A BRIEF HISTORY OF WHITEPARISH

Much could be written about the history of our village, but the website is probably not the right place for an exhaustive account. We are very grateful to members of Whiteparish's History Society for providing about a page’s worth of key facts!

Early History

Roman coins have been found around Cowesfield (one of the hamlets which Whiteparish now embraces), so they may have had settlements in this area. They were certainly well entrenched over the downs along the river Dun.

However, the first known written reference to the district was in 943 AD, when a grant of land was made by King Edmund to his thegn (or thane) Wulfgar. The grant covers an area of land but there is no mention of a village. It was not until 968 AD–when the same plot of land was granted by King Edgar to Wilton Abbey–that more information started to become available. How this land came back into the hands of the crown is not recorded. Really, the parish came within Melchett Royal forest, and the Abbey had permission to fell timber and run pigs.

Mediaeval Times

Not until the 13th and 14th centuries, when the land was leased by the Abbey at a rent of £5 per year (right up until the Dissolution of the Monasteries), did things change. The area involved was a mile or two south-west of the present centre of Whiteparish, south of the present-day Moor Farm. In those days it was called Frustfield or Abbotstone, which at the time meant Abbess Farm. Before the village became consolidated, it started as farmsteads, around which sprang up cottages. Then as the years went on, the farms gradually bit further into the remaining forest to make more fields.

At the time of the Black Death it appears that the only areas to suffer were Frustfield Lourvers (now Broxmore, bordering Sherfield English) and Cowesfield; and for 50 or so years these became rough land. One very long established local farm (going back to before 1066) is Whelpley Farm, and it has been suggested this was once a thriving community of young people. (The name suggests youth, such as pups or cubs.) The remains of a chapel can still be seen there, and the existence of the chapel suggests that enough people were living there around the time of Henry 3rd to warrant its construction.. It has not been possible to gain any actual numbers relating to population, but after 1538 a chaplain was no longer appointed, and in time the farm reverted back to being just a farm.

Whiteparish derives its name from its church. In 1190 this was rebuilt and became known as White Church–it must have stood out to be given this name. In time the village became known as Whiteparish.

17th Century Onward

A very well-known landmark—the Pepperbox—was built by local landowner Mr.Eyre in 1606, on the high ground to the north west of the village. It was used by his lady friends to watch the hunting parties at work.

In 1756, what is now the A27 was turnpiked and realigned towards Sherfield English. Little is known about the village’s public houses in early days, but Samuel Pepys was reputed to have stayed at the White Hart (recently converted to private housing) on his way to Plymouth in about 1660. If this was the case, then it must have been a coaching Inn.

Change was always taking place, and has only accelerated over the last two centuries. In 1800 the population was 800; and by 1851 this had risen to 1350. Apparently around this time many people emigrated from the district, due to the depressed state of farming. In 1836, for example, 38 villagers from Whiteparish men, (10 men, 9 women, and 19 youths and children) joined a larger party of the poor from Downton and set sail in the ship King William for Quebec. Click here for more information. However as the demand for bricks increased, the need for houses was increasing all over the country, and Whiteparish began to prosper again as the clay soil to the south of the present village proved excellent for brickmaking.

Enclosures of the few remaining open fields took place in 1804.Freeholders who had common rights and plots in the open fields were compensated by being given plots of land of their own. Over the next 80 years these freeholders sold out to bigger landholders. Gradually, as the nation became more prosperous, larger houses were built in and around the parish and work could be found in Salisbury, Romsey and Southampton. However, after WW1 and WW2, the big estates were broken up due to death duties.

For more information about Whiteparish’s history, see the excellent “Whiteparish—100 years of an English Village” produced by the Whiteparish Historical and Environmental Association. Click here for some historical maps of Whiteparish.

Defence Footnote: From WWII and throughout the Cold War years, Whiteparish existed in the shadow (literally and figuratively) of a Royal Naval Armaments Depot, less than a mile from the village centre. For a fascinating glimpse of the depot, which was built into the far side of Dean Hill, and was closed in 2003, click here.

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