The Manor of Priors Freshwater was created from lands in Freshwater belonging to two priories: the Priory of Carisbrooke and the Priory of Christchurch.
The Carisbrooke portion derived from a grant by William FitzOsborn to the Abbey of Lyre of 3 virgates out of the manor of Freshwater soon after the
Norman Conquest, but before 1071. [Julian Munby, ed., Domesday book : Hampshire. Vol. 4. Phillimore, 1982.]. This holding was passed on to Carisbrooke
Priory, who undertook the collection of dues owing to its parent house, the Abbey of Lyre. In 1414, all alien priories were suppressed and their
property and titles taken over by the Crown. In April 1415, having taken over possession of the Isle of Wight property of the Abbey of Lyre, Henry V
bestowed it on the Charterhouse of Sheen in Surrey, a foundation set up by Henry in September 1414 as "the Priory of the House of Jesus of Bethlehem".
At the Dissolution in 1539, the lands of Sheen reverted to the Crown. The lands of Carisbrooke Priory were held by Richard Worsley of Appuldercombe in
1565. In 1606, a new lease of the Carisbrooke Priory estate was granted by James I to Sir Thomas Fleming of Heasley, before Charles I granted it to the
City of London in 1628, who sold it to John Bromfield. In 1682, Bromfield's son, Edward, sold it to John Comber and his nephew, Sir Thomas Miller.
The Christchurch portion derived from land at Freshwater that formed part of the manor of Ningwood, which had been granted to the Priory of
Christchurch by Richard de Redvers in the early 12th century [Dugdale, William. Monasticon Anglicanum. London, 1655-1673]. This in turn may have simply
been a confirmation of lands held by the previous Priory established in Christchurch. (From the Domesday survey, it is clear that, in the reign of
Edward the Confessor, there was a priory at Christchurch and as well as holding possessions in Twyneham and elsewhere in Hampshire, it also had one
hide in the Isle of Wight.) "At the Dissolution Ningwood was granted by Henry VIII with other church lands to Thomas Hobson in exchange for the manor
of Marylebone. Thomas died seised in 1559, leaving as his heir his son and namesake, who was succeeded at his death in 1594 by his son, a third Thomas.
In 1631 John Hobson conveyed the manor to trustees, who, according to Worsley, sold it to John Comber of Chichester (co. Sussex). The latter died in
1684 childless and was succeeded by his nephew Thomas Miller, the son of his sister Mary and Mark Miller."
Thus, from the end of the 17th century, both the Carisbrooke and the Christchurch portions of Freshwater land were united in one owner, Sir Thomas
Miller (c.1635-1705), and this combined holding became known as Priors Freshwater to distinguish it from the manor of King’s Freshwater. From this date
the manor passed in the Miller family until the end of the 18th century. In 1784, Sir Thomas Miller, bart., of Froyle, Hants, sold the manor of Priors
Freshwater to Leonard Troughear Holmes, who subsequently settled it upon his younger daughter, Catherine, who married Edward Rushworth. After his death
in 1819, Catherine sold it to Henry Shepherd Pearson of Lymington in 1821. It passed to John Hambrough of Steephill, and then to the Rev. George
Seymour in 1844. The latter then sold it to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in 1856. In 1945, the manor went with Farringford house and its grounds to British
Holidays Estates Ltd., when they purchased the whole estate.
The boundary of Priors Freshwater is indicated on a map of 1863 [JER/LTF/121b], when the bounds were perambulated by Charles Estcourt [The boundary of Priors Freshwater]
The junction of the east and west boundaries with the coast on its southern side are also highlighted in this legal declaration in 1947:
I, John Christopher Medley of 52, Bedford Square, in the County of London, partner in the firm of
Field Roscoe & Co, of the same address, solicitors, hereby declare as follows:
My firm with the solicitors for British Holiday Estates Ltd. of 45 Berkeley Street in the
County of London, who purchased the Farringford estate in the Isle of Wight by conveyance dated
the 14th of September 1945 from the Trustees of the will of the late Rt. Hon. Hallam, Baron
Tennyson, and I personally have the conduct of the conveyance, and I make this declaration from
my personal knowledge, and as a result of my examination of the title deeds in this matter.
The contract for the sale of the property to the purchasers, British Holiday Estates Ltd,
was duly approved by order of the High Court of Justice of the Chancery Division on the 11th of
The Trustees of the late Lord Tennyson conveyed the whole of the Farringford Estate to
the purchasers and included in that conveyance was the following grant. "All that Manor or
Lordship or reputed Manor or Lordship of Freshwater otherwise Pryors (or Priors) Freshwater with
the rights members and appurtenances to the same belonging and the right of wreck on the
foreshore from the Old Ditch on the East High Down to the centre of Watcombe Bay And any other
right of wreck or other rights belonging or appurtenant to the said Manor which immediately before
the execution of a certain Conveyance were exercisable by the late Lord Tennyson, and his
successors in title lords and estate owners of such Manor on or over the foreshore and lands,
lying between the lands assured by the Conveyance"
A certain Conveyance referred to was a conveyance to the National Trust of the down
lands and cliffs known as East High Down or Tennyson's Down in 1927, and there was expressly
reserved from that conveyance to Lord Tennyson the rights of wreck above referred to
By reason of the conveyance and events as aforesaid British Holidays Estates Ltd are entitled
to the rights of wreck hereinbefore described.
AND I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue
of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.
J. C. Medley
[Declaration before Commissioner for Oaths, BT 243/297 Purchase of Priors Freshwater]
Victoria County History
A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 2, pp. 230-231. edited by H. Arthur Doubleday. 1903.
'Alien houses: Carisbrooke priory'.
The priory of Carisbrooke, which was situated on the high ground to the north-west of the castle, was dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin. It
was a cell of the Benedictine abbey of Lire, and established to collect the dues of the parent house in the Isle of Wight. The church of Carisbrooke,
and other property, had been granted to the abbey of Lire, probably by William Fitz Osborne, Earl of Hereford. ... The priory of Carisbrooke is said to
have been founded by Baldwin de Redvers about 1156. He gave to the abbey of Lire all the churches, tithes, lands, rents and benefits that he held
throughout the island. ... Henry II.'s confirmation charter to Lire Abbey particularizes their possessions throughout England. The abbey then held in
Hampshire the churches of Clatford and St. John's, Southampton, and in the Isle of Wight the churches of Carisbrooke, Arreton, Freshwater, Godshill,
Whippingham, Newtown and Newchurch.
The priory was seized by the Crown during the reigns of Edward I. (fn. 4) and Edward III., and being in the king's hands was granted by Richard II. to
the Carthusian priory of Mount Grace, Yorkshire. Restored to Prior Thomas Val Oseul by Henry IV on condition of the ' apport ' or customary tribute to
Lire being paid to the Crown, and future appointments of monks being filled by Englishmen, it was seized again by Henry V. and bestowed on his new
charter-house at Sheen, and the monks dispersed.