The liberty of Dibden

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'The liberty of Dibden', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 655-658. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

In this section


Depedene (xi cent.); Dupeden (xiv cent.); Debden (xvi cent.).

At the Great Survey and throughout the middle ages Dibden was included in Redbridge Hundred. (fn. 1) In 1831 the liberty consisted only of the parish, (fn. 2) but Mudie, who published his history of the county in 1838, included also Beaulieu, Fawley and Exbury. (fn. 3) The liberty, he wrote, 'occupies the eastern part of the New Forest district; and its form resembles that of a triangle, having its two seaward sides about 8 miles in length each and its landward side about 9 miles. Some parts of the interior are very bare, being upon the worst portion of the crag sand; but the coasts are very beautiful—more so, perhaps, than those of any other part of the district.' (fn. 4)

Index Map to the Liberty of Dibden

The total area of the parish is 3,270 acres, comprising 471½ acres of arable land, 1,100 acres of permanent grass and 201 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 5) There are also 325 acres of land covered by tidal water and 710 acres of foreshore. The level of the land rarely rises much above 100 ft., the highest parts being to the south in the district of Dibden Purlieu. The soil is sandy and the subsoil of the latest Eocene formation. (fn. 6) The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats.

A little cluster of buildings consisting principally of the school and the home farm form the village, the main population being scattered over the parish, which is notable for the large number of farms it contains. The church stands in the north-west with only the rectory and Dibden Farm in its immediate neighbourhood. A mile to the east is Westcliff Hall, and south of that Depedene Brow, the residence of Col. Charles Edward de la Poer Beresford, with grounds of 300 acres. Langdown House, the property and residence of Mrs. Benskin, standing in a considerable park, lies to the south of Hythe, a detached portion of Fawley. The Windmill, the property and residence of Mr. Frederick Hewett, and Purlieu House, the residence of Mr. Arthur Herbert Edwards, are both in the south of the parish.

The site of a Roman road runs along the Denny Lodge boundary.

An Inclosure Act for Dibden was passed in 1790. (fn. 7)

Among early place-names may be mentioned 'Thommesheyes' and 'Whetelond' (fn. 8) (xiv cent.).


DIBDEN was held by Ode of the king in 1086. In the time of the Confessor, of whom it had been held by Chetel, it was assessed at 5 hides, but three of these had been taken into the New Forest and only one paid geld in 1086. There were a salt-pan and a fishery in the manor. (fn. 9) The overlordship belonged in the 12th century to Reynold de St. Valery, (fn. 10) who died in 1166, and his son Bernard de St. Valery, who was killed at the siege of Acon in 1190, (fn. 11) is doubtless to be identified with the Bernard who was lord of Dibden in 1167. (fn. 12) Descending with his granddaughters to Robert Count of Dreux, it fell, with the rest of the honour of St. Valery, into the hands of the Crown, when it was given to Richard Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans, the younger brother of Henry III, (fn. 13) whose son Edmund Earl of Cornwall died in 1300 seised of a fee there which belonged to the honour of St. Valery, the king being his heir. (fn. 14) Dibden was thereafter held of the Crown as of the honour of St. Valery, (fn. 15) and afterwards as of the honour of Wallingford, (fn. 16) to which the less important lordship had doubtless been attached by the Earl of Cornwall. It was thus held in the reign of Henry VII of Arthur Prince of Wales. (fn. 17)

Richard Earl of Cornwall. Argent a lion gules with a golden crown in a border sable with bezants.

The demesne of Dibden was early split up into three parts (fn. 18) which seem at first to have been looked upon as one manor divided and later as three manors. By a lost charter, confirmed by Henry II, Reynold de St. Valery gave a third of the manor to Edmund and Osbert de Dibden at a yearly rent of 33s. 4d. (fn. 19) Edmund's name occurs constantly in the Pipe Rolls of Henry II. (fn. 20) Nicholas de Dibden held a third of a fee of Edmund Earl of Cornwall in 1300, (fn. 21) and Richard de Dibden was one of the three holders named in the Nomina Villarum of 1316. (fn. 22) He died shortly afterwards seised of one-third of the manor and leaving a son and heir Nicholas, aged eighteen months, (fn. 23) to whose mother Joan the custody of the estate was ordered to be delivered in June 1316. (fn. 24) Nicholas de Dibden was holding in 1346 (fn. 25) and Thomas de Dibden in 1428. (fn. 26) It was presumably this last who closed the male line of the Dibdens, for Agnes daughter and heir of Thomas de Dibden married Edmund Brudenell, who died about 1469. (fn. 27) The only child of this marriage was a daughter Alice, who inherited her mother's property and became the wife of Richard Waller of Groombridge (co. Kent), who died in 1486. (fn. 28) In 1503 it was found that his son John Waller might without damage grant the manor of Dibden to St. Swithun's Priory at Winchester, (fn. 29) but he evidently changed his mind, for it belonged to his grandson Richard Waller on his death about 1551. (fn. 30) In 1594 William son of Richard Waller sold the manor, which in 1575 he had mortgaged to Anthony Kempe of London, to William Webbe, (fn. 31) who was already lord of the other two manors in Dibden (vide infra). Since that date the three have not been divided and have usually been treated as one manor. In April 1616 William Webbe, who had been knighted, was granted free warren in the manor of Dibden, (fn. 32) and in the following June was licensed to hold court leet and view of frankpledge twice in the year there. (fn. 33) He died in 1627, leaving an only daughter and heir Rachel wife of Sir John Croke of Chilton (co. Bucks.), on whose issue the manor was settled in remainder. (fn. 34) John Croke, son and heir of Sir John and Rachel, had succeeded by 1650 (fn. 35) and was still holding five years later, when he was begging discharge of a tenement lately held by William Woodson, a recusant, in the manor for which he had already compounded. (fn. 36) Direct evidence at this point fails, but it is probable that the manor shortly passed like the advowson to William Churchill, who presented in 1663, (fn. 37) and thence to the Harris family, (fn. 38) who had the patronage of the living throughout the 18th century. James Harris father of James first Earl of Malmesbury dealt with the manor by fine in 1756, (fn. 39) and the earl presented to the church in 1796. (fn. 40) Before the middle of the 19th century it had passed to Edward Nourse Harvey of Over Ross (co. Heref.). A Mr. Ross bought it in 1861, (fn. 41) but in the following year sold it to the Romsey Charity Commissioners, the present lords of the manor. (fn. 42)

Waller of Groom-bridge. Sable three walnut leaves or between two cotises argent.

The manor of DIBDEN HANGER derived its distinctive suffix from the family first found holding it. John atte Hanger was apparently seised of this land here in 1276, (fn. 43) and on the death of Edmund Earl of Cornwall in 1300 Richard son of Richard atte Hanger held a third of a fee of him in Dibden. (fn. 44) This Richard was still holding in 1316 (fn. 45) and his son and namesake in 1346. (fn. 46) By 1422 both this and the manor of Dibden Poleyn (vide infra) had come to the hands of John Hall, who granted them at that date to John Roger or Rogers. (fn. 47) Consequently in the 'Aid' of six years later John Rogers junior appears with Thomas de Dibden in the place of Richard atte Hanger and Walter Nott. (fn. 48) After-the death of John Rogers, his wife Ann, who married John Tuchet Lord Audley, (fn. 49) held the manor. She died seised of it in 1498, leaving a son Henry Rogers, aged fifty-two, as her heir. (fn. 50) In 1544 Sir John Rogers grandson of Henry sold the manors to William Webb, (fn. 51) Mayor of Salisbury in 1523 and 1534, who died in 1553. (fn. 52) His son William Webbe dealt with the manors in 1554 and 1568 (fn. 53) and died seised thereof in 1585, leaving a son William, (fn. 54) who in 1594 purchased the manor of ' Dibden's Fee,' thus uniting the three estates, which have never since been divided (vide supra).

In 1300 Walter Nott held one-third of a fee in Dibden of the Earl of Cornwall as of the honour of St. Valery. (fn. 55) Sixteen years later John Nott was one of the three holders of the vill, (fn. 56) and he in 1346 had been succeeded by another Walter. (fn. 57) In 1360 Walter Nott, parson of the church of Michelmersh, reserved a messuage and 2 carucates in Dibden from a grant of land which he made to Romsey Abbey. (fn. 58) Shortly after this the estate came into the hands of the family which gave it its distinctive name of DIBDEN POLEYN. John Poleyn presented to the church in 1369 (fn. 59) and again in 1396, (fn. 60) and in 1413 a third part of the manor and advowson of Dibden, (fn. 61) with six messuages and various lands, was settled on Margaret wife of John Poleyn, with remainder to John Fromond and Maud his wife and the heirs of John Fromond. (fn. 62) By 1422 the manor had come, with Dibden Hanger, to the hands of John Hall, (fn. 63) and thereafter followed the same descent.


The church of, ALL SAINTS consists of chancel 21 ft. 3 in. by 13 ft. 9 in., nave 48 ft. 2 in. by 14 ft. 6 in., north aisle 11 ft. wide, south aisle 14 ft. wide and a west tower 14 ft. 9 in. wide and 14. ft. 6 in. deep.

The proportions of the nave suggest that its walls represent those of a 12th-century church, which would have had a small chancel to the east. Early in the 13 th century this chancel was replaced by the present one with its wall arcades on each side, which presumably contained 13th-century windows. The chancel arch was built at the same time. Following the chancel, further enlargement of the church was carried out by the addition of the south aisle with the present arcade, and this was in its turn followed by the north aisle and arcade. The north aisle wall has been rebuilt in modern times, and the tower was added in 1884. The east window of the chancel is modern, of three lights in 14th-century style, but the reveal is old and has a continuous wave-mould. On the north wall is a wall arcade of two bays of a single chamfered order. Springing at the east from a half-round shaft with moulded capital in the northeast angle, the middle shaft is half-octagonal, and the west end dies into the west wall of the chancel. In each bay a window has been inserted, probably at a late date, and made up of the trefoiled heads of 14th-century lights which have belonged to windows with tracery over.

The south wall has a similar arrangement of bays, the head of the second being altered to give room for the window. The windows have cinquefoiled lights and blocked spandrels above under a square head; they are probably of late 15th-century date. In this wall is a piscina with pointed head and continuous mouldings of 14th-century date. It is almost on a level with the floor, showing that the chancel was originally considerably lower; the floor of the nave was also somewhat lower than at present, but it seems probable that the chancel floor, following the fall of the ground from west to east, was originally lower than that of the nave.

Below the second window in the south wall is a blocked doorway showing on both faces of the wall, though externally it is only 18 in. wide. It has a low four-centred head of the date of the window, but the jambs may be older. The chancel arch is of two chamfered orders, which originally appear to have died into the wall but in later times have been mutilated. The north arcade is of four bays with arches of two chamfered orders, the responds shafted and with small moulded capitals; the piers are octagonal with moulded capitals; their bases are hidden by the floor.

The south arcade has similar bays and arches, the capitals are a little earlier in date and the responds are half-octagonal with moulded capitals. The west nave wall had apparently been thickened when the present tower arch was added and the tower built, for the outer order overlaps the respond of the arcade. The north aisle has a modern east window of two lights; in the north wall are three windows of two plain lights with a pierced head, almost entirely new, and there is a modern door in the west wall.

The south aisle has a late 13th-century east window of three plain lancets with pierced spandrels. The angle of the reveal is moulded and with the sill is carried down for the aisle altar. In the south wall are three windows of the same date, some portions only having been restored; these three windows have moulded rear arches and jambs. The south door contemporary with the aisle has shallow continuous mouldings consisting of a chamfer between two small flattened rolls. The porch is probably late; it has a stout oak beam on either side laid to serve as a seat. The tower, entirely modern, is in two stages with diagonal buttresses. It has a west window of three lights, a south window of two lights, singlelight belfry windows and embattled parapet.

The roofs are modern, the nave having four dormer windows on each side. The south aisle roof however is partly of 17th-century date. The altar rails date from the same century and consist of twisted baluster shafts with a heavy rail; on each side of the gate are carved shields of Croke quartered with Haines. The first window in the north chancel wall has fragments of old glass with the same arms. The opposite window has two pieces of old glass, one a female figure with cloak over the head, the other a male saint, right hand raised in benediction and a book in the left.

In the north aisle is a 17th-century table, to which two panels have been added to form a cupboard. These consist of four pieces of blind tracery of flowing type, the work being good. The font dates from c. 1200, and has a square marble bowl with central stem and a square base. The sides of the bowl show traces of decoration with lines and curves.

In the tower is a 13th-century tomb slab, the edges worked to a hollow chamfer, and with a flowered cross and lobe-shaped leaves along the stem.

In the churchyard are carved headstones, as at Eling, one of 1750 to a Mrs. Wyatt being apparently the prototype of the mariner's tomb at Eling. Busts of the husband and wife are cut above the inscription, with a single heart over them; their four children and a ship are also shown.

The bells are eight in number and modern.

The plate consists of a silver chalice and paten cover, undated, a silver paten of 1696, a silver flagon of 1871 and a pewter tankard-shaped flagon of late 17th-century date.

The earliest book of registers is a printed copy containing baptisms and burials 1750 to 1796, the second the same, 1796 to 1802, the third printed, baptisms 1802 to 1812, the fourth burials 1803 to 1812. There are two printed marriage books, 1754 to 1778 and 1778 to 1812.


While the manor of Dibden was in three parts the right of presentation belonged to each of the lords in turn. (fn. 64) The advowson continued with the manor down to the lordship of the Harrises, who presented throughout the 18th century. (fn. 65) In 1838 Joshua Powel presented, (fn. 66) but by 1841 the patronage had been acquired by Alexander (Baring) first Lord Ashburton, whose successors held it until 1865. Shortly afterwards it was acquired by Edward Nourse Harvey, formerly lord of the manor. From him it passed in 1894 to the Rev. William Frederic Berry, rector of the parish, from whom it was acquired in 1898 by the Izard trustees, the present patrons.

In 1262 Ralph, the rector, had a dispensation to hold an additional benefice, as Dibden was worth hardly more than ten marks. (fn. 67)

In 1291 the church was valued at £16 13s. 4d., (fn. 68) and in 1535 the rectory was worth, beyond reprises, £5 12s. 11d. (fn. 69)

In the 14th century licence was granted to reconsecrate the churchyard of Dibden, which had been polluted by bloodshed. (fn. 70)

The school has accommodation for 100 children.

There are apparently no endowed charities in this parish.


  • 1. V.C.H. Hants, i, 513; Feud. Aids, ii, 318, 327, 349.
  • 2. Pop. Ret. (1831).
  • 3. Mudie, Hants, ii, 292.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Statistics from fid. of Agric. (1905).
  • 6. V.C.H. Hants, i, Geological Map.
  • 7. Blue Bk. Inch Awards.
  • 8. Anct. D. (P.R.O.), A 3718.
  • 9. V.C.H. Hants, i, 513.
  • 10. Inq. p.m. 9 Edw. II, no. 30.
  • 11. Gen. iv, 241.
  • 12. Pipe R. 13 Hen. II (Pipe R. Soc), 182.
  • 13. Ex inform. Mr. J. H. Round.
  • 14. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44.
  • 15. Ibid. 9 Edw. II, no. 30.
  • 16. Ct. R. portf. 212, no. 3, 9; Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), vi, 59; xiii, 52; xviii, 24.
  • 17. Ibid. vi, 59.
  • 18. Known in the 15th century as Dibden's Fee, Hanger's Fee and Poleyn'a Fee (Ct. R. portf. 212, no. 3, 9).
  • 19. Cited Inq. p.m. 9 Edw. II, no. 30.
  • 20. Pipe R. 11 Hen. II (Pipe R. Soc), 41; 12 Hen. II, 102; 13 Hen. II, 182; 14 Hen. II, 178; 22 Hen. II, 195; 24 Hen. II, 111.
  • 21. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44.
  • 22. Feud. Aids, ii, 318.
  • 23. Inq. p.m. 9 Edw. II, no. 30.
  • 24. Cal. Close, 1313–18, p. 295.
  • 25. Feud. Aids, ii, 327.
  • 26. Ibid. 349.
  • 27. Lipscomb, Hist. of Bucks. ii, 447.
  • 28. Ibid.; cf. Berry, Hants Gen. 109. There is an unaccountable lack of inquisitions post mortem on the Dibden manors during the 14th and 15th centuries.
  • 29. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xviii, 24.
  • 30. Ibid. xcvii, 98. See also Stoke Charity, V.C.H. Hants, iii, 449.
  • 31. Com. Pleas D. Enr. Trin. 17 Eliz. m. 36; Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 36 Eliz.
  • 32. Pat. 14 Jas. I, pt. xix.
  • 33. Ibid. pt. xi; Cal. S. P. Dom. 1611–18, p. 375.
  • 34. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), cccclxxix, 111.
  • 35. Recov. R. East. 1650, rot. 11.
  • 36. Cal. Com. for Comp. 3234.
  • 37. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.), Vide infra.
  • 38. The forest rights of John Harris were admitted in 1670 (Woodward, Hist. of Hants, ii, 350 n.).
  • 39. a Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 29 Geo. II.
  • 40. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 41. Woodward, op. cit. iii, 74.
  • 42. Ibid. See under Romsey.
  • 43. De Banc. R. 13, m. 49 d.
  • 44. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44.
  • 45. Feud. Aids, ii, 318.
  • 46. Ibid. 327.
  • 47. Close, 1 Hen. VI, m. 21.
  • 48. Feud. Aids, ii, 349.
  • 49. She married John Rogers before Audley, not after, as G.E.C. states (see Complete Peerage, i, 200).
  • 50. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), xiii, 52.
  • 51. Feet of F. Hants, East. 36 Hen.VIII; East. 38 Hen. VIII.
  • 52. See Hoare, Hist. of Mod. Wilts. iii (5), 20.
  • 53. Recov. R. Mich. 1 & 2 Phil. and Mary, rot. 1175; Feet of F. Div. Co. Hil. 11 Eliz.
  • 54. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxi, 189.
  • 55. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44.
  • 56. Feud. Aids, ii, 318.
  • 57. Ibid. 327.
  • 58. Inq. a.q.d. file 336, no. 11.
  • 59. Wykeham's Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc), i, 25.
  • 60. Ibid. 201. The three lords of Dibden presented in turn. See Advowson.
  • 61. This is, of course, taking the three parts of the St. Valery fee as one manor.
  • 62. Feet of F. Hants, Hil. 14 Hen. IV. John Fromond of Sparsholt once presented to the living during the episcopacy of Beaufort (1404–47) (Egerton MS. 2034, fol. 11b).
  • 63. Close, 1 Hen. VI, m. 31.
  • 64. Egerton MSS. 2032–4, passim; Wykeham's Reg. (Hants Rec. Soc), i, passim. In 1276 John atte Hanger and Nicholas de Dibden had a dispute about it (De Bane. R. 130, m. 49 d.).
  • 65. Inst. Bks. (P.R.O.).
  • 66. Ibid.
  • 67. Cal. Papal Letters, i, 381.
  • 68. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 210b.
  • 69. Valor Eccl. (Rec Com.), ii, 20.
  • 70. Egerton MS. 2033, fol. 52.