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History of Hale

Early History

Hale is said to be represented in the Domesday Book by "the hide of land in Charford held of the King by Alwi, son of Torber".

There are various references to the "vill of Hale" in documents from the 13th and 14th centuries, several referring to poaching of the King's deer by its residents.

In 1328 Adam de la Forde was granted a licence by the Priory of Breamore to hold divine service in his manor at Hale.

Ownership of the manor seems to have changed hands regularly up until 1537 when it was purchased by the first of the families known to use it as their permanent residence.

The estate included the lands of several adjoining farms in Wiltshire. Most residents would have been tenants; Hale was effectively a 'closed' village to outsiders, with no pub and no shops. It remained as one large estate until 1920.

Previous families to own The Hale Estate

The Penruddockes purchased Hale in 1538 from the West family, and remained here until 1715. As committed Royalists, they were lucky to remain in ownership after the Civil War. During their time the original mediaeval church was substantially rebuilt.

Hale was next bought by Thomas Archer, then Groom Porter to Queen Anne and a well-known London architect of his day. Archer demolished the Penruddockes' Elizabethan Manor House and built the Palladian style Georgian Mansion which is there today. He also altered and enlarged the church, landscaped the grounds and planted the oldest part of the Lime Avenue. On his death, without an heir, the estate passed to his nephew, Henry Archer.

The May family came 1789, after having to wait some years for the last Archer, Lady Elizabeth, to die. The Mays had interests in the Portugese wine trade and spent much time travelling to and from Portugal. They commissioned a large Estate Map by the surveyor, Thomas Richardson, which still remains at Hale Park.

Finally, the Goff family bought Hale in 1836. Gerald Goff wrote a detailed history of Hale that gives an insight into life as it was in the village 100 years ago.

The Church

The church of St Mary at Hale is in the grounds of Hale House. It contains monuments and brasses to many of the estate's former owners.

The oldest part is the nave with the stone benches around the walls, which dates from the 14th century. The font is thought to be equally old, with some ornament added later.

Substantial alterations and additions were made to the church around 1631 by Sir Thomas Penruddocke. Recent research suggests that this remodelling could have been based on Inigo Jones' design for St. Paul's Church in Covent Garden.

Thomas Archer did further alterations and built the transepts and a musician's gallery - now removed, at the west end. The church interior is dominated by the marble monument to Thomas Archer, erected by himself.

There is one bell, dated 1739, by William Cockey.

The End of The Old Estate

After the First World War and the untimely deaths of several members of the Goff family, Hale was put up for sale in lots in 1920. Hale House and its surrounding parklands were sold together and remain as the nucleus of the old estate, but 2,370 acres with12 farms, numerous cottages, woodland, watermeadows and Hale Purlieu, passed for the first time, into many separate hands. The old order of estate life came to an end.

Hale Purlieu

Between 1257 and 1280, the boundaries of the New Forest were extended and included that area now known as Hale Purlieu and may have gone as far as the county boundary with Wiltshire. This area would then have been subject to forest law. After 1280, the New Forest boundary returned to its original line. The word 'purlieu' indicates an area which has been 'disafforested' and is no longer subject to forest law.

Hale Purlieu returned to being an adjacent common of the New Forest until it was brought back within the boundary and the Verderers' jurisdiction under the New Forest Act of 1964.

Rosalind Pasmore