Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

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.
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

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.
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)
Downsland Parade – notable buildings in the Brookvale West conservation area.

Below is the text of a letter the society had published in the Gazette:-

Downsland Parade, Worting Road

Your report on the alterations to a retail unit at Downsland Parade (13th October) illustrates the casual attitude some occupiers have to planning restrictions in Conservation Areas. These areas are designated by the council because there are significant and interesting architectural assets,   worthy of preserving for future generations. Restrictions on planning and redevelopment are on the council’s website and it is the business of the new occupier or owner to be aware of and comply with the directions.

To quote from the council’s own appraisal for the Brookvale conservation area:
“Downsland Parade is an intact Art Deco styled small parade of shops with flats above  Furthermore,  as recently as 2009, the council grant-funded the signage for the Parade as a reflection of the building’s prominence and importance to the character and appearance of the conservation area.

Basingstoke Heritage Society keeps a watchful eye on development proposals  in the town and members attend Development Control committee meetings to add our objections (as we did in this instance). In this particular case, further works were carried out even after the occupier was well aware of the conservation area restrictions.

We welcome the council’s decision not to permit these works and are grateful for the strong support from ward councillor, Mike Westbrook. Let’s hope in this case that the owner of the unit will make good the damage done without the need for enforcement measures.
This art-deco inspired row of shops and flats date from the mid-1930s.  A few years ago, the council’s conservation officer worked hard to bring uniformity back into the group of shops; good quality sign-writing was used to identify the individual shops.  A few months ago, new owners of one of the main end shops ripped out the old frontage without any planning or conservation area consent.  Ian and Cathy Williams raised an immediate objection and council officers went to put a halt to the work.  A new frontage has been installed.   A retrospective planning application has been refused.

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

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.

You would think that while sign-writing ‘Londis’, you might just glance at the other shop sign fascias and you might notice that they were all done in an ‘art-deco’ style, and then you might just respect the building. Sigh!
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.
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   
Planning ref:- 04288

Planning consent  has been sought for the demolition of The Lamb, seen below in this image before the 1903 re-development by Farnham United Breweries. The development will consist of 5 apartments, 1 maisonette and 4 semi-detached houses on Hackwood Road.
We have given a lot of thought to this application. The pub is described as ‘derelict’ and the small building to the south end of the site in Hackwood Road, which was stables, had its slates removed earlier this year.
However, the Lamb is a notable building within the Fairfields Conservation Area and a landmark. We will make the following points to the Development Control committee:-

We think an effort should have been made to develop the existing building and retain the landmark.

We have pointed out that parts of the 1903 building are from the earlier building, which we think dates to about 1875 – the single-storey building with triple window and ‘porthole’ and the small stable block on the extreme left of the photo.

We have pointed out both to the council and to the county archaeologist that there are air raid shelters on the south wall of the site. These must be recorded and/or preserved.

We have mentioned issues with sightlines of vehicles exiting the site onto Cliddesden Road.

If you want to comment on the planning application then follow this link

It is with great pleasure that we can now show the maquette for the sculpture which will go into Market Place in July. Adam Roud is the very talented sculptor - he is a former student of BCOT. The sculpture will be cast at Morris Singer. If townspeople want to subscribe to the cost of the sculpture, there will be an opportunity to do so, although most of the money has been raised privately.  The commission was by Hampshire Cultural Trust, but the impetus has come from a committee, chaired by Maria Miller, where we have been represented from the outset. This will be a lasting legacy for the town.

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
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.