Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

Winchester Bishopric archive

The collection (11M59) comprises the administrative records relating to the estates belonging to the bishops of Winchester and dates from the 13th to the 20th centuries. It is distinct from the Winchester Diocesan archive, which relates to the bishops’ spiritual work.

At its height, the Bishopric estates comprised 60 manors spread across seven English counties, including Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and the Isle of Wight. The records contain a wealth of place and family name information, telling us about property history, medieval agriculture, demography, labour and wages, the peasant land market, as well as medieval Winchester and London. Most of the records up to 1733 are written in Latin.

Some of the main series are:-

  • Winchester Pipe Rolls - 1209-1711; celebrated account rolls detailing income and expenditure across the bishops’ estates;

  • Fine books - 1508-1951, recording fees payable by tenants on admission to property, useful for tracing house histories on the bishopric estates;

  • Enfranchisement registers - 1855-1916, recording conveyances of freehold to the bishops’ copyhold tenants, including place name indexes and plans;

  • Lease registers - 1619-1869, containing full transcripts of property leases made by, and surrenders to, the Bishop, most indexed by property and/or personal name

  • Court rolls and court books - 1337-1880 and associated court papers, c1520-1925, including presentments of misdemeanours, petitions, papers in private disputes, lists of tenants and jurors, letters, and appointments of manorial officials, largely written in English and dating from the 16th to the 19th centuries

  • Surveys - 1332-c1926, including books of customs, land valuations and registers of tenants

Hampshire manors owned by the Bishop were: Alresford, Alverstoke, Beauworth, Bensted, Bentley, Bishopstoke, Bishops Sutton, Bishops Waltham, Bitterne, Burghclere, Burley, Cheriton, Crawley, Droxford, Easton, East Woodhay, Ecchinswell, East Meon, Fareham, Gosport, Hambledon, Havant, Highclere, Odiham, Old Alresford, Overton, Newtown, North Waltham, Twyford, Wield, Winchester Soke. (Burghclere, Burley, Highclere, Twyford and Wield were appropriated by the Crown during the reign of Elizabeth I.)