Parishes: Priors Dean

Pages 436-437

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

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Ladene, Dene (xii cent.); Priors Dene, Priorsdeane (xvi cent.); Dean Prior, Priors Dean (xviii cent.).

The parish of Priors Dean lies to the east of Colemore and partly upon a hill called the Barnet, in a well-wooded district. The parish contains 1,595 acres of land, of which 687½ are arable, 244¼ permanent grass and 111 woodland. (fn. 1)

In the village, which lies in the north-eastern part of the parish, the church and the Manor Farm stand near together, while a road leads north from the village past Baker's Farm to Goleigh, which lies on the eastern border of the parish to the north of Abbots Copse. Barefield Copse, Goleigh Bottom, Buttons Copse, Buttons Lane (Buttons, xvi cent.), (fn. 2) Holtham's Lane, Slade Farm (Slade, xiii cent.), (fn. 3) Baker's Farm and Windmill Farm, which is said to mark the site of a mill mentioned in the earliest records of Priors Dean, are in the parish. Other place-names found in local records are Heryngesdeene alias Heryngesland, (fn. 4) Puppellebere (xiii cent.), Jochys (xvi cent.). (fn. 5)

The soil varies from a stiff clay to a very light soil; the subsoil is chalk. The chief crops are wheat and oats.


The manor of PRIORS DEAN followed the same descent as Colemore from 1203, in which year King John, while confirming his former charter to Southwick Priory, made an additional grant of 'all the land of Dene with its appurtenances which Theodoric Teutonicus formerly held, in return for the rent of £7 18s. 5d. to be paid yearly at Michaelmas.' (fn. 6) This money seems to have been used generally for the maintenance of some servant of the king, (fn. 7) but in 1439 it was granted temporarily to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester. (fn. 8) In 1346 the prior and convent were excused payment 'in consideration of the losses inflicted on them by the destruction of their property by frequent invasion of alien enemies of the king and by frequent coming to the priory of him and his household and magnates and others going with him to foreign parts,' (fn. 9) but this pardon was afterwards vacated. (fn. 10)

GOLEIGH (Golley, xiii cent.; Gollegh, xiv cent.; Gollye, Golleys, xvi cent.), a farm in Priors Dean, was held of the priory of Southwick in the 14th century by Winchester College, (fn. 11) and was bought by John Baker, the warden of the college, for 200 marks in 1480. (fn. 12) The actual tenants for more than 200 years were the Newlyns. (fn. 13) Thus a Richard Newlyn was the tenant of the farm in 1539, (fn. 14) and his greatgrandson, John Newlyn, died at Goleigh in 1646, leaving, among other children, two sons, John and Philip. (fn. 15) The elder died childless in 1706, after which the manor was held by his widow Elizabeth till her death in 1711. (fn. 16) The younger branch does not seem ever to have occupied Goleigh Farm, though three of Philip's children were buried in Priors Dean Church. (fn. 17)

Winchester College. Argent two cheverons sable between three roses gules.

FRENCH'S (Francheys, xiii cent.; Frenches, xvi cent.) has formed part of the Goleigh property since 1480, when it was acquired by John Baker, warden of Winchester College. (fn. 18) It is mentioned in the earliest rental of Priors Dean, when Richard Franceys held 10 acres of land, for which he paid 3s. yearly and could not marry his daughter without the lord's licence. (fn. 19) It was sold in 1387 by John French to Thomas Sylvester of Blackmore in the parish of Froxfield. (fn. 20) The Sylvester family is still established at the Slade in the parish of Priors Dean.

Almost as long a connexion with the parish as the Sylvesters' was that of the Beles, who seem to have held land in Priors Dean before 1256, in which year Richard le Bele declared that the Prior of Southwick had unjustly exacted from him other services than his ancestors had been accustomed to pay, and 'it was adjudged that the aforesaid Richard and his heirs should hold land for ever in Dene by the services acknowledged, and that the prior and his successors cannot and must not exact other services from them.' (fn. 21) The name ' Bel,' 'Bele' occurs several times during the 14th century, (fn. 22) usually among the witnesses to grants of land to Southwick, and in the rent roll of 1522 William Bele is said to hold 'Beleys, Cokespyrks and Bedylls freely,' and 'Pypulberc and Heryngesland by copy' of the priory. (fn. 23) William son of this William Bele (fn. 24) died early in 1552, (fn. 25) having appointed his father-in-law, John Chase, the guardian of his infant heir John. (fn. 26) When John Chase died Thomas his son took up the execution of the will of William Bele, (fn. 27) but on the plea that money was owing to him he refused to deliver up the lands, goods and chattels when the heir came of age (fn. 28) A suit between the Beles and Thomas Chase was carried on in Chancery for many years, but Peter, the grandson of William Bele, (fn. 29) seems to have been in possession of the estate by 1579, and his dcscend ants continued to hold it till 1707, when the last of the family, Major Richard Bele, (fn. 30) died at Southampton.


The church of unknown dedication is a little red-tiled and plastered building with a wooden bell-cote on the west end of the nave and a modern south porch. The nave, measuring internally 32 ft. 4 in. by 15 ft. 2 in., is of the 12th century, probably c. 1120–30, and the chancel, which has a very marked deviation to the north from the axis of the nave, appears to be a 13th-century rebuilding, and is of irregular shape, none of its angles being right angles. It has a mean width of 13 ft. 2 in., and is lighted on the east by three modern windows of 12th-century style. There are no windows in the north wall, and only one, a trefoiled 14th-century light, at the west angle of the south wall, but further east in this wall are the remains of a small 13th-century lancet, blocked by the large monument of Sir John Compton, described below. In the south wall near this monument is the bowl of a piscina, and in front of it a plain and heavy 15th-century bench serves as a sedile.

The chancel arch is a modern imitation of 12th-century work, and the same may be said of all the nave windows, plain round-headed lights, two in the west and south walls and one in the north, though some of these may occupy the places of original windows. The only entrance to the church is by the north doorway, a good specimen of 12th-century work, set nearly midway in the nave, as often happens at this early date, (fn. 31) with a lofty rear arch, 10 ft. to the crown, and a plain semicircular outer arch with a label ornamented with billet and zigzag, and sunk star on the chamfered strings at the springing. The arch and labels are in a ferruginous sandstone, but the jambs, which have a small angle chamfer, are in chalk.

Both nave and chancel have old roof timbers with trussed rafters, and the bell-turret is carried on four heavy posts resting on the floor of the nave. The south wall of the nave has failed and is supported by heavy buttresses at both ends, and evidence of former repair is given by a date on the plastering of the east gable of the chancel, 1752.

The font, near the door, is a modern imitation of 12th-century style, and none of the other fittings of the church are old, except those already mentioned. The monuments in the chancel are, however, notably good examples of their time. On the north wall is that of Bridget wife of Nicholas Stoughton and daughter of Sir John Compton, who died in 1631, aged twenty-one, leaving two children out of four to survive her, and close to it is that of her sister Elizabeth, 1623, wife of Benjamin Tichborne. On the south wall is a monument set up by Compton Tichborne to his grandparents, Sir John Compton (ob. 1653) and his wife Bridget (ob. 1634). It is of alabaster and black marble, with portrait busts of alabaster in oval frames, of excellent workmanship. To the west is the monument of Compton Tichborne, 1657, of the same materials, with a singularly pleasing portrait bust, and an earlier generation of the family is represented by a brass with figures of John Compton, 1605, and Joan (Michelborne) his wife, 1586, with the arms, ermine on a bend three helms.

There are two bells, both of 1703, the treble having a defaced inscription of which only Richard . . . Grace C W 1703 is now legible, while the tenor bears nothing but the date.

The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten cover of 1609, a silver flagon of 1902 presented by Mrs. Nicholson, of Basing Park, in that year, and a pewter alms plate with the badge of Thomas Alderson.

The registers are in three books, the first containing baptisms and burials from 1538 to 1762 and marriages from 1547 to 1751, the second marriages from 1754 to 1812, the third baptisms and burials from 1763 to 1812.


The chapel of Priors Dean was situated in the king's demesne, and was transferred to the church of Colemore by Richard, the son of Turstin, the sheriff, (fn. 32) who was parson of Alton and Colemore. (fn. 33) The living is still a chapelry annexed to the rectory of Colemore.


  • 1. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 2. First Mins. Accts. 29 & 30 Hen. VIII, rot. 113, m. 31.
  • 3. Hervey, Hist, of Calmer and Priors Dean (1891), 4, 71, 77, 92, 93, 129, 228.
  • 4. Ibid. 4, 71, 73, 82, 85, 128.
  • 5. First Mins. Accts. 29 & 30 Hen. VIII, rot. 113, m. 31.
  • 6. Add. MS. 33280, fol. 234.
  • 7. Cat. Pat. 1338–40, p. 550; ibid. 1343–6, p. 280; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 215; L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), 5336.
  • 8. Cal. Pat. 1436–41, p. 304.
  • 9. Ibid. 1345–8, p. 125.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Hervey, op. cit. 113.
  • 12. T. F. Kirby, Annals of Winchester Coll. 210.
  • 13. Hervey, op. cit. passim.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Ibid. 195.
  • 16. Ibid. 200.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Kirby, op. cit. 210.
  • 19. Hervey, op. cit. 74.
  • 20. Ibid. Addenda et corrigenda to p. 113.
  • 21. Ibid. Vide pp. 86, 101.
  • 22. Ibid, passim.
  • 23. Ibid. 128, 131.
  • 24. His father, William, was buried in 1540 (Hervey, op. cit. 132).
  • 25. Chan. Proc. (Ser. 2), bdle. 70, no. 2.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. Ibid.
  • 29. Ibid. bdle. 73, no. 7.
  • 30. His son, Captain Richard Bele, had died at Priors Dean a few months earlier (Hervey, op. cit.).
  • 31. Its east jamb is as nearly as possible halfway between the east and west walls of the nave.
  • 32. Between 1161 and 1170.
  • 33. Hervey, op. cit. 66.