Originally a hall house, converted at the end of the sixteenth century, The Tudor House shows how the new architecture led to social change, bringing both female and male servants under the same roof as the owner’s nuclear family; the word ‘family’ now included the whole household. This was the house of Nicholas Wright, who rented more lands than anyone else in the parish. It was essentially a ‘home farm’: young male and female servants who worked for him lived in the house and set out each day to work for him in the open fields around the village.
In the 1580s, Wright had set about expanding what had been a medieval hall house into a substantial residence (now called ‘The Tudor House’). It was converted from a 14th century three-bay hall to a spacious farmhouse: to the original structure, which lay east to west along what is now Workhouse Lane, he added a north-south wing with the main entrance in the eastern wall, leading from what is now the Cross. Immediately opposite this entrance was a substantial central chimney with hearths on both sides; to the left/south and west were service areas and to the right/north, family rooms.
The service areas of the Tudor House included, first, the kitchen with a communal dining table at which family and servants ate together, and also, as befitted a farmhouse, several farm offices: a dairy where butter and cheese were made, a pantry (painterie, or bakery), a buttery (bouteillerie, or brewery); to the west there may have been stalls for animals. Servants slept either in or above the kitchen. This arrangement of workrooms and chambers supports the belief of today’s historians that the early modern ‘family’included not just the immediate kin of the owner but the entire household Servants were not permitted to live in the house once they were married; the men lost their permanent positions and became casual agricultural labourers, and the women found work where they could. Few married young, most in their late twenties, and they had to set up home with no security of employment.
When Nicholas Wright died in 1891, he left the bulk of his property not to his eldest son, also named Nicholas, but to his middle son John. The estate included not only properties in several tithings of East Meon manors, but in neighbouring manors and even in Havant. The reason for bypassing his eldest son can be deduced from the parish register for burials in 1896 which records the burial of Nicholas Junior, five years after his father; he must have been sickly at the time. In his will, Nicholas insists that his third son, Robert, should not inherit his share of the estate until the age of 28 and unless he had learned to live a more godly life. (Apparently, he did, because when Robert in turn died, in 1624, his bequests included South Farm and Mill … the most important of the Wright properties in East Meon.) South Farm is perhaps the most important farmhouse in the tithing of East Meon and it was unusual in that it was not located in a settlement but, like Hillhampton, stood out in the fields it farmed; it will appear frequently in this history.
For a House History of The Tudor House, click here. There are more records of this building in the digital archive, click here. For photographs taken during WWII, click here. For a PDF of an interview with Olivia Tottle, who lived here during WWII, click here.