Parishes: Wootton St Lawrence

Pages 239-242

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

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In this section

Wootton St Lawrence

Wudutune, Wudetone (x cent.); Odetune (xi cent.); Wutton, Wotton (xiii cent.); Laurence Wotton (xvi cent.).

The parish of Wootton St. Lawrence covers a long strip of land stretching from Tadley and Baughurst in the north to Deane and Kempshott in the south: it contains 4,405 acres, of which 2,91 1¾ acres are arable land, 1,070½ acres are permanent grass and 405 acres woodland. (fn. 1) The woods in the parish were always very valuable and extensive. They supplied William of Wykeham with timber when he was reconstructing his cathedral nave: in 1392 no fewer than ninety-one cartloads were sent from Manydown, and wood was again supplied in 1398 for the works of the cathedral. (fn. 2) In 1459 three huge oaks were sent to Winchester for the roof of the great hall of the priory, which now forms the main part of the deanery, and may still be seen in the upper rooms into which the roof was afterwards divided. (fn. 3)

The village of Wootton St. Lawrence is close to the eastern border of the parish: almost in the centre of it stands the church of St. Lawrence, and close to the church is the school. The philologist Charles Butler, author of The Feminine Monarcbie, was vicar here for forty-eight years: he died on 29 March 1647 and is buried in the church.

Skeyers Farm, near Ewhurst Park, was held of Magdalen College by John AylifFe at the end of the 15th century. In 1501 the college granted a lease to Archbishop Warham, (fn. 4) but the property was afterwards again leased to the Ayliffe family, who continued to be the tenants at least as late as 1674. (fn. 5)

Newfound, a quarter of a mile south of Wootton St. Lawrence village, and East Oakley, on the border of Church Oakley, are hamlets in the parish. The common lands of Wootton St. Lawrence were inclosed in 1832 under a Private Act of 1829. (fn. 6) The soil is loam, the subsoil chalk, and the chief crops are barley, swedes, clover and sainfoin.

Ramsdell, formerly a tithing in the north of this parish, was formed into a separate ecclesiastical district in 1868: the church had been built in the previous year. Charter Alley is a hamlet in this parish, but belongs also to the civil parish of Monk Sherborne.

The following place-names occur in local records: Est Acle, (fn. 7) Heselden, Rammesdelle (fn. 8) (xiii cent.); Sengette Boddene, Hordhulle, Haghyate, Samsoneswode (fn. 9) (xiv cent.); Cowedowne or Sower Downe, Bottom Meade (fn. 10) (xvii cent.).


The manor of WOOTTON, afterwards called MANYDOWN, was held by the monks of the bishopric of Winchester at the time of the Domesday Survey, when the land was assessed at 20 hides (fn. 11) : it was probably the same property as that which had been granted by King Edgar to his thegn Æthelric in 958, (fn. 12) but the date at which it came into the possession of St. Swithun's is uncertain.

In the reign of Henry III the prior and convent enlarged the estate by the addition of several holdings in East Oakley, (fn. 13) and in 1284 John of Pontoise, Bishop of Winchester, quitclaimed to them all his right in the manor. (fn. 14) In 1332 they received licence to impark their wood of Wootton, (fn. 15) which was visited by the royal huntsmen in 1361 and 1363. (fn. 16) In 1377 the park was fenced round in order that the deer might not stray. (fn. 17) The Prior and convent of St. Swithun remained in possession of Manydown until the Dissolution, (fn. 18) when the estate was granted to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, (fn. 19) who continued to hold it until 1649, in which year the trustees for the sale of church-lands sold it to William Wither, whose family had long been resident at Manydown. (fn. 20) There is a tradition that Robert, the first of the Hampshire Withers, was the godson of Prior Robert Rudborne (1384–94), who made him farmer of the demesne lands of Manydown, (fn. 21) and the Withers certainly held lands in Wootton under St. Swithun's as early as 1402. (fn. 22)

Thomas Wither is described as 'farmer' (firmarius) in 1487: he rendered the account of the manor in 1491, 1501 and 1506, (fn. 23) and the estate was leased after his death to Joan his widow, who was 'farmer' in 1507, 1516 and 15 22. (fn. 24) John the son of Thomas Wither rendered the account in 1530 after his mother's death. (fn. 25) He died in 1536, leaving by his will his 'endenture of yeres' to his second son Richard, (fn. 26) who obtained a renewal of the lease in 1544. (fn. 27) Richard Wither died in 1577, and was succeeded by his eldest son John. (fn. 28)

In 1613 John Wither made an agreement by which he gave up to his eldest son William all his right in Manydown on condition that certain rooms in the manor-house were reserved for himself and his wife, and that he was allowed £40 yearly, two servants and 'a horse, three couple of beagles and one greyhound for his pleasure.' If at a future time he chose to live elsewhere he was to receive 200 marks. William was also to provide for the education of his three younger brothers, and to pay £300 to each on his twenty-sixth birthday. (fn. 29) It was this William who bought the manor in 1649. (fn. 30)

In 1662, after the Restoration, the dean and chapter re-entered upon their rights in the manor, (fn. 31) for which William Wither's son and heir, another William, received no compensation. In 1674 this William Wither sent a petition to the king 'praying a dispensation of the new statutes... which restrain the dean and chapter from granting leases of their lands for any term other than twenty-one years, and stating that he and his ancestors had been ' tenants time out of mind for the demesnes of the manor of Manydown by lease of three lives.' (fn. 32) Charles II recommended him to the dean and chapter for the renewal he desired, (fn. 33) but he seems to have been unable to obtain it, for the property was held by the Withers on leases for the term of twenty-one years from that date until 1863, (fn. 34) in which year the Rev. Lovelace Bigg-Wither purchased the reversion of the manor. (fn. 35) He sold the estate in 1871 to Sir Edward Bates, bart., (fn. 36) whose grandson, Mr. Sydney Eggers Bates, is the owner at the present day.

To the west of the village, and surrounded by a park of 250 acres with 400 acres of plantations, is Manydown, a large irregular brick house which retains at least the original plan and traces of the original building: there are some pillars in the cellars which may be of the 14th century. One of the most remarkable relics is the well, with its raising gear carried up above the middle of the first floor, so that the water might more easily be conveyed to the upper rooms. The house is built round a square court, still called Cheyney Court, on one side of which is the old court room, where the 'courts Leet and Custumary' were held. The south front was rebuilt in 1790.

The estate now known as TANGIER PARK was called FABIANS (fn. 37) until the reign of Charles II, when Sir Thomas Hooke, bart., is said to have renamed it after the town which formed part of the dowry of Katherine of Braganza.

John Fabian held lands in Yerdeley and Wootton before 1282, in which year they were included among those which were to pay tithe to the rector of Wootton. (fn. 38) The property in 1331 covered an area of 100 acres, and must have been valuable, for it is said to have been worth about one-sixth as much as the whole tithe of Wootton rectory. (fn. 39) It seems subsequently to have been enlarged, for it was described as 'a messuage, 2 carucates of land and 20 acres of pasture' in 1411, in which year another John Fabian and Isabel his wife quitclaimed it to John Gerveys and Thomas Horton, (fn. 40) who in the following year obtained licence to grant it to the priory of St. Swithun. (fn. 41)

In 1541 the estate was granted as part of the manor of Manydown to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, (fn. 42) who continued to hold the manorial rights until the reversion was purchased by the Rev. Lovelace Bigg-Wither in 1863.

In 1413 the Prior and convent of St. Swithun had leased the land lately bought from John Fabian to Robert Dyneley, (fn. 43) and the tenancy afterwards followed the descent of the manor of Malshanger (fn. 44) (q.v.) in Church Oakley, until it was sold at the Restoration by Sir Richard Kingsmill to Sir Thomas Hooke, bart., (fn. 45) who is said to have built the existing house in 1662. The property again changed hands in 1710, when it was sold by Sir Hele Hooke son and heir of Sir Thomas to Henry Limbrey, (fn. 46) from whose family it subsequently passed by marriage to the Sclaters. (fn. 47) In 1833 it was bought by the Rev. Lovelace Bigg-Wither, (fn. 48) who lived there until 1871, when he sold it with Manydown to Sir Edward Bates. (fn. 49) Mr. Sydney Eggers Bates is the owner at the present day.

Hooke, baronet. Quarterly sable and argent a cross quarterly between four scalleps countercoloured.

Tangier House, which stands to the north of Manydown, was built in the 17th century by Sir Thomas Hooke, bart.: the park, which covers an area of about 143 acres, forms part of the Manydown estate, but was leased in 1903 to Colonel William Ironside Bax.

EAST OAKLEY, on the borders of Wootton St. Lawrence, was acquired by the Prior and convent of St. Swithun from several small landholders in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 50) and subsequently formed part of the manor of Manydown (q.v.).

There were 4 hides of land at WOOTTON which were granted in 940 by King Edmund to his thegn Edric for three lives, (fn. 51) and in 956 by King Eadwig to Æthelwold (fn. 52) : this land was perhaps included in the 5 hides which belonged at the time of the Domesday Survey to Hugh de Port (fn. 53) and had previously been held of King Edward the Confessor by Elmar and Alviet. (fn. 54) The estate was probably incorporated in the manor of Monk Sherborne and granted to the priory there by Henry de Port, for no mention occurs of it among the St. John lands, and Michael, the Prior of Sherborne, was stated to be holding a lay fee in Wootton St. Lawrence in the reign of Henry III. (fn. 55)


The church of ST. LAWRENCE consists of a chancel 26 ft. 4 in. by 14 ft. 8 in. with a vestry on the north side, a nave 40 ft. by 17 ft. 9 in., with a north aisle 12 ft. 4 in. wide and a south aisle 12 ft. 8 in. wide. There is also a west tower 11 ft. square and a south porch. All the measurements are internal.

With the exception of the tower the whole of the church was rebuilt and the south aisle added in 1863, but the old work re-used shows that there was a 12th-century building which had a north aisle with an arcade of three bays. In the chancel and south aisle are some early 14th-century windows, and the tower as it now stands is probably in part of the same period.

The east window of the chancel is of 15th-century style and has three cinquefoiled lights with tracery under a two-centred arch with a moulded label. The outside jambs and the mullions are moulded. The inside splays of this and all the rest of the windows are modern.

The north window of the chancel is apparently of 14th-century work and has two trefoiled lights with a pierced quatrefoil in the spandrel. There is no label. To the west of this window is a modern doorway to the vestry. The rebate is on the chancel side and the jambs and two-centred arch are chamfered.

The vestry has an old east window of three small trefoiled lights. There is also a modern doorway in the north wall.

The easternmost of the two south windows of the chancel has two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over and is without an arch. It is of early 14th-century date. The other window in the same wall is similar to the one in the north wall of the chancel, but the top foils are of an ogee shape and the spandrel is not foiled.

The chancel arch is entirely modern, and has plain hollow-chamfered jambs and a moulded two-centred arch, the inner order of which rests on foliated corbels.

The north arcade is of four bays, the first three having circular columns with scalloped capitals and modern moulded bases. Both responds of the arcade have capitals resting on broad conical corbels. The western pier is square with stop-chamfered angles.

The western 13th-century bay is much narrower than the rest and has a flat-chamfered respond. The arch to this bay is pointed, with slightly chamfered angles. The other three arches are semicircular of one square-chamfered order with hollow-chamfered labels on the nave side.

The modern south arcade is of three bays with circular marble columns having moulded bases and foliated capitals and corbels. The drop arches are two-centred and have two chamfered orders.

All the windows of the north aisle are modern, the first three in the north wall having each two trefoiled lights with a pierced quatrefoil over. The fourth window near the west end is a single trefoiled lancet.

The west window of this aisle is similar to the two-light north windows but has a moulded label and carved head stops.

The east window of the south aisle is modern and has three trefoiled lights with tracery of 14th-century design, moulded label and head stops.

The easternmost of the two south windows is of 14th-century date and is similar to the north window of the chancel. The other window is a modern copy of it. The west window of the aisle is similar to the corresponding one in the north aisle.

The south doorway is placed near the west end of the aisle and is of rebuilt and partly restored 12th-century work. The jambs are shafted and have moulded bases and cushion capitals enriched with beads. The abaci above are clumsy modern additions. The arch is semicircular of a single order with lines of zigzag and an outer line of hatched ornament.

The tower arch is modern and has two chamfered orders continuous with the jambs. In the south wall of the tower is a small old trefoiled light. The west doorway is modern and has moulded jambs and a fourcentred arch under a square head with a moulded label. The spandrels are carved. Above this doorway is a modern window with two cinquefoiled lights and a quatrefoil spandrel under a two-centred head with a moulded label.

The walls of the whole building are faced with flint and stone and the roofs are tiled.

The quoins in the upper part of the tower and part of a north buttress are old. The top is crowned with a cornice moulding and is roofed with a slated pyramidal roof. In each face except the east, near the top, is a modern window of two cinquefoiled lights. In the west face lower down is an old small trefoiled light.

The roofs are of modern open timber work and all the internal fittings, except a few pews in the north aisle, are quite modern.

Under the tower arch is a narrow strip of old tiles with various designs in yellow on a red ground, including a fleur de lis, a cross made of four fleurs de Us, two lions rampant face to face, an eagle displayed and other patterns.

In a recess in the south wall of the chancel is a white marble monument to Sir Thomas Hooke, bart., who died in 1677, aged 36. His effigy of white marble is in plate armour, resting on one arm, with one hand on his helmet. The crest above the inscription is a scallop between two wings, and the arms on the base of the tomb are Hooke quartered with (Gules) a bend indented ermine, for Hele, and impaling (Or) a fesse dancetty (azure) with three stars (argent) thereon and a quarter (azure) with the sun (or) therein, which are the arms of Elizabeth daughter of Sir William Thompson, his wife.

Placed on the sill of the east window is a 14th-century grave slab with a floriated cross on the top.

There are several good armorial slabs on the floor of the chancel, including one to William infant son of William Dyer of Newnham in the county of Hertford, esquire, and Ann his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Hooke. The date is hidden under the footpace of the altar. In a shield are the arms Quarterly 1 and 4 a chief indented, 2 a cross paty, 3 a cross paty in a border engrailed, all impaling the arms of Hooke.

On the north side is a slab to John Wither of Manydown, esquire, 1620, and Joan his wife, daughter of John Love of Basing 1639. On the lower part of the same slab is an inscription to William Wither, 1671, son and heir of the above John Wither, and Joan his wife, daughter of Thomas Geale, 1691.

In the centre is another inscription to Alethea Bethell daughter of the above William and Joan Wither, 1708.

On the top of the slab are the arms, Quarterly 1 and 4 a cheveron between three crescents, 2 and 3 a lion with two heads, impaling Barry and in chief three lions' heads razed.

In the centre of the slab is a shield charged with the same arms as in the first half of the above. In the centre is an escutcheon Quarterly 1 and 4 two spear heads and a boar's head in chief, 2 and 3, two bars with three lions' heads razed in chief.

On the south wall of the south aisle is a monument with a Latin inscription to Susan wife of William Wither, who died 1653. There are three shields of arms, the first having Wither, the second has a fesse between three crescents, and the third shield has Wither impaling the arms of the second shield.

There are several other wall and floor monuments to the Wither and other families of 17th and 18th-century dates, in different parts of the church.

On the westernmost pier of the north arcade is a replica of the brass to be found in Monk Sherborne and other neighbouring churches setting forth the bequests of one Thomas Sympson, dated 1674.

On the south wall of the chancel is an iron bracket on which are placed a helmet, a pair of spurs, a pair of gauntlets and a dagger. On the bracket are the initials of Sir Thomas Hooke and the date 1677.

The tower contains five bells, the treble being by Warner, 1864. The second is inscribed, 'This bell was made 1625'; the third, 'Our hope is in the Lord, 1625'; the fourth, 'Praise ye the Lord, 1625'; and the tenor, ' Let your hope be in the Lord, 1625.' All the last four are evidently by the same man, but there is no name or maker's mark.

The plate consists of a silver-gilt chalice and paten cover of 1624 inscribed, 'The guift of John Wither gent, to the parish church of Laurence Wootton, 1625,' and bearing the arms of Wither of Manydown; a silver paten of 1735, the gift of Elizabeth Wither of Manydown; a silver flagon of 1688; a silver alms dish inscribed as the paten and a baptismal bowl of 1743.

The first book of the registers contains all entries from 1560, the baptisms and burials running to 1785 and the marriages to 1753. The book is very complete and is beautifully written. The second book contains burials from 1563, marriages from 1564, baptisms from 1657, all running to 1706. On the first page is a note as follows: ' Memorandum that ye Births, Marriages and Burials entered here were done to signify ye taxes quarterly paid to King William for every one born, married and buried. This distinguisheth ye Burials Marriages and Burials (sic) written in ye other register where there is not account of ye quarterly entry of births, etc' The third book contains marriages between 1754 and 1811, the fourth contains baptisms and burials from 1770 to 1812, and a fifth book brings the marriages up to 1812.

The first book of churchwardens' accounts contains entries between 1558 and 1675, and there are books containing subsequent entries.

CHRIST CHURCH, RAMSDELL, built in 1867, is of flint with stone dressings in 13th-century style, and consists of chancel, nave and tower with spire. The registers date from 1868.


There was a church at Wootton St. Lawrence as early as 940, (fn. 56) if the 4 hides of land at Wootton granted by King Edmund to Edric in that year were in this parish. There is no mention, however, of any church here in Domesday Book.

The advowson belonged to the Bishops of Winchester until the end of the 13th century, for though in 1243 Pope Innocent IV included the church in his confirmation of the liberties of St. Swithun, (fn. 57) Aylmer bishop-elect of Winchester was acknowledged as the true patron about 1256, (fn. 58) and it was not until 1299 that the bishop, John of Pontoise, gave up to the prior and convent the patronage of the church of Wootton and all other rights thereto belonging (fn. 59)

The priory of St. Swithun continued in possession until the Dissolution, (fn. 60) when the rectory and advowson of the vicarage were granted with the manor of Manydown to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, (fn. 61) who are the patrons at the present day. (fn. 62)

The living of Wootton St. Lawrence was said to be a vicarage in 1238, (fn. 63) when the king presented to it by reason of the voidance of the bishopric of Winchester, but this seems to have been a mistake, for it was certainly a rectory during the second half of the 13 th century, (fn. 64) and a vicarage was not ordained until 1299. At this time a dispute arose between the rector, Ralf de Stanford, and the Sherborne monks who laid claim to the tithes from certain lands in Wootton St. Lawrence (fn. 65) in respect of the gift of Henry de Port. (fn. 66) As the bishopric was then vacant the case went before the archbishop's court, and after due hearing it was decided, probably about 1282, that the rector should receive in peace the tithes from certain of the lands in question, while the remainder should be paid to Sherborne Priory. (fn. 67) The rector, however, was evidently not allowed to receive his share in peace, for in 1283 John of Pontoise, then Bishop of Winchester, learned upon trustworthy report that' certain satellites and followers of the Ancient Enemy having no fear of God before their eyes had molested disquieted and disturbed the rector,' so that he could not take his tithes. (fn. 68) It was perhaps on this account that the bishop decided in 1299 that these tithes should for the future be paid to the priory of St. Swithun. (fn. 69)

The living of Ramsdell is a vicarage, net yearly value £275, in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester.

Newfound has a small Wesleyan chapel, and there is a small Primitive Methodist chapel at East Oakley. At Ramsdell there is a Congregational chapel.


In 1674 Thomas Sympson by will gave to the poor of six parishes, including this parish, the sum of £15 yearly—see under Monk Sherborne. The sum of £2 10s. is annually distributed in money.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. Kitchin, Manor of Manydown (Hants Rec. Soc), 8–11.
  • 3. Ibid.
  • 4. Kitchin, op. cit. 80.
  • 5. Exch. Dep. Mich. 26 Chas. II, no. 2.
  • 6. Blue Bk. Incl. Awards.
  • 7. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 31 Hen. III.
  • 8. Kitchin, op. cit. 58.
  • 9. Ibid. 62.
  • 10. Ibid. 186.
  • 11. V.C.H. Hants, i, 468.
  • 12. Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 246.
  • 13. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 31 Hen. III; Mich. 35 Hen. III; Hil. 40 Hen. III; Trin. 47 Hen. III.
  • 14. Cat. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 288.
  • 15. Pat. 6 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 13.
  • 16. Kitchin, op. cit. 9. There were deer in the park in 1430 (ibid.).
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Bigg-Wither, The Wither Family, 117.
  • 19. Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. ix.
  • 20. Close, 1650, pt. ii, m. 35.
  • 21. Bigg-Wither, op. cit. 20.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Kitchin, op. cit. 207.
  • 24. Bigg-Wither, op. cit. 21.
  • 25. Ibid. 24.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Ibid. 'Leases of Manydown.'
  • 28. Ibid. 28.
  • 29. Ibid. 31.
  • 30. He also bought from the Uvedales in 1619 the manor of Woodgarston in Monk Sherborne (q.v. for a further account of the Wither family).
  • 31. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1673–5, p. 422.
  • 32. Col. S. P. Dom. 1675–5,. p. 4.22.
  • 33. Ibid.
  • 34. Bigg-Wither, op. cit. 'Leases of Manydown.'
  • 35. Ibid. 118.
  • 36. Ibid.
  • 37. It was called 'Fabians and Marvins' in the Survey of 1649 (see Kitchin, op. cit.), probably because it included the downland called Marvin's Down. It was still called ' Fabians' in the lease of 1670 (see Bigg-Wither, op. cit. 186).
  • 38. Kitchin. op. cit. 24.
  • 39. Ibid. 58–9:
  • 40. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 12 Hen. IV.
  • 41. Inq. s.q.d. file 442, no. 12. In 1427 the prior was fined by the manorial court for blocking the bridle path between the land formerly Fabian's and the park at Manydown; i.e. from Tangier Lodge to the gate overlooking Malshanger (BiggWither, op. cit. 186; Kitchin, op. cit. 64).
  • 42. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 878.
  • 43. Kitchin, op. eit. 204; Bigg-Wither, op. cit. 118. The lease was renewed in 1440 (ibid. 119).
  • 44. Com. Pleas D. Enr. Hil. 5 & 6 Edw. VI, m. 2.
  • 45. Ibid. 204.
  • 46. Ibid. Sir Thomas died in 1677. His widow died at Tangier Park in or before 1708. His heir was his ton Sir Hele, who died without issue in 1712 (G.E.C. Complete Baronetage, iii, 254).
  • 47. Ibid.
  • 48. Ibid.
  • 49. Ibid.
  • 50. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 31 Hen. III; Mich. 35 Hen. III; Hil. 40 Hen. III; Trin. 47 Hen. III.
  • 51. Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 493. It is doubtful whether this grant refers to Wootton St. Lawrence, for, though the boundaries are given, it it difficult to identify them.
  • 52. Ibid. iii, 157.
  • 53. V.C.H. Hants, i, 486.
  • 54. Ibid.
  • 55. Feet of F. Hants, East. 40 Hen. III.
  • 56. Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 493. There is mention of the 'cyrichide' in this charter.
  • 57. Cal. of Papal Letters, i, 201.
  • 58. Feet of F. Hants, East. 40 Hen. III.
  • 59. Chart. R. 27 Edw. I, m. 5.
  • 60. Egerton MSS. 2032, fol. 17; 2033, fol. 18,134; 2034, fol. 29, 94, 134, 176; Pat. 33 Hen. ix.
  • 61. Ibid.
  • 62. Clergy List, 1910.
  • 63. Cal. Pat. 1232–47, p. 230.
  • 64. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 212; Cal. of Papal Letters, i, 547.
  • 65. Kitchin, Manor of Manydown (Hants Rec. Soc), 22.
  • 66. Warner, Hants, i, 162.
  • 67. Ibid. 23.
  • 68. Ibid. 26.
  • 69. Egerton MS. 2031, fol. 41.