Archive for the ‘Bishops Sutton’ Category

Jane Loe of Bishops Sutton

Back in the 1960s while at Churchill College in Cambridge, one of the new friends I made was a fellow student called Bob Loe. In a recent reunion to celebrate the Golden Wedding of another college friend, I discovered Bob was a descendant of the Loe family of Selborne, that later were farmers in Bishops Sutton, in the 1800s.

Bob’s great great grandparents were Johnson and Jane Loe, and the 1851 census shows them as a farmer of 700+ acres in Bishops Sutton, employing 20 people. Johnson Loe died in 1855, and so Jane inherited the farm, and continued to run it – she was quite a wealthy widow.

Returning to current times, yesterday saw the opening of the Old Fire Station in Alresford, which now houses a horse-drawn Merryweather Fire Engine from Tichborne Park, very similar to the new engine bought by public subscription for Alresford in 1893. A similar purchase in 1858 was of a new manual fire pump, which was purchased to improve fire safety and fire fighting in the town. Cost, with 160 feet of hose to be used on the suction side, was £138.00. This fire pump was planned to be housed in the Swan Inn, at least until the building known as the “Old Fire Station” was completed in 1881. But notable amongst the list of subscribers for this pump was Mrs Loe, of Bishops Sutton: her name can be seen on the document now on display in the Old Fire Station.

fire-engineAt first I thought this could have been the old manual pump purchased in 1858, but apparently this was a model of the original manual fire pump that was housed at one time in the porch of the West entrance to St John’s in Alresford, earlier in the C19th. The model was built by George Watson in the 1970s, and is pictured here outside the (new) Alresford Fire Station.

In 1859 Mrs Loe remarried – her new husband was Edward Parsons. Possibly fairly advanced for the time was a post-nuptial agreement dated 1859 that specified that her wealth was reserved for her children, and not for Edward Parsons. Considering that she had 11 children, possibly some of the farm was split later into several smaller units. In the 1871 census, Jane was living at New House, and an associated farm: she died in 1882. Bob tells me that there is a long memorial stone to her in the outer north vestry wall of the Bishops Sutton church.

Maybe I will be able to get some photos of this stone later – and add any comments from other descendants of Mrs Loe, or Bishops Sutton farmers! First there is the picture of the manual fire pump donor list, which started this story!

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A notable name on this list is that of Mr J (John) Covey, of Alresford. Later, in 1881, it would be John Covey’s widow, Susanna Eliza Covey, who bought the (run-down) dwellings and land at the bottom of Broad Street, and donated this land to the Bailiff and Burgesses of the town – for them to build what we now know as the “Old Fire Station”.  We believe that the fire pump was housed prior to 1881 in the entrance to the Swan Inn, in the centre of town. Possibly it looked like the picture below, which is of the Victorian “Huntley and Palmer” factory based horse-drawn fire pump.

1899

ENDS

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The Voices of Bishop’s Sutton

sarah-bussy-bs-book

How about “Bishop’s Sutton Memories” as an offshoot of AlresfordMemories? OK, so there are several Bishop’s Sutton stories on this website, but in visiting the Alresford Library today I found a really enthralling new book: only just published. It is titled “Voices of Bishop’s Sutton”, and was written by Sarah Bussy, a resident of Bishop’s Sutton over the last 40 years, since 1974.

Sarah suggests that she felt very much like a ‘Townie’ person, when she first moved to Bishop’s Sutton, from her Alresford home – it was a different world to be in village life, after residing in the big Metropolis of Alresford! But having settled in, 30 years later, Sarah was involved in a parish-wide piece of team work, which resulted in a small, publicly-funded publication entitled ‘Bishop’s Sutton: An Appraisal of the Parish, 2006’. A questionnaire was circulated around all households in the village, to see what they liked and disliked about village life. Most people were really happy to live in Bishop’s Sutton, which Sarah describes as “a very friendly place, with a strong community spirit”: only one person expressed a dislike for the incoming “Townies”.

Sarah explains the background to the current book as follows:

“In the 1980s I became involved with making sound recordings of Winchester people, several of which are now in the Wessex Film and Sound Archive. Around the year 2000 I began tentatively to record in Bishop’s Sutton.

Because of other commitments, these Bishop’s Sutton tapes lay neglected, and a source of considerable guilt for years until I was suddenly spurred into further action by a Village Open Weekend held in the autumn of 2014. Several months of concentrated work followed and the book was ready for press shortly before my move to Devon in September 2015. The timing couldn’t have been better and I still feel pleased to have given something back to Bishop’s Sutton in gratitude for the 41 years I lived there with my family.”

Her book records the memories of the current residents, memories of what village life was like throughout their lives. Sarah recorded numerous current residents, dividing them up into sections that cover the 1920s; the Hillarys of Northside Farm; the accents; the houses, including colonial bungalows and council houses, as well as cottages; Domestic life (including sanitation, food and sickness); Childhood and the School; Working on the farms; Death in the village, and WW2. Selected parts of the recordings she made are published in each heading, but the original recordings are held by the Wessex Film and Sound Archive at the HRO. Apparently the recordings made of conversations with Kit Hole, Bill Hillary, Jean Hillary, Nora Hillary, and Vic Sheppard are available for visitors to listen to on request.

The book includes many old photos, provided by David Hole – some of these originated from Peter Mills’ archive. Other interviewees include Bill Smith, Barbara Upton, Joan Clift, and many more: many Alresford parents of young children will remember Bill Smith as the caretaker at Sun Hill School some years ago.

 

A wartime childhood in Bishop’s Sutton

Drayton Farmhouse, at Nythe, drawn by Jim Smith

Drayton Farmhouse, at Nythe, drawn by Jim Smith

Jim Smith, who still lives in Alresford, remembers various wartime events: all these happened between Alresford and Bishop’s Sutton, where he lived with his parents in Drayton Farmhouse, just past the watercress beds in Nythe. At the time, Jim was around six years old, and years later, when he finally managed to get a sketch pad, he drew the pictures shown here of some of these events.

Frank Smith, his Dad, farmed the fields between Alresford and Bishop’s Sutton, and looked after the cress beds. The most memorable event was the crash of the Lady Luck, a USAF Flying Fortress, in September 1943, when Jim, his Dad and Uncle Alf, who was in the Marines, were out in the evening, near the watercress beds at Nythe. As dusk approached, and the first sign of anything unusual was the noise of bombers coming over at low level from the west (Nelson Trowbridge – see below – says that the rest of the crew had bailed out over Winchester). Jim says that their landing lights appeared to be switched on, lighting up the sky, and presumably also the ground in front of them. He assumes they were trying to show the pilot of the stricken aircraft the ground, despite the dusk, for him to find a suitable area of fields for a crash landing. Then the aircraft crashed, ploughing into the field near the cress beds at the top of the pond.

Lady Luck, who did not quite end up in the pond!

The crash of Lady Luck, who did not quite end up in the pond!

Almost at the same time, a parachute appeared, and the parachutist came down in one of the trees north of the pond, close to them. His parachute got caught, and the man, who turned out to have been the pilot, ended up hanging in the trees upside down. Jim’s Uncle Alf was a big man – he had size 17 feet – and managed to reach the pilot and lift him up out of the harness, and tree, down to the ground: being very grateful the pilot gave Uncle Alf his boots, which were hanging round his neck, as they used to fly in thick flight-socks. The pilot said it was not a problem for him to give the boots away, they were always lost in a crash, so he would get some new ones issued. The only trouble was the boots were size 8, so Jim’s Dad had them, they would not fit Uncle Alf’s big feet!

img182The railway, running on the embankment up the rise to Four Marks, was an easy target for passing enemy aircraft, so they would harass any trains they found steaming up the gradient. As a result there would often be a train sitting in the cutting, west of the railway bridge, hiding in the shelter of the cutting and the trees, until the driver felt that aircraft activity in the area had subsided, or any circling aircraft had given up. Others got caught on the exposed embankment, and Jim remembers one train speeding down the hill, with what appeared to be all the wheels sparking or on fire under the carriages behind. Possibly it had needed to go downhill very fast, and the driver was trying very hard to slow down! But Jim reckons the train had been machine gunned by an enemy aircraft and was on fire.

The railway bridge itself was quite low, for vehicles passing underneath, and one unfortunate tank commander only discovered the lack of headroom when he tried to open the hatch on the top of the tank just as the driver approached the bridge. This did not end well, as the bridge did not move.

Plan of the Bishop's Sutton Army camp

Plan of the Bishop’s Sutton Army camp, off Water Lane at the bottom

Jim also remembers the troops who were in a camp in Bishop’s Sutton, between Water Lane and the main road. The huts at the bottom were where they slept, and higher up there was the canteen and other common rooms. Jim was always sure of a breakfast there, so often sneaked in with the soldiers: they had sort of adopted him as a mascot. He also sold them the occasional eggs when he could find them, and achieved a good price! His Dad as the local farmer used to take the kitchen waste away for the animals to eat: there he would often get a wink and a comment that there was a sealed container in the slops that he might find useful – it would contain some sausage meat or bacon.

Postscripts:

Another comment on this area is from George Watson:

George Watson also remembers that the Alresford Volunteer Force practice rifle range used targets on the embankment of the railway, on the northwest side. Hopefully they did not shoot at these when trains were passing by, but there were various wayward shots that went over the railway, into the fields at the other side. George collected some of these bullets – with permission from the farmer – and later gave them to the Alresford Museum.

See also Nelson Trowbridge’s comments on the crash of the Lady Luck in an earlier story: https://alresfordmemories.wordpress.com/2013/01/18/flying-fortress-crash-in-alresford-pond/

In this story Nelson mentions his booklet “Lady Luck: What Really happened”. In this booklet Nelson suggests that the bomber crashed at around 5pm, so it was not dark, but could have been very overcast from the bad weather that had caused their mission to be aborted. Captain Cogswell, the pilot, bailed out, but could not have survived if the plane had been so low as to crash within 100 yards or so. It is more reasonable to assume the plane flew on, on a circular track. Nelson says the plane was reported to have veered around by 180 degrees, out of control, with one engine on fire and a wing falling off, returning to the spot where Capt Cogswell bailed out. But luckily it did not get back as far as Alresford!