Between The Court House and the Park is a fold in the hillside known today at Vineyard Hole, and it is assumed that grapes were grown here for the production of wine. Entries in early Pipe Rolls confirm that the Manor did produce wine in the 13thand 14thcenturies:
1207–8 ‘4 tuns of wine – £4.2s.0d’
1305-6 Pipe Roll: 3 men …. paid to help the gardener dig in the garden for planting vines there … weeding vines sometimes – 12d.
(A tun is equivalent to 252 gallons.) This would not have been for the exclusive use of the Bishop and his guests, like the fresh fish from Fishponds, but for consumption by the famuli of the manor and for sale like the rest of the farm produce. The dates of the entries, 1207 – 1306, lie within the protracted warm period in Hampshire, which ended in 1315, and no wine production was recorded after this.
Today’s place names are modern inventions, and ‘Vineyard Hole’ a 19thcentury fabrication; in the Tithe Apportionment records of 1852, the name is ‘Shepherd’s Hole’, but in the Ordnance Survey map of 1869 ‘Vineyard Hole’ appears for the first time.
The reference in 1305 to the garden suggests that the wine was grown within the curtilage of The Court House. In 2006, the present owners of The Court House planted 1,400 pinot noir and chardonnay vines in the ‘Berrygarden’, which have since produced a notable sparkling wine.