Andover to Freefolk (9 miles)
On Tuesday 14 Nov (Julian calendar), Henry VII left Andover aiming for a place noted at the time as Freefold, modern-day Freefolk, which stands on the River Test, east of Whitchurch, halfway to Basingstoke, which would be Henry’s destination the next day.
Exiting Andover through the East Field, the London Road (now the B3400) intersects two Roman roads within the first two miles, skirts Harewood Forest, then crosses the Bourne Rivulet near Hurstbourne Priors. The 1892 map shows a bridge and a ford there. Passing through the small town of Whitchurch (probably well-served by inns), Freefolk is not far beyond it, a tiny village, but in Henry’s day there was a manor there (the manor house now gone without trace). It was owned by Sir Reginald Bray, who was upwardly mobile, having been made a knight banneret on the battlefield of Blackheath in 1497. Presumably he had ridden with Henry from Exeter, or not far ahead. Bray became a knight of the Garter in 1501, and there’s a Bray’s Chapel within St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle which he helped to fund. He died in 1503, but during his lifetime he had been a close supporter of Henry. Henry visited Bray again the next year, 1498, at his Edgcote House estate.
In the more modern 1892 map of the area, Manor Farm can be seen near the river. That’s the most obvious hint of the former manor house.