Record title: St Lawrence's
Repository location: Winchester
The village of Wootton St Lawrence is located about three miles west of the centre of Basingstoke. In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries the Wither family held the lease of the manor of Wootton (or Manydown) from the dean and chapter of Winchester . Other important landowners in the parish were the Kingsmills and Ayliffes (VCH: Hampshire, vol 4, pp 239–42, British History Online, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp239-242, accessed 28 October 2018).
The accounts were at first rendered in November, on 2 November and, later, the 17th. In 1595 they moved to 10 January and then to 14 March 1596, 12 March 1597, 14 March 1600 and 1601, 3 April 1602, and 18 March 1603. After that the particular day was no longer recorded. All Saints' Day remained (or returned to being) an important accounting day, because a memorandum of 1613 indicates that anyone holding any of the church stock must on All Saints' Day produce either the stock or a pledge for its security. The churchwardens did not try to balance their budget each year but would allow the church stock to decrease until they felt it needed a boost: the first rate was collected in 1610, when there had been no ale or other big money maker for five years. Other rates followed in 1616, 1619, 1623, 1625, 1635, 1636, 1637, 1638, and 1640 – suggesting that in the late 1630s they decided to make the rate an annual one, as it became after the Restoration.
Bound inside the manuscript are two leaves of parchment front and back, the original cover. They were identified by the assistant keeper of manuscripts at the British Library in 1951 as fragments of a fourteenth-century manuscript of a philosophical treatise in Latin. In a blank space on the dorse of the last parchment leaf is written, 'The chourche booke off Wotton/ made by thomas Aylyff the ffirst and second yere/ of Pelyp & mary Kyng & quene/ and in ye xx day of ffebryare/ In ye yere of ower lord God .18.104.22.168.' Other originally blank areas of the parchment manuscript contain memoranda, including a list of goods lent to the church by Thomas Ayleffe (no date, p 4).
1558–87, 1594–7, 1600–40, 1662–75; English; paper; iii + 128 + ii; 270mm x 194mm; modern pencil pagination (pagination at front includes the two parchment leaves probably originally used as cover); good condition but pages giving accounts of 1598 and 1599 have been torn out, as stubs with writing on them can be seen in between pp 46 and 47 (other gaps may be similarly explained, although the one from 1641 to 1661 may be due to the Civil War interrupting the keeping of records); brown leather binding, probably contemporary with the last quire of paper (accounts from 1662 on), cover tied shut with white leather thongs, title on front cover in black ink and a late 17th-c. hand: '1558–1675 | Churchwardens Book | Wootton St Lawrence.'