Crofton’s history starts with its geology and the creation of the Crofton gap, where the headwaters of the Bedwyn stream broke through a ridge of chalk to flow north-eastwards towards Froxfield. Long before the Anglo-Saxons settled in Crofton, the area served as the location of one of the largest causewayed camps in the country. Yet so little is known of this period of history.
Geography has shaped modern Crofton, and the path of the Bedwyn stream has provided a narrow route not only for roads, but also for an canal and the railway. Only the Romans could build a road from Winchester to Cunetio across the grain of this landscape. Along this road lies Crofton farm, the probable site of Crofton Brayboeuf manor. South of the Bedwyn stream lies Freewarren farm, the probable location of Crofton Fitzwarren manor. These two manors were created out of the Crofton estate, which belonged to Alfred de Marlborough in 1086. Today, Crofton is famous for its Beam Engines and the canal, but in mediaeval times, there were two watermills along the Bedwyn stream. Crofton’s mediaeval history is fortunately better documented than its prehistory, and has a good story to tell.
There were once two manors in Grafton. Neither of these manors existed in 1086. In the late Saxon period, there were four or more estates. During the mediaeval period, the smaller estates were gradually merged, and by the fourteenth century, there were two manors, one held by St. Margaret's priory of Marlborough, and the other by the Havering family.
Sir John de Havering was perhaps the most famous resident of Grafton, although doubtlessly few have heard of him. His name survives locally, not in Grafton, but at Milton Lilbourne, where his father once held a small estate. He prospered under King Edward I, and ended his career as seneschal of Gascony, the only province of France to remain in English hands after the loss of Normandy. Mediaeval records reveal various aspects of life in mediaeval Grafton from debtors and law suits to vineyards. Grafton was once the location of one of two local vineyards; the other lay just outside Bedwyn at North Standen. Now there is not even a local inn.
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