Isabel Sanderson

Most local historians will have come across the delightful series of books researched and written by Isabel Sanderson, called ‘Dwellings in Alresford’. These tell the history of some of the people in each house, and highlight features of each building that otherwise a casual observer might miss. The following is Isabel’s own story, as provided to the Oxfam book “A Taste of Alresford”.

‘When I was seven, we moved from a farm in Suffolk to Abbotstone Farm, some 2.5 miles from Alresford, and here, with a sister and four brothers, I was brought up. The farm-house was my home – apart from spells of teaching in Kent and Yorkshire – until 1956. A large rambling farmhouse, a weeping ash tree on the front lawn whose long trailing branches formed a shadowy green ‘tent’ where many meals were eaten in summer, a large, walled-in garden where much fruit and vegetables were grown, and a stream that flowed through the farm buildings where we used to paddle and bathe and where John used to tickle trout. Long and tiring days for little legs in the harvest field. All of us at various times used to take the horses and carts to and from the men in the fields, loading sheaves of corn, and unloading at the stack being built in a corner of the field. Masses of food and tea, picnic fashion, where everyone – men, women, children and often dogs – congregated at the stack for tea. Such was my upbringing.

In 1956, mother and I left the farmhouse and came to live in one of the farm cottages where we made a garden – still a source of much interest and hard work. Later, I started my researches into the history of the surrounding countryside and its dwellings. For the past ten years my researches have been confined to the old market town of New Alresford and these have been published in a series called ‘Dwellings in Alresford’.’

Surprisingly perhaps, the recipe submitted by Isabel to the Oxfam book was entitled “Smoked Haddock – The Abbotstone Way”.

Dr Sanderson died in 1987: there is a tribute to her in the Alresford Displayed 1988 issue, by Digby Grist, see

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Len Strong on January 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    I well remember helping in the harvest fields at Abbotstone farm in the 30’s. Mr Sanderson allowed no guns in the fields and we boys, in between ‘stooking’ the sheaves of corn, when thrown out by the horse drawn binder, would chase the rabbits that ran out and nobble them with a heavy walking stick. A bit cruel, no doubt, but to take Mum home a rabbit for dinner was our wages and a bonus in those far off days before the war.


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