Reviews of recent THS meetings
A Short History of Titchfield
The Titchfield Tapestry
History from the Post
THS Contact Information
How to Find History
The Lowdown on Titchfield
Our Industrial Past
Where are the chimney pots?
Titchfield Market Hall
Titchfield Canal Debate
Links for Titchfield History Society
A Titchfield Walkabout
The Christmas Meeting of the Society followed a long established tradition when the lecture was given by the Society's President, George Watts, who chose as his theme "A Titchfield Walkabout".
He opened his talk with the observation that the millennium edition of the tourist guide to Fareham and Gosport did not mention Titchfield and its historical connections. He then compared, favourably, the wealth of historical interest in the village with that of other areas of comparable size within the country. He took as the northern limit of his "walkabout" Stony or Anjou Bridge; the present structure thought to have been built in 1625 AD over a weir that dated back to about 960 AD.
While acknowledging the presence of the better known buildings in the village: the Premonstratensian Abbey, later to become Place House with its Shakespearian connections; St Peter's Church, dating from about 680 AD, the oldest ecclesiastical building in Southern England, and St Margaret's Priory, George concentrated his attention on some of the other buildings or remains within the village.
Fragments of wall near Abbey Nurseries are remnants of the Great Stables, the wooden columns of which were removed to Cams Hall; the Barn has been dated by dendrochronology to 1408-9 and incorporates woodwork of French influence (the Premonstratensian Order originating in France). One of the row of cottages on the opposite side of the road from Abbey Nurseries is, in all proability, a very rare survival of a mediaeval Grammar School endowed by a grant from Henry VI in 1478 AD, following his marriage to Margaret of Anjou at the Abbey in 1445 AD.
Although the present superstructure of Titchfield Mill is of comparatively recent date, it occupies a Saxon mill site of c 950 AD and probably utilises the original mill leat. Of all the domestic buildings in the village, particular mention was made of the "jetties" house in South Street, dated to 1412 AD, which has an interior gallery overlooking the central "open hall".
George concluded his talk by considering the source of wealth of the village in the 15C, when much of England was in a depressed state, and suggested that it came from seaborne trade into the estuary. In support of this he quoted from several original sources which included the Port Book of Southampton and the records of the Admiralty Court of Southampton the latter indicating that, in 1583 AD, there were two small ports on the estuary, Titchfield and Meon Haven. Other records related to the operation of fish weirs and a flourishing oyster trade within the estuary.
On several occasions during his talk, George acknowledged the significant contributions made by Edward Roberts to the study of many of the historic buildings in the village; Mr Roberts will be giving a talk to the Society, at their meeting of 20 March 2001, entitled "Hampshire Architecture of Domestic Buildings (1300-1700).
The February meeting of the Titchfield History Society saw a large audience of members and visitors for an excellent talk on the history of Wickham by Bruce Tappenden. Bruce is well known to many members for his work with the Wickham History Society, his local history books & more recently his sterling work to secure a future for the Chesapeake Mill.
Bruce started the Wickham story in prehistory, possibly the Stone Age, when the first settlers would have been attracted to the site as a ford across the River Meon. The Romans established a military post at Wickham and probably built the first bridge over the river, the village being on the road from Roman centres at Chichester & Winchester. We then passed on to the Saxons in Wickham and the first written mention of the village in a Royal Charter of 826. The Saxon settlement is thought to have been to the east of the Meon and would have consisted of wooden houses with a brush roof, there may have been a church & manor house too but no remains have been found.
After the Norman Conquest King William granted the Manor of Wickham to Hugo de Port and the village appeared in the Doomsday Book as part of the Titchfield Hundred. The present church of St Nicholas dates from 1126 and was run by the Canons of Titchfield.
In 1269 King Henry III granted a charter to Roger de Scures for fairs and markets to be held on a Thursday, all the other local markets being on a Wednesday. It is from this time that the layout of the village as we now know it began to emerge. The increasing population of skilled craftsmen and merchants had sufficient wealth to build themselves substantial houses and the new developments took place away from the old houses and the church on the west bank of the Neon. Bruce had many slides to illustrate the evolving houses, plots and businesses through many centuries to the present day.
Mention was made of Wickham's most illustrious 'son' - although not born in Wickham his father, John Long, moved there with his young family and it was then that the Lord of the Manor, John de Scures, noticed the clever boy and sent him to Winchester to be educated. John de Scures knew a bright lad when he saw one - the boy was William of Wykeham, who became Bishop of Winchester, twice Lord Chancellor of England and founder of Winchester College and New College Oxford!
We passed on through plague, pestilence, butchers shops, coaching inns, the arrival of the railway and very dear to Bruce the building of the Chesapeake Mill from the timbers of an American frigate captured in 1813. Topics there for many talks to come on 12 One of our nearest neighbours'.
“Weather Vanes – An introduction to the Functional, Fanciful & Farfetched” by Peter Rogers 18 October 2005.
Peter Rogers commenced his talk with a brief history of weathervanes. The first recorded dates from 100 BC and was located on the Horologist’s Tower in Athens but the first illustration of one, on Westminster Abbey, appears on the Bayeux Tapestry. The oldest known existing weathervane in Britain is on a church in Devon and dates from 1335. The earliest and simplest weathervanes carried flat silhouettes of various subjects, very often a simple arrow, but they became more complex with fretted vanes showing more detail and finally carried three-dimensional representations. An early example of a complicated type was located on the Minster church at Ottery St Mary which was in the form of a bird and incorporated pipes which made a noise as the wind blew through them. Weather vanes usually surmounted a fixed, horizontal cross carrying the initial letters of the four cardinal points of the compass: N, E, S and W. These were sometimes omitted in weathervanes carried on churches, since their orientation was obvious. Nowadays, mass-produced weathervanes may be bought at garden centres and their modern counterparts consist of separate anemometers and direction vanes, which often incorporate other weather sensors and have remote displays which can be read from indoors.
He then went on to illustrate the huge array of subjects illustrated on weathervanes. Many early vanes took their inspiration from mediaeval pennons, displaying coats of arms or crests of families or businesses: the White Tower in London carries the sovereign’s pennon on each of the four towers and the market cross at Chichester carries Henry VIII’s Pennon together with those of 13 other titled people in West Sussex. Some vanes show dates, commemorating significant events. Some church vanes show the likeness or in some way are symbolic of their patronal saint. Other wind driven objects are frequently represented such as windmills and sailing ships. Animals are very popular, ranging from lions and pigs to snails, bed bugs and lice; the most frequent being dogs, cats and horses. Fishes and birds are also often represented. Depictions of country pursuits such as coursing, hunting, hawking, shooting and fishing and rural activities such as smithing, ploughing with horses or tractors, shepherding and driving horses and carts are often seen. Other activities can be seen: hod carrier, flint knapper, coalman, policemen with robbers, highwaymen, soldiers with fieldguns and, on Patrick Moore’s house at Selsey, an astronomer with his telescope! Many instances of mythical creatures or fictional characters occur, particularly dragons, witches, and Old Father Time. One of the biggest groups of weathervanes represent sporting activities such as cricket, golf, bowls, tennis and cycling.
Peter concluded his talk with a humorous example from Ravenshill which carried the date 1814 and had the normal directions N, E, S & W replaced by G, D, T & K for God Damn The Kaiser. Like many other weathervanes it came down in the 1987 storm and was replaced by a new vane carrying the directions G, S, T & Q for God Save The Queen!
The talk was illustrated with about 160 slides of weathervanes which apparently represented only a fraction of the collection that Peter has amassed over many years.
Reported by John Mitchell
Her Majesty's Yacht, Britannia
The Society’s 2005/2006 programme opened on the 21st September and “What a Start”. We had a full house which included some 7 new members. We were all treated to an excellent launch by John Porter talking about HMY Britannia. He was Navigation Commander during his three years service on the Royal Yacht and the contents of his talk were based on his personal experiences.
Britannia was designed as a Yacht and Hospital Ship and launched in 1953. It served the Royal Family and enabled them to have much welcome relaxing times at sea in between visits to meet foreign dignitaries. It was true that Britannia was a huge success in Public relations and has contributed much in the development of our international trade. It was only used once as a hospital ship – in 1986 when 1068 Russian refugees were evacuated from Aden. It had large compartments to act as wards, was air conditioned throughout and was fitted with stabilisers. It had 52 cabins and 3 galleys. Its engines were fuelled with FFO (a very basic fuel oil) and were notorious for blowing soot. This situation ruled out its use in the Falklands War as it would have been not only a sitting target but also a prime target for the enemy.
HMY Britannia was the only ship in the Royal Navy commanded by an Admiral and had a compliment of 21 Officers and 256 Royal Yachtsmen. The Yachtsmen were permanent and were recruited on the “dead mans shoes” principal. John had been invited for interview and related the detail of questions that were asked during the interview. There were many traditions on board and the Queen was the only person to be piped aboard. The Daily Orders were executed by hot notices rather than raised voices. The Dress Best uniform for the crew was jumpers inside trousers with a black silk bow at the back (mourning for Prince Albert) with a monkey jacket with link button undone. Gym shoes were worn at all times. There was no saluting but a system of nods was used – the depth of the nod was variable according to the rank of the person being nodded to. Everything was done to make the ship quiet.
Britannia was most definitely a SHE and there was great concern about her paintwork (Gold Leaf) and when being handled by tugs it had to be by pulling, no pushing. Changing directions could cause problems. At speeds of about 12 knots there was some vibrations and on one occasion the red telephone rang. It was the Duke of Edinburgh complaining about the “noise “ that was keeping the Queen awake.
When the Royal Yacht was to carry out a tour there were many arrangements that had to be made so long in advance – security and protocols of different countries being of prime importance. There could be problems of docking and on a visit to Dubai, on one occasion, a Landing craft had to be used to get ashore. The ruler, Shailk Rashid was embarrassed by this and made plans to develop the port of Jebel Ali. When the port was completed, the Queen was invited to officially open the new port. This time, Britannia was able to dock more easily. On the occasion of a proposed visit by the Queen to Iran, John had been sent ahead to make appropriate arrangements. He flew into Iran by military aircraft but, unfortunately was there at the time of the Iranian overthrow of the Shah. Hurried arrangements were made for John to be taken to the civil airport to fly back to base but his paperwork was incomplete and he was prevented from flying. This proved to be a delicate situation and, after a while, permission was obtained and a quick escape was achieved. Returning from a visit to Germany, passage through the Kiel Canal had to be arranged. The German authorities informed the Commander of the Britannia that all other shipping had been refused entry to the canal until Britannia had safely passed through it. The weather was not very good and there was a very heavy mist as the passage was undertaken. Much to the surprise and consternation of the crew of the Britannia the noise of a siren was detected . The heavy mist and the noise did not contribute to a feeling of ease and other methods of tracking other ships in the vicinity had not shown any sign of problems. To the great relief of all concerned Britannia negotiated her passage through the canal without any problem. When the mist had begun to lift, it was clearly seen that, what was thought to be a ship’s siren, proved to be a herd of cows in a nearby field.
John had been very impressed, during his three year assignment, to see how the Royals could relax during the times at sea. When entertaining or visiting in foreign ports, the Royal family certainly created the right picture and were very much respected for their hospitality etc. This assignment gave John huge delight and took him to many places and situations that could not be experienced anywhere else. On a visit to Muscat, Oman, a reception was given by the Sultan. During the course of the evening, John had observed that the Sultan appeared to be in an unpleasant situation and pointed this out to friends of the Sultan. They quickly went to the aid of the Sultan and found that he had been expecting to be troubled by some people who were at the reception. When John returned to his cabin after finishing a duty, he found a box there and, on opening it, he found a gold watch – a present from the Sultan of Oman. There were many occasions when the Britannia was used as a family base and the absence of detectives, press and government officials created a relaxed atmosphere.
In 1996, John Major and Michael Portillo were preparing a case for the replacement of HMY Britannia and in 1997 had produced a Minimum Viable Design Project with a £64 million building cost. The annual Operating Cost was £5 million and there would be a crew of 120, a range of 6,000 miles and a 100 seat Conference Room. The rest is history and HMY Britannia is now a museum attraction at Leith, Scotland.
Common Enclosure and Market Gardening
Another fine evening occurred at our December meeting when the President of the Titchfield History Society, George Watts delivered his Christmas lecture entitled “Common Enclosure and Market Gardening”.
George began his talk on that part of Enclosure Legislation, which commenced with the General Enclosure Act of 1801. This found that private enclosure acts were expensive and occupied a great deal of Parliamentary time. This act streamlined the procedure. The rate of enclosure was stimulated by the need to improve agriculture. The Enclosure by Consent Legislation of 1836 allowed enclosure without private legislation if two-thirds of interested parties agreed.
The 1845 Enclosure Act authorised Enclosure Commissioners to consider applications and their views were reported to Parliament. The 1876 Act barred enclosure of common land unless the Enclosure Commissioners considered this to be of benefit to the community.
Mr Watts then showed a map defining the extent of enclosures in Southern Hampshire for the period 1804 to 1863, which covered enclosures ranging in size from 120 to 2,500 acres. He mentioned the Delme and Hornby families who at that time were the principle landowners for the Titchfield district.
George then turned to the land use for our region in 1801, saying that the preferred crops would have been wheat, barley and oats. However because of our poor soil, peas, turnips and beans would have been alternatives.
Although the first mention of term Market Gardener occurred at Hounsditch in the reign of Henry VIII, it was not used in Titchfield until the Tithe Survey in 1845 when there four market gardens were listed. However with the population growth for the period 1801 to 1901 in the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth (with its Naval needs), the demand for vegetables from Titchfield and other villages was great. The break up of land into smaller units led to the rise of one man businesses living off as little as three acres. This gave rise to the growing of strawberries, which could be grown successfully on Titchfield’s poor soil, thus leading to a full blown industry.
Finally George produced two extracts from the literary world about strawberry growing in our area. The first was a reference in “Emma” by Jane Austen and the other in one of Thackeray’s letters to his Mother.
Reported by Oliver Hurden
The River Meon – From the Source to the Sea
|The November meeting of the Titchfield History Society was remarkable, firstly for the record number of our members who were in attendance, and secondly for the exceptionally large selection of colour slides with which the meeting was entertained. The slides were of our very own River Meon, with its villages and countryside, and they were presented to us by Don Bryan, Blue Badge Tourist Guide for Southern England and Lecturer in Archaeology.
Amid a wealth of fascinating detail, two points stood out. The first was the extent to which this tiny river had exerted its influence upon the lives of the succeeding generations of people who had lived along its banks. Farms, villages and mills – all were related to the river and had become a part in the distinctive beauty that is the Meon valley. Also encouraging in Don’s presentation was the evident determination of the ‘Meonware’ of today to value their small river and maintain it into the future.
Don began his pictorial exploration of the river at its source – a spring at South Down Farm just above the village of East Meon. Of historical interest was his point that East Meon was a village of some size and significance in mediaeval times. Domesday book records the village as having a population of more than four hundred – an indication of the extent and importance of the sheep farming in the chalk hills.
Continuing his colourful progress, Don described West Meon as a village that had changed direction – from East /West in earlier times, when sheep farming predominated, to North/South with the construction of the turnpike and the growing importance of links with the sea. Downstream a little further, and Don took us back many centuries in time, showing us photographic evidence of Saxon boundaries in the land above Warnford, where the river itself goes underground for more than a mile. Warnford itself sees the river replenished with additional springs, and then it flows on to Droxford where we were advised that a workhouse once operated for over two hundred persons. On a rather lighter note, it was reputed that the first strawberries to be grown in England were planted near these lower reaches of the Meon.
Don said little about the river at Titchfield, contenting himself with remarking that we would know more about it than he did, but attractive slides continued, following the river and canal all the way to Titchfield haven and the waters of the Solent.
Among the pictorial images were frequent reminders that Christianity became established along the Meon certainly not later than early Saxon times. Several village Churches are either built on Saxon sites or show direct evidence of their Saxon ancestry. Although his talk was not focused on ecclesiastical buildings, Don’s enthusiasm for the subject was evident throughout, and his striking pictures of historic Churches, interwoven with those of the river itself, contributed to what all agreed was an enjoyable and fascinating evening.
Peter F Mills
Early Supersonic Flight
A record attendance of more than ninety members of the Titchfield History Society assembled for the meeting at the Community Centre on 21 November. The occasion was a talk by local resident Peter Twiss, test pilot for Fairey Aviation during the 1950s, and before that a war-time member of the Fleet Air Arm. His talk dwelt chiefly on the early days of supersonic flight, but he also gave his audience some thought provoking insights into the problems of naval aviation during World War Two. Although pressed with a number of questions, Peter exercised a continuous restraint when asked to comment on his own outstanding career, choosing instead to focus on the aircraft themselves and the circumstances in which they flew.
He showed a series of slides of sea-borne Spitfires – Seafires – remarking on the excellence of the aircraft. He also pointed out, however, the difficulty of using aircraft carriers to operate what were initially designed as land-based aircraft needing long runways. The solution of hooks and arrester wires still left a great deal depending upon the nerve and skill of the pilot. Even more extraordinary were the Hurricanes that were catapulted from merchant ships to engage shadowing aircraft, with nowhere to land unless the fuel lasted to the nearest shore. The alternative was to parachute into the sea and hope to be rescued!
Peter’s principal subject, however, was the Fairey Delta 2, the remarkable experimental aircraft upon which his own test flying was focused. In the 1950s, the aircraft was at the very forefront of technology, and provided much of the information upon which successful supersonic flight came subsequently to be based. Peter used a wide choice of slides, picking out salient features of the aircraft. In particular, he showed us a variant upon the design that appeared almost exactly like a small scale Concorde! A little sadly, Peter remarked that nearly all the knowledge gleaned from the work of the Fairey Delta 2 had gone elsewhere, to the advantage of other aircraft companies, and even of other countries.
A number of other machines featured in Peter’s talk, including a small inflatable aircraft which at one stage greatly intrigued the army. At the question stage, however, attention was drawn back repeatedly to the record breaking Fairey Delta 2, with which Peter’s own outstanding career as a test pilot will always be associated.
Peter F Mills
Stories From the Parish Registers
Another excellent examination of our Parish's History was the subject of the December meeting of the Titchfield History Society, when the president George Watts who was joined by two other society members, Dr Keith Dunton and John Mitchell.
Mr Watts explained that he would be covering the Burial statistics gleaned from the Parish Registers for the years 1590 to 1678 and later the influences of Migration over the same period.
Mr Mitchell would be dealing with Infant mortality in the parish but only those which occured for Noteperiod covered by the First
Register 1590 to 1634.
Dr Dunton would be dealing with the age at marriage for females in the parish but again only those which were entered in the First Register.
Mr Watts then proceeded to discuss the Burial Data that was available to us. From the list of figures he had been able to plot a series of graphs which showed that there had been 3,759 deaths over the period studied and there had been a minimum of 18 to a maximum of 83 deaths per year.This was against an estimated population for Titchfield of about 1500 inhabitants. One graph clearly showed that there had been five distinct cycles of maximum and minimum yearly deaths between the years 1590 to 1678. The years 1651 and 1666 were particularly bad years, which may have been caused by epidemics in the Village.
Mr Mitchell's task had been to look at Infant Mortality between the years 1590 to 1634. He defined the term Infant Mortality as any child dying within the first year of birth. His studies had produced a yearly range of deaths from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 30 per year.This variation was again atributed to the presence of an epidemic in certain years. He also gave us the most popular forenames names of children in the parish, for girls in was Frances or Francis, both spellings occuring throughout the Register and for boys it was Christian, sometimes spelt with a letter "K".
Dr Dunton whose brief had been to look at the ages of females at marriage in the Parish for the years 1590 to 1629. Had found that between 1590 to 1599 there had been 30 marriages with the ages ranging from 15 to 32 years of age. For the period 1600 to 1609 there had been 39 marriages ranging from 15 to 29 years of age. For the years 1610 to 1619 there had been 46 marriages with ages ranging from 15 to 34 years of age. Finally for the years 1620 to 1629 there had been 36 marriages with ages ranging from 15 to 54 years.
Finally Mr Watts then presented some information on Migration for the village of Titchfield in the 17th Century. In the First Register there were some 732 different surnames and for the Second Register there were 789. However from this data 395 or 54% from the First Register were still living in the village in the Second Register and 394 or 46% were new to Titchfield giving a growth of 57 inhabitants.He had also found that people with these surnames were comming from as far away as Plymouth, Sussex and Wiltshire.
In conclusion Mr Watts said that while all of this information was only in statistical form, the true Stories from the Parish Registers would only come from the development of the Genealogies of the various Titchfield families in the future.
Note copies of the Parish Register may bought from Titchfield History Society - see THS Bookshop on the menu.
Fashions of Jane Austen's Lifetime
|On the 16th January 2007, our talk was given by two ladies – Heather Constance & Kate Davies. Their subject was “Fashions of Jane Austen’s lifetime – 1775 - 1817”. They entered the meeting room dressed in clothes, that they had made themselves, in the style of the era of Jane Austen. Kate was wearing what was normal daywear that would have been worn by Mrs Austen around the time that Jane was born in 1775 – quite a heavy woollen material and it would have been worn as riding habit. Heather explained that clothes of the period would have been hand made as; of course, there were no sewing machines and no mass production facilities.
They had searched for old patterns and visited museums to study dresses on display in order to make the dresses that were being demonstrated. The audience appreciated that their efforts had enabled them to produce authentic replicas. The two ladies said that some of the clothes were worn by them when they were involved in Hampshire Regency Dancing. Materials used in the dresses were obviously natural fibres as man made synthetic material had not yet arrived on the scene.
There were many smiling faces on some of the gentlemen in the audience when Kate started to take off the outer garments that she was wearing in order to reveal the heavy padding that was worn on the hips. In this padding there were pockets –accessible from discreet slits in the outer garment – a useful storage for the ladies accoutrements. There was then the bustle to hold out the outer garment and create a floating effect when the lady was walking. Underneath the outer garments cotton daywear was worn. The ladies showed how fashion gradually changes and talked about the movement of the waistline which, by the 1780’s had risen to be under the bust.
Jane and her sister Cassandra were growing up and going to balls and around 1796 Jane’s correspondence began. Heather read a passage from Jane’s first work – Northanger Abbey. At this time, ball gowns were made using muslin, a relatively cheap fabric imported from the East Indies and it became the fashion to embroider it with symbols to commemorate Nelson’s victories or with other military decoration. Jane also wrote about the “mamalouc cap” that she would like to wear instead of the normal cotton nightcap.
By 1801 the Austens had moved to Bath and the family had an annual allowance of £460. from Mrs Austen’s son. Here Jane was very famous and her writings were very much enjoyed and even now Bath holds an annual festival at which Jane’s work is honoured. 1810 saw the Austens at Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire and this is where Jane spent the last eight years of here life and did much of her mature writing. We were shown pictures of the fashionable dresses worn by Mrs Darcy and Mrs Bingley. In addition to the descriptions of the dresses, Heather and Kate talked about the hats that were worn. Many of them were decorated with various fruits, cherries being a very popular item.
Jane Austen died in 1817 and by this time fashions had become very elaborate.
The audience had much to ask of our two speakers who were thanked for an excellent presentation. They were congratulated on their ability to give a talk that contained much information about the fashions of the time and also include a potted history of Jane Austen herself.
The Schneider Trophy
|Jack Phillips was just sixteen when his parents took him to Supermarine at Woolston to be bound apprentice. Jack was delighted that his employers were at the forefront of aircraft technology and involved in the Schneider Trophy programme, an international competition for seaplanes and flying boats. It was 1927 and Britain had already won the event twice in earlier years against stiff competition from the USA, Italy and France; the third triumph came to Supermarine just before Jack joined the company.
He described various tasks he carried out including work on the seaplane flying wires, done precariously between practice flights, and the interesting people he met such as Lawrence of Arabia, an RAF aircraftsman at the time. He was full of admiration for chief designer R. J. Mitchell who was a perfect gentleman.
Jack recalled that the purpose of the contest was to stimulate development of water based aircraft which was thought to be an area of strong potential at the time. The British Government funded our entry in 1927 and 1929 which resulted in two winning years, using some brilliant engines from Rolls-Royce. Under the rules we only needed one further win to keep the trophy but when all other competitors dropped out the funds were withdrawn. English pride was dented and there was much protesting. Lady Houston, widow of an oil magnate gave £100,000 to enable Britain’s decisive victory. In first year 1913, when it was won by France the winning speed was 45.71 mph, but in the final year the speed had risen to 347.31 mph, showing amazing progress. R. J. Mitchell went on to design the Spitfire whilst the Rolls-Royce engines set many land, sea and air speed records.
Jack Phillips gave one of the most interesting talks we have ever had at the Titchfield History Society. His enthusiasm was unfathomable and ran all the way through his presentation; he must have been a joy to work with. He was an inspiration to us all."
Further Stories from Titchfield Parish Registers
Another examination of the Parish Registers was the topic of the December meeting of the Titchfield History Society, when the president George Watts jointly presented the lecture with four other society members. John Mitchell and John Sherwin were to present in the first part of the evening, what Mr Watts esoterically called the findings of the Demographic Analysis Group! In the second part of the evening we were to be acquainted with the discoveries of the remaining two members of the team, led by Carol Day and Julie Mills. Their brief was to develop the family histories of six surnames selected from the period in question, 1590 to 1678.
Mr Watts and Mr Mitchell started the first part of the lecture by showing comparisons between the entries of marriage from the Fareham Parish with that of the Titchfield Parish. The Fareham Registers it was pointed out begin earlier than Titchfield's. However one thing became clear that where the two registers coincided in the Civil War period it took some 20 years for the rate of marriages to recover to their previous levels. We were next shown comparisons with the Fareham and Titchfield Burial Registers for the period 1590 to 1678. From these graphs it could clearly be seen that there were distinct cycles of rising and falling mortality rates. This Mr Watts deduced could possibly be attributed to outbreaks of minor epidemics perhaps brought about due to returning troops from wars in continental Europe. However there appeared to be no gaps or falls that could be seen due to the Civil War Period. It was also pointed out that in the period under study that the population of Titchfield Parish was greater than that of Fareham. It could also be seen from a graph for baptisms for the years 1678 to 1721 that a peak for baptisms occurred in 1700. A graph for Marriages for 1678 to 1721 showed that the most numerous period was between 1690 and 1708. Mr Watts said that it could be assumed that this was a prosperous time in Titchfield, which he postulated could be the movement generally in the area due to supplying personnel for the Dockyard in Portsmouth. Regarding the low incidence of burials for period 1690 to 1702, Mr Watts said could we attribute this to an improved water supply, when was the parish pump installed leading to an improved level of sanitation?
Mr Mitchell said that they had looked at the mortality rates of boys and girls for the year 1653/4 and found that there was no difference between them with 40% dying in their first year.
Mr Sherwin then gave us some data for the period 1669 to 1678 on male life expectancy. For all ages it was 16 years, with 44 dying in the range of 0 to 5years.
For those who reached the age of 6 then they could expect to live for 32 years, the oldest inhabitant reached the age of 79 years.
After a break when mulled wine and mince pies were consumed we returned greatly invigorated for the second part of the lecture. This as I have previously said was to be given by Carol Day and Julie Mills.
Mrs Day started off by giving us a conducted tour of four surnames which began with the letter D. The first was a name that could be found spelt as Dallepley/Dalleper/or Dallaple.The second was a name that could be found spelt as Dawe/Dawes/Daw/or Daa. The third name could be spelt at various times as Deane or Dene. Finally the fourth family under study was either Duke/Due or Dwke.
Mrs Mills then took over with her names that she had researched they were Wassell, a well known local family now living in the Fareham area. Secondly Mills and the widely known name around Titchfield of Missing.
The problems that both these ladies found was that there were a number of events appearing in all three registers i.e. Baptisms, Marriages and Burials referring to for instance a certain forename and the Incumbent had been remiss in further identifying that person. That is to say such details as son of, daughter of or wife of, together with not giving any indication of age at death. How was one able to complete the process of identification of which John or Mary it was?
This all seemed to lead to the further examination of other contemporaneous records of the period under investigation. One of these records was mentioned being the Hearth Tax Returns. Others could be the Protestation Returns for Titchfield of 1641/2.
The Poor Law Records and various Probate Records. The research continues!
THS is continuing to translate the parish registers to produce the complete and accurate versions available. See our 'Bookshop Page.
Peter Mills gave his talk at Titchfield History Society Meeting in two parts; the first was an introduction that prepared a chronological background for the second and main focus, the classical Greeks. In the first millennium BC, far from being a nation, the Greeks lived in separate City States extending to the coast of Asia Minor in the East and into Southern Italy in the West. As such they were vulnerable. Initially Persia was the major expansionist nation at the time, but the Greeks survived their invasions through wise tactics and good fortune until much later they were absorbed into the Roman Empire.
Against this background the Greeks were the first society to value knowledge for its own sake, not as a means to an end, but because they believed that learning was good in itself. They developed the concept of scholarship, but not in schools as we think of them today, but rather a gathering of scholars around an individual of particular distinction. Greek scholarship was general, incorporating a wide range of subjects: physics, mathematics, astronomy, psychology, biology, morality, political philosophy: the field was tremendous and an individual might cover virtually all of it.
In the second part of his talk Peter focused upon four outstanding Greeks in chronological order for closer examination. These were not only remarkable men in their own generation, but between them they provided the intellectual foundation upon which large parts of modern science, mathematics and Western philosophy are based. The first was Pythagoras, famous for his geometrical theorem. Peter pointed out that although the Egyptians had used similar workings, it was Pythagoras who defined the theory and proved it to be exactly true without exception.
Peter also chose Socrates and Plato; two of the greatest thinkers of antiquity, both of whom had lived and worked in Athens. Socrates developed the idea of dialogue; knowledge being acquired by asking pertinent questions and seeking answers in a group. His concerns were chiefly morality and human behaviour. Plato, in a tribute to Socrates, wrote his great work, the Republic, in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and his friends. Although ostensibly about the government and social order of the ideal city, the Republic ranges widely over social, political and philosophic ideas. In his last work, the Timaeus, Plato returned to the theme of the ideal city in the myth of Atlantis, where an ideal state could have been established were it not for the inhabitants’ greed and corruption. God was so enraged by their failure that he sent a great storm to overwhelm the island and bury it beneath the sea.
Peter’s final selection was Aristotle, a childhood tutor to Alexander the Great. In 335 BC, when Alexander had grown up, Aristotle went to Athens where he founded the Lyceum, which was a research institute focused particularly upon biology. He established a basis of assembly, examination and classification of specimens, that would one day lead Darwin to the theory of evolution. Elsewhere, Aristotle developed a general theory of logic and logical proof to match the ideas of mathematical proof previously advanced by Pythagoras.
Peter Mills’ talk received a rapturous response, for he had succeeded in covering such a vast subject in an appealing, informative way, and showed that he has a genuine gift for elucidation.
Reviewed by Paul Hawkins.
Events in Medieval Titchfield
Another excellent examination of further facets in the history of Titchfield was the subject of the December meeting of the Titchfield History Society when Society President George Watts delivered his 2009 Christmas Lecture to members. This year he featured his talk on some of the Medieval events and people concerned with Titchfield.
Mr Watts began his talk at the point where Richard, the first Abbott at Titchfield Abbey arrived from Halesowen, near Birmingham in as some records would indicate in 1222. Other records show that his reign was from 1232 - 1238. He is buried by the Chapter House door.
There is evidence that the Bishop of Winchester Peter de Roches invited the Premonstratensian Monks to Titchfield in 1232. However there is a Royal Charter dated 22nd August 1231 by Henry III which has an Augustinian Bishop of Bristol invovled with St Peters Church in Titchfield. This Minster Church prior to this was run by a group of Cannons who were Augustinians. So was there an earlier Monastery existing in the Titchfield area in 1222?
The second Abbott, Isaac's reign was from 1239 - 1259 dying on the 19th June of that year. During his time at the Abbey the manors of Cadland and Inkpen were acquired.
The third Abbott was Henry de Branwyk who reigned from 1259 - 1265.
The fourth Abbott was Henry de Spersholte and it was in his reign 1265 - 1272/3 that the manor of Newland was acquired and lost.
The sixth Abbott was Roger de Candever 1308/9 - 1328.
The seventh Abbott was John de Coome 1328 - 1348.
The eighth Abbott was Peter de Wynton 1348 - 1349. The very short reigns of these last two Abbotts Mr Watts said gave evidence that the Great Plague was present in Titchfield at that time and had claimed these two prominent members of the local
community. It has been found from various records that there were 103 victims of the Plague in Titchfield between 1348 and 1349.
The next item of interest in Mr Watts lecture was that in 1259, John Vicar of Titchfield and 18 others were held in Winchester Prison. This was by an order called a Murderum Fine. It was alleged that a Robert Tebaud was killed by a person or persons unknown in Titchfield. Mr Watts explained that this was a legal device whereby if the killer or killers were not identified by a certain time then the persons detained were to be released on the payment of 46 marks (£34), 40 marks to the Treasury and 6 marks compensation to the victim's family.
A further example in Mr Watts talk was on another Medieval Document called a Monstraverunt. This particular example dated from 1272 - 1275 and was held at the Kings Bench Division in London These documents were lawsuits that were raised by tenants as plaintiffs who felt that there had been unreasonable upward revaluations on their rents due to the lords of the manor since those that were levied when the King was their Lord, using the Domesday Records as a baseline. This example gave two lists of names of people concerned living in Titchfield at that time and it was interesting to see if those names listed were still to be found in the area.
The final item in Mr Watts lecture was from the Patent Rolls of 1441 -1446.
This was a grant to a John Hampton to Thomas Hampton. This concerned 10 sacks of Wool that were untaxed by John Wayte (who just happened to be the Grandfather of Arthur the last of the Plantaganets) and 10 pokes of Wool that were hidden by him in a barn,( near to the Port of Southampton) belonging to William Uvedale (Lord of the Manor of Wickham).
The Titchfield Haven and Nature Reserve
Another fine evening was spent at the monthly meeting of the Titchfield History Society at the Titchfield Community Centre. The subject of this month's meeting was the Titchfield Haven and the Nature Reserve located there. Our speaker and guide was Mr Barry Duffin who came to the site when it was first acquired by Hampshire County Council in 1972.
His lecture looked at firstly the landscape which had grown from some 215 acres in the beginning to over 2,500 acres. The area covered stretched from the outlet of the river Meon to Bridge Street, the Chilling Estate and up as far as Botley Wood .At the start of the Haven in 1976 the Meadows had been levelled to flat areas, for viewing which Mr Duffin referred to by the technical name as Scrapes. He also said the Haven has the largest area of reed beds in Southern England. He further added that the river narrows to Bridge Street and some three hours after high water, the gates and tidal flaps are opened.
Mr Duffin then spoke about the various birdlife
that could be seen on the Haven. His first slides were of Coots, Little Grebes, or Dab Chicks, Great Crested Grebes and Mute Swans the latter with up to 50 breeding pairs at present with a territory of about half a mile per pair. They can also have a life span of some 20 years. Grey Herons can also be seen from the largest Heronry at Gosport. Little Egrets are also very common with 20 pairs which can be seen as far up as Droxford. Winter and Summer views were then shown of the Haven for comparison.
Overnight census counts are taken. Four a.m. is a good time to record the many singing birds. A slide of a Reed Warbler was then shown and we were told that they migrate to South of the Sarhara. Some doing for up to ten years. The next picture was of a pair of Reed Warblers feeding a Cookoo chick. Mr. Duffin then related that this chick when it returns as an adult bird next year from wintering in East Africa will look for another nesting pair of Reed Warblers or a nesting pair of Hedge Sparrows to continue the cycle. We then saw a slide of a Bearded Tit (one of the Parrot Bill Family).
Mr. Duffin then told us that from 1956 reeds were sold to Thatchers, however not anymore, as they were not of the type required. We then saw a slide of a Common Snipe they visit from the Baltic and Scandanavia. Mr. Duffin said that sometimes bird rings are found in predator birds nests. The next picture was of Bitterns who were hunted for plume feathers for ladies hats.The Reserve now has between 12 to 80 pairs and they feed on eels. We were then told that 1963 was the last time that the Meon was frozen over.
Flowers that can be found on the Haven are Meadow Cockles, Milk Maid Flower, Ragged Robin and Marsh Orchids.
Flocks of Lapwings over 800 in number, winter over in the Haven.
Foxes have been a problem in the past, however this has been solved by the erection of electric fences at strategic points.
Five acres of water meadow have been converted into Downers, this is to aid the nesting of birds who like this environment.
Various types of Owls are catered for by the provision of nesting boxes. The types recorded at the Haven are Barn Owl, Long Ear Owl, Little Owl and Tawny Owl.
The Chetties Warbler was in 1961 the first one seen in Britain it can also be found at Radipole Lake in Dorset.
On the Scrapes Oyster Catchers and Summer Terns, on their way from the North Sea to North Africa for the winter can be seen, they feed on White Bait.
Moth trapping is also carried out with over 500 types recorded.
The Botley Wood site provides some useful income for the Reserve from the selling of logs and wood chippings for mulching.
In conclusion Mr. Duffin showed us a view of "Avon House" which has taken from 1972 until 1998 to open as a centre for the Reserve.
From Dark Age to Scientific Revolution
Another fine evening occurred at our January Meeting last night when the Chairman of the Titchfield History Society Dr Peter Mills delivered his Lecture on the above subject.
Peter Mills began his talk by asking us to think about two students, both inhabitants of Western Europe, young men, eager to learn and from families wealthy enough to support their education but separated by half a millennium.The first lived somewhere in Western Europe, between the years 200 and 250 AD, the heyday of the Roman Empire.The second lived somewhere in mediaeval Europe, between about 700 and 750 AD. The question Peter asked was which had the better opportunity to learn.
It is the first as in the years following the absorption of the Greek city states into the Roman Empire, Greek scholars travelled throughout the Empire acting as teachers. So our student of 200AD would have benefited from these itinerant teachers. In contrast the student of 700AD, born in the middle of the dark age of mediaeval Europe would have had no such benefit. As almost the entire body of Greek knowledge had been lost.The exception being some developments in theology through the Roman Catholic Church.
Peter went on to say that from 800AD, when Charlemagne became Emperor in Western Europe, there was a brief revival of learning and the arts, but this soon fizzled out, as a similar effort by Alfred the Great did in Britain in the latter part of the ninth century.
This unhappy state of affairs continued until the second half of the twelfth century, when learning revived, and not just in ecclesiastical centres. By the thirteenth century, European Universities were appearing. Bologna was the first in 1158 followed by Paris, then by Oxford in 1167 and Cambridge in 1209.
Mr Mills said why did this happen? It was the recovery of some ancient Greek texts, as a consequence of the Crusades and the recapture of Spain from the Moors, but I believe it was also the increased urbanisation of Western Europe due to an increasing population throughout the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Then, dramatically, the situation changed. In 1452 the Gutenberg printing press was invented. This led to a more rapid dissemination of printed matter over hand written single copies. To illustrate this, in the fifteenth century it is estimated that fifteen million copies of books were produced; in the sixteenth century this had grown to more than one hundred and fifty million. Then, in the very next year on the 29th of May 1453, Constantinople fell to the Moors, and scholars fled to the West bringing with them more Greek texts that had been lost to Western world for a thousand years or more.
Thus by the beginning of the sixteenth century came the related forms of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The former applied chiefly to literature and the arts. The scientific revolution had a much longer period of development. In the sixteenth century, Copernicus declared that the Earth rotated round the Sun and not vice-versa. However the revolution did not gather pace until the seventeenth century when Isaac Newton in 1687 published his book "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica".
As a young man, Newton went to Trinity College Cambridge, but he had no sooner graduated than an outbreak of the plague caused the College to close and Newton to return home to Woolsthorpe. Where in 1665 to 1667 he developed his theory of Gravitation, but although he returned to Cambridge and became a Professor in 1669, he declined to publish. However in 1787 after his epic work on developing a new branch of mathematics called the Calculus, it was published.
Peter then returned to his initial ploy of looking at the differing experiences of two young students. At the start of his talk they were five hundred years apart. He now wanted us to look at them two thousand years apart. The earlier student lives in Athens in the year 300BC, and is just about to attend his first day at the Lyceum.
The second is on his way to start at Cambridge. Mr Mills question is which has the greater body of knowledge to study, and what is their approach to learning?
Suppose they were both to study the natural sciences: a combination of biology,
chemistry and physics? How would their experiences and approach differ?
Science in classical Greece went from a sequence of observation - hypothesis to scientific theory.
In contrast, scientific endeavour in Western Europe in the seventeenth, eighteenth and onwards follows the sequence: common observation, experiment (refined observation) and analysis(often mathematical), hypothesis, theory.
So our Athenian would have studied the hypotheses of the great men before him, commented upon them, and perhaps added some contribution of his own if he was good enough.
In contrast, our Cambridge student would have been directed into the laboratory and expected to undertake detailed observations and measurements on behalf of his elders
and betters. The making of the hypotheses would come later!
In conclusion Peter Mills said.
As Western Europe emerged from its long intellectual dark age, as scientific revolution gathered pace, it was the insistence on incorporating experiment and analysis into the methods of science that marked the crucial departure from the past, and led to the technological innovations that we see today.