Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Bluebell trail at Hinton Ampner

The Bluebell trail through the woods in the National Trust Hinton Ampner Estate, south of Hinton Ampner House, offer a delightful walk in Springtime. The Trust shop can provide maps of the walk, some 4 miles long, and certainly this year the bluebells have been showing themselves off very well.

Pictures below are from 22nd April 2017.DSCN5682

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And here is a copy of the map:

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You might also see:

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Even if you are only driving to Winchester shopping, or on the 64 bus, just look to the left just after joining the A31 dual carriageway: at the top of the first rise the woods on the left of the road are carpeted with bluebells too!

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Muck For Sale!

Once again Alresford Young Farmers are delivering well rotted muck from a local beef farm, high in potassium and phosphates, that are crucial for growing healthy plants.

Muck will be delivered in a large tractor on Sunday 19 February, between 0900 and 1400.

Price is £3/bag, £5/barrow load, all delivered to your door in and around Alresford. Larger quantities can be made available….

Half the proceeds go to the Alresford YFC, the other half to the YFC chosen charity for 2017: the Murray Parish Trust.

Order in advance please by phone to 0753 119 3468, or email to alres.hantsyfc@gmail.com

The Voices of Bishop’s Sutton

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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.

 

Census reveals poor state of River Itchen

For the first time our once pristine, gin-clear English chalkstreams and rivers have been put under the microscope in a national survey to compare and investigate whether they are as healthy as they should be. And the results are truly shocking.

The 2015 Riverfly Census, undertaken by Salmon & Trout Conservation UK (S&TC UK) has identified that there were only 14 pristine, unimpacted sites out of a total of 120 sites sampled in the survey on rivers across England.

According to fisheries charity, Salmon & Trout Conservation UK, the threat to our rivers has moved from industrial pollution to a range of subtler but equally damaging impacts from sources such as agricultural and road run-off, poorly treated sewage, septic tanks and discharges from watercress and fish farms.

Although these forms of stress are less dramatic than fish-killing chemical spills, the long-term effects on flylife such as blue-winged olives are equally profound.

Paul Knight, Chief Executive of S&TC UK explains, “Most of the rivers we analysed were impacted to some extent, although the chalk rivers were the worst.  England’s 200 or so chalkstreams form about 85% of the world’s total stock of this richly diverse and complex habitat.  Almost all of them are in a dismal state of decline. Plants, insects, fish, mammals and bird-life are suffering as a result of the loss of flylife, which plays a crucial role in the aquatic food chain. Basically lose your flylife and you will lose many other important species too.”

Even figures from the Environment Agency, show that 83% of our rivers are failing to meet the standard of ‘Good Ecological Condition’ classification, measured by the European Water Framework Directive.

Riverflies and other invertebrates are excellent indicators of the underlying ecological condition of our rivers because different species of invertebrates demonstrate different tolerances to the various forms of stress from pollution.  Traditional and less exacting methods of analysing water quality frequently struggle to capture the often combined impacts of nutrients, sediment and subtle organic enrichment on invertebrate life in our rivers.

The study was carried out by ecological consultants Aquascience Consultancy Ltd, on 120 sites in seven rain-fed rivers and five chalkstreams across the country. For the first time, the investigation used ground-breaking research and chemical analysis to accurately identify the problem.

Dr Nick Everall from Aquascience Consultancy says, “The national river survey showed a mixture of improving, stable and all too many sadly declining reaches in terms of overall ecological condition, environmental stresses and riverfly life in particular. Several rivers showed loss of condition with measures like mayfly species richness and freshwater shrimp population status over time. Breaking some of these river findings down with controlled laboratory tests has recently shown that raised levels of phosphate and sediment, akin to many of our stressed river conditions, has a detrimental impact upon the survival of early life stages of the base of the aquatic food chain for species such as the blue-winged olive.”

The Census identified that, although Hampshire’s River Avon – a chalkstream, came out best in the study, the next 6 places went to freestone rivers, mainly in the north and south west.  Three of our most highly protected SAC chalkstreams; the Itchen, the Lambourn and the Wensum, rank poorly in the Census.  These contained low riverfly richness and abundance in many reaches of these rivers. Indeed on the Itchen, populations of the blue-winged olive have collapsed, despite being relatively abundant in the early 1990s.

In addition, the River Test, which is an SSSI (one of our highest conservation classifications) showed that flylife is below that expected of a pristine river with many significant species impoverished and rarer species absent.

Freshwater shrimp (Gammerus pulex) an important element in the food chain for trout and salmon, recorded very low numbers and measured against historic Environment Agency records, are showing a long and marked decline.

Paul Knight says, “So far The Water Framework Directive’s measure of water quality struggles to capture the often combined impacts that pollution is having on the invertebrate life in our rivers.  The biometric fingerprinting we used in the Census was like examining these systems with a microscope rather than a magnifying glass and, significantly, the results showed that water quality is often insufficient to sustain the life that our target rivers historically supported.”

In his forward to the Census, keen fisherman and journalist Jeremy Paxman laments the loss of our pristine rivers and says, “Something has gone very wrong.  Yet experience tells us that almost everything in nature is connected.  A decline in flylife on rivers will have consequences.  The only way we can enlist popular support – and the possibility that someone might care enough to realise the risk we face – is to gather evidence.  That is why the Riverfly Census matters.”

Nick Measham, author of the report and S&TC UK environmental consultant, concludes, “The aim of our Census was to provide, for the first time, an accurate picture of water quality in our rivers, to gauge the problems we are facing and to identify workable solutions to restore degraded watercourses to their pristine condition.  The evidence from our Census is irrefutable. Increased human pressure is having a disastrous impact on our rivers.

“We will now challenge the Government to tackle these damaging sources of pollution before we reach the point of no return.  We have a five-point plan of action involving working with the Environment Agency, but also challenging them where necessary, especially over the urgent need to identify and regulate polluters.  However, we believe the best chance of reversing the degradation in our rivers is to work directly with those who, mostly inadvertently, are the sources of the stress on river water quality, and to show them that they can also benefit from adopting measures that protect watercourses. ”

Read the full Report here.

Comment:

The comment below is from Nick Denbow, who learned to fly-fish on the Itchen and Arle in the 80s, then studied Aquaculture at Sparsholt, before setting up the Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School in Mahahual, in the Yucatan, Mexico:

“Absolutely. This is exactly and completely what I wrote my Sparsholt thesis on in 1998. They should have listened then!
Hopefully now you are out of Europe you can have rules specific to each river individually.
A great start would be that water abstractions should only be allowed and licensed if the water is properly scrubbed to its original or better than its original quality parameters. This as far as I know still only happens in Holland.
The decline in species richness of Mayflies is almost completely due to habitat destruction. Poor river maintenance in the 90s during low water levels led to over widening and deepening of many sections of river so that they remained viable businesses as fisheries. Mayfly species distribution relies on a variety of habitats and only one of 47 in Hampshire is a burrower in silt, E. danica. Due to spending 4 years as a nymph this insect is more common on the lower stretches of any river system. The others are stone clingers, moss creepers, agile darters and laboured swimmers. Take away these habitats and replace it with silt and the bugs will move on at the rate of invertebrate drift. If this starts at the top of a river system (as that’s where most cress beds are) then you gradually remove all the favoured invertebrates from the river, gradually all the way down stream.
By creating favourable habitats on side streams or periodically in areas of micro habitat in poor quality areas it’s easy to ‘re-establish’ populations as adult (winged) may flies all migrate upstream to breed. So what I’m saying is its recoverable if the river acts together.
The lack of G. pulex, the freshwater shrimp, is not due to habitat but rather directly from chemicals used in water cress production, specifically zinc. It’s been proven for many years that the products used to spread on cress and its roots prevents crustaceans being able to build their shells. Spatial avoidance of G. pulex from areas of cress has been seen for years. Due to the Trout’s dependence on shrimps in the winter months due to lower fly hatches, it’s beleived to represent 80% of the Trout’s annual diet. Take that away and your Trout simply won’t survive the winter, which is their spawning time.”

Nick Denbow
BSc (Hons) Aquaculture and Fishery Management
STANIC Qualified instructor
The Western Caribbean Fly Fishing School, Mexico

http://www.catchafish.net, twcffs@gmail.com
00 52 1 983 7323 144

The Tichborne Dole

March 25th is ‘Lady Day’, the traditional name of the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed VirginIt is also a day of festivities in Tichborne, Hampshire, when donations of flour, which have been blessed by the local parish priest, are handed out from the front of Tichborne House — and, a time when, once more, the villagers serve to abate the terror of an age-old curse!

This is the introduction from “FreakyFolkTales”, on wordpress.com, who are one of many re-tellers of the story. The origins are said to be from around 1180, when Lady Mabella was married to Sir Roger Tichborne: in the 12th Century, Lady Day was the official first day of the next year. Sir Roger was not known for his benevolence. Lady Mabella lay on her deathbed: she was concerned that after her death the poor of the Tichborne village would no longer receive her donations. So she suggested to Sir Roger that he would honour her bequest, that the poor and needy would receive a gallon of flour, annually in the future, after she had died. He was not so sure, so he took a burning firebrand from the fire, and said “The flour from all the land Lady Marbella can crawl round before this brand dies out will be the source of this bequest!”

The “Crawls”

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The upper half of the “Crawls” field

The fields around Tichborne House are fairly undulating, and have changed a little. It is difficult to identify the exact area that was the subject of this bequest: but the fields in question are well known to Alresford residents for the annual Agricultural Show in September, when several are now used as huge carparks, quite apart from the showgrounds. Lady Mabella could not walk unaided, so instead of walking she had to crawl. In all, Mabella managed to crawl around a reported 23 acres, returning to the house before the firebrand died away. The field to the North of Tichborne House, beside the road to Alresford, is still referred to as “The Crawls” – this is used as the Alresford gate Car Park on the Show Day. It would seem logical that Lady Mabella would have started her route Eastwards from the house, up the current avenue to the Alresford road initially.

The Tichborne Family in the 1600s

The legend was handed down over the centuries, and was certainly reported and acted upon in the Seventeenth Century. The Tichborne family were staunch Catholics, and at the same time Royalists. There is a private (Catholic) chapel at Tichborne House: in the Church of St Andrew at Tichborne, the North aisle is virtually unique in that it is used as a Catholic chapel within an Anglican Church, and it was a mark of the favour endowed upon Sir Benjamin Tichborne (High Sheriff of Hampshire) around 1600, that this was allowed by King James, who visited Tichborne several times. Previously, in Elizabeth the First’s reign, Chidiock Tichborne had been executed for his part in the Babington plot against Elizabeth.

Little is known specifically about the Tichborne Dole event in 1644, when the Royalist army was bedded down in Alresford on 27 March, having come from Winchester and forestalled the advance of the Parliamentary cavalry from the East. But the Dole would probably have been distributed as usual, we assume, on 25 March. After a few days in Alresford, Lord Hopton and the Royalists fought William Waller at the battle of Cheriton in the fields South of Alresford, on 29 March. Sir Henry Tichborne was the owner of Tichborne House at this point, and fought with the Royalists at the battle of Cheriton, alongside two of his Uncles. Waller and the Parliamentarians won the battle and the Royalists retreated to Old Basing, and presumably to The Vyne, north of Basingstoke: in the battle the Cavalier Henry Sandys, grandson of William, Fourth Lord Sandys, of The Vyne estate, had been killed. As for Sir Henry, by tradition, he hid in “The Tichborne Oak” to escape capture by the Parliamentarians.

Anti-Catholic (and Jesuit) feeling grew strong in the latter parts of the 17th Century, and was probably stirred up to avoid a separate revolt from the poor, after the plague of 1665 and the Great Fire of London in 1666. This culminated in the fictitious Popish plot of 1678-81, where many Catholics, including Sir Henry Tichborne, were imprisoned, in his case till 1685.

The Flemish painting

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Prior to this imprisonment, Sir Henry Tichborne, who was well travelled across Europe, commissioned a painting by the Flemish artist Giles Tilburg. This showed himself and his family generously distributing the dole to the poor, but mainly to the residents of Tichborne, in 1670. In these times the dole was distributed as loaves of bread. The picture shows the house as it was then, mainly a Tudor mansion, but the massive tower was older, and probably as old as the 13th century. This house survived until 1803, but more of that later.

The picture in the painting shows in the centre Sir Henry Tichborne, then 44 yrs old, leading his sister-in-law Miss Francis Arundel by the hand: behind them is Lady Mary (his wife). The gentleman in black is the family chaplain, the Rev Father Robert Hill, a Jesuit. Next to him stands the family nurse Constancia Atkins, and the two women behind her are Lady Tichborne’s maid (Mrs Chitty) and their housekeeper (Mrs Robinson). The little boy pointing to the basket of loaves is another Henry, the Baronet’s eldest son. The little girl carrying loaves in her apron is Mary Tichborne, who became a Benedictine Nun at Pontoise, near Paris. The house servants are mainly on the left, and the people on the right are the villagers, many of whom can be identified from the key that goes with the picture. The general poor are not shown as present….

The painting itself is the subject of a current study by Prof John Walter of the University of Essex, who gave a lecture early in 2016 to the Winchester Historical + Archaeological Society on the subject. The picture was possibly a political message, to counter the common distrust and promote a better image of the Catholic land-owning aristocracy. At this time the Catholics, after the persecution in England, had closed in on themselves, and there was a lot of intermarriage, eg between Tichborne and Arundel etc. He was the fourth Baron, so a good target for the gossiping London papers: but they never mentioned about the Dole. The painting was suggesting the Catholic landed classes were generous, and helped the poor, whereas other land-owners had given up such good works. Indeed the painting is the first real record of the existence of the Dole. However it is fair to say that other landowners, and even some Churches, had similar dole ceremonies for the poor throughout the 16th,17th and 18th Centuries.

There is no previous written record relating to the Dole legend or the annual distribution events known, even in the Winchester archives recorded over those years: nothing has been found. Within the family no early records survived, but this was possibly because many of Sir Henry’s own records were burned by his friends when he was imprisoned in the Tower, presumably to avoid them being used in evidence against him. Within the family, it is known that when Sir Henry was travelling in Europe, in a letter home to his son from Italy he told them the legend of Lady Mabella. Possibly this triggered the idea for the painting, and also made him resurrect the Dole more strongly, if it had lapsed – in the 1660s the Government introduced the Hearth tax to raise yet more money in taxation, but most people were very poor, and a third of Tichborne villagers were too poor to pay any tax. The later issue of a gallon of flour would keep an adult supplied with bread, the staple of the diet, for maybe four months.

Prof Walter also discussed the possibility that Giles Tilburg never actually visited Tichborne. The painting was similar to other Flemish paintings of events where alms were distributed to the Poor. The picture is also reminiscent of a Church service, in the open air, and this could also have been a hidden message.

The “Curse” of the Legend

Lady Mabella did not trust her husband, or his successors, to carry out his promise, so the legend records that she added a curse onto any of her successors who failed to distribute her charitable dole. The penalty quoted in 1180 was that the family would have a generation of seven sons born to the house followed by a generation of seven daughters, and the family name would die out. In addition the family house would fall down.

Over 100 years after the painting of the picture, the new Sir Henry then owning and living in the house in 1790 had seven sons: they were Henry, Benjamin, Edward, James, John, George and Roger. Apparently the Dole Day had become a very rowdy affair, attracting the dissolute and dishonest from far and wide. The people attending included gypsies, and a travelling fair. House accounts suggested that in 1791 there were 1700 loaves distributed: if the loaves ran out, the tradition was that the late-comers were given two pence each, and one year these payments amounted to £8 (ie they paid out cash to 1920 people). The local landowners and magistrates were not amused, and demanded that the Dole be stopped, which happened in 1794 or 1796, and ceased totally from 1800 through to the 1830s.

However, Prof John Walter comments that there is no actual record of any Magistrate’s order to stop the Dole. The Tichborne Vestry records report on the rising costs of ‘Poor Relief’, and there were two years of very poor harvests in the 1790s. Possibly the Dole was too popular because of the poor harvests, and too expensive for the landowner, Sir Henry. He was undoubtedly hard up, as reports from travellers record that the house looked to be in decay, and indeed in 1803 parts of it fell down.

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A new smaller house was built to replace the old house. In 1821, the younger Sir Henry ascended to the Baronetcy, and had seven daughters. This meant that the Baronetcy, and house, should pass to the first nephew, who was known as Roger Tichborne. Of the six brothers of Henry, George died aged 13, and John died unmarried in 1806 in India. Benjamin died in 1810 in China, unmarried. Roger married, but died without children. Edward had one son, Henry, who died in 1835, aged 6: Edward, who had changed his name to Doughty, then re-instituted the ceremony of the Dole. However this was under new conditions, the dole would be given to restricted claimants, ie residents of the Parishes of Tichborne, Cheriton, and Lane End, and would be in the form of 1lb or 10 oz loaves. It was later amended to be in the form of flour, but the date for this change is unknown.

The remaining son, James, had married in 1827, and had one son, Roger Charles, born before the Dole was re-instated: he was lost at sea off South America in 1845. James had a second son, Alfred Joseph, who was born after the restoration of the Dole. Maybe because of this he survived, and inherited the ownership of the Estate and Baronetcy. He is the great-grandfather of the late Sir Anthony Doughty Tichborne, who was the fourteenth Baronet.

But wait, all was not easy. Enter someone claiming to be Roger Charles, in 1854, no longer lost at sea, but returning home as The Tichborne Claimant.

The Tichborne Claimant

Roger Charles had been lost at sea in 1854, but his mother, the Dowager Lady Tichborne, believed he was still alive, and placed adverts in newspapers offering a reward for the discovery of her missing son. Eventually in around 1866, news came from Australia that he had been found. img477The man who turned up was no longer the slim youthful Roger but an enormously fat man in middle age. Nevertheless the mother accepted this man as her ‘missing son’, who claimed the family fortune. He was backed by some villagers, notably Mr Helsby of Tichborne Villa. The residents of Tichborne did have some benefit, as while the Claimant was acting the role of Roger Charles he also distributed dole, in a separate ceremony to that at Tichborne House. The press had a field day, as the rest of the family gathered together to fight the claim: it was said that 40,000 extra copies were printed of London papers reporting these events.

A civil law suit eventually followed in 1871, which lasted 103 days, and cost the wider family around £90,000. The Tichborne Claimant lost the civil case, and was then subjected to a subsequent criminal trial for perjury in 1874. This criminal trial lasted 10 months, the longest in legal history. The Claimant was named as Arthur Orton, son of a Wapping butcher, who more recently had worked as a butcher in Wagga Wagga, Australia. He was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Bankruptcy looms!

The consequence was that the Tichborne Dole became a tourist attraction from 1874 on, making problems for the Estate and the village because of all the extra visitors. By the end of the Century the family are in the Bankruptcy Court, as a result of the civil case costs and disruption. But fortune smiles, and a wealthy relative in the Doughty family dies with no other heirs. To claim the estates they have to change their name to Doughty-Tichborne.

In 1911 the Doughty land in Lincolnshire is sold. In 1920 the Doughty Estate covering large parts of London is split into four lots and sold – this comprised maybe 500 houses and several large Hotels in Central London. The West Tisted estate is also sold. With this enormous wealth the family are the paparazzi celebrities of the era, they spend money on a yacht in the Med, rent a villa in the South of France, buy a share in a gambling club etc. Relations are particularly good with the Daily Mirror.

In the 1920s the magazine Autocar organized a run down to Tichborne, and in the 1930s cycling clubs made it their objective. In 1940 there was the largest attendance ever for the Dole ceremony: the Dole had continued all through WW1. In WW2, the Government decided that the Dole typified what the US thought of as ancient English tradition, and reflected the image of the “countryside” of “Lovable England”. So it had to be continued for the morale of the troops and to win US public opinion over, and bring US Forces onto our side to help. The Canadian Black Watch were billeted in the house at the time, and as far as is known they helped the Dole continue.

After the war there was bread rationing, and in 1947, the MAFF said “No” to the dole distribution! Through his contacts with the Daily Mirror Sir Anthony appealed for unwanted bread ration coupons to be sent in, which were supplied in large numbers, and the distribution went ahead.

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In 1965 Sir Anthony died, and with three daughters – shown in the photo – the Baronetcy ceased, and the name did die out. The remaining family still owned about 1000 acres.

The Dole from the 1970s on

copy Brian Champion Studios

The Dole crowd in modern times, by Brian Champion

The dole continued and was distributed to the parishioners of Tichborne and Cheriton throughout the 1970s. This was at the time when many new houses were being built around Alresford, in Sun Hill and along Tichborne Down, before the Alresford bypass was built. Presumably in the planning stages for the bypass and road system, the Parish boundaries were reconsidered. Prior to the 1970s, the Tichborne Parish extended to include parts of the village of Itchen Stoke, and also the road known as Tichborne Down. This meant that the houses on Tichborne Down, including the new houses built on Bennet’s Farm were all part of Tichborne Parish. Clive and Jacky Earthy in Corfe Close, and Joan and Roy Wimbleton, in Carisbrooke Close, and their families, all qualified, as they were among the first new residents here. While they were able to attend the Dole distributions in the 1972-74 period. Mary Kier, now a Cheriton resident, lived in Itchen Stoke at that time, and therefore qualified: I am grateful to Mary for a view of the sheet distributed in those earlier times explaining the Blessing of the Flour and the ‘official’ family version of the Dole legend about Lady Mabella.

Sometime after the early 1970s the boundaries changed. Surprisingly, these changes did not follow the exact route of the bypass, so to many it may come as a surprise that the houses to the South of Spring Way in Alresford are still in Tichborne Parish. I assume that this means that the new residents in the houses in Bakewell Gardens in 2016 all qualified for the Tichborne Dole, and obviously they are expected to bake their flour well!

In 1985-6, as reported in the story about George Watson on AlresfordMemories, the painting of the Tichborne Dole of 1670 was cleaned and spruced up to be sent to Washington as a part of the English Country Treasure House Exhibition, in the US National Gallery of Art.

Dole 3The 2016 Dole

In 2016 the Dole ceremony took place on 25 March, which was also Good Friday. So it seemed the local priest doing the Blessing had a very busy day, and rushed off. Presumably it was the current owners of Tichborne House, Anthony Louden and his family, who distributed the Dole from the big wooden trough, with most of the work done very efficiently by their three children. The names of those eligible were read out from an official register, to summon them to come up with their plastic bags, or other containers, but there were others available for those who forgot. Only a few of the reserve sacks of flour had to be added to the trough, as the attendance was not as high as maybe was expected, on a Bank Holiday day. When all official residents had collected their flour, the remainder in the trough was distributed to anyone present who wished to take a memento home. A photo story of these proceedings is given in the associated FlickR web album, on the website http://www.tinyurl.com/Dole2016

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Sources:

FreakyFolkTales.Wordpress.com

A History of Tichborne by E Roberts and E Crockford

Tichborne, A Village History, by G Timmins

Prof John Walter, University of Essex

The Tichborne Dole explanation sheet, from the 1950s

Wikipedia and other websites.

 

Herons in Alresford

Heron Protection

We live in Alresford surrounded by watercress beds, river streams, lakes, and fish farms. Pretty much heaven for any bird that likes the odd bit of fish for dinner, lunch, or worst of all – breakfast. The tall trees in the Avenue are much appreciated, as beautiful, attractive, part of the town heritage – and to Herons the perfect place for their nests. They do like an easy life, and for breakfast, particularly at dawn in the Summer, when all are still asleep, they tend to look around for something easy and tasty in the garden ponds round the town. There are very few of my Alresford friends who have not lost carp or goldfish from their ponds, to a marauding Heron.

At home we have a very deep pond, protected from normal aerial view by an overhanging yew tree on one side, and other trees along another side. There is a wooden fence around the open side, officially to prevent toddlers from falling in, and reeds and oxygenating plants shelter or cover the surface in the Summer. Even so we added a submerged water butt, on its side, to give a cave for the fish to hide in. We have not knowingly lost many fish, but there are maybe 30-40 in there, breeding away, so it is difficult to keep track. But you can tell when there has been a visitation – the fish do not come out of hiding for 2-3 days, not even for their morning feed.

Nevertheless, in the Autumn, when dawn is later, it becomes noticeable that there are occasional visiting herons sitting on the 6 foot fence near the pond, watching: they fly off as soon as we open the curtains. The answer to this problem has been varied: it started with putting obstacles on the lawn so their landing run was restricted; we bought a plastic Heron to stand guard, as it is said they will not poach fish from another Heron’s pond; and when all these failed we have used wooden poles to hold up metal mesh screens above the pond main surface. Still they are seen, attracted when the tree cover allows the water surface reflection to be seen from above, and the pond weed dies down.

Autumn pond protection with metal screens

Autumn pond protection with metal screens

They say you can get electronic bird scarers that detect the arrival of Herons, and sound an alarm, but they would probably wake us up all night as a result of the passing cats, hedgehogs, foxes and whatever else that visits regularly. So any further suggestions would be welcomed: the next plan is to install a green plastic net over the wooden poles.

And Heron Appreciation

One of my colleagues, Alan Franck, Editor of the magazine HazardEx, visited Alresford in the early 1980s. He remembers:

“One of the most memorable weekend walks was a winter’s day circuit to the north of Old Alresford, with a weak silvery sun illuminating a landscape of muddy ploughed fields and the stark woodland edge. We came over the brow of a hill and saw a flock of birds rising from the watercress ponds below, in the distance – but there was something unusual about their ponderous flight which caused me to take out my binoculars for a closer look. And there, in front of us, was an extraordinary sight never seen before or since. Hundreds of herons were circling up into the sky and slowly flapping off into the West.”

They were obviously returning to the Trout Farm, or flying off further afield for better pond pickings!

Another visitor

It is worth also mentioning that other visitors pass by Alresford Pond and the Trout farms round here: early one Autumn morning en route to work around 7am an unusual and large bird took off from a roost on the tops of the trees above the roundabout on the A31 above Ovington: this was very white underneath, with shaggy feather covered legs, brown upper parts, and I’m convinced it was an Osprey! This was many years ago, before Buzzards had become regular sights round here, but it did not seem to be what I know as a Buzzard.

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!