Hampshire Treasures

Volume 2 ( Basingstoke and Deane)

Page 303 - Stratfield Saye

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The name Stratfield means the field of the road or way, which derives from the ancient Roman road from London to Silchester which crosses the parish. In bygone days the name was spelt Strathfield which indicates a broad valley and a field, as the element Strath is often used in Scottish place-names. Saye is derived from the family of Saye which once held the manor.

The manor of Stratfieldsaye was made up from the property of two older manors; in the twelfth century it was owned by the Stoteville family, but passed by marriage to the de Say family at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Some time before 1370 the manor again passed by marriage to the Dabridgecourts. In 1629 the Dabridgecourts sold the property to the Pitt family: Sir William Pitt built Stratfield Saye House in about 1630.

Startfield Saye was bought by the nation from the Pitt family in 1817 and presented to Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington, in gratitude for his victory at the Battle of Waterloo. Here the Iron Duke entertained Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and lived out his days of retirement. The Duke's old war-horse Copenhagen, which bore him for the entire day at the Battle of Waterloo, is buried in the grounds of the big house. The housekeeper planted an acorn near the grave at the time, and this has now grown to a flourishing oak tree. A monument to the Duke was erected in the grounds in 1863 at a cost of £3,000.

The mediaeval Church of St. Mary the Virgin was demolished in about 1758 when the present church, also dedicated to St. Mary was being built. The modern church was built by George Pitt, first Lord Rivers, and is built of brick in the shape of a Greek cross. The church contains monuments to the Pitt and Wellesley families.

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