Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Damerham - The church of Saint George Snowdrop Grave Yard

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Damerham is a village and civil parish in Hampshire, England, located near to Fordingbridge. As well as being the location of notable Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows, Damerham was an important Anglo-Saxon manor mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. By the time of the Domesday Book of 1086, Damerham was a major settlement in the possession of Glastonbury Abbey. Today Damerham is a rural village on the River Allen.

Situated north west of Fordingbridge and close to the Dorset border, Damerham is located on the River Allen. Damerham contains a mixture of cottages, with a riverside mill and a Norman church. Settled since Saxon times, Damerham is said to be the birthplace of Æthelflæd, wife of Edmund I.
Adam of Damerham (13th century), the author of Historia de Rebus gestis Glastoniensibus, was a native of Damerham. Damerham was once in Wiltshire, but was transferred in 1895 to Hampshire.
The village gave its name to a Ham class minesweeper, HMS Damerham.

Damerham is the site of a prehistoric complex including two 6,000-year-old tombs representing some of the earliest monuments built in Britain. It was discovered by a team led by Dr. Helen Wickstead, a Kingston University archaeologist. These were previously undiscovered Neolithic tombs known as long barrows.

Another earthwork, Soldiers Ring, situated on a crest in an area of Celtic fields, is thought to be a Romano-British cattle enclosure.
Damerham was an ancient demesne of the Saxon kings and was mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great, who desired that his men of Damerham should be free.

In 940–6 Edmund I granted a hundred mansae at Damerham with Martin and Pentridge to his queen, Æthelflæd. Damerham may have been the birthplace of Æthelflæd. Æthelflæd bequeathed Damerham to Glastonbury Abbey when she died in the late 10th century.
In the time of the Domesday Book, 1086, Damerham was a large settlement of 80 households. Glastonbury Abbey still held the manor, which remained with the abbey until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It then passed to the Crown, and in 1540 Henry VIII leased part of the demesne land and certain farms belonging to the manor for 21 years to Richard Snell - these premises were in 1608 granted to Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury, and remained with his descendants.  

In 1544 Henry VIII granted the manor of Damerham to his sixth wife, Catherine Parr, but it passed back to the Crown on her death in 1548. In 1575 Elizabeth I granted it to the Bishop of Salisbury, and, except for the temporary sale by Parliament to William Lytton in 1649, it remained in the possession of successive bishops until 1863.

Another important manor was the manor of Little Damerham which was owned by Glastonbury Abbey. Glastonbury Abbey also held lands in the manors of Hyde and Stapleham. Some of these lands were also held by Cranborne Priory, and Tewkesbury Abbey, to which Cranborne Priory was a cell. The hide at Lopshill (Lopushale) is mentioned as within the boundaries of the manor of Damerham in 940–6; it is now Lopshill Farm, in the south of the parish.
The Domesday Book records four mills at Damerham. 

One was given to Geoffrey Fitz-Ellis by John, Abbot of Glastonbury (1274–90). In 1326 Henry Dotenel released to the Abbot of Glastonbury all his claim in a water-mill called Weremulle in Damerham. In the survey of the manor taken in 1518 a water-mill called Lytellmyle is mentioned. This mill probably stood near Littlemill Bridge at North End, but it has now disappeared. In 1608 "all the water-mills of Damerham" were granted to Robert Earl of Salisbury. The only mill now in existence in the parish is Damerham Mill in the village on the River Allen.

Damerham Park is mentioned in 1226–7 and in 1283, and at the latter date it contained deer. In 1518 the park, which contained 125 acres of wood, was divided into three coppices, Edmundshay, Middle Coppis, and Drakenorth Coppis. It was apparently disparked before 1540.

The church of Saint George dates from the Norman period. The earliest parts are the lower part of the tower and the north aisle (12th century). In the 13th century the chancel was seemingly rebuilt and a south aisle added to the nave. The tower was nearly rebuilt around this time. The 12th-century north aisle and transept were probably pulled down in the 15th century and the existing aisle substituted. The church has some rare features, including scratch dials and a relief of Saint George.The churchyard is particularly recommended for the snowdrops in the spring which are in abundance in the Church grounds.

In 1830 the manor-house (West Park House) was attacked by the rioters against the introduction of machinery (Swing Riots) and several people were captured and sent to Winchester. One quarter of the village burned down in the "Great Fire" of 1863, but the damage was soon repaired owing to the exertions of the vicar William Owen.


  1. The Images look better if you select full screen;)

  2. So many snowdrops - fascinating. I cannot get into Muzenews because I do not belong. I did for an afternoon, but fled afterwards. I had never heard of Damerham but must be a very pretty village.

  3. Lovely photos!! That's the kind of snow I don't mind!! LOL Really interesting history of the area, too!!

  4. A nice history lesson enhanced by your wonderful photos