Reviews of Past Talks
14th Nov 2016
Talk by Frank Green
Frank Green is a well known member and supporter of the Society, He was previously the archaeologist for the Test Valley and currently works for the New Forest National Park.
Little is known about the history of Mottisfont before the founding of a religious institution by William Briwere; circa AD 1100. At that time it was a priory - never an abbey - of Augustinian canons, which gave emphasis to pastoral care in the community.
In his talk Frank revealed results of the as yet unpublished archaeological survey. Many of the old priory buildings have been demolished, but the thirteenth century cellarium is well preserved. Remains of the upper part of the nave can be seen in some of the rooms off the Long Gallery, as can remnants of the arcading of the old church to be seen in the basement. On the east side of the building is the entrance to the side chapel. During the excavations medieval tiles and graves were also found.
At the Dissolution in 1536, Mottisfont was granted to Lord Sandys who pulled down many of the old buildings but retained the nave, which became the centre of a Tudor mansion visited by Edward VI and Elizabeth I.
Many of the original fireplaces survive and a wall painting of a flower symbol was discovered on the west wall below the current floor level. The mansion had a gatehouse leading to a double courtyard and probably a Great Chamber, although the remains have never been discovered.
Sir Richard Mill made substantial modifications in the 1740s by adding two wings, further modifications were made in the late nineteenth century by Mrs. Vaudrey Barker-Mill.
The house was bought in 1934 by Gilbert Russell and soon became a fashionable centre of artistic and literary society; his wife Maud commissioned Rex Whistler to decorate the drawing room in trompe l'oeil style.
It went out of private hands in 1957 when Maud Russell gave the house and its estate to the National Trust. Review by Jean Brent Dec 2016
15th Nov 2016
Talk by Howard Green
In his talk Howard Green took the history of Mottisfont back to the time before the foundation of the Augustinian priory.Through his work as a volunteer at Mottisfont Howard has had access to the estate's archives.
The estate has many of the essentials needed for habitation-an abundant spring, woodland, peat deposits and pits providing chalk, gravel and clay.
The finding of flints in the grounds and the presence of ancient foot paths and tracks provide evidence of pre-Roman settlement. "Font", Latin for "spring"probably shows a Roman presence and a few shards of Roman pottery have been found on the site.
"Mott" probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon "moot" meaning" a meeting place". An archaeological survey in 1994 found late Saxon pottery, animal bone fragments, carbonised wheat and fragments of iron slag.
The Anglo-Saxons founded a Christian church, perhaps as early as the late seventh century, after conversion by Wilfred of York. For centuries there was a close connection with York;at the time of the Domesday survey in 1086 Mottisfont was held by the Archbishop of York.
By the twelfth century the church of Mottisfont was the centre of a strong Christian community with six dependent chapels in the surrounding area. It was then that William Briwere established the Augustinian priory on a large estate, which included the font. It must have caused some disturbance locally; documents found by Howard show there was outrage in York but a new era began in the history of Mottisfont.
Review by Jean Brent Nov 2016
The Village that Moved
Talk by Jane Powell
11th Oct 2016
North Baddesley is recorded in the Domesday Book. The pre-Conquest land-holder was a wealthy Saxon named Cheping but after the Conquest was given to the Mortimer family.
Mid12th century the land and wood of Baddesley was granted to the Knights Hospitallers and by mid-14th century it was their principal estate in Hampshire.
Henry Vlll included the Hospitaller property in his dissolution of the monasteries and granted Baddesley to his brother-in-law Sir Thomas Seymour. Ownership then passed to John Foster, steward to the last Abbess of Romsey. Foster had caused a scandal when he married Jane Wadham, a nun at Romsey Abbey and a cousin of Thomas Seymour.
Baddesley Common has often been utilised for military training exercises and as a muster point for troops. An RAF search-light battery decoy site was set-up on the Common during WW2 to lure enemy planes away from Southampton.
The old settlement of North Baddesley was situated north of the main Botley Road with a the large expanse of common to the south. The church, manor house, and most of the farms and cottages were strung out on the ridge along Flexford Road.
By 1901 the population was 245. The census shows a shop, the school, and some occupation beginning to be situated along the main road. From1920’s onwards there was major growth to the south, leaving the original village habitation left somewhat isolated on the northern ridge.
The village’s continued to expand at a rapid rate resulting in the southern area become the main settlement. However, this may be about to change.
With potential development land to the south in short supply, developers are starting to turn their eyes to the northern part of the village and those properties in the area of the original settlement may not remain in isolation for much longer.
Reviewed by A.N.Other
Talk by Colin Moretti
20th Oct 2016
Colin commenced by reviewing the nature of punishment for crime up until the end of the 18th century; at that time, punishment for lesser crimes was humiliation, the guilty person was locked in the local stocks or pillory, publicly whipped, or had a hand or an ear amputated; crimes viewed more seriously - of which there were more than 220 - were punished by hanging.
Imprisonment in overcrowded insanitary cells was used either pending trial and sentencing or prior to transportation for those whose death sentence was commuted.
John Howard, in whose honour the Howard League for Penal Reform was later named, first highlighted the shocking state of prisons in 1777. The government was slow to take notice but from 1810 there was a steady stream of acts to reform both sentencing and the prisons.
Over the years the number of capital crimes was reduced, transportation was abandoned, women and children began to be treated less harshly and imprisoned apart from men, and differing prison regimes were tried.
Colin explained how a system of public works prisons were established where the convicts were employed on large government projects such as the Portsmouth dockyards and the Weymouth Bay breakwater.
The talk concluded with extracts from a prison governor’s daily journal, they illustrated the daily life in Portland prison, the harsh working conditions and the punishments meted out as well as visits by royalty and escape attempts. Reviewed by A.N.Other
Phoebe began by summarising the state of farming in the southern Test Valley during the first half of the nineteenth century. The Corn Laws of 1815, which restricted the import of grain, benefited landowners and tenant farmers by keeping prices and profits high.
Landowners were also able to increase profits from the enclosure of common land at the beginning of the century, which brought together scattered holdings to form more economic agricultural units.
During the same period, wages of agricultural labourers were so low that many families had to rely on grants from the poor rates. These were collected from the farmers so there was no incentive to increase the wages of their own workmen. The incomes of the rural workers decreased further with the introduction of the use of threshing machines during the winter months. The distress of the agricultural labourers led to the Swing Riots of 1830, which were put down with great severity.
The reform of the Poor Law System that followed resulted in the abolition of outdoor relief with support only given in the workhouse.
19th Century Farms around Romsey
Talk by Phoebe Merrick
10th Oct 2016
Phoebe took a close look at the changes that took place in the system of tithes. From her analysis of returns from fifteen lower Test valley parishes Phoebe came to several conclusions. Parishes on the chalk land had most arable crops and those on the clays and gravels of the Hampshire Basin had more woodlands; the next most common use were meadow and pasture.
Of the fifteen parishes, nearly half the acreage, 23650 acres, was owned by nine men; the biggest estate was that of Sir William Heathcote with 7421 acres - most of it in Hursley. Four of these great landowners each retained 900 acres or more for their own use as home farms or parkland. The greatest number of smallholdings, below a hundred acres, was found to be in the Hampshire Basin and this was reflected in the spread of rented farms. An agricultural labourer who also had a few acres of his own from which to make a small profit would have a greater degree of independence. This might explain why the Swing Riots mostly affected the chalk land areas rather than the smallholding areas of the Hampshire Basin.
Phoebe concluded by saying that a buoyant agriculture does not necessarily benefit everyone involved in it although the collapse of grain prices later in the nineteenth century disadvantaged all rural classes - labourers, tenants and landowners. report by Jean Brent
The LTVAS Anglo Saxon group had a fascinating trip to Upper Eldon. The very minor road from Braishfield past Hall Place was interesting in its own right. It felt like a road that was marginal when the County Council was deciding which tracks to metal; even now has grass growing along its centre.
The afternoon started with exploration of the footpath across the fields to the south west of the church. The optimists amongst our number had hoped to see some sort of bank or other marker denoting the parish boundary at the edge of Stubb’s Copse, but none was visible; following our visit we checked some older and larger scale maps and realised that the boundary might have actually have gone through a nearby wood. Another visit might be in order to verify this.
Upper Eldon Braishfield
Some time was spent looking at the church, which has a number of oddities such as the string course, the windows being higher on the north side than on the south, the number of windows that were originally in the building (it now has 2 on the north side and one on the south but probably had 4 on the north side and 3 on the south), how much longer was the church before its restoration in the 18th century, and we even discussed whether or not the position of the door was in its original position.
We must thank Geoffrey Planer and his wife, the owners of the church at Upper Eldon, for inviting us to their home, for their hospitality, the welcome cups of tea and biscuits and for showing us some of the documents that they have collected on the history of Eldon. Everyone left with more questions than answers.
report by Alec morley
by David Key
Hursley Park and House.
David Key, acting archivist at Hursley Park House, gave the Society an enjoyable talk on its long history.
The first settlement took place on the site known as Meredon during the Iron Age and there is documentary evidence dating from the time an Anglo- Saxon king granted the land to the bishopric of Winchester.
For a brief period in the twelfth century it was fortified but in 1155 Henry 11 ordered the castle to be destroyed and the estate enclosed to become a deer park. Much of the bank and ditch can still be seen.
Since the Reformation there has been a succession of lay owners. For a time Richard, son of Oliver Cromwell lived at Hursley and is buried there.
The core of the present house dates from the eighteenth century when it was criticised by a London visitor as “ a very poor show” because, “ he had no idea which door was for the house and which was for the servants”.
Another distinguished resident of the nineteenth century was the Rev. John Keble who was to become one of the founders of the High Church Oxford Movement. A major rebuilding took place between 1903 and 1905 when the house was extended and modernised with no expense spared.
During the First World War the house and grounds were used as a hospital and military billets. It had a more varied life in the Second World War when the Spitfire design team moved in followed by use as an assembly point for invasion troops and then became the headquarters of bomb disposal units.
The house and the central part of the land have been leased to the American electronics firm I.B.M. since 1958 while the remainder is owned by the Hursley Park Estate.
David Key ended by saying that I.B.M. has an archive covering the entire history of the house and park and are interested in obtaining copies of documents, photographs, etc. to fill in missing gaps. Review by Roger Harris/Jean Brent
by Mary Harris
Recalling the history of
Hall Place, Braishfield.
Hall Place At Braishfield, near Romsey, is now a privately owned residence with little land around it. Excavations in 1974 found a well, which had provided an older house with water, also large quantities of worked stone carvings from the thirteenth century and pottery finds dating from the fifteenth through to the nineteenth century.
Mary Harris, the Society`s Secretary and Treasurer recently gave an interesting talk in which she provided documentary evidence of an estate dating from the Anglo-Saxon period which was owned at different times by prestigious institutions and individuals.
The earliest reference came from a charter, which showed that it was part of an estate in Michelmersh owned, by the prior and canons of St. Swithuns, Winchester.
By the thirteenth century it was held by the Briwere family, who also owned the village of Ashley where they entertained the Plantagenet kings. The fourth William Briwere was a powerful man at the court of King John and perhaps better known as the sheriff of Nottingham.
In about 1200 he founded the priory at Mottisfont where the monks were expected to pray for his soul. He gave the priory lands including “Halle” except for “ the great fishpond” now known as Timsbury Lake. This eventually was also held by Mottisfont.
At the dissolution of the monasteries the manor of Michelmersh went to the Sidney family but in 1558 Hall Place passed to New College, Oxford which owned it for centuries. From that time on the documentation shows a succession of tenants renting both house and land until the twentieth century when they were sold separately. The house was then modernised and its ancient history forgotten until the research undertaken by Mary. Review by Jean Brent Sept 2016
Excavations at St. Mary's Chantry Southampton
by Dr Andy Russell
The May talk was given by Dr. Andy Russel, head of the Southampton Archaeology Unit, who gave a preliminary report on the excavation findings at the Chantry of St Mary Southampton.
Before the Reformation a chantry, attached to a church, was often set up with an endowment as a memorial where prayers were regularly chanted for the souls of the dead. Chantries were closed down in the reign of Edward VI but Speed`s map of 1611 shows a large Tudor house near St. Mary`s church which was still called a chantry. This was the centre of the archaeological dig.
As it lay within the boundaries of the prosperous Anglo- Saxon town of Hamwic there was an expectation of finding evidence of earlier occupation. After digging through a metre of soil pits were found containing artefacts of this period including copper alloy and a comb which came from south Germany. Nothing was found to indicate an early monastic establishment but instead the plan suggested domestic plots with workshops and rubbish pits.
Although the town of Hamwic declined, occupation continued through the Middle Ages. Skeletons of animals found in part of it suggested a farming community, but on the side nearest the church there were signs of wealthier occupants using stone – an expensive material- to make cesspits. This could have been the site of the chantry. Other interesting objects included a large glass urinal pot and a comb made of elephant ivory.
With the passing of the Chantry Act in 1547 the site passed into private hands and the mansion shown on Speed`s map was built by the Lambert family.
The house eventually became dilapidated and was pulled down but the name chantry remained attached to the site. When a later hall was burnt down the owner decided to demolish the building before selling the plot for redevelopment. It was at that point the Dr. Russel and his team were able to start their excavations before the building of social housing. Review by Jean Brent May 2016
A History of Wellow
by Michael Sleigh
History of the Wellows
The Society was fortunate to have Michael Sleigh give the talk on the history of the Wellows - East, West and Embley.
With the New Forest on the west and the river Blackwater running through it the community developed from scattered homesteads in forest clearings. The first documentary evidence comes from the will of the Saxon King Alfred who gave Wellow to his daughter Aethelflaed. By 931 it was of sufficient importance for her nephew, King Athelstan to hold a Witan there which was attended by the archbishops, bishops, abbots and leading Saxon landholders. By that time the parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch was probably already established.
Wellow and Embley have separate entries in the Domesday Book of 1086 and, although united around the one parish church it continued to have different owners. Sometime before 1086 part of Wellow was put into the county of Wiltshire and is generally known as West Wellow. It did not return to Hampshire until 1895.
East Wellow for many centuries belonged to Netley Abbey. When Henry VIII closed down the monasteries East Wellow was bought by Richard Marden who became Lord of the Manor.
The changes probably meant little to the inhabitants who were too busy living their lives as farmers and agricultural labourers. Some of the small farms were swallowed up by larger ones - a process that has continues ever since.
Embley was recorded as " waste" in Domesday but the Hearth Tax of 1665 records a considerable population. The area was later developed as a large farm of 210 acres with a brick and tile mansion house now the central building of a private school.
The three areas, West and East Wellow and Embley were brought together again when bought by Thomas Heathcote of Hursley in 1819. Embley was sold on to the Nightingale family and for a time it was the home of Florence Nightingale who was buried in a modest grave in Wellow churchyard.
The population has grown considerably since the arrival of mains water, electricity and sewage in the 1950s and 1960s but remains a semi- rural residential area with no large industrial development. Review by Jean Brent Mar 2016
by Robert le Grice
HISTORY, MYSTERY AND MARROWS.
Romsey allotments are some of the oldest established in the country. Others began during the Dig for Victory campaigns of the First and Second World Wars. Robert le Grice in his talk to the Society explained how, after the enclosure of the remaining common grazing lands at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the two major local landowners, Lord Palmerston and John Willis Fleming had set aside land to be let out in small plots.
Their motives were mixed and included concern for the poor especially the " deserving labourers" who could better provide for their families on their low wages. At the same time, because fewer people would need to ask for help from the parish, the poor rates paid by the landowners and tenant farmers would be kept low.
Palmerston`s allotments began on the site of the present Leisure Centre but were later moved to the other side of the road on land which still belongs to the Broadlands Estate.
There have been some challenges. Land has been lost to a sub-station, a pumping station and Knatchbull Close and the allotments were flooded two years ago.
Nevertheless they are still flourishing and active with two hundred plots let and a long waiting list. Fortunately they should not be affected by any of the developments planned for the town. Review by Jean Brent Feb 2016
by Dr. John McAleer
THE VOYAGES OF CAPTAIN COOK
THE ENLIGHTENMENT GOES GLOBAL.
Each of Captain Cook's voyages taken in 1768,1772 and 1779, had a scientific purpose. The first was to use the observations of the transit of Venus across the sun to calculate the distance between the earth and the sun;the second to prove beyond doubt that an unknown continent did not exist; the third to look for the North West Passage.
One of Harrison`s chronometers was taken on the second voyage and was used successfully to solve the problem of calculating longitude.
Dr. John McAleer of Southampton University, the visiting speaker, enlivened his talk with illustrative maps and drawings including one of a ship`s biscuit issued to a member of the crew.
Cook was fortunate to have with him equally skilled and dedicated colleagues. These included Joseph Banks, a scientist, who brought back many specimens for the Natural Science Museum and the painter George Stubbs.
It was on the third voyage that Cook was killed by natives in Hawaii for reasons that are not obvious and was then buried at sea.
He immediately became a martyr hero, praised for his concern for the health of his crew but also widely acclaimed for his part in spreading British enlightenment and influence to other parts of the world. Review by Jean Brent Feb 2016
by Phoebe Merrick
A ROMSEY HISTORIAN
JOHN LATHAM - 8th Feb 2016
Much of what we know about Romsey`s past comes from the work of Dr. John Latham who lived in Middlebridge Street at the end of the eighteenth century. After retiring from his medical practice in Dartford he came to live near his son. Like to-day`s local historians he then began collecting all the relevant and interesting material he could find about the town`s history.
The sources he used included documents, some in the original Latin, from local solicitors, the Bishops` Registers in Winchester and the Abbey Church. Many of these original documents have since been lost and we only know of them from his collection. He also made notes on events which took place in his time such as the catch of a ten pound salmon in the stream flowing down Middlebridge Street and the beaver bones, identified by him found in a local peat bed.
After John Latham's death the British Museum, recognising the importance of his notes, acquired the volumes for their archives. LTVAS, now the Romsey Local History Society, bought a micro film of them about forty years ago and since then various members have typed them, put them on computer and translated the Latin.
Phoebe Merrick, Chairman of the Society, has been checking the references and sorting the material into categories for easier research. She is hoping that within a few years it will be in print and available to everyone interested in the history of Romsey. In the meantime the typed and computer versions can be consulted in the basement of the Town Hall during the Society`s drop-in workshops open on Monday mornings and Tuesday evenings. Review by Jean Brent Jan 2016
The Curmudgeonly Archaeologist
by Alec Morley
- 28th Jan 2016
This talk by LTVAS member Alec Morley covered the life and times of OGS Crawford, the first Archaeology Officer of the Ordnance Survey and a pioneer in the use of aerial photography. Although the presentation covered many of the facts already attributed to him in the various books written by him and about him, it also introduced a number of new unpublished aspects relating to his ancestry, education, military exploits, career and personal life that help put a more human face on the man who had been described by others as being somewhat curmudgeonly.
He was indeed a complex man with many faces but had showed much bravery during his time serving in WWI and a determination in his career that overcame many obstacles that were put in his way by the powers that be.
The speaker concluded that Crawford may not have deserved his curmudgeonly label and that he should perhaps be described as a man ahead of his time. He had opened up much debate in archaeological circles, was a forward thinker and his single minded approach to goals had help create an archaeological legacy that still lasts to this day.
Review by A.G. Morley Feb 2016
by Professor Chris Woolgar
WELLINGTON and the DESPATCH from WATERLOO - 11th Jan 2016
Romsey has several monuments within the Abbey complex that commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, we were reminded of this in a recent talk by Professor Chris Woolgar of Southampton University when he detailed the Duke of Wellington`s despatch immediately after Napoleon`s defeat at the battle of Waterloo, 1815.
In the days before instant on line communication the “despatch” was the official report written personally to the Secretary of State for War by the commander on the field. It could be called upon by Parliament and was therefore a carefully considered factual account supported by evidence.
Professor Woolgar's research on the original document revealed that Wellington wrote it at 4.a.m. on 19th June following the battle on the previous day. As was usual, each of the four double sheets was folded in half with the dispatch written on the right and later additions on the left.
The Duke points out the strategic importance of the battle, narrates the action naming individuals and regiments, mentions officers killed and wounded and gives tribute to parts of the army and particular staff. As this is a diplomatic public document he is also careful to acknowledge allied countries with a particular mention of Marshall Blucher of Prussia.
On the same day courier took the despatch from Ostend to London; as the boat became becalmed the final part of the journey had to be completed by rowing boat.
On the 22nd June it became available to the public when it was printed in the London Gazette.
Review by Jean Brent Jan 2016
LTVAS AGM 2015 - 3rd Dec 2015
Chairman Phoebe Merrick reported that it had been a lively year: Membership now stands at 338,The twice weekly workshops and the public events of talks, walks and slide shows had all been well attended.
Ongoing work includes the cataloguing of pictures of Romsey and district, a detailed photographic survey of Romsey abbey and the three-year Anglo-Saxon project.
The Society had received a generous bequest of £10,000 from Jane Finnermore, a long-standing member who died recently.
Running a large and active Society involves individuals in time consuming work. To ensure continuing success Phoebe asked for volunteers to form small groups to help with correspondence, editing, programme planning and the work of the treasurer.
The meeting ended with an expression of thanks from the floor and was followed by a talk on the 'Streets of Romsey'.
Review by Jean Brent Dec 2015
Words from Beyond the Grave
by Colin Moretti
In a recent talk on Wills, given by Colin Moretti at Romsey Town Hall, he said that wills originated in the Roman Empire and can be found in Britain dating back to the ninth century; one of the earliest is that of Alfred the Great.
They were drawn up not only for the disposal after death of property and goods, but as atonement for wrongdoing to assist in a speedy progress through purgatory to heaven.
Most wills were made by the wealthy, but examples are found from all strata of society; records show that William Stone, a labourer of Romsey, made a will in 1848.
Wills are a great source of information not only on family relationships but also on land and property ownership, economic values and local customs and practices.
Until 1858 wills were proved in ecclesiastical courts, but are now a civil matter. Everyone has the right to access and read wills, with the exception of those made by royalty.
Many copies of local Romsey wills are stored by the Society in the Town Hall; more can be found in the Winchester Record Office and in the The National Archives at Kew.
STREETS of ROMSEY
by Phoebe Merrick
3rd Dec 2015
Phoebe Merrick, Chairman of the Society, recently gave members an interesting presentation on the history of Romsey streets.
It was explained how the first of the town`s walkways was probably along the gravel ridge now named Middlebridge Street which would have given access to the iron smelting works of the Roman and Anglo- Saxon periods near present day Newton Lane.
Other early streets were Banning or Bannock street which extended to the Southampton area and Eny which ran alongside the present Three Tuns public house towards the bridge at Wade. Both these routes were discouraged with the expansion of Broadlands Park after the dissolution of the monastery in the sixteenth century.
Roads to the north and east developed as it became more necessary to have links with the Hundred of King`s Somborne and the mother church of Winchester - The route to Winchester probably went over Woodley and then on to Merdon.
Cherville Street is an interesting early town development which appears to have been carefully planned in the thirteenth century when it belonged to the manor of Rockbourne. Review by Jean Brent Jan 2016
LTVAS AGM Report 2016 - 14th Nov 2016
Phoebe Merrick, chairman of the Society reported that thanks to the Christopher Collier bequest, research into the Anglo-Saxon period had continued, culminating in a successful conference arranged jointly with the University of Wincheste. The project has another year to run.
As part of a review of working practices the committee is looking to improve its catalogue of documents, maps and photographs with easy access for the non computer specialist. It is also adopting a more systematic method of recording loans and donations to the archives.
Phoebe added that volunteers to share the work of the committee would be welcome.
Reports were provided on various aspects of the ongoing activities:
The geographic information system ( QGIS) is installed on the Society`s three computers and is available for members to use, with guidance provided if necessary.
Work is in hand to place the membership records on the computer system.
The web site continues to be a popular source of information for our members and the general public.
The Graffiti Photographic Project on the Abbey has grown into a full photographic inventory of the building. Help with data entry and the design of a searchable data base would be appreciated.
Publications continue to sell steadily. Membership now stands at 332 and subscriptions are due on the 1st Jan. 2017.
The programme of Walks and Talks has continued to be wide ranging and well attended. The 2017 programme will be available at the December meeting.
The Treasurer`s statement of accounts was accepted and members of the committee re-elected.
The meeting closed with a talk by Frank Green on " Mottisfont : The Abbey and its Archaeology".
Review by Jean Brent DEc 2016