Diocese of Winchester
The records of the diocese of Winchester (21M65) were created by the exercise of the spiritual powers of the bishops of Winchester. They form a distinct collection, entirely separate from the records created by the administration of the bishop's vast landed estates (11M59).
The diocese of Winchester has existed since the 7th century. At that time it covered the entire West Saxon kingdom from Surrey to Cornwall. However, from the 8th century onwards its geographical size has been much reduced by the formation of new dioceses. By the mid 10th century the diocese of Winchester consisted of the two counties of Hampshire (including the Isle of Wight) and Surrey (except Croydon deanery). This situation remained until the formation of the new dioceses of Guildford and Portsmouth in 1927. The present-day diocese of Winchester covers Hampshire (excluding the north east and south east of the county), and the Bournemouth and Christchurch area of Dorset.
The surviving records date from the late thirteenth century and include
- bishops' registers and act books, relating to the bishops' main administrative acts and including appointments of clergy
- records of visitation - the process by which the bishop oversees the diocese, including visitation books (lists of clergy and churchwardens), and information supplied by clergy and churchwardens (replies and 'presentments')
- records of church courts, relating to disputes over marriages, tithes, wills and other church matters, offences discovered at visitation, and probate jurisdation
- later administrative records relating to clergy, church buildings and relations between the church and civil government (including 'bishops' transcripts' of parish registers and tithe awards and maps).
Most records before 1733 are written in Latin.
A more detailed history of the Diocese of Winchester and its records is covered in Records of the Diocese of Winchester in Hampshire Record Office by Sarah Lewin (1991), on sale at Hampshire Record Office for £1.