Parishes: Swarraton

Pages 195-196

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Swerweton (xi cent.); Sereweton, Swarneton (xiii cent.); Sarweton, Serveton, Swareweton, Swarghtone (xiv cent.); Swarveton (xv cent.); Swerverton, Swarroughtone, Swallowtone (xvi cent.); Swarrotton, Swarreton (xvii cent.).

The parish of Swarraton, covering an area of 755 acres, lies 57 miles from London, 9 miles north-east of Winchester, and 3½ miles north by east from Alresford station, on the Mid-Hants section of the London and South Western Railway.

The Candover branch of the River Itchen forms the western boundary of the parish. The land rises slightly from the river towards the east to a height of about 400 ft. above the ordnance datum. The Grange Park, only a part of which lies in the parish, occupies the south-eastern portion. Swarraton farmhouse is in the centre of the parish, and Spye Bush Plantation forms the eastern boundary, separating it from Godsfield. This plantation was planted about 1830, and is said to have taken its name from a large white thorn bush (fn. 1) which formerly stood there, and on which a watchman used to be posted to spy upon smugglers. (fn. 2) ' The great ditch' lies within the northern end of Spye Bush Plantation and is referred to in a grant of Edward the Elder in 902 concerning the boundaries of Candover. (fn. 3)

On the site of the old church, which stood in the meadows close to the river, and which was pulled down in 1849, a stone cross has been erected. The old rectory, which was pulled down in 1820, stood north of the churchyard, the site being now covered by water meadows.

There are 535 acres of arable land, 265 acres of permanent grass and 95 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 4)

As early as the 14th century at least there was a common pasture at Swarraton known as 'le Doune.' (fn. 5) An Elizabethan surveyor (fn. 6) estimated the extent of the common cow-pasture at 60 acres and the common sheep-down at 300. The sheep-down (fn. 7) had in 1662 been 'lately inclosed' and divided by mutual consent among the tenants in the ratio of 6 acres to one yardland. About the rector's portion however some dispute arose. His original share was fixed at 3 acres, but he held less than half a yardland and a proposal was afterwards made that one of his 3 acres should be allotted to the repair of the parish church. To this, as certain of the tenants deposed, the rector agreed, but litigation soon followed. The Sheep's Down as a locality is now lost. (fn. 8)


SWARRATON, with 3 hides and 1½ virgates, was granted in 903 by Edward the Elder to the New Minster or Hyde Abbey. (fn. 9)

Although Swarraton is not mentioned in Domesday Book by name, it has been identified with 3 hides and 3 virgates which Hugh de Port held of Hyde Abbey as parcel of the manor of Micheldever. (fn. 10) This theory is supported by the fact that Robert de St. John, the descendant of Hugh de Port, is returned in the Testa de Nevill as holding half a knight's fee in Swarraton of the Abbot of Hyde, (fn. 11) and that Swarraton occurs in lists of the St. John knights' fees as late as 1394. (fn. 12) From another entry in the Testa de Nevill it is clear that at an early date the De Ports had enfeoffed the Brayboefs of the manor. (fn. 13) The tenant under the Brayboefs in the early part of the 12th century was Robert de Venuz or Venoiz, probably son of Geoffrey de Venuz, the king's marshal. (fn. 14) He granted it by the name of the grange of Swarraton to the abbey of Waverley, (fn. 15) and his grant was afterwards confirmed by Richard I, Stephen, John and Edward II. (fn. 16) In 1284 the abbey of Waverley was stated to be holding half a knight's fee in Swarraton in free alms of William de Brayboef, (fn. 17) and it continued in the possession of the abbey until the Dissolution. (fn. 18)

In 1536 Henry VIII granted the manor to Sir William Fitzwilliam, (fn. 19) who was created Earl of Southampton in 1537.

In 1538 the earl settled it in fee-tail upon himself and his wife Mabel, with contingent remainder to his half-brother Sir Anthony Browne, but died without issue four years later. (fn. 20) Sir Anthony Browne died in 1548, and as Mabel, widow of the earl, was still living, the reversion of the manor went to his son Anthony, who was created Viscount Montagu in 1554. (fn. 21) In 1556 Anthony Browne Viscount Montagu, in whose possession the manor had come on the death of Mabel in 1550, obtained licence to convey Swarraton in trust to William Denton and Henry Hughes, and eleven years afterwards he sold it to Thomas Cobb. (fn. 22) Michael Cobb, son and heir of Thomas, died seised of the Grange Manor and the lordship of Swarraton in 1598, and was succeeded by his son Thomas, who died seised in 1638. (fn. 23) The estate went to his eldest son Michael, who shortly afterwards joined with his brother Richard in selling the property to Sir Henry Paulet, third son of William fourth Marquess of Winchester. (fn. 24)

In 1662 Sir Henry Paulet sold the Grange Manor and lordship of Swarraton to Robert Henley, who in the following year was knighted. (fn. 25) Soon afterwards Sir Robert Henley purchased Northington Grange, and added it to his property at Swarraton. The later history of The Grange, as the whole estate is now called, has been given under Northington, (fn. 26) the present owner being Francis Denzil Edward Baring fifth Lord Ashburton.

By a grant dated 1228 King Henry III conveyed to Ingram of St. Martin land which Hugh his brother had held in SWARRATON, to hold during the king's pleasure. (fn. 27) It seems probable that this land was the same as the manor of Swarraton, which one Hugh of St. Martin granted at a later date to the Knights Hospitallers, and it became merged in their manor of Godsfield (fn. 28) (q.v.). From this time we find repeated mention of the manor of Godsfield and Swarraton, and the lands seem to have descended as one manor for several centuries. (fn. 29)

A separation of the lands seems to have taken place in 1634, when the Godsfield portion was sold to the family of Lucy (fn. 30) (q.v. supra) and the Swarraton portion was conveyed to Edward Wilmot of Wield. (fn. 31) There is evidence that in 1671 the latter estate, which was still sometimes called the 'manor of Godsfield and Swarraton,' was held by Edward Hughes and Joan his wife, who sold it to George Pike. (fn. 32)

In 1677 George Pike and Anne his wife sold this portion to Sir Robert Henley, (fn. 33) who added it to his other lands in Swarraton.


There is no mention of a church in Swarraton until the end of the 13th century. (fn. 34) Theadvowson belonged to the Priors of the Hospital of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, and followed the descent of their manor of Godsfield and Swarraton (fn. 35) until 1634, (fn. 36) in which year Charles Viscount Wilmot made a separation of his property, selling the Godsfield portion to the Lucy family and conveying the Swarraton portion, together with the advowson, to Edward Wilmot, apparently his cousin. (fn. 37) From this date the advowson went with this property in Swarraton until 1677, in which year it was purchased by Sir Robert Henley from George Pike and Anne his wife. (fn. 38)

The living has from this time continued to follow the descent of Swarraton Grange (q.v.) and is at the present day a rectory, with the chapelry of Northington annexed, in the gift of Lord Ashburton.

The joint net income is £200 with a residence and 10 acres of glebe land.

The church is in Northington parish, there having been no church in Swarraton since the old one was pulled down in 1849. The key of Old Swarraton Church is preserved in Northington Church (q.v.).

The present rectory building, part of which consists of a thatched cottage of much earlier date, together with the parish rooms, is in Swarraton parish.


In 1879 George Harding by will proved at London 1 February bequeathed to the rector and churchwardens of Swarraton and Northington the sum of £200, the income to be applied yearly for ever in bread for the poor on the anniversary of the donor's burial day (28 December 1878).

The trust fund now consists of £205 7s. 10d consols, producing yearly £5 2s. 8d., which is duly applied.


  • 1. In the 13 th and 14th-century charters we hear of ' Buggenoresthorn' and the 'Threthorns' as landmarks (Harl. MS. 6603, fol. 85, 88).
  • 2. Eyre, Hist, of Swarraton and Northington.
  • 3. Ex inform. Rev. William L. W. Eyre rector of Swarraton.
  • 4. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 5. Harl. MS. 6603, fol. 87 d., 88.
  • 6. P.R.O. Rentals and Surv. portf. 30, no. 33.
  • 7. Exch. Dep. Trin. 14 Chas. II, no. 10, Hants.
  • 8. Ex inform. Rev. William L. W. Eyre, rector of Swarraton.
  • 9. Kemble, Cod. Dipl, ii, 145, no. 336; Harl. MS. 1761, fol. 47.
  • 10. V.C.H. Hants, i, 418, 470.
  • 11. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 239.
  • 12. Close, 23 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 17.
  • 13. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 232. See also Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. I, file 387, no. 6.
  • 14. a See V.C.H. Hants, ii, 518, and iii, 370.
  • 15. Cal. Pat. 1340–3, p. 294; Feud. Aids, ii, 306.
  • 16. Cal. of Pat. 1340–3, p. 294. In the Testa de Nevill Walter Mantel, who was admitted to a corrody in the abbey at the mandate of King Edward II, is mentioned as the holder and not the Abbot of Waverley (Testa de Nevill [Rec. Com.], 232; Pat. 15 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 6).
  • 17. Inq. p.m. 12 Edw. I, file 38, no. 6.
  • 18. Feud. Aids, ii, 348.
  • 19. Pat. 28 Hen. VIII, pt. ii, m. 9, 10.
  • 20. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), lxx, 56.
  • 21. Ibid, lxxxix, 132; Burke, Extinct Peerage, 83.
  • 22. Pat. 3 & 4 Phil, and Mary, pt. ii, m. 20; Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 3 & 4 Phil, and Mary. See also L.T.R. Memo. R. East. 4 Eliz. rot. 32.
  • 23. W. and L. Inq. p.m. xciii, 110.
  • 24. Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 14 Chas. I.
  • 25. Close, 14 Chas. II, pt. iii, no. 10. See Eyre, Hist, of Swarraton and Northington, 23.
  • 26. V.C.H. Hants, iii, 395.
  • 27. Close, 12 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 28. Harl. MS. 6603, fol. 73. This grant was confirmed by Roger deMortimer(ibid.).
  • 29. Feud. Aids, ii, 306, 329, 356; Pat. 3 Edw. VI, pt. v, m. 32; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), clxxxiii, 49; ccxlii, 61; Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 40 & 41 Eliz.; Recov. R. Mich. 9 Chas. I, rot. 22.
  • 30. Feet of F. Hants, East. 10 Chas. I; Close, Chas. I, pt. iv, no. 1.
  • 31. a See V.C.H. Hants, iii, 346. This Edward Wilmot was possibly a son of John (ob. 1614), fifth son of Edward Wilmot of Witney. This John and his brother Arthur (the sixth son, who became baronet in 1621) both settled in Hampshire at Wield (The Ancestor, xi, 1–3). Arthur died i.p. legit, in 1628–9, leaving only a natural daughter, and as his paternity is thus impossible it seems not unreasonable to conclude that Edward was the son of John. Since (according to G.E.C. Baronetage, i, 229) Charles first Viscount Wilmot of Athlone was son of Edward an elder brother of Arthur Wilmot, bart., it would seem that he and the abovementioned Edward Wilmot of Wield were cousins.
  • 32. Feet of F. Hanti, Hil. 12 & 13 Chas. I.
  • 33. Ibid. Mich. 29 Chas. II.
  • 34. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 211.
  • 35. Egerton MSS. 2031, fol. 107; 2032, fol. 73; 2033, fol. 35, 110; 2034, fol. 173; Wykeham's Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc), i, 184, 243; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 36. Close, 10 Chas. I, pt iv, no. 1.
  • 37. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 38. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 29 Chas. II.