Bentley liberty and parish

Pages 27-30

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

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Bentley liberty and parish

Bintungom (vii cent.); Beonaet, Beonetlet (x cent.); Benedlei (xi cent.); Benetlegh (xiii cent.); Benetlye (xiv cent.).

The parish of Bentley, covering an area of 2,299 acres, lies on the borders of Surrey, south of the parish of Crondall and north of Binsted, from which it is separated by the River Wey. It is served by Bentley railway station on the Alton branch of the London & South Western Railway. The ground slopes from the north of the parish, where it reaches its highest point (535 ft. above the ordnance datum), down towards the south and east. The village, which is described by Warner in the 18th century as 'a delightful, pleasant and neat village,' with wellplanted gardens and hedges of white thorn, lies on the main road from Farnham to Alton, which is supposed to be an ancient Pilgrims' Way leading from Farnham through Bentley and Alton to Winchester. The forest of Alice Holt in the neighbouring parish of Binsted no doubt furnished cover for highwaymen and robbers, who fell upon merchant and pilgrim on their way to Winchester, to shrine or fair. The outlaw Sir Adam Gurdon is said to have frequented this road with his armed band, and to have devastated the surrounding country to the terror of peaceful travellers until his restoration to his estates by King Edward I.

Index Map to the Liberty of Bentley

North of the main road is Marsh House, the residence of Mr. Gilbert Harrap, and on the east is Northbrook, where Miss Schroder lived until her death in 1863. The property was then bought by Mr. Rowcliffe, and at his death by Mr. E. M. Sprot, who sold it to Mr. Wilmot-Sitwell in 1908. Bury Court was purchased by Mr. Lillywhite in 1907 from Miss White, whose brother bought the property from the executors of Mr. Robert Trimmer.

The parish, assessed with the small parish of Coldrey, (fn. 1) which covers an area of 194 acres, contains 1,138¼ acres of arable land, 1,077½ acres of permanent grass, and 119½ acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 2) The soil is clay, gravel, and chalk marl, and the chief crops are corn and hops.

The common fields of Bentley were inclosed in 1859 under the General Indosure Act. (fn. 3)

The following place-names occur in extant records of Bentley:—Estden, Ewclive Coleford, (fn. 4) Poukelond, Becklond, Cranlond, Le Spolt, La Merre, (fn. 5) Janckenes Welle, Le Lutine, La Byencroft, Mershcopemed (fn. 6) (xiv cent.), Cheakes (xvi cent.), (fn. 7) Guttonspool, Hame, Lopwood Grove (xvii cent.). (fn. 8) La Merre, called Merelond in the 15th century, is the modern Marcland, which was purchased from the Rev. Augustus Legge by the uncle of the present owner, Mr. A. E. Seawell, Janckenes Welle probably formed a part of the estate now known as Jenkin Place, the property of Mr. Thomas Eggar and Mr. R. B. Eggar, and Cheakes is the modern Cheeks Farm.


The manor and liberty of BENTLEY belonged from an early date to the Bishop of Winchester, being dependent on his liberty of Farnham (co. Surr.), to the hundred court of which the tithing-men of Bentley did suit as late at least as the end of the 16th century. (fn. 9) The date at which the bishop obtained possession is uncertain, but it was probably at the end of the 8th century. In 688 Cedwalla, King of the Saxons, granted 60 hides in Farnham of the land of Ceddas, Cisus, and Criswan, of which 10 were in Bentley, to found a monastery. (fn. 10) It is unknown to what monastery reference is made, and none is known to have existed at Farnham, so that the project may have been abandoned. Sixty hides in Farnham, apparently the above-mentioned, were granted in 803–5 by Alhmund, Bishop of Winchester, to Byrhtelm, (fn. 11) apparently only for a term of years or for life, as in 858 Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, granted the same to Ethelbald, King of the West Saxons, for life, with remainder to the bishop and church of St. Peter, Winchester. (fn. 12) In 909 Edward the Elder confirmed a grant by his predecessors of 60 hides of land at Farnham and 10 hides at Bentley to the bishop, (fn. 13) and this grant was further confirmed by King Edgar at the end of the 10th century. (fn. 14) The Bishop of Winchester was holding Bentley as 10 hides in 1086, and of him Osborne de Ou and William were holding 1 hide 1 virgate worth 50s. and l½ hides worth 20s. respectively. (fn. 15) From this date the manor of Bentley followed the same descent as the manor of Farnham until 1648, (fn. 16) when on the abolition of episcopacy it was sold to George Wither the poct and Elizabeth his wife. (fn. 17) At the Restoration the bishop regained possession of his confiscated land, and continued to hold the manor of Bentley until between 1880 and 1885, (fn. 18) when it passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the present lords of the manor, as the representatives of the bishop.

See of Winchester. Gules St. Peter's keys crossed with St. Paul's sword.

The manor of Bentley contained a mill worth 10s. in 1086. (fn. 19)

The manor of PURY alias PERRYLAND (Pyri, Perye, xiv cent.; Purye, xv cent.; Pyrry, Perry Land alias Pury alias Prury Land, xvi cent.; Puray alias Peary, xviii cent.) was probably represented at the time of the Domesday Survey by 1½ hides worth 20s. held by William of the Bishop of Winchester, and 1 hide and 1 virgate worth 50s. held by Osborne de Ou. (fn. 20) The manor continued to be held of the Bishop of Winchester. (fn. 21) Nothing further is known of this estate until 1312, when John de Westcote obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne land in Bentley. (fn. 22) He died seised of the manor of Pury 1334, leaving as his heir his son John, an idiot. (fn. 23) From this date the manor of Pury apparently followed the same descent as the manor of Badley in Crondall in the hundred of Crondall (fn. 24) (q.v.) until 1442, (fn. 25) when Philip de Pageham died seised of the manor, leaving as his heir his kinsman, Geoffrey Borrard of the Isle of Wight, son of Parnel daughter of Laurence Pageham. (fn. 26) Pury then passed, in accordance with a settlement of 1348, (fn. 27) to Christine wife of Richard Holt and granddaughter of Roger de Colrethe. (fn. 28) Richard Holt was enfeoffed by his mother Christine in 1447, (fn. 29) and died seised of the manor in 1458, leaving two daughters and co-heirs, Christine, afterwards wife of Edward Berkeley, and Elizabeth. (fn. 30) Edward Berkeley died seised of a moiety of the manor in 1506, Christine's heir being William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, son of her daughter Laura. (fn. 31) Elizabeth apparently died without issue or unmarried, and in 1532 William Blount, Lord Mountjoy, conveyed the whole manor to William Thorpe. (fn. 32) It next passed into the possession of Michael Lyster of Kinnersley, (co. Heref.), who married Elizabeth daughter and heir of Sir Richard Southwell of Horsham St. Faith (co. Norf.). (fn. 33) In 1579 Michael and Elizabeth conveyed the manor to William Peake, (fn. 34) who continued to hold it until his death in 1597. (fn. 35) His kinsman and heir William Walle (fn. 36) died in 1639, leaving as his heir his son Joseph, (fn. 37) who held the manor until his death in 1644. (fn. 38) His 3on and heir William dealt with the manor by recovery in 1657, (fn. 39) but from this date down to the middle of the 18th century nothing is known about its descent. In 1757 Robert Eggar, senior, and Robert Eggar, junior, dealt with the manor of Pury by fine, (fn. 40) and in 1784 Robert Eggar and Sarah his wife and Robert Allen and Sarah his wife conveyed it to John Manwaring. (fn. 41) By the middle of the 19th century Perrylands was in the possession of Mr. F. R. Thresher, who left it by will to his nephew Mr. Thresher Giles. (fn. 42) Mr. Giles died in 1908, leaving Perrylands to the present owner, Mr. Gilbert Harrap. (fn. 43)


The church of OUR LADY stands on high ground to the north of the village, approached by narrow lanes. An avenue of yews leads to the south door, and along the west side of the churchyard is an avenue of limes. The church has a chancel 25 ft. 6 in. by 16 ft., with north and south chapels of the same length and 15 ft. 2 in. wide, nave 3 8 ft. 5 in. by 20 ft. 9 in., with north and south aisles 13 ft. 7 in. wide, a west tower 13 ft. 5 in. by 12 ft. 4 in., and a wooden south porch, all the measurements being internal.

The oldest parts belong to the 12th century, and the plan until modern times was rather an unusual one. The aisleless nave and chancel were enlarged about 1180 by the addition of a north chapel, and a corresponding chapel was added on the south some sixty years later. The tower was apparently a late 12th-century addition, but the nave remained aisleless till 1835, when a south aisle was built. This was rebuilt in 1890, having become ruinous, and a north aisle of the same size added.

The tracery of the two west windows of the chapels was reset in the north aisle, and four 15th-century two-light windows from the north and south walls of the old nave were used up in making two windows in the new south aisle, one of three lights and one of two, the remains of 15th-century glass in them being put into the clearstory of the chancel. (fn. 44)

The top of the tower is of 18th-century brickwork, and the wooden south porch is modern.

The cast window of the chancel is of three trefoiled lights, with tracery of 15th-century character a good deal restored. It contains some good modern glass, two small figures in 15th-century white and gold glass, and representing the Annunciation.

The north arcade of the chancel is of two bays with circular column and semicircular responds, hollowmoulded bases, and square scalloped capitals, showing traces of colour decoration on that of the western respond. The arches are of two chamfered orders, the outer being segmental; they are 15th-century work, and evidently replaced the original arches when the clearstory was added.

The south arcade has circular moulded capitals and bases, with two-centred arches of two chamfered orders. In the western bay on each side is a low coped wall apparently of old stonework rebuilt. Over the arcades on each side are three clearstory windows of 15th-century date, each of two trefoiled lights under a square head; the fragments of 15th-century glass from the nave windows are set in them. At the south-east of the chancel is an arched opening through the wall; the jambs are square on the west side, but splayed eastwards on the other, making the opening wider towards the chapel. It appears to have served as a large squint commanding the altar in the chapel. To the east of this is a small recess without a drain, having a round head with a narrow border of zigzag ornament on the edge, apparently of no great age. The east window of the north chapel is a lancet. There is one north window, which is modern and has two trefoiled lights under a square head. To the east of this is a modern doorway with moulded jambs and two-centred head.

At the south-east is a 13th-century piscina recess with a modern basin. The two-centred arch has an edge-roll with a row of dog-tooth ornament on the soffit.

The east window of the south chapel is a lancet like that of the north chapel, and has been more or less restored. The window in the south wall has two trefoiled lights under a square head without a label, and is of 15th-century date. To the east of this is a 13th-century piscina which has a deeply-moulded trefoiled head. The bowl has been a moulded capital, and probably had a shaft beneath it; it is now broken off flush with the wall face.

To the west of the south window is a recess formed by blocking up a 13th-century doorway; the jambs and segmental head are chamfered, but it does not show on the outer face of the wall. The chancel arch is modern and has semicircular responds and an arch of two moulded orders. The western arches of both chapels are also modern, and are of two chamfered orders with square jambs.

The nave arcades are entirely new, of three bays with circular columns, splayed bases and moulded capitals, and moulded two-centred arches.

The two easternmost windows of the north aisle have tracery of late 14th-century date, of two trefoiled ogee-headed lights with a flowing quatrefoil over, and a moulded label, formerly in the west ends of the two chapels; the jambs and mullions are new. To the west of these is a third window, which is a modern copy of them.

The west windows of both aisles are modern, and have three cinquefoiled lights with tracery of 15th-century style.

The south-east window of the south aisle, already referred to, has three cinquefoiled lights with tracery and a square head and moulded label. The other south window is similar, but has only two lights.

Between these windows is the south doorway, which is modern and has moulded jambs and two-centred head. The tower arch is of two pointed orders, stop-chamfered, with square-edged hollow-chamfered abaci; it has a similar section to the jambs and is two-centred.

The west doorway of the tower is modern, but has old stones in the internal jambs.

The tower is of three stages, with large anglebuttresses, a modern two-light west window, and an old loop-light in the south face.

The belfry stage is of red brick with an embattled parapet, and in each face is a modern two-light window.

The chancel, chapels, and nave have old trussed rafter roofs, and the weathering of a steep pitched roof shows on the east wall of the tower. The altar rails are heavy 17th-century balusters, but all the wooden fittings are modern.

The square Purbeck marble bowl of the font is of late 12th-century date with shallow round-headed panels on each face. The stem and base, with four small flanking shafts, are modern.

On the south wall of the south chapel is a black marble slab to Margaret wife of George Windsor, who died 1631. Above the inscription are the kneeling figures of a man and a woman very well cut in outline on the marble. Above them is a shield of Windsor: Gules a saltire argent between twelve crosslcts or, impaling Party gules and argent a saltire counterchanged. The inscription begins with the couplet:—
Hic Maria Deo, sanctis mulcedine Persis,
Hanna viro, miseris Candida Phaebe jacet.

The tower contains six bells, the treble bearing the inscription, 'John Eyer gave twenty pound to meck mee a losty sound 1703.' This bell, with the second, fifth and tenor, is by Samuel Knight, and the third and fourth are by Richard Phelps, 1725.

The plate consists of a silver cup of 1790, two pewter plates now electro-plated and used as patens, and a silver flagon of 1789.

There are three books of registers:—(i) baptisms and burials, 1538 to 1716; marriages, 1538 to 1715; (ii) Duplicate register of burials, 1700 to 1729; (iii) baptisms, marriages and burials, 1716 to 1813.


Bentley was from time immemorial a chapelry dependent on the church of Farnham (co. Surr.), (fn. 45) and was worth £10 in tithes to the rectory of Farnham in the 16th century. (fn. 46) A perpetual curate was first appointed at the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 47)

The great and little tithes of Bentley and of the other dependent chapelries of Farnham, with right of nomination of a curate, were habitually leased out by the Archdeacon of Surrey for terms of three lives. (fn. 48) In 1840 Bishop Sumner introduced a Bill in the House of Lords to anticipate the falling-in of the leases and to restore the tithes to the several parishes, Farnham, Frensham, Seale, Elstead and Bentley, but the Bill was opposed and withdrawn. (fn. 49) As the leases gradually fell in they were not renewed, and the tithes remained in the hands of the archdeacon. (fn. 50) After some controversy an arrangement was made in 1864 and confirmed by an Order in Council dated 29 November 1865, whereby Bentley took its own share of tithes undivided. (fn. 51) The rectory is in the gift of the Archdeacon of Surrey, and is now worth £628 yearly, with 30 acres of glebe and residence.

There is a Bible Christian chapel in Bentley.


In 1631 George Windsor gave for the use of the poor about 6 acres. In 1905 a detached portion known as Swaynes was sold and the proceeds invested in £515 1s. 10d. consols, with the official trustees, who also hold £103 12s. 3d. like stock, arising from the sale of timber.

In 1841 Edmund Hambrough left a legacy for the poor, represented by £89 6s. 7d. consols. The income of these charities, amounting to about £24 a year, is applied together in doles to widows and aged people at Christmas and in grants of money.

The property known as the Church House was sold in 1890, and the net proceeds invested in £187 11s. 2d. consols, producing yearly £4 13s. 8d., which is applied towards the expenses of the church.

Isabella Schroder by will, proved at London 24 October 1863, bequeathed £5,641 15s. 9d. consols, the dividends, amounting to £141, to be applied for the benefit of the most deserving and necessitous inhabitants. The charity is regulated by a scheme of 15 August 1873, and in 1906 £120 was expended in the distribution of coal, £5 in clothing, and grants were made of money to the poor.

The several sums of stock are held by the official trustees.


  • 1. In Alton Hundred (V.C.H. Hants, ii, 503).
  • 2. a Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 3. Inciosure Awards (Blue Bk.).
  • 4. Min3. Accts. bdle. 1141, no. 11.
  • 5. Add. Chart. 17401.
  • 6. Ibid. 17403.
  • 7. Ct. of Req. bdle. 86, no. 38.
  • 8. Close, 24 Chas. I, pt. iv, no. 3 3.
  • 9. V.C.H. Surr. ii, 580, 581.
  • 10. Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 106; V.C.H. Surr. ii, 590.
  • 11. Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 452.
  • 12. Ibid. ii, 98.
  • 13. Ibid. 300.
  • 14. Ibid. iii, 408.
  • 15. V.C.H. Hants, i, 463b In the Surrey entry Osborne de Ou held the church ot Farnham, which was worth £6, with 1 hide which he had in Hampshire (V.C.H. Surr. i, 300).
  • 16. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 274; Mins. Accts. bdle. 1141, no. 11; Acts of P.C. 1550–2, p. 359; Pat. 5 Edw. VI, pt. vi, m. 26; ibid. 4 & 5 Phil, and Mary, pt. vii, m. 19; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1603–10, p. 68; V.C.H. Surr. ii, 590.
  • 17. Close, 24 Chas. I, pt. iv, m. 33.
  • 18. Kelly, Hants Dir.
  • 19. V.C.H. Hants, i, 463b.
  • 20. Ibid.
  • 21. Inq. p.m. 49 Edw. III, pt. ii, no. 24; 36 Hen. VI, no. 32; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xix, 89.
  • 22. Cal. Chart. R. 1300–26, p. 200.
  • 23. Cal. Pat. 1330–4, pp. 493, 524, 581. The custody of his lands was granted to John de Ravenesholme, the king's yeoman (Cal. Pat. 1330–4, p. 493).
  • 24. a It is possible however, that, on the death of John de Westcote the idiot, Pury passed immediately to his sister and coheir Alice de Pageham and was not divided, like Badlry (q.v.), between her and her sister Margery Fulquardeby.
  • 25. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 133, 336; Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 22 Edw. III; Inq. p.m. 10 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 46; 35 Edw. III, pt. ii, no. 31; 49 Edw. III, pt. ii, no. 24; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 336; Inq. p.m. 13 Ric. II, no. 38; 13 Hen. IV, no. 22; 10 Hen. V, no. 26a; 12 Hen. VI, no. 26.
  • 26. Ibid. 21 Hen. VI, no. 35; Cal. Pat. 1422–9, p. 41.
  • 27. a Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 22 Edw. III.
  • 28. She was descended from Alice the wife of William de Colrethe, one of the sisters and co-heirs of John de Westcote the idiot.
  • 29. a Add. Chart. 17434.
  • 30. Inq. p.m. 36 Hen. VI, no. 32. See Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xix, 89.
  • 31. Ibid.
  • 32. Feet of F. Hants, East. 24 Hen. VIII.
  • 33. Close, 19 Eliz. pt. xvi.
  • 34. Ibid. 21 Eliz. pt. x.
  • 35. W. and L. Inq. p.m. 7 Jas. I, bdle. 12, no. 74. See Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccx, 72.
  • 36. Ibid. Feet of F. Div. Co. East. 39 Eliz.
  • 37. See Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), di, 46.
  • 38. Ibid.
  • 39. Recov. R. Hil. 1657, rot. 8.
  • 40. Feet of F. (K.S.B.), Hants, Trin. 30–31 Geo. II.
  • 41. Feet of F. Hants, Mich. 25 Geo. III.
  • 42. Local Information.
  • 43. Ibid.
  • 44. All this information is carefully set out on a board in the church; a very thoughtful and sensible proceeding, for which all visitors to the church ought to be most grateful.
  • 45. Egerton MS. 2031, fol. 92; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 32.
  • 46. Ibid.
  • 47. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 48. V.C.H. Surr. ii, 596.
  • 49. Ibid. 597.
  • 50. V.C.H. Surr. ii, 597.
  • 51. Ibid.