Category Archives: Houses

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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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

 

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.

Kempshott House, in passing

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I Should have gone back earlier, but on a glorious Sunday evening out for a cycle, I decided to look in to see whats becoming to the site of Kempshott House.

Also, as hearing about the Canadian 150th Anniversary yesterday, maybe it reminded me about the former Governor who had lived there in the late 18th Century when he retired.

So there is a lot of development carrying on around the Beggerwood area anyway, and this tract next to the golf course is part of that. When I first visited the site, you could wander on the site of old factory units that had been cleared, and by the time of my last blog the site was closed off. The pictures beneath show the same spot, 2 years apart.

Site of Kempsott House
Comparing O.S. Maps of 1950’s and today
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My first visit and now… A shiny new estate.

The houses are up and people have moved in. I just feel a tinge of sadness most people living there will have no idea what their houses have been built over. Please see my previous blog for a fuller history, but just to summerize for any newcomers, Kempshott Manor was an  estate The Prince Regent, Later George IV, (1762 – 1830), was very fond of, and he could conduct his ‘affairs’ in relative privacy. The house was occupied by several prestigous owners through the years, but by the early 20th century upkeep was expensive, and the property was divided up, and eventually became a grain store. The building of the M3 didn’t help matters as it split through the grounds, but by then it’s prestige was faded.

Anyway, whilst I’m there, I want to take one more look at some of the old house outbuildings which still exist. The M3 cuts through the grounds, but footbridge takes you over the motorway. The most prominent building left are the old Stables.

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Now offices, the stables are the best surviving reminder of Kempshott House
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The track beside the wall
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The gate was open, so I peered inside to the remains of a walled garden
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Fading memories

If you carried on walking by the wall it opens out into what would have been the parkland. It lookes lovely on an evening like tonight. Back across the bridge, on the way back, I glanced through what would been the gardens behind the house, and I can see a structure. I can’t get near it this side, but I go back onto the new estate to see if I can find some better access.

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I’m pretty sure this is the site of the house.

The fencing around the edge of the new development suggests to me sadly it’s temporary and they will shoe horn some more houses at a later date. But there is gap (where the white car is parked on the right), where I see something hidden away, and I just wonder if its the last remains of the house, or an outbuilding. Ok, so Its not a wonderful example of archictecture, but it could be our last visable piece of the old house left!

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I have said before, Its a pity not more has been done to make residents aware of their local history. Land use changes, but I find it dissapointing that no one would have any idea of of the past unless they do some digging. Examples I have seen include The detailed Kempshott Manor site or the Lost Heritage site.

I don’t have to swipe at the new builds there. Judging by the cars, these properties are a desirable location, but I wish Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council would make more effort to raise awareness to highlight the history! They could have at least made some attempt with the road naming, if not a plaque. The list of owners of Kempshott House, have played a part in wider history beyong Basingstoke and to have it recorded would benefit the town.

Thirty Something…

The original A30 By-pass in Basingstoke has since been by-passed by a newer A30, but much of it is still in use. This photographic essay travels along its post-war route.

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Been and gone… The Bypass route looking north towards Black Dam
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The Route of the 1932/3 Basingstoke By-pass. Follow the dots below…

It was around 1932 That the new road was opened by passing the town centre. I find this in interesting in itself as the demand for cars would not have been as great as it was to come. (Who could own a car in 1933?) However, congestion in the town was such a problem that councilors acted quickly. The ancient Harrow way/ Pack Lane was utilized as the solution. The first part built off Black Dam roundabout is still in use as the current A30 but now a dual carraigeway. Its not a perfect fit, but this montage shows a ‘then and now’ where the Bypass started.

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Above The bypass in the 60’s and today, ‘almost’ the same spot…

When the newer A30 was built, it veered away to the right. To continue and find the original by-pass route, I have to start in the bushes…

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1). I wouldn’t recommend venturing in here for long!
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2). The line of the road begins to be visable…
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3). After the gate, this part is now called Whistler Way.
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4). From Whistler Way, now a staggered juction, it carried into Grove Road, the original course.
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4). Grove Road.

Grove Road gets its name from ‘The Grove’, as marked on O.S six inch maps around 1880s, but on later editions seems to be known as ‘Skippets House’

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5) Venture Roundabout, crossing the A339, named after the resturant that stood here serving the motorists needs…
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6). After The Venture roundabout…
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7). Skippets Lane East, where The Grove was.

Cliddesden Road is another old road I could write more on. The M3 Motorway effectively severed its purpose, and later was closed off at the new A30 end. The houses along the road are quite grand, a testemant to its importance.

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8). Cliddesden Road Roundabout, it becomes the ‘Harrow Way’

After this roundabout, the Road is named ‘The Harrow Way’ Also known as ‘Harroway’ is one of the oldest Wessex routes dating from the Neolithic Period part of ‘The Old Way’
If you liked to know more about this ancient route read here

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9).  Jays Close joins the roundabout with The Golden Lion Pub on the corner
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10). Towards Viables
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11). Approaching Viables Craft Centre.

Viables was an old farm and most of the buildings are still there. Its now divided into units for craft makers, small businesses and cafes. There is a also a miniture railway society based there with a track, which is regulary open to the public at weekends.

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An example of a Staddle Stone barn on Viables

12). We approach Viables Roundabout. Talking of railways, The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway used to cut across the road, towards the end of its 12 mile journey, and it still would have been outside the town when the by-pass arrived. In the modern roundabout and subways they have preserved a section… If you want to know more about the history of The Basingstoke and Alton Railway click here.

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Small is beautiful… Section of The Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway
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12). The Viables roundabout, The railway would have been to the left.
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13). A part of the Harrow Way which has had settlement way before Basingstoke’s growth.

Brighton Hill Roundabout

 

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14). Cumberland Avenue on left.
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15). Brighton Hill Roundabout

Brighton Hill is one of the busiest roundabouts in Basingstoke as the town developed in the 70’s & 80’s.  The old road met at a junction opposite the White House, a farm, (Now Pizza Express). The roundabout still carried the A30 from the right.
I have also found out there was an Italian Prisoner of War camp on the site where the Halford Store is.

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Fab 4 a reason…

16). From Brighton Hill in Winchester Road, (on the what is now the old A30), next to the Shell Garage and where Home Bargains is now, was a restuarant called the ‘Pied Piper’.
The motorist was catered for with several pubs around this junction. And it was here The Beatles stopped for some refreshment on their way to Southampton in 1967, It may not be a cultural highlight for them, but its the only known Photo’s of the Fab Four in Basingstoke! You can read more and see the photos on this fascinating musical footnote in RazRazzle’s blog here. (And more besides… a really good read and local history).

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17) Almost the end…

I’m not sure when the Road was diverted, but on my O.S. 1973 Landranger map this stretch is still classed as The A30. The new road construction looks around the 80’s to me.

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Pack Lane is to the right, through Down Grange & Kempshott

Incidently Pack Lane carries to Oakley and picks up the Original Great West Road. (You can read more about the history of The Great West Road around Basingstoke on my blog here).

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18). End of the (Winchester) Road…

From Brighton Hill Roundabout, the A30 route was diverted and joined back on to the existing Winchester Road. This feels a bit like how we started – the old road is overgrown and closed off- You also wouldn’t want to loiter too long after dark around there!

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A bit of pavement from the old road…
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19). Joining the A30 at Winchester Road

So there it is. In time the By-pass was surpassed by a new A30. I feel a bit sorry for it especially how it literally finishes a bit undistinguished. But The Harrow Way / Pack Lane which were central in its development, are of course are much older routes and we still use them today to get around Basingstoke.

 

Walking a Roman Road

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Edge of the Roman Road towards Hannington © Nigel Smith

A early summer walk following part of a Roman Road through North Hampshire.

This is another one of those instances where driving through the area on my commute to Newbury, I look up something of interest and I want to further investigate on foot when I get the chance… The early June day I picked was perfect weather for walking.
On the map the roman road is marked as ‘Port Way’. The part I’ll be walking is defined by a line of tree planting and I also see the term ‘Ceasar’s Belt’ on maps which I think is related to forestry and not the Emperor’s clothes…

‘Port Way’ is the name given to the road between the Roman settlements of silchester in Hampshire and Old Saram in Wiltshire, near Salisbury, (and part of the longer network between Dorchester and London). With the trees lining the route its hard to a tell how much of the original structure of the road remains, but there are some well defined ditches and undulations. The percieved knowlege of the historians through excavations carried out on Port Way suggest what we have today is ‘pretty well preserved example’ for an almost 2000 year old road. Not all roman roads were built up and depending on their importance, but this one used the engineering techniques of the day.

The Walk

  1. There is a layby near the start of the walk. There are some cottages called ‘Clapgate’ beside the old A34, (which must be a reference to a stopping post?) heres my map to show the route.
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© Nigel Smith

We are starting on the roman road. Its a slight rise and initially earthworks are visable. There are enclosures close and its not long before I see some Dear and other wildlife.

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Route of the roman road is to the right © Nigel Smith

The path then seems to be directed to run alongside and trees continue to mark the route. Its not long before the view opens up into rolling countryside.

Farm access means there is a track alongside. Its tempting to see a piece of rock and think you are looking at an original surface but as this is part of a farm, there are tracks so its probably infall!

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I so much want these fragments to be the original roman surface…

2). The walk is rising gradually and then over the crest we come down to a road. There’s a fallen tree so its a good place to sit and open the flask.

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First place to stop after crossing the road © Nigel Smith

After the next bit it is a steeper climb, but the views are rewarding. To the left there looks to be old black hut, but directly ahead is White Hill and the distinctive Hannington mast.

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We leave the course of the roman road here… © Nigel Smith

3). The path dips here and it is at this point our walk takes a left on an ajoining footpath. It is signposted, but over a stlye on the right hand side. The path rises again and picks a cross wind up, so I imagine some days this is quite an exposed part. I walk by the ‘hut’ I saw earlier and it turns out to be some derelict farm sheds…

There is quite a steep descent by a plantation and where we are going to cross the road again is visable. A really nice part of the walk!

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Flintshire or Hampshire?? © Nigel Smith

4). Crossing the road, at ‘Owls Lodge’ the amount of flint underfoot really shows up on this stretch. The O.S. map refers to ‘field systems’ being evident, which I guess dates from The Medieval period.  (I can see other references littered along Great Litchfield Down).

Back in the present day there are several lanes I cross for Down Farm. The track is gravel and stone, which is loose but well defined as it slowly rises.

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Beacon Hill in distance © Nigel Smith

5). I’ve got my spot for lunch. The view opens up again towards Beacon Hill. Wonderfully you can’t see the A34 running beneath it. On Beacon Hill, there is a grave for the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who’s ancestral home Highclere castle, (and setting for ‘Downton Abbey’), is behind the hill in the valley on the left. After lunch, back on to the the footpath, it is a tarmac road, so watch out for estate traffic.

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Looking back up the lane I’ve just walked down from luch spot

Down one side is a fine avenue of trees. There is a small row of estate workers houses, before we enter the village of Litchfield itself. Its a quiet place that also used to have its own railway station, (and I think I’ll come back to Litchfield in another blog sometime in more detail), but the old A34 used to run through the village, before the Dual Carraigeway was built.

6). Turn right by some converted stables then take the next left, by the rectory on the right. (The white building in the photo below).

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Converted Farm buildings in Litchfield across the old A34 © Nigel Smith

Opposite the rectory are the remains of a path up to the dissused station.

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Old railway gate, Litchfield © Nigel Smith

Ahead of us is the underpass of the A34 which we have to go through. This is suddenly the noisiest part of the whole walk. The road takes traffic from Winchester and The South Coast, up to Oxford and the M40!

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Not the prettiest picture I’ll take!

7). After the underpass, follow the path round to the right. I found My O.S. map wasn’t totally clear in signposting where the path would be, but I kept on following on and I eventually saw the signpost directed me left up a bank along a track. Looking back down I appeared to be back tracking, but then thankfully it veers to right through a gap and away from the noise on a small path.

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Not very well signposted, take the path to the right, and not carrying on the track…

The path follows some power lines up a hill. I still wanted some clarification I was heading on the right path, but it soon becomes very evident its the path!

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Towards Dunley © Nigel Smith

8). As you approach Dunley, the path has on the right what looks like converted farm buildings.  The path joins a lane which splits, take the left fork and at the juction of the road, cross it and follow the road signposted ‘Egbury’. There is a long avenue of trees and a gradual rise for a mile. It feels like part of an old estate.

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© Nigel Smith

9). You approach some gates to Dunley Park. Bear to the left around and carry on a short way through a gentle bend, where the road forks. Take the left route which is initially a made up track. You are entering Bradley Wood. We’re staying on this path through the wood. At the farm the track stops, but the path is defined around to the right of the property.

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Bradley Wood Farm © Nigel Smith

10). A feature on the map really intrigued me, and the main reason I wanted to explore. We’re picking up the ‘Portway’ roman road again as it runs through the wood. Clearly marked are some earthworks and what looks like ditches which the footpath will cross. The sun was shining again which added charm to the mixed woodland.

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© Nigel Smith

The wood feels old, but the trees have been planted over any archeology there was. Pollarding of trees would have been done many times in this woodland. I was hoping to see more defined features to be honest. Also, the features are on private land off the path so its hard to get close. Even where the path crosses the Roman Road its hard to make out any features, which is a real pity.
(A later walk I did in Dorset on a roman road, Ackling Dyke, was a better preserved example. read more here).

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The Roman Road… honest!

11). I carry on through the wood and there is another underpass beneath the A34.  A short gap brings me back almost full circle. Take care – the last part is along the roadside back to my car. Despite the last part not adding anything visual to the Roman experience, of the Portway, Its been a varied walk with some great views and woodland.

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I think I can see the car!

 

Details
Length: approx 7 miles
Terrian: some gradual climbs, mostly defined footpaths and tracks. Some Styles and partly along roadside.

Many (makes me) Down

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Manydown House 1833 by G.F. Prosser

I’d much prefer the Manydown development didn’t have to happen. It’s another tract of countryside lost, concreting over another piece of history, over 700 years to be precise.

Manydown park was situated on lands of an ancient manor located by Wooton St. Lawrence before Norman times. As as woodland estate, some of its timber contributed to the building of the nave of the ‘new’ Winchester Cathederal around the 1390’s. For over 400 years, it was held by the Wither Family, and the last ‘Lord of the Manor’ was Col. S. Arthur Bates (1879-1958).

As a county, we’re marking the 200th annivesary of Jane Austen’s death and her contribution, we’re also about to start the process of building 3,500 homes* in an area of an estate she often frequented with her family. Although the site of the Manydown Park house is not under threat of development in the near future, a big swathe of land towards Basingstoke is and some great unspoilt countryside with it too. (Jane Austen also used to frequent neighbouring Worting House, which will be feeling the effects of the Manydown development much more closely.)

Jane Austen’s connections with Manydown are well documented. She even had an offer of marriage from Harris Bigg-Wither, which she refused. I’ve read lots of blogs from Austen historians and fans – even the Basingstoke Gazette has run articles occasionally about the literal significance of ‘Manydown’, just a couple of miles from her Steventon home. However, I’ve always been surprised how little has been really made of it by the authorities. Could they have done more to protect the house, or even tapped in on it’s potential ? (Here’s a thought… A ‘visitor attraction’ that fans could have flocked to, paying homage to their heroine, in an authentic location). Look how popular ‘Chawton House’ is & how her connection to Winchester is lauded. Austen’s enduring popularity shows no sign of waning, but some of significant sites we can attribute to her life around Basingstoke have been lost. But hey,  hindsight is a wonderful thing…

Even without the threat of approaching development, it does seem odd that the house on this site of a Manor for centuries, was allowed to be erased so easily. Today, walking from the B3400 entrance near Newfound, (I have to admit, its marked by a dissapointing modernish brick gate). Its grounds are still a pleasant setting for a walk as you follow up the lane, and hint of signs of the past with the old farm buildings, and even in the overgrown boundaries the frames of gardeners greenhouses and some signs of iron park fencing remain. And yet the ‘main event’ is no longer there to be seen, which is a much strange, as it is sad.

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By the early  1960’s The house at Manydown was doomed to be demolished, its contents sold off, and today the site is a self storage depot, on leased farmland.

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Manydown House

We do have to remember in the post-war environment, our attitudes to landowners and their property  was at best indifferent – The political mood of the times, with the effect of the world wars, had changed society. The old ruling classes were not seen in the same light, so as a consequence, not everyone felt sympathy for preserving ‘the past’ was as important when there were immediate ecomonic concerns that needed addressing.
Also It was becoming increasingly costly for a landowner to maintain to their properties.
But nationally and locally, there was cultural alarm how just quickly the past was being wiped away. The house was registered for ‘special architectural and historical interest’
but in the end, this wasn’t enough to save it!

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The site of Manydown House today!

The last Lord of Manydown had a daughter, Anne who would not have inherited the title. On Col. S. Arthur Bates death in 1958, the Oliver-Bellasis family, whom she had married into took over the running of estate. They went on to establish the Manydown Company with 4,000 acres of arable land and other properties to manage.

The facts are by the early 1960’s, The family had moved into a more managable property on the estate and Manydown House was sitting empty. There had been auctions to sell off it’s content. (see example below). Some articles say the house was demolished by 1965,
but Acording to the Gazette, in April 1966, workmen were at the house carrying out further dismantling. On May 3rd, sparks from a nearby bonfire contributed to set light to the house. Attempts were made to stop the spread of the fire and save nearby cattle, but by the following morning the house was gutted. I’ll be grateful if someone can share some light on any news articles this from the time, as I have not been able to find any of this event…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThe Auction catalogue from 1962

As an estate everyone locally would know Manydown as a busy working farm, and it still is – Their working footprint is visable all around through the seasons. However, In 1996 it’s trustees agreed that Basingstoke and the Hampshire County Council would be allowed to purchased the estate. The Council’s intention has always been to earmark this land for future development needs. The land was then re-let back to the Manydown company and whilst still farming the land, have established a farm shop and the family fun park, which are popular additions.

The whole time I have been living in and around Basingstoke, the arguments over future development have raged, and it seems politically used as football by all parties, but deep down we know this couldn’t really be stopped, even with the consultation process.
I get there is a need for housing, and I am sympathetic to those who are having difficulty getting on the property ladder. ‘Manydown’ is the flagship project for Basingstoke & Deane. It’s way and above the one largest site for development around the borough so there is a lot riding on it. We will have to wait see what transpires and how successful the project is in terms of  ‘co-ordination’. I just wish the same enthusiasm and conviction had been there earlier to protect the heritage.
Whilst parts of Manydown are on ‘death row’, I’ll do my best to capture some images of the landscapes in a future blog… In the meantime, please do visit the countryside where you can access numerous walks. Sadly, There will probably be better parking facilities when the development starts, but if you can venuture from Winklebury into Worting Park Wood, or from Wooton St. Lawrence, you will find it a pleasant surprise.

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Landscape around Manydown

For those wishing to know more on the history of Manydown, can I direct readers to ‘The Manor of Manydown‘ by G.W. Kitchin,  and Ken Smallbone’s ‘History of the Manor of Manydown and properties within that Manor’ Vol 1 1800 – 1900.