Advowsons of Kingsclere

There was a church in the parish in Saxon times. It was held by Queen Edith, widow of Edward the Confessor, until her death, when it reverted to William the Conqueror, who granted it together with 4 hides and 1 virgate of land in Kingsclere to Hyde Abbey in exchange of land in Winchester on which he built a royal palace. The advowson remained in the possession of Hyde Abbey for over a century, but eventually fell into the hands of Peter Fitz Herbert, lord of the manors of North Oakley and Wolverton. At the beginning of the 13th century he engaged in a dispute with Walter, Abbot of Hyde about his right to it, and in 1217 obtained a confirmation from the abbot in return for a charter granting the abbey 100lb. of wax yearly. This rent continued to be paid for a considerable period and in 1346 the Abbot of Hyde succeeded in recovering from the Prior of Bisham who was, at the time, the patron of the living, arrears of rent amounting to 2010 lbs. of wax.

Henry III presented James de Kewurthe to the church in 1246, and by succession the advowson passed to Edward I, who presented in 1275, 1291-2 and 1296. John de Drokensford, who had been instituted rector in 1296, in 1305-6 presented Richard de Hamms to the vicarage, and on this occasion it was agreed that the vicar should receive all the tithes belonging to the church excepting the tithe of all kinds of corn, of lambs, wool and hay and mortuaries and £10 of the oblations to the Holy Cross. Moreover, for his residence the vicar had assigned to him the dwelling called La Moorwell in the churchyard of the parish church of Kingsclere for the support of himself and a 'fit chaplain'.Edward II presented rectors in 1309 and 1317 but in 1318 having formed the design of re-founding the house of Dominican Friars of Guildford, and appropriating it to Dominican sisters instead of friars, he wrote a letter to the pope soliciting permission to endow the nunnery with the appropriation of the rectory of Kingsclere. The application however failed; the friars continued to hold the house according to the original foundation, and the advowson of the church remained in the hands of the king, passing from him to Edward III, who in 1336 sold it for 500 marks to William Montagu, Earl of Salisbury. A year later the earl granted the advowson to the monastery of Bisham (Berks) which he had just founded, and in the same year the bishop granted licence to the prior and convent to appropriate the church. From this date the prior and convent presented the vicars until July 1536, when Bisham was surrendered to the king. Six months later the king founded an abbey at Bisham of the order of St. Benedict and endowed it with the house, lands and all appurtenances of the priory of Bisham, the lands of the abbey of Chertsey and of various other priories, but this new abbey only lasted six months, and on its dissolution the rectory and the advowson of the vicarage of Kingsclere fell again into the hands of the king, who in 1541 granted them to Anne of Cleves. On her death in 1557 they reverted to William, Marquess of Winchester in accordance with a grant of 1545, and from this date the advowson has followed the same descent as the manor, the present patron of the vicarage and the impropriator of the great tithes being Lord Bolton. Dependent upon the mother-church of Kingsclere were the chapelries of North Oakley, Ecchinswell and Sydmonton. North Oakley Chapel has now disappeared, and its site is marked at the present day by Church Hanger, which is situated a little to the north of Warren Bottom Copse in the tithing of North Oakley. Ecchinswell and Sydmonton continued to be served from Kingsclere until 1852, in which year Ecchinswell was constituted a separate vicarage with that of Sydmonton annexed in the patronage of the vicar of Kingsclere for the time being. During the 13th and 14th centuries the Bishops of Winchester collated to the portion or probed of Nuthanger or Ecchinswell which consisted of the tithes proceeding from the demesne lands of the manor. In 1446 Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, obtained licence from the Crown to alienate the advowson of the free chapel belonging to his manor of Ecchinswell to the hospital of St. Cross near Winchester. All trace of this chapel has now been lost. The grant must have included the portion of Nuthanger, although it is not specified, for at the present day £225 of the great tithe of Ecchinswell is paid to St. Cross.

There was a chapel belonging to the manor of Frobury called the free chapel of St. Thomas, Frobury, which dated back to the end of the 13th century, Beatrice de Wintershill presenting the chaplain during the episcopacy of John of Pontoise (1282-1304). In the reign of Edward I its endowment, consisting of the lands and tenements in Frobury of the annual value of £2 6s. 8d. in the tenure of Andrew Chamberlaynm and a rent of 1s. issuing from 6 acres of land lying in the common fields under the will of one Agnes Langford, became Crown property, and so continued until 1554, in which year Queen Mary granted the lands to Henry Smythe on a lease of twenty-one years at a rent of £2 6s. 8d. Seven years later Queen Elizabeth granted the chapel with its appurtenances to William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, and from this time it followed the same descent as the manor, although it was sometimes let on long leases. The ruins of the chapel can still be seen on the south side of Frobury Farm.

According to tradition a chapel also existed near Stratton Farm, a short distance to the south of Beenham Court, and 16th century tiles were found when the present house was built showing where the chapel floor had been.Owing to the fact that the living of Kingsclere was a vicarage, and that various chapelries were dependent upon it, there were frequent disputes about the payment of tithes. Thus during the episcopacy of Henry Woodlock (1305-16) an inquisition was held to ascertain the value of the tithes of the church of Kingsclere. Again, in 1321-2 all the parishioners were ordered to pay in full all just and true tithes without any diminution or Subtraction, while, by order of Adam Orlton, Bishop of Winchester (1333-45), and inquiry was held to discover the true value of the church and the great tithes of Ecchinswell and Sydmonton. But it was in the 17th century that there was the greatest controversy about the payment of tithes. Thus, in 1666, Dr. Edward Webbe, chaplain in ordinary to Charles II and vicar of Kingsclere, engaged in a dispute with Richard Kent, the farmer of the appropriate tithes of Ecchinswell and Sydmonton, as to which tithes were payable to him and which to Richard Kent. In 1668 Richard Kent sued Robert Lush, the farmer of Sydmonton, for tithes from Sydmonton, but this dispute was ended in the same year, since it was found that the tenants of Sydmonton farm had a right to compound for their tithes by the annual payment of 1 acre of wheat and 1 acre of barley. Some years later Dr. Edward Webbe claimed tithes of rabbits from a warrener, John Newman by name, but by the deposition of witnesses taken at the 'Sign of the Crown' in Kingsclere on 19 October 1674, it appeared that no tithe-rabbits had ever been paid from Wkeridge Warren, and that 2s. a year only had been paid in lieu of tithes from Kingsleaze. About the same time Dr. Edward Webbe claimed the small tithes from Ecchinswell and Sydmonton, but by the depositions of witnesses taken on 19 October 1674 it was found that it had long been the custom to pay them direct to the curate who served the cure, and that some time before the inhabitants of Sydmonton out of charity had agreed with one another to almost double their contributions because the 'newly come curate one Mr. Smith had a great family of children and was but in mean condition'. Ambrose Webbe, the son and successor of Dr. Edward Webbe, who died in 16780, pursued the same policy as his father, and in the reign of James II claimed from John Matthew and Noah Starling tithe-corn from woody and bushy ground that had been grubbed up above the common within the parish, whereas it was really payable to the rector impropriate.

The living of Kingsclere Woodlands is a vicarage in the gift of the vicar of Kingsclere for the time being. The church of St. Peter, Headley Common, was built on a site given by Mrs. Goddard and consecrated in 1868.