Winchester Bishopric archive

This collection (11M59) is the administrative records of the estates belonging to the bishops of Winchester. It dates from the 13th to the 20th centuries. It is different from the Winchester Diocesan archive. That covers the bishops’ spiritual work.

At its height, the Bishopric estates comprised 60 manors spread across seven English counties. Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight. The records contain a wealth of place and family name information. These tell us about property history, medieval agriculture and demography. Also labour and wages, the peasant land market, as well as medieval Winchester and London. Most of the records up to 1733 are in Latin.

Some of the main series are:

Winchester Pipe Rolls - 1209-1711 - celebrated account rolls. They detail income and expenditure across the bishops’ estates

Fine books - 1508-1951 - recording fees payable by tenants on admission to property. Useful for tracing house histories on the bishopric estates

Enfranchisement registers - 1855-1916 - recording conveyances of freehold to the bishops’ copyhold tenants. Including place name indexes and plans

Lease registers - 1619-1869 -  containing full transcripts of property leases made by, and surrenders to, the Bishop. Most indexed by property and/or personal name

Court rolls and court books - 1337-1880 and associated court papers, c1520-1925, including presentments of misdemeanours, petitions, papers in private disputes, lists of tenants and jurors, letters, and appointments of manorial officials. Largely written in English and dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries

Surveys - 1332-c1926, including books of customs, land valuations and registers of tenants

Hampshire manors owned by the Bishop were:

  • Alresford
  • Alverstoke
  • Beauworth
  • Bensted
  • Bentley
  • Bishopstoke
  • Bishops Sutton
  • Bishops Waltham
  • Bitterne
  • Burghclere
  • Burley
  • Cheriton
  • Crawley
  • Droxford
  • Easton
  • East Woodhay
  • Ecchinswell
  • East Meon
  • Fareham
  • Gosport
  • Hambledon
  • Havant
  • Highclere
  • Odiham
  • Old Alresford
  • Overton
  • Newtown
  • North Waltham
  • Twyford
  • Wield
  • Winchester Soke

(The Crown appropriated Burghclere, Burley, Highclere, Twyford and Wield during the reign of Elizabeth I.)