A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Novus Burgus de Clere (xiii cent.); Nova Villa (xiv, xvi, xviii cent.); Novus Burgus, Nova Villa de Sandelford, Nova Villa.
NEWTOWN is a small low-lying parish north of Burghclere, consisting of 480 acres, and situated on the River Enborne, which forms its northern boundary.
There are two large commons in the parish; in the north is Newtown House standing in its own grounds, the residence of Lady Arbuthnot, the principal landowner. Near the common, in the centre of the parish, is the parsonage, while further north, close to Newtown House, is the church of St. Mary and St. John the Baptist, which was rebuilt in 1865 at the sole expense of Edmund and Elizabeth Arbuthnot. The school which existed before 1855 was enlarged in 1874 at the expense of the late Mr. William Chatteris, of Sandleford Priory, Newbury, and again in 1902, when the necessary funds were raised by subscription.
There are 12 acres of arable land here, 210 acres of grass and 30 acres of woods and plantations (fn. 1); the soil is various, the subsoil white gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. The following place-names are found in extant records: Stanfigg (fn. 2) (xvii cent.); Newland (xviii cent.). (fn. 3)
In a return of landowners in Newtown in 1575 John White held 2 acres of meadow; this family has been prominently connected with the parish for some centuries. William le Whyte of Woodhay, possibly an ancestor, owned land here in 1334. (fn. 4)
The earliest mention of NEWTOWN as a mesne borough of the Bishop of Winchester occurs about the year 1218. It appears that at this time an industrial settlement had grown up at Sandleford, (fn. 5) in the manor of Highclere, where the old road from Winchester to Newbury crosses the River Enborne. On 29 May in this year the Bishop of Winchester received licence (fn. 6) to hold a market every Monday in his manor 'de Novo Burgo de Clere,' and in 1218–19 the men of Sandleford had a chapel of their own, which may have been built at that date or shortly before, as it is recorded that the manor of High Clere then bore the expense of plastering it. (fn. 7)
The accounts for 'Novus Burgus' first appear on the episcopal Pipe Rolls (fn. 8) in 1218–19. The connexion between Highclere and Newtown is shown by the mention of Sandleford Chapel and Sandleford Mill in the Highclere account, but, on the other hand, the separate account for Newtown (Novus Burgus) reveals the existence of a borough reeve distinct from the reeve of Highclere, while a long list of burgage rents, set out in detail, suggests the recent formation of the borough. The burgesses named are fifty-one in number, holding for the most part one burgage apiece, though John de Hwlton (sic) had five, the Prior of Sandleford and Robert Savoner three each, and eight others two apiece. The annual assised rent of each burgage was 12d. Of the total issues, including a small sum for an amercement, 37s. went to Ralf, the reeve of Highclere, and 22s. was paid to Denis, the treasury clerk at Winchester, 10s. remaining in arrear till the following year, when it was paid off and the new account rendered by a serjeant of the bishop and the borough reeve. (fn. 9) In this year two new burgesses took holdings and paid 9d. apiece, though a note is made that in future they were to pay 12d. We also learn that the reeve was to be allowed 12d. a year, which in practice meant exemption from the usual burgage rent.
In 1220–1 the development of the town was still proceeding. (fn. 10) Several newcomers took up burgages, including Richard the merchant, while others already settled obtained more land from the lord, John Sturun receiving 6 acres at the yearly rent of 6d. an acre, which seems here to have been the normal figure. The assized gable or rent with these sources of increment rose to £4 10s. 3d. In this year none of the issues appear to have gone to Highclere, but Denis, the treasury clerk, received £3 10s. at Wolvesey, and 20s. 3d. was left uncollected till the following year. At Michaelmas 1224 so prosperous was the burghal budget that Denis acknowledged the receipt of £7 16s. 5d. (fn. 11) Evidently also the settlement of artisans and traders at the ford was attracting strangers, for in 1224–5 White paid 4s. to be allowed to settle in the new borough. (fn. 12) This year, however, only £2 11s. went to the Wolvesey treasury, as no less than £3 5s. 1d. was spent by the townsmen in making a ditch 300 perches long. In the following year one William paid 12d. 'pro respectu domus edifi.andi,' which may suggest that he had taken up land under an implied contract to build a house thereon. (fn. 13)
The town was now fairly established, and its inhabitants, with a consciousness of its adult status, were inclined to repudiate their connexion with Highclere. In 1231–2 2s. was levied 'de tota villata,' because they did not come to the frankpledge. (fn. 14) In the following year (fn. 15) 2s. was exacted from the men of Newtown, 'quia non venerunt ad curiam de Alta Clera,' and a further 2s. in the same year, 'de villata quia non venerunt ad curiam.' Yet in the account (fn. 16) for the first and second years of Bishop William de Raleigh about one-third of the borough issues were again paid to the reeve of Highclere, the remainder going to Wolvesey.
The style of reference to the borough in the Pipe Roll (fn. 17) of the fifth year of Bishop Raleigh is worth notice. This enrolment is headed 'Burgus de Clere,' but the account is rendered by 'John the serjeant and by Ralf, reeve of the new town of Sandelford' (prepositi nove ville de Sandelford). In fact, from about this time the borough is more frequently styled Newtown (Nova Villa) than Novus Burgus in the official accounts, and it was evidently marking time in its burghal and industrial development. We hear of no fair as at Overton, there is no hint of cloth manufacture as at the episcopal boroughs of Alresford, Downton and Witney; no burgesses went up from Newtown to serve the king in Parliament. It is possible that the borough suffered during the civil troubles (fn. 18) of Henry III; it was certainly in financial difficulties in the early years of his successor, and the account of the borough on the Pipe Roll of the eleventh year of Nicholas of Ely (fn. 19) is not only headed by arrears amounting to £7 12s. 2d., but records that 'the whole borough' paid 4s. 'pro fatuo responso et antiquo statu habendo.' Soon after this we hear of the two hundred courts or tourns (fn. 20) held about Martinmas and at Hocktide, at each of which 12d. tithingpenny was paid by the burgesses. No intermediate courts are mentioned either at this time or later. Craftsmen—butchers, bakers, ironmongers, shoemakers—are still the backbone of Newtown. There may be reference to stalls before the houses, when we hear of 1d. increment (fn. 21) paid by Philip le Bochere 'for one little place of purpresture before his threshold delivered him in the time of the king,' or when 'a little place which Alice Basely held' at 2d. a year was thrown down by the constable of the king (fn. 22) 'per statutum.'
When at Michaelmas 1348 the Black Death had just touched the English coast the issues (fn. 23) of Newtown paid to the bishop's treasury were £7 13s. 8d., and no arrears existed. In the following autumn, (fn. 24) probably through the plague—although no burgages are that year recorded on the roll as reverting to the bishop—only £6 was paid in at Wolvesey, no less than £1 15s. 11d. being left uncollected. Part of this seems to have been due to the abandonment of the tenement of Thomas atte Brome, which was of the yearly value of 10s. 8½d. It was vacant at least nine years. In the neighbouring manors of Highclere and Burghclere several tenements also came to the bishop's hands. Although after the second pestilence of 1361 there are similar signs of its ravages at Burghclere, the Newtown accountant (fn. 25) of 1362 paid £8 2s. 10d. to Sir Walter Sevenhampton at Wolvesey, and the arrears were wholly due to the long vacant tenement of Thomas atte Brome.
By 1434–5 Newtown (fn. 26) seems to have entirely recovered from any effect of the great plagues of the last century. At the end of that financial year £8 19s. 8d. was paid to William Mareys, the treasurer at Wolvesey, and only 2s. 5d. was left in arrear. Besides the normal tithing-penny the perquisites of the two tourns reached the sum of 12s. 5d., nearly three times as much as in the year of the Black Death. The next century showed no progress at Newtown; the issues, in fact, were inclined to fall off, if only in a slight degree. In 1529 (21 Hen. VIII) the amount (fn. 27) paid to the Wolvesey treasurer was £7 16s. 6d.
The rare surviving books of tourns at this period suggest no special industry at Newtown. It was merely a wayside village of inns and small holdings, (fn. 28) a stage on the Newbury and Winchester road, backed by much common and waste. Only one tourn (fn. 29) a year seems to have been held, for the whole of the 2s. tithing-penny was paid at Martinmas and no records of Hocktide Courts for the reign of Henry VIII are forthcoming. At the Martinmas tourn, held 15 November 1531 (23 Hen. VIII), Henry Felde, bailiff, and Richard Smythe, tithingman, made certain presentments, and these were confirmed and supplemented by the verdict of a jury of twelve. The business mainly consisted of formal defaults, breaches of assize, and petty quarrels with such burning questions as the ringing of hogs and the maintenance of hedges. Two hedge-breakers, for instance, John Coterell and John Croke, 'dicti subtenentes,' were bidden to quit the borough by Christmas on pain of half a mark. John Beneyt, too, was enjoined to make a proper fence between 'Le Churchesmede' and 'Lyatesland.' The minutes of no other court at Newtown are recorded in the bishop's court book until the Martinmas tourn and court four years after, although intermediate courts for the adjacent manors of Clere and Overton borough regularly appear. However, it may be hazardous to assert that none were held. A new bailiff, John Webbe, and a new tithingman, Philip Roose, had by this time come into office. Brewers, tipplers and hedge-breakers as usual came in for attention, and we also hear of a certain suspect, unknown, who arrived at Newtown and there left two kerchiefs of linen, which the twelve sworn men valued at 10d., and the bailiff seized as a waif for the lord.
By the middle of the next century the name of the borough remained, but at the Martinmas tourn and borough court (fn. 30) (Turnus Sancti Martini cum curia burgi), held 11 October 1647, although a jury was sworn, neither bailiff nor reeve appeared. The tithingman, however, was present and the usual tithing-penny of 2s. was paid. No other business is on record. Two centuries later it had been forgotten that Newtown was ever a borough.
On the accession of Charles II it was restored to the bishopric, (fn. 33) but was afterwards acquired by the Herbert family, Henry John George Herbert Lord Porchester, son and heir of Henry George second Earl of Carnarvon, dealing with it by recovery in 1821, (fn. 34) The present owner is his grandson, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux fifth Earl of Carnarvon.
The church ot ST. MARY THE VIRGIN AND ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST was rebuilt in the year 1865 and consists of a chancel 20 ft. by 15 ft, with a vestry on the south side, a nave 42 ft. by 18 ft., with a north aisle 5 ft. 9 in. wide, and a tower at the north-west 8 ft. square, the base of which forms the north porch.
All the windows of the chancel, nave and aisle are of 14th-century design. The walls are of flint and stone, the roofs are tiled.
The tower is of three low stages with an octagonal stair turret at the south-west corner and it is finished with an octagonal shingled spire. It contains four bells, all cast by G. Mears & Co. 1865.
The church possesses two old Sheffield-plated chalices, a paten and a flagon.
The registers are contained in two books, the first having baptisms 1666 to 1812, marriages from 1679 to 1682, and from 1731 to 1754, and burials from 1735 to 1812. The second volume is the usual printed form for marriages from 1754 to 1811.
The chapelry of Newtown, originally, it would appear, known as the chapel of Sandleford, has always been attached to the church of Burghclere. The advowson of 'Burclere with a chapel' was confirmed to John Bishop of Winchester in 1284 by Edward I, and it has belonged to the lord of that manor ever since. (fn. 35)
In 1635 Dame Constance Lucy by will, dated 15 May, directed her sons, Sir Richard Lucy, bart., and the Rev. William Lucy (afterwards Bishop of St. David's), to purchase lands of the clear yearly value of £30, whereof £20 should be for the maintenance of a preacher and £10 for education. By deed, dated 15 October 1771, lands in Collingbourne, Wilts., were conveyed and settled upon the prescribed trusts. By an order of the Charity Commissioners of 8 January 1904, made under the Board of Education Act, 1899, the annual sum of £10, being one-third of the net annual value, was constituted to be the 'Educational Foundation of Lady Constance Lucy.'
The annual sum of 6s. 8d. in respect of the charity of—Boswell was formerly distributed among the poor.
In 1874 Edmund Arbuthnot by will bequeathed to the rector and churchwardens a legacy, now represented by £599 9s. 10d. consols, with the official trustees, the dividends amounting to £15 19s. 8d. to be applied half for organist of parish church, one-fourth for bell-ringers, and one-fourth for internal ornamental repairs, &c., of parish church.