Category Archives: History

A Holy Hinterland

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Drivers on the A33, have you ever wondered what this is?

The M3 and A33 run close to each other for several miles to Winchester. In between these 2 roads are pockets of history hidden away, which could easily get forgotten about.

One such curiousity I pass on the A33, near Popham, and I have happened to find out a bit more what it is…

On first appearance it looks like a wall to a property, shielding the noise of the traffic, or maybe it is to do with the motorway.  Whilst I had been researching another idea for the blog at a nearby spot, using the phone maps, helped me pin it’s location…

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The curious rectangle… © Google maps

There’s quite a lot that can be said about the A33 road layout here – (going back to when the M3 ended and merged into the A33, before 1985), but for now, I’m drawn towards the grass rectangle marked between the 2 roads. Its marked on current O.S. maps.

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I can’t see any relation to the road or other properties. So my instict was to look at older maps of the same spot. (The National Library of Scotland has a brilliant resouce for peeling back the layers of time…)

So, going back in time we can see a symbol marked for a church on the spot.

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O.S map from circa 1885

By the time we get to a post war O.S. map, its marked as a cemetery, but no church is marked by this stage – intresting…

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But then below, on this 1950’s One-Inch map suggests there is a building, but no name…

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I saw enough to make me want to go on foot and explore the site in a bit more detail. The layby by here, sadly seems a spot for fly-tipping. The track is surfaced, but slowly being covered by a creeping moss. I sense its a place of debauchery from time to time! The track is defined so it looks like I can go on. I have to be honest here and say that earlier in the day curiousity had got the better of me, so I had an idea of what I’m going to find, but its still exciting, if a bit creepy!

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The track slowly turning to moss

So I’m glad its still daylight…  There are iron gates beneath forboding trees. It seems something out of a Hammer Horror film…

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© Nigel Smith
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The gates… © Nigel Smith
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Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

So here it is.. Popham Cemetery. There are some ‘recent’ war graves from WW2 in here and scattered some other plots, but that’s only half the story. The maps tell there was a church here at some point, and I want to find out what happened to it…

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looking inside Popham Cemetery © Nigel Smith

Looking back again over the maps… on the 1888 -1913 survey, at last I have a name for the church “St. Catherines”. We have the site, but with no evidence of building now. So what become of it?

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St Catherine’s Church

I really want to see an old photo of what it looked like… I have been able to find several sources that tell me about St. Catherine’s, (or St Katherine’s Church, as older documents refer to it). I also got in touch with Church of England Record Centre in Southwark to see what information they held. It seemed they had similar accounts to what I had found, and parish records, but sadly no photographic evidence they knew of. Still, I have an invite to go up and see the originals, which I may well do!

The Church & The Popham connection

I’ve discovered The Popham family is linked to the fortunes of this church. The first mention of the Popham family can be traced back to the 13th Century to a Gilbert de Popham, (c1195 – 1251). It seems from a time after the Norman Conquest, his family came into possession of an estate tied with lands of Hyde Abbey near Winchester. The De Pophams became known as The Pophams, and their name was associated to the manor.

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The Popham coat of arms (centre) and examples in that can be found at Colyton, Devon & Wellington, Somerset

Already aspiring to law making and governace in Hampshire, Henry Popham (c. 1339 – 1417/18) was Sherif of Hampshire. Later branches of the Popham family began to hold other estates in Berkshire, Somerset and Devon. Some of these decendents were to become influential figures in British politics and courts, such as Sir John Popham (c. 1531-1607) the Lord chief Justice & Edward Popham (1610–1651).

One plausable naming of the church could be attributed to a Medieval interest there was in saints and pilgrimage. ‘The cult of St Catherine‘ gained popularity specially in Northern European countries during the 13th & 14 centuries, with a fascination of her life and Martyrdom. In fact, St. Catherine’s Hill, near Winchester was named after her, and was a popular place of pilgrimage – some 15 miles from Popham. There are other parallels from research I’ve carried out that suggest to me, The wider Popham Family held St. Catherine, (or Katherine) in high esteem. John Popham (c. 1395 – c. 1463), Treasurer to Henry VI, rebuilt St. Sepulchre Church, on Newgate Street, London around 1450, and the church had been know as ‘fraternity of St. Catherine‘. A later John Popham (1603-1637), was a fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. St Catherine is it’s patron saint, and their chapel is named after her. Popham himself gave a large donation towards the installation of the screen. In fact the family crest was there, but the Chapel was remodelled again in the 1857. However, some of the glass work survives and can be seen.

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(You can read more of The Pophams history in these articles here and  here.)
George Popham (1550–1608) left Somerset to establish a Colony that would bear his name in Maine, North America. (For more Interest in the Popham colony see here.)

An Older Church…

The M3 divides them now, but the Church and the Manor were once more accessable to each other, and from the documents I’ve seen say there was an older church. The original church is referenced in The National Gazetter (1868) as ‘ajoining the Earl of Popham’s Mansion’. The British History Online site says the old church ‘stood at the back of the manor farm’, saying very little survived and talks of the new church… 

Old maps seem to back this up. (Taylors – 1751, below), whilst not the most accurate representation, implies that a church was closer to the manor and the example clearly sets it away from the main road… Milnes map 40 years later, also shows a church ajoining a house, not by the road.

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Taylors map 1751
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Milnes map 1791

Having walked around Popham, The court has its wall around it (which looks easily several hundred years old), and does it’s job stopping any viewing so I’m none the wiser in suggesting the old church’s location…

I’ve really been hoping to find some evidence of the old church – something physical to make a connection, so you can imagine my delight in finding the font from the original church now resides in St. Micheal’s North Waltham! As its stands, this is the only surving artifact known of… (some tiles were mentioned as being used in the ‘new church’ but alas no more).

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The15th Century font from St. Catherines © Richard Tanner

Its that Man again… A new church

The O.S. maps I started with, (from late 19th Century onwards), show the church sited by the Winchester Road. It had a chancel and nave and a belfry for one bell.And its here a name pops up I’ve heard of before – by the 19th Century, Popham Court was in possession the of Lord Ashburton. It seems that by 1875 the old church in some state of disrepair, so Baring  financed the building of a new church. BHO describes it : “The church of St. Catharine is a building of flint with stone dressings, erected in 1879, in a modern Gothic style, at a cost of £2,500, defrayed by Lord Ashburton”. Like before, it may have also been a convienent reason to move the site away from his residence. I now know there are several other Churches rebuilt as projects by Lord Baring in villages ajoining his lands such as nearby Woodmancott. He certainly seemed happy to finance these projects.

A vicarage & final years

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Site of the old vicarage in relation to church
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Possibly the old gates?

The ‘new’ church was to survive less than 100 years. The main problem always for a church here was a small population it relied on. With its restraints it shared a vicarage with Woodmancott. Not easy to picture, again, the Motorway has cut through older lanes though I tried to join the pieces…

Whilst in the local library, still hoping to find a photo, I did find a couple of articles from the Basingstoke Gazette, written by local Journalist and historian Arthur Attwood. He speaks of passing the church on journeys he made, and he felt it ‘looked comparatively new.’ He also thinks the reason the church closed, was due to structural damage from nearby bombs dropped in World War 2, (maybe jettisoned after a raid?), but by around 1950, the church had been pulled down.

In 65 years or so, traces of a church have all but gone… The Cemetery is maintained, but closed and nature is taking over the roads. Its amazing how easily we loose our links to history. What was once connected to Popham Court may well have been more of architectural interest, whilst its replacement not in exisitance long enough to be historical value. But I’m still on that quest for that photo… and will add it here if I find one!

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Snowkley

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Looking South from St Leonards Church © Nigel Smith

A trip out, with the rare experience of snow visiting North Hampshire…

Oakley doesn’t need snow to look pretty, but I took the oportunity to get out for a walk between the blizzard conditions we had Thursday and Friday this week, (March 1-2 2018). It was the first day of Spring, but winter wasn’t quite done with us yet…

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Village Pond, Oakley © Nigel Smith

The village centre is a conservation area. Popular with walkers and cyclists, one can find a pub and a coffee shop less than half a mile a way for refreshment. Could have done with a coffee today!

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18th Century Barn, next to East Oakley House © Nigel Smith

Further up Rectory Lane is the Church. There was a time when ‘Church Oakley’ and ‘East Oakley’ were in effect 2 villages, clustered around their farms.

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The 2 Oakley’s – circa 1890’s © Ordance Survey

 

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St. Leonards Church, Oakley © Nigel Smith
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The old village post office, Oakley © Nigel Smith

Over the East Oakley side, there are some great walks and old woodlands to explore. There has been a lot of history on Battledown, from an ancient route called the Harrow Way, a Roman Road disecting it, and the possible site of a battle between Saxons and the Danes.

 

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Edge of Wells Copse © Nigel Smith
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Wells Copse © Nigel Smith
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Wells Copse © Nigel Smith

 

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Closer to home!  © Nigel Smith

 

A30 Tales – Tower Hill

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The old and new ways of travel – Milestone on The A30, and The M3 beyond © Nigel Smith

This article could have been called ‘A Tale of 2 Junctions, and a half’ as it’s really a companion piece to my earlier blog on the M3.

When the first stage of the M3 Motorway was built, Junctions 7 and 8 arrived, changing the function and access to the existing routes The A30 and the A33. I looked at Dummer, North Waltham and Popham, villages effected along the A30.

Dummer, in Hampshire, U.K. has several roads serving it, most going under or over the motorway now. There is one road that now comes to an abrupt halt at the M3 motorway.
When the motorway arrived a new road was built, close The Sun Inn, which went underneath the motorway.

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Up to date A30 © Ordnance Survey

What the new map doesn’t show so clearly is the lane carrying on across the A30. It took a couple of passing glances to realise this was an original route to Dummer, which the old maps confirmed.

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Pre motorway, the old lane to Dummer in the 1960’s © Ordnance Survey

So I undertook this photo essay to try to follow the route where I could. Starting from the crossroads at The A30, the lane comes from North Waltham and was called ‘Maidenthorne Lane’.

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Junction for North Waltham © Nigel Smith
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Not to be confused with the lesser known landmark in London… © Nigel Smith

At the juction is the Tower Hill  Guest house, (which looks quite spacious and set back). Looking at the maps, the name relates to Tower Hill Farm over in Dummer.

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© Nigel Smith

There are a couple more properties on the left hand side, and though the original course comes to end, a new track winds round to the side.

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© Nigel Smith

After this point I couldn’t see any more properties marked on old maps, until Dummer. This may have been a deciding factor in it being decided to close it off, and a new road built to navigate the motorway. The M3 was opened in 1971.

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A quick glance back  down the lane to the A30…© Nigel Smith

The missing route to Dummer

We need to go a visit the other end of the lane to see where it came out into Dummer…

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© Google Maps showing the new road to Dummer
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The bit in pink shows the surviving part of the lane

On Google Maps, through a field now farmed, there looks like maybe faint markings  where the original lane travelled. It’s been less than 50 years since a road was here!

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© Nigel Smith

Above You can see the lane snaking from North Waltham in the distance. The junction by the guest house is in the dip, and the motorway is obscured from view. I think where I’m standing would have been on it’s course.

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The point where the lane joined? © Nigel Smith

As I’m at Dummer, it’ll be rude no to visit. On the left there is a newish sign for ‘Tower Hill’. I guess these cottages use this in their address (and not ‘Up Lane’ which the new road is called). This in my mind helps joins up the two ends of the lane nicely, but I can’t confirm it yet.

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Tower Hill is still on the sign post…

If anyone from Dummer or has connections has any information, I’d love to hear more. What did the missing lane look like? If anyone has evidence of the lost part from memory or even a photo where the lane is now lost, that would be great to see!

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Tower Hill Farmhouse in Dummer on the right © Nigel Smith

I also would like to know more why the Farm was called ‘Tower Hill’ if anyone can shed some light the local history?

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The back of Tower Hill Farm, a listed barn © Nigel Smith

A Tale of Two Junctions

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The opening of the M3 Motorway © The Gazette

A photo essay showing the changes when Junctions 7 & 8 of the M3 arrived…

So this one maybe a bit ‘niche’, but the story must be commonplace across the country. Motorways bulldozed their way through a landscape, and like the railways before them, changed the status quo of maybe hundreds of years. These two junctions are my nearest in terms of location, and for almost 15 years they marked the outpost of the M3.

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M3 Junctions 7 & 8 today © Ordnance Survey
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The way it was in the 1960’s, before the arrival of the M3 © Ordnance Survey

Part 1 Junction 7 – Dummer

As motoring increased as a means of transport, the traffic jams through Basingstoke on the A30 and A33 were notorious. Residents were curious and probably relieved when the ‘London to Basingstoke’ Motorway scheme was announced in the 60’s. The first Junctions to become ‘3 – 8’ opened in May and June 1971. At 7, whilst avoiding the village centre of Dummer, several access lanes from the A30 were effected by the construction.

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Timeline of A30 near Dummer and arrival of Junction 7 © Ordnance Survey

A bit of background…

The Oakley to Dummer road passed through where Junction 7 was planned. It was also in effect the death knell for Kempshott House. (Read more on Kempshott House here.) The road from Oakley is called ‘Trenchards Lane’. It’s a narrow, windy lane which I use daily, (I shouldn’t really…) After the last sharp bend near Southwood Farm, the road comes to a junction on the A30.

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Trenchards Lane meeting the A30 © Nigel Smith

There were, and still are very few properties along this road – Oakdown Farm being the exception I could see.

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Over the  junction the lane carried straight on… © Nigel Smith
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Oakdown Farm is on the right, just before the lane is blocked © Nigel Smith

This is as far as the old road goes now. We’ll trace the original route as it carried on in a moment, but turning back, if a traveller was comming from Dummer, this would have been the view back towards Trenchards Lane.

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looking back © Nigel Smith

The ‘lost’ Section

We now have to walk along the A30 a little and turn right onto the spur road toward the junction 7 to look for signs of the old lane…

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© Nigel Smith

The line of the trees from Oakdown Farm is the course of the lane.

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© Nigel Smith

When walking on the spur, which has a gradual rise, looking to the right, the last part of the lane is just about definable with the trees. I’m convinced this was its route.

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© Nigel Smith

But eventually, the lane runs into the edge where the Spur road was being built and no traces can be seen.

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last traces of the lane into the embankment © Nigel Smith

Looking ahead, the spur and roundabout at Junction 7 have wiped away all traces, but looking at the old maps, the lane carried on through the pine trees, pretty much in the middle. (The M3 is beneath out of view).

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Junction 7 © Nigel Smith

Out on the other side…

Walking around the junction is a bit hair rasing when crossing the fast slip lanes – but once on the other side, the road is as it was. Very quickly the feel of a country lane returns, as you walk away from the motorway noise towards Dummer.

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The road to Dummer © Nigel Smith

Just on the left is a turning into Kempshott Park which would have been the entrance to the esate from the south. The name lives on for now, but with the development planned, the old golf course which has preserved the parkland will soon be change.

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Kempshott Park, revisited..? © Nigel Smith

If you would like to read more about the M3 construction and data see the useful CBRD website  here

Part 2 – Junction 8 – Popham

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l-r Popham Fork in the 1960’s, and J8, and Interchange from the 70’s, to now © Ordnance Survey

In some ways junction 8 has more of a ‘story’ to tell, partly because of its spiraling construction. When The M3 arrived, The Popham Interchange was joining 2 already historic routes, The A303 would arrive too, shifting their importance further.

Motorway etiquette was still quite a new thing for most in the early 70’s, and meant that how you a joined a motorway mattered and had to be controlled affair.

Historic Locations – Where the A30 and A33 divided…

For centuries, ‘Popham Fork’ as I’ve seen it refered to, was where 2 main roads met. The West road to Salisbury, Yeovil, Exeter and onto Cornwall, and a South road, to Winchester & Southampton, and The New Forest. When these became numbered they were the A30 and A33 respectively.

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Popham Fork looking south, The A30 turns right to Salisbury and the West. © Nigel Smith
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looking North, Right becomes the A33 to Winchester © Nigel Smith

Around these parts, our connections to Jane Austen are rightly commented on.  The Wheatsheaf pub on the A30 in Dummer, would have been known to Jane and her family, as it was the coaching stop closest to the family home in Steventon, 2 miles away.

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The Wheatsheaf Inn alongside the A30 near North Waltham © Nigel Smith

Historic Locations – A33 Fork, North & Southbound

Originally when The M3 motorway opened in 1971 it started & finished at Popham, barely a quarter of a mile away. When the M3 was to be extended south in 1985, the slip roads were to alter again, but in the original plan, The A33 was split into 2 lanes, which I’ve tried to explain beneath…

Northbound A33 traffic carried on the old route. But the southbound traffic would filter off to the left, go under the motorway before rejoining the A33, as the motorway ended. (see below).

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Northbound the A33 follows the original course… © Nigel Smith
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… But southbound it filtered off. © Nigel Smith

Today a T- exists into Popham Court lane. It’s great we still have this little bit of this motorway history preserved, so we can visualise it quite well as the old slip lane is still in use, but not for its original purpose!

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… under the M3…  © Nigel Smith

Below shows were the slip road used to join the A33. When The motorway was extended in 1985, the southbound slip could no longer rejoin at the A33.

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Path of the original sliproad rejoining the A33 pre 1985 © Nigel Smith
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No longer able to join… © Ordnance Survey

Instead, the road was extended alongside the motorway, to join into with Popham Court Lane.

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A ‘new’ stretch to Popham Court © Nigel Smith

 Historic Locations  – A30 Fork, North and Soundbound.

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Thomas Milne’s Map 1791

So to the other leg of the Junction, off the A30 route. In effect, the A30 which is signposted from Basingstoke with some reverence is about to ‘give way’ to the mighty A303 – the replacement Tunk road to the West, and for several miles after the A30 is lost. But originally when the Motorway was opened it was for A30.

I had to check out where I could access safely on foot. I did find there was a footpath that would take me right through the middle of the lanes! But first off the A30, I passed these cottages which I found to be one of the most striking views of the exercise. I wonder how the original occupants felt when they knew the motorway was coming and then when the bridge was opened?

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© Nigel Smith

Through the tunnel the footpath comes out into a green field, but between 4 lanes of the motorway lanes merging… If you look at the map, The M3 starts off before dividing quickly. Surprisingly, Its not as noisy at this spot as I thought it might be.

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Meadow Sweet? The M3 feeder lane heading towards London and junction 7 © Nigel Smith
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From this field, looking South, the A303 lies ahead where the lanes merge and M3 ends… © Nigel Smith

 

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Beneath the M3 © Nigel Smith

The footpath comes up to the A33 (top) and M3 feeder to A303 (below)

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© Nigel Smith

 

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© Ordnance Survey

At the old A30 route near the Crematorium, the road divides in the same way as we saw on the A33. The left fork, southbound will join the A303 after the M3 ceases.

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The A30 splits… © Nigel Smith

I take a quick look on foot along the southbound section – Here the M3 from London runs overhead, feeding onto the A303…

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Under the M3 © Nigel Smith

This image below from the A30, looking North, shows this stretch of road pretty much the same as it has been for centuries, with North Waltham to the left.

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A30 North © Nigel Smith

Locations – The M3 Intruder?

Not so easy to get imagery unless from a moving vehicle, and I have wanted my focus to be on the original roads perspective or the arrival of the Motorway, but we can’t ignore the Elephant in the room! The M3 sends its tentacles in all directions dividing up the surrounding land. But when you isolate it, something rather different appears…

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The M3 snakes © Ordnance Survey

I think it’s design looks quite elegant. The slip roads, which are needed add the complexity.

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M3 Spur north joining the M3 © Nigel Smith
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The same Spur south, towards the A303 © Nigel Smith

So these roads are here now and almost 50 years on and we can’t turn back the clock. On maps it doesn’t look like anything could live within the web of roads – houses or wildlife, but it does. In the midst of these roads, I also found several pockets of quiet I wasn’t expecting.  The villages of North Waltham and Dummer were preserved, but for those on the route I’m sure the arrival of the M3 did in some cases seriously effected their ways of life. Any one moving to the area since wouldn’t have the same shock to contend with and would be choosing to live there.

The House Baring All

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Recently, I’ve been pre-occupied with starting the new job, that I’ve not had the opportunity to think about new subjects for the blog. My new commute takes me by a place I had heard of before, that had witnessed a dramatic change to its appearance. I just had to make some time to do this, with Christmas approaching fast.

Stratton Park, sits pretty much mid-way between Basingstoke & Winchester, off the A33. The M3 now cuts along its western edge, but there some have also been some dramatic changes to the house. Despite seeing photos, (and its impossible not to have an opinion on it when you see them),  it was still an eye-opener to witness in it’s ‘current’ form…

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As the above map shows, The Silchester – Winchester roman road runs on the Western edge and sadly much of this stretch is under under the M3 Motorway. The village of East Stratton at its southern boundary, like many villages close to an estate, has found its fortunes effected by the landowner’s decision on more than one occasion.

The Walk

I finally arranged a time to go and explore. Saturday December 9th started off quite cold and by lunchtime the bright sun of the morning had turned watery. Still wrapped up well, the frost had mostly cleared except for a few pockets. Parking at the village hall and turning right to the small village of East Stratton, I passed the church on my left.
I was surprised by the quiteness considering we were so close to the Motorway, but the stretch nearby is just 2 lanes and maybe a factor, The village is shielded by woodland.

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East Stratton’s ‘new’ Church© Nigel Smith

The first junction I came to, by the war memorial I turned left.  The road was unamed, but it was a right of way. I thought I knew the purpose of my walk, but here I had my first surprise with the varied types of cottages of different era’s around me. Feeling seasonal with decorations displayed on doors, but it was a real architectural surprise. The cold dampness of the day added to their rustic charm. As thatch cottages, maybe it is only now we desire them for the quaintness, but in the past they may have not been seen as so desirable to the nearby gentry.

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© Nigel Smith
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© Nigel Smith

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This is emphasised by the last house on left, which was quite large – and not thatched.
I assume connected to the estate in some way, and quite separate in style having a ‘grander’ presence than other properties. The road became more unmade and It was here I got my first glimpse of my destination – the ‘new’ Stratton Park.

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First glimpse of the house…© Nigel Smith

But before we look at the house, The second surprise of the walk. Marked as a cross on the O.S. Landranger Map, the more detailed maps tells us this was actually the site of East Stratton’s first Church.

What I didn’t appreciate at the time of the walk, but from looking at some old maps since, was to find the village was bigger in the past. Though probably not as acurate as newer maps, we can see dwellings clearly marked on lanes (I have indicated in yellow). It seems also like the ‘centre’ of the village with a broad clearing, (almost acting as a village square?), and more importantly the site of the old church makes some sense. On later maps, a school was still shown to be in use, and now as one of the houses that has managed to survive. I would think this helps link the relationship between the Villages of  ‘East’ and ‘West’ Stratton in a way which is not so obvious now. They were always seperated by the main Winchester to London Road, but today they seem distinctly apart as access has been changed.

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East Stratton on the 1810 O.S. map shows more lanes and dwellings in the village…
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Where the lanes would have been on todays landscape

We are fortuntate to have reference to the old Church in J.P. Neale’s engraving of the house. From this angle, it does look ‘close’ to the property, but that sounds like I’m justifying its removal! I don’t know what sort of man Francis Baring, the Earl of Northbrook was, but he didn’t want the church, or villagers too close to his estate…

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Stratton Park 1818 by J.P. Neale
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Site of the original All Saints Church © Nigel Smith

The decision to remove The medieval church of ‘All Saints’ from the Stratton Park, (like at nearby Laverstoke), demonstrated an ‘absolute power’ landowners could wield in pretty much being able to do what they wanted on their land, and few could stop them.  What ever would the villagers of East Stratton felt, having their place of worship for hundreds of years moved as well as their dwellings? The site of the old church was duly marked with this cross – seen as ‘sacred’ land. However the landlord, The 4th Baron Ashburton,  went about it, The village was provided a new church, which was dedicated in 1888, and was the one I passed earlier as I started he walk. To the casual eye, this church looks like it has been there longer than 130 years…

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Storm damaged plaque from 1989, at the foot of the cross

My main reason for this walk has be to see the house. Surprise number 3. As I said, It’s impossible not to have a reaction to Stratton Park and yet I’m not as shocked by it as I thought I might be… True, the 60’s structure hasn’t aged well, if we are talking purely about the materials. It looks quite tired. At a distance it reminds me of some examples of post war architecture with the idea to juxtapose old with new architcture. (I’m thinking of examples I have seen at St. Lukes quad in Exeter, or The Guildhall in the City of London).

In The 60’s, The 7th (and current) Lord Baring set about pulling down the house and replacing it with modernist build by Stephen Gardiner and Christopher Knight between 1963 – 65. The only feature of the main house to survive was the Portico.

John Baring had a reputation of being ruthless dispensing with the old, such as remodelling the Family’s banking Headquarters in London, (and later at their ‘other’ Hampshire estate, The Grange, some 5 miles from Stratton park), where Baring also wanted to be ‘experimental’ in doing away with much of the original house, but was discouraged by the Government.

As we have seen ‘Basher Baring’ is a term which manages to hold some historic context to this site, as well as being a catchy dig by those horrifed by his approach. Yet he had his supporters at the time. ‘Country Life’ Magazine run an article in 1967, praising the bold statement.  Some commenators such as Pesvner were intrigued, if not fully committal. Even in more recent times, the house has been critiqued in the national press , and I must say seeing the images of its interior looking out, creates quite a different response – maybe closer the architect’s original ambition.

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© Nigel Smith

At the time, I think I probably would have seen the architecutral merits in helping re-inventing the house. You could argue the house had always been in a state of modification. Yet now, 50 years on the house feels sad in it’s current form, losing some of its lustre. ‘New’ can be seen as cutting edge, but not always right in hindsight. Our attitides to country houses and their upkeep has changed in the last 50 years. We are probably more conservative toward conserving buildings than we were in the 1960’s.

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Parkland © Nigel Smith

Carrying on across the parkland, the footpath through the grounds diverts to the left. The ‘new build’ becomes obscured by the trees and to see around behind the portico shows how seperate this feature really is, standing proud. The brick gates to the house, I assume are original, and you can get quite a good glimpse of them. The path runs along the edge (and the motorway). This would have also been the course of the Roman Road.

 

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All that is left… The Portico © Nigel Smith
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The gates © Nigel Smith

The footpath contends with the noise of the motorway as you walk alongside it. Walking around the edge of the grounds, the house feels privately tucked away behind trees again. The footpath joins a drive and a bridge crosses over the Motorway before you meet the A33 road. Its marked as right of way, but you would feel ‘discouraged’ from starting from this end with the signage from the road stating its a private road.

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Looking back towards East Stratton © Nigel Smith

So I come back through the park, feeling I have taken enough in, and want to glance at Stratton park once more. There is a right away which would make the walk more circular, back to the Village hall, but I have enjoyed the terrain, and I will save that part for another time!

The History bit…

There is a a lot of reference to Stratton park online an in books on Hampshire.

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Stratton Park 1818 by J.P. Neale

The park and ownership, can be traced back to a monastic grange in the possession of Hyde Abbey, in Winchester c.900 A.D. For more information on Hyde Abbey read here.

With the disolution of the monastries, The land was seized in 1544 A.D. and the Manor of East Stratton came into the possession of an Edmund Clerke. It was soon to be purchased by the Earl of Southampton, Sir Thomas Wriothsley. There looks to be some conflict from sources I have seen, over exact dates  but the development from a manor into a country house and estate saw many alterations. Over time, from the Earls of Southampton, the house passed to The Duke of Bedford’s through marriage, and In the late 18th Century, the house and gardens were extended by Lord Russel – Fifth Duke of Bedford, (1765 -1802). In a later incarnation, much of the house, seen in the prints and early photography was designed by George Dance. The gardens were developed by Gertrude Jekyll).

For more on the history of the house, see here

The Baring Family are known for their London Banking history.  In 1798, the bank’s joint founder, Francis Baring purchased Stratton House. Hampshire has historically benefited by being close to London, but an easy retreat to get to and entertain. The house stayed in the family intil 1929 when on the death of the Lord Northbrook, when it was sold on to a Miss James, who converted it into a girls school.  What may be less known is that the house was re-purchased by the Baring Family after WW2.

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Stratton Park by R. Ackermann, 1828
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A Photo of the Stratton Park from the 1930’s © Lost Heritage

 Then and Now…

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The estate is well hidden from the motorway, but if you are driving by you can get a hint. From the M3,  southbound a couple of miles after junction 7 & before the Winchester Services, there is a little glimpse of an lodge that was part of the estate. On the western edge of the park there are 3 lodge houses that were at one time connected to the estate.The old O.S.maps refer to it as ‘London Lodge’.

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‘London Lodge’ from the M3 © Nigel Smith
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London Lodge, now a listed buiding © Nigel Smith

The Lodge along the A33 on the middle edge of the park is called, er Middle Lodge. Its not easy to stop along here as the dual carraigeway starts again, but its style is worth appreciating.

 

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Middle Lodge © Nigel Smith

The Southernmost Lodge is ‘Winchester Lodge’, in the direction of… I’m sure there is more to be said on these another day, but not in this blog…

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Winchester Lodge – The South end of the Estate © Nigel Smith

 

Not Quite Abra – Cadabra… but still a great walk!

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A walk I undertook back in the summer, to search out a Bronze Age barrow near Overton.

Growing up on the Dorset/Wiltshire border, I guess I was a bit spoilt with the amount of barrows and henges everywhere… (Its the place to see numerous earthworks, plus the unique neolithic Dorset ‘Cursus’ crossing the landscape).  Barrows are evident in Hampshire, but to a lesser degree, (maybe as the soils of heathland, and towards the coast are sandy they are poorer and therefore eroded. I suspect farming methods too have helped erase them). I have discovered the White Barrow near where I live in Oakley which is well preserved, but I’d seen a barrow marked on the map near Overton called Abra, which looked worth a visit – just for the name. Who was Abra – An ancient local chieftain or respected leader?

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© Ordnance Survey

The start of my walk, was 9 miles to the west of Basingstoke, in area called Southington, just out of Overton and near the River Test.  I parked up alongside the B3400, the Old London Rd. Walking up a lane of flint cottages, the track narrowed and up a slipppery chalky slope, came to a junction where I turned left onto what looked like an older, well trod lane. The North Downs chalk was showing through in places. I wondered if this route had carried locals for years, (as it eventualy went back into Overton)? It was quite similar to the Harrow Way.

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After a quarter of a mile along, I turned right on a footpath – the track was very similar, and lined with low trees and hedgerows. With the dappled light, I appreciated some protection from the afternoon sun!  When the trees ceased and I was out into the open space called ‘White Hill.’

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Overton was the other side of these trees

I was enjoying the weather, (and somehow conducting a job enquiry with a recruiter), and passed a few people but not many. To one friendly dog walker, I said about the Barrow, but she’d never heard of it. In a way, it encouraged me that I had shared with a long term resident something she had not know of. Which is one of this Blogs goals!

As I went south away from Overton, the path became quite overgrown and uneven, but it was a real haven for butterflies like this one beneath I photographed…

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After 15 minutes,  the gentle undulating slope brought me to a couple of cottages called Lower Whitehill. It was at this point I turned right, through a gate. I could just strain to hear the traffic on the A303, but I was enjoying what the landscape had to offer. The track I turned into looked narrower on my map, than it really  was, and it also suggested it was an unmade road. But as I kept walking, I thought how good a standard it was, for connecting the farms scattered around Lavertsoke. I was on the look out for this barrow now – thinking its position would be quite proud. I kept looking back to the map scanning the area to locate it.  Well… as you can see below – It was quite subtle. The erosion is probably down to farming. To be honest, I felt a little dissapointed when I got up close. (Maybe my Dorset examples had spoiled me).

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Where is the barrow?

I decided with my objective achieved, I might as well sit down there anyway, enjoy the sun and have my tea and cake. On the approach to the barrow, there had been a slight rise which when I was beside it, I began to appreciate its location. The other side of the barrow I realised It looked out in many directions, unobstructed. The effect, (and importance), of the barrow was revealing itself, as if it was saying, ‘I’ve been here longer than you, mate’ It would have been seen clearly around from several locations for centuries.

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This is the Abra Barrow… A shadow of its former self.

As I took in the surrounding countryside, I found it a beautiful spot to be in on a sunny afternoon -‘pastoral’ I think they call it… Hedgerows, Cattle and sheep and gentle rolling hills. I had that feeling when you visit somewhere new, even on holiday, but this was barely 5 miles from my home!

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As I continued my walk along the lane, the road was still of a good standard.  Confusingly, I thought the map implied that the track would end, and I would be back onto a path, but the road carried on. Maybe my  O.S. map needs replacing!
There was a farm and some more cottages and the landscape it seemed kept getting more pictureseque to me. Hearing somechildren playing I thought what a wonderful place to grow up in.  That feeling of space not always easy to find in The South of England. Another half mile alongthe lane, I turned right and rejoined the track I was was on earlier, with the chalk coming through – my walk almost done.

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So, The Abra Barrow initially dissapointed as a monument, but looking back, it was built up on high spot, and would have been seen from places.  I also got rewarded with a lovely tract of countryside 15 years I did know of.

The circular walk was about 4-5 miles and at a leisurely pace, It took around 2 hours.
A few gentle climbs and descents, and mixed terrain, especially on the first half.

Farmed Out

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In the latter 20th Century most of the farms around Basingstoke was sold off to make way for housing.
Their names live on in some of the districts, but what I didn’t expect to find was that many of the farm houses still survive…

Oakridge, South Ham, Buckskin, Brighton Hill, Hatch Warren, Merton, Chineham & Viables are all areas with names taken from the farms they were built on. We can extend this further to farms known as at Popley Field, Bury (Winklebury), Binfields and Lickpit, which is now know as Lychpit.

The case for Park Prewett Farm is slighly different, as the site was selected for the Hospital way before the post war development of Basingstoke, and besides the farm would still have a role tp play in recouperating the patients.

Hatch Warren Farm

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Hatch Warren Farm, now an office complex.

The Farm buildings are still part of Portsmouth Estates, the historic land owner in the area. And whilst all traces of farming have gone and the surrounding land was sold to developers in the 1980’s, these buildings are still in use as offices. Several design studios have located there for its location.

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Hatch Warren Farm c1895 © 2017 James Moody & Sons.
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Same view, July 2017

Its worth mentioning that Hatch Warren Farm was where the pioneering farmer
Rex Paterson O.B.E. based himself and developed his practices in grassland diary farming that have widely influenced the industry post war. (I found this history quite fascinating it its own right, and how important it was to modern farming).
Richard W Hoyles book ‘The Farmer in England”‘ 1650 -1980 has more detail here

Merton Farm

Merton Road gets its name from the farm that was here till the 1950’s. Merton Farm was named after a previous farm, which was closer to town and the ancestral home of Walter de Merton, later a Bishop and Chancellor of England, and founder of the Oxford College.
If you are interested in finding out more about one of Basingstoke’s famous sons see
Rupert Willoughby’s article on his website here…

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Merton Farm alongside Kingsclere Road, less than a mile from the town station.

Farms North of Basingstoke

There was a cluster of neighbouring farms to the north of Basingstoke, where the ‘Oakridge’ and ‘Popley’ estates are now, and a couple of the farm sites still survive.

With the creation of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Houses were needed for the new staff, and in 1952 the first estates in Basingstoke were built. This plan predated Basingstoke being designated as a ‘London Overspill’ town, but was the start of rapid change for the borough.

  • There was also a ‘North Ham Farm‘ South of Poplar Farm. Its footprint can still be seen in the corner of the  Merton Junior/ Infants School.

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Poplar Field Farm (Popley)

Notice the 1896 map above shows a farm called ‘Poplar Field Farm’ I can’t see a Popley anywhere around on this map, but by 1912 the farm was called ‘Popley’. As with Hatch Warren, there are now businesses based in and around the old farm buildings.
What I assume is the Farmhouse now looks a private residence. I could only glimpse the side of the property in the image below.

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Poplar  Field – I assume this was the farmhouse?
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Poplar Field Farm Outbuildings. There are offices opposite the courtyard.

Oakridge Farm

By the 1950’s Oakridge Farm had vanished from the maps, and the A339 Ring Road goes right through where it would have been anyway!

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Been and gone, Oakridge Farm.

Chineham House and Farm

Easily the biggest selection of farm buildings were alongside Chineham House.
Although some suffered the same fate making way for housing, there is still a collection
of farm buildings to see, alongside the listed house. Its quite amazing how these have survived next to the estate, but I’m glad they have…

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Chineham House is 17th Century, but most of the farm buildings are 18th Century structures – but still impressive.

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Chineham Farmhouse Cottages.

Lickpit / Lychpit Farm

With its proximity to Old Basing, the old farm buildings of Lychpit exist around community use, and are therefore much restored in the context of the modern
housing estates. A ‘farm’ was part of a manor dating from the 10th Century,
but the buildings preserved here are 17th Century.
The farmhouse is now Lychpit House – a private residence, in the background
of the photo below.

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A 16th century barn at lychpit – near a Tesco!

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Part of the farm yard, Lychpit.

South and West of Basingstoke

Another cluster of farms that were sold to make way for the growing town amongst others included Buckskin and South Ham farms.

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Buckskin

The farm was created late 18th Century from South Ham Farm.  Today the farmhouse survives, hemmed in by its neighbours, and whilst the property looks ‘safe’ it appears to be in a state of flux with its usage. I think out of all the farms visited this one looks the most ‘isolated’ with it surroundings.

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Lane to Buckskin Farm.

I couldn’t find a photo of the farm, but I believe the above photo shows the hedged lane up to the farm, (to the right), looking towards Fiveways and Kempshott.

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Buckskin Farmhouse July 2017.

South Ham Farm

Now one of the largest estates in Basingstoke. South Ham was also the main farm in the area. Like Oakridge, there is no traces visable as the farm was demolished, but this and Buckskin are in living memory for some. At South Ham, land had been slowly sold off for housing projects for a while, so when in the 1950’s the demand for housing grew, that was it for the farm. Whilst located close to Worting Road there is nothing to see now.

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South Ham farm buildings, just before demolition in 1955

Viables Farm

Viables, with its history around it just being off the ancient Harrow Way and The Alton Light Railway, ceased being farmed in the 1960’s. It had been part of the Portsmouth Estateand it was known for its pedigree milking cattle. By the 1970’s the council and local campaigners saved the farm from demolition and now is a complex of arts & crafts units and businesses. Many of the old farm buildings are in use. The farmhouse built in 1939 was renovated.

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Viables now hosts many arts and craft businesses.
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Front of the Viables Farm House which lately has been a restuarant.

Jays Farm

Not so much an area, but an important road for businessses is named after the farm so gets an honourable mention…

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Jays Farmhouse
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The farm yard has houses built on it, but some of the farm buildings are falling into disrepair.

So you can see there are some fine examples of old farm architecture still surviving around Basingstoke. When I started this project I thought I would be just be a case of highlighting the link between the names to the areas of Basingstoke. However, when looking there was a lot more surviving than I thought, and have since found there were and are even more farms out there! It shouldn’t therefore be a surprise that Basingstoke had a Cattle Market until the 1960’s and its industry supported agriculture. Basingstoke changed a lot in the 1950-60’s from a market town to an overspill town for London. Sadly some of the past has been erased, but with closer examination much of the farming past is still in touching distance and brings the countryside very close to the heart of the town.