of the village...
The name of the village has evolved over time, with the addition of 'Priors' appearing in the 12th century. The original name probably refers to the 'Hysse', a winding water plant, and 'Bourne' the name of the rivelet running through the village.
- 8th century - Hissaburnam
- 9th century - Husseburn
- 11th century - Esseburn (e)
- 12th century - Hesseburna Prioris
- 14th century - Hussiborne
- 16th century - Hursbourne Priors
- 18/19th century - Hurstbourne Priors
The first record of the village was in a Saxon grant of 790 to Prince Hemele, who then granted the manor to the Monks of Abingdon. King Egbert later acquired the manor and, after two generations, it reverted to the Monks of Winchester. In AD 971, the prior of St Swithuns came into the possession of the Manor and 'Priors' was added to the old name of the village.
At the time of the Domesday Survey the manor was described as belonging to the church of Winchester. In 1205 Pope Innocent III confirmed the prior and monks in possession of the manor and they continued in possession until the dissolution in 1535, when it came into the ownership of King Henry VIII.
In 1547 the Hurstbourne Estate was granted to Edward, Duke of Somerset who held it until his death on Tower Hill in 1552. The following year it was granted to Sir John Gate who, later the same year, was executed for attempting to put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.
In 1558 Sir Robert Oxenbridge purchased the manor from the Crown and it remained in this family until 1636, when it was sold to Sir Henry Wallop of Farleigh Wallop. John Wallop was created Viscount Lymington in 1717, then Earl of Portsmouth in 1743, and the manor remained in the Wallop family for 300 years.
From the 17th century onwards, the village was greatly influenced by the Portsmouth family, with the manor providing employment for the majority of the men, until the Second World War.
Following the departure of the Portsmouths, the estate was broken up and several dwellings demolished. Most of the land was purchased by Lord Camrose but farming continued on traditional lines.
In 1994, Manor Farm was sold, the buildings used for stabling and storage and the land as a stud and equestrian centre.
It is said that bees have been kept at Hurstbourne since Saxon times and, in those times, the bee-master traditionally lived in a house with a flat roof – the hives being kept on the roof and the bee-master living below. The 18th century building on the main road to the south of the church is called the 'Bee House', for this reason.
Hurstbourne Priors was patronised by two famous authors; angler Harry Plunket Greene, who lived in the Long House and wrote the famous fishing book, Where Bright Waters Meet, and William Cobbett who referred to the village in his famous writings about his horseback journey, Rural Rides.
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of the railway...
In 1882 the London & South Western Railway (LSWR), who were in competition with the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton Junction railway (DNSR), were given authority to construct a 7 mile stretch of line from the Basingstoke-Salisbury line at Hurstbourne Priors
to a junction on the Andover & Redbridge Railway at Fullerton.
Joseph Firbank was the appointed contractor, supervised by the LSWR engineer, William Jacob, and the estimated cost was £162,700. Construction proved more difficult than anticipated and several navvies were killed whilst carrying out the work.
As there was a siding on the 'up' side of the main line at Hurstbourne to serve the Earl of Portsmouth’s grain store (at Hurstbourne Park), the LSWR decided to open a station at this site.
The line was opened for passengers on 1st June 1885 and the event was duly reported in the Andover Advertiser on Friday 5th June 1885. Although it was referred to as a branch line, it was built as a double track throughout, to provide a link with the DNSR at Whitchurch on the main line.
It was popular with anglers as the line followed the valley of the River Test but it was also used by Queen Victoria on her journey to the Isle of Wight so she could enjoy the fine views of Harewood Forest and the river.
However, the connection with the DNSR near Whitchurch was never built so the line was doomed to failure and was singled in 1913. The lightly used passenger service was withdrawn in 1931 and the northern section between Hurstbourne and Longparish was taken out of use.
The line has a claim to fame as, in 1927, Piccadilly Pictures used it to film several scenes of the cinema version of Arnold Ridley’s play, The Ghost Train.
The goods service between Fullerton and Longparish continued until 1956, although Hurstbourne Station, on the main Basingstoke-Salisbury line, remained open until April 1964. The branch line was used, until 1960, for testing the new diesel units and for the storage of condemned wagons and vans before they were scrapped.
At Whitchurch, the platform used for the line is still visible, although the tracks were lifted in 1956. Between Longparish and Hurstbourne Junction, parts of the railway cuttings can still be seen and Hurstbourne Station is now occupied by a scrap metal dealer.
The above information and the historic photographs of the railway on this site have been reproduced, by kind permission of the author, from the book entitled "The Longparish Branch Line" by Peter A Harding, published by Peter A Harding.
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