Village History

Interesting Houses: Parsonage Farm

This page was collated from information kindly donated by Col. and Mrs Peecock as they left Parsonage Farm. Many thanks to them both.

Just over the road from St Peters church sits a curious ex-farmhouse: Parsonage Farm. Anyone who cares to stop and examine the farm from the High Street or the cemetery will eventually notice a curious number of anomalies about its construction in the brickwork. There are several, clearly-defined lines of expansion of the building from its original brick, flint and wooden beam cottage, to a more expansive parsonage (perhaps), to an even more expansive farmhouse and, subsequently, the addition of a substantial Victorian porch and a "lean-too" study from the same period on the east end.

It seems, though, the early history of the house is associated with St Peters Church, as a rectory before its eventual use as a farm. Behind the house there are still paddocks, stables, a barn and some farm outbuildings, possibly a dairy, some of which have been converted to residential use when the farm was used as a B&B.

The various stages highlight the age of this building and show a remarkable history of the village in a single building: the gradual expansion from the home of the resident priest into a prosperous farm. It is probable that the original part of the building was built in the 14th Century (though whether or not this component was replaced is not known), perhaps as a result of the acts of Ingram Berenger is 1312 to grant lands for a chaplain to be maintained, or from 1324 when Ingram Berenger, the lord of the manor, granted the right to nominate a candidate for a vacant benefice in exchange for the provision of two priests to celebrate mass in Shipton Church and Snoddington Chapel.

At the disolution of the monastries the vicar of Shipton was Sir John Bager. At the time, Parsonage House was was still part of the glebe lands owned by the church. Originally held by the priory of Newark, it appears the house and glebe lands would have been taken over by the state (Henry VIII, in around ~1536). Subsequently the lease of the rectory and church was granted to the Bishop of Winchester from 1551 to 1554 with it reverting to the crown even up to 1840 when the tithe survey of that year described the house and glebe lands as being "Crown Lands". Whilst no vicar or curate of Shipton has apparently lived in the house since, the owner of the land had the power of appointment (the advowson) - probably hence the continued use of the name "Parsonage Farm".

An indenture of 1608 states that the Letters Patent of James I granted Sir Henry Fanshawe, Sir John Osborne and Sir Francis Goston the Rector and Church of Shipton with a yearly rent of 12, to be paid to the crown. It was mentioned as being "sometime parcel of the lands and possession of John, Bishop of Winchester." It appears that the land - and the advowson - was shared. The length of this "lease" was to be 500 years, a fact referred to in later documents.

From the 1740's it appears the farmhouse was lived in by the Gilbert family (of later "Gilbert and Sullivan" fame). Gradually they absorbed the shareholders in the property from others in the village, an indenture of 1792 stating there were four shares. In 1793, there were just two holders, Joseph Gilbert and Vincent Hawkins Gilbert who approached the enclosure commissioners to "separate, divide and make partition of the said Rectory or Parsonage [-house] buildings and lands". Joseph Gilbert was given the house, buildings and some land, whilst VH Gilbert was given the rest of the lands.

In 1835 J. Gilbert died, and five years later the trustees sold the farm to Thomas Assheton Smith in 1840 (mentioned elsewhere in this history). Joseph Goodenough Gilbert, Joseph's son, apparently continued to occupy the house as a tenant until the 1870s. In 1881 the house belonged to Sir John Kelk (d.1886) and the Tidworth Estate, and was occupied by the Estate bailiff. Parsonage Farm with the rest of the land (valued at a total of about 499) was transfered with the rest of the Kelk estate to the War Department in a document dated 1897 which apparently took place in 1906.

The house was transferred from being Crown property to private ownership, the Peecocks, in 1978.

The picture link will take you to the Year 2000 PhotoLibrary showing Parsonage Farm in context in the High Street.

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Page Last Updated: 21st September 2005