The ancestral link...
Longhurst ancestor Samuel Houghton was born in North Boarhunt, Hampshire, England. Samuel's wife Louisa Lutman was from Soberton, Hampshire, England - a few miles to the north. Samuel and family left North Boarhunt on April 6, 1871 to come to Canada. Their daughter, Ellen Houghton, married Thomas Burton (Jr.). Their daughter Fannie Esther Burton married Archibald Walter Longhurst (Jr.) in June, 1901.
County of Hampshire, England...
In looking back into some of the ancestry of the Longhurst family, we are taken to south central England, in particular the County of Hampshire. "Hamtunscir", as this area was known in the 9th century, has often been abbreviated to Hants.
The county is not large - roughly 46 miles by 46 miles (1,037,764 acres) in total, including the Isle of Wight. In the north-west of the county, the high chalk hills of the Hampshire Downs are an extension of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain. This chalk upland divides further east into the North Downs and the South Downs, two ridges of chalk hills running eastwards across south-east England through Surrey/Kent to the famous White Cliffs of Dover, and through Sussex to Beachy Head (the highest cliff on England's south coast), respectively. South of the chalk there is lower, flatter land, very fertile in the river valleys of the Avon, Test and Itchen and along the coast further east, but far from it in the heaths and forest in the south west of the county, which is largely occupied by the New Forest. All the rivers mentioned flow into the English channel, the Avon at Christchurch in the west, the Test and Itchen both at the head of Southampton Water. The coastline is very inregular, the principal indentation being Southampton Water.
Bronze Age farmers lived at Quarley, and numerous Iron Age hill forts adorn the chalk uplands, both inland and on the coast. There were many Roman villas in the north-west of the county, in addition to the towns at Winchester (Venta Belgarum), Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) and Southampton (Clausentum); they also had potteries in the New Forest and weaving works at Winchester.
One of the major landings of the West Saxons was in Hampshire when they invaded in the late 5th century, and Jutes (thought to have come from Jutland) also landed here at that time. Part of south Hampshire was conquered by the Mercians in the second half of the 6th century before the Wessex kings recovered it. Winchester became the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later of England, until the Normans moved the administration to London. The area was subject to many raids by the Danes during the Saxon period, but was relatively peaceful in mediæval times. In consequence, few castles were built.
Hampshire is undulating, finely wooded, and fruitful. The county is noted for its agriculture, the wheat of Hampshire being especially prized. Upon the Downs are reared large flocks of the variety of sheep known as "Hampshire Downs," or "short wools." Pig breeding, and the curing of bacon, have long been large and lucrative branches of the county's industry.The mineral resources are meagre - with no coal or iron ore to be worked, the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries was over-shadowed here by the modernization of agriculture. Except in large coastal towns, such as Portsmouth and Gosport, the manufacturers also are unimportant. Shipping, however, is very extensive.
Hampshire is bounded to the north by Berkshire, to the east by Surrey and Sussex, to the south by the English Channel, and to the west by Wiltshire and Dorset. Hampshire (with the Isle of Wight) comprises 38 hundreds, 12 liberties, 349 parishes, with parts of 3 others. Population: 593,470.
Map of England, depicting geographical features consistent with the period 1660 to 1892.
Hampshire can be seen bottom center on this map.
Hampshire County in 1759, drawn by mapmaker Isaac Taylor...
Soberton and "Burhunt" can be seen on this map.
Modern map showing North Boarhunt and Soberton in Hampshire England. Each grid section is 10 km. square...
An early charter lists Boarhunt amongst other lands belonging to the Minster at Winchester, and the Domesday Book mentions a plot of land in the Parish of "Borehunte" in the possession of the monks of Winchester Cathedral. Also listed in the Domesday Book is the Saxon church dedicated to St. Nicholas, which retains its original dimensions in spite of Victorian restoration work carried out in 1853. The flint walls are 2'6" thick and many of the architectural features are typical of the Saxon period. The bellcote was added in the nineteenth century and many of the interior furnishings, including a three-decker pulpit and a boxed squire's pew, date from last century. A massive old yew tree stands in the churchyard.
At the Norman Conquest land at Boarhunt was granted to Hugh de Port, one of King William's trusted followers whose descendants were successive sheriffs of Hampshure. In 1635 the Boarhunt estate was conveyed to William of Wykeham but fell into the hands of Thomas Wriothesley at the Dissolution.
The isolated position of the church and the widely scattered dwellings in the parish indicate that a once-thriving community which included three mills and two salterns (mentioned in the Domesday Book) has diminished over the centuries and may now be classed as a deserted Mediaeval settlement. In earlier days the adjacent Forest of Bere, locally known as Portchester Forest, would have supported various industries, and traces of a Roman road have been identified in the parish.
Soberton was called Sudbertune in the eleventh century, and the Domesday Book records three large estates in the parish. The manorial system in Soberton was quite complex, the Clere family owning a Manor of Soberton from early times from the king. The manor was granted to Beaulieu Abbey in the thirteenth century but was let to various tenants from the fourteenth century onwards. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries the manor was in private hands, but was sold to Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, in 1549. Soberton continued in this family until the mid-seventeenth century when it was bought by Dr. Walter Curll, Bishop of Winchester, who retired to Soberton after the City of Winchester fell to Cromwell in October 1645.
Another part of Soberton was held by Herbert the Chamberlain at the time of the Domesday Survey, but later passed to the de Winton family who held it in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Herbert the Chamberlain is thought to have granted part of his manor to his daughter on her marriage to Robert de Venuz. In the early thirteenth century this land was known as Flexland, and later as Flexland Cobham after the de Cobham family of the late thirteenth century. The name of the manor was changed to Englefield or Inglefield some time in the fourteenth century.
Titchfield Abbey owned land in Flexland and Soberton, but the lands had passed into private hands at the Dissolution. Other parts of Soberton Parish were known as Wallop's Manor after the Wallop family who were lords of the manor from the reign of Henry III until the seventeenth century.
(Interestingly, the river that flows within half a kilometer of Soberton is the Meon. Alfred Thomas Burton Longhurst's first ship in the Canadian Navy in WWII was the HMCS Meon.)
The Cobbett Rides...
William Cobbett was born, third son of a farm labourer at The Jolly Farmer, Farnham, Surrey, 1763. He was brought up to the hard life of farming. William was self taught; was a soldier from 1783, serving in Nova Scotia, 1784-91, but became involved in arguments over soldiers' pay and had to withdraw. Eventually he became a bookseller, publisher, essayist, writing with some force on grammar, economics, and the politics of his age. His literary career began in Philadelphia, where he backed the loyalist side and was eventually forced to flee to England, 1800. From 1802, he published Cobbett's Weekly Political Register until his death in 1835.
From 1805-20 William Cobbett thought of Botley, Hampshire as his home. Here he built up a small estate and devloped his interest in farming and estate management, introducing new farm machinery, trying out new species of trees, and so on. He was a man of contradictions - speaking against the conditions of the working class but doing little to improve those of his own men, against the use of machinery to save labour but introducing machinery himself, against land speculation but buying land...
The Rural Rides are his best known work, collected together in 1830 from observations made in the 1820's. Cobbett disapproved of remedies for agricultural distress suggested in 1821 and made up his mind to see for himself, and to enforce by actual observation of rural conditions, the statements he had made in answer to the arguments of the landlords before the Agricultural Committee. The Rides demonstrate sound observation and commonsense in agriculture, and an opinionated mind.
THROUGH HAMPSHIRE ... BETWEEN 7TH OCTOBER AND 1ST DECEMBER 1822, 327 MILES
AT Uphusband, a little village in a deep dale, about 5 miles to the north of Andover, and about 3 miles to the south of the Hills at Highclere. The wheat is sown here, and up, and, as usual, at this time of year, looks very beautiful...
WENT to Weyhill fair, at which I was about 46 years ago, when I rode a little poney, and remember how proud I was on the occasion... The 11th of October is the sheep fair. About 300,000l. used, some few years ago, to be carried home by the sheep-sellers. Today, less, perhaps, than 70,000l. and yet, the rents of these sheep-sellers are, perhaps, as high, on an average, as they were then. The countenances of the farmers were descriptive of their ruinous state. I never, in all my life, beheld a more mournful scene. There is a horse fair upon another part of the Down; and there I saw horses keeping pace in depression with the sheep. A pretty numerous group of the tax-eaters from Andover and the neighbourhood were the only persons that had smiles on their faces. From this dismal scene, a scene formerly so joyous, we set off back to Uphusband pretty early, were overtaken by the rain, and got a pretty good soaking. The land along here is very good. This whole country has a chalk bottom; but, in the valley on the right of the hill over which you go from Andover to Weyhill, the chalk lies far from the top, and the soil has few flints in it. My sons went two of the days [to Weyhill Fair], and their account of the hop fair was enough to make one gloomy for a month.
AT Burghclere [October], one half of the time writing, and the other half hare-hunting. In quitting Andover to go to Salisbury (17 miles from each other) you cross the beautiful valley that goes winding down amongst the hills to Stockbridge. You then rise into the open country that very soon becomes a part of that large tract of downs, called Salisbury Plain. You are not in Wiltshire, however, till you are about half the way to Salisbury. You leave Tidworth away to your right. This is the seat of Asheton Smith; and the fine coursing that I once saw there I should have called to recollection with pleasure, if I could have forgotten the hanging of the men at Winchester last Spring for resisting one of this Smith's gamekeepers! This Smith's son and a Sir John Pollen are the members for Andover. They are chosen by the Corporation. One of the Corporation, an Attorney, named Etwall, is a Commissioner of the Lottery, or something in that way. It would be a curious thing to ascertain how large a portion of the 'public services' is performed by the voters in Boroughs and their relations.
AT Uphusband. At this village, which is a great thoroughfare for sheep and pigs, from Wiltshire and Dorsetshire to Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and away to the North and North East, we see many farmers from different parts of the country.
AT Burghclere. Very nasty weather. On the 28th the foxhounds came to throw off at Penwood, in this parish. Having heard that Dundas [MP for Berkshire?] would be out with the hounds, I rode to the place of meeting, in order to look him in the face, and to give him an opportunity to notice, on his own peculiar dunghill, what I had said of him at Newbury. He came. I rode up to him and about him; but, he said not a word. The company entered the wood, and I rode back towards my quarters. They found a fox, and quickly lost him. Then they came out of the wood and came back along the road, and met me, and passed me, they as well as I going at a foot pace. I had plenty of time to survey them all well, and to mark their looks. I watched Dundas's eyes, but the devil a bit could I get them to turn my way.
Set off for London. Went by Alderbridge, Crookham, Brimton, Mortimer, Stratfield Say, Heckfield Heath, Eversley, Blackwater... This is, with trifling exceptions, a miserably poor country. Burghclere lies along at the foot of a part of that chain of hills, which, in this part, divide Hampshire from Berkshire. The parish just named is, indeed, in Hampshire, but it forms merely the foot of the Highclere and Kingsclere Hills. These hills, from which you can see all across the country, even to the Isle of Wight, are of chalk, and with them, towards the North, ends the chalk. The soil over which I have come today, is generally a stony sand upon a bed of gravel. With the exception of the land just round Crookham and the other villages, nothing can well be poorer or more villanously ugly. There is a clay at the bottom of the gravel, so that you have here nasty stagnant pools without fertility of soil. The rushes grow amongst the gravel; sure sign that there is clay beneath to hold the water; for, unless there be water constantly at their roots, rushes will not grow. Such land is, however, good for oaks wherever there is soil enough on the top of the gravel for the oak to get hold, and to send its taproot down to the clay. The oak is the thing to plant here; and, therefore, this whole country contains not one single plantation of oaks! That is to say, as far as I observed. Plenty of fir trees and other rubbish have been recently planted; but, no oaks.
AT Stratfield Say is that everlasting monument of English Wisdom Collective, the Heir Loom Estate of the 'greatest Captain of the Age!' In his peerage it is said, that it was wholly out of the power of the nation to reward his services fully; but that 'she did what she could!' Well, poor devil! And what could any body ask for more? It was well, however, that she gave what she did while she was drunk; for, if she had held her hand till now, I am half disposed to think, that her gifts would have been very small.
UPHUSBAND, once more, and, for the sixth time this year, over the North Hampshire Hills, which, not withstanding their everlasting flints, I like very much. As you ride along even in a green lane the horses' feet make a noise like hammering. It seems as you were riding on a mass of iron. Yet the soil is good, and bears some of the best wheat in England. All these high, and indeed, all chalky lands, are excellent for sheep. But, on the top of some of these hills, there are as fine meadows as I ever saw.
And the singularity is, that this pasture is on the very tops of these lofty hills, from which you can see the Isle of Wight. There is a stiff loam, in some places twenty feet deep, on a bottom of chalk. Though the grass grows so finely there is no apparent wetness in the land. The wells are more than three hundred feet deep. The main part of the water, for all uses, comes from the clouds; and, indeed, these are pretty constant companions of these chalk hills, which are very often enveloped in clouds and wet, when it is sunshine down at Burghclere or Uphusband. They manure the land here by digging wells in the fields and bringing up the chalk, which they spread about on the land; and which, being free-chalk is reduced to powder by the frosts. A considerable portion of the land is covered with wood; and as, in the clearing of the land, the clearers followed the good soil, without regard to shape of fields, the forms of the woods are of endless variety, which, added to be never-ceasing inequalities of the surface of the whole, makes this, like all the others of the same description, a very pleasant country.
SET off from Uphusband for Hambledon. The first place I had to get to was Whitchurch. On my way, and at a short distance from Uphusband, down the valley, I went through a village called Bourne, which takes its name from the water that runs down this valley. A bourne, in the language of our forefathers, seems to be a river, which is, part of the year, without water. There is one of these bournes down this pretty valley. It has, generally, no water till towards Spring, and then it runs for several months. It is the same at the Candovers, as you go across the downs from Odiham to Winchester.
The little village of Bourne, therefore, takes its name from its situation. Then there are two Hurstbournes, one above and one below this village of Bourne. Hurst means, I believe, a Forest. There were, doubtless, one of those on each side of Bourne; and, when they became villages, the one above was called Up-hurstbourne, and the one below Down-hurstbourne; which names have become Uphusband and Downhusband. The lawyers, therefore, who, to the immortal honour of high blood and Norman descent, are making such a pretty story out for the Lord Chancellor, relative to a Noble Peer who voted for the Bill against the Queen, ought to leave off calling the seat of the noble person Hursperne; for it is at Downhurstbourne where he lives...
Whitchurch is a small town, but famous for being the place where the paper has been made for the Borough-Bank! I passed by the mill on my way to get out upon the Downs to go to Alresford where I intend to sleep. I hope the time will come, when a monument will be erected where that mill stands, and when on that monument will be inscribed 'the curse of England'. This spot ought to be held accursed in all time henceforth and for evermore. It has been the spot from which have sprung more and greater mischiefs than ever plagued mankind before.
Quitting Whitchurch, I went off to the left out of the Winchester road, got out upon the highlands, took an 'observation,' as the sailors call it, and off I rode, in a straight line, over hedge and ditch, towards the rising ground between Stratton Park and Micheldever Wood; but, before I reached this point, I found some wet meadows and some running water in my way in a little valley running up from the turnpike road to a little place called West Stratton. I, therefore, turned to my left, went along by Stratton Park pales down East Stratton street, and then on towards the Grange Park. Stratton Park is the seat of Sir THOMAS BARING, who has here several thousand of acres of land; who has the living of Micheldever, to which, I think, Northington and Swallowfield are joined. Above all, he has Micheldever Wood, which, they say, contains a thousand acres, and which is one of the finest oak woods in England. This large and very beautiful estate must have belonged to the Church at the time of Henry the Eighth's 'reformation'. It was, I believe, given by him to the family of Russell; and, it was, by them, sold to Sir Francis Baring about twenty years ago. A little girl, of whom I asked my way down into East Stratton, and who was dressed in a camlet gown, white apron and plaid cloak (it was Sunday), and who had a book in her hand, told me that Lady Baring gave her the clothes, and had her taught to read and to sing hymns and spiritual songs.
As I came through the Strattons I saw not less than a dozen girls clad in this same way. It is impossible not to believe that this is done with a good motive; but, is possible to not to believe that it is productive of good. It must create hypocrites, and hypocrisy is the great sin of the age. Society is in a queer state when the rich think, that they must educate the poor in order to insure their own safety: for this, at bottom, is the great motive now at work in pushing on the education scheme, though in this particular case, perhaps, there may be a little enthusiasm at work. When persons are glutted with riches; when they have their fill of them; when are surfeited of all earthly pursuits, they are very apt to begin to think about the next world; and, the moment they begin to think of that, they begin to look over the account that they shall have to present. Hence the far greater part of what are called 'charities.' But, it is the business of governments to take care that there shall be very little of this glutting with riches, and very little need of 'charities.'
From Stratton I went on to Northington Down; then round to the South of the Grange Park (Alex. Baring's), down to Abbotston, and over some pretty little hills to Alresford, which is a nice little town of itself, but which presents a singularly beautiful view from the last little hill coming from Abbotston. I could not pass by the Grange Park without thinking of Lord and Lady Henry Stuart, whose lives and deaths surpassed what we read of in the most sentimental romances.
Came from Alresford to Hambledon, through Titchbourne, Cheriton, Beauworth, Kilmston and Exton. This is all a high, hard, dry, foxhunting country. Like that, indeed, over which I came yesterday [?Uphusband to Alresford]. At Titchbourne there is a park, and 'great house,' as the countrypeople call it. The place belongs, I believe, to a Sir somebody Titchbourne, a family, very likely half as old as the name of the village, which, however, partly takes its name from the bourne that runs down the valley. I thought, as I was riding alongside of this park, that I had heard good of this family of Titchbourne, and, as I therefore saw the park pales with sorrow. There is not more than one pale in a yard, and those that remain and the rails and posts and all seem tumbling down. This park-paling is perfectly typical of those of the landlords who are not tax-eaters. They are wasting away very fast.
Kilmston was my next place after Titchbourne, but I wanted to go to Beauworth, so that I had to go through Cheriton; a little, hard, iron village, where all seems to be as old as the hills that surround it. In coming along you see Titchbourne church away to the right, on the side of the hill, a very pretty little view; and this, though such a hard country, is a pretty country.
At Cheriton, I found a grand camp of Gipsys just upon the move towards Alresford. I had met some of the scouts first, and afterwards the advance guard, and here the main body was getting in motion. One of the scouts that I met was a young woman, who, I am sure, was six feet high. There were two or three more in the camp of about the same height; and some most strapping fellows of men. It is curious that this race should have preserved their dark skin and coal-black straight and coarse hair, very much like that of the American Indians.
I came on to Beauworth to inquire after the family of a worthy old farmer, whom I knew there some years ago, and of whose death I had heard at Alresford. A bridle road over some fields and through a coppice took me to Kilmston, formerly a large village, but now mouldered into two farms, and a few miserable tumbledown houses for the labourers. Here is a house, that was formerly the residence of the landlord of the place, but is now occupied by one of the farmers. This is a fine country for fox hunting, and Kilmston belonged to a Mr. Ridge who was a famous fox hunter, and who is accused of having spent his fortune in that way. The place now belongs to a Mr. Long, whose origin I cannot find out.
From Kilmston I went right over the Downs to the top of a hill called Beacon Hill, which is one of the loftiest hills in the country. Here you can see the Isle of Wight in detail, a fine sweep of the sea; also away into Sussex, and over the New Forest into Dorsetshire. Just below you, to the East, you look down upon the village of Exton; and you can see up this valley (which is called a Bourne too) as far as West-Meon, and down it as far as Soberton. Corhampton, Warnford, Meon-Stoke and Droxford come within these two points; so that here are six villages on this bourne within the space of about five miles. On the other side of the main valley down which the bourne runs, and opposite Beacon Hill, is another such a hill, which they call Old Winchester Hill. On the top of this hill there was once a camp, or, rather fortress; and the ramparts are now pretty nearly as visible as ever. The same is to be seen on the Beacon Hill at Highclere. These ramparts have nothing of the principles of modern fortification in their formation. You see now signs of salient angles. It was a ditch and a bank, and that appears to have been all. I had, I think, a full mile to go down from the top of Beacon Hill to Exton. This is the village where that Parson Baines lives who, as described by me in 1817, bawled in Lord Cochrane's ear at Winchester in the month of March of that year. Parson Poulter lives at Meon-Stoke, which is not a mile further down. So that this valley has something in it besides picturesque views! I asked some countrymen how Poulter and Baines did; but, their answer contained too much of irreverence for me to give it here.
At Exton I crossed the Gosport turnpike road came up the cross valley under the South side of Old Winchester Hill, over Stoke down, then over West-end down, and then to my friend's house at West End in the parish of Hambledon.
Thus have I crossed nearly the whole of this country from the northwest to the southeast, without going five hundred yards on a turnpike road, and, as nearly as I could do it, in a straight line.
The whole country that I have crossed is loam and flints upon a bottom of chalk. At Alresford there are some watered meadows, which are the beginning of a chain of meadows that goes all the way down to Winchester, and hence to Southampton; but, even these meadows have, at Alresford, chalk under them. The water that supplies them comes out of a pond, called Alresford Pond, which is fed from the high hills in the neighbourhood. These counties are purely agricultural; and they have suffered most cruelly from the accursed Pitt system. Their hilliness, bleakness, roughness of roads, render them unpleasant to the luxurious, effeminate, tax-eating crew, who never come near them, and who have pared them down to the very bone. The villages are all in a state of decay. The farm buildings dropping down, bit by bit.
Hambledon is a long, straggling village, lying in a little valley formed by some very pretty but not lofty hills. The environs are much prettier than the village itself, which is not far from the North side of Portsdown Hill. This must have once been a considerable place; for here is a church pretty nearly as large as that at Farnham in Surrey, which is quite sufficient for a large town. The means of living has been drawn away from these villages, and the people follow the means. Cheriton and Kilmston and Hambledon and the like have been beggared for the purpose of giving tax-eaters the means of making 'vast improvements, Ma'am'. Those scenes of glorious loyalty, the seaport places, are beginning to be deserted. How many villages had that scene of all that is wicked and odious, Portsmouth, Gosport, and Portsea; how many villages has that hellish assemblage beggared! It is now being scattered itself! There is an absolute tumbling down taking place, where, so lately, there were such 'vast improvements Ma'am!'.
To go to Thursley from Hambledon the plain way was up the Downs to Petersfield, and then along the turnpike road through Liphook, and over Hindhead... The map of Hampshire (and we had none of Surrey) showed me the way to Headley, which lies on the West of Hindhead, down upon the flat. I knew it was but about five miles from Headley to Thursley; and, I, therefore, resolved to go to Headley, in spite of all the remonstrances of friends, who represented to me the danger of breaking my neck at Hawkley and of getting buried in the bogs of Woolmer Forest. My route was through East-Meon, Froxfield, Hawkley, Greatham, and then over Woolmer Forest, (a heath if you please) to Headley.
Off we set over the downs (crossing the bottom sweep of Old Winchester Hill) from West End to East-Meon. We came down a long and steep hill that led us winding round into the village, which lies in the valley that runs in a direction nearly east and west, and that has a rivulet that comes out the hills towards Petersfield. If I had not any thing further today, I should have dwelt long on the beauties of this place. Here is a very fine valley, in nearly an elliptical form, sheltered by high hills sloping gradually from it; and, not far from the middle of this valley there is a hill nearly in the form of a goblet glass with the foot and stem broken off and turned upsidedown. And this clapped down upon the level of the valley, just as you would put such goblet upon a table. The hill is lofty, partly covered with wood, and it gives an air of great singularity to the scene.
I am sure that East Meon has been a large place. The church has a Saxon Tower pretty nearly equal, as far as I recollect, to that of the Cathedral of Winchester. The rest of the church has been rebuilt, and, perhaps, several times; but the tower is complete; it has had a steeple put upon it; but, it retains all its beauty, and it shows that the church (which is still large) must, at first, have been a very large building. Let those, who talk so glibly of the increase of the population in England, go over the country from Highclere to Hambledon. Let them look at the size of the churches and let them observe those numerous small inclosures on every side of every village, which had, to a certainty, each its house in former times. But, let them go to East-Meon, and account for that church. Where did the hands come from to make it? Look, however, at the downs, the many square miles of downs near this village, all bearing the marks of the plough, and all out of tillage for many many years; yet, not one single inch of them but what is vastly superior in quality to any of those great 'improvements' on the miserable heaths of Hounslow, Bagshot, and Windsor Forest.
From East-Meon, I did not go on to Froxfield church, but turned off to the left to a place (a couple of houses) called Bower. Near this I stopped at a friend's house, which is in about as lonely a situation as I ever saw. A very pleasant place however. The land dry, a nice mixture of woods and fields, and a great variety of hill and dell.
Before I came to East-Meon, the soil of the hills was a shallow loam with flints, on a bottom of chalk; but, on this side of the valley of East-Meon; that is to say, on the north side, the soil on the hills is a deep, stiff loam, on a bed on a sort of gravel mixed with chalk; and the stones, instead of being grey on the outside and blue on the inside, are yellow on the outside and whitish on the inside. In coming on further to the North, I found, that the bottom was sometimes gravel and sometimes chalk. Free chalk (which is the sort found here) is excellent manure for stiff land, and it produces a complete change in the nature of clays. It is, therefore, dug here, on the North of East-Meon, about in the fields, where it happens to be found, and is laid out upon the surface, where it is crumbled to powder by the frost, and thus gets incorporated with the loam.
At Bower I got instructions to go to Hawkley, but accompanied with the most earnest advice not to go that way, for that it was impossible to get along. The roads were represented as so bad; the floods so much out; the hills and bogs so dangerous; that, really, I began to doubt; and, if I had not been brought up amongst the clays of the Holt Forest and the bogs of the neighbouring heaths, I should certainly have turned off to my right, to go over Hindhead, great as was my objection to going that way. 'Well, then,' said my friend at Bower, 'if you will go that way, by G--, you must go down Hawkley Hanger;' of which he then gave me such a description! But, even this I found to fall short of the reality. I inquired simply, whether people were in the habit of going down it; and, the answer being in the affirmative, on I went through green lanes and bridleways till I came to the turnpike road from Petersfield to Winchester, which I crossed, going into a narrow and almost untrodden green lane, on the side of which I found a cottage. Upon my asking the way to Hawkley, the woman at the cottage said, 'Right up the lane, Sir: you'll come to a hanger presently: you must take care, Sir: you can't ride down: will your horses go alone?'
On we trotted up this pretty green lane; and indeed, we had been coming gently and generally up hill for a good while. The lane was between highish banks and pretty high stuff growing on the banks, so that we could see no distance from us, and could receive not the smallest hint of what was so near at hand. The lane had a little turn towards the end; so that, out we came, all in a moment, at the very edge of the hanger! And, never, in all my life, was I so surprised and so delighted! I pulled up my horse, and sat and looked; and it was like looking from the top of a castle down into the sea, except that the valley was land and not water. I looked at my servant to see what effect this unexpected sight had upon him. His surprise was as great as mine, though he had been bred among the North Hampshire hills. Those who have so strenuously dwelt on the dirt and dangers of this route, had said not a word about the beauties, the matchless beauties of the scenery. These hangers are woods on the sides of very steep hills. The trees and underwood hang, in some sort, to the ground, instead of standing on it. Hence these places are called Hangers. From the summit of that which I had now to descend, I looked down upon the villages of Hawkley, Greatham, Selborne and some others.
From the southeast round southward to the northwest, the main valley has cross-valleys running out of it, the hills on the sides of which are very steep, and, in many parts, covered with wood. The hills that from these cross-valleys run out into the main valley, like piers into the sea. Two of these promontories, of great height, are on the west side of the main valley, and were the first objects that struck my sight when I came to the edge of the hanger, which was on the south. The ends of these promontories are nearly perpendicular, and their tops so high in the air, that you cannot look at the village below without something like a feeling of apprehension. The leaves are all off, the hop poles are in stack, the fields have little verdure; but, while the spot is beautiful beyond description even now, I must leave to imagination to suppose what it is, when the trees and hangers and hedges are in leaf, the corn waving, the meadows bright, and the hops upon the poles!
From the southwest, round, eastward, to the north, lie the heaths, of which Woolmer Forest makes a part, and these go gradually rising up to Hindhead, the crown of which is to the northwest, leaving the rest of the circle (the part from north to northwest) to be occupied by a continuation of the valley towards Headley, Binstead, Frensham, and the Holt Forest. So the event the contrast in the view from the top of the hanger is as great as can possibly be imagined. Men, however, are not to have such beautiful views as this without some trouble. We have had the view; but we had to go down the hanger. The horses took the lead, and crept down partly on their feet and partly upon their hocks. It was extremely slippery too; for the soil is sort of marle, or, as they call it here, maume, or mame, which is, when wet, very much like grey soap. In such a case it was likely that I should keep in the rear, which I did, and I descended by taking hold of the branches of the underwood, and so letting myself down. When we got to the bottom, I bid my man, when he should go back to Uphusband, tell the people there, that Ashmansworth Lane is not the worst piece of road in the world.
After crossing a little field and going through a farmyard, we came into a lane, which was, at once, road and river. We found a hard bottom, however; and when we got out of the water, we got into a lane with high banks. The banks were quarries of white stone, like Portland stone, and the bed of the road was of the same stone; and, the rains having been heavy for a day or two before, the whole was as clean and as white as the steps of a fundholder or deadweight doorway in one of the Squares of the Wen. Here were we, then, going along a stone road with stone banks, and yet the underwood and trees grew well upon the tops of the banks. In the solid stone beneath us, there were horse tracks and wheel tracks, the former and about three, and the latter about six inches deep. How many ages it must have taken the horses' feet, the wheels, and the water, to wear down this stone, so as to form a hollow way! The horses seemed alarmed at their situation; they trod with fear; but they took us along very nicely, and, at last, got us safe into the indescribable dirt and mire of the road from Hawkley Green to Greatham. Here the bottom of all the lands is this solid white stone, and the top is that mame, which I have before described. The hoproots penetrate down into this stone. How deep the stone may go I know not; but, when I came to look up at the end of one of the piers, or promontories, mentioned above, I found that it was all of this same stone.
Upon leaving Greatham, we came out upon Woolmer Forest. The man told me, that I must go across the forest. I asked him whether it was a good road: 'it is a sound road,' said he, laying a weighty emphasis upon the word sound. 'Do people go it?' said I. 'Ye-es,' said he. 'Oh then,' said I, to my man, 'as it is sound road, keep you close to my heels, and do not attempt to go aside, not even for a foot.' Indeed it was a sound road. The rain of the night had made fresh horse tracks visible. And we got to Headley in a short time, over a sand road, which seemed so delightful after the flints and stone and dirt and sloughs that we had passed over and through since the morning! This road was not, if we had been benighted, without its dangers, the forest being full of quags and quicksands. This is a tract of Crown lands, or, properly speaking, public lands, on some parts of which our Land Steward, Mr. HUSKISSON, is making some plantations of trees, partly fir, and partly other trees. What he can plant the fir for, God only knows, seeing that the country is already overstocked with that rubbish.
The soil of this tract is, generally, a black sand, which, in some places, becomes peat, which makes a very tolerable fuel. In some parts there is clay at bottom; and there the oaks would grow; but not while there are hares in any number in the forest. If trees be to grow here, there ought to be no hares and as little hunting as possible.
We got to Headley, the sign of the Holly Bush, just at dusk, and just as it began to rain. I had neither eaten nor drunk since eight o'clock in the morning; and as it was a nice little public house, I at first intended to stay all night, an intention that I afterwards very indiscretely gave up. I had laid my plan, which included the getting to Thursley that night. When, therefore, I had got some cold bacon and bread, and some milk, I began to feel ashamed of stopping short of my plan, especially after having so heroically persevered in the 'stern path,' and so disdainfully scorned to go over Hindhead.
At the 'Holly Bush' at Headly (sic) there was a room full of fellows in white smock frocks, drinking and smoking and talking...
RURAL RIDE OF A HUNDRED AND FOUR MILES, FROM KENSINGTON TO UPHUSBAND
[from Bourne outside Farnham] ... on towards Crondall upon a soil that soon became stiff loam and flint at top with a bed of chalk beneath. We did not go to Crondall; but kept along over Slade Heath, and through a very pretty place called Well.
... we chose to wind down through Upton-Gray, Preston-Candover, Chilton-Candover, Brown-Candover, then down to Ovington, and into Winchester by the north entrance. From Wrecklesham to Winchester we have come over roads and lanes of flint and chalk. The weather being dry again, the ground under you, as solid as iron, makes a great rattling with the horses' feet. The country where the soil is stiff loam upon chalk, is never bad for corn. Not rich, but never poor. There is at no time any thing deserving to be called dirt in the roads. The buildings last a long time, from the absence of fogs and also the absence of humidity in the ground. The absence of dirt makes the people habitually cleanly; and all along through this country the people appear in general to be very neat. It is a country for sheep, which are always sound and good upon this iron soil. The trees grow well, where there are trees. The woods and coppices are not numerous; but they are good, particularly the ash which always grows well upon the chalk. The oaks, though they do not grow in the spiral form, as upon the clays, are by no means stunted; and some of them very fine trees; I take it, that they require a much greater number of years to bring them to perfection than in the Wealds. The wood, perhaps, may be harder; but I have heard, that the oak, which grows upon these hard bottoms, is very frequently what the carpenters call shaky. The underwoods here consist, almost entirely, of hazle, which is very fine, and much tougher and more durable than that which grows on soils with a moist bottom. This hazle is a thing of great utility here. It furnishes rods wherewith to make fences; but its principal use is, to make wattles for the folding of sheep in the fields. These things are made much more neatly here than in the south of Hampshire and in Sussex, or in any other part that I have seen. Chalk is the favourite soil of the yew tree; and at Preston-Candover there is an avenue of yew trees, probably a mile long, each tree containing, as nearly as I can guess, from twelve to twenty feet of timber, which, as the reader knows, implies a tree of considerable size. They have probably been a century or two in growing; but, in any way that timber can be used, the timber of the yew will last, perhaps, ten times as long as the timber of any other tree that we grow in England.
Quitting the Candovers, we came along between the two estates of the two Barings. Sir Thomas, who has supplanted the Duke of Bedford, was to our right, while Alexander, who has supplanted Lord Northington, was on our left. The latter has enclosed, as a sort of outwork to his park, a pretty little down called Northington Down, in which he has planted, here and there, a clump of trees. But Mr. Baring, not reflecting that woods are not like funds, to be made at a heat, has planted his trees too large; so that they are covered with moss, are dying at the top, and are literally growing downward instead of upward. In short, this enclosure and plantation have totally destroyed the beauty of this part of the estate. The down, which was before very beautiful, and formed a sort of glacis up to the park pales, is now a marred, ragged, ugly looking thing. The dying trees, which have been planted long enough for you not to perceive that have been planted, excite the idea of sterility in the soil. They do injustice to it; for, as a down, it was excellent. Every thing that has been done here is to the injury of the estate, and discovers a most shocking want of taste in the projector.
We came along the turnpike road, through Wherwell and Andover, and got to this place [Uphusband] about 2 o'clock. This country, except at the village and town just mentioned, is very open, a thinish soil upon a bed of chalk. Between Winchester and Wherwell we came by some hundreds of acres of ground, that was formerly most beautiful down, which was broken up in dearcorn times, and which is now a district of thistles and other weeds. If I had such land as this I would soon make it down again. I would for once (that is to say if I had the money) get it quite clean, prepare it as for sowing turnips, get the turnips if possible, feed them off early, or plough the ground if I got no turnips; sow thick with Saint-foin and meadowgrass seeds of all sorts, early in September; let the crop stand till the next July; feed it then slenderly with sheep, and dig up all thistles and rank weeds that might appear; keep feeding it, but not too close, during the summer and the fall; and keep on feeding it for ever after as a down. The Saint-foin itself would last for many years; and as it disappeared, its place would be supplied by the grass; that sort which was most congenial to the soil, would at last stifle all other sorts, and the land would become a valuable down as formerly.
I see that some plantations of ash and of hazle have been made along here; but, with great submission to the planters, I think they have gone the wrong way to work, as to the mode of preparing the ground. They have planted small trees, and that is right; they have trenched the ground, and that is also right; but they have brought the bottom soil to the top; and that is wrong, always; and especially where the bottom soil is gravel or chalk, or clay.
This country though so open, has it beauties. The homesteads in the sheltered bottoms with fine lofty trees about the houses and yards, form a beautiful contrast with the large open fields. The little villages, running straggling along the dells (always with lofty trees and rookeries) are very interesting objects, even in the winter. You feel a sort of satisfaction, when you are out upon the bleak hills yourself, at the thought of the shelter, which is experienced in the dwellings in the valleys.
Andover is a neat and solid market town. It is supported entirely by the agriculture around it; and how the makers of population returns ever came to think of classing the inhabitants of such a town as this under any other head than that of 'persons employed in agriculture,' would appear astonishing to any man who did not know those population return makers as well as I do.
The village of Uphusband, the legal name of which is Hurstbourne Tarrant, is, as the reader will recollect, a great favourite with me, not the less so certainly on account of the excellent free-quarter that it affords.
FROM THE [LONDON] WEN ACROSS SURREY, ACROSS THE WEST OF SUSSEX, AND INTO THE SOUTH EAST OF HAMPSHIRE
[July and August, 1823]
But now I come to one of the great objects of my journey: that is to say, to see the state of the corn along the South foot and on the South side of Portsdown hill. It is impossible that there can be, any where, a better corn country than this. The hill is eight miles long, and about three-fourths of a mile high [sic], beginning at the road that runs along at the foot of the hill. On the hillside the corn land goes rather better than half way up; and, on the seaside, the corn land is about the third (it may be half) a mile wide. Portsdown hill is very much in the shape of an oblong tin cover to a dish. From BEDHAMPTON, which lies at the Eastern end of the hill, to Fareham, which is at the Western end of it, you have brought under your eye not less than eight square miles of corn fields, with scarcely a hedge or ditch of any consequence, and being, on an average, from twenty to forty acres each in extent. The land is excellent. The situation good for manure. The spot the earliest in the whole kingdom. Here, if the corn were backward, then the harvest must be backward. I came on to WIMMERING, which is just about the midway along the foot of the hill, and there I saw, at a good distance from me, five men reaping in a field of wheat of about 40 acres. I found, upon inquiry, that they began this morning [2 August], and that the wheat belongs to Mr. BONIFACE, of Wimmering. Here the first sheaf is cut that is cut in England: that the reader may depend upon. It was never known, that the average even of Hampshire was less than ten days behind the average of Portsdown hill. The corn under the hill is as good as I ever saw it, except in the year 1813. No beans here. No peas. Scarcely any oats. Wheat, barley, and turnips. The Swedish turnips not so good as on the South Downs and Funtington; but the wheat full as good, rather better; and the barley as good as it is possible to be. In looking at these crops, one wonders whence are to come the hands to clear them off.
THROUGH THE SOUTH EAST OF HAMPSHIRE, BACK THROUGH THE SOUTH WEST OF SURREY, ALONG THE WEALD OF SURREY, AND THEN OVER THE SURREY HILLS DOWN TO THE WEN.
From Fareham to Titchfield village a large part of the ground is a common enclosed some years ago. It is therefore amongst the worst of the land in the country. Yet, I did not see a bad field of corn along here, and the Swedish turnips were, I think, full as fine as any that I saw upon the South Downs.
Botley lies in a valley, the soil of which is a deep and stiff clay. Oak trees grow well; and this year the wheat grows well, as it does upon all the clays that I have seen. I have never seen the wheat better in general, in this part of the country, than it is now. I have, I think, seen it heavier; but never clearer from blight. It is backward compared to the wheat of many other parts; some of it is quite green; but none of it has any appearance of blight. This is not much of a barley country. The oats are good. The beans, that I have seen, very indifferent.
This village of Easton lies at a few miles towards the northeast from Winchester. It is distant from Botley by the way which I came about fifteen or sixteen miles. I came through Durley, where I went to the house of farmer Mears. I was very much pleased with what I saw at Durley, which is about two miles from Botley, and is certainly one of the most obscure villages in this whole kingdom. Mrs. Mears, the farmer's wife, had made of the crested dog's tail grass, a bonnet which she wears herself. I there saw girls platting the straw. They had made plat of several degrees of fineness; and, they sell it to some person or persons at Fareham, who, I suppose, makes it into bonnets. The farmer, who is also a very intelligent person, told me, that he should endeavour to introduce the manufacture as a thing to assist the obtaining of employment, in order to lessen the amount of the poor rate. I think it very likely that this will be done in the parish of Durley. A most important matter it is, to put paupers in the way of ceasing to be paupers. I could not help admiring the zeal as well as the intelligence of the farmer's wife, who expressed her readiness to teach the girls and women of the parish, in order to enable them to assist themselves.
From DURLEY I came on in company with farmer Mears through UPHAM.
This UPHAM is the place where Young, who wrote that bombastical stuff, called 'Night Thoughts,' was once the parson, and where, I believe, he was born. Away to the right of Upham, lies the little town of Bishop's Waltham, whither I wished to go very much, but it was too late in the day. From Upham we came on upon the high land, called Black Down. We are here getting up upon the chalk hills, which stretch away towards Winchester. The soil here is a poor blackish stuff, with little white stones in it, upon a bed of chalk. It was a Down, not many years ago. The madness and greediness of the days of paper money led to the breaking of it up. The corn upon it is miserable; but, as good as can be expected upon such land.
At the end of this tract, we come to spot called Whiteflood, and here we cross the old turnpike road which leads from Winchester to Gosport through Bishop's Waltham. Whiteflood is at the foot of the first of a series of hills over which you come to get to the top of that lofty ridge called Morning Hill. The farmer came to the top of the first hill along with me; and he was just about to turn back, when I, looking away to the left, down a valley which stretched across the other side of the Down, observed a rather singular appearance, and said to the farmer, 'What is that coming up the valley? is it smoke, or is it a cloud?' The day had been very fine hitherto; the sun was shining very bright where we were. the farmer answered, 'Oh, it's smoke; it comes from Ouselberry, which is down in that bottom behind those trees.' ...
From Whiteflood you come over a series of hills, part of which form a rabbit warren, called Longwood warren, on the borders of which is the house and estate of Lord Northesk. These hills are amongst the most barren of the Downs of England; yet a part of them was broken up during the rage for improvement; during the rage for what empty men think was an augmenting of the capital of the country. On about twenty acres of this land, sown with wheat, I should not suppose that there would be twice twenty bushels of grain! A man must be mad, or nearly mad, to sow wheat upon such a spot. However, a large part of what was inclosed has been thrown out again already, and the rest will be thrown out in a very few years. The Down itself was poor; what then must it be as corn land! Think of the destruction which has here taken place. The herbage was not good, but it was something; it was something for every year, and without trouble. Instead of grass it will now, for twenty years to come, bear nothing but that species of weeds which is hardy enough to grow where grass will not grow.
From the top of this high land called Morning hill, and the real name of which is Magdalen hill, from a chapel which once stood there dedicated to Mary Magdalen; from the top of this land you have a view of a circle which is upon an average about seventy miles in diameter; and I believe in no one place so little as fifty miles in diameter. You see the Isle of Wight in one direction, and in the opposite direction you see the high lands in Berkshire. It is not a pleasant view, however. The fertile spots are all too far from you. Descending from this hill, you cross the turnpike road (about two miles from Winchester), leading from Winchester to London through Alresford and Farnham. As soon as you cross the road, you enter the estate of the descendant of Rollo, Duke of Buckingham, which estate is in the parish of Avington. In this place the Duke has a farm, not very good land. It is in his own hands. The corn is indifferent, except the barely [sic], which is every where good. You come a full mile from the roadside down through this farm to the Duke's mansion house at Avington and to the little village of that name, both of them beautifully situated, amidst fine and lofty trees, fine meadows, and streams of clear water. On this farm of the Duke I saw (in a little close by the farmhouse), several hens in coops with broods of pheasants instead of chickens. It seems that a gamekeeper lives in the farmhouse, and I dare say the Duke thinks much more of the pheasant than of the corn. I here saw, at this gamekeeping farmhouse, what I had not seen since my departure from the Wen; namely, A WHEAT RICK! Hard, indeed would it have been if a Plantagenet, turned farmer, had not a wheat-rick in his hands. This rick contains, I should think, what they call in Hampshire ten loads of wheat, that is to say fifty quarters, or four hundred bushels. And this is the only rick, not only of wheat, but of any corn whatever that I have seen since I left London. The turnips, upon this farm, are by no means good; but, I was in some measure compensated for the bad turnips by the sight of the Duke's turnip-hoers, about a dozen females, amongst whom there were several very pretty girls, and they were as merry as larks.
I came through the Duke's Park to come to Easton, which is the next village below Avington.
A very pretty park. The house is quite in the bottom; it can be seen in no direction from a distance greater than that of four or five hundred yards. The river Itchen which rises near Alresford, which runs down through Winchester to Southampton, goes down the middle of this valley, and waters all its immense quantity of meadows. The Duke's house stands not far from the river itself. A stream of water is brought from the river to feed a pond before the house. There are several avenues of trees which are very beautiful, and some of which give complete shelter to the kitchen garden, which has, besides, extraordinarily high walls. The village of Easton is, like that of Avington, close by the waterside. The meadows are the attraction; and, indeed, it is the meadows that have caused the villages to exist.
Came back through Avington Park, through the village of Avington, and, crossing the Itchen river, came over to the village of ITCHEN ABAS. Abas means below. It is French word that came over with Duke's Rollo's progenitors.
Itchen Abas, where, in the farmyard of a farmer, Courtenay, I saw another wheat-rick. From Itchen Abas I came up the valley to Itchen Stoke. Soon after that I crossed the Itchen river, came out into the Alresford turnpike road, and came on towards Alresford, having the valley now on my left. If the hay be down all the way to Southampton in the same manner that it is along here, there are thousands of acres of hay rotting on the sides of this Itchen river. Most of the meadows are watered artificially. The crops of grass are heavy, and, they appear to have been cut precisely in the right time to be spoiled.
After quitting Alresford you come (on the road toward Alton), to the village of Bishop's Sutton; and then to a place called Ropley Dean, where there is a house or two. Just before you come to Ropley Dean, you see the beginning of the Valley of Itchen. The Itchen river, falls into the salt water at Southampton. It rises, or rather has its first rise, just by the roadside at Ropley Dean, which is at the foot of that very high land which lies between Alresford and Alton. All along by the Itchen river, up to its very source, there are meadows; and this vale of meadows, which is about twenty-five miles in length, and is, in some places, a mile wide, is, at the point of which I am now speaking, only about twice as wide as my horse is long! This vale of Itchen is worthy of particular attention. There are few spots in England more fertile or more pleasant; and none, I believe, more healthy. Following the bed of the river, or, rather, the middle of the vale, it is about five-and-twenty miles in length, from Ropley Dean to the village of South Stoneham, which is just above Southampton. The average width of the meadows is, I should think, a hundred rods at the least; and if I am right in this conjecture, the vale contains about five thousand acres of meadows, large part of which is regularly watered. The sides of the vale are, until you come down to within about six or eight miles of Southampton, hills or rising grounds of chalk, covered more or less thickly with loam. Where the hills rise up very steeply from the valley, the fertility of the corn lands is not so great; but for a considerable part of the way, the corn lands are excellent, and the farmhouses, to which those lands belong, are, for the far greater part under covert of the hills on the edge of the valley. Soon after the rising of the stream, it forms itself into some capital ponds at Alresford. These, doubtless, were augmented by art, in order to supply Winchester with fish. The fertility of this vale, and of the surrounding country, is best proved by the fact, that, besides the town of Alresford and that of Southampton, there are seventeen villages, each having its parish church, upon its borders. When we consider these things we are nor surprised that a spot, situated about half way down this vale should have been chosen for the building of a city, or that that city should have been for a great number of years a place of residence for the Kings of England.
Winchester, which is at present a mere nothing to what it once was, stands across the vale at a place where the vale is made very narrow by the jutting forward of two immense hills. From the point where the river passes through the city, you go, whether eastward or westward, a full mile up a very steep hill all the way. The city is, of course, in one of the deepest holes that can be imagined. It never could have been thought of as a place to be defended since the discovery of gunpowder; and, indeed, one would think that very considerable annoyance might be given to the inhabitants even by the flinging of the flint stones from the hills down into the city.
At Ropley Dean, before I mounted the hill to come on towards Rotherham Park, I baited my horse. Here the ground is precisely like that at Ashmansworth on the borders of Berkshire, which, indeed, I could see from the ground of which I am now speaking. In coming up the hill, I had the house and farm of Mr. DUTHY to my right. Seeing some very fine Swedish turnips, I naturally expected that they belonged to this gentleman who is Secretary to the Agricultural Society of Hampshire; but I found that they belonged to a farmer MAYHEW. The soil is, along upon this high land, a deep loam, bordering on a clay, red in colour, and pretty full of large, rough, yellow-looking stones, very much like some of the land in Huntingdonshire; but here is a bed of chalk under this. Every thing is backward here. The wheat is perfectly green in most places; but, it is every where pretty good. I have observed, all the way along, that the wheat is good upon the stiff, strong land. It is so here; but it is very backward. The greater part of it is full three weeks behind the wheat under Portsdown Hill. But few farmhouses come within my sight along here; but in one of them there was a wheat-rick, which is the third I have seen since I quitted the Wen. In descending from this high ground, in order to reach the village of EAST TISTED, which lies on the turnpike road from the Wen to Gosport through Alton, I had to cross ROTHERHAM PARK. On the right of the park, on a bank of land facing the northeast, I saw a very pretty farmhouse, having every thing in excellent order, with fine cornfields about it, and with a wheat-rick standing in the yard.
This farm, as I afterwards found, belongs to the owner of Rotherham Park, who is also the owner of East Tisted, who has recently built a new house in the park, who has quite metamorphosed the village of Tisted, within these eight years, who has, indeed, really and truly improved the whole country just round about here, whose name is SCOT, well known as a brickmaker at North End, Fulham, and who has, in Hampshire supplanted a Norman of the name of Powlet.
At Tisted I crossed the turnpike road before mentioned, and entered a lane which, at the end of about four miles brought me to this village of SELBORNE. My readers will recollect, that I mentioned this Selborne when I was giving an account of Hawkley Hanger, last fall. I was desirous of seeing this village, about which I have read in the book of Mr. White, and which a reader has been so good as to send me. From Tisted I came generally up hill till I got within half a mile of this village, when, all of a sudden, I came to the edge of a hill, looked down over all the larger vale of which the little vale of this village makes a part. This hill, from which you descend down into Selborne, is very lofty; but, indeed, we are here amongst some of the highest hills in the island, and amongst the sources of rivers. The hill over which I have come this morning sends the Itchen river forth from one side of it, and the river Wey, which rises near Alton, from the opposite side of it. The village of Selborne is precisely what it is described by Mr. White. A straggling irregular street, bearing all the marks of great antiquity, and shewing, from its lanes and its vicinage generally, that it was once a very considerable place. I went to look at the spot where Mr. White supposes the convent formerly stood. It is very beautiful. Nothing can surpass in beauty these dells and hillocks and hangers, which last are so steep that it is impossible to ascend them, except by means of a serpentine path. I found here deep hollow ways, with beds and side of solid white stone; but not quite so white and so solid, I think, as the stone which I found in the roads at Hawkley. The churchyard of Selborne is most beautifully situated. The land is good, all about it. The trees are luxuriant and prone to be lofty and large. I measured the yew tree in the churchyard, and found the trunk to be, according to my measurement, twenty-three feet, eight inches, in circumference. The trunk is very short, as is generally the case with yew trees; but the head spread to a very great extent, and the whole tree, though probably several centuries old, appears to be in perfect health. Here are several hop plantations in and about this village; but, for this once, the prayers of the over-production men will be granted, and the devil of any hops there will be. The bines are scarcely got up the poles; the bines and the leaves are black, nearly, as soot; full as black as a sooty bag or dingy coal sack, and covered with lice. It is a pity that these hop planters could not have a parcel of Spaniards and Portuguese to louse their hops for them. Pretty devils to have liberty, when a favourite recreation of the Donna is the crack the lice in the head of the Don! I really shrug up my shoulders thinking of the beasts. Very different from such is my landlady here at Selborne, who, while I am writing my notes, is getting me a rasher of bacon, and has already covered the table with a nice clean cloth. I have never seen such quantities of grapes upon any vines as I see upon the vines in this village, badly pruned as all the vines have been. To be sure, this is a year for grapes, such, I believe, as has been seldom known in England, and the cause is, the perfect ripening of the wood by the last beautiful summer. I am afraid, however, that the grapes come in vain; for this summer has been so cold, and is now so wet, that we can hardly expect grapes, which are not under glass, to ripen.
... The hops are of considerable importance to this village, and their failure must necessarily be attended with consequences very inconvenient to the whole of a population so small as this. Upon enquiry I find that the hops are equally bad at Alton, Froyle, Crondall, and even at Farnham. Looking back over the road that I have come today, and perceiving the direction of the road going from this village in another direction, I perceive that this is a very direct road from Winchester to Farnham. The road, too, appears to have been, from ancient times, sufficiently wide; and, when the Bishop of Winchester selected this beautiful spot whereon to erect a monastery, I dare say the roads along here were some of the best in the country.
I GOT a boy at Selborne to show me along the lanes out into Woolmer forest on my way to Headley. The lanes were very deep; the wet malme just about the colour of
rye meal mixed up with water, and just about as clammy, came, in many places, very nearly up to my horse's belly. There was this comfort, however, that I was sure that there was a bottom, which is by no means the case when you are among clays or quicksands. After going through these lanes, and along between some fir plantations, I came out upon Woolmer Forest, and, to my great satisfaction, soon found myself on the side of those identical plantations, which have been made under the orders of the smooth Mr. Huskisson, and which I noticed last year in my ride from Hambledon to this place. These plantations are of fir, or at least, I could see nothing else, and they never can be of any more use to the nation than the sprigs of heath which cover the rest of the forest. Is there nobody to inquire what becomes of the income of the crown lands? No, and there never will be, until the whole system be changed.
FROM CHILWORTH, IN SURREY, TO WINCHESTER.
... At Alton we got some bread and cheese at a friend's, and then came to Alresford by Medstead, in order to have fine turf to ride on, and to see, on this lofty land that which is, perhaps, the finest beechwoods in all England. These high down-countries are not garden plats, like Kent; but they have, from my first seeing them, when I was about ten, always been my delight. Large sweeping downs, and deep dells here and there, with villages amongst lofty trees, are my great delight. When we got to Alresford it was nearly dark, and not being able to find a room to our liking, we resolved to go, through in the dark, to EASTON, a village about six miles from Alresford down by the side of the Hichen River.
Coming from EASTON yesterday, I learned that Sir CHARLES OGLE, the eldest son and successor of Sir CHALONER OGLE, had sold to some General, his mansion and estate at MARTYR'S WORTHY, a village on the North side of the Hichen, just opposite EASTON. The Ogles had been here for a couple of centuries perhaps. They are gone off now, 'for good and all,' as the country people call it.
I learned, too, that GREAME, a famously loyal 'squire and justice, whose son was, a few years ago, made a Distributor of Stamps in this county, was become so modest as to exchange his big and ancient mansion at CHERITON, or somewhere there, for a very moderate-sized house in the town of ALRESFORD! I saw his household goods advertised in the Hampshire newspaper, a little while ago, to be sold by public auction.
Just by ALRESFORD, there was another old friend and supporter of Old George Rose, 'Squire RAWLINSON, whom I remember a very great 'squire in this county.
n Winchester] This being Sunday, I heard, about 7 o'clock in the morning, a sort of jangling, made a bell or two in the Cathedral. We were getting ready to be off, to cross the country to BURGHCLERE, which lies under the lofty hills at Highclere about 22 miles from this city; but hearing the bells of the Cathedral, I took Richard to show him that ancient and most magnificent pile, and particularly to show him the tomb of that famous bishop of Winchester, WILLIAM of WYKHAM; who was the Chancellor and the Minister of the great and glorious King, EDWARD III.; who sprang from poor parents in the little village of WYKHAM, three miles from Botley; and who, amongst other great and most munificent deeds, founded the famous College, or School, of Winchester, and also one of the Colleges at Oxford. I told Richard about this as we went from the inn down to the cathedral; and, when I showed him the tomb, where the bishop lies on his back, in his Catholic robes, with his mitre on his head, his shepherd's crook by his side, with little children at his feet, their hands put together in a praying attitude, he looked with a degree of inquisitive earnestness that pleased me very much. I took him as far as I could about the cathedral. The 'service' was now begun. There is a dean, and God knows how many prebends belonging to this immensely rich bishopric and chapter: and there were, at this 'service,' two or three men and five or six boys in white surplices, with a congregation of fifteen women and four men! If WILLIAM of WYKHAM could, at that moment, have raised from his tomb! If Saint SWITHIN, whose name the cathedral bears, or ALFRED THE GREAT, to whom St. SWITHIN was tutor: if either of these could have come, and had been told, that that was now what was carried on by men, who talked of the 'damnable errors' of those who founded that very church! How, then, am I to describe what I felt, when I yesterday saw in HYDE MEADOW, a COUNTY BRIDWELL, standing on the very spot, where stood the Abbey which was founded and endowed by ALFRED, which contained the bones of that mak[er] of the English name, and also those of the learned monk, St. GRIMBALD, whom ALFRED brought to England to begin the teaching at Oxford!
After we came out of the cathedral, Richard, said, 'Why, Papa, nobody can build such places now, can they?' 'No, my dear,' said I. 'That building was made when there were no poor wretches in England, called paupers; when there were no poor rates; when every labouring man was clothed in good woollen cloth; and when all had a plenty of meat and bread and beer.' This talk lasted us to the inn, where, just as we were going to set off, it most curiously happened, that a parcel, which had come from Kensington by the night coach, was put into my hands by the landlord...
WE had, or I had, resolved not to breakfast at Winchester yesterday: and yet we were detained till nearly noon. But, at last off we came, fasting. The turnpike road from Winchester to this place [Burghclere] comes through a village, called SUTTON SCOTNEY, and then through WHITCHURCH, which lies on the Andover and London road, through Basingstoke. We did not take the cross-turnpike till we came to Whitchurch. We went to King's Worthy; that is, about two miles on the road from Winchester to London; and then, turning short to our left, came up upon the downs to the north of Winchester racecourse. Here, looking back at the city and at the fine valley above and below it, and at the many smaller valleys that run down from the high ridges into that great and fertile valley, I could not help admiring the taste of the ancient kings, who made this city (which once covered all the hill round about, and which contained 92 churches and chapels) a chief place of their residence. There are not many finer spots in England; and if I were to take in a circle of eight or ten miles of semi-diameter, I should say that I believe there is not one so fine. Here are hill, dell, water, meadows, woods, cornfields, downs; and all of them very fine and very beautifully disposed. Arthur Young calls the vale between Farnham and Alton the finest ten miles in England. Here is a river with fine meadows on each side of it, and with rising grounds on each outside of the meadows, those grounds having some hop gardens and some pretty woods. a country where high downs prevail, with here and there a large wood on the top or the side of a hill, and where you see, in the deep dells, here and there a farmhouse, and here and there a village, the buildings sheltered by a group of lofty trees.
This is my taste, and here, in the north of Hampshire, it has its full gratification. I like to look at the winding side of a great down, with two or three numerous flocks of sheep on it, belonging to different farms; and to see, lower down, the folds, in the fields, ready to receive them for the night. We had, when we got upon the downs, after leaving Winchester, this sort of country all the way to Whitchurch. Our point of destination was this village of Burghclere, which lies close under the north side of the lofty hill at HIGHCLERE, which is called Beacon-hill, and on the top of which there are still the marks of a Roman encampment. We saw this hill as soon as we got on Winchester downs; and without any regard to roads, we steered for it, as sailors do for a landmark. Of these 13 miles (from Winchester to Whitchurch) we rode about eight or nine upon the greensward, or over fields equally smooth. And, here is one great pleasure of living in countries of this sort: no sloughs, no ditches, no nasty dirty lanes, and the hedges, where there are any, are more for boundary marks than for fences. Fine for hunting and coursing: no impediments; no gates to open: nothing to impede the dogs, the horses, or the view. The water is not seen running; but the great bed of chalk holds it, and the sun draws it up for the benefit of the grass and the corn; and, whatever inconvenience is experienced from the necessity of deep wells, and of driving sheep and cattle far to water, is amply made up for by the goodness of the water, and by the complete absence of floods, of ditches and of water furrows. As things are now, however, these countries have one great drawback: the poor day labourers suffer from the want of fuel, and they have nothing but their bare pay. For these reasons they are greatly worse off than those of the woodland countries; and it is really surprising what a difference there is between the faces that you see here and the round, red faces that you see in the wealds and the forests, particularly in Sussex, where the labourers will have a meat pudding of some sort or other; and where they will have a fire to sit by in the winter.
After steering for some time, we came down to a very fine farmhouse, which we stopped a little to admire; and I asked Richard whether that was not a place to be happy in. The village, which we found to be STOKE-CHARITY, was about a mile lower down this little vale. Before we got to it, we overtook the owner of the farm, who knew me, though I did not know him; but, when I found it was Mr. HINTON BAILEY, of whom and whose farm I had heard so much, I was not at all surprised by the fineness of what I had just seen. I told him that the word charity, making, as it did, part of the name of this place, had nearly inspired me with boldness enough to go to the farm house, in the ancient style, and ask for something to eat; for, that we had not yet breakfasted. He asked us to go back; but, at BURGHCLERE we were resolved to dine. After, however, crossing the village, and beginning again to ascend the downs, we came to a labourer's (once a farm house), where I asked the man, whether he had any bread and cheese, and was a little pleased to hear him say 'Yes.'
Then I asked to give us a bit, protesting that we had not yet broken our fast. He answered in the affirmative, at once, though I did not talk of payment. His wife brought out a cut loaf, and a piece of Wiltshire cheese, and I took them in hand, gave Richard a good hunch, and took another for myself. I verily believe, that all the pleasure of eating enjoyed by all the feeders in London in a whole year, does not equal that which we enjoyed in gnawing this bread and cheese, as we rode over this cold down, whip and bridle reins in one hand, and the hunch in the other. Richard, who was purse bearer, gave the woman, by my direction, about enough to buy two quartern loaves: for she told me, that they had to buy their bread at the mill, not being able to bake themselves for want of fuel; and this, as I said before, is one of the drawbacks in this sort of country. I wish everyone of these people had an American fire place. Here they might, then, even in these bare countries have comfortable warmth. Rubbish of any sort would, by this means, give them warmth. I am now, at six o'clock in the morning, sitting in a room, where one of these fireplaces, with very light turf in it, gives as good and steady a warmth as it is possible to feel, and which room has, too, been cured of smoking by this fireplace.
When we got here to Burghclere, we were again as hungry as hunters. What, then, must be the life of these poor creatures? But is not the state of the country, is not the hellishness of the system, all depicted in this one disgraceful and damning fact, that the magistrates, who settle on what the labouring poor ought to have to live on, ALLOW THEM LESS THAN IS ALLOWED TO FELONS IN THE GAOLS, and allow them nothing for clothing and fuel, and house rent!