Chapter 6




CRANBURY AND BRAMBRIDGE


Great changes began at the Restoration. Robert Maunder became vicar of Hursley in 1660, on whose presentation is unknown; but that he or his curate were scholars is probable, since the entries in the parish registers both of Hursley and Otterbourne begin to be in Latin. Cranbury had passed from Dean Young to his brother Major General Young, and from him to his daughter, the wife or Sir Charles Wyndham, son of Sir Edmund Wyndham, Knight Marshall of England and a zealous cavalier. Brambridge, closely bordering on Otterbourne, on the opposite side of the Itchen, though in Twyford Parish, was in the possession of the Welles family. Brambridge and Otterbourne are divided from one another by the river Itchen, a clear and beautiful trout stream, much esteemed by fishermen. In the early years of Charles II. a canal was dug, beside the Itchen, for the conveyance of coal from Southampton. It was one of the first formed in England, and for two hundred years was constantly used by barges. The irrigation of the meadows was also much benefited, broad ditches being formed--"water carriages" as they are locally called--which conduct the streams in turn over the grass, so that even a dry season causes no drought, but they always lie green and fresh while the hills above are burnt brown.

Another work was set in hand during the reign of Charles II., namely the palace he designed to build in rivalry of Versailles. Sir Christopher Wren was the architect. The grounds were intended to stretch over the downs to a great distance, and on the highest point was to stand a pharos, whose light would be visible from the Solent. Fountains were to be fed from the Itchen, and a magnificent palace was actually begun, the bricks for it being dug from a clay pit at Otterbourne, which has ever since borne the name of Dell Copse, and became noted for the growth of daffodils. The king lodged at Southampton to inspect the work, and there is a tradition (derived from Dean Rennell) that being an excellent walker, he went on foot to Winchester. One of his gentlemen annoyed him by a hint to the country people as to who he was, whereupon a throng come out to stare at him, at one of the bridges. He escaped, and took his revenge by a flying leap over a broad "water carriage," leaving them to follow as they could.

His death put an end to his design, when only one wing of the building was completed. It was known as "the King's House" and was used as barracks till 1892, when it was unfortunately burnt to the ground.

Boyat, or Bovieres, as it once was called, had been a "hundred," and was probably more of a village than at present, since up to 1840 there was a pound and stocks opposite to the single farm-house that remained. The lands stretched from the hill to the river, near which was a hamlet called Highbridge, just on the boundary between Twyford and Otterbourne. Here was an endowed Roman Catholic chapel, a mere brick building, at the back of a cottage, only distinguished by a little cross on the roof. There is reason to think that a good many dependants of the Brambridge family lived here, for there are entries in the parish register that infants had been born at Highbridge, but the curate of Otterbourne could not tell whether they had been baptized.

A new parchment parish register was provided in 1690, and very carefully kept by the curate, John Newcombe, who yearly showed it up to the magistrates at the Petty Sessions, when it was signed by two of them. A certain Augustin Thomas was a man of some property, comprising a house and two or three fields, which were known as "Thomas's Bargain," till one was used as a site for the Vicarage. Several surnames still extant in the parish are found in the register, Cox, Comley, Collins, Goodchild, Woods, Wareham--Anne and Abraham were the twin children of John and Anne Diddams, a curious connection with the name Didymus (twin), which seems to be the origin.

There must have been extensive repairs, if such they may be called, of the church, probably under the influence of Sir Charles and Lady Wyndham--for though Cranbury House stands in Hursley parish, it is so much nearer to Otterbourne that the inhabitants generally attend the church there,--and two huge square pews in the chancel, one lined with red baize, the other bare, were appropriated to Cranbury, and might well have been filled by the children of Sir Charles and Dame James his wife--Jacoba in her marriage register at Hursley--for they had no less than seventeen children, of whom only five died in infancy, a small proportion in those days of infant mortality. The period of alteration is fixed by a great square board bearing the royal arms, with the initials W. and M. and the date 1687. No notice was taken of the Nassau shield, and indeed it must have been put up in a burst of enthusiasm for the glorious Revolution, for the lion, as best he can be recollected, had a most exultant expression, with his tongue out of one side of his mouth.

The black-letter Commandments on the chancel arch were whitewashed out, and a tablet in blue with gold lettering erected in their stead on each side of the altar. The east window had either then or previously been deprived of all its tracery, and was an expanse of plain glass with only a little remains of a cusp at the top of the arch. The bells were in one of the true Hampshire weather-boarded square towers, of which very few still exist in their picturesqueness. There were the remains of an old broken font, and a neat white marble one, of which the tradition was that it was given by a parish clerk named David Fidler, and it still exists as the lining of the present font.

Sir Charles Wyndham died in 1706, his wife in 1720. A small monument was raised for them in Hursley Church, with an inscription on a tablet now in the tower, purporting that the erection was by their daughters, Frances White and Beata Hall.

Frances was married to a man of some note in his day, to judge by the monument she erected to his memory in Milton Church, near Lymington, where his effigy appears, an upright figure cut off at the knees, and in addition to the sword in his hand there is a metal one, with a blade waved like a Malay crease, by the side of the monument. The inscription is thus -


THOMAS WHITE Esq., son of

IGNATIUS WHITE Esq. of Fiddleford in Dorsetshire.

He served three kings and Queen Ann as a Commander in the guards, and was much wounded. He was in the wars of Ireland and Flanders.

He had one son who dyed before him. He departed this life on the 17th of February in the year 1720.

This monument was erected by his widow Frances, one of the daughters of Sir Charles Wyndham, in the county of Southampton.


Mrs. White thus lost her husband and her mother in the course of the same year. Her brother sold the Cranbury property to Jonathan Conduitt, Esquire, who was a noted person in his day. He married Catherine Barton, the favourite niece and adopted daughter of Sir Isaac Newton. It may be remembered that this great man was a posthumous child, and was bred up by his mother's second husband, Barnabas Smith, Rector of North Witham, Lincolnshire, so as to regard her children as brothers and sisters. Hannah Smith married one Thomas Barton of Brigstock, and her daughter Catherine (whose name mysteriously is found as suing for the price of property sold to Charles II. for the site of the King's house at Winchester), lived with Sir Isaac Newton, was very beautiful, and much admired by Lord Halifax for her wit and gaiety. It was even reported that she was privately married to him, but this of course was mere scandal, and she became the wife of Jonathan Conduitt, educated at Trinity College, a friend and pupil of Newton, who had for many years assisted in the harder work of Master of the Mint, and wrote an essay on the gold and silver coinage of the realm. He was member of Parliament for Southampton. Sir Isaac made his home with his niece and her husband till his death in 1727, when Mr. Conduitt succeeded to his office as Master of the Mint, and intended to write his life, but was prevented by death in 1737. Among the materials which Mr. Conduitt had preserved is the record of Newton's saying, "I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."

A very curious relic of Sir Isaac survives in the garden at Cranbury Park, viz. a sun-dial, said to have been calculated by Newton. It is in bronze, in excellent preservation, and the gnomon so perforated as to form the cypher I. C. seen either way. The dial is divided into nine circles, the outermost divided into minutes, next, the hours, then a circle marked "Watch slow, Watch fast," another with the names of places shown when the hour coincides with our noonday, such as Samarcand and Aleppo, etc., all round the world. Nearer the centre are degrees, then the months divided into days. There is a circle marked with the points and divisions of the compass, and within, a diagram of the compass, the points alternately plain and embossed.

There is no date, but the maker's name, John Rowley, and the arms of Mr. Conduitt, as granted in 1717. Quarterly 1st and 4th Gules, on a fesse wavy argent, between three pitchers double eared or, as many bees volant proper.

2nd and 3rd Gules, a lion rampant argent between six acorns or. Impaling argent 3 boars' heads sable for Barton.

Crest--Two Caducean rods with wings, lying fesse ways or. Thereon a peacock's head, erased proper.

The motto--"Cada uno es hijo de sus obras." "Each one is son of his deeds"--translates the Spanish.

The 1st and 3rd quartering belongs to the old family of Chenduite, from which Jonathan Conduitt may have been descended. Probably he could not prove his right to their Arms, and therefore had the fresh grant.

Mr. Conduitt died in 1737, leaving a daughter, whose guardians sold Cranbury to Thomas Lee Dummer, Esquire, from whom it descended in 1765 to his son of the same name.

Catherine Conduitt married the son of Viscount Lymington, afterwards created Earl of Portsmouth.




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