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Newton -Crimean War to Great War

Newton -Crimean War to Great War


When the Rev. Alfred Milner, vicar of Micheldever, privately published the History of Micheldever in October 1923 he ended his account at 1800, adding, “There is, no doubt, ample scope for another to supplement and polish this record.”

In 1998 Micheldever Archaeology and Local History Group decided that an appropriate way of marking the Millennium would be to re-issue Milner’s History of Micheldever while taking the opportunity of adding additional text to bring it up-to-date. This task of revising, editing and adding to Milner’s History of Micheldever fell to me, aided by members of the Group’s committee.

Before the task could be completed and a new book published, the Archaeology and Local History Group disbanded. However, work on a new history of Micheldever is continuing. In the interim, it has been decided to produce booklets on some of the more noteworthy local events as a precursor to the complete history. Crimean War to Great War is one of this series. Other titles are The Swing Riots, The Coming of the Railway and Micheldever Between the Wars.

Stuart Newton

One: Disaster

In 1854, when the Crimean War broke out, at least one Micheldever resident took part in that campaign. He was David Vince, then seventeen years old, who served with the First Scots Greys. After the campaign, he settled in Bradley where he lived for over sixty years, long enough to see the start of another longer and more devastating war.

During the nineteenth century, the Baring family remained the major landowners of the district. A grandson of the founder of Barings Bank, Edmund ('Ned') Charles (1828-1897) became Lord Revelstoke in 1885. It was said of him that he was "intelligent and cultivated, self-confident to the point of arrogance. Dignified in manner and imposing in appearance, accustomed to demanding the deference of inferiors, putting into that category the generality of mankind." It was he who helped finance the flotation of Guinness shares in 1886, making a profit in excess of half a million pounds. “Even amongst those who benefited,” wrote Philip Ziegler in his account of Barings Bank, “there was a feeling that it had gone too far.” The success of this floatation led Ned to over-estimate his abilities and when, in 1890, trying to float the Buenos Aires Water Supply and Drainage Company the bank became so overextended it had to be bailed out by a consortium organised by the Bank of England. Lord Revelstoke's career was ended and the partnership wound up. However, by 1896 the family was able to repossess the bank, which remained in their hands for another hundred years, until the great collapse for which Nick Leeson was sent to jail in Singapore.

Disaster of a more personal kind was visited on the Barings in 1870 when Arthur Napier Thomas Baring, then aged 17 and second son of the first Earl of Northbrook, left the family home in East Stratton Park in April 1870 to join HMS Captain as a midshipman. At the time his father, the Earl, was Under Secretary of State for War, and HMS Captain was the pride of the Royal Navy. She was fitted with turret guns, a radical departure as usually at that time ships' guns were in fixed positions and the ship had to be manoeuvred to bring them to bear on their target. Turret guns on its ships would confirm the Royal Navy as the most powerful in the world.

As with most innovations there had been a great deal of controversy about the proposed new ship. Captain Cowper Coles RN had devised the use of rafts as a platform for guns for use inshore during the Crimean War, leading him to devise and patent a revolving turret in 1859.

At this time the invention of the steamship led to fierce debates between advocates of the new type of ship and defenders of the tried and trusted sailing ship. Turrets, argued the latter, could not be mounted in ships with masts carrying sail.

Impatient with the Admiralty’s slow response to his radical invention Coles solicited the help of the Prince Consort who wrote to the First Lord: “Should Captain Coles’s plan succeed, his ships will be vastly superior to those we are now building.” Additionally, Coles campaigned with the Press and in 1861 a reluctant Admiralty allowed the experimental turret to be installed on board a floating battery ship for trials at Shoeburyness. The trials were impressively successful and the Admiralty approved the building of a mastless ironclad mounting twelve breech-loading guns in six twin turrets.

News from the American Civil War of a duel between the turreted Monitor and the armoured Merrimac added to Coles’s reputation and in 1864 the Prince Albert was launched with four 12-ton 9-inch muzzleloaders in four central armoured turrets. This new ship was intended for coastal defence only as the Admiralty was still unconvinced that turrets could be successfully mounted in a fully rigged seagoing sailing ship.

Both Press and Parliament joined the battle between the traditionalists, who maintained that broadside armament was the only possibility for seagoing battleships, and the protagonists of modernisation who argued for steam ships mounted with Coles’s turret guns. As so often happens in such cases when an irresistible force meets an immovable object, a compromise was sought. In 1862 Coles proposed a ship with masts supported by tripods instead of the traditional shrouds and stays which would allow space on deck for two revolving turrets. Although the Admiralty rejected this idea, Coles continued to submit designs until eventually the Admiralty turned to the Chief Constructor of the Navy, E.J. Reed, to build a seagoing ship with revolving turrets. This was to be H.M.S Monarch, of 8,350 tons, 330 feet long, rigged with sail and with a single screw providing a speed of 15 knots. However, in order to ensure she was seaworthy the ship had both a forecastle and a poop which prevented end-on fire, the raison d’etre for revolving turrets.

Coles publicly criticised Reed’s design and such was the clamour in Parliament and Press, with the Admiralty being censured by both Government and Opposition that the Board of Admiralty decided to authorise a ship to be built according to Coles’s design.

Reed was against the use of sails in a ship with a low freeboard and heavy turret guns, but Coles with the backing of the Admiralty, prevailed and the Captain was laid down at Laird Bros. yard in Birkenhead in 1867. During its building further changes were made against Reed's wishes.

In order to placate those who advocated sailing ability above all else, Coles equipped the ship with the largest possible sail area for which Lairds had to fit the heaviest mast and yards available. By the time the ship was fitted out her freeboard was only six and a half feet and her turret deck was awash in most weathers. Moreover, the safe angle of heel was only twenty-one degrees, less than one-third of Reed’s Monarch’s angle of safety.

After completion in January 1870, the Captain made a number of trial voyages with the Monarch. Although Sir Edward Reed continued to express anxiety about the Captain’s small safe angle of heel many in the Admiralty considered his concern was the result of professional jealousy. In order to demonstrate the strength of his convictions, Reed resigned as Chief Constructor of the Navy in July 1870, no doubt much to the relief of Captain Cowper Coles.

In August 1870 the Captain set sail from Portsmouth for Gibraltar with a fleet of twelve ships. Aboard her when she sailed were many of the most important people in the Admiralty. As HMS Captain was designated “the pride of the British navy” there had been a great deal of string pulling amongst the influential to secure berths for favoured sons and nephews. The sons of the Minister of War, Mr. Childers, and of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker, were blessed with a berth on board, as was Earl Northbrook’s second son. Captain Coles was on board also.

It was not a happy ship. On being commissioned in May the ensign was hoisted jack downwards, the signal of distress. Apparently, the ensign in question had been supplied with the toggle uppermost but as the signalman had five or six to chose from and had picked the only one which was wrongly rigged all hands considered it a terrible omen. Letters from a Seaman Robinson to his family reveal that in the first month of commission he never had a dry stitch on his back.

The Admiral in command of the Squadron, Admiral Milne, was accused of trying to break Captain Coles by proving that the Captain was unable to respond to orders. Robinson observed that Captain Coles’s fate depends on the success of this ship “and as far as a warship goes I think there is not her equal in the world. The only one anywhere near her is the ‘Monarch’ but she, this ship I mean, is a regular mankiller. She is heavily rigged….if she was taken aback in a heavy squall she would go down before we could get the sail off her.” Seaman Robinson then added: “The Captain’s Commanders are getting very cruel. For every order they give they get some straight look and they know the meaning of them, for every man looks as if he would just as soon do 2 years in Lewes gaol as 2 years in this ship.”

On 6 September 1870, the squadron was off Cape Finisterre when Admiral Milne boarded the Captain to inspect her. He expressed himself satisfied with her sailing ability compared with the other ships and then, at 1700 hours, declined an invitation to stay for dinner and returned to the Lord Warden, his own flagship. By then the wind had freshened and the Captain’s turret deck was almost awash. Both Captain Burgoyne and Captain Coles assured the Admiral that their ship was seaworthy but when he reached the Lord Warden Milne was heard to say, “Thank God, I’m on board my own ship again.”

By midnight, there was a full gale and a heavy sea and Milne signalled open order. By dawn, the gale had abated and the sea was moderate. But as the squadron drew together there was no sign of the Captain. The Psyche picked up a drowned seaman and spotted two cutters floating bottom up. The Monarch found a yard and spars, and gradually other ships in the squadron came upon so much floating wreckage that it was obvious there had been a major disaster.

Out of a crew of nearly 500 only 17 were rescued from the Captain. Arthur Baring was one of those who drowned, as was the ship’s designer, Captain Coles.

Floating on the surface was a flag, which was recovered and in due course forwarded to the Admiralty in London. In turn, it was handed over to Lord Northbrook who had the flag hung on the south wall of the chancel of Micheldever Church. In the 1960s the flag was in a very frail condition as nothing had been done to preserve it since it was first hung up ninety years before. Vice-Admiral Sir Norman Denning, Director of Naval Intelligence during the Second World War who came to live in Rose Cottage in 1963, was a member of the Church Council and undertook to send the flag to the Naval Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence. There it was examined by Lieutenant Commander P. K. Kemp who found that the flag was not an Ensign, as had been supposed, but the Horary Pennant. This particular flag was hoisted with numeral flags to indicate the time in hours and minutes. If the Pennant was flown above the numeral flags, the time was a.m., and if below it was p.m. On the binding of the flag were the stencilled letters "CAP" indicating it was part of the signalling equipment issued to the Captain.

Micheldever School was built in the year of the Captain disaster, and Lord Northbrook erected a clock tower attached to the school as a lasting memorial to his son, Arthur Baring. It stands opposite the spot where, forty years previously, young Henry Cook was buried in an unmarked grave after being hanged for knocking off the hat from William Bingham Baring. As the old saying has it: “good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now.”

Two: Farm Life in Micheldever

While the Barings pursued the making of money and living the life of aristocratic landowners - Sir Thomas was created a baron in 1866 and chose the title Baron Northbrook from the local tithing - villagers continued their own lives in traditional ways.

A document that throws light on their life in Micheldever in the second half of the Nineteenth Century was provided by Mrs Freda Payne to the Dever Magazine. Her grandfather, William Payne, was born in 1786 at Basing. In contemporary documents, his name is given as Paine but at some stage, the spelling changed, for his descendants are now all listed as 'Payne'. When he was 23 he married Elizabeth Phillips, two years his junior, and in 1815 or 1816 he rented Borough Farm where they were to live for many years. In the 1851 census, he and his wife were listed as living there, aged 66 and 64 respectively. During the Swing Riots, William Paine was, according to contemporary newspaper reports, twice a victim. In November 1830 a mob came to his farm where they told him they wanted wages increased to 2s a day. He told them he was willing to do what other farmers in the area did, whereupon some of the younger men, including David Champ, Henry Cook and John Kear, broke his threshing machine. Isaac Hill took Paine aside and reputedly said: "Master, will you take a fool's advice? Give them some money to get rid of them." Paine handed over a sovereign and the mob departed to that fateful meeting with William Bingham Baring, which led to Henry Cook being hanged.

Five months later, on 1 April 1831, there was an incendiary attack on Borough Farm when two straw heaps, a rick stand and one pig were destroyed. Possibly this was a revenge attack, as William Paine had testified at the trial of Henry Cooke, David Champ, John Kear and the infamous William Winkworth. Charles Talmarsh and James Grunsell were charged with the arson but no prosecution resulted as no witnesses willing to testify could be found.

In 1853 William Paine made his will leaving the farm to a younger son, Charles, who had been born in 1827. It was he who was father to the authoress of the document which, in the 1990s, was published in the Dever Magazine and which is here printed with acknowledgement to that indispensable source of information about Micheldever. [Additional comments have been added within square brackets]:

Times have changed so completely that some accounts of farm and village life in the 1860s may be of interest.

My father rented a twelve hundred-acre farm in a southern county that his father had held before him. [This was Borough Farm]. Principally arable, water meadows in the bottom near the stream ran back for about a mile to the chalky downland.

The spacious farmhouse of brick and tile with stone-flagged passages and kitchens stood in a hollow with the farm buildings near. Enormous barns with thatched roofs and boarded sides and wonderful oak beams and floors with huge mows for the unthrashed corn, much stabling and big yards.

We were a large family, the elder boys at boarding school, a faithful old governess, quite one of the family, looked after the intermediates and a nursemaid looked after the three youngest.

As the lanes were rough and muddy it would have been difficult for her to wheel a perambulator, so we rode forth to take the air on a black donkey, one on the pad and the other two in panniers, the youngest with a brickbat under the seat "to keep the balance true."

Of course, the baking and brewing were done at home. The first in a huge brick oven in the back kitchen, the latter in a brew house adjoining. The brewer was old Joe the thatcher and excellent beer, true malt and hops he brewed. Strong beer for best occasions when it was poured out into high tapering glasses and small beer for the men. The carters were allowed so much every day taking it out to the fields in little kegs which Cook filled every night to be ready for the early start the next morning. Extra was allowed at harvest and haymaking and on many other occasions. How we children loved to steal into the brew house and peer into the big vats and mash tubs. The weekly baking too was a joy to us if we could escape to the kitchen, where Cook had placed the flour and yeast to rise in a big wooden kiver. Sometimes she would allow us to help knead it and give us a small piece to make a loaf for ourselves, and let us watch her throw faggots into the blazing oven, stir the embers vigorously with a long iron poker, draw out the embers with a long hoe, and put in the loaves with a long-handled wooded spade called a peel. Then the door would be shut and banked up with the glowing coals and we would heave a sigh of satisfaction and retire, to return if possible an hour or so later when the door would be opened and the crisp loaves withdrawn on the peel. We would beg a 'kissing crust' torn from the hot loaf. I have never tasted bread so good.

Many pigs were fattened and slaughtered by old Charles Tull [born 1821], the yard man, who salted and smoked up the big chimney in the back kitchen. The hams were cured after some particular recipe, each housewife had her own and mellow and delicious they were, often being kept two or even three years after being smoked.

The cooking was done over an open fire, the roasting on a bottle jack before a glowing hot fire, a big shallow tin with a depression in the centre to catch the dripping and a long ladle for basting. Then we had the true flavour of the meat. A coursed hare roasted before the fire and basted with cream would be a revelation to the gourmet of today.

Our light was from tallow candles carried in flat brass candlesticks armed with snuffers and extinguishers. For the dining room were candles in high Sheffield-plated candlesticks. For the stables horn lanterns and tallow dips.

As I have said, we were a large household, eleven in the parlour, three maids and a groom in the kitchen, with old John Brown the gardener for dinner, and the undercarters and Johnnie Dobbs, (who all slept in the loft over the coach house), for supper in the back kitchen, add to which the farm men were constantly sent in for a meal, if they had taken a load of corn to market, or sheep to the Fair etc. So my mother had to keep a full larder and her store cupboard contained quantities of every commodity. The stores were ordered once a month from the market town eight miles away. If she ran out of anything it could only be replaced on market day when my father drove into the old cathedral city to sell his corn. It was the event of the week. The grey carriage horse brought round to the front door, the roomy wagonette, my father with his sample bags, mother with her long list of articles required mounted the front seat. Some of the children might be taken as a treat and occupied the space behind with the parcels. It took the old grey an hour to trot the eight miles, though some young fellows in high dog carts and fast trotters would flash by us at ten or even twelve miles an hour. The road would be condemned by modern motorists for there were no steam rollers, the stones just cracked were spread all over the surface for so many yards for the traffic to wear in. This restriction of length that might be stoned at one time was a survival of the old coaching days when long stretches of newly stone road would have hindered the fast coaches. I have heard my father tell how twenty coaches a day traversed that road, and how my grandmother used to take her daughters to a school near London, going up with them one day and making the return journey, sixty-odd miles, the next.

Also he told how in his youth the only postman for the village was old one-armed Dinah, who once a week walked into town and returned with the letters, generally so drunk that she could not deliver them round the village until the next day. [The only person with a similar name listed in the 1851 census was Diana Wise, born in 1825] I have a dim remembrance of Father pulling up at the toll bar outside the city to pay toll, but tolls were soon abolished. The city entered, the horse was put up at an inn, and the business of shopping began in earnest. The shops were small and dark, very unlike the modern palaces, but the things were all British-made, and lasted for years. The shopkeepers knew their customers and brought forth what they thought most suitable and pro'ed and conn'ed over them in a friendly manner.

The return journey was usually impeded by the carrier carts, each of the surrounding villages sent in two or three. How the carriers, many of whom could not read, remembered the various commissions they had received from the village housewives, was a wonder.

On their way home they were tired and sleepy and left their horses to wander about the road as best they could. Thanks to their sagacity, accidents seldom happened, though on a dark night, travelling was difficult. The carriers' carts were lit by a lantern swung under the tilt, we had two candle lamps, one on either side of the wagonette.

Most of the nursing was done at home in those days and my mother kept a large stock of simple remedies that were in great demand. The farm people having unfailing belief in her skill, she was sent for at all hours and never failed to respond. If her pony could not get her low basket carriage up the deeply rutted farm lanes, she would go in a cart seated on a chair, but get there she would, and her kindness and skill made her most welcome. There were no professional village nurses then: certain old women took the midwifery cases, calling at the farmhouse for the bag of infants' clothes that was always kept for such emergencies. The farm population was considerable, ten cottages on the farm let at one shilling per week with a garden, and some men lived in the village. On the farm were two six-horse teams each with carter, under-carter and two boys, a team of three horses looked after by Johnnie Dobbs and his mate, an odd horse and boy. At the Down Farm eight horses with a head carter, two under-carters and a boy.

A head shepherd with an under-shepherd and boy cared for seven hundred and fifty ewes, and a lad, the three hundred tegs.

There was Charles Tull the yard man, who each evening brought in the barn keys and hung them on a nail just inside the dining-room door when father would call out, "Ask the cook to draw you a pint of ale". If he failed to do this, Charles would fumble with the keys until he did.

Joe Hill [born 1816], the thatcher and brewer was a quiet man on whose opinion my father placed great reliance. Robert Hooker [born 1812] was hedger and ditcher, and old Will Avory [born 1797] of whose prowess with the flail my father was very proud. Will liked to be on piece work and could earn one guinea per week thrashing. Wages were then eleven shillings per week. George [born 1839], twice as big as his father, made but a poor show with the flail - "would not kill a mouse under the lane," was said of his swing of the flail. Chris Paice [born 1804], Bob Wheeler [born 1827] and Michael Chivis [born 1808] were general labourers and Charles Dixon [possibly George, born 1822] looked after cattle at the Down Farm. All these men could use the flail when there was nothing else to do. Winnowing the corn from the chaff was done with a machine with four fans, a man at each end turning the handle, one man fed the corn and chaff into the machine with a big wooden hovel, another collected and winnowed the grain and a woman raked away the chaff. It was a dusty business and I hope and believe that small beer was sent out from the farmhouse. I must not forget the horse thrasher that for some years had supplemented the men with the flails. The thrasher stood in one of the barns and was worked by four horses attached to four long arms outside the barn, a man sitting in a cage in the centre of the arms kept the horses moving round, a giddy work, some of them had to be blind-folded by a cloth over their blinkers.

It was machines like this, when first introduced years before, that were bitterly resented by the farm hands who believed, and rightly, that they would take away their jobs. A mob came from a neighbouring village to break it up, a brave little aunt, she was the only representative of our family in the farmhouse, went out to meet them with persuasive words and food and they went away without doing any damage, but they set fire to the next farm. [This account is at variance with contemporary reports, which refer to William Paine as being the person who confronted the mob and, on the advice of Isaac Hill, handed over a sovereign.]

The first portable threshing set I remember was not self-propelling but the engine and other parts had to be drawn by horses from farm to farm.

The women on the farm always turned out for haymaking, harvest and weeding when required. Harvest meant a great deal in those days, the chance of the extra money that they so much wanted. It was all piecework. The men cut the corn with sickle or scythe, the women following after them bound it into sheaves which the elder boys stood up into shocks. They would work from early morn till moonlight. After it had stood some time in shock and was thoroughly dry it was carted in big wagon loads into the barn mows. After they were filled the rest went into stacks which later would be carted into the barns to take the place of that threshed by the men.

When the fields were cleared of shocks the gleaners would swarm in, an eager crowd of women and children, even the tinies could gather little bunches, and they laboured with might and main. We loved to go out and help them. A large family working hard would pick up sacks of ears which the farmer threshed free. It was ground at the local stone mill, most villages with a stream had a mill then, and their leasing bread helped out the family budget, every cottage had its brick oven. After all was gathered in, came the Harvest Supper. The coach house was cleared and decorated and long tables erected, great cooking had been going on for days, large meat pies and plum puddings and big joints of beef boiled in a copper, and vegetables. All men and women and boys who worked on the farm sat down to supper, Father and Mother heading the tables, beer was the drink and many songs were sung.

During the winter the corn would be sent, when sold, in the big wagons each drawn by four horses, every horse decorated with ribbons and brasses and a chime of bells on a stand over each collar. A fine sight was a good team, and the carters were justly proud of their horses.

The village was a self-contained little community, the nearest town was seven miles away and seven miles meant more than twenty now. Griffin was the tailor and made the corduroy suits the men wore, and mended the clocks, Jane Whatmore made their smocks with many fancy stitches in the smocking. Phyllis made and cobbled boots, Day the carpenter and Diddams the blacksmith had both of them much work with so many farm implements and horses employed in the neighbourhood.

Village life was not without its lighter side. Club days the members gathered at the Crease in the morning, and decorated with ribbons, and headed by their Band, marched to church. After service a dinner that lasted far into the afternoon, and in the evening dancing. May Day was the great holiday for the children. They made wonderful garlands the night before and on the day went round the village and farms singing "April gone, May is come, please to see my fine garland". If the first fell on a Sunday the following was added, "I could not come the first of May because it was the Sabbath day". They received pennies or eggs. Some children put two hoops together and after covering them with flowers hung a doll in the centre, this was considered very fine, it was lowered in the well to keep it fresh and was carried in triumph by two children.

Cricket bats and stumps were kept on our farm for the lads, and my brothers when at home played with them. The men played quoits with rough rings made from horseshoes.

At Christmas, the children came round again singing carols but I cannot remember any mummers.

At Christmas time several sheep were killed and every cottage had a joint large or small according to the number of the family.

No games were allowed on Sunday in our parish though, in some, cricket was played in the evening. Most people went to church or chapel morning and afternoon. [Whenever the Primitive Methodists proposed to build a chapel on land that had become available and was for sale, the noble local landowner purchased the land himself. Eventually, after a long campaign, the Primitive Methodist chapel was built in 1867 in Northbrook. It is now a private residence, opposite the White House in Weston Colley Lane] There were high box pews round the church, we sat in one with a form up the midst for the little ones. I can tell you our backs did ache during the half-hour sermon preached by the Vicar in a black gown that he changed into from his surplice during the singing of the second hymn. The men sat on one side of the aisle, the women on the other, and the children on forms at the chancel steps. The organ was in the gallery. The pulpit and reading desk were high two-deckers and the Clerk sat at the bottom and chanted the Amens. Penny readings were sometimes got up by the Vicar in the long winter evenings. They began by someone tinkling on the piano, the Glee Class contributed an item or two, a reading by a local worthy and more songs by bashful soloists.

To this generation, brought up with motors, radio and cinema, our life appears dull and slow, but I am sure we were happier and enjoyed ourselves more keenly, we were not bored as so many are today. We made our own amusements instead of watching other people amuse us. Life was much more interesting because there was more individuality, folks were not made all on one pattern.

Three - Micheldever at the end of the 19th century

The first half of January 1881 was cold, with a thin covering of snow. Then pressure rose in the east and fell in the west, and the wind freshened. Before dawn on Monday 17 January, a severe blizzard struck Southern England. Soon the snow, driven into deep drifts, was as hard as ice. Road transport stopped, and no one could venture out. The temperature was minus 12 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 degrees of frost. The London train, due at Winchester at 7 pm, was four hours and 40 minutes late, having run into a huge drift near Micheldever.

The gales eased on Wednesday, and by the weekend the weather was back to normal. But the great winter of 1881 remained in folk memory for many years.

In 1885 the architect Thomas Graham Jackson was commissioned by Lord Northbrook, lately returned from being Viceroy of India, to build a new church at East Stratton. At that time, towards the end of the Victorian era, some three-quarters of Britain was owned by just 7,000 people. As Steve Humphries and Beverley Hopwood wrote in “Green and Pleasant Land”: “The great estates bore some resemblance to little kingdoms, each with an aristocratic leader at its head. Their ownership of vast tracts of land gave them immense influence and proprietorial rights not only over agriculture on the estate, but also over its minerals, its game, its politics, its clergy and, most importantly, over the local population.”

In his recollections, Jackson, who was credited with what was called "the Anglo-Jackson style of architecture", wrote: "Stratton Church, a little mean damp building of brick and stucco, stood in his park on a site which I afterwards marked by a stone cross. The new church was outside the park on the hill and by the high road. I built it with flint inlaid here and there with chequers and patterns, and used the native chalk for the ashlar and wrought-iron dressing inside. I was shortly afterwards invited by Lord Ashburton to do what I could for his church at Northington, which was in the same style [as that demolished at East Stratton] and which I also replaced by a new one. This was a more ambitious affair and was very handsomely finished with black walnut seats, richly carved, and other fittings in due proportion. 'Two things there must be,' said Lord Ashburton, 'an apse and a pulpit reached through a hole in the wall.' At first, there was to be only a low tower with a shingle spire as at Stratton, but when it was 15 or 20 feet high Lady Ashburton saw the tower of St John's, Glastonbury, and nothing would do but something of the same kind here.

"As these two churches were rising at the same time, there was an amusing rivalry between them. Lord Ashburton used to say,

'Now, tell me in confidence, I won't tell Northbrook, which of the two do you really like best?'

Before it was finished he fell into ill health, went on a long sea voyage without gaining much by it, and came home to die. His widow devoted herself to completing the church as a memorial to him."

The entry for Micheldever in the gazetteer published in the 1890s shows that the population was 1,049, not dissimilar to that of a hundred years later. The rateable value was then £14,117. The Vicar was the Rev. Waldegrave Bell, of Pembroke College, Cambridge, who was appointed in 1891 and whose tenure lasted only a comparatively short seven years, being replaced in 1898 by George Alexander Johnstone. There were by then two schools, one at Micheldever for 180 with an average attendance of 100; and the other at Micheldever Station for 40 children, with an average attendance of 24. The headmaster was William Lawrence and the mistress at the Station was Miss Dredge.

Among those listed as living in Micheldever were Miss Batt, at Rose Cottage in Duke Street, and John Nicoll at The Warren. Publican of the Half Moon and Spread Eagle was John Carter, and that of the Western Road Hotel at Micheldever Station [now the Dove Inn] was Thomas John Pearce. Farmers were George Bailey of Norsebury; William C. Drake of Newdown farm; Charles Pain and Henry Pain, both at Bradley, John Pain of Borough farm; and Joseph Pickford of Manor farm. The farmer at West Stratton was Charles Berkeley Barton and that of Weston, Frederick Hinton Bailey.

Shopkeepers included Joshua Collis, Jabez Piper and Henry Stoneadge.  Thorne Brothers ran a grocers and drapers shop, and the village post office was manned by George Gamble. The local shoemaker was Alfred Mansbridge, and the two gamekeepers for the Northbrook Estate were Henry Fifield and Horace Levett.

The Almshouse in Rook Lane, which was demolished in 1966, sheltered fifteen infirm and elderly residents. In Church Street a large plot carved out of the north side of the churchyard was occupied by the Limes, to which in the 19th century a shop was added to the north cross-wing facing the street. A tiebeam bears the initial and date 'TM 1838 CW'. Trading continued from the shop until the mid-1970s. When Nigel Fradgley made a building survey of The Limes, which appeared in Newsletter 26 of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society in Autumn 1996, the faded shop sign named the proprietor as W Martin, Baker and Grocer. The steam baking oven, installed later in the timber-framed part to the rear, had the name T Collins & Co, Bristol in the oven doors. This method of steam baking was not introduced to England until about 1882 when steam ovens were only manufactured under licence in London, so this was probably a twentieth-century installation.

In July 1978, the Bakehouse, along with Manor Farm, was used by the BBC as a location to film a murder mystery set in the 1920s, Malice Aforethought. The film, featuring Hywell Bennet, Judy Parfit and Cheryl Campbell, was broadcast on BBC2 in 1979. The structure of this building was extensively damaged by fire in November 1994 and then converted into a development of separate houses.

The long century ended. There had been many changes in Micheldever. The population had fallen by two-thirds since the overcrowded, poverty-stricken and turbulent times of 1830; farming machinery, which had been so strenuously opposed to the point of riot and revolt, had become accepted as labour-saving devices; universal education had been introduced. However, there was a stable and continuing society in the district: surnames familiar from the census of 1851 appear and re-appear in subsequent directories and reports in local newspapers. As 1899 gave way to 1900 there were reasons for hope and celebration. But, with a war in South Africa still unresolved, perhaps there was also some apprehension. If so, it was justified: the bloodiest century in history would not leave Micheldever untouched.

Four - The war to end all wars

When George V succeeded Edward VII in 1910 the country had enjoyed nearly fifty years of economic growth and prosperity. Everything was becoming bigger, better, faster. Motorcars were becoming common, and a new speed record was announced - an incredible 131 miles per hour. Flying machines were taking to the air and at sea soon ships were being made that were unsinkable. At least, that was the claim made when the Titanic sailed on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in April 1912.

On 13 April 1912, there was a meeting of Micheldever's Coronation Lighting Committee to discuss the use that had been made of lamps in the village between 15 December 1911 and March 1912. Evidently, this had been a success and it was suggested that collections should continue so the village could have lamps lit on dark evenings. Unfortunately, the account does not explain what sort of lamps these were nor where they were placed. The practice of lighting the village during winter months did not continue into modern times.

Late the following day, 14 April, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. Of the 2200 passengers and crew, only 700 were saved. Many of the crew were from Hampshire, mainly Southampton. On 20 April, the Hampshire Chronicle reported the sinking of the Titanic. Amongst those appearing in the list of fatalities were the names of some that had lived in Kings Worthy. Although no one from Micheldever was involved, the shock was palpable and then, as now, people of the village tried to do what they could to help. Special collections were taken on the Sunday following for the Mayor of Southampton's Relief Fund for the Titanic Disaster, and on 1 June Micheldever and District Choral Society held a concert also to raise money for the Relief Fund.

Life adjusted to the unprecedented disaster and slowly returned to normal. On 20 July the Band of Hope and Glory Sunday School went on an outing to Southsea for the day, conveyed to the station by Mr Hillary's steam engine.

The year of 1914 saw a continuation of life in Micheldever as it always had been. On 31 January the local branch of the Hampshire Friendly Society met and announced a decrease of members to 205, due to the introduction of the National Insurance Scheme. The Countess of Northbrook presided at a meeting of the Women's Unionist and Tariff Reform Association, and the Reading Room Supper of the Working Men's Institute was held in Northbrook Hall, the Rev. J H Belhouse presiding.

During the annual Parish assembly in April 1914, the accounts were presented of Lady Boothby's Charity, which was given annually to deserving scholars in local schools. And Pinks and Garratts announced they would give coals to the poor of the Parish at Christmastime.

The most exciting news was that of Micheldever's former vicar, the Rev. Waldegrave D Bainbridge Bell, now incumbent at Epsom, who had bravely rescued a woman from the sea at Rottingdean.

At the end of June the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated by a young Serbian while riding through the streets of Sarajevo. But it was a long way away and of little interest in Micheldever where the village Brass Band continued practising for the Hospital Sunday Parade.

In July the Sunday School held its annual outing when about 100 children went to Southsea, taken as usual to the station by Mr Hillary's engine. And the next month the engine was in action again, taking children to a School Treat at Stratton Park where roundabouts from Overton were provided to supplement the tea and balloons.

Suddenly, in the unstoppable momentum of the aftermath of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination, war came. On 4 August war was declared against Germany and within a few days German divisions were pouring into Belgian towards northern France, causing a massive exodus of refugees. Micheldever's first fatality of the war occurred at the end of the month when a territorial, Charles Reeve, aged 21, was killed by a railway engine while patrolling the railway line at Waller's Ash.

On 14 November the district's oldest inhabitant died: Henry Pain of Bradley House. His age was given as 96, suggesting he was born in 1818. However, the census of 1851 listed Henry Pain of East Stratton as being then 36 years old and therefore born in 1815. If the census was correct, old Henry had lived to the ripe old age of 99, one year short of his century, linking the start of the Great War with the year of the battle of Waterloo.

Northbrook Hall was the setting for Patriotic Entertainment in aid of Belgian Refugees. Mr A E Parsons of Manor Farm invited Belgian refugees to use a farm cottage, financed by contributions from parishioners.

At the end of the year, there was a change in postal arrangements. George Gamble retired after 28 years, and postal services were transferred to Mr Barrett's house in Winchester Road.

Then at the beginning of 1915, the Hampshire Chronicle listed the names of several volunteers from Micheldever: E.Burgess, F Laws, E Morris, G Mitchel, V Thomas, and S Wilks - who sailed for India. Of these, Stanley Wilks would not return to Micheldever.

On 24 February 1915, 21648 Private J. Halliwell of the King’s Liverpool Regiment was killed. His grave, with a military headstone, is in St. Mary’s churchyard but his name does not appear on Micheldever’s war memorial and the presumption is that he died accidentally within the vicinity of the village and was buried here.

The Hampshire Chronicle of 17 February 1917 carried an item which read: "On Thursday in last week Mr Wilks and family received the sad intelligence that their second son, Corpl. Stanley Wilks was killed in action on the 4th inst. in Mesopotamia. Before joining up, Corpl. Wilks was a valuable help to his parents, who have for some years carried on a bakery and grocery business with success. Many expressions of sympathy for the sorrowing parents in their sad loss have been conveyed to them. There is one consolation for his sorrowing relatives. When the call came, nothing debarred him from duty to his King and country, and, in the words of Nelson, he has done his bit. At the time of his death Corpl.Wilks was in his 21st year."

Among the first villagers to be killed, in 1915, were Albert Freeman, aged 22, and George Munday. While these were tragedies for individual families, village society continued as near to normal as possible, as sample entries from Hampshire Chronicle of 27 January 1917 show:

"WAR WEDDING: On Tuesday afternoon a very pretty and interesting ceremony was witnessed at the Parish Church of St Mary's, viz., the marriage of Sergt. Bevan Kinchington, Hants Regt., youngest son of the late Mr Charles Kinchington, of Fordingbridge, Hants., and sergeant instructor to the Machine Gun Section, Bournemouth, to Miss Gertrude Annie Mitchell, eldest daughter of the late Mr Frank Mitchell, Borough. The bride, who was daintily attired in a dress of white crepe de chine and a wreath and veil, the fit of her mother, looked quite charming, as did also her four bridesmaids, who were similarly attired. They were her three sisters, Ethel, Kathleen, and Edith, and Edith Kinchington, sister to the bridegroom. They wore brooches, the gifts of the bridegroom. The bride was given away by her brother, Mr Fred Mitchell, while Mr W Avery discharged the duties of best man. The officiating minister was the Rev. Basil Reed. After the service, festivities in honour of the occasion were kept up at Borough at the residence of the bride's mother. The happy pair received many useful and valuable presents from relations and friends.

"FIVE SONS IN THE ARMY: To Mr and Mrs Newman of Newdown belongs the proud distinction of having five sons serving in his Majesty's Forces. Corpl. Walter Newman, Royal Engineers, is serving with the Salonika Forces, having previously served in France. Pte. Charles Newman A.S.C is serving in France. Pte. Albert Newman, Hussars, is stationed at Herne Bay. Pte. Frederick Newman, Royal Engineers, has been attached to the Devon Regt. for duty. Sergt. William Newman, Hants Regt. Protection Co., Royal Defence Corps, is stationed at Southampton.

"HOME ON LEAVE: During the past week Corporal Percy Colliss, A.S.C., eldest son of Mr John Colliss, has been home on leave from France, after just over twelve months' active service. His many friends were pleased to see him looking so well. Corporal Colliss returned to France on Monday, and we all wish him the best of luck."

Percy Collis may have been one of the luckier ones, as his name does not appear on the village's war memorial, and another who survived was Private Pearce of Larkwhistle.

"When war broke out and Lord Kitchener made his historic appeal for recruits, Pte. A. Pearce, of Larkwhistle, gave up his occupation as carter for W W Bayliss, Esq., West Stratton Manor, and joined the 2nd. Hants Regt. After the preliminary training, he left England with his regiment for Gallipoli, where he was wounded. After a stay in hospital in Egypt, he soon became fit again and was sent to the Western Front where he was severely wounded in the operations around Ypres. After being in hospital at Reading for a long time he is now convalescent. His parents were delighted to welcome him home this week on sick leave. Many are the exciting experiences of Pte. Pearce and all agree that he had done his "bit".

"DEATH OF A CRIMEAN VETERAN: Recently there passed away at his residence, Bradley, an old Crimean veteran, at the ripe old age of 80, [born in 1837] in the person of Mr David Vince. The deceased served with the First Royal Scots through the Crimean War, having many exciting experiences in that trying campaign. When discharged from the Army he settled down at Bradley, situated in a picturesque part of this parish on the main London road. Many visitors to this locality will miss his familiar face and recall with pleasure the many little chats together. On Saturday afternoon the deceased was laid to rest in the beautiful little churchyard attached to the Parish Church, East Stratton, on the outskirts of Stratton Park. The Rev. B Reed conducted a very impressive burial service. Besides his wife and family, there were several old friends present. The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr Dan Hall very satisfactorily. It is thought by many that the veteran should have been buried with military honours.

"The annual meeting of the Micheldever and Stratton Friends-in-Need Society (also known as the Pig Club) was held at the school, Mr John Pain presiding. The balance in the Post Office Savings Bank was £16 16s 6d., as against £39.13 last year. The number of members is 55 and the pigs insured 83. During the year when pigs are so dear, there were a larger number of claims than usual and seven claims amounting to £27 5s had been paid out. We wish the Society better luck next time."

But there was no escaping from the war, and in an adjacent column, headed 'Roll of Honour' were the names of two young men from Micheldever: "Corporal William Ford died from wounds in action in France June 7 1917. Pte. E Butcher, Royal Warwickshire Regt of Bank House, has been missing in Flanders since 5 October last."

In 1918, the last year of the Great War, Mr James Falconer of Northbrook Farm was appointed by the King to be a member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of his war services. He was a strong advocate of ploughing up grassland for cultivation and food production.

Then, in February, the Micheldever Branch of the Hampshire Friendly Society held its annual meeting and declared it had been a good year. Receipts were £263 and payments to members had been £122. Membership stood at 235 members, of whom 5 were honorary. Mr Fred Oliver who had been interred in Germany as a prisoner of war had been exchanged and arrived back in the village.

Also in February 1918, a public meeting was called by Mr J R Nicoll of Weston to discuss difficulties in supplying meat to scattered rural communities.

In May Private Tom Cole, whose parents lived in Winchester Road, was killed in action. Stoker Ted Butler of Church Street was involved in the sinking of the Vindicative. In September the death was confirmed of Private Ernest Butcher of Holly Bank House, reported missing since October 1916, and the name of Lance Cpl. George Burgess, aged 19, was added to the roll of honour.

On 2 November, nine days before Armistice Day, the first report appeared of an Influenza epidemic, which had begun in Spain. It bore a close similarity to the great epidemics of 1848 and 1889. It was not yet known that this outbreak would be responsible for more deaths than occurred in the whole of the war.

Armistice Day, 11 November 1918 was greeted with universal relief. The village schools were decorated with Union Jacks, church bells rang for two hours, and a service was held immediately in Church with a good turnout considering the short notice. Later in the month a social evening, held to celebrate the signing of the Armistice, finished early because of lighting and heating regulations.

In all, out of its total population of under 1000 at the last Census, the parish contributed 120 men to the Services in the recent war. The war memorial in Micheldever village has on its base 30 names, that is, 25% of those who left to serve their country. However, the names inscribed on the memorial are those mainly of men from Micheldever Village, Micheldever Station, and Weston. Others who were slain in the war came from West Stratton, Bradley and Park Hill, on the opposite side of the parish, and their names appear on a memorial at East Stratton. The percentage of deaths was therefore higher than a quarter of those volunteering, and everyone in the parish would have known someone who did not survive the war.

Nine of the men were killed in the terrible week of the opening of the Battle of the Somme, and six of the names record brothers from three families. 

The memorial reads:


Gerald Hinton Bailey

Sidney J. Bassett

Walter Baverstock

Percy Baverstock

Ernest Baverstock

William Berritt

James Brazier

Charles H. Brazier

George Brown

George Burgess

William H. Bush

Ernest L. Butcher

Charles Cottingham

Tom Cole

William Ford

Albert Freeman

Harry Freeman

Geoffrey Golding

Jack Hughes

William Jones

Sidney Lawes

Albert Meachem

Clement F. G. Molland

George Munday

Arthur Simpson

Albert G. Tarrant

Leopold Weston

Stanley Wilks

Edward B. Wheeler

who laid down their lives for Home and Country.


Thank you to the Newton family for giving permission to to publish this text.

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