A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ferham, Ferneham, Farenham (xiii cent.); Farenham, Firnham, Fiernham, Vernhams, Vyrnham (xiv cent.); Farnhamsdean, Ferinhamsdeane (xvi cent.); Vernansdeane, Vernamsedeane (xvii cent.).
Vernhams Dean is a parish with an area of 3,920 acres, situated on the Wiltshire borders of the county, 9 miles south from Hungerford station on the Great Western Railway, and about 9 miles north from Andover. It contains several stretches of high downland, the highest point—769 ft. above the ordnance datum—being reached on its northern boundaries. The village lies to the west of the parish along the road from Hurstbourne Tarrant to Great Bedwyn, but the church, vicarage and the two manor farms, recalling the fact that the manor fell into moieties in the 1 3 th century, lie some distance to the east. There are other small collections of houses at Woodside on the county boundary half a mile west, at Vernhams Bank half a mile north-west, at Lower Conholt one and a-half miles south-west, at Vernhams Street and Little Down a mile north-east, and at Vernhams Row about a mile north-west. Upton, two miles south-east, is situated partly in this parish and partly in that of Hurstbourne Tarrant.
The parish contains 2,355½ acres of arable land, 558½ acres of permanent grass and 157 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is clay, while the subsoil is chalk. The chief crops are wheat, oats and sainfoin.
By Local Government Board Order 22250, dated 24 March 1888, a detached portion of Hurstbourne Tarrant was added to Vernhams Dean.
The following place-names occur in a 16th-century deed:—Closes called ' Clapperiscroft, Gardeynclose, Purtockes,' pasture called ' Botisdone' and a wood called ' Thornenycombe.' (fn. 2)
There is no mention of the manor of VERNHAMS DEAN in Domesday Book, and, as in the 13 th century it was still a member of the neighbouring manor of Hurstbourne, (fn. 3) it is probably included in the entry under ' Esseborne.' (fn. 4) It continued to form part of that manor until circa 1177, when it was granted by Henry II to Henry de Bernevall (fn. 5) and his heirs to hold by the service of one knight. (fn. 6) This grant was confirmed by King Richard I and by King John, the latter confirmation being dated 25 August 1203. (fn. 7) In 1213 Roger de Bernevall undertook to pay the king 200 marks for the lands of his uncle Henry in Hampshire. (fn. 8) Possibly this payment fell into arrears, as in 1216–17 Henry III granted the manor to Thomas Basset the younger to hold during the royal pleasure. (fn. 9) Some time afterwards Roger de Bernevall recovered possession of the manor, (fn. 10) and was seised of it at his death in battle in 1226, when the custody of his lands was granted to Robert Haget, his wife's brother. (fn. 11) Six years later, however, on 2 October 1232, the sheriff of the county was ordered to give seisin of the manor to Reginald de Bernevall, brother of Roger, on condition that he recompensed Robert for the loss of his chattels, and in addition paid him £5 a year for the support of the heirs of Roger until they attained their majority. (fn. 12) However, on 27 October in the same year Robert Haget recovered his right of custody. (fn. 13) The manor from this time continued in the Bernevall family until 1277, when, on the death of Gilbert de Bernevall, it was divided between his daughter Cecily and his grandson, Gilbert de Cundy, son and heir of his daughter Aubrey. (fn. 14) Cecily subsequently married Gilbert de Nevill, who in 1280 claimed to have the fines of the assize of bread and ale in Vernhams Dean. (fn. 15) She died in 1300, (fn. 16) having survived her husband six years, (fn. 17) and her moiety of the manor passed to her son and heir, John Nevill, aged twentysix. The latter died seised of a moiety of the manor in 1334, having a son and heir, Gilbert, (fn. 18) who died in 1359, his heir being his daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Simon Symeon. (fn. 19) Soon after the death of Simon without issue in 1387, (fn. 20) Elizabeth married John de la Warre, and in 1389 the moiety of the manor was settled on them in fee-tail with contingent remainder to feoffees. (fn. 21) Elizabeth died in 1395, (fn. 22) and, on the death of her husband without issue five years later, the moiety of the manor passed to the feoffees, (fn. 23) who in 1399 obtained licence to grant it in free alms to Winchester College. (fn. 24) This was done by fine two years later, (fn. 25) and in 1428 the warden of Winchester College was returned as holding half a fee in Vernhams Dean. (fn. 26) At the present day the governors of Winchester College are lords of the manor and the principal landowners in the parish.
But to return to the other moiety of the manor, sometimes known as WEST VERNHAM or BOTES. (fn. 27) It passed in 1277, as has been mentioned above, to Gilbert de Cundy, son of Aubrey, daughter of Gilbert de Bernevall. By an undated charter Gilbert de Bernevall granted this manor to Gilbert de Botes in consideration of homage and services and a white palfrey and 1d. yearly rent and a pair of white gloves at Easter. (fn. 28) It is just possible that this Gilbert de Botes who gave his name to West Vernham was identical with Gilbert de Cundy, who in 1303–4 was called ' Lord of the Botes manor.' (fn. 29) At that date he obtained licence from the king to grant it to Walter de Romsey, (fn. 30) a member of a family which owned considerable property in Wiltshire and Somerset. The terms of the grant were that Walter should pay Gilbert an annuity of two marks and should board respectably (honorifice) in his own or a religious house Geoffrey the brother of Gilbert and should allow Gilbert every year a furred gown such as Walter himself wore as ' valet,' and whensoever he should be dubbed a knight he should allow Gilbert 20s. or a gown of that price, and in alternate years a gown of cloth and fur like that worn by his own wife or 20s. in lieu thereof. (fn. 31) Soon afterwards Gilbert and his wife Eleanor acquired from Walter de Romsey a life interest in the moiety. It was then seized by the Crown, since it was said to be acquired without licence, but in 1318 Eleanor was pardoned and received permission to retain the premises for life in return for a fine paid by her second husband, Thomas Heryngawd. (fn. 32) Before 1333 the moiety had reverted to the Romsey family, a Walter de Romsey, possibly a son of the firstnamed Walter, dying seised of it in that year. He left a son and heir, John, (fn. 33) who died soon afterwards, and was. succeeded by his son Walter, who was holding in 1346. (fn. 34) Walter, who was by this time a knight, obtained licence in 1381 to convey his moiety of the manor of Vernhams Dean to his son Thomas and Eleanor his wife in fee-tail. (fn. 35) Thomas died seised of the moiety in 1400, during the lifetime of his father, leaving a son and heir, Thomas, aged ten, (fn. 36) who died some twenty years later, leaving an infant daughter Joan as his heir. (fn. 37) Joan, the mother of the last-named Joan, died in 1440 seised of a third part of the moiety, which she had held in dower, (fn. 38) and the next year the whole moiety was settled upon the daughter, Joan, and her husband, Thomas Payne. (fn. 39) On the death of Joan Payne her estates were divided between her two next heirs— (1) her father's cousin, Joan wife of Roger Wyke, who was the daughter of Mary Byngham, daughter of Sir Walter Romsey, and (2) William Horsey, the son and heir of her father's cousin, Eleanor, the sister of Joan Wyke. (fn. 40) The moiety of Vernhams Dean was assigned to the former, (fn. 41) who in 1461, in conjunction with her husband, Roger Wyke, dealt by fine with half the manors of ' Vernham, Vernhamgreen and Botysplace.' (fn. 42) Joan had married as her first husband a certain Thomas Keileway, (fn. 43) whose descendant John Keileway in 1517 granted a forty years' lease of the manor of East Vernham and Botes to Thomas Hellier, husbandman. (fn. 44) John died seised of half the manor of Vernhams Dean in 1547, his heir being his son William, (fn. 45) who in 1567, in conjunction with his son, Francis Keileway, and Anne his wife, conveyed to George Burley premises described in the fine as the manors of Vernhams Dean and Botes. (fn. 46) Three years later Thomas Keileway, son and heir of Francis Keileway, gave up all his right in the premises to the same George Burley, (fn. 47) who in his turn alienated them to Thomas Larke, John Attwood and Robert Watton in 1575. (fn. 48) These persons were probably trustees for Winchester College, which at this date acquired the manor as an investment (fn. 49) and are still lords. (fn. 50) The manor was from time to time conveyed to new feoffees. (fn. 51) The two Manor Farms mark the sites of the moieties of the original manor of Vernhams Dean, while Boats Copse, to the south of the village in the extreme west of the parish, still preserves the name of the manor of Botes.
A mill, almost in ruins, is mentioned as an appurtenance of the manor in 1277. (fn. 52) All trace of it has now been lost.
UPTON (Optune, xi cent.; Uptonia, xiii cent.), which is a tithing situated partly in this parish and partly in that of Hurstbourne Tarrant, formed part of the possessions of Edith, the queen of Edward the Confessor, and on her death at Winchester in 1075 passed to King William I, by whom it was held at the time of the Domesday Survey. (fn. 53) It remained with the Crown for a considerable period, but was finally split into two portions, one being probably included in the grant of Hurstbourne to John de Lyons in 1198, (fn. 54) while the other part was granted with Vernhams Dean to Henry de Bernevall by Henry II. (fn. 55) The history of the former portion is given under Hurstbourne Tarrant (q.v. supra). The other part continued to form part of the manor of Vernhams Dean and was included in the moiety assigned to Cecily on the death of her father, Gilbert de Bernevall, in 1277, as appears from a statement made on the occasion of the levying of a subsidy in 1316. (fn. 56) A portion of it, however, remained with the Bernevall family, and was granted by the name of a messuage and 14 acres of land in Upton to the Abbot and convent of Beaulieu by Roger Bernevall in 1312. (fn. 57) In the 14th century the ninths of the temporalities of the abbey in the parish were assessed at 6s. 8d. (fn. 58) At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries the grange or manor of Upton was farmed out for a term of thirty years to Roland Layton and Joan his wife on the understanding that the latter should, when necessary, destroy the old hall there and build another with room and kitchen of the same length as the old hall at their own expense except for the great timber. (fn. 59) However, in 1544 the king granted the grange or manor of Upton with other of the late possessions of Beaulieu Abbey to Thomas Lord Wriothesley. (fn. 60)
Within a few years the Bernevall estate in Upton became merged in the manor of Vernhams Dean and passed with it to Winchester College. At the present day it is represented by 70 or 80 acres of land parcel of the manor of Vernhams Dean. (fn. 61)
The church of ST. MARY THE VIRGIN consists of a chancel 20 ft. by 15 ft. 5 in., with a small vestry on the north side, and a nave 41 ft. by 21 ft. 5 in.
The north wall of the nave, which is 3 ft. 1 in. in thickness, is the only part of an early building on this site which is left, and probably belongs to the end of the 12th century; the west doorway is also of this date. All other traces of old work were swept away in 1851, when practically the whole church was rebuilt and new windows were inserted throughout.
The east window is composed of five lancets, and the one north and two south windows of the chancel are single trefoiled lights. The vestry has a small two-light north window and an east outside doorway. The chancel arch has moulding continued from the jambs and is two-centred in form.
The nave has three windows on each side, each having two trefoiled lights.
The west doorway has jambs of two orders with small attached shafts in each, having moulded bases and very pretty foliated capitals, each of different design with hollow-chamfered square abaci. The arch is of two semicircular orders with horizontal and vertical zigzag and a label enriched with dogtooth ornament. There are two modern lancets and a quatrefoil over the doorway. On the apex of the west gable is a stone bell-cote containing one bell inscribed 'S K 1681.' The initials are those of Samuel Knight.
All the walls are of flint and stone, the nave with a good deal of modern red brick, and the roofs are tiled. The internal fittings are all modern. On the floor in the centre of the nave are two late 17th-century grave slabs.
The plate consists of a silver chalice, undated, a paten of 1774 and a secular flagon of 1780.
The registers begin in 1598, the first book containing baptisms, marriages and burials thence to 1628; this is followed by a gap of twenty-six years, as the second book dates from 1654 to 1700; the others continue on to the present day.
Vernhams Dean was a chapelry dependent on the mother-church of Hurstbourne Tarrant until (fn. 62) 1871, in which year the Ecclesiastical Commissioners endowed the newly-constituted vicarage of Vernhams Dean with a stipend of £111 payable out of the common fund, (fn. 63) and voted £1,500 towards the building of a parsonage-house. (fn. 64) The living is at the present day a vicarage, yearly value £299, with 46 acres of glebe and residence in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester.
There are Wesleyan and Primitive Methodist chapels at Vernhams Dean. Littledown has a Primitive Methodist chapel. The schools at Vernhams Dean were built in 1860 for 100 children.
Among property forfeited for superstitious uses in the reign of Edward VI were lands of the annual value of 3s. 4d. in the occupation of John Hart, which had been left by a certain Thomas Canon to maintain an obit and to repair the church. (fn. 65)
In 1864 Thirza Bull by will bequeathed a sum of £100, the income to be applied in the purchase of bread or clothing for the aged poor. The legacy was invested in £112 16s. 8d. consols, which is held by the official trustees.