In 1578, Nicholas Knight purchased the Chawton estate. There had been a manor house in the village since the 13th Century, but in 1588 around the time of the Spanish Armada, Knight decided to build a grand house in its place.
Chawton House became known as the Great House 220 years later, thanks to Jane Austen’s association with the family through her brother Edward Austen Knight, who married into it and lived in Chawton House.
Around the same time as the house was being constructed, five minutes away, in the centre of the village, a public house was being built. It took its name from the crest above the Knight family heraldry. A lone friar.
No-one quite knows why a monk was chosen for the Knight family crest, but family historian, Caroline Jane Knight, believes villagers may have coined the name Greyfriar, after the order of Whitefriar monks in nearby Selbourne. Apparently their white robes were somewhat discoloured!
The ‘Greyfriar’ became the Knight family brand and thanks to this rich heritage, our pub shares their brand and carries their coat of arms and the name to this day.