Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society

News October 2014

You will know that the society is working hard to prevent the council disposing of the open space at the Old Common to Basingstoke Town Football Club for a peppercorn rent for 150 years so that the club can build a new stadium. Following Thomas Burberry’s acquisition of the mansion and land, Goldings Park was formally opened as War Memorial Park on 26th May 1921 by General Seely who said:

“It is indeed a splendid memorial, for I think no town of the size of Basingstoke has had so beautiful a park presented to it by the generosity of its citizens as a memorial for those who fell.”

When 5 acres was taken from the southern end of the park to permit the construction of the southern ringway in the 1970s, in addition to the loss of the town’s Common, there was indeed an outcry.  Our research shows that there was a clear intention that the 20 acres of Old Common would include a clear ‘compensation’ or substitute for the lost land.  Brendan Butler was the last Director of Town Development. In his account of the history of Town Development (‘The Dream Fulfilled’), he wrote:

“the Council itself did a little bargaining to ensure that the 5 acres or so of War Memorial Park which would be taken for the ringway would be replaced by an even larger area of some 20 acres, retained from the Old Common”.

It is difficult to see how much clearer this statement could be. The   intention was to compensate for the lost acres of the park. This is why we think it should not now be disposed of as public open space. 529 people signed the on-line and paper petition against the disposal of the land at Old Common and Camrose. We have written to the council’s Chief Executive asking for a meeting to discuss this matter.  Thanks to all of you who signed the petition or completed the consultation held by the council.

Other issues concern the noise and traffic nuisance which will be caused and matters such as other uses for the stadium – for music events etc which also have the potential for adding to problems for neighbours too.

Members of the committee past and present attended a reception held for the society in our 25th anniversary year, by the Mayor, Cllr Roger Gardiner in the mayor’s parlour on July 28th. To our great surprise and pleasure the mayor presented the society with a lovely craft 3D image in glass of a fantasy landscape of some well-known Basingstoke landmarks.

Ian Williams, Chairman, accepting the gift from the Mayor.

Our visit included a tour of the Council Chamber where these Royal Arms hang. It’s not easy to see the detail from this small image but a bit of research showed that they are the arms used from George I and must date between 1714 and 1800 – they include arms of the Hanoverian territories ….

Diana Stanley

On 10th October in Cliddesden Road, Cllr Brian Gurden unveiled the plaque in the presence of the Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Cllr Roger Gardiner, who brought along the council’s copy of ‘Within Living Memory’. We were pleased that some residents of Hillstead Court were able to join us. Thanks to committee member Peter Davis for his research and getting the plaque made.

Ian Williams and Brian Gurden

Debbie Reavell, Ian Williams, Mayor Cllr Roger Gardiner and Cllr Brian Gurden

Other matters:-

Odiham Magna Carta celebrations. 2015 sees the anniversary of Magna Carta which apparently was taken through Odiham and Hartley Wintney on its way to Runnymede.

“It is believed that the king and his entourage rode out from Odiham castle on the morning of 10th June 1215 to meet baronial leaders on the water meadows of Runnymede, where the Articles of Barons was probably sealed on the same day”.  There will be lots going on in Odiham starting 16 May and throughout May and June.   

This sculpture, L’Arc by David Annand, was hit by a vehicle early in September and has been quite badly damaged. We are trying to find out the council’s progress for getting it fixed.

Yew Tree in front of Church Cottage – new plans for this area might put this tree in jeopardy. Tree warden Terry Tilley had a look at it and it needs some trimming and care, but is otherwise healthy so let’s hope it survives. Another tree in the town was given consent to be felled for ‘aesthetic reasons’ which seems extraordinary. Permission has not been given for a sycamore in Eastrop to be felled. It undoubtedly houses a great deal of bird and animal life.

Peace Garden 2018 – the council have a plan for a garden which would be put into the War Memorial Park to commemorate the end of WW1. We will be involved in this project.

Planning – former offices at Chailey Court, Bramblys Drive have applied to be turned into offices.

Pavilions on Limes Park (old Park Prewett site) – we thought these had the go-ahead for demolition, but we were mistaken. The council is still considering their fate. It was  Rooksdown Parish Council who voted for their demolition.  As the shelters are noted in the conservation area appraisal document as important visual features, which tell the story of the old psychiatric hospital, they should be saved from both the parish council and the vandals.

The Vyne School and Holy Ghost Cemetery. Students in years 7 and 8 are visiting and learning about the town’s old burial ground. This year, they produced leaflets for teenagers to encourage them to take an interest in the site. Some excellent work.

Jane Austen in Basingstoke. Do we make enough of one of our most well-known and popular author’s connections with Basingstoke? Jane Austen was born in Steventon in 1775 just 8 miles away and lived there until she was 25, when the family moved to Bath. We know that she danced at the assemblies held in the Moot Hall (the former town hall which stood roughly where Lloyds Bank is today) and probably in the assembly room which was behind the Angel Inn (where Barclays Bank is in Market Place). The 200 year centenary of her death will be in 2017. Although she spent just the very end of her life in Winchester it seems that more is made of her story there than here …...