Our thanks to Nigel Bell for permission to reproduce this
from his booklet -"Newnham A short History of the Parish and its Church"
Newnham is a long-established community. It dates from
well before 1130, which is the earliest written reference. It has some unusual
features, for example being built on a ridge away from water. Its church,
despite being renovated by the Victorians, yet contains many interesting
features, including a wonderful Norman chance! arch and a carved-in-stone
memorial to a priest of the 13th century comp to a brass but in this case
perhaps unique. Its oldest bell has been ringing over the land since Henry VII
was king. It is a charming backwater, aside from the mainstream of headlong
‘progress’. A place where the generations have made their contribution and laid
their bones - quintessential England.
Newnham, as it is delineated today, lies on a ridge of high ground above and to
the east of the river Lyde; the highest point being the church which stands at
about 95m or 312ft above sea level, with The Green being a little lower. The
soil at this higher level is Plateau Gravel with London Clay preponderating in
the surrounding area: west to the Lyde, north towards Rotherwick, east to Hook
and south to Nately Scures; immediately along the Lyde the soil is Alluvium.
Today the village lies in an ordered landscape of rolling countryside. The
Parish is well wooded with many mature trees in the extensive hedgerows. Copses
and small woods are significant features; oak, ash, maple, hawthorn and hazel
predominate, with alder, sallow and willow important in the wetter parts, and
many other species besides. The whole enclosing large and small fields. It is an
intimate landscape typical of the riverain catchments of north east Hampshire,
but with long views in some directions from the higher ground.
Prior to the first written reference to Newnham, little is certain about the
area comprising the village. Two Neolithic flint hand axes have been found: one
at Naish’s Farm, one between the lane to Old Basing and Compfield Copse, and
other ancient finds have been recorded . There are no indications whether or not
the land was being farmed by the Celtic occupants of Britain before the Roman
era, nor whether the Romans were involved in economic activity here. Roman
evidence from neighbouring communities, eg Hook, Mapledurwell and North
Warnborough, suggests there may have been people in the area, but whether
present day Newnham was peopled is unknown. There are no Roman-derived place
names nearer than Silchester. The only British or Celtic name postulated for a
local feature is the river into which the Lyde flows, the Loddon, meaning
‘muddy’, but there is some uncertainty .
After the Anglo-Saxon invasions from the fifth century onward north east
Hampshire undoubtedly became increasingly influenced by the incomers. All around
they gave their own identifications to places and streams. The Lyde, for
example, first mentioned in 1262, means ‘torrent’. And the community from which
Newnham was later excised, Mapledurwell, meant in Anglo Saxon, ‘mapletree
spring’. This is probably because a branch of the Lyde once bubbled from the
ground in a grove of maples. Newnham itself meant ‘new estate’.
Newnham’s first mention is in a church document, a charter of Henry de Port,
Lord of Old Basing and a justice itinerant in 1130, who during Henry I’s reign
(1100-1135) gave certain tithes to the church at Neoham. It is, therefore,
possible to affirm the church building existed in about 1125-1135, and by
implication the community had already become established by then.
Previously, and indeed until 1198, Newnham was part of Mapledurwell, which
features in Domesday Book of 1086, although Newnham does not. In this context,
it has been conjectured that a mill on the site of present Lyde Mill may have
been one of two mentioned in the Domesday survey as b&onging to Mapledurwell
and, if correct, it implies a hamlet already existed at Newnham, during or
before the Conqueror’s reign.
The Manor of Newnham
In 1198 “Alan Basset lord of Mapledurwell granted 3 hides [360 acres or
approximately 150 hectares] of land in Newnham pertaining to his vill [ =
settlement or manor of Mapledurwell to Hugh de Arundel to hold to him and his
heirs.. .by the service of half a knight’s fee. The wood called ‘Le Ho’ (the
modern Hook Common) was expressly excepted from this grant”. This marks the
beginning of Newnham’s independent existence as a manor, nevertheless it seems
to have remained in the hands of various influential local families and been a
part of their more extensive holdings.
The manor was held from 1198 by the de Arundels, Hugh, William and another
William, for many years; by 1275 it had passed to Adam de St.Manefeo of
Heckfield, who was succeeded by Henry - probably his son then John, Robert
(alive 1346), Thomas and finally his son John de St.Manefeo, who in 1381 yielded
the manor to Robert Fulmere. In 1395 Edward Bokeland possessed the manor but
dying childless in 1405 it passed to Sir Philip Ia Vache, who died about five
years later. Ownership of the manor until 1428 is obscure, but then it became
Thomas Stukeley’s; John Stukeley was in possession in the 1460s and he or a
namesake is named in 1502. At his death in 1598 William Paulet third Marquess of
Winchester was “seised of three-quarters of the manor”, and the fourth marquess
owned the whole manor in 1609. It remained with the Paulets, later to become the
Dukes of Bolton, and their successors the Orde Powletts, Barons Bolton, until
1816. In 1835 Guy Carleton, third Lord Dorchester, purchased the manor. It has
remained with the family to the present, and the current lord of the manor is
James Viscount Fitz-Harris.
The three hides of land granted in 1198 would have been arable. By implication
there would have been copses and larger areas of woodland, probably used for
pasturing livestock, there may have been some common land, and there would have
been meadows; furthermore, much of the lower-lying land would have been boggy.
Villagers at this time may have considered that Newnham extended to several
hundred acres, and perhaps near to the 1009 acres it comprised in 1878.
The 1871 Ordnance Survey map shows the main part of Newnham stretching from the
Lyde in the west, to the old Reading road in Hook; immediately to the east there
was a detached part of the parish extending from approximately the new Hook
by-pass down to the Whitewater river; a third detached segment of about 10 acres
lay to the north between Bunkers Hill Farm and Borough Court. These areas were
separated from each other by a major insertion of a detached part of Nately
Scures. How the two parishes came to be layed out in this way is unknown, but
presumably it was due to land ownership at a distant period, because the
existence of a tongue of Nately Scures between two parts of Newnham is implied
The first rationalisation of the parish took place in 1879 when the detached
part, identified as the Holt, some 363 acres in size, was moved from Nately
Scures to Newnham. Then in 1918 a further portion of Nately Scures, evidently
about 30 acres, was placed in Newnham, by which stage the parish comprised 1401
acres. But in 1932 Hook, which until then had comprised a rapidly growing sector
of Newnham was separated as a new civil parish. At the same time Nately Scures
was amalgamated into Newnham to form a new civil parish.
Ecclesiastically Hook was still combined with Newnham, but in 1955 a separate
parish of Hook was created; since then Newnham’s church parish and civil parish
boundaries with Hook have coincided.
In early times the road from London to Lands End progressed via Guildford,
Farnham, Alton and Winchester to Salisbury and thence to Shaftesbury, Exeter,
Truro and onward.
Then in the 1400s a faster route from Salisbury via
Andover and Basingstoke to Staines and London became established. This Great
West Road development must have influenced Newnham’s economy, with travellers of
every quality using the services the village could provide. The road, identified
as the “King’s Highway” or the “London Way” in early maps and documents, having
come along the route of the present A30 from Hartley Wintney and through Hook,
ran from the war memorial in Hook along the north side of Jubilee Green, and
before the coming of the railway it bent leftward along the rear of Morris
Street. It reached the present Old School Road some 130 metres north-west of the
former school building and turned half right towards Newnham Green joining
Newnham Road close to King’s Bridge over the railway. The derivation of the
bridge’s name is unknown, but close to the location of Buckland’s Yard there was
once a footbridge, called Hackyngryth Bridge, which crossed a small stream, and
a corruption of this may explain the name’s origin.
This main road went to Newnham Green where it turned left down Crown Lane, named
after the Crown Inn which was the former name of Crown Lodge. About 150 metres
beyond the bridge under the railway it reached the Nately Scures parish
boundary. Then after another 280 metres it turned right, along Green Lane; it
reached the present A30 by the bridge over the Lyde at Water End, next to the
Red Lion Inn.
This was for generations the line of the main road, and in due course it was
turnpiked. But by 1786 there is reference to a route change, “A new road from
Hook, missing Newnham and the long water, and coming in a mile before being a
mile and a quarter nearer”: from this time the traffic must increasingly have
by-passed the village. Then while Hook grew, particularly following the opening
of the railway station in 1883, the improvements to the A30 and the coming of
the M3, Newn ham became a peaceful backwater.
Views of the village
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH
OF ST NICHOLAS