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History of Bournemouth & Muscliff

Throop and the river StourThe History of Bournemouth and human settlement in the surrounding area goes back for thousands of years. Much can be learned about our national history through a study of the Manor of Westover, which has been touched directly by the Black Death, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Spanish Armada and the Dutch threat, Civil War, the rise and fall of the Merchant classes, Georgian political patronage, development of Turnpike roads and Enclosure. It was a hunting ground of Tudor Kings, it supplied fuel for the Saxon settlements at Christchurch and Holdenhurst, and its cliffs and fort formed an important part of the country's Elizabethan coastal defences. More than once, ownership of the land has been claimed in highly questionable circumstances.

In 1800 the area was largely a remote and barren heathland, used only by smugglers and revenue troops. 'Bourne Heath' was also known as Wallis Down in the north and Little Down in the south and east, and was part of the Great Heath of central Dorset which extended as far as Dorchester. To the east was Christchurch, to the west was Poole, and to the north east was the river Stour. There were villages at Kinson, Throop, Holdenhurst and Iford and a handful of buildings at Pokesdown. But the area between these communities was just a wilderness of pine trees, gorse, ferns and heather. The area now called central Bournemouth and the Pier Approach was 'Bourne Mouth' - the mouth of the Bourne Stream. No-one lived at Bourne Mouth and the only regular visitors were a few fishermen, turf cutters and gangs of smugglers who landed their cargoes of spirits, tea and tobacco on the deserted beach.

The eastern part of the heath was called the Liberty of West Stour (later, the Liberty of Westover). It was divided into six tythings: 'Muscliff', 'Muccleshell', 'Throop', 'Holdenhurst', 'Iford' and 'Tuckton & Wick'. These areas were common land used by the inhabitants for livestock and by the poor for wood and turves. The "Liberty of Westover" was inhospitable, but did support several farms and small settlements. Of the original tithings, Muccleshell has now disappeared and is now part of Throop. Ensbury Park Road, incidentally, used to be called Muccleshell Lane. Muccleshell was variously spelled as Maccelshell or Muggleshell.

Westover Liberty

Westover Liberty Map 1826

As has been seen, the hundred of Holdenhurst, which existed in 1176, was probably co-extensive with the modern liberty of Westover. This hundred was, however, soon after extended and became known as the hundred of Christchurch, the district of Westover, which was held as one large manor and comprised that part of the hundred which lay west of the Stour, being absorbed into it. 

In course of time Westover emerged as a separate hundred. In the hundred court rolls for 1500–1, 1540–5 and 1560, which are extant, the tithings represented were North Ashley, Muscliff, Muccleshill, Throop, Holdenhurst, Iver and Luckton. The liberty, however, continued for many years to be included in Christchurch Hundred, which in 1571 was called 'the hundred of Christchurch Westover.' By 1620 it seems to have become definitely detached, although up till 1692 the loose description of 'the hundred of Christchurch and Westover is found.'  In 1595 the liberty contained, in addition to the tithings mentioned above, part of the tithing of Lougham in the parish of Hampreston, Dorset, this part being a detached portion of the parish lying in Hampshire on the county boundary. It was, however, transferred to Holdenhurst some time after 1861. North Ashley was still in the liberty in 1831, but a year or two later was transferred to Ringwood Hundred. The tithings of Hurn and Parley were returned in 1841 as being in the liberty, but this was probably an error. The liberty has always belonged, with the hundred of Christchurch, to the lord of the honour of Christchurch.

The parish of Holdenhurst (Holeest, xi cent.; Holeherst, xii cent.; Holhurst, xiii cent.; Hollehurst, xiv cent.; Holnehurst, xv–xvii cent.; Holnest, xvi cent.; Holnirst, xvii cent.) comprises an area of 3,080 acres, of which 52 acres are covered by inland and 6 by tidal water; 1,579¼ acres are arable, 778¾ permanent grass and 273 woods and plantations.

Until 1894 the parish was much larger, and comprised 7,390 acres, of which 70 were covered by water. In that year the part of it adjoining the county boundary was formed into the separate parish of Winton, while that part lying on the coast was detached from the larger portion of the new parish of Bournemouth. In the same year a small portion of Christchurch parish was added to Holdenhurst, and in the following year a further small piece of Holdenhurst was added to Bournemouth. Finally in 1901 yet another portion of the parish was detached and added partly to Bournemouth and partly to Southbourne.

The village is prettily situated in the north-east of the parish on a road which running south-east joins the Christchurch and Bournemouth road in the hamlet of Iford, where the river is crossed by a fine bridge. From the village another road runs west beside the river to the hamlets of Throop  which has a water mill, Muccleshill (Makeleshulle, Mukeleshull, Mulkeshull, Mokylshyll, Muggeshyll.) and Muscliff, which once had a tannery. Littledown House is the property and residence of Mr. James Coward Cooper-Dean, J.P.

The parish of Bournemouth was formed in 1894, as has been stated, from Christchurch and Holdenhurst. Since 1902 the parish has included those of Pokesdown, Southbourne and Winton, and it now comprises 5,919 acres, of which 97 acres are covered by tidal and one by inland water; 93 acres are foreshore, 581¾ are arable, 300 permanent grass and 71/8 woods and plantations. Cliffs extend along practically the whole of the coast, their average height being about 100 ft. The greatest altitude in the parish (one of 142½ ft.) is upon the county boundary just west of Winton. The earliest mention of the name that has been found is in 1574, when Bournemouth was regarded as one of the most likely places for an enemy to land. Men were soon after told off to act as guards there and at other places along the coast.

The manor of WESTOVER (Westower, xiii-xviii cent.) comprised the district west of the Stour, afterwards known as the liberty of Westover, and was probably co-extensive with the manor of HOLDENHURST, which at the time of the Domesday Survey belonged to the king and was assessed at 18½ hides and half a virgate, and was worth £24 by the tale. In the time of Edward the Confessor it had been worth £44, when it was assessed at 29 hides and half a virgate, of which 7 hides were in the Isle of Wight. It was held at that time by Earl Tostig, but had been afterwards granted to Hugh de Port. Since then 3½ hides had been absorbed into the forest. It was included in the grant of the Christchurch estates made by Henry I to Richard de Redvers, and being appurtenant to the honour of Christchurch followed the descent of the same.

Ministers' accounts for the manor for the years 1289, 1301 and 1419 are extant. From an extent of Christchurch Manor in about 1300 it appears that the king as lord could claim the second best sheep from every customary fold of Wick in Westover, the tenants in return having pasture for their sheep outside the ditch of Hengistbury in the demesne arable lands. Some of the court rolls for the years 1560, 1594 and 1595 survive, from which it seems that for the purposes of the court baron the manor of Christchurch was known as 'the manor of Christchurch cum membris.'

The manor of MUSCLIFF (Museclyve, Moseclyve, Moseclyre.) originated in an estate held there for one-eighth of a knight's fee of the lords of Christchurch, the last record of whose ownership is in 1414. In about 1250 the estate was held by John Lancelevee, but no other record of its tenure has been found until the year 1506, when Reginald Filliol and his wife suffered a recovery of the manor. Three years later they conveyed it to Richard Elliot, from whom it passed to Sir Thomas Elliot, kt., who settled it upon his wife Margaret for life. Upon his death he was succeeded by his cousin Richard Puttenham, who in 1547 conveyed the manor, subject to the life interest of Margaret, to John Lennard. He still owned it four years later, but from that date no further record of it has been found. It seems to have become merged into the chief manor of Christchurch. There was at Stourfield in the 15th and 16th centuries a deer forest and chase which belonged to the lords of Christchurch.

Aerial photograph of Holdenhurst, BournemouthHoldenhurst is a small isolated village situated in green belt land in the north-east suburbs of Bournemouth, England. The village comprises fewer than 30 dwellings, two farms and the parish church. There are no shops and few local facilities in the village.
The village has only been accessible by car via a single narrow lane since the through route was cut off in the late 1960s by the building of the Bournemouth Spur Road (A338). There is no public transport.
Although the village itself has always been small, the civil parish at one time included the greater part of what is now Bournemouth. The civil parish no longer exists (having been subsumed into Bournemouth County Borough in 1931). However, the ecclesiastical parish still exists; it encompasses Hurn, East Parley and Bournemouth International Airport, as well as the Townsend and adjacent areas of Bournemouth.

Holdenhurst is recorded in the Domesday Book as Holeest suggesting an etymology of Old English holegn meaning "holly "and hyrst meaning "grove, wood", giving a meaning of "wood where holly (Ilex aquifolium) grows. In succeeding centuries it was spelt Holeherst (12th century), Holhurst (13th century), Hollehurst (14th century), Holnehurst (15th century), Holnest (16th century) and Holnirst (17th century).

The location of Holdenhurst on the edge of the flood plain of the lower Stour valley made it an ideal location for early farmers. There have been a large number of archaeological finds in the area including coins of the Durotriges tribe of Celtic Britain, and Roman coins have also been discovered making it likely that the Romans also settled in the area.The hundred of Holdenhurst existed in 1176, but was soon extended and became known as the hundred of Christchurch; with that part west of the Stour (the original hundred of Holdenhurst) being known as the district of West Stour, or Westover. By 1263, however, the hundred of Christchurch with Westover had again become known as the hundred of Holdenhurst.

Although there were many boundary and name changes over the years, even by the start of the 19th century the parish of Holdenhurst (also known as the Liberty of West Stour) encompassed the whole area between Christchurch in the east and Poole in the west. The area was still a remote and barren heathland, and much of it was common land used by the inhabitants for livestock and by the poor for wood and turves.

In 1802, however, the Christchurch Inclosure Act, entitled An Act for dividing, allotting and inclosing certain Commonable Lands and Waste Grounds within the Parish or Chapelry of Holdenhurst in the County of Southampton was passed in Parliament. Commissioners were appointed to divide up the land and allot it according to an individual's entitlement, and to set out the roads and to sell plots of land in order to pay for their work.

HOLDENHURST, a village and a parish in Christchurch district, Hants. The village stands on the river Stour, 3 miles NW of ChThroop Millristchurch r. station. The parish contains the tythings of Redhall. Moordown, Charminster, Stronden, Great Dean and Little Down, Muccleshell, Muscliffe, and Throop; extends to the coast: and is all included in Christchurch borough.

Up until 1894 the parish comprised 7,390 acres (29.9 km2). In that year part of it was formed into a separate parish of Winton, and that part lying on the coast was transferred to the new parish of Bournemouth. Further portions of the parish were later transferred to Bournemouth and to Southbourne, and by 1912 the parish of Holdenhurst comprised an area of 3,080 acres (12.5 km2).
In 1931, the whole of the remaining part of the parish was subsumed into the County Borough of Bournemouth, later to be transferred from the county of Hampshire to Dorset, and in 1997 to become a unitary authority.

At the time of the Domesday Survey there was a mill at Holdenhurst, owned by the king. It passed to the abbey of Quarr, and then to Christchurch Priory, finally to the lords of Westover before being sold to a private company.

St John's the EvangelistSt John's the Evangelist

The first recordings is  there was a chapel in Holdenhurst in 1086 , a third part of the tithes of which belonged to Christchurch Priory. The chapel passed to Richard de Redvers under his grant of Christchurch Manor, and he granted it to the priory in about 1100, several of his descendants confirming the grant. The chapel was served by the priory until the Dissolution, after which it was in the charge of the vicar of Christchurch. The chapel ceased to be in charge before 1808, but the living continued to be a perpetual curacy annexed to Christchurch vicarage until 1875, when it was constituted a vicarage, in the gift of the Bishop of Winchester. The tithes have always been held with those of Christchurch; both have now been commuted for a rent-charge.

The current church of St. John the Evangelist, Holdenhurst was built in 1834 on the site of the ancient chapel in a style approximating to that of the 13th and 15th centuries. There are two bells, the smaller dated 1701, the larger undated but inscribed '+ Ave maria gracia PLENA' in Gothic capitals. The first book of registers has baptisms and burials 1679 to 1759 and marriages 1680 to 1753; the second and fourth have marriages 1754 to 1796 and 1797 to 1812, and the third has baptisms and burials 1759 to 1812. There are churchwardens' accounts from 1685.

The 'Lost' Village of Muccleshell

<The Muccleshell Cottages, BournemouthIn 2008, a descendant of Jane Hicks came from Australia searching for the village where his ancestors had lived, only to be told by local tourism staff that there was no such place as Muccleshell. The hamlet stood just west of Holdenhurst village, centre of a parish which included the then-small seaside "spa" of Bourne that would become the South Coast's top resort - Bournemouth. (The village is just South of what is now Bournemouth Airport, just across the B3073.) The name Muccleshell, old spelling Muckleshell, probably came from "Muckles Hill," another name for Berry Hill, which forces the river to make a northward loop around it, and represents the most northerly reach of the Stour villages. It was one of 4 "tythings" of the parish of Christchurch's Chapelry of Holdenhurst occupying the Liberty of Westover, the other 3 being Holdenhurst, Muscliff (just west), and Throop.

Muccleshell [OS grid reference SZ108961] no longer officially exists as a district, subsumed into neighbouring Throop, but in the early 1840s it contained around a hundred and twenty inhabitants. Jane's then quite rural neighbourhood was bounded on the south by Castle Lane (now a busy main road) down the Stour, leading SE to Christchurch [where the castle stood], and on the north by the Stour itself, flowing into Christchurch Harbour. The built-up area of streets on the south side of the Stour is now part of Bournemouth, the former hamlets here being adopted into the expanding Borough in the 1930s. Most of this land was part of the County of Hampshire until boundary changes in 1974 handed parts of it over to Dorset.

To see exactly where Jane was living at the time, you can click on the thumbnail map above to see a larger version. The red dot is the likely location of Jane and Richard's farm. You can see how the built-up area stopped on the S bank of the Stour, which became the boundary of the new municipality of Bournemouth. The green patch is an area of flood plain, bottomland well-watered by tributary streams, while the brown area generally dry, non-arable heathland stretching N of the river into Cranborne Chase, which was only "disafforested" by Parliament in 1830 to help clear out the smugglers and poachers who haunted it. Although the name has disappeared from the map, many of the cottages are preserved as this is now part of the Throop & Muccleshell Conservation Area.

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