A Victorian Rebuild

Early this morning, a representative of Norman’s Heating visited to assess for quotation our requirements for a new oil tank. The good news is that we don’t need such a big container. We await the estimate.

After lunch Jackie drove us all to Ringwood, where we left Flo, Dillon, and Ellie while she and I took a trip out of the forest where we stopped beside

a bridge over the River Avon on the road to Harbridge.

Every year the Avon around the area overflows its banks. This is just

one spot where water meadows are created.

An egret was happily foraging there.

The little community of Harbridge has such a long history that I have included the following paragraphs for those who are interested. You may wish to skip these and scroll down to the churchyard pictures.

‘Herdebrige (xi cent.); Hardebrygg (xiii cent.); Haberigge (xiv cent.); Harebrigg (xv cent.); Hardbridge (xvi cent.).

The parish of Harbridge contains over 4,000 acres, comprising 650 acres of arable land, 986½ acres of permanent grass and 356½ acres of woodland. (fn. 1) The height above sea level is for the most part above 100 ft. and below 200 ft. The soil is sandy, the subsoil gravel, which has been considerably worked. (fn. 2) The western and south-western parts of the parish comprise the great uncultivated tracts of Plumley Heath with its tumuli and Nea Heath. In the south-east is Somerley, the seat of Lord Normanton, with its magnificent picture gallery and its park of 900 acres. Nearly the whole parish together with Ibsley and Ellingham belongs to Lord Normanton’s estate.’

‘The little village of Harbridge, with its church, lies about 2 miles north-east of Somerley, at the edge of the low meadow land to the east of the River Avon. North again are Harbridge Green and North End Park and Farm. Old Somerley is on the northern border of Somerley Park.’

‘In 1086 HARBRIDGE was held of the king by Bernard the Chamberlain, having been held by Ulveva in the days of the Confessor. The assessment had fallen from 5 hides to 3 hides and 1 virgate. (fn. 4) The subsequent history of Harbridge is not easy to unravel. Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, the last of the Clares, was receiving a rent of 25s. 8d. held of the king by knight service at his death in 1314. (fn. 5) This was then committed to the charge of Lawrence de Rustiton, and afterwards of Richard de Rodeneye, Ithel de Keyrewent and Richard de Byflet, keepers of the earl’s lands, (fn. 6) the places of the last two being subsequently taken by Bennet de Cokefeld and William de Aylmere. (fn. 7) It was probably by virtue of the Clare possessions that the king’s name occurs in the Nomina Villarum of 1316. (fn. 8)

‘The king’s parcenary in 1316 was Isabel de Acton. (fn. 9) Her holding may be traced in the messuage and virgate the reversion of which Sir John Poyntz conveyed to Sir John de la Hale and his heirs in 1364. (fn. 10) John Palmer was then holding the estate of the hereditament of Poyntz; after his death it was to remain to Joan wife of Sir John de Acton, deceased, and after her death to remain to Poyntz or by the terms of the conveyance to Sir John de la Hale.’

‘By the early part of the 15th century Harbridge, then known as a manor, had come into the hands of a Henry Smith who was unjustly disseised by John Poole. (fn. 11) However, in January 1500 Thomas Poole of Holwall (co. Somers.), a descendant of John, sold and quitclaimed to John Smith of Askerswell (co. Dors.) grandson of Henry, both for himself and Margery, late wife of Thomas Trowe, and possibly sister or mother of Thomas Poole, (fn. 12) all right and title in the manor of Harbridge, together with all the possessions of the late Margery Trowe, and those occupied by Jane widow of John Poole, uncle of Thomas, and by Edith Poole widow. (fn. 13) The full sum due on this sale was not paid off, however, until 1504, (fn. 14) and meanwhile Poole conveyed the premises to Sir John Turbervyle and to Richard Kemer. (fn. 15) Nevertheless Nicholas Smith, heir, presumably, of John, died seised in 1538, (fn. 16) leaving a widow Sybil, on whom Harbridge was settled in dower for life, and a son and heir George. Sybil apparently married as her second husband John Okeden, (fn. 17) with whom she was holding the manor for the term of her life in 1541, (fn. 18) in which year Jaspar Smith, presumably brother of Nicholas, settled all his reversionary right on Thomas Whyte. Sybil died in 1551, leaving as heir her son George Smith before mentioned, then sixteen years old. (fn. 19)However, by 1567 Harbridge was carried by coheiresses Elizabeth and Jane to their respective husbands John Rose and Francis Poyntz. (fn. 20) The remainder was to Ambrose Rose of Ringwood, who sold it in 1601  (fn. 21) to John Wykes of Harbridge. Francis Poyntz quitclaimed to the new lord a few years later. (fn. 22) The Wykeses continued to hold during the greater part of the 17th century. John Wykes had been sequestered in 1649 and in 1654 he was still awaiting redress. (fn. 23) In 1688 Lewis Bampfield and Elizabeth his wife and Margaret Wykes, spinster, were party to a conveyance of the manor, when, however, one John Wheeler seems to have been in actual possession. (fn. 24)Elizabeth and Margaret would seem to have been the co-heirs of the Wykeses and Margaret was probably the Margaret wife of William Bowreman who with her husband and Lewis and Elizabeth Bampfield sold three messuages and land in Harbridge, Ellingham, Hurst, Blashford, Rockford, Ringwood, Lyndhurst, Linwood and the New Forest to Henry Hommige in 1689, warranting him against the heirs of Elizabeth and Margaret. (fn. 25) By 1693 the manor was in the hands of Edward Twyne (fn. 26) and in 1700 Joseph Hussey and Mary his wife sold it to Joseph Gifford. (fn. 27)Early in the 18th century Gifford must have sold the manor to James Whitaker, (fn. 28) who in 1733 conveyed it to Dayrell Hawley. (fn. 29) No further mention of Harbridge Manor has been discovered until 1810, when it was held by Percival Lewis. (fn. 30) Soon after that it passed to the Earl of Normanton (see Somerley) and now forms part of the Somerley estate.’

‘The Punchardons had an estate in Harbridge for a considerable period. In 1263 Robert de Punchardon and Alice his wife quitclaimed from themselves and the heirs of Alice a messuage and a carucate of land to William de Punchardon, Maud his wife and Hawis her sister and the heirs of Maud and Hawis. This seems to have been the same estate of which in 1375 John de Boyland of Eling and Alice his wife, holding it of the hereditament of Alice, conveyed a moiety to William de Athelyngton and a moiety to Oliver de Punchardon, the whole estate being in the actual possession of John Bereford and Denis his wife for the life of Denis. (fn. 31) Oliver de Punchardon died seised of lands there in 1417. (fn. 32) Like Ellingham (q.v.) the Punchardon moiety of Harbridge passed to the Okedens, (fn. 33) and in 1604 William Okeden sold it to Thomas Worsley, (fn. 34) who died seised in 1620, (fn. 35) leaving an infant grandson Thomas Worsley as his heir. Thomas Worsley’s daughter Barbara was the wife of a William Bowreman, whose namesake, possibly himself or a son, was dealing with land in Harbridge in 1689. (fn. 36) From that date this moiety of Harbridge undoubtedly merged in the manor proper and belongs at the present day to the Earl of Normanton.’

‘The church of ALL SAINTS is an ashlar-faced building consisting of chancel, nave and west tower, rebuilt in 1838 in 15th-century style, but part of the tower masonry appears to be older. There is a small wall tablet to Edward Dodington ob. 1656, with a quartered shield.

The bells are three in number, all by Thomas Mears, 1839.’

Extracts from https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp604-606#p1

The lichen covered gravestones are largely indecipherable, although there are good number of the Pratt family. Many seem to bear very early Victorian dates, and look even earlier. There is a phalanx of four shaped yews guarding the entrance path, and one of greater age round the back. Snowdrops are in abundance.

This evening we all dined on Mr Pink’s fish, chips, and mushy peas, Garner’s pickled onions, and Tesco’s sliced gherkins. Jackie and I both drank Grüner Veltliner 2020.


  1. History recorded and shared. I just wish the tombstones had been taken care of. Since so much is known about the church, do think there is a record of who was buried there?

    1. There is such a record, GP. This is a paragraph I omitted from my selections: ‘The registers are in four books: the first has burials 1571 to 1720, marriages 1616 to 1717, and baptisms 1679 to 1719, but they are incomplete. There is a gap in the baptisms 1682 to 1695, and from 1696 to 1719 they are irregular. There are gaps in the burials 1635 to 1654 and in marriages 1644 to 1654 and 1657 to 1713. The second book has baptisms and burials 1720 to 1792, the third marriages 1754 to 1812, and the fourth baptisms and burials 1792 to 1812.’ Thanks very much for your close reading

  2. Wow. I feel educated and enhanced with the beautiful photos of the “old country” (this coming from a woman with deep English ties/blood who now lives in NEW England). We visit the “old old” graveyards in NE that date back to 1700s – young in your country. I love reading the gravestones and imagining the lives that once were. Sad that the gravestones you visited are so ruined by time.

    1. Thank you very much, Pam. It is a shame that we couldn’t decipher the names and dates. I like that you have the same ancestry as us.

    1. They do, Merril. That is what prompted me to seek out the history. With just a church and a few houses one would never know

  3. Yesterday I was contemplating the lichen on all the scattered stones here in New England. I appreciated the lichen over there. It is a fascinating plant about which I am now curious.

    1. Thank you very much, Elizabeth. Our gravestones and trees are plentifully supplied with lichen – we even have some on a wooden garden bench which has moved with me from several locations – I think it is to do with the purity of the air.

    1. Thank you so much, Andrew. It reminded us that if we want to find a church with lengthy history we need to leave the New Forest area – this is just outside it

  4. And every old church in every old village is like that. Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans and finally English, we have all played our parts in the history of our land.

  5. That is an interesting and detailed history of Harbridge , Derrick.

    The lichens and mosses are working hard at erasing the names and stories of the dead sleeping below the stones. They eat away at the church. There is nothing Man can create that Nature will not consume over time.

    1. I am pleased you thought so, Ivor. Such a small group of houses and the church that one would never know that their history went back to before William the Conqueror. Cheers

  6. Thank you for sharing this interesting history and your beautiful photos.
    Your photos captured a lot of moods (in the moody-weather) and emotions (in the church and church cemetery).
    It’s sad that so many of the important words, on the gravestones, have been “erased” over time, by nature.
    (((HUGS))) ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Carolyn. I thought it was worth putting in the history for those who could manage its length – to look at the place now one would never know. X

    1. You never know, T, the most insignificant spot around Langholm may have more than a moiety of history. Thanks for putting in the study.

  7. Oh my, what a history! Pretty impressive. History here in Arizona goes back about forty years haha. So do I need to follow you from here or will my old following work on here? Or don’t you know?

  8. It was delightful to see the snowdrops scattered about like little grace notes on the church yard grounds. I’ve only seen those flowers twice, and once was in a cemetery here, where I’m sure they had been planted by someone. They aren’t native, and mostly don’t thrive here. It’s interesting to see how these stones have aged; their lichens and such are quite different from what we see here, but of course even the earliest stones here only go back to the early 1800s. Still, I wonder if certain kinds of stone are more receptive to colonization by the lichens.

    1. Thank you very much, Linda. That is an interesting observation about the lichen. That on some of our reconstituted stone garden ornaments is quite different to those in the churchyards.

    1. Much appreciated, Jill. There is so little there besides the church that one would never guess at the history.

    1. Thank you very much, Uma. Just looking at the church and very few houses, one would never know all that history. It was Jackie who recognised that the church was probably a Victorian copy of one much earlier

    1. Much appreciated, Anne. I feared it might be too long for some, which is why I put the warning in. Harbridge is now no more than a church, which also serves two other parishes, and very few houses – one would never know it has that history.

  9. I do like the style of the beautiful church; I believe the style is Norman. I agree about the masonary, definitely looks repurposed as they today.

  10. As we would say in Maine, that is some history. Those tombstones are so striking, beautiful in an eerie way. Sorry they are so hard to read. Maine has many old cemeteries—one just up the road from us—but none as old as that, of course.

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