|HCC Site ID:||1196||Parish:||Ashmansworth|
|Designations:||AONB, SSSI, TPOs||Area:|
|Access:||No Public Access||Ownership:||Guest-house / Private|
Location and Site
Crux Easton lies in the west of the borough, 4 miles south of Highclere and 20 miles west of Basingstoke. The settlement of Crux Easton lies in the North Hampshire Downs AONB, on a south facing shoulder of the downs, almost at a cross roads of ancient and modern trackways with direct links onto the ancient Ox Drove that traverses the edge of the downs to the north of the settlement.
The first documented evidence is from 801 AD where the place-name eastun (OE East Farm) appears in a charter. At the time of the Domesday Survey The manor of Crux EASTON was held of the king in chief by Croch the huntsman. It continued with his descendants for over two centuries and derives its name from this family. A medieval church is known to have existed in the 12 century, but demolished in 1775. The present church was erected on the site in the same year. The area around the church & crossroads is most probably the centre of the medieval settlement hence AHAP designation.
In 1292 John de Drokensford obtained licence to impark a wood in Crux Easton, and received of two live bucks and six live does from the king to stock his park, while in 1303 he obtained a grant of free warren in his demesne lands of Crux Easton. During the 1300s the Lisles were overlords of Crux Easton. The original Manor house is thought to have been located to the south west of the present Manor (formerly Crux Easton Farm). Earthworks present locally suggest abandonment during outbreaks of the Black Death.
In the 17th century Edward Lisle made his life’s work the study of agriculture at Crux Easton. His 9 daughters constructed a curious Grotto in the manor grounds, with portraits of friends painted on the surrounding trees. The daughters and their Grotto were celebrated in Alexander Pope’s poem (see Appendix 1) who was a frequent visitor to the Lisle family at Crux Easton.
In the 1579 & 1689 maps of Saxton, the village and church were recorded, no park identified. In 1722 Crux Easton was sold to Dr John Burton headmaster of Winchester College (1724 – 66), and later the manor passed to the Kingsmills, from whom it was purchased by the Herberts and descended to the Earl of Carnarvon. Taylor’s map of 1769 shows the manor, church and rectory and the extent of the park indicated in the woodland. The form of the present settlement dates from the late 18th century.
The 1810 OS Old Series 1” map indicates the extent of Crux Easton Park which extends beyond Crux Easton Wood. The manor house farm has an extensive footprint, with barns and outbuildings enclosing a large yard shown on the tithe apportionment map (c1844). Two large ponds – one in the manor grounds and one the field on the road to Faithfuls hamlet are important features both present in 1844 and indicated on the most recent OS map 1:25000 Explorer 144. Roads and footpaths remain largely as shown on the early 19c maps.
Between 1891-2 the Crux Easton ‘Simplex’ Wind Turbine was constructed on the site alongside the old well house thought to have its origins in the medieval settlement. The wind turbine is still in position although it is not actively pumping water or grinding corn.
From the turn of the 20th century the estate became the home of the de Havilland family (1897) Sir Geoffrey de Havilland was brought up here. He designed the Tiger Moth Aeroplane, and was the founder and inspiration for the De Havilland Aircraft Company.
Sir Oswald Mosley was interned at the Rectory after his release from prison in 1944.
Current description and Summary
The settlement of Crux Easton lies in the North Hampshire Downs AONB, almost at a cross roads of ancient and modern trackways with direct links for cyclists and pedestrians onto the ancient Ox Drove that traverses the edge of the downs to the north of the settlement. These ancient tracks have remained since antiquity, connected with the movement of animals and people from the rich downland pastures in the west.
The extent of the park is marked at the present day by Easton Park Wood in the south-eastern extremity of the parish, and is much reduced from the map information of the early 1800s. The medieval park estate is now fragmented as are the areas of woodland remaining within the Park. Now only the designated ‘ancient semi natural woodland’ in Park Wood and Beech Hanger Copse remain to the south of the settlement.
Significance: Crux Easton Park’s place at a crossroad of the ancient drove roads and current layout has remained unchanged from ancient times. It has been connected with the 17th century poet, wit, and critic Alexander Pope, and his friendship with the Lisle family that resided there. He wrote a poem extolling the virtues of the daughters of the family, and their construction of the Grotto in the woods. No surviving evidence of the grotto exists apart from the present day name.
Crux Easton is the site of the early ‘Simplex’ Wind Turbine constructed at the location of an ancient well thought to date from the medieval village. In the 20th century it has been connected with Sir Geoffrey de Havilland and his importance in aviation history
Landscape Planning Status
Crux Easton Manor and its associated farm buildings, the church of St Michael, and Crux Easton House (formerly the Rectory) lie within the designated Historic Rural Settlement and an Area of High Archaeological Potential (AHAP)
Research: EM Consultants for Basingstoke & Deane, July 2009
Photographs November 2015