Hampshire Treasures

Volume 1 ( Winchester City District)

Page 131 - Hursley

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Although the first reference to Hursley is in the late twelfth century, it was in all probability in the ownership of the bishops of Winchester since Domesday, if not before, and there it remained until 1552, when it was surrendered to the king. Bishop Henry de Blois built a castle at Merdon, within the parish, in 1138, which had become ruinous by the sixteenth century, when Edward Vl granted the manor and park at Hursley to Sir Philip Hoby.

The manor was briefly restored to the church by Queen Mary, but given back to the Hoby family by Queen Elizabeth. In 1600 the manor and castle was sold to Thomas Clerke, who proved a difficult lord of the manor. The lodge and park at Hursley were leased separately at this time, but the two estates were brought together again in 1630. The manor passed into the Cromwell family when Oliver Cromwell's eldest son Richard married the daughter of the owner, Richard Major. Richard Cromwell lived in Hursley from 1649 to 1658, when he became Protector of England at his father's death. Richard's son Oliver took over the estate, and the tenants claimed their ancient rights and customs (including pastureage and felling trees) in a lengthy legal battle. The manor was bought from the Cromwells by Sir William Heathcote in 1718, and the new owner built the manor house known as Hursley House.

Another large house was built at the hamlet of Cranbury: the eighteenth century house was owned by the Dummer family and later by the Chamberlayne family.

John Keble (1792-1866), poet and divine, was Vicar of Hursley for the last thirty years of his life. Author of The Christian Year and other books of poems and essays, he was the founder of the Anglican high church Oxford Movement.

Thomas Sternhold (d. 1549) who collaborated with John Hopkins in making metrical translations of the psalms lived, and was buried, at Hursley.

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