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HURSLEY.

Nos. 14 to 21.

“Lend me Thy light a little further on !
Henceforth the Church is as the living shrine,
Wherein the Angel of Thy presence dwells,
About Thee thrown like an illumin'd cloud.”

(The Cathedral, p. 136.)

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URSLEY, (or as it was anciently spelt Hurstleghe, that is, the

place in the wood,') although not mentioned in Domesday

book, is a place with which are connected many very interesting historical associations, which Mr. KEBLE was fond of speaking about. Near to the northern corner of Hursley Park are the ruins of an ancient building called Merdon Castle, and the same name of Merdon or Marden belongs to the manor, which is very nearly co-extensive with the original parish. This manor seems to have been granted to the church which he founded at Winchester by Kinegyls, (Kinegils, or Kingil,) King of the West Saxons, upon his conversion to Christianity in the year 636, (see Milner's “ History of Winchester,” vol. i. p. 70; Collier, book ii. vol. i. p. 206 ;) and it remained in the possession of the Bishops and Church of Winchester until the time of Edward VI., when it was alienated from the Church and granted to Sir Philip Hobby, Knight, an eminent statesman in that reign. It continued in his family for several generations. It afterwards passed by purchase into a few other families, and about the year 1638 became the property of Richard Major, Esq., (a member of the Privy Council of Oliver Cromwell,) who appears, from Fuller's “Worthies,”

(“Hant Shire," p. 16,) to have served the office of Sheriff for the county in 1640. Richard Cromwell, the eldest son of the Protector, married Mr. Major's eldest daughter, Dorothy, on May 1, 1649, and upon her were settled the manor and estates at Hursley; "accordingly, on the death of Mr. Major in 1660, Richard Cromwell became, in right of his wife, Lord of the Manor of Merdona.” On his death on July 12, 1712, his two daughters succeeded to the property, which, however, they sold, in 1718, to William Heathcote, Esq., who was afterwards created a baronet. By him the old house, in which Mr. Major and the Cromwells had lived, was pulled down, and the present house built. This first Sir William Heathcote died in 1751, and was succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, born

He died in 1787, and was succeeded by his son, William, who was succeeded by his son, the late Sir Thomas Heathcote, from whom the property descended early in 1825, to his nephew the present Sir William Heathcote, Bart., M.P., who was pupil to Mr. KEBLE as an undergraduate at Oriel College, Oxford, and who presented him to the living of Hursley in the year 1835.

Merdon Castle was built about the year 1138, by Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester, brother of King Stephen, and the founder of the Hospital of St. Cross. It was very strongly fortified, as may be observed

in 1721.

• Marsh's “Memoranda,” p. 13.

from the existing ruins, and was therefore well fitted as a place of defence during the wars between King Stephen and the Empress Maud or Matilda, who at that time held the castle at Winchester. Merdon Castle seems to have formed one of the principal abodes of the Bishops of Winchester for many years b. There is evidence that Bishop Edingtone resided in it in the year 1365; and it is supposed that some parts of it were inhabited even up to the end of the sixteenth century, when it had ceased to be Church property. Near the ruins there are many yew-trees of great size and age.

The old Castle Well still remains; it is said to be somewhat deeper than the celebrated Well at Carisbrook Castle, and is about 9 ft. in diameter.

The ruins of Merdon Castle are on high ground, with a gentle slope towards the present mansion, and an extensive view on the south side.

Besides Ampfield, (which, until the consecration of its church in 1841, was only a hamlet of Hursley,) there are many outlying groups of houses belonging to this extensive parish of Hursley. On one side are the hamlets of Bunstead and Silkstead; in another direction is the picturesque district called Ladwell; on the Winchester side there are Standon and Pitt. Besides these there are many smaller clusters of cottages at a considerable distance from the village, and several hamlets which now form

b Marsh's “Memoranda," p. 32.

• This Bishop Edington was “Treasurer and Chancellor to King Edward III.” He began the rebuilding the nave of Winchester Cathedral, but only lived to finish the western front, and a small portion of the nave ; leaving the remainder to be completed by his successor, William of Wykeham. Bishop Edington died in 1366. See Winkle's “Cathedrals,” vol. i. p. 125 ; and Milner's “History of Winchester,” vol. i. p. 220.

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