At some point in the middle of the seventeenth century, the ‘manor’ of Bereleigh had also been acquired by an absentee landlord, Bartholomew Smith of the Soke in Winchester. He was a member of a prominent Catholic family; a Bartholomew Smith had been educated at the Benedictine College in Douay, in France. His son James became a catholic prelate and, in 1687, one of the four catholic bishops of England, with the title of Vicar Apostolic. The family remained catholic until Bereleigh was sold in 1795 to pay off the gambling debts of Edward Constable, a direct descendant of Bartholomew Smith.
In the seventeenth century, the farmhouse at Bereleigh was similar in layout and function to the other houses we have analysed. We know from the will, in 1701, of John Luffe, tenant of ‘Bralye’, that it had chambers on two floors for the farmer and his family, as well as a range of service rooms including the kitchen, butteryand milkhouse. Luff left 140 sheep and 30 lambs, 5 cows and 3 bullocks, 16 hogs and pigs. This was a typical seventeenth century farmhouse and, like South Farm and Hill Hampton, it stood among its own fields.
In the 18th century, the Sharrocks of Norfolk were the leading family of East Meon, farming South Farm and leasing lands at Bereleigh.In 1783 and again in 1789, the Diocesan Lease Registers record that the ‘the Site of the Manor and Capital Messuage or Mansion House of East Meon with the Appurtenances … commonly called or known by the name of Courtfarm’was leased by ‘Brownlow, Lord Bishop of Winchester’to ‘Robert Sharrock of Gately in the County of Norfolk’…. Including ‘the Houses, Edifices Buildings Bans Stables Dovehouses Orchards Gardens Arable Lands Meadows Pastures Feedings Woods Underwoods Profits Commodities and Appurtenaces belonging thereto.’ Court rolls and fines record agreements between John, Joseph and Robert Sharrock and a variety of occupants of properties at Bereleigh dated from 1721 to 1834. The Sharrocks continued to lease part of Bereleigh until well into the 19thcentury.
For more detail about the history of Bereleigh, click here for a PDF.