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Kingsclere is approximately equidistant 13 kilometres (8.1 mi)) from the towns of Basingstoke and Newbury on the A339 road.

Filled in Norman, (c. 1130–1140), northern doorway of St. Mary's church. (Flint re-facing is c1848).[2]


Church of St. Mary, from the west, (May 2014).
Portraits of Sir Henry Kingsmill (1587-1625), of Sydmonton, and his wife Bridget (died 1670) by William Larkin. (Oil on panel, 23 x 17 inches). A massive tomb in their honour is in the church.[3]
Eastern end of St Mary's Church in October 2014, showing a gutter marked with the Orde-Powlett shield.
Plan of the church of St. Mary.

Kingsclere can trace back its history to a place identified as belonging to King Alfred in his will between 872 and 888, the 'clere' possibly meaning 'bright' or 'clearing'.[4]
Kingsclere formed part of the ancient demesne of the Crown. King Alfred by will left Kingsclere for life to his second daughter Ethelgiva, Abbess of Shaftesbury,[5] and there are other mentions of it in Saxon charters. In 931 King Athelstan at a Witenagemot at Colchester granted 10 hides of land at Clere to Abbot Aelfric,[6] and in 943 King Edmund bestowed 15 hides of land at Clere on the 'religious woman Aelfswith'.[7] While sixteen years later King Edgar gave his thegn Aelfwine 10 hides of land at West Clere.[8]

Local legend asserts that King John was troubled by a bedbug during a night in a Kingsclere inn, when prevented by fog from reaching his lodge at Freemantle Park on Cottington's hill. He ordained that the church should erect and evermore maintain upon its tower a representation of the creature which disturbed his sleep.[4] King John is recorded to have stayed at Freemantle Park on 8 and 9 September 1204[9]


In 1218, the king ordered that the market which had been held in Kingsclere on Sundays should in the future be held on Saturdays.[10] Warner, writing in the 18th century, mentions a well-frequented market on Tuesdays, and fairs the first Tuesday in April and the first Tuesday after 10 October.[11] In 1848 the market was still held on Tuesdays, but had fallen very much into disuse, only a few farmers meeting at the Swan Inn with samples,[12] and it probably ceased altogether about 1850. The fairs continued (c. 1911) to be held—on Whit Tuesday for pleasure on Ashford Hill and the Tuesday after Old Michaelmas Day for hiring servants and pleasure in the market place.[13]


The former Falcon Inn, in Swan street, was one of the oldest in Hampshire, is especially interesting as being at one time in the possession of William Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, who in 1510 gave it to Winchester College upon trust for the maintenance and support of the scholars upon its foundation. The original 'Crowne' Inn is mentioned in the parish register in 1611, and the 'Golden Faucon' in 1628. The modern Crown Inn was built in 1853, and the Swan Inn dates back to well before 1848, and its sign proclaims it a 15th C. Rooming Inn.[14]

In popular cultureEdit

The nearby Watership Down is the setting for the 1972 novel of the same name by Richard Adams.

Watership Down was also the site of the 1982 World Field Archery Championship put on by the Overton Black Arrows archery club from the nearby village of Overton.

The actress Lavinia Fenton, most famous for her role as the first Polly Peachum in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, was lover and then wife of Charles Powlett, 3rd Duke of Bolton of the parish. Their eldest son, Rev. Charles Powlett, was briefly vicar of Kingsclere.

People from and associated with KingsclereEdit

Melton family shield. Argent a cross paty voided azure.
Kingsclere, 1848 shield, Orde-Powlett impaling Carleton for William Orde-Powlett, 2nd Baron Bolton (1782–1850) and his wife (married 1810) Hon Maria Carleton (1777-1863), daughter of Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester.
  • Stained glass in the Sanctuary, South Chapel, Chancel Aisle, Kingsmill Room by William Wailes (Transfiguration for Dr Thompson of Swan Street), and by Ward and Hughes (Marriage at Cana of Galilee).[50]

Some renowned rectorsEdit

Paulet/Powlett associationsEdit

Racing associationsEdit

Some racehorsesEdit

Other manorsEdit

Catts Farm, design by H. Launcelot Fedden (1869-1910), in 'The Building News', July 31, 1908, published by the Strand Newspaper Company Limited.

The manor of Frobury is the western part of the modern parish of Kingsclere. In addition to Frobury the manors of North Oakley, Hannington, Sydmonton, Edmundsthorp Benham (Headley, and Beenham Court or Cheam School) and Ecchinswell used to be a part of the parish of Kingsclere.

Highclere, Kingsclere and Basingstoke Light RailwayEdit

The Highclere, Kingsclere and Basingstoke Light Railway was a proposed (circa 1896-1900) light railway connecting the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway (DNSR) with the London and South Western Railway (LSWR).[58][59] Despite public support of the railway proposal, sufficient funding was never obtained and the idea was abandoned.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Civil Parish population 2011". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  2. ^ VCH, Hampshire, 1911.
  3. ^ Paul B. Hitchings 'Great Hampshire Families: The Kingsmills of Sydmonton', Hampshire, October 1963, page 24.
  4. ^ a b "Kingsclere Heritage Association". The Bedbug Recorder (Edition One). Retrieved 17 October 2010.
  5. ^ Walter de Gray Birch, Cartularium saxonicum: a collection of charters relating to Anglo-Saxon history 1883-1893: ii, 178, 182.
  6. ^ Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 357–9.
  7. ^ Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 530–3.
  8. ^ Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 268–9.
  9. ^ Walter Money, Newbury, 1887, page 129.
  10. ^ Close, 2 Henry III, m. 2
  11. ^ Warner's History of Hampshire, 1795
  12. ^ Post Office Directory of Hants (1848)
  13. ^ Victoria County History, A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 4, William Page, ed. 1911.
  14. ^ Hants N. and Q., v, 103–4, and Ex inform, the Rev. A. T. Finch, via VCH, Hants, 1911, ibid
  15. ^ By 1241 one eighth of Tidgrove had passed into the possession of the Augustinian Priory of Sandleford in Berkshire.
  16. ^ Essays in the early history of Kingsclere, by Rev. Robert R. Legg, Whitchurch, 2002.
  17. ^ De Banc. R. 348, m. 370 d., via VCH, 1911
  18. ^ A grant of money (muniments of St George's Chapel, Windsor: SGC XV.54.5), dated between 1217-1223, Frobury, Hampshire. Grant by Edelina de Broch, widow, to the Canons of the Church of Saint John the Baptist, Sandleford of 40s. and 8d. from her inheritance in Frollebire [Frobury] for the maintenance of a Canon Chantry Priest, for the souls of herself, her father, Randulf de Broch, and Dametta, her mother, and Stephen de Turneham, her husband. Such money to be received from Henry de Wudecote, Walter de Clera, Hugh de Swantun, Joceus de Brikeull, William Furmentin of Spenes, Symon Cath, Wulfric de Marisco, Nicholas de Wullavintun, John Trull. Witnesses: Peter [de Rupibus], Bishop of Winchester, William Prior of Syreburn [Sherbourne], Dan Roger de Leburna, William de Stanes and William de Sorewull, Sheriff of the County of Southampton, Henry de Wudecott, Henry de Fernlehd, Thomas Croc, Roger Lanceleue, John de Hamtun, John de Wultun, Walter de Clera, William de Edmundesdrop, William Toli seneschel of the donor, Master Wlater de Syreburne, Robert Fitzbernard of Hamtun, Richard, Clerk of Clera, Henry Blakemy, Wlater Clerk of the donor, Hugh de Swantun, Master Walter, Joceus de Brikeull, Bartholomew Crok, Richard Fitzruald, John his brother, Thomas the clerk.
  19. ^ The Story of the Parish Church at Clere, by A.T. Finch, M.A. (Vicar), 1905.
  20. ^ VCH, 1911
  21. ^ The Story of the Parish Church at Clere, by A.T. Finch, M.A. (Vicar), 1905.
  22. ^ Chart. R. 20 Edw. III, m. 4.
  23. ^ Vide Harl. Soc. Publ. xvi, 203.
  24. ^ The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386-1421, edited by J. S. Roskell, L. Clark, and C. Rawcliffe, 1993
  25. ^ Chart. R. 10 Edw. III, m. 3; Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 111 (via VCH, 1911).
  26. ^ Close, 11 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 13d.; Pat. 11 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 4. (via VCH, 1911).
  27. ^ VCH, 1911
  28. ^ Bishop Wykeham's bailiff of Sutton, Alresford and Cheriton, Hants 18 April 1401-c.1405; Bishop Beaufort's bailiff of Highclere, c. Michaelmas 1405–1412.
  29. ^ L.S. Woodger in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1386–1421, edited by J.S. Roskell, L. Clark, C. Rawcliffe, 1993.
  30. ^ L. and P. Hen. VIII, xvi, 717. She presented to the vicarage in 1543 (Egerton MS. 2034, fol. 166 d.).
  31. ^ VCH, 1911
  32. ^ Burials at St. Mary's Parish Church, Kingsclere, Hants 1680 to 1880, Extracted by Barrie Brinkman 2010 - 11 (v2.0)
  33. ^ Possibly connected to Anthony Johnson (colonist).
  34. ^ Capt. A. S. Wills, Middleton House, Longparish, purchased 60 acres of land at Kingsclere belonging to the Duke of Wellington's Parliamentary estates, 1940-1946, (Museum of English Rural Life: Wellington/1298).
  35. ^ Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington|Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS.
  36. ^ a b The story of the parish church at Clere, by Arthur Thomas Finch (died 1920), MA, Winchester & London, 1905.
  37. ^ See monumental inscription on wood in the church of St Mary.
  38. ^ The Story of the Parish Church at Clere, by A.T. Finch, M.A. (Vicar), 1905.
  39. ^ common knowledge
  40. ^ see WWI memorials
  41. ^ see tomb in Kingsclere graveyard & Kelly's handbook.
  42. ^ see obituary of Stanford in MSM
  43. ^ Isle of Wight County Press, Saturday June 17th 1939, page 5.
  44. ^ Daily Telegraph, December 30, 2016.
  45. ^ Kingsclere A Social history, by Margaret Ingham, Kingsclere, 2008, page 53.
  46. ^ "20 famous people with links to the Basingstoke area". Basingstoke Gazette. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  47. ^ Kitson, Robert (20 March 2009). "England's Mr Anonymous on the fast track to world stardom". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  48. ^ see MSM obituary
  49. ^ common knowledge
  50. ^ The Story of the Parish Church at Clere, by A.T. Finch, M.A. (Vicar), 1905.
  51. ^ Constable of the Tower of London and lord-lieutenant of the Tower Hamlets. Seemingly from near today's Anchor road showing the duke in front of the pre-1848 church of St. Mary's, Kingsclere, and the back of Swan street. This picture is now in the Government Art Collection on loan to the Royal Armories in Leeds. Possibly painted by James Seymour, but probably not.
  52. ^ Eldest natural son of the 3rd Duke of Bolton by Lavinia Fenton.
  53. ^ One of the committee which revised the laws of cricket, at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall, February 25, 1774 and a renowned Hampshire hunting man. Author of many hunting songs. (
  54. ^ Finch, 1905.
  55. ^ Ian Balding, Making the Running: A Racing Life, Headline Publishing Group, Hachette, London, 2004.
  56. ^ Briefly at Cannon Heath.
  57. ^ Trained by William Waugh for the Dukes of Wellington and Portland.
  58. ^ "RAILWAY MANIA". Kingsclere: Its History and Its People. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  59. ^ Edwards, Cliff (2000). Railway records. Richmond: Public Record Office. p. 157. ISBN 1903365104.

Further readingEdit

  • Kingsclere – A place and its people (1987)

External linksEdit