Bishopstoke W. I. Millennium Project
This book was published by Bishopstoke Women’s Institute to celebrate the Millennium in the year 2000 and features research and interviews with people about their lives in the village which makes fascinating reading. It should be remembered that sometimes what happened and what people remember are not necessarily the same, but if it makes for a good story, so much the better.
Pictures have been added to illustrate the document by Allen Guille and Chris Humby in 2023
In 1935 a book called “Bygone Bishopstoke” was published. It was a book of reminiscences edited by Dorothy Escombe, who was living at that time in the old rectory. The contributions in it were by, and mostly about, the wealthier inhabitants such as the former Rector and the owners of such houses as The Mount, Spring Grove, and the Manor House. Those lower down the social scale were mentioned in passing, often as the servants, in the large houses. The Reverend Ashmall, Rector from 1896 to 1905, wrote: – “In 1896 there were a goodly number of the old villagers who gave the parish a rural atmosphere. They were chiefly attached to the large houses and there was about them that air of dignity and respect and reserve which was very impressive and delightful to me.” The patronising tone of this extract reveals how much has changed during the succeeding years. Many of the big houses have disappeared and the owners of those remaining no longer have a retinue of servants to wait upon them. There remained here, however, well into the 1990’s, some who were born here, as were their parents and grandparents, or who moved here as infants with their parents at the beginning of this century and who remember the big houses and their wealthy owners. Their memories provide us with links in the chain which connect the present with the past.
Spring Lane circa 1908
Their stories of a childhood in houses with no electricity, running water or main drainage give us a glimpse into another era. The fact that they spent their whole life here and that relative newcomers to the village also say that they do not want to live anywhere else is testimony to the attractiveness of the area, despite the enormous changes which have taken place during this century. That is not to say that they are not nostalgic for the past. It is human nature to be so. They are only echoing the words of former writers. “The Bishopstoke I knew is largely gone, both the outward and physical aspect of it and the personnel,” said Canon Ashmall.
“The village has been changing from the old-world type to the artisan…. Bishopstoke was fast losing its beauty and picturesqueness,” said Mrs. Willoughby- Piggot, writing about the period after the 1914-18 war. Edith Escombe, writing about 1922, said: “For village it is still called, though most of the charm conjured up by that word has long since passed away.”
This book was conceived as a Millennium Project by the Bishopstoke W.I. We decided that we should relate the story of our village from the beginning of the century to the present day. We shall also tell some of Bishopstoke’s 1,000 year history where relevant.
The reminiscences in this book, in contrast to the narrow view of Dorothy Escombe’s work, reflect the wider social mix in the village today. We shall also try to convey something of the sense of community which is still here today. With this in mind, we have consulted, not only the older residents to tell us of their memories, but also people who have moved here recently. We asked some future residents, children from the schools, to tell us some of their views. A sense of community is fostered by the many clubs, societies, and organisations which play a great part in the life of the village. Adding to the vitality are also the shops and businesses, which know many of their customers by name and encourage them to stop for a chat with their friends while they make their purchases. Much is written about the demise of local shops, but we still have here in Bishopstoke almost everything we need for daily life, except for larger purchases, such as clothes or furnishing. We would like to thank all those people who have contributed to this book, by taking time to talk about their memories, write their reminiscences and lend us their photographs. I would also like to thank my two fellow W.I. members, Joyce Parkes, and Margaret Gould, for their help in tracking down likely contributors, reading the resulting pages and making comments on the work in progress.
Joan Simmonds, Editor Bishopstoke W.I.
Bishopstoke W.I. was founded in May 1946. From the beginning it was a thriving organisation. Numbers increased until by the 1960’s there were over 70 members. Numbers have declined slowly since, due, it is thought, to more opportunities being available to women. But the enthusiasm remains. Early on, parties were organised for New Year’s Eve and there were Christmas Parties for the children. A birthday party was held in May, followed by an outing and a Harvest Supper in October. The outings were well supported. Perhaps the most memorable would be a visit to London to see the decorations for the Coronation in 1953.
W.I. members take part in many village affairs. When money was needed for the Memorial Hall, “Hall Days” were held, floats were arranged and the W.I. members took an active part. In 1997 the Carnival was revived, and members again took part.
The Mount Hospital has always been supported at their Fetes, and at Christmas members contribute small gifts for the patients. In 1967 a seat was bought and placed in the old churchyard by the W.I. followed in 1973 by a tree.
When Meller House was officially opened in 1974 by the Duke of Gloucester, the W.I. provided the tea.
W.I.’s is always associated with jam and tea, but the Produce Shows proved that not only were members good cooks, but also good gardeners and exceedingly good with a needle. This was proved when a Miniature Room was made, incorporating many crafts, and entered in a county competition, gaining second place. After being on show in Eastleigh for many months it was donated to Tankerville School.
Bishopstoke Ladies Sewing Guild 1939 – 1945
There has been a thriving choir and drama group which entertained at parties for many years. Now singing seems to have failed but drama is still undertaken at times.
In spite of busier lives and smaller numbers, Bishopstoke W.I. is still thriving. At the 50th birthday party celebration many old members who had moved from the area came back to meet friends and discuss old times. Interests have now widened. There is a walking group who plod the lanes once a month; a reading group who read and discuss books, also once a month; some members play Scrabble, others play darts – and win County competitions. Bowls is a favourite, both nine-pin and short mat. Craft classes continue and an embroidered map of Victorian Bishopstoke now hangs in the Community Centre.
There is so much to do it is not surprising that Bishopstoke W.I. is still very much alive and kicking after more than 50 years!
Mrs. Joyce Parkes
Bishopstoke – A Brief History
The earliest extant document referring to Bishopstoke is a Saxon charter of 948, when King Edred granted land to a thane called Aelfric. The boundaries of this land coincide with those of part of the Parish of Bishopstoke today, although the modern parish is much smaller. Originally, it included Fair Oak, Horton Heath and Crowd Hill and was an area of 3,431 acres, up until 1872.
In the Domesday Book of 1084 both a mill and a church are mentioned. The land was held by the Bishops of Winchester, who remained landlords, apart from a short period during the Commonwealth, until modern times.
Bishopstoke was an agricultural area until the coming of the railway in 1840 and lost its rural air when houses for railway workers were built after the railway works came down from Nine Elms.
The Nineteenth Century
In 1807 the Reverend Thomas Garnier became Rector of Bishopstoke. A member of a wealthy family, he had travelled to France during a lull in the Napoleonic wars and had met Napoleon himself. He was also friendly with Prince Albert, who visited Bishopstoke in 1851. He was a keen botanist, a member of the Linnean Society and was able to indulge his interest when he came to Bishopstoke. His garden contained many new specimens of plants brought back by the plant hunters of the time. Besides rebuilding the Rectory in 1808, he had a school built in 1842 for the poor children of the parish and had the old church, down by the river, rebuilt in 1825. He was Rector here for 60 years and, unlike many clerics of his time, lived in his parish and took a great interest in its affairs, including those of its poorest families. He was related to the Keppel family, and he escorted the young Henry Keppel to the naval college in Portsmouth to begin a career in the navy in 1822. It was probably this connection which later brought Sir Henry Keppel to live in a house in Bishopstoke called “The Cottage” near the Rectory.
It was not surprising therefore that other large houses for the gentry were built in Bishopstoke in the second half of the nineteenth century, after the completion of the railway line from Southampton to London made travel easier. An advertisement for the sale of the Mount in 1870 proclaimed that Bishopstoke was: – “A neighbourhood which contains so many family seats that a Lady or Gentleman occupying this property may ensure Good Society”.
The Twentieth Century
The next phase in the development of Bishopstoke was after the Railway Works moved down from Nine Elms to Eastleigh, the Carriage Works in 1890 and the Locomotive Works in 1909.
Houses for the workers were built in Bishopstoke as well as in Eastleigh. Land at this time became available when some areas of the Longmead Estate were sold. Houses were built in Hamilton Road, Guest Road and Scotter Road in the south of the village and in Nelson Road and St Mary’s Road in the north. Many of these houses were terraced houses but a few were detached or semi-detached for the higher echelons of workers. These were followed in the 1920’s and 1930’s by the building of roads such as Edward Avenue, Longmead Avenue and Drake Road. So, until the beginning of the second world war in 1939 some of the gentry were still living in the big houses, alongside ever-growing rows of smaller houses filling up the area which had once been Longmead Estate. The development of Longmead was completed in the 1950’s, when the remaining land was bought by the Eastleigh Borough Council and laid out as an estate of Council Houses, for rent. In the meantime, the village expanded westwards towards Fair Oak. The first new houses were the Ideal Homes. Weavills Road and Haig Road, which only had a few houses, were lengthened, and built upon, with Whalesmead Road being added. Then the areas to the north and south of the Fair Oak Road were developed with houses and bungalows covering what had been farmland. Bishopstoke now merges with Fair Oak and is virtually divided into two areas, with the former village being known as “Old Bishopstoke.”
From Rural to Residential
The early history of Bishopstoke is that of a Parish consisting largely of farms and the houses of the labourers who worked on them, with a few large houses for the wealthier inhabitants. The first result of the building of the railway line from Southampton to London and the opening of a station near Bishopstoke in 1840 was to make the area more accessible for those looking for a pleasant place in which to build a house in the country. Houses such as the Mount, 1844, Longmead, 1866, Oakbank, 1840, Stoke Knoll, 1864, were built for people able to afford the upkeep of a large house with a retinue of servants.
The next and biggest change came with the arrival from Nine Elms in London of the railway carriage works in 1890 and the building of rows of small houses for the workers. This was followed in 1909 by the locomotive works also being relocated to Eastleigh. The coming of these works led to a big increase in the population of Bishopstoke as well as the beginnings of the town of Eastleigh. The memories of some of the older residents of the village start from this period and describe what life was like in the early years of this century.
“I was born in London in 1902 and our family moved to Bishopstoke in 1909, after the locomotive works came down from Nine Elms. My father was a craftsman who worked in the machine shop. We lived in a new, terraced house in St. Mary’s Road, one of many built in Bishopstoke. We only had three rooms in London, so Mother was delighted with her new house. Of course, the road wasn’t made up and there were no streetlights. We had a bathroom but there was no water upstairs so the water was heated in the copper in the kitchen and carried up in buckets. There was a drain, though to empty the bath. We only found our house because the decorators had left a white table in the garden. Five shillings a week it was. My dad paid £100 for the house when he bought it afterwards, that must have been a long time afterwards. My husband’s dad was only earning 19 shillings a week, he was a very good carpenter. My husband was in the machine shop in the Loco. The people in Bishopstoke hated it when the Londoners came. They were frightened because the Londoners had a bad name for being rough and getting drunk and fighting. One couple at the end of our road used to go to Annie Miles’ (the Anglers pub) on Saturday night and fight. Then on Sundays, you’d see them going out arm in arm. My husband’s people were Hampshire, they weren’t Londoners. At home the copper was lit on Mondays for the weekly wash, which took all day. Mum always wore a pinafore in the house, and she put a coarse apron over it to do the washing. After dinner she changed into a clean pinafore for the afternoon. She lived in a pinny. As time went on, she started leaving the afternoon one off. She made the pinafores and my dresses. I didn’t like them, though. I used to say, “When are you going to buy me a dress?”. She had a sewing machine.
Bishopstoke Carnival at Riverside circa 1910
In September we had a carnival in the village. The Bishopstoke one was great. There were coloured lights along Riverside and a platform on the river moored to the bank, with a band on it and men and ladies dressed up as negroes. It was a minstrel band, they were very good, all local people. It was when it was dark, and they carried torches. It came across the main road. It only did lower Stoke, it didn’t come up to where we lived. Then they had a fair in different fields. When we lived in Nelson Road, later, Drake Road wasn’t built, and the fair was at the back of us. We crawled under the fence. They had Bartletts roundabouts, swings, and a hoop-la. I had sixpence to go there with. I only spent a penny at a time. People came out from Eastleigh, it was a good carnival. Mr. Cotton used to ride in it sometimes. On bonfire night we had a little fire in the garden, with a tuppeny packet of sparklers. At Christmas my father used to go up in the woods and cut a tree, a stolen one! We never had any lights on it because we never had any electricity. We had candles and we used to light them and sit there with a bucket of water at the side. It never caught fire; Dad used to watch it. We made crackers from coloured paper, we never had any bought decorations, we made paper chains.
Mother used to do her weekly shopping for dry goods in Eastleigh. I was only seven years old, but I would be left at home in charge of my little brother. Mother went to meet Father out of work on Fridays at 5 o’clock. She had to walk there, and they used to get home, I think, about 7 o’clock. I wasn’t happy with that at all, because in the winter it was dark in the house. I used to sit on a chair with my brother on my lap til they got home. Then she had to get tea for us, sausages, and chips mostly. We couldn’t wait for too much because we were hungry. There were plenty of shops in Eastleigh, the Maypole, Home and Colonial, Liptons, World Stores and Misselbrooks and Westons. There was a butcher in Bishopstoke and Mother used to get her meat there, she used to walk down. I used to go Saturday mornings and get a rabbit. It was fivepence, ‘cos my dad came home to dinner on Saturday. I was only ever given five pence. We had a treat on Sundays, we had a bit of lamb and roast potatoes and rice pudding, ‘cos she had the oven on. It was cold meat and soap suds on Mondays and bubble and squeak. We had liver one day and steak and kidney pudding another. I don’t think we had things like chops or steak, the money wouldn’t run to that. There was Palmers the Bakers near the club in Spring Lane and Mr. Snellgrove another baker in Spring Lane used to deliver bread. Mr. Matley from Brambridge delivered the milk twice a day with a pony and trap.
Elkins Horse Drawn Coal Wagon
One local coalman was Mr. Elkins who used to stable his horses in a building behind Stoke Park Road. Another coalman was Mr. Goodenough from Eastleigh”. (Mr. Elkins has also contributed his memories of life in Bishopstoke)
Mrs. Millard, now resident in Meller House, Church Road, was born on the 3rd of August 1905 in 32, St Mary’s Road. Her father, Henry A Cook, came from Mottisfont to Bishopstoke and was the gardener at The Cottage (now Itchen House) for many years. Her mother, Edith Elodia Freemantle, was the daughter of the landlord of the Anchor Inn, Riverside. They were married in St Mary’s Church in 1904. Mrs. Millard was baptised, confirmed, and married there also. Her father had an allotment on land called Burrough Hill at the top of Church Road, owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. “There were no houses then between Church Road and St Mary’s Road, which was, like Nelson Road, a cul-de-sac, with barbed wire across the end. There was a path across to Stoke Park Farm. Occasionally the cows would wander across the field and get into the gardens”. “The milk from this farm would be put into churns and left for collection in Stoke Common Road, near Rose Cottage. It would also be delivered by horse and cart to customers in Bishopstoke, fresh from the cows and, of course, unpasteurised. People would take their jugs to the cart and the milk would be poured out from a metal container”. “I used to take my father’s collars to the laundry in Spring Lane and they also used to goffer the frills round the aprons”. The house which was a laundry from 1914 to 1918 later became a bakery, owned by Mr. Snellgrove. When there was a carnival Mrs. Millard remembers going down to the Anchor to watch it from an upstairs window.
Mrs. Holloway, born in 1905, belonged, like Mrs. Hayes, to a family which came down from Nine Elms in 1909. “We lived in Montague Terrace, in one of the old houses behind the shops, which were pulled down in 1959. “There was a cycle shop at the corner of Riverside, owned by Mr. Dunford.
Dunford’s cycle shop circa 1910 to 1920
He kept chickens in the ground near the shop and when the mill stopped working in the evenings, he sent the chickens across to pick up the corn dropped on the ground.”. “When I was eighteen, I went to work at the Mill House for Mrs. Shears, as a general “dogsbody”. There was also a woman who came in to do the washing”. “Mr. Maffey kept the Post Office, and I was sometimes asked to deliver telegrams for him. He used to give me sixpence to deliver them, sometimes as far away as Brambridge. Sometimes I had to deliver them to Longmead House, to Mrs. Gubbins. The name Gubbins occasionally got confused with Cummings, who lived at Spring Grove in Church Road. This house had a bell by the gate in the brick wall and I had to ring this. “At Christmas time we used to go carol singing and were asked into some of the big houses, such as the Rectory, Springfield House and Asfordbye, but never into Longmead House.”
Mrs. Beecham was born in 1906 and came to live in Hamilton Road in 1908. Then the rent was raised to 5 shillings and sixpence a week, so the family moved to 103 Church Road, where the rent was two shillings less. She has very happy memories of her childhood in Bishopstoke. “The field next to Spring Grove (a house in Church Road next to Oakbank, demolished in 1936) was known at “Stagg’s Field”. Most village events took place there, such as the maypole dancing.
Bishopstoke Carnival in Stagg’s Field
The field sloped down to the river. There used to be a fair, with swings, roundabouts and, best of all, “Nellie Noyce” with his hand-turned carousel for the younger ones. “Our favourite picnic place was down the Lyde (often pronounced Loyd by local people). Down to the stream crossed by a plank. The boys were not allowed to bathe here, they had to cross another river, then two fields to “The Box” at Highbridge. During holidays everyone went down the Lyde from morning till sunset, mothers taking it in turns to spend the day looking after us all. “The girls used to go to Stoke Park Woods and leave their dolls and pushchairs or prams in the hut which belonged to old Scorey, the woodman. He used to make up the faggots, nut branches tied together and used the bakers for their oven fires. There was one baker at the back of the Forester’s Arms and a shop at the side. “We would all agree on the day to start “nutting, when the hazel nuts were ripe”. Chestnuts were not gathered until after the first frost. They were all taken home to be packed in salt and kept on a shelf at the top of the cellar steps until Christmas. The cellar floor was where vegetables were stored for the winter, in sand. “There was no gas, electricity or mains drainage in Stoke Common, so the “lav” was at the end of the garden, a bucket with boards across it and a candle when it was dark. There was one well every three houses.
“The carnival mustered in Bishopstoke by the Recreation Ground. Every child who entered the children’s carnival on Saturday afternoon was given an ice cream cornet. Ice cream was introduced to the village after World War 1 by an Italian ex-navy man called Reg Russillo, who married a Miss Carter from Spring Lane. He made the ice cream and brought it round in an insulated box on a pushchair, halfpenny a cornet. “The flower show was held in the field at the back of the school. There were two marquees, one for adults and one for children. The classes for children were: –
- Largest number of grasses
- Largest number of wildflowers, named and arranged.
- Grasses and flowers mixed, best arrangement.
“The village was a community. It made no difference if you were church or chapel, everyone went to events such as a Lantern slide evening at church, or a Band of Hope Singsong at chapel. There were otter hounds, followed on foot, mostly through the Lyde and out to Highbridge, Allbrook and Brambridge. The fox hounds usually met at some point between Crowd Hill, Fair Oak, and Stoke Woods. The children would occasionally miss school and gather where they knew the fox would run, to see it go galloping past. The huntsmen would have a beer at the Queen’s Head or Fox and Hounds or sometimes the Forrester’s Arms.”
Mr. George Morris
Mr. George Morris, now living in Hamilton Road, describes living and working on a farm in the 1930s. Farming, as he describes it had not yet undergone the great changes which came after the second world war.
Breach Farm was originally on the estate surrounding a house called “The Mount”, built in 1844, improved, altered, and rebuilt at various times. Between 1870 and 1891 it was owned by a wealthy man called Captain Hargreaves. My mother-in-law remembered him driving round the village with a four in hand. When my family moved into Breach Farm in 1930 the Mount, having been rebuilt by Mr. Cotton in 1892, had been sold upon his death to Hampshire County Council and converted to use as a sanatorium for the treatment of tuberculosis.
The unofficial route to Breach Farm through The Mount.
Breach Farm was just out of picture to the right
The main entrance to the Mount, situated above the old school, was not the official entrance to Breach Farm, but was used by our family when going to the village or Eastleigh. The official way in was at the top of the hill between the Doctor’s house and a spinney of trees. This track was called the Cinder Track, as it was resurfaced with loads of cinders brought from the Running Sheds of the railway works in Eastleigh. It was down this steep path that the threshing machines had to travel at harvest time, and afterwards be hauled back up one at a time by the engine.
At the bottom of the first slope the path met the road from the main gates, which passed between the hospital buildings, two gardeners’ cottages, the clock tower, the workshops, and the mortuary. A notice board warned the patients that they must not go beyond this point. Consequently, this was always known to us as “Out of Bounds Corner.” Continuing towards the farmhouse we passed the piggeries which supplied meat for the patients. Here the lane was lined on the right by a large number of old oak trees and a strip of hazel coppice. In Spring this was enhanced by a carpet of primroses, bluebells, anemones, solomon’s seal and red and white campions. Most of the oaks and all the hazel have now been replaced by a wire fence – progress or vandalism? On the left the land fell sharply away to the water meadow below and the slopes were planted with larch, poplar, etc., below which were the usual woodland flowers, interspersed with daffodils, presumably the throw-outs by the Mount’s gardeners. This wooded area continued down to the Breach Copse. Beyond this, down to the river, were the water meadows which were irrigated in the Spring to encourage an early supply of grass for the cows. Here there were marsh marigolds, water avons, forget-me-nots and valuable herbs which the cattle knew and ate. The broad-leaved semi-bitter watercress grew in the river, and we used to enjoy feeds of that plant and, as Father would say, “It does yer inner workings a power o’ good.”
On a narrow strip of land, called “The Sling”, grew sedge in abundance, plenty for the thatching requirements. This strip of land was the natural habitat of moorhens, coot, dabchicks, wild duck, sedge warblers, the occasional snipe, water rats and snakes and, in the summer, a host of mosquitoes, damselflies and other insects. One might also see an otter or a fox and often watch the somewhat ungainly flight of an old Jack Heron as he floated above, looking for a feed of fish from the river.
Breach Farm pictured from the river Itchen
The farmhouse stood almost at the bottom of the slope near the water. It was a six roomed house, three up and three down and very basic, with a toilet in a wooden structure at the bottom of the garden. Its bucket had to be emptied periodically and its contents were dug into a hole further down. We were always proud of the marrows we grew there. Our new flush toilet was undoubtedly better, but we never grew such good marrows again! The house was said to be at least 200 hundred years old and, although built on slopes going both ways, it had absolutely no foundations.
When we moved into the farmhouse Mother had to cook on an old kitchen range. Depending on the way of the wind and the airless, dense fogs which often persisted in this low-lying area, the fire would not draw, the room filled with smoke and the flues needed constant attention. In the summer Mother cooked on a three-burner oil stove and when I think of the meals she produced under such conditions, I marvel. She baked her own bread for many years. Some years later the extension was added with the installation of a Rayburn cooker and connection to the mains water supply and electricity. Prior to being connected to the mains our water came from a spring up in the field opposite the house. It was always clear and cool, and its elevation enabled us to have a tap over the sink. Baths could be a bit of a problem. We used an old, galvanised bath which, between usages, always hung on a nail outside the back door.
Opposite the house the bank sloped steeply to the field above and was clad in trees and bushes. These were overshadowed by a large, old oak tree. Over the years the weather had washed out much soil from under and between the roots and the hole provided a kennel for the succession of dogs we had. The farmyard was bounded on the left by the small dairy and the cow stable- a slate roofed building which accommodated 18 cows. In the early days milk had to be delivered to James Hann and sons, Dorset Dairies, in Eastleigh by pony and float. Later, a cooler was installed, and a lorry collected the milk once daily. At first, Dad milked by hand, but later a machine was installed, the power for which was supplied by a little Petters engine in a lean-to attached to the lower end of the stable. The far end of the yard was bounded by a large barn. Inside, the structure of its timbers was quite remarkable. The large, solid beams had, at some time, been ship’s timbers, no nails or screws had been used, all being held together by doweling.
The machines for harvesting hay and oats grown on the 21-acre field were horse drawn and, when the carting was done, pitching onto the wagons and from thence to the ricks was all hard work. A borrowed elevator helped later considerably. A great spirit of camaraderie existed between the workers and much good-natured banter went to and fro. There was much fun when, at the end of a long, hot afternoon, Mother and maybe visiting friends and relations would bring out a large dixey of tea and baskets of sandwiches, scones and cakes and we would all break off, try to find a bit of shade, and relax for half an hour. How loathe we were to start again. Muscles would ache, joints would creak, and it would be a while before we got back in full swing again. The hay and corn ricks when completed were thatched with sedge, cut from the narrow strip of land known as the Sling.
On the area later excavated by Halls for gravel we grew root crops, sometimes quite exceptional ones. This was due to the Mount piggeries on the opposite side of the lane. The tanks which collected the effluent from there were emptied by pump onto the top of the field and, as the ground sloped away, this soaked over a considerable area.
In later years Dad bought a tractor and the horses were sold. He was sorry to see them go, as he had worked with horses all his life, even during the first world war when he had served four years in India with a horse regiment. We always had a pony and trap and, at one time a wagonette and ralli cart. They were our means of transport going to market or town or even for an evening’s ride. The companionship of horses is such that a mere tractor driver couldn’t imagine.
I must mention “Woodpecks”, the small field just inside the Mount gates. We often kept heifers or dry cattle there and, in the winter, they had to be fed daily. It was often my job to go and dish out hay and cake to the animals. Also, the early springtime was a favourite time of year for the womenfolk of our family to visit Woodpecks as they could pick armfuls of lovely short-stemmed daffodils.
The ”Tin Chapel” in Spring Lane
We attended a little chapel at the bottom of Spring Lane, on the site of what is now a fish and chip shop. It was a long rough walk, but we attended regularly in all weathers. My brother and sister went there too, to Sunday School. It was there that I was introduced to the girl who was to become my wife. That was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Gradually over the years our ties with Breach Farm have become more tenuous. When I married, we moved to a little house in St Margaret’s Road. Dad carried on at Breach Farm for some time, then, in 1961 he and Mother retired to live in Chandlers Ford. He sold Breach Farm to a Mr. Dance who farmed it for a few years and then sold out to Halls, the gravel people. It is only on the odd occasion that I walk around the old place again. The house is just a ruin. A fairly large tree is growing up through what was our kitchen. The water meadow is neglected, and the fields are only used for grazing cattle. The old place looks depressing and derelict and, as I stand and ponder, I get a bitter-sweet feeling and I am glad to come away.
Another remnant of rural life in Bishopstoke was the forge or blacksmith’s shop. The Woodford’s had been blacksmiths in Stoke Common since 1989. Mr. Morris remembered the old blacksmith’s shop and has written a description of it.
The Old Blacksmith’s Shop
I don’t know how long ago the old blacksmith’s shop was pulled down, but I remember it from 1923, when I was 9 years old. It was old even then, indeed it looked as though it had been there from time immemorial – almost as if it had grown there. It was situated just in Stoke Common Road, almost opposite the Forester’s Arms.
The Smithy at Stoke Common
My grandfather, who farmed Highbridge at that time, and my father, who later farmed Breach Farm, took their horses there to be shod and often had machines repaired and hoes and other hand tools made. My earliest recollections were when one of our cart horses needed a new set of shoes. A sack was put on his back, I was given a leg up, handed the reins and told “Let him go quietly, Nipper, and you’ll be alright”. I went up to Brambridge, past the Dog and Crook and through the lanes up to Stoke Common. Needless to say, there was very little traffic around in those days. I remember the smith, Mr. Billy Woodford, greeted me with, “So you wants a new set of shoes, then boy”. I replied, “No Mr. Woodford, I want some for the horse”. He then said, “Don’t you be cheeky, young feller, you get down and tie the ‘hoss up to that metal ring in the wall and I’ll see what I can do for you”. Actually, Billy was a nice, kindly man. He was quite a small, grey-haired man but, as I came to know, he was deceptively strong, and he had great skill in handling horses.
William Woodford and his wife Sarah
His son, Basil, worked with him but was more of a blacksmith. His father was the shoeing smith. Where the shoeing took place was an open, brick-floored area adjacent to the smith’s shop. The shop had a hard, earth-packed floor and the whole interior tended to look quite dingy. There were two smallish windows with panes that were invariably dusty and often festooned with cobwebs. There were workbenches along two walls, and these were littered with specialist tools, odds and ends of metal and articles in the process of being repaired. On the walls were hung sets of horseshoes ready made for the horses of the district. Much skill was needed in the shoeing. It would have been so easy to injure a horse’s foot and a bad fitting shoe could cause lameness. I never knew this to happen to any of Billy’s or Basil’s work. The shop centre was where all the preliminary work was carried out. The forge was a large brick-built square in the centre of which was the fire. A broad metal chimney rose above it to take away smoke, steam, and fumes. Up in the rafters were many odd lengths of iron, from which was selected the material for the next job. The dust, rust and cobwebs all contributed to the murky atmosphere, but this was unavoidable and even added to the thrill of seeing an age-old occupation become real. Among the many jobs carried out was re-tyring cart and wagon wheels, the iron tyres of which had become loose by the shrinking of the wood in the hot, summer suns.
It would be impossible for me to describe the many jobs those two smiths undertook. There are just two, however, that I will mention. The iron scroll gates at the entrance to St Mary’s Church in Bishopstoke is one, the other, a large grid which was fixed across the river immediately above Shear’s Mill. This was to stop debris getting into the underwater machinery. This often happened when the river was in spate from winter rains. Sadly, the mill is no longer there. I recently stood by the Forester’s, looked across the road and visualised the little, old, low blacksmith’s shop, with its tiled roof, murky windows and the open area where we used to tie the horses. I saw, too, those two characters, Billy and Basil who always had a smile and a good word for a young whippersnapper coming for a set of new shoes! Incidentally, the whole Woodford family attended the little Bible Christian Chapel, down the road, known as “The Chapel in the Garden”. The older Woodfords have now all gone, and the Chapel is used as a store. To one who can look back to his first visit over 70 years ago, this is very sad.
The National School
In 1842 the Rector of Bishopstoke, Dean Garnier, gave a piece of Glebe land in Middle Street for the building of a school for the poor children of the parish. He also had a house built adjacent to it for the schoolmaster. Before this it was only the children of wealthier families who had any formal education. The school was a “National School”, run under the auspices of the Anglican Church. There was therefore emphasis placed upon the religious education of the children as well as the three “Rs”. The schoolmaster at the school for thirty-two years was Mr. Shotter, he also played the harmonium and was choirmaster at the church, so it was one of his duties to teach the “singing boys” the hymns for the Sunday services. He would also make sure that all his pupils learned the collects and catechisms as required.
Plan of Bishopstoke National School
This school remained in existence until 1880 and in its early years was the only one for the children, not only in Bishopstoke, but in Fair Oak, Horton Heath, Crowdhill and the area around the railway station called Barton. By 1880 the building was inadequate, needed repairs, and the school inspectors criticised the poor standard of teaching.
The Board School
A new school was built in Church Road, opposite St Mary’s Church. The parishioners, however, would not continue to support the new school financially, so it became a Board School, no longer a Church of England School, although the Rectors continued to take an interest in the pupils, occasionally going to lead the prayers.
Bishopstoke Board School
It was this building and a further one added in 1896, because of the increase in the population, that is remembered by most of the villagers. The 1880 building, recently demolished and replaced by houses, became the boys’ school and the later one was for the girls and infants. The two playgrounds were separated by an iron fence.
Mrs. Hayes had cause to remember the separation. “The boys and girls had separate playgrounds at school with a railing between them. I used to lean over the railing at playtime and talk to one particular boy. That’s what I got the cane for. The Headmistress fetched me in and gave me the cane and said, “I shall speak to his Headmaster”. He never came to the railings again and neither did I.” This was the boy that Mrs. Hayes later married. Girls were caned quite as frequently as the boys, often for misdeeds such as talking, scratching desks, disorderliness in lines, taking sister home at playtime without permission and not returning to school (that merited two stripes). One girl is reported as having “Tried to throw the teacher off her bike and called rudely after her down the road”. She got one stripe on each hand. A lesser type of punishment was the writing of lines.
Bishopstoke Girl’s and Infants School next to the Boy’s School.
Mrs. Hayes (again)
“We had slates to write on at school. If we had to write a hundred lines as punishment we used to try and hide them in the cupboard afterwards, instead of cleaning them off. So, if we had to do the lines again, we would go and find them, and it saved you doing them”. She did not say if this ruse worked. “We wore pinafores to school; it was part of the school dress. We made ours at school in sewing lessons. Then we were allowed to buy them. “We all walked to school, no matter what the weather, nor how far we lived. There were no buses or transport and there wasn’t the macks or protective clothing we have nowadays. It was awful in wet weather. “We played hopscotch in the playground or sat down on the ground and played dibs. We had skipping games. We never had ball games. We all had hoops and tops, but never played with them in the street. “When we had a new headmistress come, she altered the school. The old one, Granny Holloway, she had retired. Miss Jessett, she was very good. We did “Cinderella” at the old Public Hall. It didn’t cost very much to hire it then.” Other former pupils, besides Mrs. Hayes talked of teachers they had had at the school.
Mrs. Beecham: –
“Miss Priest was head of the girls’ school and Mr. Croft was head of the boys. They married and the children picked primroses and scattered them along the path from the church to the gate. They lived at first in the schoolhouse. Miss Street was an uncertificated teacher who taught the infants. She was born in a cottage which used to be at the back of Weymouth House”.
Mrs. Whitmarsh attended Bishopstoke School when the headmistress was Miss Moore, and the headmaster was Mr. Luke. “I remember one class went on strike when a teacher slapped a boy very hard.”
Mr. Honeybone doesn’t remember much about his schooldays except that he didn’t like it. “I remember one teacher, Mr. Haskins, he was a lovely teacher”. During the 1914-1918 war, the school field was dug up for the children to tend and grow vegetables.
Bishopstoke School Gardening Class some years later in 1947
Mrs. Gilham did not take part in the gardening classes once a week in the plot behind the school. “My mother did not approve of these, so she sent me to school on those days in a silk dress. The teacher would then send me home to change to a more suitable dress. So, I missed the classes.”
Mrs. Durrant went to the Bishopstoke school in the 1920s. “I was very happy there. I was top of the class from when I first went there until I left. I was in the top class for three years, ‘cos I’d gone too quick. I should have gone to Barton Peveril, but the financial situation didn’t warrant it. I had two brothers and two sisters, I’m the eldest”.
Miss Clarke, however, was able to go to Barton Peveril Grammar School, when she won a scholarship at the age of eleven. “The school was then in an old farmhouse near Barton Mill. I walked to school and home for lunch. The uniform for girls was a navy gymslip, with a blouse. In winter we wore a felt hat with a badge in the shape of the Hampshire rose”. “Some of the teachers were Miss Smith, the Headmistress, Miss Addie Smith, her niece who taught needlework, Mr. Luke, geography, (he later became headmaster at Bishopstoke Junior school) Mr. Fackrell, math’s, Mr. Wilkinson, and Mr. Bodie who taught science. Our science lab was in an old conservatory whose roof leaked. I always remember a smell of gas in there. We had to walk to Dutton Lane for games, in a field there. We played hockey in winter, but I was never very good at games”.
Bishopstoke School Girl’s Uniform in the early 1900s
Mrs. Millard remembers wearing “an overall with frills fastened with buttons as a kind of uniform to Bishopstoke school. I won a prize at school for my buttonholes, worked on white cotton. We used to have dancing classes at school, and we had to dance round the Maypole on Garland Day. There were coloured ribbons on the Maypole to help us remember the patterns we had to make, as we danced round it. “The Rector, Reverend Sedgwick, used to come into the school every morning to take prayers. Any children who were Catholics used to arrive at school half an hour later, after the prayers were over.” The girls had cookery lessons and the boy’s woodwork, but for these they had to walk into Eastleigh. Mrs. Beecham was at cookery on the day war ended in 1918 and they were all “released early to celebrate with everyone else”.
The Big Houses
The first house to be built on the site was in 1844 by Walter Twynam, a local landowner and wealthy farmer, who foresaw an influx of wealthy people to the area, after the building of the railway made travel easier. The house had several owners, who altered and “improved” it. These included, from 1870 to 1892, Captain Hargreaves. He was a lover of Italian art and filled a gallery in the house with statues, furniture, and pictures. When he died the house was bought by Mr. T. Cotton and rebuilt. He was an ornithologist, had aviaries built in the grounds and a collection of stuffed birds was kept in the house. He was a Quaker and hosted the annual fete of the Band of Hope in his grounds. He is the person remembered and most often mentioned in connection with the Mount.
The Mount circa early 1900s
Mrs. Marsh, 89 years old in 1993, when she was visiting the Mount as a day patient, talked of her family, who used to work for Mr. Cotton in the early 1900’s. “My Father, two brothers, sister and brother-in-law worked at the Mount. My Father looked after the cattle, my brothers worked in the garden, my brother-in-law in the greenhouse and my sister was a housemaid. “I only ever came into the servants’ part of the house. There was a cook and a housekeeper. There were two cottages up the drive, with an archway between. I remember a tower with a clock on it which used to chime. There were iron gates at the entrance and there was a field with deer running in it, the Deer Park. There was a pump down by the river which pumped water up to the house and there were fountains in the garden. I came to the Band of Hope Fetes. We marched up to the Mount. There were roundabouts and we had ice cream. At harvest time we had tea in the field, we sat on the ground.” There are many photographs and many memories of the “Treats” given at the Mount. The processions would go through the village with banners held aloft, exhorting people to forswear the evils of drink.
Mrs. Hayes, born in 1902, gives us a child’s eye view of these occasions. “Mr. Cotton used to ride in Bishopstoke Carnival sometimes. But the main thing he did was called “The Demonstration” and he rode there in style. I think he rode in a carriage. It was the Band of Hope. He taught us things, mainly about keeping off drink. That was in June or July. There was a procession up to the Mount. We had races and games, and the main thing was the tea. That’s what we all went for, the children up to 12 years old. We had doughnuts and lemonade.” Mr. Cotton himself, of course, was a strict teetotaller. One day, walking back home from the station he accepted a lift from a villager. However, when the driver stopped as usual at the Anglers public house at Riverside for his customary drink, Mr. Cotton got out to walk the rest of the way up the hill.
Another Bishopstoke resident, Mrs. Holloway, remembered that “He usually dressed in a Norfolk jacket with breaches and stockings.” Mr. Henry Ivill, (1886 – 1977) spoke about his memories of Mr. Cotton when they were both members of the Eastleigh Borough Council.
“I was friendly with Mr. Cotton who lived at the Mount. He used to call for me to take me to meetings of the Council. He had a daughter who married one of Henry White’s sons.” Henry White was a local builder and many of the houses in the village were built by him. One of the roads is named White Road.
Mr. Charles Elkins, whose grandfather was originally a shepherd at Compton and then came to Bishopstoke to drive the horses for Mr. White, the builder, had rather different memories of the Mount. “I used to deliver things at the Mount, but never set foot inside, until, after its conversion to a hospital, I went there to receive treatment. Mr. Cotton was short, and his wife was tall. She had the money. There was an aviary at the side of the house and the birds there included an eagle. The clock tower was over the stables, and it played hymns every four hours. The gardener, Mr. Cresswell, lived in a house near the main house. The chauffeur, Mr. Marriner, lived in a house built at the northern end of the Mount Estate, in Church Road.” Mr. Cotton was reputed to have had one of the first motor cars in Bishopstoke, though this distinction is disputed by some. The Rector, the Reverend Sedgwick, is pictured in a very early model, and so was the doctor, Doctor Simmons. Mr. Marriner was originally the driver of Mr. Cotton’s carriage and went up to London after the acquisition of the car to learn how to drive it.
Mr. Honeybone, now in his nineties, tells a different story about meeting Mr. Cotton. “I met Mr. Cotton once. I had a nanny goat and I wanted to have her mated, so I took her up to the Mount. I knew the cowman there, `cos. he lived near Mum and Dad, and he made the arrangements. I took the nanny up to the Mount and met Mr. Cotton. Of course, he wanted to know all about it, and he said, “She ain’t a beauty, is she?” That’s what he thought. Well, I didn’t, I loved the old nanny. Mr. Cotton had a lot of animals, goats and cows and a lot of deer. My mate’s father was the cowman there, Billy Blake, he lived in Hamilton Road. Three generations of Blakes worked at the Mount. Frank Cook used to help there in the gardens and with the animals. Lovely grounds they were, with steps down to the river. Mrs. Cotton was a very select lady, very tall, stately lady. He had the first car I can remember in Bishopstoke. “Mr. Cotton gave us mugs for the coronation of King George V, I’ve still got it.”
In the 1920’s the Mount was bought by Hampshire County Council and converted for use as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. The nurses, one of whom was Mrs. Millard, had rooms in the attics of the main house. They had to be down for breakfast at 7:30 am. The patients at the Mount were all men. Women and children were treated at a sanatorium in Hursley. Mr. Morris’s family came to Bishopstoke to take over Breach Farm in 1930. The unofficial way down to the farm was through the main entrance to the Mount. Mr. Morris remembers the recuperating patients wandering about the extensive grounds. “T.B. was rife in the late 1920’s and often, when passing a certain point in the grounds known to the patients as “out of bounds corner” we would meet the hospital porter, Mr. Kerasen, pushing his trolley along with another customer for the mortuary. The nearby St. Mary’s Church was fast filling up, so a rule was made that only local people could be buried there.” Joan Scott, who as a child lived above the hardware store at number one, Riverside, also has memories of T.B. patients. “The ambulance used to go past the shop every Wednesday and one felt very sorry for the patients. It was said no one ever came out, at least not alive. Later in life I helped out at the Mount, and I met there, in the grounds, patients with T.B. who had been there almost 40 years.”
One patient who did survive was Mr. Alan House, who was diagnosed with T.B. in December 1939, when he was 16. “In September the football season had just started, and I was a member of the YMCA team. I developed a cough which became persistent, and our family doctor prescribed a cough mixture and cod liver oil and malt. However, I became less energetic and developed night sweats, which worried my mother. So, the doctor arranged for me to have a sputum test, which proved positive. I entered the Mount Sanatorium four days before Christmas. Not knowing what T.B. really was (where ignorance is bliss) I was quite unconcerned and thought a couple of month’s rest would be the answer. I was not to know that well over a hundred patients were to die during my thirteen months there. “I was put on a ward on the ground floor of B block with seven other men and confined to bed for six weeks. Fresh air was part of the treatment, and the windows of the wards were always open. There was no heating in the ward except for a small coal fire at the far end, where the nurses would occasionally stand to warm their hands. Only through having hot water bottles in our beds day and night, were we prevented from freezing to death. The winter of 1940 was one of the coldest on record and we had a lot of snow and icy conditions. After a couple of months, I had made enough progress to be moved to an upstairs ward and allowed to sit in a chair, at first for an hour a day and later for longer periods. After a visit to the Chest Hospital in London for surgery my progress accelerated, and I was allowed up all day. The next step was to go for graded walks in the grounds and play billiards and snooker and to do simple ward duties like damp dusting. Eventually I was well enough to do modest gardening in the grounds. We were also given permission to go into Eastleigh on Saturday afternoons, where we sometimes had tea in the Bungalow Café.
Although I had expected to be released in September 1940, my health suffered another setback, and I spent my second Christmas in the Mount. However, towards the end of January 1941, I was well enough to be discharged. I remember with some nostalgic respect the devotion of the chest physician at the Mount, Dr. Alexander Cape, and the marvellous nurses.”
When the Mount ceased to be needed for the care of patients with Tuberculosis it became a Geriatric Hospital. Caroline Simmonds has memories of visits there as a volunteer. “Our house was just opposite the road which led down to the Mount Hospital. In my early teens I volunteered to go there once a week after school, on Thursday evenings. I used to take a trolley round with tea and biscuits for the old ladies and gents. That was partly a gratifying and partly a rather frightening experience, as some were inclined to ramble on a bit without making too much sense and I was never too sure what I should say back.” The Mount is now also a Day Care Centre and houses a physiotherapy unit.
The Longmead Estate
Longmead House was built in 1866 by Mr. Barton. This was the largest house in Bishopstoke village, having 23 bedrooms, 4 large reception rooms, lounge hall and a chapel.
Longmead House Main Entrance
The land which Mr. Barton had purchased for his estate stretched up as far as what later became Longmead Avenue in the north and to the Bishopstoke Road in the south. He also bought land in Spring Lane, part of what was originally the gardens of the Rectory. Like other wealthy residents he took an interest in the local people, employing some of the boys from the school in jobs such as stone picking or helping at game shoots. He gave land for the new St. Mary’s church as well as £1,000 towards the building. He later ran into financial difficulties (not true, later research shows that he inherited the Caldy Manor Estate in Cheshire on the death of his brother’s wife.) and sold off land in the south of the estate where the first roads were laid out with houses for workers from the railway.
The name more readily associated with Longmead House is Gubbins. General and Mrs. Gubbins were tenants there after Mr. Barton left Bishopstoke until 1903, when Mrs. Gubbins bought the property. Mrs. Gubbins lived there until her death in 1927.
Longmead House Servants circa 1912
Many of the servants who worked for Mrs. Gubbins were from local families and there are still people living in the village with memories of her and of Longmead House. One lady who went to work there when she left school remembers it as “very big, very cold and very unfriendly.”
Mrs. Millard recalls that Tom Skelcher, who was footman for a time, married her aunt. The butler, Roland Hill, lived with his wife and three children in the lodge in West Drive.
Roland Hill and family at the Lodge
After Mrs. Gubbins died, they went to live in Upham. The lodge was pulled down and replaced by flats in the 1960’s. There was a gate at the entrance to the drive in West Drive and this had to be opened for carriages to pass through. West Drive with its avenue of trees, still remains.
Mrs. Albert Hill was a parlourmaid. Her husband was the organist at St Mary’s Church, and they lived in Church Road.
Mr. Brockhurst, who was coachman to Mrs. Gubbins and caretaker after her death lived in one of a pair of cottages in Spring Lane, number 55 and the cowman lived in number 53, both owned by Mrs. Gubbins.
53 and 55 Spring Lane
These cottages were put up for auction in 1928. Mr. and Mrs. Gilham bought number 53 and lived there with their family for 32 years. Then a compulsory purchase order was put on the two cottages by the Eastleigh Borough Council, and they were demolished in 1960. This was at the time when many houses, including several other old cottages in Spring Lane were labelled as “unfit for habitation” and pulled down.
Mr. Ivill a member of Eastleigh Borough Council, and editor of “The Eastleigh Weekly News”, had an invitation to visit Mrs. Gubbins but others remember her as one who “never socialized.”
Mrs. Millard’s mother, Mrs. Cook took on the job of collecting the census forms locally, probably in 1921, to earn a little extra money. She called on Mrs. Gubbins, who refused to fill in the form, so Mrs. Cook did it for her.
After Mrs. Gubbins died the house and grounds of 46 acres were put up for auction in 1928. The land on the west side of Spring Lane, which comprised the kitchen gardens for the house, with green houses and part of the arboretum planted by Dean Garnier, was divided into lots, to be sold by auction. The bridge across Spring Lane, built to allow access from the main part of the estate, had to be demolished by the purchaser of plot number 16.
The Footbridge across Spring Lane
The house itself was never lived in after the death of Mrs. Gubbins, but it was not pulled down until 1938. Under the foundations workmen found a bottle containing photographs of the Barton family. They showed the ladies wearing crinolines of the 1860’s. It was not until 1952 that the main area of Longmead Estate was sold for £4,275 to Eastleigh Borough Council who built an estate of council houses.
Although the Mount and Longmead House were the two biggest houses there were several others in the village which qualified as “gentlemen’s houses”, and which, in their heyday, had a retinue of servants for their upkeep. Memories of these are again from villagers who worked in them or had other reason to remember their owners.
The Old Rectory
The Rectory was rebuilt by Dean Garnier, who made it his home when he became the Rector of Bishopstoke in 1807. He was a wealthy man, but, unlike many of the clerics of his day, he lived in the parish and took a keen interest in its affairs. He was a keen botanist and laid out the garden of the Rectory with many of the plants and trees, which were at that time being brought back to England by the plant hunters.
His garden and arboretum attained national fame and were visited by many of his illustrious friends. He finally retired in 1869. Some of the trees planted in his time are still growing in the garden and there are specimens of some, such as Wellingtonia, in other gardens in Bishopstoke, which were probably brought here due to his influence.
The Rectory he built remained the home of succeeding Rectors until it was decided to sell it in 1922, as such a large house was not suitable for a cleric at that time. When the Reverend Hancock became the Rector, a new Rectory was built in (had been built by Rev. Sedgwick in around 1910) Stoke Park Road and the old Rectory was sold.
The Escombe family came to live there, and it was Dorothy Escombe who compiled the book of reminiscences called “Bygone Bishopstoke”, published in 1935.
The family is remembered by Mrs. Whitmarsh. “Mrs. Escombe and family lived in the old Rectory. They had originally lived in the Manor House but moved away for a while. They came back from Shawford, where my father had been their gardener. He came to Bishopstoke with them. There was a large family of Escombe’s, two sons and six daughters and my mother used to cook for them. Three of the daughters became godmothers to me and my two sisters and we kept in touch with them until they died. “Mrs. Escombe sold part of the Rectory Garden to the Eastleigh Borough Council, and it became the Bishopstoke Recreation Ground. My father was then employed by the Council after Mrs. Escombe died, on the understanding that he be allowed to continue looking after the “Rec.” He had a lovely rose garden there and a greenhouse, where he grew plants for the Council to use in Leigh Road, Fleming Park, Chandlers Ford, etc.”
Mrs. Beecham remembers the day when the Recreation Ground was handed over to Eastleigh Borough Council. “When the old Rectory orchard was handed over to the council there was quite a ceremony. George Wright (owner of the cinemas in Eastleigh) was there. It was to be a quiet garden for people to relax in.” The rose garden at the top of the Recreation Ground remained there until the 1960’s. The old Rectory is now divided into two houses.
A deed of 1779 mentioned a “house and Tanyard” on this site. It was rebuilt by 1820 and its most illustrious owner from 1858 to 1867 was Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Henry Keppel, Groom in waiting to Queen Victoria and on friendly terms with the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII and with Dean Garnier at the Rectory.
The Cottage, now called Itchen House
He was for many years a Churchwarden in Bishopstoke, and the tower of St Mary’s Church is dedicated to him. His coat of arms is still above the main entrance to the house. After various other owners, the house was bought in 1917 by Mr. J.S Sherwood, owner of a paint firm, who stayed there until 1943. There is a story that, because he was “in trade” he was not received by the residents of the other large houses. When his wife died, he had a memorial window dedicated to her in the western end of St Mary’s Church and a rose bed was planted in the churchyard underneath it. He had the welfare of the poorer villagers at heart and sent a joint of meat to some of them at Christmas.
Mrs. Milliard’s father, Henry Alfred Cook, was gardener at the Cottage for many years and he is also remembered by Mrs. Whitmarsh. “Mr. Sherwood lived in the cottage, and I was very privileged, as my mother used to do the flowers for the Chapel in Spring Lane. So, on Sunday mornings I had to go and collect them from Miss Eva and Miss Hilda Dowse, who picked them fresh from the garden there. (They worked for Mr. Sherwood). Once a year Mr. Sherwood invited all the children from the Chapel to a party in his garden. We had a lovely time. There was a most glorious magnolia which always seemed to be in flower when we were there.”
Mrs. Joan Scott, who at that time lived in the ironmonger’s shop number 1 Riverside, also remembers going to gather roses from Mr. Sherwood’s Garden, in a bed near the river.
Mr. Honeybone spoke of how, for the Coronation of George V the children of Bishopstoke had a special tea. This was paid for by Mr. Dibbens, who lived at Oakbank and was the owner of a corn merchant’s shop in Eastleigh, and Mr. Sherwood.
The Cottage was later renamed Itchen House and is one of the large houses which is still privately owned, with large gardens and the river flowing round it.
The Manor House
There has never been a Lord of the Manor of Bishopstoke living in this house. The Parish of Bishopstoke was owned by the Bishops of Winchester. In the Doomsday Book it is described as having always belonged to the see of Winchester and, apart from a brief period during the commonwealth, remained so until 1869, when the lands belonging to the Bishopric were vested in the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. During its long history (The Department of the Environment listed it as late 18th, early 19th Century) the Manor House had various owners and tenants and was even advertised as a private school for a brief period. It was occupied by the Escombe family from 1874 to 1883.
The Manor House and Bridge over the River Itchen
Mr. Ivill remembers Mr. E.G. Linzee, who lived there until 1903. “He moved to Brambridge. Then a wealthy man called Mr. Bourne came to live at the Manor House. He spent a lot of money opposing the Rector, about keeping the old Church in use”. This is a reference to a dispute which caused a great deal of ill feeling for many years in the parish. It will be explained more fully in the chapter about churches in Bishopstoke.
Mrs. Whitmarsh remembers the Manor House. “The Manor House had an old gravestone as a step by the kitchen door. I used to hate crossing it, I used to think all sorts of evil things would happen to me if I trod on it”.
Mrs. Rolfe lived in a cottage at the Manor House from 1946 to 1955. “My mother worked in the Manor House from 8:00 a.m. until about 11:00 each morning and again for an hour or so to clear up after lunch, in return for the accommodation in the cottage. “It had four rooms, two down and two up, which were quite sizeable. The living room had a stone floor, and the walls were very thick. It was cool in summer and very cold and damp in winter. The key to the main door was 8 inches long and very heavy. The very small kitchen was almost filled by the old coal-fired copper. We found that rats could get into the house via the hole for the fire, so Mum had the copper taken out and a gas water heater installed.” “The Manor House was the home of Major Clark (retired) and Mrs. Clark and various members of their family. Mrs. Clark was often seen riding her bike around Bishopstoke and she used to go into Eastleigh on it too. Their general handyman was Mr. Moody, who lived in one of the cottages on the Bishopstoke Road, where the petrol station is now. Mr. Clark and Mr. Moody spent much of their time in the large garden and in the greenhouse, where Mr. Clark had a large grapevine and Mrs. Clark had a plumbago of which she was very proud. The lovely blue flowers were used for flower arrangements for the dining room. “Mr. Clark also had an eel trap in the river at the end of the garden and he used to send live eels to London in season. When big horse races were due, Mr. Moody used to be a bookies’ runner. He loved horse racing and always seemed to have the racing pages with him.”
A few yards up the road from Itchen House is a house called Oakbank. There was already a house here in 1825 and in 1840 it was listed as “House and Mill”, owned by Walter Twynam and probably rebuilt by him. Like many of the houses in Bishopstoke, it had a succession of tenants and owners. In details of an auction in1899 it was described as follows: – “This delightful little property, comprising Capital old Fashioned Residence. 4 reception, 7 bedrooms and offices, standing in charming grounds of about an acre, sloping to the river Itchen with frontage of about 230 feet, thereby affording capital trout fishing. First rate modern stabling for 4 horses with full size billiard room over gardener’s cottage.
Mrs. Beecham said that it was in this large room that the Mothers’ Union meetings were later held. Oakbank was owned for many years by Doctor and Mrs. Meller. After Dr Meller’s death part of the gardens were given as the site of a block of flats for elderly people.
Shown on maps at various times as Copse House, Coppice House or Copse Farm, this house is built on the brow of the hill in Church Road. It was mentioned in the Bishopstoke Manor Book of Presentments in 1652, when it was the property of the Ffisher family. They were devout Roman Catholics, described as “Gentry”. When the last of the Ffisher family died in 1788 it was acquired by Charles Smythe of Brambridge, also a devout Roman Catholic, who let the house until his death in 1832. A later occupant was George Yonge, uncle of Charlotte Yonge, the novelist, and he lived there from 1860 to 1904. It would appear to have been a working farm as well as a gentleman’s house, having several acres of arable land as well as woods within its boundaries. It was put up for auction in 1952 in several lots. A timber merchant bought the woodland which contained 296 oaks, 12 beech and other trees. This was before it was thought necessary to protect trees, so many of them were felled. The house was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Beven, who retired from farming to live in Bishopstoke. They played an active part in village life, including St Mary’s and St Paul’s Churches and the Women’s Institute.
Working life in the early part of this Century
For working class children in the early 1900s employment began the day after they left school. An act of Parliament of 1918 raised the school leaving age to 14 years. Before that it was quite legal for a child to leave school and start work at 12 years old. Mr. Henry Ivill, born in 1886, left school when he was 12 and in an interview with Mrs. Joan Kitchen in 1974, talked about his early life.
“I went to start an apprenticeship at the Eastleigh Printing Works, where I was indentured for a period of seven years. My wage was 4 shillings a week when I started and rose by one shilling a year until it was ten shillings when I finished at 19 years. I worked from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day except Saturdays, when I finished at 4:00 pm.”
Many of the boys in Bishopstoke went to work on the railway or in the railway works. Mr. Bavington, still living in St Mary’s Road, also took up an apprenticeship, the usual method of learning a trade. “I started my apprenticeship in the Carriage Works in 1926. Then there was the Depression and the General Strike, so I was out of a job, but I cycled to Oxford where I got a job in Morris’s in Cowley. I came back to Bishopstoke in 1937.
“During the second world war the Loco was put on war work and the men from the Carriage Works went over there. “The foreman used to wear a bowler hat. The hooter went at 12 o’clock for us to finish work for lunch. It took quite a time for me to get out of the works and I used to miss my bus home. So, I complained and was allowed “to walk” at three minutes to twelve to catch my bus. It was called Walking Time.”
“There was nowhere in the works for us to wash our hands. I used to mix paste for the blinds over a gas stove.” “In the railway carriages the seats and backs were buttoned blue material and there was blue and gold trimming round the doors. The ceilings were done in Lyncrusta”. “There were horse boxes on the railways until after the war”. Many of the men from the Carriage Works used to cycle home for their meal at midday. If you had to cross the railway bridge from Eastleigh to Bishopstoke you avoided doing it at that time if possible. When the hooter went, the men surged out en masse into the road, and you took your life in your hands if you were passing at this time.
Mr. Honeybone was born in 1904. His father had previously worked at Marwell but came to Bishopstoke to work in the Carriage Works. Before following in his father’s footsteps Mr. Honeybone worked evenings and Saturdays at the Co-Op as an errand boy until he was fourteen. “Then I left school and went to work full time at the Eastleigh Co-Op. When I was sixteen, I started an apprenticeship at the railway. You did odd jobs at the start. I was apprenticed as a coach body maker in the Carriage Works. I went to the Repair Shop first, then, after a couple of years, I went into the Body Shop. When I was in the Repair Shop, my charge hand was Harry Young, grand man he was. He said to me “I wish you luck and here’s a tip for you when you get to the Body Shop. Don’t know nothing. If you don’t know nothing, they’ll tell you. But if you’re a big head they won’t tell you.” That was a blooming good tip. “When I first started, we worked from 6 o’clock to half past five. Then the war came along, and it was all altered during the war.
I finished my apprenticeship at 21 and went to work in Guildford. I weren’t there long, I came back and went on the buildings in Fair Oak. The builder was Merritt. I went on the Hants and Dorset next, doing bus repairs at Shirley. I had a motor bike, an AJ Stevens and went to work on that. My mum used to say “AJS – a job to start” – it was, in cold weather. It was second hand, I paid £33. It was a good bike. “I left the Hants and Dorset on the Wednesday and started back in the Railway Works. I sold the motor bike straight away, ‘cos you get Privilege tickets on the Railway. I went back in the Finishing Shop, doing all the interior of the coaches, sliding doors, nets, what have you. I was in and out of work quite a time then, lucky to have a job after the war. Father was in the Smith Shop, he was exempt from the forces. He was a striker, that’s a blacksmith’s mate, doing all sorts of ironwork –axle guards and what have you, for the coaches”.
Mr. Richard Elkins, born in 1902, also started work at fourteen on the railways.
“I was a greaser, I used to charge up the tanks underneath the carriages for the gas lights. I worked ten hours a day, seven days a week, in shifts, which were 6:00 am to 4:00 pm, 4:00 pm to 2:00 am and 10 pm to 8:00 am. We only had a one-hour break for a meal. I earned fifteen shillings a week. I only stayed there for six months, because I had to go to the doctor, and he said I ought to change jobs. “I went to work for the Co-op and drove a bread van (horse and van) until I seventeen. Then I learnt to drive a motor van and delivered bread for the Co-op Bakers in Eastleigh. I used to go as far as Chandlers Ford. Then I transferred to the Bishopstoke round for a year, with a horse and van again. “I lost my job. I had saved £48 for a motor bike, but I had to give up that idea. I thought I would start up in the coal business. Dad bought me a horse and trolley. The first week I only sold 17 cwt of coal. It nearly killed me with the worry. But it was April when I started, with summer coming on, when no-one would want coal. I kept going, Dad didn’t think I would.
“The next winter, it snowed and Goodenough, the coalman from Eastleigh, wouldn’t come to Bishopstoke. I had to have three horses to get the cart up the hill in the snow. I kept the horses in Longmead Farm. In 1923, I kept moaning to Dad and I bought a second hand four tonner Thorneycroft coal cart. Dad didn’t want no motor van, but eventually he bought one, but it was a lot of trouble. Then in 1924 we bought a thirty cwt Fiat, an ex-army lorry from World War one. It was a good old lorry, would go up the side of a hill in first gear. It would carry anything – ballast, sand, everything. We kept it till 1927, then bought a new lorry. My brother packed up his job and came in with us, that made three of us to make a living. “Towards the end of 1927 we decided to go into the coach business. We went up to London and bought a coach body. The lorry already had a passenger chassis on it when we bought it. We found out it was bolted. So, we took off the coal body, lifted it up with a couple of jacks and put the other body on. During the week we moved furniture, delivered coal. At weekends it took half an hour to change the body to a coach.
The Elkins Coal Lorry converted to a Coach at weekends.
We would take cricket teams, football teams all over the place. “In summer, I went down to Cheddar with it. I didn’t go down the Gorge, I couldn’t find the way. So, we decided to go to Weston-Supermare. We got five miles from Cheddar and the brakes wouldn’t work. A bolt had worked loose. So, we took the bolt off, that carried the spare wheel, put it on and off we went. “The coach had a hood which rolled back, my wife and mother made it on Good Friday. Next day we went to Aldershot for the Tattoo. Dad and Mum went by car. We were going up a slope and the clutch went, and we were stranded with fourteen people who we had to get home. I found a garage which had a coach, but it was out and wouldn’t be back for an hour. I didn’t ask the price. At 2:30 the coach rolled up and we loaded up. It had no side screens and underneath my seat was open space. I was frozen. We got back to the Town Hall, and I had to walk back to Bishopstoke. It was about 5:00 am.
“One year we went to Portsmouth and picked up some people to come to Bishopstoke to visit someone in the corner shop. I picked up a crowd in Church Road, had a tour round to Petersfield and on to Southsea at 4:30. Then I had a puncture. I had to take the wheel off and mend it, then back to Bishopstoke to pick these people up, then back to Southsea to fetch the other lot home. Got back at midnight. Then I had to be up again at 5:00 am. We would be out until one or two o’clock in the morning if there was a dance, but we still had to get up next morning and do our other jobs. “Our rival was Santoy. We did not run a bus service, but Santoy did, in the 1930s. But Hants and Dorset Bus Company waged a war against them and ran them off the road. They used to put a bus at the front and one at the back of the Santoy bus. Then they bought him off. Hants and Dorset had three buses, stationed in Market Street. They had a big garage near the Irish Club. “When we finished in 1939, we had two fourteen seaters, one twenty-seater and one twenty-six-seater. During the war there was no petrol for coaches, so we sold off three of them. We didn’t want the Government to requisition the other one, so we took it over to a cousin’s and put it in a barn with hay over it until 1943. Then someone at Harland and Woolf asked us if we would sell it. We got about £200 for it. We cleaned it up and away it went. We had no licence to drive it, so we put a lorry up front and towed it but really, I was driving the coach. That was our biggest mistake, selling it then. If we had kept and put it on the road after the war, we could have got £2,000 for the coach licence. “After the war, I carried on with the coal business, my brother went into the furniture business, removals.
Mrs. Beecham described other kinds of work which was available to children when they left school at fourteen. “After school it was starting work. Mostly the boys worked on the farms, or as garden boys or stable boys in the big houses. Apprenticeships did not start until you were sixteen, so in the Carriage Works or the Loco they worked as Rivet boys, Pot boys, Sweeper-ups or Lacquer boys. The girls would be kitchen maids, house maids or parlour maids. “Some men continued in the works all their lives, walking from Bishopstoke every day. Many golden weddings are being celebrated at Easter and August, because these days were “lock outs” the only holidays the men had and no pay. As they worked Saturday mornings this meant two and a half or three days with no pay”.
Mrs. Hayes in 1916 did start an apprenticeship. “I was apprenticed at fourteen and worked at a draper’s called Rose, which was where Woolworths is now. Then I went to work at Edwin Jones in Southampton when I was sixteen. (Edwin Jones was a large department store, which stood where Debenhams is now). I used to go by train.”
Miss Muriel Clarke, whose father worked in the Engineer’s office at the Railway works, did not leave school at fourteen. She went to Barton Peveril Grammar School, which was in an old farmhouse on the Bishopstoke Road, from 1923 to 1928. She passed the School Certificate Examination with enough credits to get Matric exemption. She said her father had stern Victorian principles about what girls could do. “Pa made me go to evening classes in shorthand and typing. I went to Pirelli’s costing office for about three to four years. When I got to twenty-one, I thought it was time for a rise. What I got was the sack. I liked figures, but I couldn’t get on very well with shorthand, ‘cos I couldn’t read it back. Fred Bishop was in charge of costing. I used to go down to the factory if I wanted to query anything on the work I was doing, till he realised that and stopped me going. He said I must telephone. I used to go and talk to the charge hand. That was in 1933 and I was out of work for several years. That was when you couldn’t get jobs, the sort that father would let me do. “My friend was working as a receptionist at the Balmer Lawn Hotel and when she left to get married, she asked me if I would like her job. But I was not allowed to go and live away from home. Father was definitely a Victorian father. You did what you were told and that was that. I had to stay at home and look after the youngsters some of the time. There were seven of us children. “After that, my brother Maurice was working up at the Guildhall in Winchester and he heard of a temporary job at the Castle, the headquarters of Hampshire County Council. After a while I was asked if I would like to learn to use Accounting Machines at Burroughs in Regent Street in London, for several weeks. I was allowed to do that, being older. Then I worked in the Treasurer’s Department. We did all sorts of things, like cheques for road men’s wages, they were on piece work. I also did staff salaries at the Castle. I went to work by train. I had to be there by 8:30 so I caught the 8:10 train. There was a canteen for lunch. We finished at 4.30 or 5”.
Brick Kilns and Sandpits
The area in the north of the village, between Church Road and Stoke Park Woods was the scene of brickmaking activities for much of the first half of this century, as clay abounds in the area. The clay was dug and the kilns in which the bricks were fired were established on the site. As the clay was worked out the brickworks were moved eastwards to the next area.
Map Showing Location of Brickworks north of Stoke Park Road
Mr. Charles Elkins described these activities. “In the area north of St Mary’s Road, Nelson Road and what is now Rogers Road clay was dug for brick making and there were kilns sited in the area where the clay was dug. These bricks were used by the builder, E H White and Sons of Newtown Road, Eastleigh, for the houses in Longmead Avenue. I worked on the cutting out of Longmead Avenue, which was done by pick and shovel. Edward Avenue was built after this by Blake Brothers, builders from Totton”. Mr. Elkins made a model of the brickworks, which is now housed at Bursledon old brickworks.
Mr. Ivill also had memories of the brick making activities in Bishopstoke. “As a boy I worked in the brickyard which was where Rogers Road is now. The clay was dug out of the ground and worked with water and breeze, then left overnight. At 4:o’clock next morning it was put on a bench where the brickmaker put it into a mould and left it to dry. Then it was baked in the kiln”.
Stack of Bricks at Longmead Brickworks
Mrs. Durrant, born in 1921 in St Mary’s Road, has rather different memories of the brick kilns. “I used to walk to school through the backway to Church Road. It was a cinder path, from the brick kilns. The men used to dig the clay with pickaxes, and shovels. The Plantation at the back of Edward Avenue was wider in those days and we used to go there and get the chestnuts off the trees. Old Mr. Hall, he used to fire the brick kilns and he would put the chestnuts on a long shovel and put it in the kiln. When they were roasted, he would pull the chestnuts out for us”.
The sand, which also abounds in the whole of the Bishopstoke area, has always been a useful commodity and in the early days was a source of problems because some people used to cart it away illegally. Various people in the eighteenth century were fined by the Bishopstoke Manor Court for taking sand, and occasionally sand pits were even dug in the roads.
“1756 No person not belonging to the Tything of Bishopstoke have any right to dig sand nor carry it away on penalty of ten shilling a load.”
“1816, April. The pit in Nole Hill Lane is a very dangerous place, caused by people carrying sand away and we impose a fine of £1 a load.”
“1816, October, Received of Thomas Morrant £1:10s. for use of the sand pit on Stoke Common”.
There was still a sand pit in use in Stoke Common early this century. It was behind the houses at the top of Church Road, with the entrance to it alongside number 121, Where Mr. and Mrs. Cooper lived until 1998. They were both descendants of the Noyce family, the men being mostly shepherds who came from Otterbourne at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Mrs. Cooper’s grandparents lived in “Sandpit Cottage”, also known as the Black Cottage, because of the colour of the walls. Mr. Cooper’s grandfather was the “Nellie” Noyce who brought his roundabout to the fairs at Bishopstoke. He had started with a bran tub at the fetes at the Mount and later built up a fair ground business.
The Churches in Bishopstoke
St Mary’s Church
There has been a church in Bishopstoke since Saxon times. The earliest one was possibly destroyed by the Danes in 1001. By the 1820’s the old church, which stood near the Rectory in the south of the village, was in a state of disrepair. The Rector, Dean Garnier, had a new one built of flint and brick.
St. Mary’s Church built by Dean Garnier
Only sixty years later, however, this one was too small for the growing population. Mr. Barton of Longmead House gave a piece of land and £1,000 towards a new church. He made two conditions. One was that he be allowed to nominate the architect and the second, which was to be the cause of a long running dispute among villagers, was that all the seats in the new church were to be free. In the old church nearly half the seats were faculty pews, which meant that they were rented by the wealthier members of the parish and were reserved solely for their use. Workers who had recently come into the parish resented the fact that they had to crowd into inferior seating and the faculty pews were often left empty. So, the parishioners became divided into the original inhabitants who had occupied faculty pews and who said that the new church had not been properly dedicated and the working inhabitants, who welcomed the freedom to sit where they wished in the new church. In 1905 a petition was sent to the Bishop of Winchester that the old church should be retained for worship, even though it was in need of extensive repairs and was due to be demolished. The protests were led by Mr. Bourne, who lived in the Manor House. After expensive legal proceedings the bishop decreed that the church could only be kept if the Bishopstoke parishioners bore the cost involved and paid for a curate to take the services there. Faced with this financial burden all opposition ceased and the old church was demolished in 1909. The ivy-covered tower remained until the 1960’s when, the story goes, some workmen in the graveyard lit a fire in it which got out of control and made the tower unsafe and so it was pulled down.
The new church at first had no tower, funds being insufficient to build one. Money was eventually raised, however, and a tower was added in 1910.
The new St Mary’s Church without the Tower – mid 1890s
Mr. Charles Elkins talked about this being built. “As a child I remember that before the tower was on St Mary’s Church the bell hung outside. When the tower was being built workmen used the pulley from which the bell had hung to haul up the buckets of mortar.”
The tower was dedicated to Sir Henry Keppel who had been a churchwarden there for several years, and his coat of arms is featured upon it.
Mrs. Hayes used to go to the new church on Sunday mornings. “Then the Rector had a service in the afternoons, and we used to write it all down in a book. “The Analysis” he called it. Then afterwards we had to put our books in a proper box he’d had made in his garden and collect them on Tuesdays to see if we’d got a star for it. At the end of the year the one who had the most stars had a book as a prize. Of course, we were grown up by then, twelve or thirteen. Then he prepared us for confirmation at Holy Trinity in Winchester”.
Mrs. Gilham went to Sunday School in St Mary’s Church. “During the last verse of the hymn before the sermon the Sunday School children used to leave the church by the south door”.
Besides being the venue for family baptisms, confirmations, marriages and burials, the church was also the focus for many social events. Before the days when cars were commonplace, ‘outings’ by rail or horse drawn brake were the highlight of many people’s lives. The Sunday School outing was one of these. One such outing, in the Reverend Ashmall’s time in July 1904 went by train as far as Shawford. The Rector, commenting on it in the Parish Magazine, had some remarks to make on the punctuality of the Railway Service. “The two o’clock special left at a quarter to three, according to the London and South Western Railway Chronometer and reached Shawford at three pm. We had one and a quarter hour of fair weather on the Downs, then an hour of rain, during which the pleasant operation of teaing went on merrily in the Village Hall. Then the sports and scrambles which were put a stop to by the rain, when we retreated to the station and made merry on the platform, until the seven fifty-four Special came with Railway punctuality at eight thirty-five”.
The Men’s Mutual Improvement Society’s outing to Stonehenge in 1903 also went by train as far as Salisbury, where they transferred to a brake and pair to complete the journey. At Stonehenge, true to the title of their Society, they were treated to a lengthy lecture on the stones.
The Women’s Bible Society went in a horse drawn vehicle for their outing to Winchester. The ride home nearly ended in disaster and the description of it gives us an insight into contemporary opinions about the motor car. “A nasty, snorting, ill-smelling motor was coming out of Southgate Street as we were entering it. It made a horrible noise, and our horses were scared, and we very nearly wriggled backwards through the shop windows. Thanks to the skilful management of our driver, we escaped this danger … What a nuisance the motorists are! One is almost afraid to go anywhere on the roads.”
Little did the Rector know that his successor, the Reverend Sedgwick, was to have one of the first cars in Bishopstoke.
Revd. and Mrs. Sedgwick in their car
Mr. Ivill remembers seeing the Rector and his wife driving about the village. “The Reverend Sedgwick had a motor, but the roads were very dusty, and Mrs. Sedgwick had to cover her hair. The roads were stones and gravel, rolled by the steam roller.”
Later organisations under the auspices of the church were the Mother’s Union and the Ladies’ Sewing Guild, still both in existence.
St. Mary’s Church used to field their own football team. To be a member of this meant you had to belong to the Men’s Bible Class and the curate often had to double as the team’s trainer.
Mr. Ivill “The recreation ground was originally an orchard belonging to the Rectory. As a lad I used to play football there before there was a Public Hall. We were only allowed to play there if we were members of the Boys’ Bible Class. This was the origin of the Bishopstoke Football Club. I was the founder of the Eastleigh Football League. We had snow in April ,1908, so we couldn’t play”. This late fall of snow is commemorated on many of the postcards of the time. Mr. Ivill’s memories of the Reverend Sedgwick bear testimony to this Rector’s musical talents. “I was in “Toreadors”, an operetta written by the Rector. “The Reverend Sedgwick played the organ and also wrote church music. The operettas were performed for one week in the Public Hall. There was a Bishopstoke orchestra”.
Mrs. Beecham also took part in one of the operettas, called “Zuricha, the Gypsy Princess”, which she said was performed at the old Variety Theatre in Eastleigh. The rehearsals were held in the garden at the back of the Anchor Public House.
Rehearsal for “Zuricha” in the back garden of The Anchor
Another Rector who had unexpected talents was the Reverend de Blogue, Rector from 1929 to 1941, who was a member of the Magic Circle and an accomplished ventriloquist.
Revd. Oswald de Blogue with his ventriloquist’s dummy
Mrs. Durrant has been connected with St. Mary’s Church all her life. Her grandparents moved to Eastleigh just prior to 1914, when her grandfather was transferred from Crewe Railway Works and many members of her family were baptised, confirmed, married and buried in St. Mary’s Church. Her husband, Stan, was originally from Eastleigh and a member of the Methodist Church there. This caused a problem when they were expecting their first child. “When we were expecting our first baby the Durrant’s wanted it christened in High Street Methodist Church which they attended. My side of the family wanted the baby christened at St. Mary’s. The Reverend Cooper-Anderson was the Rector here at the time and he was disgusted. He said, “I married them (my sister and I had a double wedding) and I was looking forward to christening the baby.” So, my father-in-law was there, and he said “Well I can tell you if you will or not. It depends whether it’s a boy or a girl.” It was a boy, so he was christened at the Methodist Church. They used to send him a card on the anniversary of his christening every year. When he got to five years old, naturally we didn’t take him down to the High Street Methodist Church to go to Sunday School, he went to Sunday School here. “Stan used to look after the church and the boiler. It was a coke boiler and the coke hole used to get flooded. When we first came Alfie Collis was the boiler man and he had a club foot. Well, he couldn’t go down in the boiler house because he couldn’t get wellingtons on when it was flooded. So, my husband had to go down and do it. Then they went over to an oil boiler, but they got a cheap one and within two years it had to be replaced. Mr Ivill had little envelopes printed and put one on each of the seats of the church for donations towards the second boiler. They got the money in the end. Stan looked after St Mary’s Churchyard for a good many years, cutting the grass, levelling graves, to try to keep the place looking tidy.” Mr. Durrant was also verger at the church for many years. Mrs. Durrant made new robes for the choir. “I made them, the surplices, 35 of them. We had 18 boys in the choir. There was a waiting list of boys wanting to get in. Mr. Pink was the organist. How I came to make the surplices, my youngest son decided to join the choir. The other son was a bell ringer, the middle son was also a choir boy. An old lady who lived at the back of the Institute used to robe the choir. She was over eighty. She gave me a surplice and it was all tatty. It took me all afternoon one Saturday to repair it. So, I said to Mrs. Rose, the Rector’s wife, “Give me a pattern and I’ll make them”. So, she got the pattern and one or two of the boys’ parents said to me, “If you’re making a surplice for your boy, will you make my boy one?” So, I threw it open, and I said, “if you like to pay 12s 6d each, that’s all they cost”. They were £3 10s to buy. They all said ‘Yes’ except one family and she was struggling on her own with three boys. I didn’t go to her. Mr. & Mrs. Gowman paid for one set Mrs. Cousins gave another, and we paid for one. So, all the18 boys had new surplices that Christmas. “Then the men’s were getting tatty, I used to do all the washing. Theirs would have cost 17s 6d, that’s 4 ½ yards at 3s 11d a yard. I ran a couple of jumble sales and got the money. The men all had their new ones for Easter. I bought 140 yards of shirting from what used to be Hawkins in Southampton. The girls in the choir were in gowns. I used to take them up and let them down. What used to annoy me, they’d come to me and say, “I want to stay in the choir”. Then, after a few weeks they’d pack up. Then it meant I had to wash them. I used to wash all the surplices once a year, even the men’s. There was one man in the choir, he used to eat some black sweets, and he used to put the empty papers back in his pocket. It was messy. “There were 18 boys, 8 men and 10 ladies and girls and 2 servers. Then it started to go down. People started to go out on Sunday and the children just left. When I finished, I packed the surplices all in boxes. They’re the same ones from 1952. It was good material. The manageress from Hawkins said, “That will starch lovely”, which it did. I used to starch them all”. Stan Durrant, as well as all the other duties he performed in and around the church, has been Verger from the 1970’s.
St. Mary’s Church Bishopstoke with the tower that was added in 1909.
Mrs. Joan Kitchen, Church Warden from 1992 is relinquishing this post this year (1999). She describes her first impressions of Bishopstoke. “A dusty, unadopted road, flanked by modern, semi-detached houses one hot summer afternoon in the mid-to-late thirties is the picture which comes to mind when asked of my first impressions of Bishopstoke. With my young brother in his pram, my mother and I had walked from Eastleigh to a house in Fair Oak Road, a few doors away from the site now occupied by the Welcome Inn. “Little did I dream that within two decades I would walk frequently with my own children on pavements outside those very houses, or that a few hundred yards away the Hall-church of St Paul would be dedicated in July 1962, thus providing a place of worship and a meeting-place for the growing community. A surprising number of people in their forties, thirties and even younger, recount with affection memories of going to St Paul’s as Scouts, Cubs, Guides or Brownies, or as members of the Playgroup or Sunday School. These groups continue to meet, although I am sad to say that the wide choices open to children on a Sunday nowadays often means that even the modern form of Sunday School is not given a trial. “My first visit to St Mary’s and the Church Room was as a teenager, in company with other members of All Saints’ Youth Group. The Incumbent at that time was the Reverend Herbert Cooper Anderson. How could I have foreseen that the responsibility for the care of those two buildings, along with St Paul’s, would be mine (shared with a co-Churchwarden) for seven years? “However, looking back over the years, I can call to mind so many warm-hearted, interesting people, members of the Church family and of the wider community, who have helped to shape this place. Bishopstoke is home, with its pleasant roads and buildings, caring people of all ages and it is a place to be nurtured for future generations”.
From My Kitchen Window by Ann Brown (April 1999)
I discovered the village of Bishopstoke one day in 1967, after walking from the railway station in Eastleigh and through the Barge to visit my grandmother-in-law, Edith Smith, who had come to live in Church Road after retiring from farming in The New Forest. Quite unexpectedly on that day we were told that the house next door to St Mary’s Church was for sale. Dave and I were newly married, lived in a flat in Southampton, had very little money but lots of energy and enthusiasm for house renovation and so we arrived in March 1968 with a chair, a mattress and a writing desk. I am therefore a relative newcomer to Bishopstoke, but I have been learning about its fascinating history ever since I came. Even now, some older residents of the village say to me “You used to live in Prebble’s house, didn’t you?”. Mr. Prebble, I believe, ran a taxi service. From the beginning, life was interesting, especially from our kitchen window. Some friends had questioned our decision to live there, right next to a churchyard. Having come from a very busy urban area here was a varied contrast. Yes, it was quite different as my days were now punctuated by the school bell and the church bells which pealed out on Sunday and on practice night. I saw the comings and goings of the school and church communities. Each day from my window I had the chance to observe the magnificent building of St Mary’s church with its changing colours depending on the weather conditions and the position of the sun. When my mother came from the Midlands to visit, she reveled in the many weddings. She had a good view from the kitchen window but a better one from the side bedroom where she spent many Saturday afternoons. We remember the wedding with about twenty bridesmaids with all colours of the rainbow, the top hat and tail weddings sometimes with coach and horses too, the pale shades of the summer weddings and the dark greens and reds of the occasional winter wedding. The happy photographs were often posed at the side door or by the trees while the bells rang in celebration. On a busy summer Saturday, the choirboys could be seen playing around on the tombstones waiting to sing at the next ceremony or rushing off down to the shop on the corner of St Margaret’s Road for sweets, their robes streaming behind them. I wonder how many couples were married whilst we were living at number 76, and I wonder too if the wedding guest who had a problem with some vital elastic knew that she had an audience when she rushed round to the side of the church to sort out her discomfort. Several of our friends were helping with the renovation of our kitchen on that Saturday afternoon and had just stopped for a reviving cup of tea! Although there were very few plots left vacant in the churchyard, one day a family grave was opened near to the fence and our son was told to keep away from the window in the kitchen or dining room. After a while it was realised that he was unusually quiet and was discovered peering out of the bedroom window looking, as he said, “Down at the hole in the ground”. However, I think that the explanation about respect for grieving families did not mean much to a four-year-old. I remember the day a soldier from Eastleigh, who had been killed at Warren Point in Northern Ireland, was buried. We owned a car by then and we were required by the police to move it away for several hours. The security people checked the perimeter of the churchyard several times, for explosives, I presume. The gun carriage arrived in silence as did the many mourners. Then I heard the toll of the single bell as the people went into church. The school children were not allowed into the playground on that day but had playtime on the field at the back of the school, so I was asked many questions at teatime by a disappointed son who felt that he had missed something very interesting.
The churchyard over those years was gradually cleared and levelled but originally, I could see several more trees and lots of wild flowers among the tall grasses. Mr. Durrant regularly had bonfires and on one such day I opened the back door and a frightened mouse shot indoors. We found it eventually in a bag of potatoes, but I was very wary during those few weeks! I remember seeing the Revd. Rose’s spaniel chasing around on the grass and also once our neighbour’s dog, Lassie, rounding up the escaped rabbits from their hutches in our garden. One morning I could hardly believe my eyes when I pulled back the curtains in the kitchen and there was a horse grazing at the back of the churchyard. I found out later that it belonged to a girl who lived in St Mary’s Road, but it did not stay munching the grass for very long. I wonder if anyone knows who the children and young people were who had great fun on several Halloween nights “floating” around the churchyard in white sheets frightening no-one but each other. On several Christmas mornings we saw Father Christmas himself walking across the churchyard from St Mary’s Road on his way to the Mount Hospital to distribute presents to the patients who were unfortunate to be there on that special day. Try explaining that to an excited four- or five-year-old!
In the 1980s, I moved with my family to Stoke Common to one of the “self-build houses” developed on the site of the old workhouse which was been demolished earlier in the century and so the view from my window was quite different. By then we had become part of the church community ourselves, Peter having been introduced to Sunday School by his Canadian born godmother, Vi Nightingale and I myself becoming a Sunday School teacher for a while with Mrs. Trill, Mrs. Rose, and others.
It seems that life for the Brown family has gone full circle. St Mary’s Church, its people and its activities are again on my mind and in my prayers daily as for a while I am a church warden following in the illustrious footsteps of those such as Admiral Keppel, Mr. Dudley Beven, Sam Gowman, and latterly, Chris Cook as well as others. The schoolhouse and most of the classrooms are no longer there on the opposite side of the road to the church. Only the top building remains as our community centre. The lives of the infants’ school and St Mary’s Church are no longer intertwined at Harvest and at Christmas as they were. The screams and chattering of excited children at play have gone and the school bell rings only in my memory and imagination. Now from my kitchen window at Stoke Common I can see the Methodist Chapel vacated and sadly decaying. The council run cemetery is in the distance behind the trees, but that is another story for the future.
A Few Thoughts from The Rector
The Reverend Derek Cottrill
In 1992 I was surprised to be invited by the Bishop of Winchester to explore the possibility of my succeeding Canon Gordon Rose as Rector of Bishopstoke. My previous work was in Longparish, and other villages between Andover and Whitchurch, in the valleys of the Test, Bourne and Dever. Bishopstoke as it is now, has grown out of a village near the Itchen. That and the large and varied area of woodland raised above the valley, give the place its distinctive appearance. There is now a large number of people living in the Parish, which keeps the priest busy. I have also felt at home here, helped by the fact that I was brought up north of London in Potters Bar, which had similarities in its housing and its situation just outside a large conurbation. I enjoy being within easy reach of cultural opportunities in Southampton and Winchester and we are fortunate in the transport facilities available to us. At the same time, I appreciate our local post offices and shops. But a place is made by its people. It is my privilege to meet Bishopstoke people at turning points in their lives and to hear their stories. They have a proper pride in their working skills. Like many parsons, I especially enjoy hearing about the railway. Above all, people care for each other and the place they live in. There is a sense of belonging. So, I am glad that I did come here in 1992 and consider myself lucky to need only a few minutes’ walk in one direction to watch deer through the trees, and in the other direction to glimpse a kingfisher.
The Revered Norman Jackson Curate, St Mary’s Church
By the summer of 1999, I shall have lived in Bishopstoke for seventeen years. My wife was a native of Southampton and when I retired, she asked if it were possible to move to the Southampton area. I had been ordained in 1978 and I contacted the Bishop of Winchester. I was eventually offered the assistant curacy of Bishopstoke. We had four happy years here until my wife died in 1986 and I am grateful that she had those years in her native county. I have enjoyed my work as curate of the parish, first with the Reverend Canon Gordon Rose and now with his successor the Reverend Derek Cottrill. Indeed, this work has kept me mentally alert and has meant that I have made many more friends over the years. I salute the friendly folk of this lovely village! We are so lucky to live here. The village itself has much to offer. River walks by the Itchen, woodland walks in Stoke Park Woods and easy access to the countryside, especially the New Forest. As an engineer in a previous “existence” I have been intrigued by the history of the Railway Works in Eastleigh. Steam locomotives of a bygone age are one of my hobbies and the tradition of work on them here has been fascinating to me. One of my least pleasant duties as a curate is to take funeral services and whenever I take such a service for a railway man, I am always impressed by the number of their colleagues who turn up. A particular memory in this connection was the funeral in 1996 of Mr. Harry Frith, who was in charge of the restoration of the locomotive which now bears his name. The service was held in the parish church of St Mary’s and the loco was “steamed up” for the occasion and gave a salute on its whistle as the cortege passed over the bridge in Eastleigh on its way to the cemetery. It then made its way along the Romsey branch line and stopped near the grave during the internment. So, for many reasons, I am happy to live here and grateful for the privilege of doing so. It’s a great place and we must cherish it and preserve its heritage.
The History of Bells and Ringing in Bishopstoke (by Roy LeMarechal)
The first known bell in Bishopstoke was cast in 1589 by John Wallis of Salisbury. Two others were cast in 1589 and 1600. These were rung together in the old church and in the 1825 church which replaced it. A new church, the present St Mary’s was built in 1890/91, but it was not until a tower was added in 1909 that the three bells were transferred to it and two new bells added. Problems followed for the ringers as the new frame was not adequate to take the proposed weight of the eventual octave. Three more bells were added after the First World War – “Thanksgiving” in 1920, “Peace” and “Remembrance” in 1921.
The five bells installed in St. Mary’s in 1909
The old 1589 bell was recast following an “accident” caused by the Rector and the chiming apparatus. The tenor was cast, in part, from three clock bells from the L & S W R Carriage Works as a memorial to the railway men who lost their lives in the Great War. This bell had to be returned to Bristol shortly after its dedication and replaced. This fact has not been publicly recorded until now. In 1955 the bells were overhauled. With this one foundry overhaul and just routine maintenance the eight bells were in use for about 75 years. For all this time there had been a band ringing the bells. The local band has always been defensive about the bells, despite derogatory remarks from other ringers. In the 1970s they produced a song extolling the virtues of Bishopstoke bells, which began: –
“Bishopstoke bells are the best.
The grottiest bells in this district of ours.
Are hung in the belfries of most other towers.”
Yet, despite public displays of loyalty to the bells, the ringers were not satisfied with them, in 1960 a survey was done by the Whitechapel Foundry with the subsequent recommendation that the bells be recast or replaced. A brand-new ring of 8 would have cost £1,309, but the project was not taken up. In 1990 the Rector, Canon Gordon Rose came across a copy of the 1960 report and the ringers decided that it would be very nice to have a decent set of bells to ring and augment them to ten. The old bells were rung together for the last time on 29th January 1995. The work of dismantling the old bells and installing the new ones was done by local ringers and friends, under the supervision of the Whitechapel Foundry.
The new “Whitechapel” bells installed in St Mary’s in 1995.
They were dedicated on 18th June 1995 and should now last into the 22nd century before any major work is required again. What of the old bells? The seventh and tenor refused all attempts to be sold. They were just not good enough and were scrapped! Of the rest, four of them are still in England, In Teddington, Gloucester, Immingham in Lincolnshire, and Limehouse in London. The other two have travelled far, one to Wagga Wagga in Australia and one to an Anglican Chapel in Venezuela.
Since the band started, the ringers have always organised outings to various parts of the country. The belfry minute book records a joint outing with the choir in the 1920s,
which consisted of a boat trip to Ryde and ringing at several towers on the Island before a boat trip to Bournemouth and train home. Over the last 50 years many weekend coach outings have taken place. Ringing at a cathedral somewhere has often been a highlight and the band has rung in cathedrals at Llandaff, Sheffield, Worcester and Liverpool, among others. As well as ringing the tower bells, the Bishopstoke ringers have, for many years, also carried out tune ringing on hand bells. This was started under the leadership of Tom Chapman in the 1960s. Each year the ringers have got together at Christmas time and practiced carol ringing. Then they have visited various places to entertain people and often collect money for various charities. Over the years, they have performed at supermarkets, shopping malls, bazaars and pubs, near and far. They have also performed each year at the carol service at St Mary’s on the Sunday before Christmas.
The History of the Methodists in Bishopstoke
(By Stan Roberts)
The first meeting house of the Methodists in Bishopstoke (the old parish), was in Mr. Twyman’s house at Crowd Hill in 1791. The first Wesleyan chapel was registered in 1817, replaced in 1822 and finally the present building (now a private dwelling) was used from 1867 to 1979. The remaining members then transferred to the Bishopstoke church. In Bishopstoke village meetings were at first held in homes, notably that of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Benham in Stoke Common Road. A chapel, Providence Bible Christian Chapel, was opened in 1848.
The chapel in the garden at Stoke Common
In 1851 the attendance figures were 60 in the afternoon and 89 in the evening. A local preacher was Mr. W Woodford, who served for over 50 years. There was a Sunday school, a Band of Hope branch and a strong choir. This chapel was known as the “the Chapel in the garden”. In the lower part of the village “New Bishopstoke” meetings were first held in the butcher’s shop at Riverside.
The “Tin Chapel” in Spring Lane
In 1897 a new iron chapel was erected in Spring Lane, on the site of the present fish and chip shop. This chapel also had a fine record of Sunday school, band of Hope and Christian Endeavour activity.
After the second world war a site was chosen on the Longmead estate in Sedgwick Road, for a new church for the United Methodist Societies. Money was raised from bazaars, film shows and garden parties and in 1957 the “New Methodist Church Hall” was officially opened. The chapel in Stoke Common celebrated its 100 years in 1948. The building still stands, but in a very poor state of repair, now in private hands. The iron chapel in Spring Lane was pulled down to make way for shops.
BISHOPSTOKE FROM 1939 ONWARDS
For many of the older generation life is divided into two parts, before and after the 1939-1945 war. Up until 1939 many aspects of life had remained relatively unchanged, despite improvements in living conditions. Advances in technology had brought benefits to the ordinary people. Many houses had electricity, running water and main drainage, (although these did not come to Stoke Common until the 1960’s). Roads were improved and there were more cars on them. Travel was easier. But until 1939 there remained in Bishopstoke several large houses which the Escombe’s would have felt at ease visiting. These included: – Vice Admiral Sir Wilfrid French at Stoke Knoll, Lt. Col. Ralph Henry Hammersley-Smith, CBE at the Old Rectory, Lt Col Guy Henry Sawyer, DSO, JP at Asfordbye, and Major Stanley Clark at the Manor House. So, there were also many people still in service at these houses, working as house maids, cooks, gardeners etc. They lived alongside the many hundreds now employed in the Railway works, Pirelli General, Caustons Printing Works, in Eastleigh. The war meant that both men and women not on essential work were called up to serve in the armed forces. Some of the big houses, such as Stoke Knoll, were requisitioned. Social changes after the war meant that there would no longer be the resident domestics in the big houses as had been usual before this.
Longmead House had been empty and abandoned since the estate had been put up for auction in 1928, after the death of Mrs. Gubbins. Spring Grove had been demolished in 1936. A development of bungalows and maisonettes was built where Asfordbye had been. Whitehaugh was replaced by a block of flats. The Mount had been converted first into a Sanatorium, then into a Geriatric Hospital. The Manor House was converted into flats. During the war, one of the public buildings which was put to a different use was the Church Room, next to the Rectory in Stoke Park Road. This had only just been completed in 1939. It was used during the war as an ARP Centre. Mrs. Margaret Gould (nee Elkins) mentions this among her other memories of life during the war.
A Wartime Childhood
“The Church Room was requisitioned by the ARP and had bunks around the walls. However, it was still used for village socials and dances were held in it. After the war the WI, which was formed in 1947, used it for their meetings. “If there was a raid when we were at school we had to go into the shelters in the grounds at the back. At home, at first, we used to get under the ironing table when the sirens went, but later we had an Anderson shelter in the garden and finally a Morrison shelter indoors with a mattress on it.
“Another memory is of the Barrage Balloons tethered round HMS Raven (Southampton airport). They broke loose occasionally and drifted over the houses, where their cables did a lot of damage. My mother used to go from Bishopstoke to deliver milk from churns to the RAF personnel who manned the Barrage Balloons. “My father was an auxiliary fireman and was called out to Portsmouth during the blitz there in 1941. He was listed as missing for three days, but luckily, he survived. “Stoke Park Road was only partly built up and in the build-up to D Day there were American soldiers living in the road outside our bungalow. Some of them used to sleep under their lorries. They had their camp kitchen at the top of the road, in the open space near the entrance to Stoke Park Woods. They would occasionally be invited indoors to have a bath”. “At the end of the war, when I was ten years old, there was a street party to celebrate VE Day. This was held in our road for the children in the three streets around. My father found a floodlight in the stables where the coal carts were kept and rigged it up outside. They dragged a piano into the road and Mrs. Hayes played “by ear” the popular tunes of the day”. Mrs. Durrant was one of the members of the ARP who used the Church Room. “In the war I joined the ARP, we were first-aiders and we used to have it in the Church Room, which the Council had taken over. When the sirens went, they always used to send a fire-fighting appliance over to Bishopstoke in case that bridge got bombed. That was how I met my husband, Stan. Directly the sirens went, not long afterwards, the fire brigade were here. Stan was in the fire brigade. He lived in Eastleigh. “One night after the war started, there was a bill to be paid at the doctor’s. So, I went down to Dr Simmons to pay it. Coming back up Spring Lane there was an awful lot of gunfire going on and I don’t know what made me, but I got to where there used to be a bridge in Spring Lane, and I turned back. My brother Roy was working at the Co-op, where Moody’s is now. I went back there, and we all lay under the counter. If I had gone up Spring Lane I wouldn’t be here now. Because there was a bomb that landed right at the junction of Spring Lane and Church Road in the centre of the road. The water and gas were cut off and it blew the side off the house on the bank. A boy named Peter Chard who was in the choir, next morning he came down on his bike and went straight in the hole, he broke his leg. “We had a land mine at Weavill’s Road. There was a tin hut there, for the children’s Sunday School. That was blown to bits and so was the bungalow on the corner. There was another land mine at Stoke Park Farm, there was a gun emplacement up there”.
Mrs. Beryl Andrews also had vivid memories of the bomb in Spring Lane. “Ruth Kite and I were in the living room of our shop at the corner of St Margaret’s Road, when the bomb came screaming down. We flung ourselves down on the floor. I was waiting for everything to cave in on top of us. However, the blast being a peculiar thing, we escaped with cracked windows while further down St Margaret’s Road windows were smashed. In the shop sweet bottles remained intact! People in the shop threw themselves down and when all danger seemed past picked themselves up quite calmly. “I would like to recount how it was with rationing “behind the counter”. My father always tried to be fair to customers. We did not, as some people used to think, live a “life of Riley”. We had to make do and improvise like everyone else. When it came to allocating goods in short supply, Dad used to be as fair as he could to our “regulars”. We were often last on the list!”
Mrs. Betty Rice was also a child in wartime Bishopstoke. One of her memories is of being a Brownie. “We used to meet once a week in the barn of Asfordbye, which was owned by Colonel and Mrs. Sawyer. Sometimes we were taken into Stoke Park Woods, where, in a clearing, we could play some of our games, or search for wildflowers and learn to recognise trees. “The most exciting thing I remember very vividly was the campfire in what I believe was the real “Glebe Meadow”. We were asked to bring a sausage with us. This my mother bought for me from Mr. Punker, “everyone said he made very good sausages, but I did not like sausages very much as a child. But dutifully I carried my sausage, wrapped in newspaper, to the Barn where we were to meet. We then set off, two by two down Church Road, through the wooden gate in the wall opposite the Rectory and along a wide path which took us into the big field which sloped down to the river. “Brown Owl chose a spot, and we were told to find some twigs so that we could light a fire. She showed us how to cut out a square of turf with a penknife, roll it up and keep it to one side. Then, with the aid of our twigs and the newspaper in which the sausages had been wrapped, she lit the fire. We put our sausages on to sticks and held them over the flames. When they were nicely browned (or in some cases charred black) we very gingerly nibbled them at the end of our sticks, the hot fat running down our chins. “The Brownies from Bishopstoke who went to their homes that night were rather dirty, with black smudges on their faces and greasy hands. I began to like Mr. Punker’s sausages after that, but I have never enjoyed any sausage as I enjoyed that one cooked over the camp fire.”
Miss Clarke was already at work in Winchester during the war. “We used to dive under the kitchen table when there was an air raid, ‘cos we didn’t have a shelter. I remember the sewing machine was under there as well. One morning I had just got off the train in Winchester, I looked to my left and there was a string of little bombs coming down on North Walls. I don’t know what damage they did. I just went on to work. Sometimes when we got back to Eastleigh the siren went, so we had to go down in the shelter in Leigh Road. There was a bomb in Hamilton Road, near Joe Moody’s stable. He kept cart horses, his brothers used to cut wood in Stoke Park Woods”.
Mr. Bavington worked at the Railway works during the war, so was in a “reserved” occupation and not called up for the armed forces. “The Loco was put on war work and the workers from the Carriage works went over there. There was a shelter in the works. When the red light went on, we had to put out all the lights. “I was in the Home Guard in Eastleigh. I remember a doodlebug in the woods and another at Fisher’s Pond. “After the war the trades people went back from the Loco to the Carriage Works. We had to do “bodge up” jobs, repair work”.
Mr. Rivett was also in the Railway Works. He remembers a look-out tower being built on the top of the water tower in the Carriage and Wagon Works Body Shop.
The sixteen-year-old Alan House, a patient in the Mount Sanatorium in 1940, was also called upon to do his share of fire watching. “During daylight air raid warnings, the fittest of us had to do “fire watching” duties from the open tower of the main house, the living quarters of the nursing and domestic staff. From this point aerial dog fights between British and German planes could be seen over Southampton.”
LIVING IN A COTTAGE (PART OF THE FORMER HOUSE OF INDUSTRY) IN STOKE COMMON ROAD (BY MRS L. PIKE)
Bishopstoke “Poor House” in what is now known as Pendula Way, Stoke Common.
The Bishopstoke Workhouse, known by the grander title of “House of Industry,” when it was built in1793, had been sold off in 1840. It was converted into 5 cottages for private use. In 1951 Mr. and Mrs. Pike moved into one of these cottages. There were 5 cottages on one side and 3 on the other, forming an “L” shape. They were of varying size, all but two of them had a front door but no back door. One of those with a back door had a cellar underneath. There was no electricity, but one of the tenants later paid to have electricity run across from one of the houses on the other side of Stoke Common Road. There was gas for lighting and coal ranges for cooking.
The cottages pictured in the 1950s.
Mrs. Pike had a gas stove installed for cooking and her range was removed and a fireplace put in. There was one cold tap outside for all the houses, which had replaced the well which used to supply water. The washing up and clothes washing were done in a bowl on the kitchen table. Mrs. Pike had a sink put in the kitchen and a gas boiler for heating water and washing clothes. She used a flat iron and, later, a gas iron to do the ironing. The bath was kept in the garage, across the garden and water had to be heated in the boiler, emptied into the bath, then cold water added to it. All the water then had to be emptied again by the bucket full. The lavatories were in sheds at the bottom of the gardens and ran into cesspits and were very draughty in the winter. With no electricity, the only radio available was provided by Radio Rental which gave two stations – Home and Light. There were two rooms downstairs, kitchen and living room and two upstairs. The stairs led straight into the front bedroom, with banisters to stop you falling downstairs and the bottom stairs went round a steep bend before the door leading into the kitchen.
Stoke Common Road was just a lane, not a made-up road, with no streetlights and high hedges on either side, with a ditch. There was a grocer’s store at the back of the Foresters’ Arms Pub. Milk was delivered twice a day by Hann’s Dairy and the baker (Mr. George in Church Road) delivered bread round the village in a handcart. Coal for the ranges and fires was delivered by Mr. Elkins.
Mrs. Pike worked at the airport, where she started work in the office at 7.30am and she used to cycle there and back. There was a bus, but it never connected in Eastleigh with the one out to the airport. Mr. and Mrs. Pike moved into a bungalow in Rogers Road in 1959 when it was newly built. The cottages were condemned and pulled down.
SCHOOL DAYS FROM THE 1950’S MEMORIES OF BISHOPSTOKE INFANT SCHOOL (BY Miss Starrs)
For many years Bishopstoke Infant School was fondly referred to as “The Little School” and still is by the older residents of Bishopstoke. The old school, now demolished, was situated on the hill opposite St Mary’s Church and was very much at the centre of village life.
The old Bishopstoke Infants School in Church Road
I was a member of staff for some thirty years and saw many changes. Subsequent Heads endeavoured to improve the fabric of the building and the education of the children. It was a very happy school and staff and children were not daunted by the conditions – cold corridors, lofty classrooms, heating that frequently broke down and, worst of all, a long trek outside to the toilets. Not that I think the children were unduly worried. They rather enjoyed a jaunt outside and the chance of meeting up with a brother/sister or friend from another class. As the school buildings were scattered over the site, it was important to gather as a school, so that the children developed a sense of belonging to a much larger community.
During the year we had many events that brought us together. Shrove Tuesday was always great fun. Mrs. Snow, the school cook, made substantial pancakes, that stood up to being tossed and dropped “umpteen” times as the children raced to the winning post.
The Easter Bonnet parade was another happy occasion, when parents showed their creative skills making hats for the children. Daffodils, fluffy chicks, eggs and ribbons abounded.
Mrs. Fowler with children in their Easter Bonnets at Bishopstoke Infant School in the mid-1980s.
During the course of the year, we enjoyed Sports days, Harvest Festival, Maypole dancing, Christmas Parties and sometimes, weather permitting, a picnic on the field. But perhaps, for me, the highlight of the school year was the Nativity Play, when we used St Mary’s Church and gave two evening performances. Every child took part, if not as a dressed character, certainly in the choir or band. Many a motorist must have wondered what was happening as angels, shepherds and kings walked across the road.
Parents race at Bishopstoke Infants and Junior School in 1953
In 1981 we celebrated the school’s centenary and for a week tried to give the children the feel of being a Victorian child. Once again, the parents showed great ingenuity making costumes. Everyone was suitably dressed, children, staff, cleaners, kitchen staff, caretaker and crossing lady. It was a great experience and enjoyed by all.
Bishopstoke School Centenary celebrations in 1981
It was a sad day in 1989 when the school closed and we marched to Riverside singing “Shall we gather at the river,” re-enacting what our predecessors had done when they marched in the opposite direction to their new school (our old one). The end of an era, a new one about to begin and so many happy memories to take with us to the long-awaited New Building.
MEMORIES OF A BISHOPSTOKE YOUTH (By Roy Honeybone)
Little did I realise when I entered the reception class of Bishopstoke County Primary School in 1951 I would later visit Buckingham Palace and Number 10 Downing Street with one of my classmates! That classmate, Don Rowe of St Margaret’s Road, was to become a lifelong friend. School memories are happy ones. The headteacher was Mr. C Penn-Marshall and I remember Mrs. Holder from the Infants and Miss Smith in the Lower Juniors. At the age of eight I had the role of Humpty Dumpty in a Christmas production in the Memorial Hall. When I was about eight or nine, I remember being sent out with a friend to collect tadpoles from the disused brickyard behind my house in Drake Road. I called in at home for a drink and a biscuit and I was not allowed in the front room. After school I discovered why: it was the day our first television set was delivered, and it was to be kept as a surprise until I returned from school in the afternoon. In Year Five (9/10-year-olds) we had an exciting year away from the main body of the school. We spent a year with Mr. Lloyd in the Labour Hall in Sedgwick Road. This hall has since been replaced with houses. One advantage of being in the Labour Hall was that my grandmother lived in Hamilton Road. She made superb treacle tarts and would occasionally come out to the back garden gate and let me have a slice! My final year at Bishopstoke School was spent in “the old tin hut” beside the football pitch. Mr. Jelfs was our teacher, and I was delighted to meet him again recently at the 40th anniversary of the opening of the new school in Underwood Road.
Official opening of Bishopstoke Junior School
Don and I were milk monitors in the old school. We used to rush round during assembly and if we were lucky, we had a few minutes of “Housewives’ Choice” on the radio before the others came back. One of the highlights of the week was always the improvised drama. Don was always guaranteed to entertain us with some impromptu drama.
Our final term was spent in the new building. We enjoyed the opportunities for sport on the spacious level playing fields. Our final year at the Junior School coincided with the last year of the disused brickfield for our recreational activities. Rogers Road was to be built on our beloved “playground”. As well as the pond we had a football pitch behind the Drake Road gardens, a cricket pitch on the far side of the pond next to the woods and we used the old kilns for “indoor” 5-a-side games. In the final summer before the builders started on Rogers Road, we turned our soccer pitch into a pitch and putt course complete with bunkers! They were certainly happy days. Don Rowe and I have recently joined forces again in the cause of Citizenship Education. Cherie Booth is one of the Trustees of the Citizenship Foundation in London and she organised a reception at Number 10 Downing Street which I was invited to attend together with Don and two pupils from my school at Mansbridge. Don and I had previously visited Buckingham Palace together to receive our Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. I don’t think Mrs. Holder could possibly have predicted that when we first set foot in the Infant’s classroom in Church Road. Who knows what the future holds in store for the Bishopstoke children of today!?
SCHOOL DAYS IN THE 1960’S AND AFTER (By Caroline Simmonds)
I was born in 1958. My first school was Mrs. Tumber’s Nursery School just down the road, near the Old Rectory. I loved the weak Ribena, and jelly babies she served up mid-morning and she has to be credited with introducing me to reading, although I recall tears of frustration to start with! I then progressed to Bishopstoke Infant School where Miss Starrs perfected my reading skills and taught me math’s with the aid of little wooden blocks in different sizes that I think were called Cuisennaire Rods. I remember making a papier mâché green brontosaurus. On sunny summer days we sometimes had lessons outside on the playing field, sitting cross-legged in a big circle. For some reason one of my main memories of that school is the small, raised area of grass just outside the railings onto Church Road, opposite the church. We were, of course, strictly forbidden to climb over, but nevertheless we did, to crawl around during playtime among the needles from the trees and to hide behind their trunks. I don’t recall whether the weekly trips to the outdoor swimming pool on the road between Bishopstoke and Eastleigh (gone now, it used to be where the Mercedes- Benz showroom is now) were from Infant school or Junior, I suspect the latter.
The Swimming Pool opposite Chickenhall Lane in the 1960s.
The water always seemed to be just a few degrees above freezing, but the cup of Bovril afterwards with Bovril flavoured crisps to go with it, tasted all the better for that. I used to be so chilled when I got out of the water that it was a struggle to get dried and dressed. My moment of glory was when I took part in the school swimming competition, breaststroke done for style rather than speed, I think, but I don’t remember winning any prizes.
The move to the Junior School in Underwood Road seemed momentous. It seemed so much bigger than the Infant School, and even now I sometimes have dreams about losing my way there. I had a number of marvelous teachers there whose names I can’t now remember, but I do remember the headteacher, Mr. Probert, who kept a large jar of extra strong mints in his room (“Probomints”) to reward good behaviour. I was a Brownie and then a Girl Guide (in the Elf and then the Snowdrop Sixes – or was it the other way round?) in the Bishopstoke pack. We met once a week in the hut behind Sedgwick Road under the watchful eye of Daisy, otherwise known as Mrs. Smith. On summer evenings we would go “tracking” in Bishopstoke Woods, a small group rushing ahead and leaving signs on the ground or the trees for the rest of the pack to follow. I now live in Oxford and when I return to Bishopstoke to visit my parents I can scarcely recognise the place. But I don’t think there could have been a much nicer place to grow up.
SCHOOL DAYS IN THE 1960’S AND AFTER
This is a brief account of some of mine and my children’s memories of going to school in Bishopstoke and some of the ways that schooling, and the schools have changed in the last 36 years. By Jose Hayes (Nee Parkes)
I attended Bishopstoke Infant School in Church Road (now the Community Centre). I started school in September 1962, just after my 5th birthday. My mother took me to the bus stop at the end of our road and I went on the school bus. We had school dinners in the hall, which was by the playing field. It seemed a very long way from the other school buildings. When my daughter started at the school, I was surprised at how close the hall was. The schoolrooms were divided between two different buildings. The original school, built in 1880 and the newer buildings. The older building has recently been demolished to make way for more housing. The toilets were in the middle of the playground. I remember one winter being so cold that the toilets froze, and we were all sent home. I spent my second year in the building dating from 1896. The windows were very high, as was the ceiling. The classroom seemed very big. In the afternoon my mother collected me, and we walked home. I remember going into the sweet shop on the corner of St Margaret’s Road. I was allowed to spend two old pence. After two years I went to Stoke Park Junior School in Underwood Road.
Stoke Park Junior School in the early 1960s
It was still quite new, and it was lovely to have inside toilets and to not have to walk in the cold to the hall. I was now a lot nearer home, so I went home for lunch each day and always walked to and from school. For one of my years there, our class was in an extra hut built on the edge of the playing field, opposite the main entrance. The classroom had a big fire, surrounded by a high railing. It kept the classroom very warm in winter and we all put our morning milk on the top to warm.
I also went to the Infants in Church Road. I started school in the summer term of 1984. My mum took me and two friends to school by car. She and their mums took it in turns to take and collect us. I stayed at school for lunch but took sandwiches. In summer we had swimming lessons once a week in the little swimming pool behind the hall. The pool was heated but uncovered. There was a high wooden fence surrounding the pool and benches round the edge, we changed there, as there were no changing rooms. I then went to Stoke Park Junior School. I walked to school with the two girls next door. There were two huts on the field that we used as extra classrooms. These have since been pulled down and two new classrooms have been built behind the hall. I also remember having a wooden desk (although I think they must have been changed quite soon in favour of tables) and we had BBC computers with floppy discs. In our 4th year all the children camped for one night on the school playing fields. Three or four children shared a tent and we had to put up our own tents which took some children a long time! Once, in Year 6, some pupils were given duties, such as taking the registers to the teachers in the morning and going out on to the playground to ring the bell at the start of school and at break times.
Sean attended Stoke Park Infant School in the new building in Abbotsbury Road. He started school in the summer term of 1993. The school was very new, and all the classrooms had carpets. I walked Sean to school each day and he took sandwiches for lunch. His first week at school was for the mornings only. Then he started full time.
Sean: “I liked going for walks in the woods each week with our teacher. Once a deer ran across the path in front of me and my friend. “Every classroom had a computer, and we were allowed to use it for some of our work, which was good fun. “I was at the Infant School for two years. Then I went to the Junior School. In Year 4 we all camped on the school field for one night. In Year 5 we went to the Isle of Wight for a week. We shared a chalet with our friends, four in each one. We did canoeing, abseiling, climbing a 15-foot wall and lots of other things. It was great. This year we are going to France for a week. We are going to see lots of things, like the beaches where the fighting was on D Day, and on the first morning there, we are going to have our breakfast in the park and watch the sea lions having their breakfast at the same time”.
Daniel started school in November 1994, four months after his 4th birthday. The classrooms were newly built for the Reception Class. From November to Christmas, he attended school for the morning only, then in the Spring term he started full time. Daniel: “My Mum took me to school by car then went to college. I had sandwiches for lunch. I liked playing with the train set and I liked going on the welly walks every week.
“When I was in the last term, we had a picnic with the Third-Year children in the Junior School, so we would know somebody when we started there in September. When I was in Year 3 at Junior School, we went to Beaulieu Motor Museum. It was fun. Now I am in the 4th Year I am looking forward to the camp in the summer and going away somewhere in Year 5”.
STOKE PARK JUNIOR SCHOOL by David Picton-Jones, Headmaster until 1998
In 1998 Stoke Park Junior School celebrated its 40th anniversary. In 1958 the Bishopstoke County Primary School Junior Mixed and Infants had been reorganised into two departments. Clifford Penn Marshall became the headmaster of the Junior which occupied the new building in Underwood Road, while the Infants’ department stayed in the long-established building in Church Road.
The junior school can still be admired for its large fields set in the middle of the local authority housing, as it was then. Matthew Etheridge, a pupil, says that he has lived in Bishopstoke for 4 years. His mother was born here. He thinks the best thing about Bishopstoke is that it never really changes. (A view which might not be shared by other residents who complain about the many new houses built or planned in recent years). Matthew lives in Spring Lane and in his house, they have a few pictures of their house and Spring Lane in 1910, when there used to be a bridge over the lane. The school works hard at its community links. It is a popular venue for local meetings of the Area Committee and the Borough Council. Voluntary organisations such as Age Concern and a keep fit club also use the school accommodation. It also hosted some of the events of the revived Bishopstoke carnival. In 1989 the infants department finally also left the old buildings in Church Road and a brand new Infants school was built on the field adjoining Stoke Park Juniors. The movement of both schools to this area of Bishopstoke was prompted by the expansion of housing to the west, towards Fair Oak.
PUBS, CLUBS AND SOCIETIES
From early on in this century there were facilities for the working people to spend their leisure time, other than those provided by the Churches and the Band of Hope. Some of these were, of course, frowned upon by the clerics and those advocating abstemiousness! The public houses had been in existence in Bishopstoke for many years. The Anchor, which was mentioned in the Rates Book in 1794, was the place where the Manor Court of Presentments had been held. Also, rather surprisingly, members of the vestry of St Mary’s Church had occasionally held their meetings there. It was rebuilt in 1892 and has now been converted into flats. The Anglers, nearly next door, shown on the 1824 map, was known for a time as “Annie Miles’s” after the landlady there. The Prince of Wales, where one August Ludwig Hirtes was a “beer seller” in 1889, has now been renamed “The Barge”. In Stoke Common there was The Forester’s Arms where Henry Twynam had built a beer house in the mid-nineteenth century. All of these hostelries, except the Anchor are still serving the community, with the addition of The River Inn on the Bishopstoke Road on the site of a big house called St Agnes, The Longmead Arms in Longmead Avenue and the Welcome Inn on the Fair Oak Road.
The Reading Room, Church Road
In 1874 the owner of the Mount, Captain Hargreaves, spent £800 to have “The Reading Room” built in Church Road. It housed a library of 200 books and newspapers, for those not able to afford to buy them. It was also the venue at the beginning of the century for evening lectures and lantern slide shows and later for evening classes for the young men of the village. Later still its name was changed to “The Men’s Institute” with billiard tables installed. Mr. Stanford was a member of the billiard club in the 1930’s. “I was born in London in 1908 and my family moved to Bishopstoke from Nine Elms in 1909. After my marriage in 1932 we took one of the newly built houses in Edward Avenue. “I belonged to the Men’s Billiard Club, held in the old Reading Room. Mr. and Mrs. Cherrett looked after the club and lived in the house behind it. There used to be a well at the back of the billiard room. “The team, which included Bill Trill, Henry Ivill, Mr. Cherrett, George Hutchinson and Mr. Haskins, the schoolmaster, belonged to the Fair Oak and District Billiards League. We won the championship in 1933, members receiving a silver medallion to commemorate the event”.
Following in the tradition of the Anglican Rector, the Reverend Sedgwick, who composed and produced operettas, both in the Public Hall and the cinema in Eastleigh, the Methodists also ventured into the world of drama. The story of “The Young Leaguers Union” is told by Peggy Walters, daughter of Mr. Richard Elkins.
Darts and snooker in the Working Men’s Social Clubs, billiards in the Men’s Institute and a St Mary’s Church Football team were not the only sporting activities in the village. There was a second football team, unconnected with the church and a cricket club formed in 1860. Mr. Ivill mentioned this. “There was a cricket club in Bishopstoke in 1860 and I still have a copy of the original rules. I also have a cricket club cash book with General Gubbins’ name in it (He was the owner of Longmead House). The ground was between Drake Road and the woods. I was the secretary when it was revived. “For away matches the team went in a brake with two horses. For home matches we had to roll out and cut the pitch. One of the team was “Buffer” Moody, who was also a runner, and his brother was called “Shiner”. Their mother lived in Hamilton Road.”
One of Mr. Honeybone’s interests was watching football. He remembered the “Stoke St Mary’s” team playing in a field adjoining the old Manor Farmhouse on the Fair Oak Road.
Bishopstoke St. Mary’s Football Team 1923-1924
He said there was also a Scouts’ team, run by Mr. Sayers, Scoutmaster and village policeman and helped by Mr. Elkins. Mr. Honeybone used to go and watch Southampton Football team. He went by train with a Privilege ticket, which cost three and a half pence, paid 1 shilling entrance and 2 pence for a programme. It sounds cheap by today’s prices, but then his starting wage was only 16 shillings a week.
For those not interested in sport there were dances held in the village. Mrs. Durrant was one of those who went dancing. “We used to have Old Time Dances in the old Public Hall. Mr. Lipscombe’s band used to come over from Eastleigh, once a month on Saturday nights. He used to keep the Jiffy Café, opposite the station. Also, the bell ringer, Mr. Wheeler, used to arrange bell ringing socials”.
Mr. Honeybone: “My wife liked dancing. I wasn’t keen, but I used to go dancing with her in the Public Hall on Saturday nights, the old hall. They ran dances to get money to build the new hall, the Memorial Hall. We had Bingo as well, we used to get a lot of money from that”.
The old Public Hall had reached the end of its working life at the end of the 1940’s. Dr Meller recounted its history in an article written just before the new hall was opened.
It was then decided that one way to raise money to build a new hall would be to revive the Bishopstoke Carnival. So “Hall Day” and Carnival week were instituted which took place in the first week of September from 1948 to 1957 when the new “Memorial Hall” was opened on the 22nd of August. Each evening there were events which included concerts by local choirs, a display by the pupils of a dancing school, a cricket match – ladies versus gents, a “Grand Flannel Dance” (i.e., casual wear) an evening of magic and a whist drive. The week ended with the Carnival procession round Bishopstoke led by the Carnival Queen and her court and a fete on Bishopstoke Recreation Ground. The hall was built using a lot of voluntary labour. It has been in continuous use for the last 42 years, providing a venue for meetings of local clubs and societies, recreational classes, drama productions, bazaars, etc.
THE PUBLIC HALL, BISHOPSTOKE (By Dr Meller)
When the hall was erected some 50 years ago as a Parish Hall, soon after Canon S. N. Sedgwick became Rector, it was only intended to be a temporary building, which was expected to last for about 15 years. Instead, it has given yeoman service to Bishopstoke for half a century, and although it must now go to make way for the much-needed new hall, there are many local people who will see the last of the familiar Riverside landmark with some regret. Parishioners who figured in the storm of controversy which raged round the hall in the early 1930s will have special reason to remember the old building with affection, for the dedication of the land as a site for a hall for the people of Bishopstoke for all time was the culmination of a remarkable achievement. It marked the successful conclusion of a great co-operative effort by all organisations in the village, in the days perhaps when civic consciousness was greater than today, even though purses were lighter.
When Canon Sedgwick came to Bishopstoke, he immediately saw the need for a Parish Hall, and took steps to have one erected, the work being carried out by Mr. Whitehead. It was a wooden and galvanised iron building on a brick foundation. To pay for the hall, Canon Sedgwick wrote and produced the famous Bishopstoke comic operas, which carried the name of the village to all parts of Hampshire and beyond it in the early years of the century. There are still many residents who remember taking part in these operas, the casts of which were composed entirely of people from the village. Canon Sedgwick wrote both words and music and in a long series of production the operas went from success to success until the name of Bishopstoke became synonymous with that of Canon Sedgwick and his remarkable musical achievement. It would perhaps be a fitting gesture on the part of the committee for the new hall, when it is built, to display in the building some written reminder of the fact that the War Memorial Hall stands on the site of what was once the home of the Bishopstoke operas. The Parish Hall quickly became not only the centre of church social activities in the village, but also the headquarters of most village organisations. It had been built on land attached to the old Rectory in Church Road and was part of the orchard. Canon Sedgwick found the Church Road Rectory rather too large for his liking and moved to a house in Stoke Park Road. Subsequently the present Rectory was built in this road. The old Rectory was sold and in later years the rose gardens and paddock were sold to Eastleigh Urban District Council, to form the site of the Bishopstoke Recreation Ground. But, although almost forgotten, the small part of the ground on which stood the Parish Hall was not included in the sale. By this time the hall had become more a centre for general village activities than specifically a church hall, but the land remained the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and the hall, long past its “temporary” life was becoming old and dilapidated.
Bishopstoke old Public Hall next to the Angler’s Inn
Then, in about the year 1930, came the dramatic incident which galvanised the people of Bishopstoke into action in defence of their village hall. One morning they found posted on the front door a notice signed by the then Rector, the Revd. O de Blogue, announcing that the hall would be closed after a certain date and the site sold. This action of the Church Commissioners burst like a bombshell on the village and within hours a protest meeting had been arranged. The meeting was attended by a packed audience, and it was the forerunner of many more lively meetings during the next three years. A committee was appointed to investigate thoroughly the situation and after some negotiations the date of closing the hall was postponed. The members of the committee were told that the only way of keeping the hall would be by buying the site. At one time it was thought that a leading Bishopstoke resident would buy the site and present it to the village, but this did not materialise, and after further negotiations it was decided that the only solution was for the site to be bought on behalf of the public. A fund was started, and the few hundred pounds needed were raised, not an easy task in days when the country was suffering from a depression and many men were either out of work or on short time. The money subscribed represented a real sacrifice. The land was bought, and the hall was thrown in! By this time the building was in a very bad condition indeed, and volunteer workers went into action to carry out urgent work to keep it standing. Events were held to raise funds for renovations and redecorations, notably the vaudeville productions arranged by Mrs. A L Longhurst, who then lived at Stoke Knoll. A new stage, curtains, heaters and lighting were provided, and with the support of all Bishopstoke organisations the hall just about paid its way.
Inside the Public Hall at Bishopstoke
From the onset a Committee of Management was formed representing organisations using the hall, which was renamed the “Public Hall”. It was due to the foresight of this committee that the site was preserved for the use of the people of Bishopstoke for all time. The committee made an early decision to put the site in trust for the use of the public of Bishopstoke and their successors. Even in those early days they were looking ahead to the time when a new hall would be built, and they made sure that it would be impossible for the site to ever be used for any other purpose.
The first chairman of the committee was the late Mr. F A Morgan and he was succeeded by Mr. H Ivill. Two members of the existing Public Hall Management Committee – Mr. T Baker, the present chairman and Mr. T Griffin were members of the first Management Committee and have served on it ever since.
During the second world war, the hall was taken over by the military authorities and closed for public use, but when it was re-opened after the war, it was decided that a determined effort should be made to provide a new hall as a war memorial.
Bishopstoke Public Hall during WWII secondment by the Military
By that time the Public Hall was hopelessly out of date and in a very poor condition, but, through constant efforts on the part of the members of the committee it has been possible to keep it in a fit enough state to carry on. The members of the committee have had their ups and downs and it has often been a struggle to find the money to keep the hall going. But they always managed it, and they are deserving of the deep gratitude of the people of Bishopstoke. So far as the cost of hire is concerned, the hall has been one of the cheapest for miles around, but when the new War Memorial Hall is ready, local organisations may find that they will have to dig into their pockets a little more deeply.
BISHOPSTOKE WORKING MENS’ SOCIAL CLUB by Malcolm Dumper – Trustee
Newspaper cutting, March 1st, 1912 “Proposed Social Club for Bishopstoke”.
“A largely attended public meeting was held in the Parish Hall, Bishopstoke, for the purpose of considering the advisability of starting a Working Men’s Social Club in the parish. Mr. A Whitman was elected chairman and Mr. H A Cook, Secretary for the meeting. A discussion first took place on the subject, when many spoke in favour and some against, amongst the latter being Mr. Stagg. It was, however, decided by a large majority to form a club, and the fee was fixed at 2s. a year, any member being allowed to take shares”. The Bishopstoke Working Men’s Social Club first opened its doors for official business on 2nd September 1912. The Club had been formed by a group of local men, mainly railway workers, who wished to provide a wider facility than just licensed premises for the local community of Bishopstoke.
The opening of Bishopstoke Working Men’s Social Club on 2nd September 1912 at
A considerable amount of pre-planning was required after the founder members took possession of two houses known as the “The Hollies” in Spring Lane. The first appointed secretary was Mr. H A Cook. Within the first year of operation, the club membership had grown to 560. Family involvement was and still is an important feature of the club’s activities and as early as 1919 several charabancs transported members to Cheddar Caves for the first Annual Members Outing.
Working Men’s Club outing to Cheddar Caves
In the early 1920s the committee introduced family outings to the seaside and apart from the war years these excursions have been a regular event. Indoor club activities have included the formation of a darts team and a snooker team and a variety of indoor games as well as draws and raffles.
In 1927 the committee invested in two houses in Scotter Road giving them extra land between Spring Lane and Scotter Road, which allowed the establishment of a club garden where summer concerts, fruit and flower and vegetable shows and sports days were held, as well as providing play areas for the children. In 1980 the club established a football team which has over the years become one of the leading County league sides in the surrounding area. The club has also recognised the needs of local charities and regular donations have been made to the Mount Hospital, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Countess Mountbatten Hospice.
Des Hutchinson remembers his father, who was an original member, taking him to the club as a young boy in the 1930s and as soon as Des reached the age of 18, he joined with several friends. Des can remember the strict rule of ladies not being allowed into the club on a Friday night until after 9 pm and a special waiting area was provided for them. He also remembers the family outings which, for many, were the only seaside trips ever made.
John Raybould’s family have also been associated with the club since its formation. His grandparents were steward and stewardess, and his father was a committee-man for many years. John recalls the excitement of the concert evenings on the club law and how, after the annual flower and vegetable shows, the produce was auctioned in the bar.
As we enter a new millennium the club membership stands at 1,360. It is an important part of the local community with generations of families having been part of it. It is perceived by many to be the premier club in the area. Members and families have a whole range of facilities which offer a venue where you can meet friends or take your whole family out for the evening in pleasant surroundings.
THE BISHOPSTOKE CHRYSANTHEMUM SOCIETY
A society which began during the second world war, and which achieved national fame was the Bishopstoke Chrysanthemum Society. Mr. E Honeybone, born in 1904, has been a member of this society almost from the beginning. “In 1939 a group of men at the railway works were discussing the growing of chrysanthemums and decided to hold a meeting at the Anchor Public House at Riverside about starting a society. They held their show in the Institute in Church Road. It was called at first the Bishopstoke Amateur Chrysanthemum Society. “In November 1940, they held their second show and the word “Amateur” was dropped from their title when they began to win prizes. “In 1945 they entered the National Chrysanthemum Society show in London and won the Challenge Trophy. “The chrysanthemums were taken up to London in Charlie Elkins’ furniture van, wrapped round in moss, with two members accompanying them. The rest of the members went up by train. Mr. Osgood was responsible for setting up the exhibit, as he had a very good eye for colour and composition. Everyone had to leave the hall for two hours while the judging went on. As well as the Trophy there was a cash prize of £10 given to the Society. “Between 1945 and 1970 they won the Challenge Trophy 13 times.
“I continued to grow chrysanthemums until 1992 and the greenhouse where I used to bring in my 80 to 100 pots of late chrysanthemums is still in my back garden”.
THE HISTORY OF THE YOUNG LEAGUERS UNION IN BISHOPSTOKE
By Peggy Walters nee Elkins
The Young Leaguers Union grew initially out of meetings held to maintain the interest of a group of teenagers, who had been working to raise funds for the National Children’s Home and Orphanage, which was within the organisation of the Methodist Church. At first this was done by holding garden parties and selling cakes and handicrafts. Then the children decided to produce a little sketch at these events and thus began the seed of the Y.L.U. players.
The garden parties grew and eventually it was decided to approach the Headmistress of the school with the view to using this for a Bazaar in November and this was granted and became an annual event. However, the one building soon became not large enough and we were able to use not only the second building but the playground as well. My, it was a great occasion! A Saturday in the middle of November, stalls and teas and in the playground a miniature railway and eventually a roundabout. I think the whole population of Bishopstoke turned out, either helping on the many stalls, etc., or to join in the crush, eager to find bargains or Christmas gifts. A wholesale catalogue was obtained, and more goods were added to the stock for sale. But also, there were very many people who gave considerable time to making articles for the stalls. There were aprons, cushion covers, chair backs, pillow slips, table cloths, serviettes, handkerchiefs, all made from off-cuts and bits and pieces that were available at this time of shortage. There was one lady of eighty who embroidered for us.
During the 1940’s, with the implementation of the Education Act, we were no longer able to use the school for our Annual Bazaars. More goods became available in the shops, wider leisure activities were developing, and change was therefore necessary. Transport became easier and we began taking our goods and wares to NCH Homes at Alresford and Alversford, where we had stalls in support of their fete days. We travelled by coach, a mass exodus from Longmead Avenue. The coach driver came via Eastleigh, calling at the town’s ice cream maker, Mr. Rossi, and picking up a very large icebox of ice cream and cartons of cornets for sale at these events. The coach had been preceded by my father with his coal lorry, very well loaded with boxes of goods for sale, crates of lemonade bottles, side shows, the roundabout, the miniature railway and his coal scales for weighing people, two pence for adults and one penny for children.
The development of the Y.L.U. Players.
For several years an Annual “At Home” replaced the November Bazaar. As part of the entertainment one act plays were performed under the direction of Harold and Mabel Bonnett. Thus began a strong interest in “treading the boards”. Came the time when we decided to put on a four act play about a Board Meeting of N.C.H.O. Executives, with a huge cast, but where ignorance is bliss – we dared to go into production. It turned out very successfully and was followed by other plays. In 1947 we formed a committee to continue as a Drama Society to be known as “The Y.L.U. Players”. There was already a well-established Bishopstoke Dramatic Society who at that time only gave us two years before we gave up.
We had various difficulties in the beginning, for some of the early productions the men of our group worked through the night to put up the scenery, before going to work.
There were very trying conditions back stage as well. The ladies’ dressing room was used also for making tea and as there were no proper facilities, the washing up was done in a galvanised bath on a trestle table. There was a gas copper to boil water but no heating. The men shared their dressing room with the member responsible for the incidental music – there was equipment and wires all over the place and if it was necessary to enter the stage from that side it was quite a hazardous progress. In winter the actors often had to compete with the din made by rain falling on the tin roof. In spring, with the birds nesting above their heads, there was a continuous twittering and occasionally pieces of straw and feathers floating down.
As the years passed, we presented at first, two plays a year, and then five over two years. All went well for a number of years, but then came television and audience numbers dropped considerably. It was not very rewarding performing to audiences of twenty or so, and financially it was not very practical. Gradually, however, the audiences began to come back.
In the Eighties we decided to drop the name Y.L.U. and became known as the Bishopstoke Players. Now we regularly perform three times a year. In the past three years we have ventured into Old Time Music Hall and Pantomime. Despite some of our members being a little dubious, they have proved very successful.
Bishopstoke Players 40th Anniversary production, September 1987
1997 was our fiftieth anniversary, a very successful and happy year. We were able to hand over to NCH Action for Children the sum of £3,000. In 1979 my mother and an aunt who was a member of St. Mary’s Church were honoured for their work for NCH by being invited to Winchester Cathedral to receive the Maundy Money from Her Majesty the Queen. This was a fitting tribute to all the work carried out by the people of Bishopstoke.
THE BISHOPSTOKE SOCIETY
The Bishopstoke Society is a non-political organisation of local people, which was founded in 1990. With no Parish Council to look after the interests of the residents it was felt that the Society would fill a gap by representing their views and fulfil a social function. It also had the more practical aim of making the village a better place to live.
So, members in the early days organised “litter blitzes” to clear up rubbish in Stoke Park Woods; in co-operation with the Ramblers Association, they mended stiles, put steps down the Lloyd and a footbridge and stiles beyond West Horton Farm.
Sub-committees were set up. A planning committee examines applications which may affect life in Bishopstoke. The environment committee keeps an eye on the general state of the surroundings. Members have volunteered to become tree wardens, recording the species, ages and health of trees and reporting any threats to them. Other members survey wildlife. They work with the Southampton Badger Group, monitor water voles, crayfish, dormice and bats, or are interested in bird watching. On the social side, there are monthly meetings, with a speaker, a bluebell walk in Stoke Park Woods in the Spring and at Christmas there are carols in the woods, round a bonfire, with a local band playing and hot drinks and soup afterwards.
The Bishopstoke Society was the driving force behind the formation of the Parish Council, which had been defunct since 1898, when Bishopstoke had merged with Eastleigh. It was hoped by the members of the Society that the Parish Council would have the funds and the enthusiasm to take over some of the tasks which they had been performing voluntarily. The Bishopstoke Society was also closely involved with the establishment of the Community Centre at the old Infants School in Church Road.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The History of Stoke Park Wood
This wood has an almost unbroken link with the Bishops of Winchester since the sixth century until 1948 when it was bought by the Forestry Commission. Stoke village came into the hands of the Bishops of Winchester by Royal grant in the 6th century and remained so except for short periods when it was held by the Monarchs and during the Commonwealth.
1086 – mentioned in the Domesday Book.
1205 – the woods were once part of the Royal Forest of Bere. Made a Royal Forest after the Norman Conquest, the original forest stretched over 100 square miles, having its own court of Verderers to enforce forest law. King John hunted there and in 1205 he wrote a letter from there.
1305 – there is a record of local landowners entering the Lord Bishop’s land at Stoke Park, hunting there and carrying away deer.
1540 – in the time of Bishop Stephen Gardiner it was formally declared a park for hunting. A park had to be granted under licence by the King, had to have deer within it and was always enclosed by a pale, a hedge or a wall. This effectively deprived commoners of any rights they may have had on the land.
From time to time thereafter the bishop granted rights as an act of grace to certain of his tenants for the repair of highways, bridges and the river bank, with timber from the woods. His stewards managed the woods through a Wood-Reeve or Bailiff.
1800 – very early in the 19th century an Enclosure Act was made for the Lord Bishop’s Wood at Stoke.
In the 19th century there were annual wood sales held at the Anchor Inn, especially of hazel underwood for local use.
1872 – an early Ordnance Survey map of the district shows Stoke Wood as the same shape as it was in 1952.
1900 – in the 20th century Barrel Makers (Coopers) plied their craft in the woods, at least until 1910.
1948 – the wood was purchased by the Forestry Commission.
By Ray Basher
I have always been interested in trees and living in such a pleasant area I wanted to find out more about them. At a past meeting of the Bishopstoke Society there was a request for tree wardens. My wife and I volunteered. In Bishopstoke many of our trees are protected by tree preservation orders, or T.P.O.s for short. In the conservation area all trees are protected. There are many different types of trees in Bishopstoke, some of them ancient, like the yew tree in the old church ground, which is about 1000 years old.
Villagers sat around the old yew tree at Riverside, Bishopstoke
It was fortunate that when the railway came to the area in 1840 many large houses were built in Bishopstoke and their owners took advantage of the introduction of new types of trees by British plant hunters of the nineteenth century, such as Douglas, Hooker, Wilson and the Lobb brothers.
On a walk round the village, you will see many of the introductions. On the footpath along the Itchen Navigation near the old churchyard you will see a large Sequoia Giganteum or Wellingtonia and nearby a Montezuma Pine, which looks good, rain or shine. On the old churchyard there are ash, cherry and the large, old yew tree. In Church Road is the old Rectory, where Dean Garnier lived. He planted his garden with many new specimens, while he was Rector, from 1807 to 1869. There remain some of these trees, which are now mature. They include a Judas tree and a Semperen Virens. Further up the hill, in West Drive, the former entrance to the Longmead Estate, is a grand avenue of limes and there are two cork oaks at the end of the footpath on the right.
Another large Victorian house was the Mount and at the entrance to this estate is another Sequoia, now 150 years old, but still an infant, 98 feet high and 22 feet in circumference. Some Sequoia trees in California are over 2000 years old and 275 feet high! In the Mount gardens are a fine mulberry tree and a strawberry tree among beech, oak, chestnut and pine. To the north of the Mount gardens is part of an ancient woodland and the name “Breach Farm” shows that a clearing was once made among the trees. At the top of Church Road, on the left, are Corsican Pines, two of these trees were victims of the gales in the early 1990’s. In Stoke Common Road is a large, old oak tree and across the road from it is a eucalyptus or gum tree.
The largest area of woodland is Stoke Park Woods. These were originally owned by the Bishop of Winchester, as was the whole parish of Bishopstoke, then by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The woods provided a livelihood for many local people, who coppiced the hazel and chestnut and cut wood for charcoal making. The chestnut coppicing continues to this day. It is much sort after when it is auctioned about every 15-20 years. Stoke Park Woods are now owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. The trees are regularly harvested and thinned. Varieties are restricted to larch, beech and pine. Felling is necessary to provide more light to existing trees and open up the canopy to let in more light to the undergrowth. In a few seasons a carpet of bluebells and foxgloves return, along with many other species of flora. At the entrance to the woods in Stoke Park Road is a Bishops Pine and along the road are several Monterey Pines, probably planted when Longmead House was built in 1866.
BOTANISING IN BISHOPSTOKE By Pete Selby
I have long had an interest in the life around me. It started with fishing and continued with birds. However, I came to find that plants are good to investigate because they don’t fly away. I joined a few organisations, including the Botanical Society of the British Isles and discovered that others had a similar interest, though they were far better at finding things than I was. About six years ago I went to a BSBI meeting in Sussex and took part in an exercise to measure the efficiency of recorders – how much could be found in a limited period and area. We were paired off and sent to a 2 km square and told to record every different kind of plant make we could find. I later learned that all recorders were graded between 1 and 5 and I was level 1 – absolute beginner. For this reason, I was paired with real experts and the only contribution I really made was to note things down, do the driving and follow these very expert ladies around, looking at the map and noting everything they found. We found about 180 to 200 different species per square kilometer in 2½ hours. That’s about 1 specie per minute.
After the weekend in Sussex, I started in earnest to record the plants I found in and around the local area, but I had to get better at identification – particularly grasses. No, they are not all the same, they just look the same. You have to get a lens and identify them and then measure the anthers and sundry other bits like glumes and lemmas! (You also have to look up what glumes and lemmas are in the glossary). For some reason botanists seem to like naming parts of plants using obscure terms which are totally immemorable. They also like having different words for the same things. Botanists also use the scientific names of plants, which is okay because it’s a very simple naming system. Unfortunately, you read the names and then later talk to fellow botanists and discover that you pronounce the same name in a totally different way. It was five years before I discovered that CH is never pronounced as in chair but always as in key. A final refinement comes from the fact that some names are rather long and on recording sheets, lists on which you cross off things when you find them, the names are abbreviated. So, you get Aphanes arv instead of Aphanes arvense – which is useful because I still don’t know whether the final “e” should be sounded.
I decided that I must learn all the scientific names of the common plants for starters. So I made a list of the things I found on my walk into work. I noted them in my notebook, but only if I could write down the name correctly. If I couldn’t remember the name, I had to look it up later, commit it to memory, and add it to my list next day – if I could remember it. Well, it worked and now I know the scientific name and have problems recalling the common names. So I built up a list for my walk to work and then I started lists of winter plants in flower – a surprising number, say 50 species in November, January and February still in flower. My local list was growing, so I started to create a computer programme to record them, so I could see what I had found, when and where. Next the Atlas 2000 project was started by the BSBI. This was a project to record the distribution of all the plants in the UK and Ireland. I became involved in co- ordinating the recording in South Hampshire, approximately all the land south of A272, Stockbridge to Winchester to Petersfield. I have been looking at one square in the main, SU41, from Bishopstoke to Southampton. I now have records of about 880 species in this area, of which about 590 have been recorded in Bishopstoke.
AREAS AND HABITATS IN BISHOPSTOKE
Bishopstoke has a wide variety of habitats, and each area has its own particular floral community. The woodland areas consist of Stoke Park Woods, Crowdhill Copse, and Upper Barn Copse and these are home to a wide diversity of plants, some of which are rare. The River Itchen and Itchen Navigation flow through the village and here can be found a wide range of aquatic plants. The water meadows also have their share, although a large part of these now form the Recreation Ground on the Bishopstoke Road. A surprising number of plants have survived in, or have partially colonised the urban areas of roads, gardens and allotments – not to forget the more pernicious garden weeds. The churchyard, though much planted, still has some sweet violet plants and several unusual plants grow in the church walls. Not to be forgotten are the invading plants that have advanced into the area along the roads and railways.
Bishopstoke has an extremely varied flora because it has a wide range of habitats. There are still many things to find, but it is probably more important to keep what there is now. In order to preserve this extreme biodiversity, we must remember that areas of natural vegetation maintain a delicate balance which is easily and quickly disturbed by man.
BIRDWATCHING IN BISHOPSTOKE by Jim Waterman
The most important site for bird watching in the Bishopstoke area is South of the sewage farm towards Southampton Airport. It forms part of the Itchen Valley and has some excellent habitat. In Spring you could expect to see all common warblers including Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. There are records of Nightingales, Grasshopper Warbler and Cettis Warbler. Rarer passage migrants include Whitechats, Ring Ouzel, Redstart, Black Redstart and Osprey. Hobbeys have also moved back into the valley but are still quite rare.
Stoke Park Woods – During the winter you can see small flocks of Siskin and Redpoll. Occasionally in the spring it is possible to hear the song of Wood Warbler and all common woodland species. e.g., Coal Tit and Treecreeper.
The Lloyd and the River north of Brambridge – Recent records have included Goosander during the winter months also Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper.
Little Egrets have been recorded in the Itchen Valley and may become a more frequent sighting along the river.
BADGERS AND BATS by Chris and Mike Pawling
We have always been interested in British Wildlife so when we retired it was only natural that we should take more time to study it. If you happen to walk from Bishopstoke at dawn on a certain day of the month you might see two people looking under the bridges along the Bishopstoke Road. On that day along the entire length of the river Itchen there are teams of people out looking for mammal signs which are sent to universities for DNA testing. Because of this survey we know that water voles are in serious decline and our crayfish have been attacked by a virus brought over by the American Crayfish. We have also been able to count the number of otters using the river. This survey is a joint effort by the Environment Agency and the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
We have worked with the Southampton Badger Group, armouring sets that have been dug by badger baiters and have built an artificial set for orphan cubs. We pick up injured badgers for the police and RSPCA.
Another interest which takes up most of our time in the summer months is bats. When we used to walk along the river in the evenings with our dog, we saw lots of bats and wondered what species they were. We took a course organised by English Nature at Lyndhurst and have since trained to be licensed bat workers and do voluntary work for English Nature. We have visited houses from flats to mansions and castles, new houses to very old. In our travels we have visited millionaires, lords and ladies and television personalities. People are usually very interested to learn about their bats, and most are keen to look after them when they learn that bats have declined by 70% since the 1950s. We take part in the National Bat Monitoring Programme and have been able to put some dots on the map in the Bishopstoke area.
We are also Tree Wardens and in 1998 did a survey of ancient trees in Bishopstoke. Because of large Victorian gardens we have some very unusual trees, the rarest is probably the Nettle Tree, (Celtis), which we understand has been noted by Kew Gardens.
SHOPS AND BUSINESSES
Bishopstoke has, since Victorian times, been well provided with shops and businesses to cater for the everyday needs of its inhabitants. Even as far back as 1855 the Directory listed “Grocer, baker, tailor, boot and shoemaker, builder, bricklayer and a plumber, painter and glazier.” Charles Bishop, who was listed as plumber etc., was also the landlord of the Anchor Inn. The Post Office was listed in 1855 and by 1867 was also a Savings Bank, Post and Money Order Office, Government Insurance and Annuity Office and dealt with all the mail for the surrounding district. Early maps site the Post Office in Church Road, where the Hampshire Association for the Care of the Blind office is now. It was later moved to the corner of Spring Lane and from 1895 to at least 1927 was run by the Maffey family. William George Maffey, named in 1903 as the Postmaster, became a prominent figure in the affairs of the village. The Post Office was known as “Maffey’s” for many years. There are photographs taken in front of this Post Office, of people standing in fancy dress for the Carnival.
Dressed for carnival outside Bishopstoke’s new post office in the early 1900s
The Post Office was next taken over by Mr. and Mrs. Swash, who were there for four years. In 1935 Mr. and Mrs. Bishop came to Bishopstoke. Mrs. Bishop had worked for eleven years in a Post Office in Essex. Mr. Bishop’s uncle was Mr. Brockhurst, who had worked for Mrs. Gubbins of Longmead House, until her death. He had then continued to keep an eye on the empty house and trim the lawns. He lived in a cottage in Spring Lane and next door were Mr. and Mrs. Swash. Mr Brockhurst heard that they wanted to give up the Post Office and told Mr. and Mrs. Bishop about it. So, they came to live and work in Bishopstoke.
When they first took over the Post Office there was a piece of waste ground between it and the Methodist Church, where the shops are now. They used it to grow vegetables. Before the house on the other side, next to the chemist’s was built there was a bay window in the side of the Post Office. Mrs. Bishop remembers going to Longmead House with Mr. Brockhurst and going inside it to look at the private chapel there. The stained-glass window from this chapel was given to St Mary’s Church when the house was demolished and is now in the bookcase inside the entrance to the church.
At the beginning of this century there were several bakers in Bishopstoke. They included a shop and baker’s at the back of the Foresters’ Arms in Stoke Common, as well as a Dairyman called Locke, just across the road. In Spring Lane was a baker called Snellgrove and in Church Road, where the Hampshire Association for the Care of the Blind now has its offices was another bakery. This was owned from 1895 to at least 1922 by the Stagg family. The last of the family to trade there was Alfred George Stagg, who provided some of the buns and cakes for the celebrations in the village.
Stagg’s Bakery in Church Road
There is no resident baker in Bishopstoke now. Bread is sent in to the grocer’s from factories such as the Manor Bakery in Eastleigh or baked on the premises of supermarkets.
There was once a Co-op, which was sited first on the corner of Scotter Road and Hamilton Road. It moved to new premises at the junction of Spring Lane and Hamilton Road and closed in the 1960’s. There was a grocer’s at the corner of St Margaret’s Road, and this continued in various guises until the 1990’s. Further up Church Road was an off-licence and general store. Down in the village at Riverside were a number of shops. These included a hardware store, dairy, butcher’s, sweet shop and grocer’s. Another butcher’s was sited at the corner of Scotter Road in a building which had an abattoir at the back where the animals were slaughtered. This now houses surgeries for a vet downstairs and a dentist upstairs. A boot and shoe repairers’ in Spring Lane continued in business until the 1960’s. Many of the shops changed hands several times and, as the needs and tastes changed, so did their wares. The following pages tell the story of some of them.
Andrews’ Hardware Store, Riverside
We moved to number 1 Riverside in 1930 when I was ten. The hardware store was in a rather run down state as was the house next door. My stepfather, Harry Andrews now owned it.
Alfred Flake ran the hardware store before Harry Andrews
The state of the house was so bad that sewage and water ran under the floorboards. I developed pleurisy and had to return to Chandlers Ford, to my grandparents’ home until the doctor said I was fit to return. During my absence the repairs had been done. I think it was a fairly old building. If you look at the front step by the entrance, you will see that it has been built up at least three times. The river used to flow along the road before the bank was built up and the wall fitted, and in bad weather it used to come up to the step. We lived there until two years after my stepfather died in 1952. My mother then sold the business to a Mr. Moody, who wanted it for a wedding present for his son David and wife Myra. Even today there are many people in Bishopstoke who remember the Andrews of the Hardware shop and our neighbours, Wilsons the dairy, Punkers the butcher, Malpass the sweet shop, Richens the grocer and the Bishop’s at the Post Office.
When Moody’s Hardware opened in Bishopstoke it was at number 2 Riverside which is now the Chinese Takeaway. It was opened by David Moody – hence the name. It was obviously a smaller shop and was on five levels. This meant the staff spent a lot of time climbing stairs and finding stock – the staff must have been very fit!!! When the old Co-op store closed David Moody moved the hardware shop to 24 Spring Lane. Dennis Bodman who has worked at Moody’s for many years talks of the move and how they had to transfer all the stock from one shop to the other. They wheeled stands along the pavement, carried stock in hand carts, sack trucks and small vans!! All in all, it was an epic move, but it was a good one as there was a lot more storage space and everything was on one level. 24 Spring Lane has stone floors and was built as a grocers, consequently it is always on the cool side, even on the hottest summer day! In the late 1960s David Moody sold his shop to Mr. and Mrs. Horace Stephens. The name was not changed, and the new owners continued to build the business, adding new lines. Moody’s was sold again in 1983 when Mr. and Mrs. Stephens wanted to retire.
Dennis and Jim Waterman outside the shop
It was sold to Jim Waterman. Jim and Dennis have continued to work at Moody’s and help the local people solve their DIY difficulties with courtesy and often humour. Jim said, “I have had 16 wonderful years in Moody’s Hardware. I have enjoyed serving my customers and have made many friends. I really like the way everyone is on first name terms and that we are very much part of village life. Small village shops are disappearing at an alarming rate, but I hope that will not be Moody’s fate. There is no doubt that people’s shopping habits have changed, and each year gets tougher, but we will hang on in there because small shops add to a community. We give people a better choice, a friendly place to chat and we always have time for you”.
Mr. Oliver Punker, Butcher, Riverside
Mr. Punker owned a butcher’s shop in Alresford before he came to Bishopstoke, in 1917. He remained here until his death in 1955 and was buried in St Mary’s Churchyard.
Mr. Oliver Punker (in white coat) outside his shop at Riverside
He had two daughters and two sons who carried on the shop until June 1967. Meat was delivered round the area from Tuesday to Saturday because people had no fridges or freezers and had to buy their meat daily. This was done by bike or van. Supplies of meat were bought from meat wholesalers in Southampton. Mr. Punker made his own sausages and also salted beef. The shop then changed hands once or twice until it was bought by Mr. L J Smith, who tells a little of his life as a butcher.
Mr. L J Smith, Butcher
I was born in Salisbury. My parents were friendly with the local butcher, who used to deliver meat door to door in those days. He asked me if I would like to go round with him and when I was older, I went to work for him. Afterwards, I worked in Pewsey, then Collingbourne and when the butcher there retired in 1963, I took over the business. I sold it in 1983 and bought the shop in Bishopstoke.
Things have changed during my working life. People’s eating habits are different, which I think is due to the influence of the supermarkets. I remember when virtually every person used to have a joint on the bone, which made things so much cheaper. It makes it more expensive when you’ve got to bone it out and trim it and just leave the lean meat. I think that if I hadn’t gone in for sausages I wouldn’t still be here. I always made sausages but as for going in for competitions I didn’t think it was necessary. Then one day, I was talking to one or two friends about competitions, and we decided to give it a trial. That was about 1985. It took us about 18 months to understand the ins and outs and whys and wherefores. The first competition we won was about 1986. Since then, we’ve won about 80 trophies and 20 championships around the country. The sausages we make for the competitions are the same as we sell in the shop. The only difference is that when making them for competitions it is a very slow job because you mustn’t get any air pockets in the skins. The actual preparation is the same. New recipes often come from customers who dream them up themselves. They say, “Do you think you can make me this?” Or they’ve been somewhere abroad and tasted something really nice. I’ve got over 1000 recipes.
A typical day means I start work about 5 or 6 am for part of the week, the rest about 7 am. Then it’s getting the meat out and trimming it for the window. We usually finish in the evening about 6:45 or 7 pm. Probably because I’ve had to diversify to survive, I’m known now as a sausage maker who sells meat, rather than as a butcher who makes sausages!
Longmead Post Office and Store
by Mrs. June Howe
My husband and I first came to Bishopstoke in May 1961 to look at a grocery business and Sub Post Office which was for sale. We purchased this and moved in finally in November 1961. Looking back now we have seen many changes in the area over the years and also very many changes in the shop.
In the early days, when we first came here everything was sold loose and had to be weighed. Biscuits were displayed in metal tins with glass tops so the customers could see what varieties were inside. There were rows of glass jars containing sweets which had to be weighed, whereas today these items are pre-packed and ready to sell. We bought cheeses in large, 60-pound blocks which had to be “skinned” and then cut into smaller blocks to be cut again for the customers. Vinegar was delivered to us in small wooden barrels with little wooden taps for sale to customers who used to pickle the beetroot, onions etc., which they grew in their gardens. Deliveries were made on the “grocer’s bike” until we purchased a tiny grey minivan which we kept for about the next 15 years. Our main grocery supplies were delivered once a week from an order which we would send to the wholesaler. Today, 90% of all our goods are collected by us from the “Cash and Carry” Warehouses.
There were several small shops in the village when we first came here. The Infants School was still in Church Road and the mothers would push the babies in their prams along Longmead Avenue with the older children walking alongside. Nowadays cars play a much bigger part in the “school run” so we do not see the children go by. Our daughter, Nicola was born here in January 1966, and I can remember the customers all coming into the shop to see the “new baby”. I consider myself very fortunate that we have lived here so happily all these years. I hope that Bishopstoke will remain a very beautiful area long into the new Millennium.
Bishopstoke Motors by D & V Moody and D J Barnes
Bishopstoke Motors was bought by EAS Moody (known as Silv to his friends and family), in 1954. He had been born and brought up in Bishopstoke, though at that time he was living in Poole. The land and business he bought was very different to the area as it is today. On the right-hand side of the plot (closest to Eastleigh) caravans were made; in the middle was a driving school; on the Fair Oak side of the property repairs were carried out. There were two petrol pumps on a gravel forecourt and the buildings were Nissan huts. When Silv took over the premises it became a petrol filling station and car repair workshop, with some changes made to accommodate new machinery. Silv’s father, known in the village as ‘Buffer’ Moody, and something of a local character, was keen to help and despite being over 70 years old he dug the hole that was to house the first car lift on the site. The illuminated pole sign and petrol pumps were then the only lights along the Fair Oak Road.
The garage was open seven days a week and just about every day of the year, including Christmas Day. Petrol cost about 3s (15p) a gallon (4 ½ litres). If £10 was taken on a Sunday, it was deemed to have been a busy day. There were, of course, no credit cards and cheques were rare. Great care was taken if accepting a £5 note! Now, probably half of all payments are made by cheque or credit card. The policy of offering their regular customers the option of paying for their fuel on a monthly account basis began in 1957 and continues today. Reading through the ledger for that year is a little like reading a page of history. The garage served, among others, Manor, Breach, Holt and Stoke Park Farms, Moody’s the ironmonger’s, Fair Oak Dairy and Stoke Park Stores, the Reverend Rose and Dr Boyle.
Silv’s eldest son David joined the garage in 1959 and by 1963 his younger son, Richard, was also working there. At around this time Eastleigh Council decided that the Nissan huts must be demolished. This was done, leaving only the 15-foot-high wall which had fronted the huts. Sadly, this was not as robust as it appeared and one windy Saturday it collapsed, Silv’s car unfortunately being parked underneath it at the time! Rebuilding was a long, slow job, undertaken piece-meal. Whenever the opportunity offered during the day, bricks would be taken to the top of the erected scaffolding. Later, in the evenings and at weekends, when he was not working on the building of the Whalesmead estate, local bricklayer Reg Barker would come and add a few more bricks to the structure. Business continued as usual throughout this time, but the hours were very long, rarely finishing before 10 pm.
In the early days one job was the charging of accumulators for radios, there were no transistors then. During the building of St Paul’s Church, directly opposite, the garage was the custodian of the lectern and altar table. Changes such as the opening of Alan Drayton Way and competition from Supermarket filling stations have meant a loss of trade, but the car repair business continues to flourish. In 1978 Bishopstoke Motors began to carry out MOT tests and now there are usually over 350 a month. The garage now employs 4 MOT testers as well as another mechanic and an assistant. Bishopstoke Motors has remained as a small family business. Silv died in 1993, having been retired for some years, but the garage is still run by his sons David and Richard and four of his grandchildren also work there. In the revival of the Bishopstoke Carnival in 1997, Bishopstoke Motors won the small family float section with an entry entitled “Grease – the Next Generation” calling themselves “one of Bishopstoke’s longest-running shows”. With 8 of Silv Moody’s great-grandchildren among those taking part, this family show will hopefully have the potential to run for many years to come.
Riverside Dental Practice
Riverside Dental Practice has a surgery on the 1st floor of a building at the corner of Scotter Road, which was at one time a butcher’s shop with an abattoir at the back. In 1973 two Bishopstoke Doctors, Boyle and Bond, who had a Medical Practice on the ground floor, advertised the first floor as suitable for a dental surgery. There was at that time a huge demand for a dentist in the area, after the closure of a practice in Eastleigh. Planning permission was obtained and Raymond Hill began with one surgery on the first floor. The practice soon grew, and two additional dentists and a hygienist joined Mr. Hill. Although these associates have changed during the years, several stayed for considerable periods. Of the other staff employed, many have lived locally and so their local knowledge has been invaluable to patients, putting them at their ease when they see a familiar face.
Riverside Dental Surgery was a butcher’s shop from 1911 to about 1970.
National Health dentistry has changed enormously over the past 25 years. Patients used to have to pay only a nominal amount for their treatment, but now have to pay 80% of the cost of their treatment. Many items which were once freely available on the NHS can now only be provided privately. However, the Practice continues to provide mainly NHS dentistry to a group of patients, some of whom have been attending since it first opened. The premises on the ground floor became a betting shop when the doctors vacated them. They are now occupied by a Veterinary Practice, thus adding to the services available in the village.