Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Basingstoke Heritage Society

Caring for our town – past, present and future

News for Members no 106

January 2017

A very Happy New Year to you all.

Your renewal form will be with you soon. It is really helpful if you renew promptly. Many thanks.

Last year was a very busy one – the end of the Old Common campaign; producing the Jane Austen leaflet; signs for the Haymarket/Corn Exchange;   signs for the Top of Town and revising the Town Trail. We need your support.

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.


The AGM will be held in Church Cottage

on Tuesday 28th March.

  Barbara Large will talk about

The Basingstoke Union Workhouse

We took our wares to the Local and Family History Day 1 October 2016 held in the Discovery Centre. Although we didn’t get so many visitors as on previous occasions, those  who did find us were really interested and interesting … … particularly in the Jane Austen connection and the DVD we purchased last year from the National Film Board of Canada, which some of you saw at our AGM in 2016..

Sitting with Jane’ is a public art trail made up of 25 ‘BookBenches’ in and around Basingstoke, each uniquely designed and painted by a professional artist with their personal interpretation of a Jane Austen theme. The trail will link together locations – all with free public access. It will be in place between June and September 2017, and will be accompanied by a free to download app and a trail guide. Each bench will be sponsored. After, the benches will all be auctioned in aid of the Ark Cancer Centre Charity, to leave a valuable lasting legacy in the region.

‘Sitting with Jane’ is part of the Hampshire Cultural Trust’s celebration of Jane Austen’s life in Hampshire.

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.

The Lamb pub, Hackwood Road. Members on email were updated on 8th December with the news that The Lamb is now subject to a planning application to demolish this landmark building and replace with houses and flats. We were aware of the risk to the building and had nominated it for the Local List. However, the council has not done work on updating the Local List for some time, and this didn’t happen.  (See left, proposed Hackwood Road elevation).  There have been objections to the proposal including the council’s Conservation Team. We would like this case to be heard in committee, but it needs more objections so please, if you are bothered about the loss of this landmark, then object without delay. If it goes to committee, then we can speak there. Refce: 17/04288 on the planning page. Or email quoting the reference.

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.    

18th Century Goldings and Francis Russell. A lucky search produced some interesting histo rical 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.

Francis Russell, by Joseph Collyer the Younger, after S. Smart stipple engraving, published 1796

NPG D5854    © National Portrait Gallery, London

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

Prisoner of War camps in Basingstoke. Geoff Palmer of Hampshire Genealogical Society is giving a talk on this topic and on the German graves in Worting Road cemetery. This will be on 26th April at 7.30 in Church Cottage.

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.  

If you came to last year’s AGM, you will have seen the National Film Board of Canada 1974 study of New Towns, one of which was Basingstoke (the other Runcorn). We are well aware that having paid for the film and the right to show it, we have not done anything with it. If you are a member of a group who would be interested in seeing this, then please contact us

The Town Trail. We have updated this, amending and making clearer some of it. The council are generously printing it and it will be available soon. It’s easy to download too.

Planning issues: A large conversion in Wote Street (Pure Bar) to make flats similar to what is being done to Sun Alliance House next door.

Trees. We are having some difficulties with objecting to tree removal – the council seems keen to fell trees which require regular maintenance. 2 Scots Pine in Fairfields Road

(refce: 17/00095) are at risk – notable and fine trees near the Bowls and Tennis club.