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Avington Park & Manor, Hampshire, England

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Avington Park & Manor, Hampshire, England

Avington Park, with its fine stretches of undulating country and its magnificent trees, described by Cobbett in 1830 as 'one of the very prettiest spots in the world,' covers nearly the whole of the north of the parish, extending over about 300 acres. Avington House, the seat of the Shelley family, stands almost in the heart of the woodland. The western corner of the park is in Easton parish, from which direction a narrow winding road runs south-east across the park to the eastern gate. As the road curves to the south a few yards past the western lodge Avington House lies to the left, with its background of dark woodland and with the lake, a narrow strip of water about a mile long on the north and north-west, in the foreground. Cobbett describes how the high road through the park goes very near the water, and adds, 'We saw thousands of wild ducks in the pond or sitting round on the green edges of it, while, on one side of the pond, the hares and pheasants were moving about upon a gravel-walk on the side of a very fine plantation.' The house itself is a fine red-brick mansion, and was used as a residence by Charles II when his palace at Winchester was being built. The stone pillars of the original hall still remain, and form the supports of the modern conservatory.

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MANORS

The earliest mention of AVINGTON seems to be in the year 961, when King Edgar granted land here to the monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul at Winchester,afterwards called St. Swithun's Priory.

At the time of the Domesday Survey it was held by the bishop in demesne, and the assessment had risen from £6 in the time of King Edward to £10. Avington was confirmed in 1205, and again in 1285, to the prior and monks of St. Swithun's and remained in their hands until the time of the Dissolution.

In 1291 Avington was numbered among the St. Swithun's temporalities, and was valued at £9 13s.

It was valued at £22 7s. 8d. in 1535, and was in the hands of William Basing, cook and keeper of the priory granary.

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After the dissolution of St. Swithun's Priory Avington was granted to the dean and chapter of Winchester.It was one of the five manors which were charged with the maintenance of six students in theology at Oxford and six at Cambridge; and which the king compelled the dean and chapter to surrender in 1545 (vide West Meon). It was thereupon granted, together with Hampage Wood, to Edmund Clerke and his wife Margaret, to be held in chief for the fortieth part of one knight's fee. Edmund Clerke died seised of it in 1586, leaving a son and heir Thomas, who died in 1617, when the estate passed to his son Henry. It was conveyed by Henry, probably for the purpose of a settlement, to Sir Nathaniel Napper in 1634. Some time, however, before 1689 the manor was purchased by George Brydges, M.P. for Winchester, who in that year was granted an exemption from having officers or soldiers quartered on his manor-house of Avington. and from having his horses impressed.

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In 1702 it was in the possession of George Rodney Brydges, and remained with the Brydges family, who in the eighteenth century became dukes of Chandos, until the death of James Brydges, duke of Chandos, without male heirs in 1789, when the male line of the Chandos family being extinct, Avington and other estates passed from Ann Eliza, daughter of the last duke of Chandos, to the Grenville family, on her marriage with Richard Grenville marquis of Buckingham, who assumed the name of Brydges, and was created duke of Buckingham and Chandos in 1822.

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The declining fortunes of the Buckingham and Chandos families are a matter of recent memory. In the great sale of the late duke's possessions in 1848 Avington Manor passed to Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Shelley, in whose family it still remains; the present lord of the manor being Sir John Shelley.

In 1301 a grant was made to the prior and convent of St. Swithun of free warren in their demesne lands of Avington. In 1809 the Grenvilles held courts leet, courts baron, view of frankpledge, and rights of free warren in Avington.

In 1655 the Commissioners for the Sale of Bishops' Lands sold the capital messuage or manor-house called YAVINGTON HOUSE in the parish of Avington, possession of John Unwin, whose estate had been forfeited by treason, to Edward Keate. This is the only mention of the so-called manor of Yavington.

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