Kingsclere (St. Mary)
KINGSCLERE (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, partly in the hundred of Kingsclere, and partly in that of Evingar, Kingsclere and N. divisions of the county of Southampton; containing 3238 inhabitants, of whom 2732 are in the town, 7 miles (S. by E.) from Newbury, 21 (N.) from Winchester, and 55 (W. by S.) from London. This place, as the name implies, was anciently a seat of the West Saxon kings; and at Freemantle Park, a short distance to the south, was a mansion, said to have been a royal residence in the reigns of John and of Elizabeth. The town is situated on the edge of the downs, near the northern extremity of the county; the inhabitants are well supplied with water. A small spring near the town turns four flour-mills within a mile and a half from its source. The market has nearly fallen into disuse, and the place scarcely retains any semblance of a market-town; the fairs, also, which were held on the first Tuesday after Easter, and the first Tuesday after October 10th, are now become extinct. Kingsclere is within the jurisdiction of the Cheyney Court, held at Winchester every Thursday, for the recovery of debts to any amount; and petty-sessions for the division are held the last Friday in every month.
The parish comprises by recent measurement 12,920 acres, of which 1617 are common, once let to numerous small tenants at six shillings per acre, but now inclosed under an act passed in 1842. The soil is various, but generally fertile; barley of good quality is produced, and formerly the malting-trade appears to have been carried on to a very great extent. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £17. 19. 7.; patron, and impropriator. Lord Bolton. The rectorial tithes have been commuted for £1850, and the vicarial for £440; the vicarial glebe comprises 1½ acre. The church is a very ancient cruciform structure, in the Norman style, with a massive square tower rising from the centre. There are chapels of ease at Ecchinswell and Sydmonton; a district chapel at Woodlands, dedicated to St. Paul, and in the Vicar's gift; also a place of worship for Wesleyans, and at Ecchinswell one for Independents. A school, supposed to be of ancient foundation, was endowed by Sir James Lancaster, in 1681, with £20 per annum; and a bequest of about £80 per annum from Robert Higham, in 1722, is appropriated towards the maintenance and education of four boys. The poor-law union of Kingsclere comprises 15 parishes or places, containing a population of 8463. On the adjacent hills are the remains of two Roman encampments; near which the fragments of two or three human skeletons, and several Roman copper coins, were lately discovered.