the abbey by William I in consequence of a suit made by the abbess. (fn. 5) In 1205 a lease of the manor was granted to Emma de Stanton, (fn. 6) and was confirmed by the king. (fn. 7) At the expiration of this lease the manor reverted to the abbess and convent and remained in their possession till the Dissolution. (fn. 8) In an inquisition taken in 1384 (fn. 9) on the death of Alice de le Mare, Abbess of St. Mary, Winchester, the manor of Itchen Abbas is mentioned as being held by the abbey of the king in chief in free alms as of the ancient foundation. The manor was then valued at £10 yearly beyond reprises. (fn. 10)

After the dissolution of the abbey the manor was granted in 1539 to Sir William Paulet Lord St. John, (fn. 11) who was afterwards created Marquess of WinChester. The manor remained in the hands of the Marquesses of Winchester and their descendants (fn. 12) until 1820, in which year William Paulet, second Lord Bolton, (fn. 13) sold it to Richard Plantagcnet, second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. (fn. 14)

On account of the declining fortunes of the family of the Dukes of Buckingham, the manors of Itchen Stoke and Avington were sold in 1848 and passed to John Shelley of Avington House. (fn. 15) Since that date the history of Itchen Abbas Manor is identical with that of Avington (q.v.), the present owner being Sir John Courtown Edward Shelley, bart.

Shelley, baronet. Sable a fesse engrailed between three shells or.

There was a water-mill within the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey, when it was valued at 25s., now represented probably by a mill on the Itchen. (fn. 16)


The church of ST. JOHN, standing on low ground on the north bank of the River Itchen, consists of chancel 16 ft. by 12 ft. 4 in., nave 44 ft. 3 in. by 18 ft. 6 in., north and south transepts each 15 ft. 7 in. by 14 ft., and small porch at the east of the north transept.

The whole church was rebuilt in 1867 in 12th-century style in flint and Bath stone, the old chancel arch being re-used and some stones of the north doorway.

The roofs are covered with red tiles and on the west gable there is a small bell-cot containing three small bells, dating from the rebuilding of the church.

Internally the walls of the church are plastered, with single round-headed windows in the nave, transepts and chancel and a double-light east window. The nave floor is paved with coloured tiles about 6 in. square, and the chancel with large squares of black and white marble. The chancel arch is semicircular with a heavy roll and a square inner order and a label, with a double line of round billet ornament. The outer order has jamb-shafts with capitals and bases of early 12th-century character; the north capital has a plain leaf pattern and the south one is cushion-shaped. The width of the arch is 7 ft. 5 in. and the height to the springing from the nave floor 6 ft. 8 in.

The north-east doorway is of very similar detail to the chancel arch but retains very little old stonework: it is evident that the church of which they formed part was built early in the 12th century, probably between mo and 1120.

The font is of a poor design with a shallow bowl on a tall stem, of early 19th-century date, and in the churchyard is a disused modern Norman font.

The church is at the west side of the churchyard, which is inclosed by a flint wall, and stands but little higher than the bank of the river which runs close by. There is a fine yew tree at the east boundary of the churchyard.

The plate consists of a silver chalice, paten and flagon of 1861, presented at the consecration of the new church in 1862. A set of pewter vessels which cannot be traced was used in the church up to that time. There is also a Sheffield plated alms dish.

The first three books of registers contain:—(1) baptisms, 1586 to 1701; marriages, 1586 to 1699; burials, 1586 to 1600. (2) marriages, 1754 to 1812. (3) baptisms, 1702 to 1810; marriages, 1708 to 1754; burials, 1709 to 1812.


The earliest known mention of the church of Itchen Abbas occurs in 1280, when John of Lexford, parson of Itchen, made suit for a virgate of land which the Abbess of St. Mary of Winchester gave to this church. (fn. 17) The living, which was under the patronage of the abbess and convent, was a rectory, and to it was attached a prebendal stall in the abbey.

At the Dissolution the advowson, together with the manor, was given to Sir William Paulet Lord St. John. (fn. 18) Although it appears that the advowson did not continue without interruption in the possession of his descendants, (fn. 19) we find that family again presenting to the living in the episcopacy of Stephen Gardiner (1531–55), (fn. 20) and William fifth Marquess of Winchester died seised of it in 1630. (fn. 21) From the evidence of the institution books it appears to have continued in the possession of the Dukes of Bolton (fn. 22) and their successors the Lords Bolton until 1820. (fn. 23)

Duthy states that the advowson of the church was given by Charles third Duke of Bolton as a provision for one of his children by Lavinia Fenton, afterwards Duchess of Bolton, and that the advowson was sold by her descendants to the Rev. Robert Wright. This statement is borne out by the fact that the Rev. Robert Wright was dealing with the advowson by fine in 1825 (fn. 24) and again in 1830. (fn. 25)

In 1870 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners authorized the sale of property formerly belonging to the prebend of Itchen Abbas, and the living is now a rectory (fn. 26) in the gift of the rector, the Rev. J. Mugliston. (fn. 27)


The Parliamentary Returns of 1786 mention that Jane Clark by will, 1696, gave to the poor of this parish £10, now represented by £10 11s. 2d. consols.

In 1874 the Rev. William Webb Spicer by deed settled a sum of money, now represented by £21 6s. 3d. consols, with the official trustees, the dividends to be distributed among the poor. These two charities are administered together by the churchwardens, the dividends of 15s. 8d. a year being from time to time applied in bread.

In 1823 Nathaniel Bailey by will, dated 5 June proved in the P.C.C., left £10 a year to be applied in employing a schoolmistress for teaching six poor boys and six poor girls. The trust fund consists of £344 10s. consols, with the official trustees, producing yearly £8 12s., which is paid to the Elementary School.


  • 1. Duthy, Sketches of Hants, 232.
  • 2. Ex inform. Rev. William L. W. Eyre, rector of Swarraton.
  • 3. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 4. Stat. 52 Geo. III, cap. 133.
  • 5. V.C.H. Hants, i, 496.
  • 6. Cal. Rot. Chart. (Rec. Com.), 155.
  • 7. Rot. de Oblat. et Fin. (Rec. Com.), 295.
  • 8. Feud. Aids, ii, 306.
  • 9. Inq. p.m. 9 Ric. II, no. 56.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), g. 906 (1).
  • 12. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccxlviii, 102.
  • 13. Charles sixth Marquess of Winchester was created Duke of Bolton on 9 Apr. 1689. On the death of Harry sixth Duke of Bolton the greatest part of his estates passed in accordance with a previous settlement to Jean Mary only daughter of Charles fifth Duke of Bolton (vide Basing). Her husband Thomas Orde assumed by sign-manual the additional surname and arms of Powlett and was elevated to the peerage as Lord Bolton of Bolton Castle (co. Yorks.) on 20 Oct. 1797. He was succeeded in 1807 by his elder son William second Lord Bolton (Burke, Peerage).
  • 14. Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 7 & 8 Geo. IV.
  • 15. V.C.H. Hants, iii, 308.
  • 16. Ibid, i, 496.
  • 17. Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 763.
  • 18. Egerton MSS. 2034, fol. 79, 128; 2033, fol. 18.
  • 19. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), g. 906 (1). In spite of the grant it appears that five years later the advowson was granted to Nicholas Bacon with licence to alienate it to Lord Chancellor Wriothesler, and it is included among the list of the ponessions given in the inquisition taken after the death of Henry third Earl of Southampton and grandson of the above (Pat. 36 Hen. VIII, pt. xvii; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xix[1], g. 116).
  • 20. Egerton MS. 2034, fol. 166; W. and L. Inq. p.m. lxxi, 120.
  • 21. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccccxlviii, 102.
  • 22. The Marquess of Winchester was created Duke of Bolton in 1689. (See n. 13.)
  • 23. Inst Bks. (P.R.O.); Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 59 Geo. III.
  • 24. Ibid. Hil. 5 & 6 Geo. IV.
  • 25. Ibid. East. 11 Geo. IV; Duthy, Sketches of Hants, 233.
  • 26. Land. Gaz. 1 Apr. 1870, p. 1997.
  • 27. Clergy List (1907).