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Wherwell (Holy Cross)

WHERWELL (Holy Cross), a parish, in the union of Andover, hundred of Wherwell, Andover and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 3¾ miles (S. S. E.) from Andover; containing, with the tythings of Fullerton and Westover, 664 inhabitants. This place was distinguished as the site of a Benedictine nunnery founded and amply endowed by Queen Elfrida, about the year 986, in expiation of the murder of Edward the Martyr after the death of his father, Edgar, King of England, her second consort. Here she passed the remainder of her life; and the convent, which was dedicated to the Holy Cross and St. Peter, flourished till the Dissolution, when its revenue was returned at £403. 12. 10. The parish comprises 3261 acres, including 40 acres of common or waste; and is intersected by the rivers Test and Ande, which latter falls into the Redbridge and Andover canal. The surface is varied, and richly wooded. A fair for sheep is held on the 24th of September. The living is a vicarage, with the livings of Bullington and Tufton annexed, valued in the king's books at £14; net income, £301; patron, Colonel Iremonger, as owner of the sinecure rectory, which was a prebend in the nunnery of Wherwell, and is valued in the king's books at £44. 11. 0½. The great tithes of Wherwell have been commuted for £595, and the vicarial for £204; the glebe comprises 5 acres. In one of the recesses of an extensive wood is a stone cross, with the following inscription on its base: "About the year of our Lord dcccclxiii, upon this spot, beyond the time of memory called Dead Man's Plack, tradition reports that Edgar (sirnamed the Peaceable), King of England, in the ardour of youth, love, and indignation, slew with his own hand his treacherous and ungrateful favourite, Earl Athelwold, owner of the forest of Harewood, in resentment of the earl's having basely betrayed his royal confidence, and perfidiously married his intended bride the beauteous Elfrida, daughter of Ordgar, Earl of Devonshire, after wife to King Edgar and by him mother of King Etheldred the 2nd; which Queen Elfrida, after Edgar's death, murdered his eldest son King Edward the Martyr, and founded the nunnery of Whorwell."

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.