Caring for our town - past, present and future

Registered Charity No 1000447

Basingstoke Heritage Society
    News October 2016

Basingstoke Heritage Society






Caring for our town – past, present and future

News for Members no 105
October 2016
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.
Location of the new garden for 2018
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.   
Because of war-time reporting restrictions, the paper could not give more details. Bombs were dropped in Church Square and Church Street and a further stick in Burgess Road. The paper reported that all the windows in St Michael’s were blown out, but in fact one window survived at the far west end.  The war memorial chapel, added   after WW1 was badly damaged.

We are planning a blue plaque to note this sad episode in the town’s history.   
Window in memory of Paul Simmons, one of two brothers killed in WW1. The windows were destroyed in 1940 but replaced exactly.
Heritage Open Days
Both St Michael’s and All Saints’ Churches opened their bell towers to visitors as part of the Heritage Open Days scheme held annually in September. St Michael’s oldest bell dates from 1558, believed to have been cast by an itinerant bell founder locally to the church, with two other bells cast in 1602 and 1670. The remainder of the bells were recast in 1938 when the ring was rehung in a steel frame by Taylors. https://wpbells.org/2016/09/16/report-on-heritage-open-day-st-michaels-basingstoke/


Also open were Worting House and Farleigh House. In Jane Austen’s day, Worting House was occupied by John and Anne Clarke (Clerk) and Jane reports how Mrs Clarke acted as chaperone to her and Catherine Bigg (from Manydown), at a ball in Basingstoke. The Clerks (spelling varies) had a son, George Russell Clerk, who later became Governor of Bombay.
Worting House
Farleigh House with Farleigh Estates Manager
Church graffiti.


Many of our churches have fascinating historic scratched or drawn images, often on pillars or pews. At the time, they probably were of great annoyance to the churchwardens, but like all graffiti, time gives them status. This is an example from St Michael’s – just initials and a date. Many churches have crosses or ships. Have a look out for them. I was hoping for ‘Oliver Cromwell woz ‘ere’ in our parish church, but not found
Basingstoke Workhouse and Poor Law Union
Barbara Large has written this very interesting book about the Basingstoke Union 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. Get your copy from any good bookshop. The History Press. £12.99
Workhouses were contentious places, so it is interesting to read this comment on the visit of a returning inmate 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).

“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 (abt 1940)”.
… 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.
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.
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 has produced a detailed and illustrated guide to the Commonwealth War graves in the cemetery, which can be found here. detailed and illustrated guide to the Commonwealth War Graves in the cemetery


Eastrop house latest – work is proposed to turn the old coach-house into a stand-alone dwelling – part of the house’s new ownership as a care and rehab home. Since this photo was taken in 2015 considerable vandalism and a fire had destroyed the doors. See newsletter no. 101 for earlier comments on the history of what used to be called ‘The Elms’. The quote below refers to the earlier ‘Eastrop House’.

It is new [New Road] for 100 years ago there were no house at all – only a stile and footpath that led down to Eastrop Church and to Eastrop House, occupied by Mr Hooper and afterwards by Mr Portsmouth’.  Hants & Berks Gazette, 6/3/1926. George Woodman.
Leisure park proposals – a £200 million revamp of Basingstoke Leisure Park is being considered by the council in partnership with New River Retail. This would include designer outlet shopping as well as leisure. Part of the town’s planning was that this defined area would provide leisure facilities outside the town. This vision, see right, includes a water park on the south side of the leisure park
Downsland Parade – notable buildings in the Brookvale West conservation area. Our objections to the retrospective planning application for this shopfront are supported by the conservation officer, but in the interests of commercial concerns and the local economy, the planning officer is likely to allow it. Now, we worked hard for the designation of conservation areas and think that particularly in a landmark group like Downsland Parade, the rules ought to be applied.
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.