- The name Hartley Wintney was recorded in the 13th century as Hertleye Wynteneye which means “the clearing in the forest where the deer graze by Winta’s island”. Winta was probably a Saxon who owned the island in the marshes where a priory of Cistercian nuns was founded in the middle of the 12th Century.
- There is no evidence of there being any Roman settlement here before Saxon times, although there were Roman settlements not far away at Odiham and Silchester. Before Roman times the area was probably fairly heavily wooded with a lake and a marshy area. A small settlement around a wooden church in the vicinity of St Mary’s Church would possibly have existed in Saxon times. A deer park, which stretched from Odiham to the outskirts of the settlement and to the north, was used for 600 years by Royalty and others for hunting and the wood was used for fuel.
- The Village would have been included in the Hundred of Odiham in the Domesday Book of 1086 (a record of the Great Inquisition of lands of England made by the order of William the Conqueror). It was part of King Harold’s royal estate at Odiham and after 1066 it became King William’s land.
- In medieval times Odiham was a settlement of some size and importance. About 100 years after the conquest the lands comprising Hartley Wintney became a separate manor owned by the Fitz-Peters family. This family subsequently gave land to the Cistercians to found a Priory of Nuns.
- The Priory was located on a marshy island near the River Hart close to where the M3 now passes and was within walking distance of the of the Church (St Mary’s); today only the Barn remains visible. It was a farming and contemplative community, and although a daughter house of Waverley Abbey, Farnham, in practice the Bishops of Winchester would have been responsible for the Priory.
- Monasticism was popular in the 12th century and several nunneries were founded in order to have masses said for departed souls. The Priory then acquired more land from the de Bendengs of Elvetham and the Herriards of Winchfield. The nuns would have been responsible for seeing to the needs of travellers and may have run the old Lamb Inn, which catered for those journeying to and from the south and the west country. St Mary’s Church was probably built around 1254 but has had subsequent additions.
- The settlement had obvious geographical importance being strategically placed on the routes from Reading and Windsor to the Royal Palace at Odiham and to Winchester. King John would have ridden through this area on his way to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. Hartley Wintney would, at this time and for the next 300 years, have been a typical mediaeval village with open fields clustered around St Mary’s Church, Dilly Pond and the manor barn. The Priory was dissolved in 1536.
- Henry VIII came to Elvetham in 1535 to visit Jane Seymour, who was Anne Boleyn’s maid of honour. Anne Boleyn was beheaded the following year and Jane Seymour became Queen of England. Queen Elizabeth visited Elvetham in 1591 and was entertained by the Earl of Hertford, who had previously been out of favour at court for marrying the sister of Lady Jane Grey.
- Elvetham was the adjacent parish to Hartley Wintney although the two are now combined. During the Civil War (1642-51), the Roundheads had headquarters at Hartford Bridge and the whole areas saw much action during this turbulent time.
- This was a time of peace and Hartley Wintney became prosperous with tenant farms replacing the open fields. The coaching route from London to the West allowed various trades to flourish, housing was built along the coach road and this area became known as Hartley Row. A tollgate was established on the turnpike road at Phoenix Green in 1755 by the Alton and Odiham Turnpike Trust. The Hartley Wintney Cricket Club was formed in 1770 and continues to play on one of the oldest greens in the country.
19th Century and Victorian Era
- Hunts Common was the site for big annual fairs which continued until World War 1; the site now accommodates the Community Orchard planted in November 2000. During this century Lady St John Mildmay of Dogmersfield had the Oak trees planted on the commons to provide wood for building the ships for the Royal Navy – fortunately the wood was never needed.
- The London and Southeastern Railway arrived at Winchfield in 1838. This posed a threat to the coach trade, but new industries and shops were established and sustained by the increasing population – the population rose from 761 in 1801 to 1945 in 1871. Hartley Row flourished with shops on either side of the main road. There was a brewery (now converted into offices) and a tan yard, schools and chapels were built to cater for the incoming population and the Golf Club was originally started for employees of the Elvetham Estate in 1884.
- Unfortunately, the new prosperity was not for everyone and the Union Workhouse was built on the site of the present golf course. Gas works were built in 1861 in Hares Lane and the village had its own water supply until the early 1950s which was reckoned to be responsible for the good health of the inhabitants.
- The 1939-45 war saw great changes and upheavals in the village with properties being requisitioned for war purposes; troops were billeted in the village and the Victoria Hall was used as a Red Cross Centre. The gas works and the brewery closed, and the first council estates were built to enable young local residents to remain living in the village.
- It is interesting to note that in 1945, there were nine grocers, seven milkmen, six bakers, three butchers, two tailors, one chemist, four general stores, one hardware shop, one general newsagent, one dairy, eight pubs and three Post Offices (Hartley Wintney, West Green and Phoenix Green). There was also a ladies and children’s outfitters and wool shop together with a café and hairdresser. The village had two policemen and a fire brigade.
- The Church of St John the Evangelist was built in 1870 and in 1945 the old Church of St Mary’s was only occasionally used. There was a Methodist Chapel, a Baptist Chapel and a further Methodist Chapel at West Green where the Mission Church of St George was erected in 1914. The population at that time was between 2300 to 2500.
Hartley Wintney Today
- Hartley Wintney retains its essentially rural character and has successfully absorbed newer developments at St Mary’s Park and Hartley Row with a population overall now reaching nearly 5,000. It’s Neighbourhood Plan offers a Vision which continues to maintain Hartley Wintney as ‘a highly sought-after village to live in and visit’.
Further information can be found at:
- Hart District Council’s website.
- In a booklet “The Old Village of Hartley Wintney” by David Gorsky published by the Hartley Wintney Preservation Society. Copies are available from Hartley Antiques in the High Street at £8.00 per copy (correct at June 2020).
- Hampshire Archives & Local Studies Winchester..