Parishes: Litchfield

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

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'Parishes: Litchfield', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 267-270. British History Online [accessed 1 March 2024]

In this section


Liveselle (xi cent.); Livescelve, Liveschella, Lieuselva (xii cent.); Lidescelve, Lideshull, Liddesulde, Lidulse (xiii cent.); Lydeshelf, Ludeshul, Leteshelve, Luddeshelve (xiv cent.); Lodeschylve (xv cent.); Ludeshulff, Ludshelf (xvi cent.).

Litchfield is a parish situated to the north of Whitchurch, its southern boundary being formed by the Port Way, the ancient road from Salisbury to Silchester. The general rise of the ground is from south-west to north-east, a height of 768 ft. above the ordnance datum being attained at Ladle Hill in the northern extremity of the parish. The village, which is served by a station on the Didcot, Newbury and Winchester line of the Great Western Railway, lies along the mam road from Whitchurch to Newbury in the west of the parish. The soil and subsoil are chalk, and the chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The parish contains 1,814 acres of land, of which 952¼ acres are arable land, 77½ acres permanent grass and 112 acres woods and plantations. (fn. 1)


At the time of the Domesday Survey there were most probably two estates in Litchfield, one held by the king and the other held of Hugh de Port. The first is not mentioned by the name of Litchfield, and probably at this time formed part of the royal manor of Kingsclere. (fn. 2) The second occurs as 'Liveselle,' and, assessed at 3 hides, was held of Hugh de Port by Faderlin. (fn. 3) The first named, which afterwards developed into the manor of LITCHFIELD, was granted as 1 hide of land by Henry II to Ralph Monachus or le Moyne, (fn. 4) lord of Great Easton (co. Essex), (fn. 5) to hold of him by the serjeanty of being the king's lardner at his coronation. While lord of Litchfield Ralph granted a rent of 1 mark of silver, payable on the Feast of St. Giles to Hyde Abbey, 'for the soul of his father Robert, who lay buried in the monastery before the altar of the Holy Apostles Andrew and James,' (fn. 6) and in 1228 granted half of the manor to Brian de Stopham, lord of the manor of Stopham (co. Suss.), to hold of him and his heirs by a rent of 10 marks. (fn. 7) In the Testa de Nevill, which in the ordinary way should be later than 1228, Ralf is returned as holding half the vill of Litchfield of the annual value of £5 by serjeanty, (fn. 8) but Mr. Round considers that this entry is previous to 1228, in which case it represents the half which Ralf held and granted to Brian de Stopham in 1228, and suggests that Ralf never held more than half the manor.

Stopham. Quarterly fessewise indented argent and gules four crescents countercoloured.

On the death of Ralph the rent of 10 marks paid by the Stophams passed to his son William, who confirmed his father's grant to Hyde Abbey in 1241. (fn. 9) He was succeeded by his son Henry, (fn. 10) who settled it upon himself and his wife Joan in 1309, (fn. 11) and died in 1314. (fn. 12) His widow survived him twenty-six years, dying in 1340, and on her death the rent of £6 13s. 4d. in Litchfield passed to her son John. (fn. 13) Sir Henry le Moyne, probably son and heir of John, died seised of the rent in 1375, leaving a son and heir John, (fn. 14) whose only daughter and heir Elizabeth became the wife of Sir William Stourton. (fn. 15) Sir John Stourton, son and heir of Sir William and Elizabeth, was seised of £6 rent from the manor at his death in 1462, (fn. 16) as was also his son and heir Sir William Stourton, who died in 1477, (fn. 17) but the payments seem to have lapsed after this date.

To return, however, to the Stophams and their successors, who before the middle of the 13th century were tenants in fee of the whole (2 hides) manor. Brian de Stopham died leaving as his heir a minor, and the custody of the manor was thereupon committed to Alan de Schusche, who about the middle of the 13th century is returned as holding 2 hides in Litchfield of the old feoffment by the serjeanty of being the king's lardner. (fn. 18) Before the end of the reign of Henry III, however, the manor had passed to Ralph de Stopham, probably son and heir of Brian, (fn. 19) who presented to the living of Litchfield, (fn. 20) and died in 1271, leaving as his heir his son Ralph, aged twentythree, (fn. 21) who died in 1291, (fn. 22) leaving a widow Isabel, to whom the manor of Litchfield was assigned in dower, (fn. 23) and an only daughter Eva, the wife of William de Echingham. (fn. 24) On the death of Isabel, Litchfield passed to William and Eva, and was sold by them in 1315 to Edward de St. John of Barlavington (co. Suss.). (fn. 25) Edward obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Litchfield in 1334 (fn. 26) and died about 1340, (fn. 27) leaving a widow Eva, who in 1346 was stated to be holding half a fee in Litchfield which had belonged to Isabel de Stopham. (fn. 28) Eva died in 1354, (fn. 29) leaving by Edward an only daughter Elizabeth, who became the wife of Henry Dyke of Sussex, (fn. 30) from whom the manor ultimately descended to two sisters and co-heirs, Eleanor the wife of William Dering of Surrenden (co. Kent) and Constance the wife of John Goring of Burton (co. Suss.). (fn. 31) In 1514 the manor was settled on John Goring and Constance for life with remainder to their son William in tail-male, (fn. 32) but this settlement seems later to have been set on one side, for in 1537 John Kingsmill, who married Constance daughter of John Goring (fn. 33) (if the pedigrees are correct), but in all probability his widow, (fn. 34) obtained a quitclaim of the manor from Nicholas Dering, son and heir of William Dering and Eleanor, (fn. 35) in return for an annuity of £6 12s. 8d. (fn. 36) In 1540 John obtained a grant of the rent of 13s. 4d. issuing from the manor formerly belonging to Hyde Abbey, (fn. 37) and died seised of the manor in 1556, leaving a son and heir William. (fn. 38) From this date the manor has followed the same descent as Sydmonton (q.v.), the present owner being Mr. Andrew de Portal Kingsmill.

The estate which was held of Hugh de Port by Faderlin in 1086 (fn. 39) was afterwards known as the hamlet of LITCHFIELD or WEST LITCHFIELD, and was held of the St. Johns, the descendants of Hugh de Port, as late at least as the middle of the 14th century. (fn. 40) Like the rest of Faderlin's property in Hampshire, Litchfield passed to Ruald de Woodcott, (fn. 41) and was comprised in the two knights' fees which Henry Fitz Ruald held of John de Port in Hampshire in 1166. (fn. 42) From the latter it descended to Henry de Woodcott, who was returned in the Testa de Nevill as holding one knight's fee in Litchfield of the ancient feoffment of Robert de St. John. (fn. 43) In 1286 Walter de Eversley and Philippa his wife, probably daughter and heir of Henry de Woodcott, quitclaimed 4 messuages, 400 acres of land, 37 acres of wood, £1 1s. rent and the rent of a pound of pepper in West Litchfield and 'Hock' to Sanchea widow of Henry de Woodcott and Richard de Cardevile and the heirs of Richard. (fn. 44) Richard granted the hamlet of Litchfield with the manor of Woodcott in the hundred of Pastrow to the prior and brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England in 1303, (fn. 45) and from that date it has followed the same descent as the manor of Woodcott (fn. 46) (q.v.).


The church of ST. JAMES consists of a chancel 15 ft. 10 in. by 13 ft. 10 in. without a chancel arch, continuous with a nave 32 ft. 8 in. long, a north aisle 7 ft. 2 in. wide, a south porch and a timber bell-turret at the west end.

Plan of Litchfield Church

The 12th-century building on the site consisted of a nave one bay shorter eastwards than at present, with a south aisle divided off by an arcade of two bays, now blocked, the aisle being destroyed. There may have been at first a chancel narrower than the nave, but if so it has left no trace, and the present chancel was added c. 1190, having its eastern bay covered with a stone vault. About the year 1200 an aisle of two bays was added on the north side of the nave, and shortly afterwards an east bay was added to both nave arcades, that on the north opening to the site of a former north-east vestry. There may have been a similar vestry or chapel at the east of the south aisle.

The whole building underwent a restoration in 1875, the walls being then refaced, and at the same time the south porch was added and the north aisle rebuilt.

In the east wall of the chancel is a short and rather wide 12th-century window, with its round head altered to a point, and having a slightly pointed rear arch. On the north side of the window is a large locker with a segmental head. A similar locker appears to have been blocked on the opposite side. The principal windows in the north wall with the corresponding ones in the south wall are like the east window but retain their round heads; at a lower level on the north-west and south-west are 13th-century inserted lights. Near the east end of the south wall is a piscina with square jambs and segmental arch and a semicircular projecting chamfered basin.

The four vault corbels referred to above have moulded abaci resting on carved heads, except that in the south-east corner, which is moulded only. The corbels for the arch formerly existing at the west end of the chancel are in the form of irregular octagons above and semicircular below, carved with fluted scallops of late 12th-century type.

The north arcade is of three bays, the two western having a square chamfered pier, chamfered bases and moulded abaci, and the eastern bay being the same but a little wider and with chamfered abaci. All the arches are two-centred of one chamfered order.

Close to the eastern respond is the jamb and part of the segmental head of a low doorway older than the arch, and part of the original work. It must have opened from a vestry whose area was afterwards thrown into the aisle.

All the windows of the aisle are modern, the east and west walls containing small lancets, and the north wall two windows, the first having three trefoiled lights and the second five.

The blocked south arcade has an added east bay like that opposite, but the western half of the first pier, which is square, has a piece of a rough scalloped capital. The second pier is circular, half buried in the wall, and has a very roughly scalloped capital; the western respond has also part of a similar capital. The first and second bays contain single modern lancet windows, and in the third bay is the south doorway, evidently built with the porch in 1875. This has chamfered jambs and a two-centred arch. The outer doorway is the same but with a moulded arch, and in the side walls of the porch are pairs of small round lights.

The west window of the nave is a modern lancet, and above it is another small square-headed light, also modern.

All the walls are refaced with flint and stone dressing, except the aisle, which is plastered, and the roofs are tiled. The bell-turret is shingled.

The roofs and internal fittings, except the screen, which is of 17th-century date with small shafts, are modern. Near the modern font is the bowl of an old one which is considerably damaged and is square with chamfered corners.

There are two bells.

The plate consists of a silver chalice of 1571, a silver paten of 1874 inscribed 'Litchfield Church 1875,' and a small silver bowl like a salt cellar made in London.

The registers date from 1624, the first book, which is of parchment, containing entries of baptisms, marriages and burials from that date to 1728. The second book begins at 1718, the baptisms being to 1810, some marriages to 1751, and burials to 1812. There is a gap in the marriages from 1716 to 1738. The third book is of the usual printed form for marriages from 1755 to 1812.


There was a church in the parish by the middle of the 13th century, for a rector was presented by Ralph de Stopham, (fn. 47) who died in 1271. (fn. 48)

The advowson has throughout followed the same descent as the manor (fn. 49) (q.v.).

The Church School with accommodation for 33 scholars was built in 1868. It was enlarged in 1907 to accommodate 42 children.

There are no endowed charities in the parish.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. V.C.H. Hants, i, 456.
  • 3. Ibid. 481.
  • 4. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 235a, 236a.
  • 5. Morant, Hist, of Essex, ii, 431–2.
  • 6. Harl. MS. 1761, fol. 188.
  • 7. Feet of F. Hants, East. 12 Hen. III.
  • 8. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 236b. Mr. Round also suggests that the 2 hides of the manor with the 3 hides of 'Liveselle' would have made up a 5 hide unit.
  • 9. Harl. MS. 1761, fol. 188 d.
  • 10. Morant, Hist, of Essex, ii, 431.
  • 11. Inq. a.q.d. 1 Edw. II, no. 113; Pat. 1 Edw. II, pt. xii, m. 6; Feet of F. Hants, East. 2 Edw. II.
  • 12. Inq. p.m. 8 Edw. II, no. 39.
  • 13. Ibid. 14 Edw. III, no. 29.
  • 14. Ibid. 49 Edw. III, pt. ii, no. 16.
  • 15. Morant, Hist, of Essex, ii, 432; Edmondson, Baronagium Genealogicum.
  • 16. Inq. p.m. 2 Edw. IV, no. 18.
  • 17. Ibid. 17 Edw. IV.
  • 18. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 232a.
  • 19. Vide Elwes & Robinson, Castles and Manors of Western Sussex. This Ralph left a son and heir aged twenty-three at his death in 1271. Brian is sometimes said to have been still living in 1268 (Suss. Arch. Coll. xxvii, 50), but, as Mr. Round points out, this is impossible, since, as stated above, his son and heir was in wardship by the middle of the 13th century.
  • 20. Coram Rege R. Mich. 33 & 34 Edw. I, m. 55d.
  • 21. Chan. Inq. p.m. Hen. III, file 40, no. 13; Excerpta e Rot. Fin. (Rec. Com.), ii, 554.
  • 22. Fine R. 19 Edw. I, m. 10.
  • 23. Close, 19 Edw. I, m. 14.
  • 24. Fine R. 20 Edw. I, m. 17.
  • 25. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 9 Edw. II.
  • 26. Chart. R. 8 Edw. III, m. 10.
  • 27. The date of his death is uncertain, but it was during the episcopacy of Adam Orlton (1333–45), who granted licence to the rector of Litchfield to assist at his obsequies (Egerton MS. 2032, fol. 108).
  • 28. Feud. Aids, ii, 331.
  • 29. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. III, no. 54.
  • 30. Berry, Sussex Gen. 138; Elwes & Robinson, op. cit. 266.
  • 31. According to the pedigrees they were the daughters of Elizabeth and Henry, but this is obviously a mistake. It is much more likely that they were their great-grandchildren.
  • 32. Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 6 Hen. VIII.
  • 33. Berry, Hants Gen. 44; Burke, Extinct Baronetage, 290.
  • 34. In the Goring pedigree the names of the daughters of John Goring and Constance are given as Sybil, Eleanor, Jane and Anne (Berry, Suss. Gen. 138).
  • 35. Berry, Hants Gen. 219.
  • 36. Recov. R. East. 29 Hen. VIII, m. 414; Feet of F. Hants, Trin. 29 Hen. VIII.
  • 37. Pat. 31 Hen. VIII, pt. vii, m. 32.
  • 38. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cx, 142.
  • 39. V.C.H. Hants, i, 481b.
  • 40. Inq. p.m. 3 Edw. III, no. 67; 21 Edw. III, no. 57; Close, 23 Edw. III, pt. i, m 19.
  • 41. Vide Clere Woodcott in the parish of Kingsclere.
  • 42. Red Bk. of Exch. i, 208.
  • 43. Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 230b.
  • 44. Feet of F. Hants, Trin. 14 Edw. I.
  • 45. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), i, 127; Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 17.
  • 46. Feud. Aids, ii, 323; Inq. p.m. 21 Edw. III, no. 57; Close, 23 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 19.
  • 47. Coram Rege R. Mich. 33 & 34 Edw. I, m. 55 d.
  • 48. Chan. Inq. p.m. Hen. III, file 40, no. 13.
  • 49. Egerton MSS. 2031, fol. 88; 2032, fol. 141; 2033, fol. 22 d.; 2034, fol. 167; Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).