Church Road

(Produced from presentations compiled by Allen Guille and Chris Humby in 2012 & 2014)

Villagers sat beneath the old yew tree outside the old St Mary’s Church at the junction at Riverside. They are probably contemplating why Winchester Road is now called Church Road. The old yew tree is still there, although no longer as glorious as it was when this picture was taken in the early 1900s. This tree is believed to be over 1000 years old.

This old St Mary’s Church was built by Reverend Dr Thomas Garnier, Rector of Bishopstoke, in 1825 which replaced an earlier wooden church of Saxon origin.

The new church was built to serve the people of Bishopstoke, Barton, Fair Oak, Horton Heath, Lake, Stroud Wood and Crowd Hill, which formed Bishopstoke Manor. This old church was built with faculty pews, from which was received an annual fee from the owners of the older and larger houses. Working class families had no right to occupy pews left empty when those paying for their use were absent, and there was little provision provided for them inside the body of the church. A new church was built in 1891, further up the hill, and without faculty pews. Members of local “society”, living in the large houses were not in favour of the new church and petitioned rigorously to retain the old church and their privileges. The history of the Churches of St Mary, and their controversy will be explored separately.

This picture, taken from a house called Spring Grove in 1908 shows the old St Mary’s Church, and Bishopstoke Carriage Works in the distance across the fields. It was the influx of workers for the Carriage Works, from Nine Elms in London, in 1890, which changed the nature of Bishopstoke and the surrounding area’s forever.

Riverside Junction has long been a popular meeting place. In this picture, Spring Grove (centre) is in process of demolition, a walled garden on the corner of Oakbank Road encloses the garden of Spring Grove, whilst to the right is the Recreation Ground and the Old Rectory.

This map illustrates the location of Spring Grove.

This corner, in the early 1900s provide an entry point to the Recreation Ground, and the village Policeman can be seen in attendance to control the thronging crowds.

Victory over Japan Day on 15th August 1945 was widely celebrated to mark the end of WWII. Bishopstoke was no exception.

The earliest record of a house at Oakbank is from 1840, although the land had been owned by the Twynam family since 1795. It appears to have become part of the Church Commission, until purchased by Henry White, in 1899. Henry White was Solicitor, Coroner, Clerk and Local Administrator to Eastleigh Urban District Council and Churchwarden of St Mary’s Church.

In 1936 Oakbank, and later, Spring Grove, was purchased by Frank Dibben, who owned a successful local ironmongery and building supplies business.

Oakbank and the gardens of Spring Grove were purchased by Dr Mellor and his wife in 1951. They sold the old Spring Grove House site in 1961 to be developed. The site where the house stood is now Church Close.

The gardens of Spring Grove were integrated with those of Oakgrove.

On the 24th of September 1974, the Duke of Gloucester, on behalf of the Hampshire Old People’s Housing Society opened Mellor House, a 19 flat retirement complex in what had been part of the garden of Oakgrove, the land being provided due to the generosity of Mrs Mellor and named in memory of her husband.

Opposite where Mellor House now stands is Bishopstoke Recreation Ground, now called Glebe Meadow. When this picture was taken the area where the skate park now stands was Bishopstoke Memorial Garden, a beautifully landscaped area dedicated to the fallen of WWI and WWII.

Opposite Spring Grove there was once a parsonage house, but it had been blown down in 1792. The Rectory was rebuilt in 1808 by the new Rector Dr Thomas Garnier and is still standing. Dr Garnier also developed a celebrated garden and arboretum. These were visited by the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, and in 1848, Prince Albert the Prince Consort. Dr Thomas Garnier was Rector of Bishopstoke for over 60 years and was also the Dean of Winchester from 1840 – 1872. The Rectory was sold in 1922.

Part of the old Rectory was demolished, possibly in the 1930s, to widen Church Road. In 1952, the old Rectory was divided into two separate houses, the area nearer the road becoming Rectory Cottage.

In the distance, beyond the Old Rectory is St John’s, or Asfordbye, as it was later named.

The house pictured was probably built in the mid 1800’s. This was a substantial red brick Victorian house which commanded an elevated view over lower Bishopstoke and the Itchen Valley. The first record of occupation on this site, dates from around 1800 when a granary was converted to residential use and was known as Highfield House. Almost certainly re-built, the house was renamed St. Johns by Mr. Cornwall Simeon M.A., who was a barrister. The name St. Johns came from his parent’s home on the Isle of Wight. The house was renamed again in 1934 (Drewitt, A. 1935) and called Asfordbye by Lt. Col. Guy Henry Sawyer.

This plan from 1919 shows the relationship of St. Johns to Church Road and Spring Lane. The house was separated from the grounds of Spring Grove by a field sloping down to the River Itchen. This field was used as the site for the fair on carnival days. There was also a cricket pitch on land between it and the River. (Simmonds, J. 1990. Eastleigh & District special Paper no 26 Pt. II). During WWII, the house was used to billet Wrens who were stationed at HMS Raven on Eastleigh Airfield. By 1956, the house had been redeveloped into 13 flats, it was later demolished, and the area, now known as Asford Grove, developed to accommodate flats and bungalows.

Opposite the entrance to Asfordbye is Spring Lane. The thatched cottage, once part of the Longmead Estate still commands the corner, whilst the open timber cart shed on the elevated bank was once an outbuilding of Longmead Farm. The policeman is believed to be PC Sayers.

Longmead Farmhouse is the light-coloured building on the right. The Longmead Estate covered an area of 147 acres, stretching from Church Road to Stoke Park Woods, and Fair Oak Road to Edward Avenue. The old farmhouse and farmyard were sold in 1912 for development.

These pictures show the farmyard buildings which were accessed from Stoke Park Road. The sales particulars describe “a brick built and tiled roof cow pen for 13, bull pen, fowl houses, and the open cart shed mentioned previously. These buildings became storage and distribution for the Elkins family who ran transport, haulage, and coal merchant operations from the site until the 1960s. These pictures also show the first, and probably last plane to be built in Bishopstoke, a Pfalz DIII replica, which was built in 1965, for a film called The Blue Max. The old farm buildings have now been demolished and replaced with houses.

After the sale of the farm in 1912, the old open timber cart shed was removed and cottages built on the embankment, probably in the 1920s or 1930s.

Opposite Longmead Farmhouse stood Whitehaugh, once one of Bishopstoke’s grand Victorian houses, it was demolished in the 1960s. Originally called “Ivy Bank”, there were six bedrooms, servants’ quarters and the gardens stretched down to the River Itchen. Covering an area of six acres, the house had a 90-foot frontage to Church Road, this picture is of the rear of the property.

The site is now home to Whitehaugh Court.

The old Whitehaugh was not very visible from the road, being screened by a high hedge. It can be just viewed to the left of an early picture of Stagg’s Baker and Grocer shop, next door at 25 Church Road.

Alfred George Stagg, in 1891 at the age of 24 was an established businessman in Bishopstoke. He was a well-respected member of the community and became Overseer for Poor Rate submissions for the Parish of Bishopstoke.

The Collyer family, from 85 Church Road, stayed with their friends the Stagg’s the night before joining Titanic on its ill-fated voyage from Southampton on 10th April 1912. Alfred Stagg continued in business until the mid 1920s, and the shop continued to trade as a grocer into the 1970s.

In the mid 1930s the bay window on the right of the building was replaced with a shop front and another shop was created at 25b. Charles Marsh ran a drapers business here until around 1950. Graham Taylor was the gent’s hairdresser when this picture was taken celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

The main shop continued to be a Grocer into the 1970s, whilst the shop next door operated as a ladies outfitters, dry cleaners, and wool/haberdashery business. In the 1970’s the shops were acquired by the Hampshire Association for the Care of the Blind.

The Charity was re-named Open Sight in 2007 and the old shops/offices replaced with a purpose designed building. The old cottages fronting Church Road still remain.

The shop at 39 Church Road, on the corner of St Margaret’s Road was run by Miss Dopson from the mid 1910s to the early 1930s. Although listed as a confectioner, it operated as a general store and continued to do so under different proprietors into the 1970s. It is very typical of corner shops that dominated retail in towns and villages throughout the country.

The shop catered for residents in the immediate vicinity of Church Road, St Margaret’s Road, Stoke Park Road, St Mary’s Road and Nelson Road. What in the early 1900s became known as Upper Bishopstoke.

In the early 1950s, the premises next door at no 41 were converted to a drapers shop, run by Charles Marsh. By the late 1950s they moved to Riverside and the premises became a newsagents and sweet shop. This tiny shop did a particularly good business from passing schoolchildren.

Eventually the two shops combined to become a general store called Greens. This picture is probably from the 1980s.

Eventually corner shops succumbed to the pressure from supermarkets, and the shops on the corner of St Margaret’s Road were converted for residential use.

The Elkins family were well known in Bishopstoke and lived in St Margaret’s Road. They delivered coal around the area and their coal yard was in the compound behind Longmead Farmhouse.

This picture was probably taken at 20 St Margaret’s Road and depicts an Elkins family wedding. The elderly couple on the left are William and Penninah Pope. One of their eight daughters, Jane Ruth Pope, (far right seated) married Robert Elkins. William Humby (b.1909) is stood next to her dressed in a sailor suit. Immediately behind is his mother Ada Caroline Humby (nee Pope). The young lad on the right in the back row is Frederick Lionel Humby, Ada’s son, and next to him the young girl is Ellie Elkins, Jane’s daughter.

Pictured are James Elkins (father), Richard Elkins (son on right of picture) and Jim Noyce (cousin). Jim had been born an Elkins but ran away and joined a travelling fair. He was taken in by a family called Noyce and became known by that name. At one time he owned the biggest fairground roundabout in the county.

In 1927 the family decided to go into the coach business. The lorry they had was fitted with a passenger chassis. The family went to London and bought a coach body. During the week they moved furniture and delivered coal. At weekends it took half an hour to unbolt and change the body to convert the lorry to a coach.

Richard Elkins recalled that the coach needed a hood that rolled back. After they bought the coach body his wife and Mother made the hood on their kitchen table and the next day, they took an excursion to Aldershot for the Tattoo.

Richard (Dick) Elkins pictured in the 1940s. The Elkins family continued to provide coal deliveries to the people of Bishopstoke well into the 1960s.

Members of the Elkins family with their roundabout in Bishopstoke Recreation Ground raising funds for building a new public hall (Memorial Hall). This picture was taken at the 2nd Hall Day fundraising event in 1949.

Hall Day fund raising events were held annually from 1947 until the new Memorial Hall was opened in 1957. In this picture, Eastleigh Boy’s Brigade Band are marching from St Margaret’s Road, down Church Road, to the Recreation Ground.

A children’s parade in St Margaret’s Road celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Parades to collect funds were popular as depicted by this picture taken in July 1907.

Funds are being collected for the L. & S.W. Railway Servants Orphanage at Woking. In 1907 a new building was constructed to provide shelter and education for orphaned children of railway workers on the L. & S. W. Railway. With so many people employed locally on the railway, this charity was very well supported and nearly all railway employees donated 1p a week from the wages to support this cause. This parade in Bishopstoke joined forces with another parade in Eastleigh and raised a joint £25. When seven acres of land were bought at Woking in 1907, to provide the new home, it cost £2,900. £25 was a significant sum of money in those days.

Opposite St Margaret’s Road, Stoke Park Road was not well developed. This picture was taken around 1912 after the new rectory had been built.

Stoke Park Road, opposite the new rectory.

Stoke Park Road, showing the corner of St Mary’s Road. In the distance, the open ground, on the left, was part of Longmead Brickworks.

Scene looking south down Church Road. On the right, where the two children are sat by the kerb, is the entrance to Bishopstoke Reading Rooms.

Church Road looking north on a snowy day. The Reading Rooms are the building, on the left, with the two tall chimneys.

The Reading Rooms, built in 1875, were funded by Captain Hargreaves of The Mount, so that the poor of the parish could retain reading skills and further their knowledge. Still standing as a testament to his philanthropic nature, the building is now the home of Bishopstoke Men’s Institute Snooker Club.

This picture of the Bishopstoke United football team from the 1919-1920 season was taken outside the Reading Rooms. Between the Reading Rooms and Bishopstoke Boy’s School, in 1881, Albert Hillman Paddington was born. “Paddy” as he became known, played football for Bishopstoke, and later became a professional football player. He played for Southampton from 1899 to 1903, and then joined Brighton and Hove Albion from 1903 to 1906, after which he returned to play for Eastleigh Athletic.

The new Bishopstoke Boy’s School opened in 1880 to accommodate 160 pupils and replaced the old National School which had been built in 1842, near to the junction of what we would recognise today as Fair Oak Road and Manor Road.

The Bishopstoke Elementary Girls and Infants school was built in 1895, for 150 girls and 150 infants. The original school building became Bishopstoke Elementary Boys School.

Bishopstoke Elementary Boy’s School and playing fields have been developed for housing. The Elementary Girl’s and Infant’s School remains and is currently used as Bishopstoke Community Centre. The history of schools in Bishopstoke will be explored separately.

The “new” St. Mary’s Church was built in 1890/91 and consecrated on Thursday 12th November 1891 by the Bishop of Guildford. The tower was not added until nearly twenty years after the church was opened, because of a lack of funding.

The “new” church caused controversy. It had been built without faculty pews, so seated attendance at service was on a first come basis. This was not well received by members of high society living in grand houses who were accustomed to privileged seating reserved in the old church.

Eventually a new bell tower was constructed and consecrated by the Lord Bishop of Winchester on 30th October 1909. The tower was dedicated as a Memorial to Sir Henry Keppel, who served as Churchwarden in Bishopstoke from 1881 to 1895.

The clock from the old tower of St Mary’s Church at Riverside was removed to the new St. Mary’s Church when the tower was completed in 1909. A more detailed history, and the controversy surrounding the Churches of St Mary in Bishopstoke will be explored separately.

This picture shows Church Road before Longmead Avenue and Edward Avenue were built. Between the brick wall and fence there was a track that led to the fields that became Longmead Brickworks. Bricks were made here from the early 1900s until the 1950s and used to build many of the houses in this part of Bishopstoke.

A view looking down Church Road. The road on the right is the private entrance to the Mount Estate.

This picture shows the Mount house, in its most recent form after it was bought and rebuilt by Thomas Atkinson Cotton in 1891. There is no doubt that Bishopstoke in the 1800s, with the arrival of the railway and a station, presented an opportunity for those who owned land to develop accommodation for wealthy families to enjoy a rural retreat in Hampshire on the bank of the River Itchen populated by select members of society. Whist this was one of the better houses in Bishopstoke, it was not the grandest. That privilege is reserved for Longmead House.

The Mount Estate was purchased by Hampshire County Council in the early 1920s and converted to become Tuberculosis Sanatorium for men. The old house still exists, it has been restored, and forms the central feature of Bishopstoke Park, a luxury retirement village. For a complete history of the Mount Estate please refer to our title – The Mount.

Part way up the hill, in a shop named Mount View lived the Collyer family who opened a grocery store in 1910. The Collyer’s emigrated to America in 1912 aboard Titanic. Harvey Collyer drowned, and his wife and daughter were left destitute. Their life can be explored under our title – Collyer and Sedgwick – a Titanic story.

Higher up the hill are rows of cottages. This is how they looked in the early 1900s. The shop at No 85 can be seen below the brow of the hill.

As you descend Church Road towards Stoke Common, on the left is a drive leading to Stoke Lodge. It is believed that there was a property here from the Tudor period, and that there may have been a hunting lodge on the site. For most of the 1700s it was owned by the Fisher family who were devout Catholics. George Edward Yonge, cousin of Victorian novelist Charlotte Yonge (the wench on the bench outside Eastleigh Railway Station), bought the estate in 1873 and had the house considerably enlarged. There were 76 acres, part of which was rented to a farmer. Outbuildings included a coach house, cow house and granary, loose boxes and harness room, hay, straw, and coal houses.

Adjacent to Stoke Lodge, separated by a walled kitchen garden is Copse House. This must have been the old farmhouse. It has been considerably extended, probably in the 1950s. Stoke Lodge and Copse House were purchased by Mr Dudley Bevan in 1953. When he moved in the properties had no electricity, only gas for lighting and heating, no mains drainage, just a cess pit. In the 1960s an open cess pit still existed next to Copse House. The Bevan family lived at Stoke Lodge for many years. Both properties are now in private occupation.

The final house of note heading north out of Bishopstoke, opposite the entrance to Stoke Lodge, is Stoke Knoll. A Victorian house, built in 1856, it had 7 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a snooker room, lounge, dining room, study, kitchen, breakfast room and large cellar. Like many of the old grand houses in Bishopstoke, Stoke Knoll has been owned by high-ranking military personnel. Major-General Hugh George Robinson was a resident in Victorian times, and Colonel Arthur Lyster Longhurst in the 1920s and 1930s. The house was requisitioned by the war office during WW2.

Another resident of Stoke Knoll was Admiral Sir Wilfred Franklin French. At the start of WW2, he was the Admiral commanding the Orkney’s and Shetland Isles. On the 14th of October 1939, the anchorage of Scapa Flow, was infiltrated by a German U-boat, which sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak, with the loss of 833 lives. The Admiralty board of enquiry into the disaster censured Admiral Sir Wilfred French, perhaps unfairly, for the unprepared state of defence at Scapa Flow, despite his earlier warning of the dangers of an attack. He subsequently retired. Stoke Knoll is now a residential care home for the elderly.