Village History

Anglo-Saxons to the 18th Century

Saxon Times

After the Romans left Britain about 500 AD, we were invaded by the Saxons from the North German coast and the Vikings from Scandinavia. These invasions took place over several hundred years and were repelled for a while by such legendary figures as Arthur and Alfred. Gradually the whole of Britain except the West, became one kingdom under King Canute (nowadays called by his original name Knut), and then King Edward the Confessor.

The Saxons embraced Christianity and it is from early church records that the name Sceap Tun was originally learnt. At that time it was obviously a very small place, when it is considered that the population of Winchester, then the capital of England, was only 8,000

After the conquest by William I in 1066 and his famous Domesday Book, we find the village name changed to Sceptune. Snoddington, spelt Snodintone, had about seventeen hides of land (a hide of land is thought to have been land enough to feed one family) with some estimates saying 60 acres, so the inference is that 17 families were supported and that probably less than a third of what is now the Parish was cultivated, the rest evidently being wasteland and woodland scrub.

The Norman Influence

The invasion of the Normans in 1066 was unlike that of the Saxons and Danes who were settlers and a new race of pioneers. In contrast, the Norman invasion was a take-over by a new monarch and a new aristocracy.

The old English nobles were dead or dispossessed and the new rulers had little in common with the bulk of the population: the Normans had not come to plough or work the fields. Land was the source of all wealth and William apportioned England out to his followers, who held the manors for services rendered.

Shipton was divided into two manors. One apparently, was on land north of the village and the other, more important, manor included the village itself. Snoddington was a separate manorial.

In this context, the word ''manor'' did not mean a particular building. Most Lords held more than one manor and there was only a ''manor house'' where the Lord of the manor lived. In later years, many houses came to be called ''Manor House'', though they never had any real right to the name. It is unlikely that there was ever a manor house in Shipton, but Snoddington Manor has a full right to that name, although not on the site of the present building.

The Domesday Book

The following is a translation of three entries from the Domesday Book, incorporating some explanations in brackets:

''The same HUGH de Port holds SNODINGTONE. Tovi held it of King Edward as an alod (freely). It was then, as now, assessed at 5 hides. There is land for 3 ploughs. There is 1 plough in the demesne (the demesne was the Lord's portion of the manor, the peasantry holding the rest under him); and there are 5 bordars and 2 serfs. T.R.E. (tempore regis Edwardi - in King Edward's time, ie, before 1066) it was worth 3 pounds and afterwards 40 shillings, it is now worth 4 pounds''.

''The same ROBERT holds SCEPTONE. Ulstan held it of King Edward as an alod. Then, as now, it paid geld for l 1/2 hides. There are 2 villeins and 1/2 a plough. It was always worth 20 shillings''.

''AIUFRE 13 de Merleberge* holds SCEPTUNE and Rainald holds it of him. Carle held it of King Edward as an alod. Then as now it paid geld for 10 1/2 hides. There is land for 5 ploughs. In the demesne is l plough; and there are 5 villains and 3 bordars with 3 ploughs. There is woodland for the fences. There are a Church and 6 serfs. T.R.E. and afterwards, it was, as now, worth 60 shillings''

* the origin of the name Marlborough

The Robert who held part of Shipton, referred to in the second entry, also held Tidworth and this land was really an extension Southwards of the ''Tedworth Estate''. It is the first two entries which are of more interest containing, as they do, Snoddington Manor and the Village of Shipton, but it is interesting that the Northern part of the Parish is still an entity held by the Crown and the Southern part, up to the 19th Century, held by the Dean and Chapter of Winchester.

Hugh de Port, who held Snoddington, must have helped William a great deal for he was given no less than 65 manors in Hampshire, making him by far the largest lay landowner in the county. As if that were not enough, he is strangely found to be the undertenant of five other manors.

The Bellinger Connection

In 1297, Ingram Berenger became the Lord of the Manor of Shipton, but it is not clear whether he ever lived in Shipton. As lord of the Manor, he added his name to the village, first as Shipton Berenger (14th Century), which later became Shipton Bellyngar (16th Century), from whence the present name derives. By 1316 he also held the manor of Snoddington and it would seem certain that he lived in the manor house of Snoddington. Also in that year, he obtained the right not only to farm the manors, but also to hunt them, a right that had previously belonged to the King. He thus became more completely the owner of the land than any before him.

He must have been quite a character; twice he was deprived of his lands for high treason, only to be pardoned and then have them restored within a year. Quite a feat in the days when high treason could bring death! The first occasion was in 1316, for joining the cause of Hugh le Dispenser, a favourite of Edward, the second was in 1330 , when he fo1lowed Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent, who was involved in a conspiracy against Edward III.

As much of the stonework prominent in the present Church building is 14th Century we can probably assume that the same Berenger who took so much interest in the Church was also responsible for its building, rebuilding, restoration, alteration or whatever it was that took place at that time.

In 1638, Black Death swept through the towns and villages of Southern England and it is recorded that in Durrington 28 out of 41 tenants died and in Tidworth not one small holder was left alive. It is unlikely that Shipton escaped the pestilence, but we can find no record to substantiate this.

Last Days of the Lords of the Manors

One of the descendants of Ingram Berenger, Robert Bodenham, who held both Manors in 1428, experienced financial difficulties and on his death in 1466, Shipton Manor passed to his principal creditor, a John Hall from Salisbury. Bedenham's grandson who succeeded him, later sold Snoddington to Tristam Fauntleroy, presumably to pay off the family debts. For those who know the latter name in connection with 'Little Lord Fauntleroy' the family shield, may seem very appropriate.

Gules three infant's heads with golden hair.


At the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Manor of Shipton was held by the Prior and Convent of St. Swithun and thus passed from the Crown to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester in 1541 (where it remained until 1857).

During the mid-17th and early 18th centuries there is evidence to show that Snoddington Manor had connections with the Rolfe Family, as is shown by the following extract of a letter from Alan W. Rolfe, one of the descendants of that family now living in London.

''Although I knew that my family had lived in Berwick St James in Wiltshire from around 1720, it was only recently that I traced them back to Shipton Bellinger, and from thence back to Idmiston in Wiltshire. This discovery was brought about by the Will of Edmund Rolfe the elder, of Snoddington, yeoman, dated 27 May 1695 and proved on 15 September 1696, a brief extract of which appears on the enclosure. The Will gives the most detailed description of the farms at Snoddington and Cholderton, and the family history is confirmed by the records of baptisms at Shipton, which is surely most unusual, for it was customary for infant children to be buried in the Parish where they died. However, thanks to the incumbent or Parish clerk of Cholderton, we have complete confirmation of the history of this family, and why only three children survived when Samuel Rolfe of Berwick St, James made his Will in 1724, at the age of 57. He was baptised at Shipton on 19 March 1667/8, while his eldest son Samuel was buried at Cholderton (or Snoddington) in 1713, so it is evident that the family must have occupied the manor of Snoddington from 1667 to 1713 at least. Edmund Rolfe the elder was married at St. Mary Bourne in 1663, but l have not yet found where his two elder sons, Edmund and Thomas, were born, nor do I know exactly when Samuel Rolfe left Snoddington and purchased Asserton Farm at Berwick St. James. An additional bonus was the discovery of the marriage of Samuel Rolfe ''of Shipton'' to Mary Hellier On 5 July 1694 at St. Thomas, Winchester ''

The wording of the Will mentioned above has been supplied by the Public Record Office and is as follows:

Public Record Once, London. Prerogative Court, Canterbury.

Abstract of Will of Edmund Rolfe baptised 8 May 1636 at Idmiston, Wilts., buried 9 July 1696 at Cholderton, Wilts., aged 60 .

1696 EDMUND ROLFE the elder of Snoddington, County of Southampton yeoman being sick (IA body but God be praised of a sound and perfect minds and memory do make and ordains this my last will and testament in manner following:

I give unto my loving wife Dorothy' Rolfe ten pounds to be paid yearly by my executors ...... on the feasts of St. Michael the Archangel St. Thomas the Apostle and Annunciation of the blessed Virgin Mary and St.John the Baptist in equal portions upon condition that my said wife ...... shall grant relinquish and release unto my son Edmund Rolfe of ffinchley his heirs and assigns all right and title of Dower .... from my messuage farms and lands in West Cholderton Wiltshire. If she refuses the bequest of ten pounds for life shall be void. To my said wife the use of. the feather bed bolster and pillows rugg blankets bedstead and all its furniture that is in the Chamber over the kitchen of my house at Snoddington during her life.

To my son Edmund Rolfe of ffinchley all my stock living and dead chattels horses cows sheeep bulls bullocks heifers hogs pigs poultry of all sorts corn and grain upon the ground corn in the barns hay straw fodder wood timber wagons carts ploughs harrows rollers and all household goods whatsoever and all goods upon or about ffinchley lodge farm and forest in the County of Southampton and goods upon or about a copyhold tenement and lands in Woodhouse in the said County of Southampton called Sp....s tenement and all goods in my dwelling house in West Cholderton Wiltshire to hold to my said son Edmund Rolfe his heirs and assigns my said son Edmund Rolfe paying off all the encumbrances thereon except only five and twenty pounds which I hereby will shall be paid by my son Samuel Rolfe or otherwise allowed to him by the said Samuel in lieu Of his the said Samuel enjoying the said farms and lands at West Cholderton.

I give and bequeath to my son Samuel Rolfe all my stock living and dead chattels cattle horses cows sheep bulls bullocks heifers hogs pigs poultry of all sorts corn and grain upon the ground carne in the barns hay straw fodder wood timber waggons carts ploughs harrow rowlers and all household goods husbandry and other chattels which shall be upon or about the farm and lands at Snoddington aforesaid (where i dwell) and in and about the barns and lands of mine at West Cholderton to hold to my said son Samuel Rolfe his executors adminstrators and assign and my will is that my said son Samuel within one month of my decease shall settle on his son Samuel and such other child or children as he shall then have four hundred pounds in money or so much of the stock hereby to him bequeathed. To my said son Samuel my messuage farms and lands at West Cholderton .... he paying to his brother Edmund in lieu the sum of five and twenty pounds and my will further is that if my son Edmund shall sustain any loss by double paying of his rent at ffinchley his brother Samuel shall pay a third of such loss. Residue to sons Edmund and Samuel rolfe, joint executors. Dated 27 May in the seventh year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King Wi11iam the Third 1695. Signed Edmund Rolfe. Witnessed by Will: Dowling, Morgan Wolfe, Thomas Raymond.

Probate 15 September 1696 to Edmund and Samuel Rolfe.

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