Page images
PDF
EPUB

architectural fragments, evidently thrown in at the time of the destruction of the church, immediately after the Dissolution.

In the course of the excavations some remains of stained glass, and a mass of architectural fragments have been discovered. Among the latter may be recognized some mouldings of the Norman period, the Decorated ball flower (14th century), and an abundance of Perpendicular remains (15th century), as crockets, finials, and other enrichments, either from screen-work or canopied tombs ; many of them bearing distinct traces of colour. A portion of a monumental effigy of Purbeck marble in low relief, was also discovered, exhibiting, above the robes, some traces of the stem of a pastoral staff.

In concluding these remarks it is scarcely necessary to add that the warmest thanks of the Wiltshire Archæological Society, are especially due to the Marquis of Westminster, as well as to Mr. Batten, for the opportunity thus far afforded of investigating, by excavations carefully conducted at his Lordship's experise and under his immediate eye, the interesting remains of this celebrated Benedictine Nunnery.

Devizes, June, 1862.

E. K.

There were several portions of an arcade of Norman semicircular arches about 18 inches in height, carved in Purbeck marble. Another fragment, of perpendicular date, apparently from a tomb, exhibits a branch of a tree round which is a scroll bearing the words “ aia dni" in black letter, evidently part of an inscription desiring a prayer for the soul of some individual interred in the Abbey Church. The title of “dominus” may perhaps denote a priest.

VOL. VII.NO. XXI,

20

278

1

The Wiltshire
Possessions of the Abbess of Shaftesbury. .

By the Rev. W. H, JONES, M.A., F.S.A.

F

JEW, except those who have paid especial attention to the losubject, are at all aware of the large amount of landed

property in Wiltshire, which, in the middle ages, belonged to religious houses. At the time of the Domesday survey, no less than 1930 hides, an assessment representing in the whole probably some 250,000 acres, or nearly two-fifths of the county, were more or less under the control of ecclesiastical persons. The largest territorial possessions were those of the Abbot of Malmesbury; then came those of the Abbot of Glastonbury-of the Prior of St. Swithin, Winchester-and of the Abbess of Wilton. Next among landed proprietors followed the Abbess of Shaftesbury, whose abbey, situated at the very border of Wilts and Dorset, had, not inappropriately, a tolerably equal extent of property in each county. As years passed on, these possessions, large as they were at the time of Domesday, were increased by gifts from various benefactors, it being a custom, with regard at least to Shaftesbury, that when any person of substance devoted a daughter or kinswoman to the office of a nun, she should bring 'a portion' with her, the proceeds of which afterwards formed part of the general revenues of the abbey. Hence, at the beginning of the reign of Edward III. (A.D. 1326), out of the 39 hundreds into which the county was then divided, the lordship of no less than fourteen, amongst which were some of the most extensive, was vested in some bishop, or the head of some

1 In this manner the chapel' and tithes of Broctune' (Broughton Gifford) became the property of the Abbess of Shaftesbury. In the Harl. MS. 61, fol. 54, we have a list of lands so acquired under the heading, - Terras quas cum filiabus homines dederunt, &c.' Amongst them are lands, &c., at Broughton, and Keevil, given respectively by Gundreda, and Ernulfus de Hesding, in either case, at the dedication of a kinswoman as a nun ;-( cum quadam sua cognata moniali.')

religious house. To this day, the scattered hundreds of DamerhamDownton-Elstub and Everley—are a memorial of the jurisdiction exercised over the several manors comprised in them by their respective lords—the Abbots of Glastonbury—the Bishops of Winchester—and the Priors of St. Swithin, Winchester.

Our concern is with the Wiltshire possessions of the Abbess of Shaftesbury.' These were neither few nor'unimportant. In Domesday Book' they are thus enumerated :- -Bichenstock (Beechingstoke) Tisseberie-Duneheve (Donhead) - Bradeford, with Alvestone—Ledentone (Liddington)—Domnitone (Dinton). To which we have to add-Berwick St. Leonard's—Sedghill—and Keevil.

To attempt an account of each of these parishes is out of the question. Of Bradford'? so much has already been said in the pages of our Magazine, that it must waive its claim to any notice in the present instance. Beechingstoke and Liddington, moreover, are at such a distance from our place of meeting, that, as a choice must be made, it will be better to omit them, and give a description of those places which are more or less in this immediate neighbourhood. The sole exception will be in the case of Keevil, and that for reasons which, in due course, will be explained.

To give a more connected, and perhaps less wearisome form to my narrative, I will ask you in imagination to accompany me in 'a progress' through these various manors. When we arrive at any of the possessions of the Lady Abbess, I will endeavour to explain to you how they came into the hands of her society, and will add a few notes on the various churches, the principal estates, and the chief families who have been owners of them, from time to time, up to the present century. We shall dwell, as far as may be, on matters that have not been spoken of in Sir R. C. Hoare's work, but which have been gleaned from original records, more particularly from the chartularies of Shaftesbury and Edington, preserved among the Harleian, and Lansdowne manuscripts, in the British Museum.

1

1 Wyndham's Domesday for Wiltshire,' pp. 145-154.
2 Wiltshire Archæol. Mag., vol. v.

DONHEAD ST. ANDREW.

Starting, then, from the Town of St. Edward,' as this place (Shaftesbury) was usually called, the first estate belonging to the Abbess that we shall visit will be DONHEAD. On our way, we pass by CHARLTON, originally ceórla-tún, that is, the village of peasants,' a name not unknown in other parts of Wilts, and here at least appropriate, down to the middle of the last century, for not till then was any house of a superior kind built in it. From time immemorial this chapelry has formed part of the Rectory of Donhead St. Mary. It is named as such in the 'Liber Regis,' and, in 1638, was represented as being without endowment.

The ancient chapel, which was a small and plain structure, some 54 feet in length, and 20 in breadth, and consisted simply of a chancel, nave, and south porch, was pulled down about 22 years ago, and a new chapel erected on a site distant half-a-mile from the old one, with a view to the more general convenience of the inhabitants of the various hamlets of Combe, Ludwell, and Charlton, which constitute the chapelry. The original site is preserved from common uses by being walled round and planted with larch and fir, and the adjoining meadow by its name 'Chapel Mead' preserves the memory of the ancient sanctuary.

A singular custom prevailed in Charlton, even to the beginning of the seventeenth century. Each inhabitant or householder was accustomed to provide bread and wine for the Holy Communion, and to bring the same "in several parcels and in divers pots, bottles, or glasses to the Table of the Lord.” Of this, a sufficient portion was consecrated for the purpose of the Holy Sacrament, and the rest reserved for the use of the curate. It was not until 1638 that this usage was discontinued. A formal agreement was then drawn up under the episcopal seal of Bishop Davenant, by which the inhabitants of Donhead St. Mary “condescend and agree out of zeal to God's service, and out of love and hearty affection to their loving neighbours at Charlton, Combe, and Ludwell, that the bread and wine for the Holy Communion at the Chapel of Charlton shall be provided at the charge of the whole parish.” The

« PreviousContinue »