The Church House

By indenture of feoffment* dated 20th December 18th Elizabeth I (1576) stated that William Courtenay by indenture dated 3rd October 15th Henry VII (1500) had given to John Rowe and others and their heirs a parcel of land lying within the manor of Alphington for the use of the Parishioners of Alphington. The intent was that a house called The Church House should be built and it would be for the Parishioners. The rent would be one penny.
*[Feoffment or enfeoffment is the transfer/total relinquishment of land or property that gave the new holder the right to sell it as well as pass it on to his heirs as an inheritance.]

John Rowe and the others built The Church House. John Rowe survived all the other feoffees and he granted and eafeoffed the parcel of land and house to Edward Whiddon and others and their heirs. The land and house had to be used as stated in the deeds. Therefore, it was for the use of Edward Whiddon, others and Parishioners of Alphington for ever.

It was thought The Church House was used as a charity house for those villagers not receiving Parish pay. The house could have been split in two, one part used as alms houses and the other part as a school.

In 1512 William Courtenay gave another piece of land adjacent to The Church House.

At one time income from leasing out The Church House went to the church.

In 1688 annual rent and accrued interest of £5 was used to distribute bread to the poor of Alphington.

The last trust deed for The Church House was dated 27th July 1774 whereby it was conveyed by James Pitman Esquire to Richard Hippesley Coxe Esquire and 23 others for the benefit of the Parishioners of Alphington.

In March 1784 The Church House was leased for a further 99 years. The lease stipulated that the 'fine' of £100 should to the repair of the church and the annual rent of £5 plus £5 interest should be used to distribute bread to the poor.

A lease dated 3rd May 1784 shows The Church House was an inn called the Vernon's Head. This lease had been granted in consideration of the surrender of the former lease. The holder of the new lease was Elizabeth Blatchford widow of William Blatchford. A rent of one penny was paid to Lord Viscount Courtenay, Lord of the manor of Alphington. The house was recorded at this time as being in a fair state of repair.

In 1814 the inn was called The Admiral's Head and the landlady was recorded as still being Elizabeth Blatchford.

In 1844 the landlord was Henry Searle and the inn was called The Admiral Vernon Tavern.

William Grover was the landlord in 1850 and the inn had been renamed The Admiral Vernon.

Two courts were held in The Church House/inn on behalf of the Earl of Devon. A jury of 12 respectable men who lived in the village or owned property in the Parish of Alphington chose constables, ale tasters and pound men who were responsible for the impounding of cattle.

One court was called the Baron Court and this was a type of manorial court that administered the customs of the manor and dealt with any offences against it. Generally, this Baron Court was held every three or four weeks, in some cases more often.

The second court was a Court Leat and this generally enforced law and order; tried offences such as assaults, obstruction of the highway; and breaking of the assize of bread and ale. This court could deal with the election of local officers such as constables, represent the transfer of jurisdiction to the local manorial lord. The Court Leat was normally held every 6 months.

In 1860 the building had a brewhouse, cellars, stables and a courtyard.

At 4am on the 15th September 1871 a fire started in The Church House. Four fire engines arrived at 5am but a lack of water meant that only two engines could be used. The other two acted as feeders bringing water from the Alphin Brook. The building was destroyed by the fire and only the protruding walls were left.

Two adjoining properties were also destroyed by the fire. One property was owned by Messrs Nosworthy and Buckbet, the second property was a butchers shop owned by Mr Fry.

A Board School and School Masters house were built on the site.


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Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick