Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

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
Basingstoke Heritage Society AGM
Our AGM this year was held at Church Cottage on 28th March and after the formalities we were honoured to have Barbara Large give a talk about the Basingstoke Workhouse and Poor Law Union.

Barbara has published a book (see item right) with all her interesting research into the Workhouse, which was in Basing Road, roughly where the Hampshire Clinic is today.  The Workhouse Infirmary survived as the Basing Road hospital for many years and was finally demolished in the 1970s.  Workhouses were contentious places, so it is interesting to read this comment on the visit of a returning inmate, John Soper. The memory came from Thomas Arter, who was master of Basingstoke Workhouse for 20 years from 1896.  

“One inmate, John Soper, the nephew of one-time mayor of Basingstoke John Burgess Soper, was in the workhouse as a child. In 1913, this John Soper visited the workhouse; by this time, living in the USA, he had achieved the degree of MD, was surgeon to a railway company, a coroner, and serving as Mayor of his town for the fourth time – one of the happier endings for an inmate of the workhouse”. (Hampshire Field Society September 2008).
… and a comment from about 1940, about  Basing Road hospital, which had been the Workhouse Infirmary. Millie Day lived for many years in Phoenix Park Terrace. Tally-Ho Lodge is in Cromwell Road.

“Dr Bethell lived in Tally-Ho Lodge. Pre NHS. Her mother got ill with cancer and had to go into the Basingstoke Infirmary in Basing Road – her mother was given tea in an enamel mug and she took in a china one. The cost of this was 30s a week and the family (her brothers) had to pay for this, but not her as she was married by then        

The Lamb former pub, Hackwood Road   

The Lamb – we will lose this building. The state of it is beyond reasonable repair. We regret that the council did not get it onto the Local List when we nominated it in September 2015. Although this might not have made any difference, it is a message to the developer from the outset that they are proposing for a significant building. We have recently had a meeting with conservation officers and hope that the List will be revived.
New Signage, Top of the Town. These are the boards we worked on with the council last year. There are 4. We hope you like them.    
Latest News...…

Blue Plaque proposed … …
“Air raid in south-east England town” was how the Hants and Berks Gazette of 23rd August 1940 described the bombing in Basingstoke which had taken place exactly one week before, on Friday 16th August  ….see more

Heritage Open Days
Both St Michael’s and All Saints’ Churches opened their bell towers to visitors…….see more

Church graffiti.
Many of our churches have fascinating historic scratched or drawn images…….see more

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………see more
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

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.

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

We produced a leaflet, which is a trail around the Basingstoke she would have known. The 1762 map provides a useful guide for a writer born in Steventon in 1775. You can get a  leaflet from the museum or the library or download it here

Jane Austen Bicentenary

The Peace Garden. An update on this project – the Rooksdown Club will donate a bust in bronze of Sir Harold Gillies, whose work in Basingstoke during WW2 repairing the physical damage done by war, through ground-breaking plastic surgery, deserves an acknowledgement. The Peace Garden will be an excellent location for this tribute.

Sculptor Julia Beer working on the Gillies’ bust.

May’s Bounty Cricket Ground – new Pavilion. The Basingstoke and North Hants Cricket Club need to enhance facilities in the pavilion at May’s Bounty and it may end up looking like this.  John May provided the ground and built the first pavilion, much altered since then.  Maybe the new facilities will lead to some County fixtures being played in the town again ..

May’s Bounty in the 1960s.  Photo by Robert Brown

The former Hop Leaf pub, Church Street – is to be a café and flats. We had included information in the Town Trail about an old, possibly Jacobean fire place and overmantle. However, the council’s conservation officers have visited and it is not there. Just a 19th century basket grate. It is a listed building because of its age, but the internal features would not have warranted listing. Once known as The Black Boy, it had a small wooden sculpture on the building, now in The Willis. For its history, you’ll have to get Ken Smallbone’s book!!

Young Archaeologists.  Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society is planning a new and exciting Archaeology Club aimed at 8-16 year olds in the Basingstoke area. If you know any young people who would be interested and become the next generation of this fascinating work, then contact BHS using the ‘contact us’ tab above

Basingstoke Union Workhouse - if you missed Barbara Large’s talk at the AGM and would like to hear it, then she is doing it again on May 20th in the Barn Education Room, Basing House at 2.00pm.  It is extremely interesting both from a local and national point of view.

Hampshire Houses.  Edward Roberts, an acknowledged authority on Hampshire's wonderful timber-framed houses, has recently updated his book on Hampshire Houses 1250 - 1700 with about 70 further properties.  This book is stuffed full of photos and diagrams and is essential reading for anyone with any interest in how our housing has developed over the centuries.

The Bolton Arch. This was an entrance to Hackwood Park before the M3 was built and is now an entrance to Crabtree. It used to look like this and the arch was added to Hackwood by architect Lewis Wyatt around 1819-1820. This is the same architect who designed the former Town Hall, now The Willis Museum, which was a much more elegant structure before the Victorians got at it.  Curious to find out why the arch looked like this, I discovered that it was very fashionable to model structures on Classical ones and this one was based on The Choragic Monument of Thrasyllus from the Parthenon in Athens. The Bolton arms from the top of the arch are no longer there.  

18th Century Goldings and Francis Russell. A lucky search produced some interesting historical detail about Francis Russell, one of the earliest occupiers of Goldings. He was solicitor to the Duchy of Lancaster and then Solicitor to the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India. He died in 1795 and his will refers to ‘my mansion house and place called Goldings or Goldsplot in Basingstoke, my present country residence.’ His wife Anne survived him – dances in Goldings are mentioned in Anne Lefroy’s letters and also in Eliza Chute’s pocket books. George Austen visited here. And then Debbie found 2 images of him – a painting in the British Library and an engraving in the National Portrait Gallery, both with scant or incorrect information, which we have been able to add to.

Gone but not Forgotten. Basingstoke inns and pubs.

Genealogist and Local Historian, Ken Smallbone has published this book on Basingstoke’s inns, hotels and pubs. It’s a fascinatingly detailed book whether you remember these places or not, but if you don’t, locations are well-described. To get a copy, contact us through the contact tab above.


‘The Mysterious Miss Austen’ is the title of the new exhibition which has opened in Winchester’s Discovery Centre. The exhibition, co-curated by Dr Kathryn Sutherland, noted Jane Austen academic,  and Louise West of Hampshire Cultural Trust, one time curator of  Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton. The most fascinating part of the exhibition are the 5 portraits of Jane Austen, of which 2 at least, are definitely of her. One, a slight image of her done by her sister, Cassandra, and the other a back view of her sitting outdoors, also by Cassandra. The later images, which we may be familiar with, date from later in the 19th century. Another exhibit is a pelisse coat – a light silk housecoat (although they could be worn outdoors) is on show and this is believed to have belonged to Jane. The exhibition runs until 24 July. Also on show in the Winchester Discovery Centre is another exhibition called ‘Jane’s Winchester: Malady and Medicine’. This is little more than some contemporary images of Winchester and asks the question what medicine could do for a sick person in the 1800s. (Not a great deal is the answer). There is a mention of the Winchester doctor who treated her – Dr Giles King Lyford, but it doesn’t mention the fact that he was the nephew of Basingstoke ‘man-midwife’, Dr John Lyford, who was the Austen family doctor during the Steventon years.  

This has certainly been Jane Austen’s summer. If you didn’t get up at 6.00 on 16th to see her winched into place, then I hope you got to the unveiling on July 18th. Adam Roud, the sculptor has done a superb job. If you haven’t seen the exhibition in The Willis, which is breaking attendance records, then do go along. The walks we offered for the Festival were filled up. The bookbenches are gone now and will be auctioned, but have been immensely popular. The benches were auctioned for the Ark Cancer Charity at the Ark Conference Centre on Friday 16th September at 7.30.
Downsland Parade shops – we have followed this with interest. Although the developer appealed, the Inspector upheld the council’s refusal to permit retrospectively works done. The developer has come forward with different proposals, but must put right the changes done without consent
Chapel Gate is the new name for the development on the former Lilly site. The Lilly building, now called The White Building, will be converted into flats. Consent for this was given a while ago, but a further application seeks to add another floor of flats which means windows will have to be put into the iconic south side parapet. It is further complicated by the fact that the south side facing the railway will no longer be the focus of the building; that will move to the side facing Kingsclere Road. We objected to this addition, but were asked to visit the team doing the work to be persuaded otherwise. To make economic sense, apparently, the extra flat sales will permit the upscaling of the art deco features inside the building. We were very sorry to hear that the lovely lamps had been stolen but replicas of these will be replace them.
Preserving the view of the White Building
Entrance to the site.  Recalling Aidan John Liddell, the Victoria Cross holder, buried in South View.
One of the original lights which have disappeared.
Local List. We have nominated these surviving structures from the Alton Light Railway for the Local List. We did this in May but don’t know when we will know if they have been successful. Spurs from the line ran into Park Prewett Hospital and to Thornycroft’s.
Walls and Boundaries. We want to start a project to photograph old walls and boundaries around the town. Please do send us photographs or descriptions. The wall in this photo is in South View.