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The Reformation

Excerpt from the 1567 Rental Survey of East Meon

 

Almost half the parishes in England were confiscated by the Crown between 1536 and 1540, as a consequence of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In 1567, the Diocese of Winchester conducted a survey of the rentals it was receiving from its manors in East Meon; it probably needed to take stock of property it still owned. All Saints lost its rood screen and its wall paintings were defaced, the altar was replaced with a wooden table and the gravestones in the nave were destroyed or moved into the Lady Chapel. For a hundred years, change in villages was slow compared with that in towns and cities, but it was profound.

Piecing together evidence from the 1567 Rental survey and a subsequent Lay Subsidy list of 1586, as well as observations from buildings which survive from this period, we can draw a picture of East Meon village at this time. Its layout was similar to the Domesday period – a cluster of small dwellings dominated by All Saints Church and the Court House; the George Inn was established; yeoman farmers lived in messuages or tofts while subsistence farmers, agricultural labourers and paupers lived in modest dwellings, all of them with a curtilage of land in which to grow vegetables to feed the family and to keep poultry and pigs. The richest man in the village was probably Nicholas Wright and we shall analyse his house and household in some detail.