is fortunate in that it was the first county for which a Victoria County
History was produced and remains an invaluable resource for those interested
in the history of Kingsclere
Volume four, from which this extract is taken, was published in 1911,
and although a good deal of new information has come to light, so far
as I know there are only four points at which revision, as opposed to
addition, is needed. These have been indicated in the text by notes
within square brackets. None of these is of great moment, but it seemed
worth while to draw attention to them. Many more printed sources are
now available, and where it has been thought useful a reference to these
has been added alongside the original authority. In particular it has
seemed useful to add to references to the Domesday Book, paragraph numbers
from the Phillimore edition edited by Julian Munby, as for instance
[DB, Hants, 69,42].
Page numbers and columns in the original text have been indicated thus [256b]
[Ham oet Clearian A.D. 873 x 888; Clearas A.D. 951 x 955; Clere A.D. 1086; ecclesiam de Kyngeclera A.D. 1110 x 1125],
In 1831 the parish of Kingsclere, which has been described as "too healthy to die in and too poor to live in", covered a far larger area than it does at the present day. It extended over 17,000 acres, and stretched from the River Enborne in the north to the Port Way, the ancient road from Salisbury to Silchester, in the south, Baughurst and Wolverton bounding it on the east, and Newtown, Burghclere and Litchfield forming its western boundary. Since then Kingsclere Woodlands has been formed into an ecclesiastical district, Ecchinswell and Sydmonton have been constituted separate parishes, and the area of Kingsclere with Kingsclere Woodlands is now only 13,116 acres of land and 10 acres of land covered by water.
The general rise of the ground is from the north up to the range of lofty downs in the south which runs from King John's or Cottington's Hill to Inkpen Beacon, near Hungerford. The town is situated in about the centre of the parish at the point where the roads from Basingstoke to Newbury and from Andover to Reading cross, and are joined by a road running north from Whitchurch. A stream rises about 300 yards south of Kingsclere and flows almost due north through the town to empty itself into the River Enborne, which form the boundary between Hampshire and Berkshire.
The town is picturesque, but none of its buildings present any special architectural interest except the parish church, which stands on the western side of the market place. The rectory was originally to the north-east of the church, but in 1855 the building was used as two cottages and afterwards demolished. Some of the oak panelling was taken to Beenham Court north of Kingsclere, when that house was being built [page, 249b] in 1875, and some is at Elm Grove, the residence of Mr William Holding, D.C.L., J.P., to the east of the town - a house built in the early part of the 18th Century and much enlarged and altered at its close. The ancient vicarage-house was to the south-west of the church. It was abandoned, and the vicar had no residence of his own until 1850, when the present vicarage was built at a cost of £1,407 on 2 acres of land given by William third Lord Bolton.
The Falcon Inn, one of the oldest in Hampshire, is especially interesting as being at one time in the possession of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who in 1510 gave it to Winchester College upon trust for the maintenance and support of the scholars upon its foundation. It is probable that the Kings of England often rode through Kingsclere on their way to and from Freemantle Park, to which they resorted for hunting. The park remained part of the royal demesne till the beginning of the 17th Century.
Kingsclere was also important during the Civil War owing to its proximity to Newbury. On 21 October 1644, Charles I intending to relieve Basing House marched hither from Whitchurch, but finding the enemy so greatly his superior in cavalry, after one night's halt he continued his march towards Newbury. According to Captain Symonds, the author of Marches of the Royal Army, the house at which the king spent the night was Frobury Manor House, about a mile north-west of the town, his host being Robert Towers. In this house, which is now occupied by the farmer of the lands, is still shown what is called a priests chamber. The following statement made by Edward Prior, a witness in an Exchequer suit of 1674, is also significant: "About the beginning of the late trouble there was a vicarage house in Itchinswell, wherein [page, 250a] the curate for the time being did usually live, which house partly fell down, and was partly pulled down in the times of the late trouble." About two miles south-west of Kingsclere, Cannon Heath Down, Cannon Park and Cannon Heath Farm preserve the memory of the canons of Rouen the early holders of the manor. Cannon Court was in the occupancy of James Hunte towards the end of the 16th Century. Charles first Duke of Bolton built Canham or Cannon's Lodge, probably on its site, from materials said to have been brought from the ruins of Basing House. It was for some time occupied as a hunting-box by the first Earl of Mexborough and afterwards by Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, brother of King George III, but was pulled down in 1805. The heath now forms part of the training quarters belonging to the celebrated Park House Racing Stables which formerly belonged to Sir Joseph Henry Hawley, bart.; the present proprietors are the Dukes of Wellington and Portland, for whom Mr William Waugh trains.
The soil is chalk and clay, the sub-soil chalk. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats. Kingsclere and Kingsclere Woodland contain 5586 acres of arable land 3013 acres of permanent grass and 1804 acres of woods and plantations. The common fields were inclosed in 1845.
Ecchinswell is a long, narrow parish lying between Kingsclere and Symonton, and containing 2349 acres. The village lies in the centre of the parish near the source of a small stream which rises close to the site of the old church, east of the vicarage near the watercress bed, marked by the tombstone of Mr John Digweed of Ecchinswell House, whose interment to place inside the church in 1844. There are two burial grounds in Ecchinswell; one surrounds the present church, the other was purchased and consecrated in 1844. The vicarage house was built during the incumbency of The Rev. Lewis Rugg, MA., in 1853. Ecchinswell House, now the property of Mt Lionel T Wasey, was occupied by the late Major William H Digweed until his death about 1880.
The soil is rich in loam and the subsoil gravel and chalk. The chief crops are wheat, barley and oats, and watercress is also grown. There are 905 acres of arable land, 817 acres of permanent grass and 75 acres of wood and plantations in the parish of Ecchinswell. The inclosure award is dated 13 November 1850.
Sydmonton is a long narrow parish bounded on the east by Ecchinswell and on the west by Newtown, Burghclere and Litchfield. To the north of the church, which is in the centre of the parish, is [page, 250b] Sydmonton Court. This house has several times been altered and enlarged and is at present occupied by Sir Charles Elliot. South of the church is a terrace from which a fine view may be obtained of the North Downs across the intervening valley. Sydmonton Dower House, belonging to the lord of the manor, is now on lease.The chief crops are wheat, barley, oats and beans. The total area is 2145 acre; comprising 1382 acres of arable land, 448 acres of permanent grass and 332 acres of woods and plantations.
Kingsclere Woodlands was formed into and ecclesiastical parish from the northern parts of Kingsclere in 1846, and contains 4790 acres. It averages about 300ft. above the ordnance datum, and is watered by three tributaries of the Enborne, which forms its northern boundary. St Paul's Church is situated near Ashford Hill, and near it is the vicarage, which was built in 1847-8. Beenham Court is a modern house standing on the site of Mrs May's farm of the same name which was pulled down in 1875.
To the north is Headley Common, which is intersected by the main road from Basingstoke to Newbury, which enters Berkshire at Knight's Bridge over the Enborne. Knightsbridge House is the residence of Mrs Caroline E Lamb.
Among ancient place-names in Kingsclere are the following, [but see also the index to Winchester College Muniments, under Kingsclere]:- a field called Rammesholte xii cent); lands called Denpurcue, Tawyerescroft, Williamsmore, Nortle (Norley Copse) and Wluithesmede (xiii cent); a wood called Hauekhurst (Hawkhurst Hill), a bridge called Ixnesford (Exmansford), waste-land called Smetheburgh, pasture called Poleland and Holtemede (The Holt), and crofts called Hagenhull and Strokyngeslond (Strokins), (xiv cent.) ; a messuage called Coppidhalle, (xv cent.) ; lands called Wigard or Wiggers, Strattons, Little Pychehornes, a tenement called Wakemans, a meadow called Crooked Meade, Pat. and a messuage called Gaylys (Gailey's Mill), (xvi cent.) ; and a mill called Abbot's Mill, ; closes of pasture called Apsanger, a messuage called Holthatche, and lands called Fordefieldes, Maiden Meade, Wakriges, Asheford Hill and Readinges, (xvii cent.). The following place-names in Ecchinswell are found on the Court Rolls:-- lands called Bishopp's Ashley and Twichens, a copse called Frobreche, public ways called Carvyles and Hachhouse Lane and a messuage and virgate of land called Le Garre, (xvi cent.) ; fields called The Midlemawme, The Little Mawme, Ilond Close, Little Maulin near Twynlie, Merrie Hill, Mousehoale and Bishopp's Greene, a copse called Mowles and messuages called Plott House and Mookells , [page 251a] Donymeade and Pontesddowne in Sydmonton occur in the 16th century