Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Latest News......

John Aidan Liddell V.C.  1888-1915

This plaque (left) has been put up in Sherfield-on-Loddon to commemorate the village’s Victoria Cross holder (the family lived at Sherfield Hall (now a school). Most of the boards we did for the 2011 exhibition are in the Discovery Centre, but the Liddell board was larger. We offered it to the Village Hall and they have accepted it and we look forward to seeing it on show.  Liddell’s M.C. is commemorated in a window in the Holy Ghost Catholic Church and he is buried in the cemetery at South View.

Membership Information
If a Basingstoke resident why not Join us? -  We need your support
Help us by joining the Basingstoke Heritage Society today.
Annual subscription - £5.00 per person, or £6 per household
      (Students and under 18’s FREE)

Membership Benefits:

Quarterly Newsletter

Occasional free talks, walks and visits to places of local interest

Opportunity to attend the Society’s monthly Business Meetings & make views known

Opportunity to contribute to submissions on issues of concern

Support the protection of your locality from inappropriate development

To download an application form go to the ‘contact us’ page.
The Society focuses its attentions on the town centre area of the Borough where residents have no Parish Councillors to represent them.  Particular emphasis is on the six conservation areas and any surrounding area likely to impact on the town.  Subject to this the Societies objectives are -

To promote high standards of planning and architecture.

To inform the public in the geography, history, natural history and architecture in the area.

To secure the preservation, protection, development and improvement of features of historic or public interest.
JANE AUSTEN  Basingstoke Heritage society has produced a leaflet which takes us round the Basingstoke which Jane Austen would have known.  Born in 1775 in Steventon, just 7 miles from Basingstoke, this was the town where Jane came to shop and to dance. The Austen family doctor lived here and was a guest at Steventon Rectory. 2017 will be the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death in Winchester and will be commemorated there. Find out more about her connections with our town and read the verse that Jane’s mother wrote about the people at the Basingstoke Ball.
Pick up your Trail in The Willis Museum or Discovery Centre or contact us via the contact tab above.
You can see it here by clicking on this link



Introducing Jane Austen 200 - a Preview, opening at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke on 9 Januarygives you the chance to see Jane Austen’s portable writing desk* and one of her original manuscripts on loan from the British Library - displayed in Hampshire for the first time. You will also find out about Jane’s links to Hampshire and Basingstoke and be given a taste of what we are planning for our Big Theme in 2017 - Jane Austen 200 - a Life in Hampshire. The exhibition runs until 20 February and admission is free. It will be accompanied by a range of events for adults and children.  * See ledger entry, right, from John Ring of Basingstoke.  

'a small mahogany writing desk with a long drawer and glass ink stand compleat' to Revd Austen Senior, Steventon in 1794

You can follow and contact us on facebook by following this link.

War Graves Trail

Ray-Anne Lutener is a member of the South View Conservation Group which works in the South View, (Holy Ghost) Cemetery in Chapel Hill, Basingstoke.  She produced this detailed and illustrated guide to the Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery
The Basingstoke Discovery Centre -  Local and Family History Day - was held on Saturday 1 October.

We had  a stand there which included the story of Jane Austen in Basingstoke, and ran a film made in 1974 by the National Film Board of Canada, which looked at two ‘new’ towns in England; Basingstoke and Runcorn. The  other groups present were:  

·         Hampshire Genealogical Society (with six computers for research)

·         Thornycroft Society:

·         Hampshire War Memorials:

·         Great War Society:

·         Jane Hurst (Alton Papers):

·         Victoria County History:

·         Basingstoke War Memorials


Friends of the Old Common – doesn’t that sound nice! A group has been formed to do work at the site and to be involved in its management.  The group’s aim will be “to work with the Council to make the Old Common a richer environment for wildlife and also a more welcoming site for local people. Likewise we hope to improve the planting and maintenance within the War Memorial Park as a whole”. Contact Zoe Channon at the council if you would like to be part  of the group. or phone the council.
Introducing a new book, by Barbara Large - This absorbing book explores all aspects of life in that feared institution, the workhouse. From the staff who lived and worked there to the poor souls kept in the medical wing, it reveals a side of Basingstoke that has long since been forgotten. It covers the problems of administration and oversight, the stresses and strains suffered by the new, untrained and inexperienced officers who had to make it work, and the sometimes excruciating difficulty of getting every detail sanctioned by London. It also details how caring for the destitute and unfortunate often depended on the personalities of the people in charge, and how the Poor Law Union became a whole new tier of local government, still operating today.

It is available from bookshops and on-line, list price £12.99

This book will be launched at the Willis Museum on Saturday October 22nd   click for details
Public parks inquiry by the select committee

The Communities and Local Government Committee has launched an inquiry into public parks to examine the impact of reduced local authority budgets on these open spaces and consider concerns that their existence is under threat. The Committee looks at how parks should be supported now and in the future. This includes studying alternative management and funding models, such as a mutual or a trust.

Parks are in danger from funding cuts and the government is surveying their value. There is an on-line survey about park use, so if you use a local park, then do the survey. It’s a very short one! The survey ends on 30 September.

For information on what the government is seeking, go to
The Peace Garden will go into this corner of War Memorial Park as a space for quiet and meditation as we reach the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 in 2018. Both War Memorial and Eastrop Park were awarded the Green Flag again this year. The society was represented at the ‘inspection’ and able to talk about proposals for this anniversary.
< Location of the new park for 2018
The Victoria County History Project has published its survey of Steventon bringing the 1912 survey not only up to date, but with much more information. It’s detailed but interesting, not least because this is the parish held by the Knight family whose distant cousin, Reverend George Austen, brought up his large family in the Rectory there. His relative owned the advowson, which gave him the right to appoint the vicar, and he appointed his distant cousin.  It is the story of a relatively poor parish, where the land was not very productive in spite of the efforts of some of the landowners. It also tells about the wicked Pexall Brocas, who was about as bad a  landowner as could be imagined.
Click the link to see a great bibliography of sources of writing about Basingstoke compiled by:
Bob & Barbara Applin.    
Guide to Sources of Information on the History of Basingstoke

(Note - this is a pdf file)
Heritage Open Days
Both St Michael’s and All Saints’ Churches opened their bell towers to visitors as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme held annually in September. St Michael’s oldest bell dates from 1558, believed to have been cast by an itinerant bell founder locally to the church, with two other bells cast in 1602 and 1670. The remainder of the bells were recast in 1938 when the ring was rehung in a steel frame by Taylors.

Also open were Worting House and Farleigh House. In Jane Austen’s day, Worting House was occupied by John and Anne Clarke (Clerk) and Jane reports how Mrs Clarke acted as chaperone to her and Catherine Bigg (from Manydown), at a ball in Basingstoke. The Clerks (spelling varies) had a son, George Russell Clerk, who later became Governor of Bombay.
Worting House
Farleigh House with Farleigh Estates Manager