A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1999.
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Fosbury's boundary on the east, two thirds of which is with Hampshire, follows the bottom of deep dry valleys. Parts of the boundary on the north and west also follow dry valleys, and a prehistoric earthwork marks part of the boundary on the south. All Fosbury's land lies on chalk, and there is now no stream. Gravel has been deposited in a north-west and south-east valley across the north part of the land and in the valleys, of which that is one, followed by the boundary on the north and east. (fn. 1) The land is broken downland with high points at 262 m. and 258 m. in the south and a low point at 135 m. at its easternmost corner. It was apparently long used for sheep-and-corn husbandry. (fn. 2)
A minor road leading north-westwards via Oxenwood towards Hungerford (Berks.) and south-eastwards via Vernham Dean towards Andover (both Hants) follows the valley across the north part of Fosbury's land and the main one along the boundary on the east; where it passes through Fosbury hamlet it is joined by a minor road leading from Shalbourne along the valley followed by the boundary on the north. Those two roads and Tunball Lane, leading south-west from Fosbury hamlet, were on their present courses in the later 18th century and are the only roads across Fosbury to have been tarmacadamed. (fn. 3)
An Iron-Age hill fort adjoins Fosbury's southern boundary; east of it a field system of c. 190 a. may be associated with it. Another field system lies in the south-west corner of Fosbury's land. (fn. 4) Fosbury lay within Savernake forest until 1330. (fn. 5)
Fosbury had 37 poll-tax payers in 1377, (fn. 6) a population of 150 in 1841. (fn. 7) In the Middle Ages most of the farmsteads on its land probably stood in a small village in the valley followed by the road from Oxenwood to Vernham Dean, and a hamlet on that site was called Fosbury in 1773 (fn. 8) and later. In the earlier 19th century only one farmstead stood there, and there were pockets of settlement elsewhere. (fn. 9) Most of the buildings standing in 1998 were erected in the early or mid 19th century.
The farmstead in Fosbury hamlet was called Lower Farm in 1879 (fn. 10) and later. In 1998 it incorporated a farmhouse with a main south-east front of brick and other walls of flint and brick; the house was probably built in the early 19th century, and a back range was added in the mid 19th century. A barn and part of a high boundary wall, each of flint and brick and apparently early 19th-century, survived in 1998, when the farmstead also included large 20th-century farm buildings. Between Lower Farm and Tunball Lane a cottage and a pair of cottages were built beside the Oxenwood road apparently between 1773 and 1817. (fn. 11) Both were replaced in the 19th century, the cottage by a pair of cottages, and the pair in the mid 19th century by an asymetrical terrace of four cottages with Gothic doorways. Beside the road and a little south-east of Tunball Lane a house and a terrace of four cottages had been built by c. 1840, (fn. 12) and a pair of cottages was built in the mid 19th century. Much of the walling of the cottages in Fosbury hamlet is brick and flint.
About 500 m. south-east of Lower Farm a small group of buildings may have been called the Tang in 1773. (fn. 13) Two cottages stood on the site c. 1840, (fn. 14) apparently those, with walls of brick and flint, which stood there in 1998. About 500 m. north-west of Lower Farm a new farmstead, which by 1879 had been given the name Church Farm, (fn. 15) was built between 1820 and c. 1840. (fn. 16) The farmhouse was largely rebuilt in the 1990s. A timber-framed, thatched, and weatherboarded barn and a timber-framed and weatherboarded granary on staddle stones stood near it in 1998.
In the 17th and 18th centuries a manor house called Little Heath apparently stood off the south-west side of the Oxenwood road at the north end of Fosbury's land. A small group of buildings standing there in 1773 was replaced by Fosbury House, apparently shortly before 1820. (fn. 17) A school was built nearby in Shalbourne parish, (fn. 18) and east of the house and off the north-east side of the road Fosbury church and a vicarage house were built c. 1856. (fn. 19) Two lodges for Fosbury House were built beside the road: the south-eastern is of brick and flint, stands where a drive from the house and the drive from the church join the road, and was probably built c. 1856; the north-western stands in Shalbourne parish.
On the downland south-west of Fosbury hamlet Fosbury Farm had been built by 1773 and possibly by the early 18th century. (fn. 20) A large farmhouse and large farm buildings stood there in the 19th century. (fn. 21) The farmhouse was largely or entirely rebuilt in domestic revival style in the later 19th century or early 20th. By 1998 some of the farm buildings had been demolished. Buildings standing north of Fosbury Farm in 1773 were probably cottages; (fn. 22) two pairs of cottages stood on their site c. 1840. (fn. 23) In the later 20th century one pair was demolished and the other was rebuilt as a house. (fn. 24) East of the hill fort a farmyard was built between 1773 and 1817, (fn. 25) and a pair of cottages was built near the farmyard between c. 1840 and 1879. (fn. 26) In 1998 only the cottages, then occupied as a house, survived. On downland west of Fosbury Farm a pond had been made by 1773 and a barn was built near it between then and 1817. (fn. 27) A barn stood on the site in 1998.
There were two estates called Fosbury in 1066, one of 10 hides held by Vitel and one of 2 hides held by Alwin. In 1086 both were held by Robert son of Gerald and of him by Rainer. By 1122 the smaller had been granted to the abbey of Shaftesbury (Dors.) by Jocelin Rivers, a forbear of whom held land of Robert son of Gerald in 1086; (fn. 28) the abbey may not have kept it long. (fn. 29) In 1275 the priory of Noyon-surAndelle (now Charleval, Eure) was overlord of FOSBURY manor. (fn. 30) The priory's property was confiscated during the wars with France and in 1414 was granted to the priory of Sheen (Surr.) when it was founded. (fn. 31) Sheen priory was overlord of Fosbury manor in 1428 (fn. 32) and at the Dissolution. (fn. 33)
The lordship in demesne of Fosbury manor was held in 1275 by Peter Fosbury, (fn. 34) in 1412 and 1428 by William Sparsholt, (fn. 35) and at her death in 1475 by Margaret Ernle, whose heir was her son William Ernle. (fn. 36) The manor passed to Edmund Ernle (d. 1485), whose heir was his son John (born c. 1481), (fn. 37) and it descended to Mary, the daughter and heir of, presumably that, John Ernle. Mary Ernle (fl. 1562-3) married Walter Skilling, and Fosbury manor passed in turn to her sons William Skilling (d. 1608) and Swithun Skilling (d. shortly after 1608). It descended to Swithun's son Edward (d. 1651), (fn. 38) who by 1647 had forfeited it for recusancy. (fn. 39) In 1654 the manor was apparently settled on Henry Skilling (fn. 40) (d. 1670) and it descended in the direct line to Henry (d. 1686) and Henry, (fn. 41) who in 1748 was foreclosed by the mortgagee Thomas Trevor, Baron Trevor, from all of it except the woodland, 167 a., and 3 a. adjoining woodland. (fn. 42) The 170 a. passed to Henry Skilling's heir, his sister Elizabeth, the wife of Sir Jemmett Raymond, and to Elizabeth's heir, her daughter Elizabeth Raymond, the wife of the Revd. John Craven. The Cravens sold it to John Poore in 1773. (fn. 43) The main part of Fosbury manor passed from Lord Trevor (d. 1753) to his daughter Elizabeth (d. 1761), the wife of Charles Spencer, duke of Marlborough (d. 1758), and to Elizabeth's son George, duke of Marlborough, (fn. 44) who sold it to John Poore in 1776. (fn. 45)
John Poore (d. 1787) devised the whole of Fosbury manor to his son John. (fn. 46) In 1804 John conveyed the manor to trustees, who in 1805 sold it to trustees of Joseph Gulston (d. 1786). The beneficiary of Gulston's trust was his greatgrandson Joseph Gulston, a minor, (fn. 47) who in 1810 sold Fosbury manor to Silvanus Bevan. (fn. 48) From Bevan's death in 1830 the manor passed, from father to son, to David Bevan (d. 1846), R. C. L. Bevan (d. 1890), and F. A. Bevan, (fn. 49) who owned it in 1899. Between 1899 and 1903 the manor was bought by A. H. Huth (d. 1910), (fn. 50) whose relict Octavia Huth held it until her death in 1929. It passed in 1929 to A. H. Huth's brother Edward, who in 1934 sold it to Sir Eastman Bell, Bt. (fn. 51) In 1956 Sir Eastman sold it to C. W. Garnett, and between 1982 and 1987 Garnett conveyed it in portions to his stepson Mr. William Govett. In 1998 Mr. Govett owned c. 1,000 a. of Fosbury's land. In 1993 he sold Fosbury House and c. 330 a. of Fosbury's land to the Hon. Erskine Guinness, who in 1998 owned that estate with other land outside the parish. (fn. 52)
Members of the Skilling family lived at Fosbury, apparently in a manor house called Little Heath which stood at the north end of Fosbury's land. (fn. 53) Fosbury House, (fn. 54) of two storeys and with plain classical elevations faced in limestone ashlar, was built there in the early 19th century, apparently for Silvanus Bevan shortly before 1820. (fn. 55) It was rectangular with north-west and south-east fronts of four bays and longer fronts, of nine bays or more, incorporating the main entrance on the north-east and facing the garden to the south-west; on the garden front there was a three-bayed bow of full height. Two parallel ranges of brick, presumably stables and service rooms, extended north-west from the northwest front to form an open court. Between c. 1840 and 1879 the north-west part of the house, except those ranges, was demolished; on the garden front five bays, including the bow, survived. The south-east part of the house was linked to the north-west ranges, which were partly rebuilt, by three new brick ranges built on a U plan and creating an enclosed courtyard. In the early 20th century the main elevations of the three ranges were in early Georgian style. The south-west range was of one tall storey and housed the books collected by Henry Huth and his son A. H. Huth, who lived in the house from c. 1900 to 1910. It was widened, presumably in that period, and between 1899 and 1922 a billiards room was built at its north-west end. The north-east range was of two storeys and about eight bays. The south-east part of the house was altered in the earlier 20th century, probably in the mid 1930s: a large entrance hall was made and a new staircase in early 18th-century style was constructed in it, and three wide bays were made at the centre of the north-east facade and a semicircular Ionic portico was built at their centre. In 1958 the three ranges built between c. 1840 and 1879 were demolished, leaving the surviving part of the original house and the two north-west service ranges detached from each other; the billiards room, attached to one of the service ranges, survived. In or soon after 1958 two short north-west wings were built, a partition was built to separate the entrance hall and the staircase, and the upper flights of the staircase were turned. A new kitchen was built at the south corner of the house in the 1990s. (fn. 56)
South-west of, and apparently contemporary with, Fosbury House a walled garden incorporating a hot house and a melon yard was built. A glasshouse had been added to the hot house by 1879. Only the garden walls survived in 1998. Three plantations of trees stood south, east, and south-west of the house c. 1840; between them and the house lay a park of 32 a. Between c. 1840 and 1879 two lodges were built beside the Oxenwood to Vernham Dean road, one east and one north-west of the house; long drives were made through woodland and parkland between them and the house, and the short drive between the road and the north-east front of the house was obliterated. (fn. 57)
All tithes from the whole of Fosbury were part of the Rectory estate of Tidcombe. (fn. 58)
In 1086 Fosbury had land for 7 ploughteams. There was demesne land on which there were 2 teams and 2 servi, and 7 villani and 5 bordars had 2½ teams. There were 18 square furlongs of pasture, and woodland accounted ½ league by 3 furlongs and 4 square furlongs. Neither of the two estates which shared the land was fully cultivated. (fn. 59)
Fosbury had open fields and common pas tures, and Fosbury manor included demesne land and customary tenants. (fn. 60) On downland to the south-east the demesne included Oakhill wood and a warren, a total of c. 350 a., (fn. 61) and on the downland which constituted Fosbury's south-west tongue it included Farm down, c. 236 a.; it also included a warren on Silver down in Shalbourne parish adjoining Farm down. The main area of common pasture seems to have been the rising ground north-east of the Oxenwood to Vernham Dean road, c. 165 a., the north-west part of which was called Fosbury down in the 19th century. Little heath, perhaps c. 50 a., the northernmost land south-west of the road, and East down, c. 35 a. north-west of Oakhill wood, may also have been common pastures. (fn. 62) Presumably the open fields lay mainly between the Oxenwood to Vernham Dean road and the downs to the south-east and south-west and amounted to c. 500 a.
In the early 17th century Fosbury farm included Oakhill wood, 201 a. c. 1840, Oakhill warren, c. 150 a. south of it, and presumably the agricultural land of the demesne; (fn. 63) where the farmstead stood in the early 17th century is uncertain. In the early 18th century the copyholders of Fosbury manor may have been few. Between 1708 and 1710 the open fields and common pastures were divided and allotted by private agreement; in 1709 one copyholder was refusing to inclose land allotted to her. In 1710 there were apparently three main farms: Fosbury farm included the demesne land and may then have been worked from a farmstead on the downs on the site of that standing in 1773, a farm consisted of newly inclosed and other land formerly held by several copyholders, and Henley Woods farm may have included land north-east of the Vernham Dean road abutting that of Henley in Buttermere parish. Farmland may also have been worked from buildings near what was apparently the manor house called Little Heath. It is unlikely that much land was held with any of the 13 other tenements on Fosbury manor in 1710. (fn. 64)
By 1716 the east end of Farm down had been converted to two new arable fields, of 35 a. and 36 a., and by c. 1840 five other arable fields, 155 a., lay on the downland west of them; a barn was built in the middle of the downland. Also by c. 1840 the warren south of Oakhill wood had been converted to five arable fields, each of 30-32 a., and a farmyard had been built among the fields; the hill fort and the land between it and the new fields remained rough pasture. (fn. 65)
The farmstead later called Church Farm was built between 1820 and c. 1840 presumably to replace farm buildings on Little heath demolished when Fosbury House was built, apparently shortly before 1820, and c. 1840 there were three farms in Fosbury. Fosbury farm had 675 a., including c. 500 a. of arable; the farm later called Lower had 301 a., including 236 a. of arable; the farm later called Church had 153 a., including the park of Fosbury House and only 72 a. of arable. Each farm included small areas of woodland. (fn. 66) Fosbury's agricultural land was apparently worked in those three farms until the late 20th century. In 1910, without the woodland, Fosbury farm had 647 a., Lower farm 304 a., and Church farm 103 a.; the park was not then part of a farm. (fn. 67) In the late 20th century the three farms were merged, Farm down was separated from them, and Church Farm went out of agricultural use. In 1998 the composite farm had in Fosbury, excluding woodland, c. 700 a.; it was an arable and sheep farm with its principal buildings at Lower Farm. In 1998 Farm down was mainly arable and was worked from outside the parish. (fn. 68)
Oakhill wood was standing in the early 13th century, (fn. 69) Little Heath copse in the early 18th. (fn. 70) About 1840 they measured 201 a. and 19 a. respectively and there were plantations of 8 a. and 7 a. near Fosbury House, 8 a. of woodland in two belts on Farm down, several other coppices of 1-5 a., and other woodland in rows. Several plantations were made between c. 1840 and 1879 including one of 16 a. adjoining Oakhill wood. (fn. 71) In 1910 there was 288 a. of woodland in Fosbury, (fn. 72) all of which was standing in 1998. In the 20th century some copses were enlarged and, between 1923 and 1956, a copse of c. 15 a. was planted on Farm down. (fn. 73)
A saw mill was built in Fosbury hamlet between 1909 and 1922. (fn. 74) Its buildings were not used for milling in 1998.
Fosbury church was consecrated, an ecclesiastical district was assigned to it, and a perpetual curate was licensed to serve it, in 1856. The district consisted of Fosbury and of Oxenwood. (fn. 75) From 1868 the perpetual curate was called a vicar. (fn. 76) In 1926 the vicarage was united to Tidcombe vicarage, (fn. 77) in 1962 the united benefice was united to East Grafton vicarage, and in 1979 that united benefice was united to others to form Wexcombe benefice, the ecclesiastical parishes of Tidcombe and Fosbury were united, (fn. 78) and Fosbury church was declared redundant. (fn. 79)
In 1856 the curate was nominated by R. C. L. Bevan, the lord of Fosbury manor, who was apparently patron until his death in 1890. Between 1889 and 1894 the patronage was transferred to the Church Patronage society, (fn. 80) and in 1926 the society gave it to St. George's chapel, Windsor, in an exchange. (fn. 81) From 1926 the chapel was sole patron of the united benefice of Tidcombe with Fosbury. (fn. 82)
A house for the perpetual curate had been built beside the church by 1856. It was designed by S. S. Teulon, (fn. 83) is of flint with dressings of stone and decoration in brick, and is in Tudor Gothic style. It was sold in 1956. (fn. 84)
In 1864 a service was held in Fosbury church twice each Sunday and once both on Christmas day and Good Friday; average attendance was below 100. About 1864 communion was celebrated at Christmas and Easter, sometimes on Whit and Trinity Sundays, and monthly; the average number of communicants was c. 25. (fn. 85) From 1916 to 1925 the vicarage was held in plurality with Tidcombe vicarage, (fn. 86) and the united benefice of Tidcombe with Fosbury was held in plurality with other benefices from 1952. (fn. 87)
CHRISTCHURCH at Fosbury was built 1854-6 to designs by S. S. Teulon. (fn. 88) It is of flint with dressings of Bath stone, is in Decorated style, and consists of an undivided chancel and nave of six bays with north vestry and south-west tower. The tower is prominent and of three stages, and there is a porch in its base. A slender octagonal stair tower with a crocketed spire is attached to the tower and the nave in their east angle. There is a hammer-beamed roof over the chancel, a trussed roof over the nave, and the floor of the chancel is higher than that of the nave.
A chalice, a paten, and an almsdish, all hallmarked for 1856, were given to the church, presumably in that year, and a pair of chalices and a silver-mounted glass flagon, all hallmarked for 1889, were given in 1890. (fn. 89) The church has one bell. (fn. 90)
Francis Browning of Fosbury was a popish recusant in 1577. (fn. 91) Members of the Skilling family, probably living at Fosbury, refused communion at Tidcombe church in the 1580s (fn. 92) and may also have been recusants. Edward Skilling, the lord of Fosbury manor, was a recusant in 1646, (fn. 93) and the four papists who lived in the parish in 1676 probably included Skillings. (fn. 94)
In the early 19th century Silvanus Bevan, the lord of Fosbury manor, supported Independent meeting houses, and in 1816 a house at Fosbury was certified, probably by Independents. Services were held by J. B. Walcot, who was later the pastor of a Strict Baptist chapel at Ludgershall. (fn. 95) In 1864 there were two Baptists, a Congregationalist, and two families of Primitive Methodists in Fosbury ecclesiastical district. (fn. 96) No chapel is known to have been built at Fosbury.
In or soon after 1810 a school was built in Shalbourne parish by Silvanus Bevan, the lord of Fosbury manor, apparently for children living at Fosbury and Oxenwood: it stands beside the Oxenwood road near Fosbury House. (fn. 97) In 1858 it had 45-60 pupils, including infants. (fn. 98) It was closed in 1904 and was replaced by a school in Oxenwood village open from 1905 to 1967. (fn. 99)