Here and there in Hampshire



One of the oldest buildings in the village used to be a forge, but many long years it has been smithless. A neighbouring building is the redbrick cottage which Jane Austen, her mother and sister Casandra took it in 1809 - Chawton House having been left to her brother fifteen years previously. Until after the Second World War the house was divided into two dwellings, but was restored into something very close to it’s condition in Jane’s day.
Buried at Chawton is Sir Edward Bradford, born in 1836 and who served in India both during the Mutiny and afterwards. He lost an arm when he was attacked by a wounded tiger. At 53 years of age he was appointed Commissioner of Police in London, and in that post he stopped a strike, restored discipline, and made the force ‘a model for the world’.


Whitchurch is tucked in a fold of the hills where the river Test meanders. It had three old watermills, harnessing the water to run machinery for the making of silk cloth, and a fulling mill for the washing and thickening of woollen cloth.
The silk mill has recently been restored and workls regularly weaving silk. A shop sells the finished product to the many visitors. The church of All Hallows was founded early and has additions of various periods, from the 13th to the 19th centuries. There is also a Methodist  chapel, a modern Roman Catholic church and a very old Baptist chapel.
In the 16th century, Whitchurch was one of the largest towns in Hampshire, on land with evidence of human habitation since Neolithic times. The White Hart Inn in the centre was an old coaching inn on the way to Salisbury. Then the railways came, bringing navies to dig the Salisbury line. The men got thirsty so there were a large number of pubs, some of which are still functioning. Others are known now only by their names, such as the Pineapple. After the Second World War new housing estates were built and Whitchurch grew.
Although fishing on the Test may be a pastime for the rich, everyone can enjoy feeding the ducks from one or other of the bridges that cross the river in the area. The silk mill bridge or the town bridge are restful reminders that there is still wonderful country around Whitchurch.



  St Peter’s Church, Petersfield


It is believed that the first church on this site was built before the establishment of Petersfield as a town. It was possibly founded by Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, who owned the Manor of Mapledurham for some years but died shortly before the Domesday survey of 1086. rwas part of this manor, although not mentioned in the Domesday Book. At this time part of the manor was isolated from the main parish church at Mapledurham by swamps and marshes so a church, a chapel of ease, was built and called St Peter’s in-the-veld (veld, meaning an open and clear place), within the manor of Maple Durham (later Buriton).
St Peter’s is the parish church of Petersfield and is located in the centre of the town and being part of the Diocese of Portsmouth, Hampshire. It is an ancient church and a Grade I listed building.


Although the town around the chapel soon grew larger than that around the main church, St Peter’s remained a chapelry to Buriton until 1886, when it became a separate parish. Since 1984 the two parishes have been held in plurality, so the Vicar of Petersfield is now also Rector of Buriton.


St Peter’s was originally a Norman building; the north and south aisles were added at the end of the 12th century. The tower was raised to its present height during the 14th century and a parapet added. During the 15th Century, several windows with perpendicular tracery were inserted. In 1873, a major restoration took place under the architect Sir Arthur Blomfield.



Watership Down, a neme familiar to millions, is part of the downland surrounding Kingsclere, made famous by Richard Adams' novel and now better known than Kingsclere itself. The downs provide an undulating green backdrop to the village. An excellent spot for flting kites and model aeroplanes, a venue for archery and horse riding events and the Wayfarer's Walk attracts ramblers.


A village that is steeped in history and named Kings Clere at the beginning of the 13th century, it has received royal patronage since Saxon times. The 12th century parish church has a unique weather-vane, traditionally identified as a bed bug, ordered to be exhibited by King John after a bad night at the local inn!


In the 19th century there were ten public houses, a number now reduced to three. During restoration work at  the Swan, a 15th century roof was discovered, with beams coated with soot from centuries of fires that burned in the centre of the floor.


A golf couse and a small industrial estate are recent additions to the village and provide some local employment. The village was once almost self-suffient, with a diversity of employment in agriculture, brewing, rope-making, tanning, milling and building.


We have transcribed the parish registers and put them on a CD and you will find the details on our CD Page.


YOU’LL GO FAR . . . . 


Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born on 9th April, 1806 in Britan Street in Portsea, Portsmouth where his father was working on block-making machinery. He had a happy childhood despite the family’s constant money worries, with his father acting as his teacher during his early years and when he was eight years old he went to a boarding school in Paris.


A school report of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel reveals his teachers had ‘Brilliamt expectations’ for his future. The genius behind Bristol’s Clifton suspension bridge was rated very good at maths, German and drawing. The only subject where he was needing to do better was Latin. The 15-year-old was not up to scratch in his classics.


Brunel, the son of a French engineer Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, was in Paris in 1820 attending the Institute of M Massin where his behaviour was ‘beyond reproach’. M Massin wrote: “This young man gave to all his teachers the fullest satisfaction and provides brilliant expectations.”

Brunel whose family lived in London when he was a child, also won several school prizes. His report will be among more than 14,000 exhibits on display when a £7.1million Brunel museum open in Bristol beside the SS Great Britain, his famous iron-hulled steamship, in 2018.


When launched in 1843, the Great Britain was by far the largest vessel afloat. In 1852 she was sold for salvage and repaired and then was used to carry thousands of immigrants to Australia until she was converted to sail in 1881. Three years later she was retired to the Falkland Islands where she was used as a warehouse, quarantine ship and coal hulk until scuttled in 1937. In 1970 she was towed back to Bristol dry dock where she was built, and now is an award-winning visitor attraction and museum ship.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel died on 15th September, 1859 aged 53 years and was buried five days later in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.





The Queen has spoken for the first time of her family's search for the missing body of her uncle killed in the First World War. Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the brother of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, died at the Battle of Loos in northern France in 1915, but the location of his remains was not recorded.


The Queen spoke of recent detective work that tracked them down to a mass grave, as she met Ministry of Defence officials who help families find te bodies of loved ones.


Bowes-Lyon, aged 26 years, (standing left in the photograph) was a captain in the Black Watch and died leading an attack on the German lines at the heavily fortified Hohenzollern redoubt. His leg was blown off during a barrage by German artillery and bullets then struck him in the chest and shoulder. His death and their inability to find his remains hit his sister, then aged 15, and her family hard.


In 2011 Bowes-Lyon's grandson, James Voicey-Cecil, 59, with the help of hs second cousin, the Prince of Wales, and historian Christopher Bailey, helped trace the remains to a mass grave in a quarry.


Mr Bailey wrote to the Prince, outlining research based on evidence from a man who lived overlooking the Quarry Cemetery at Vermelles, and was sure Bowes-Lyon, the son of the 14th Earl of Strathmore, met his fate and was buried there. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission accepted the evidence and erected a headstone carrying his name and the words "Buried near this spot".


In the past year what had become a team of two has become a unit of seven people currently dealing with a backlog of 60 cases.

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