A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Odecote (xi cent.); Wudecote (xii cent.); Wodecote, Woodcote (xiii cent.).
Woodcott is a remote parish, distant about 2 miles west from Litchfield station on the Didcot, Newbury and Winchester line of the Great Western Railway, and 5 miles north-west from Whitchurch. It contains two farm-houses—Upper Woodcott Farm and Lower Woodcott Farm—and a few scattered cottages. There are 1,444 acres of down-country within the parish, sloping from south to north. The highest point, viz. 818 ft. above the ordnance datum, is reached at Sidown Warren in the north-eastern corner of the parish. The church of St. James is near Upper Woodcott Farm to the west of the road coming from Crux Easton. There is no vicarage, the vicar, the Rev. Charles De Havilland, being also rector of, and residing at, Crux Easton. The children attend the school at Crux Easton. The parish contains 449 acres of arable land, 103 acres of permanent grass and 144 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 1) The soil is rather heavy, the subsoil is chalk. The chief crops are wheat, oats and turnips.
Among place-names mentioned in the 16th century are the following:—Bitfanger Copp, Frith Copp, Innerst Copp and Sudgarston Copp. (fn. 2)
WOODCOTT was held by Ansfrid of the king in the reign of Edward the Confessor. (fn. 3) William I bestowed it on one of his thegns, William Belet by name, and at the time of the Domesday Survey it was held of him by Faderlin and his daughter. (fn. 4) The overlordship continued with the descendants of William Belet until as late at least as 1302, in which year the manor was said to be held of William Belet, (fn. 5) but subsequent to that date there is no further mention of the Belets in connexion with Woodcott. To return to the actual holders of the manor. All Faderlin's property (fn. 6) passed to Ruald de Woodcott, who, in the beginning of the 12th century, made a grant of lands in Kingsclere to Godstow Abbey. (fn. 7) He was succeeded by his son, Henry Fitz-Ruald, who was holding Woodcott in 1167, (fn. 8) and was probably the ancestor of Henry de Woodcott, who in 1276 granted the reversion of the manor after the death of himself and his wife Sanchea to Richard de Cardeville. (fn. 9) By the beginning of the 14th century Richard de Cardeville had succeeded to the manor, and was desirous of granting it to the Prior and brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England. However, by an inquisition taken on 17 February 1301–2 it was ascertained that such a grant would be to the damage of the king, since the manor owed suit at the king's hundred court of Pastrow. (fn. 10) Finally the difficulty was overcome by a payment of £10 on the part of the prior, (fn. 11) and in 1303 Richard de Cardeville granted the manor to the prior and brethren, (fn. 12) who in the next year bestowed a life interest in the manor on Richard and Eugenia his wife in return for an annual payment of a rose. (fn. 13) The prior and brethren were lords of the manor of Woodcott until the Dissolution, (fn. 14) when it became Crown property, and so remained until 1544, in which year Henry VIII granted it to John Kingsmill, together with Bitfanger Copp, Frith Copp, Innerst Copp and Sudgarston Copp. (fn. 15) John died seised of the manor in 1556, leaving a son and heir William, (fn. 16) who conveyed it in 1579 to Richard Lee. (fn. 17) It subsequently reverted, however, to William Kingsmill, who died seised of Woodcott in 1619, leaving a son and heir Henry. (fn. 18) From this date the history of Woodcott is identical with that of Tangley (fn. 19) until the later half of the 18th century, when it was purchased by the Herberts and descended to the present Lord Carnarvon. (fn. 20)
The church of ST. JAMES, a small building of flint and stone, erected in 1704, consists of a single rectangular chamber 40 ft. 10 in. by 19 ft. 7 in., with a small north vestry and a south porch. It has an east window of three lancets, two north windows each of two lancets, two south windows, the first a single light and the other of two lights. The entrance is at the southwest.
The roof is gabled and covered with tiles. Over the west wall is a stone bell-cote with an arched opening in which hangs a small modern bell. The furniture is modern; the pulpit contains a little 18th-century carving worked up in it.
The plate consists of a silver chalice of 1571 and a plated paten.
The only old book of the registers is one containing baptisms, marriages and burials from 1578 to 1762; the others appear to be missing.
In the churchyard west of the church stands a fine yew tree.
The church of Woodcott was appropriated to the use of the Prior and brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England in 1303. (fn. 21) The advowson of the vicarage has throughout followed the descent of the manor (fn. 22) (q.v.), the patron at the present time being the Earl of Carnarvon.
There are, it appears, no endowed charities in this parish.