Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Latest News......

Good news that the pavilions on the former Park Prewett site are to be saved. Ownership will be transferred to The Land Trust along with the woodland. The local agent will be Rooksdown Community Association. Thanks to Cllr Simon Bound for that information. We had urged the council's conservation officers to oppose the requested demolition. The pavilions are an important part of the history of the site and this was recognised in the council's own Conservation Area Appraisal.

Gardens of Remembrance Arch

The arch at the entrance to the Church Square Gardens of Remembrance has been rebuilt exactly as it was and looks good. Thanks to the council for this work. The gardens are on the site of houses which were destroyed by bombing in August 1940.  St Michael’s Church still shows the scars of that event on the church’s east wall opposite Festival Place entrance.

The Haymarket Theatre, formerly the Corn Exchange is 150 years old – it opened in 1865. We hope to mark this event (a little late) with some interpretation boards in the windows of the theatre, telling its interesting history

   Two new books for your     entertainment.

      Drunkards, Thieves and Rioters is written by Bob Clarke      so you can expect a good lively read. Bob has trawled the     newspapers to find some interesting stories  about    historic trouble-makers and badly-behaved policemen!

  Raz Razzle’s book describes just what it says – the  music  scene in the 1960s; the great music legends  who played in  Basingstoke and the local bands who entertained us in those days.

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.
Sir Harold Gillies – the plastic surgeon (as they were then known) was the subject of one of our blue plaques. If you saw a TV programme on Channel 4 on 24 October 2015, entitled ‘The Sex-Change Spitfire Ace’, you would have been interested to discover that Gillies did the very first female-to-male reconstruction at Rooksdown in 1946. An interesting ‘First for Basingstoke’.  
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)

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.

Consent has already been granted for the old Burberry Emporium in Winchester Street to be converted into flats. However, they have now come back to the council to ask for consent to add an extra floor on the top, which would really alter the look of the building, which dates from 1908. Have a look on the council's website and if you think it would be a shame, then object. The Heritage Society have already objected.

Application No 16/00568/FUL

A picture of the Burberry factory in 1918

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

New poster boards in the The Haymarket windows, which the Basingstoke Heritage Society have researched to mark the 150th anniversary of the building. A fourth panel will come later to bring the story up to date. Pop by and have a look.

25-27A Winchester Street – former Burton’s building proposed for change of use to betting and gaming by William Hill. The council’s Licensing Committee eventually granted the licence.   The proposal refused for the Change of Use has gone to Appeal. The upper floors are proposed to be a drinking establishment/nightclub.

The Society held it’s AGM on Tuesday 19th April which was well attended by both members and non-members.  Many thanks to those who attended and made it a successful evening. Click to see the minutes.

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 - Saturday 1 October 10:00 - 16:00

This is always a good day so do pop in if you can. We will have a stand, with the story of Jane Austen in Basingstoke, and would like to see as many of our members as possible. We will also be running the film made in 1974 by the National Film Board of Canada, which looked at two ‘new’ towns in England; Basingstoke and Runcorn. The Discovery Centre tells us that other groups who will be there are:  

·         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

·         Basingstoke Discovery Centre  second-hand books for sale!


·         10am Peter McNulty on the 1939 Register

·         1pm Talk about the Basingstoke Music Scene in the 1960s, followed by a 1960s film!  
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
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