1980s Taste of Alresford – 3: Fish dishes

……………………..From residents of the time

 

taste of alreThe following are descriptions by Alresford families of their houses/homes, and their lives in the early 1980s, provided to the charity recipe book ‘A Taste of Alresford’, published by Sally March, on behalf of Oxfam. There have already been several extracts from this book published in stories on this website. Most are listed under the “Taste of Alresford” tag, but they include stories about the Hobby Horse, Beresford House, The Cricketer’s Pub and the Golf Course, Fulling Mill, and Anderson’s green-grocers.

The introduction to the book was written by John Arlott, which is also featured in one story, and his life here in the old Sun Inn is described in another AlresfordMemories story.

The authors and their recipes for Fish dishes are as follows – all written in the early 1980s: TO GET THE RECIPES YOU NEED TO BUY THE BOOK!

 

Isabel Sanderson, Country-woman and Historian

…….Also authoress of the “Dwellings in Alresford” booklets.

‘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 farmhouse 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 horse 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’.

[Editor’s note: and what a fantastic legacy Isabel left in her series of ten volumes, each covering up to 10 dwellings, intricately researched and illustrated, with careful line drawings. I can honestly say Isabel’s collection was one of the things that sparked my interest in photographing the houses of Alresford, which also led to this website]

Recipe: Smoked Haddock – The Abbotstone Way

 

Sandra Hart, Andersons (Fish) shop, 8 West St

Andersons – poultry and game, fishmonger and greengrocer. Some years ago the shop changed hands, but Alresford was so accustomed to ‘Andersons’ that the present tenant, Mr Phillip Gay, reverted to the old name. They stock a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including exotic cumquats and mangoes, lychees and limes. Even better the watercress is fresh from its ‘bed’, the cream from its farm and the trout from Mr Gay’s own ‘stew’. There is local game, hare and rabbit, partridge, pheasant and pigeon, teal and mallard.

The building still belongs to Mrs Rita Blundell of Ropley, the grand-daughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Batchelor, who came to Alresford in 1915 and lived over the shop. Their daughter, Mrs Cecil Turner, later managed Crook’s Restaurant, which is now the greengrocery side of the present shop, and her husband ran the other side, called ‘Eureka Fish’ (try saying it to yourself). After the Second World War, rations and regulations made the catering so difficult that the Turners changed the Restaurant into a greengrocers.

Recipes: Herring Pie, and Seasoned Fish Rolls

 

Isabel Liddiard, Copper Coin, 33 Grange Road

Mrs Liddiard has two sons, both of whom are competitive fishermen. They occasionally bring pike home. Pike is a rather dry, and very bony fish, ‘but as pheasant is to chicken, so is pike to cod’. Her two recipes, therefore, are for boned and flaked fish.

[My son Nick (www.catchafish.net) even aged 8 or 9, also used to bring pike home in the 1980s, after fishing trips to the Arle. He told us they were protecting the other fish in the river, and helping the trout fishermen, by removing these big predators. Some were almost as big as he was!]

Recipes: Pike and Prawn au Gratin, and Pike Fish Cakes

 

Mrs Mimi Gedye, c/o Derek Gedye, 5 Broad St

Mr Gedye’s electrical shop is a family business, established over 20 years ago. They sell and repair all domestic appliances, and Mr Gedye’s son, Simon, is an expert on television, video and hi-fi equipment.

Recipe: Salmon Mousse

 

Elizabeth Gore-Langton, Pleasant House, West St

Mrs Gore-Langton’s recipe comes from her home in Orkney. The house was named ‘Skaill’ from the Norse ‘skali’, meaning a hall.

Recipe: Skaill Scallops

 

Joy Brown, 31 Broad Street

Mr Brown is a dental surgeon, President of the Alresford Conservative Association and Chairman of the town’s Twinning Association with Brique Bec in Normandy. He and his wife, Joy, live in one of the lovely Georgian houses in Broad Street, where they cultivate not only a large flower and vegetable garden, but also a vineyard. He writes:

A small walled garden in the centre of a country town in Hampshire proved to bean ideal situation for the planting of fifty vines. The climate is not always the most suitable for wine production in England, and after careful selection, a Huxel Rebe vine grafted to anti Phylloxera was chosen.

After 12 years the vines have become well established and last year’s vendange produced 200lbs of grapes. They require the minimum of care and attention and seem to thrive on chalky soil. Careful pruning in January, a cold and thankless task for which few volunteers ever appear, is generally undertaken in freezing conditions, and a double guyot system of training ensures a neat looking vineyard throughout the year.

An early or late Spring, wet or dry, seems to make little difference, but a hot Summer with plenty of sunshine, extending well into September or October is essential to produce an acceptable and attractive wine. Vines will find their own moisture supply, some roots penetrating to a depth of forty feet, but sun, and plenty of it, makes all the difference.

The grapes must ripen sufficiently to produce a high sugar content and thus a satisfactory level of alcohol. The vendange usually takes place in early November and, contrary to public opinion, treading the grapes is not normally done, although it was a most efficient method of crushing the grapes to break the skin prior to the normal pressing.

The use of a small hand press produces the ‘must’ which is taken to the cellar in demi-johns, and a hock type yeast soon produces a violent fermentation. The wine is racked off and if necessary treated to reduce acidity. ‘Chaptilising’ the wine is optional but is a good excuse for frequent visits to the cellar for the purpose of testing and tasting. A small corking machine simplifies the bottling process, and as a final touch, a well-designed label with the alcohol content, year of growth and name and address of the Vigneron adds a touch of professionalism to the hobby.

Recipe: Salmon Fish Pie

 

John Wootten, The Bodega, Broad Street

The Inyanga mountains are in Zimbabwe on the Mozambique border, and are very like the Scottish Highlands, clear and cool after the hot plains with fast running streams where trout are found. Bright yellow patches of wattle brighten the dark firs and bare hillsides.

However Alresford trout are just as fresh and firm, and this dish would enhance a wedding buffet. Terrines or pates cannot only be prepared 2 or 3 days in advance, but their flavour improves with keeping.

Chef and cookery writer John Wootten and his wife Helen lived for some time in Salisbury Rhodesia (now called Harare in Zimbabwe, hence the name of Inyanga Trout. Another favourite from Mozambique, often served in Zimbabwe, is Piri-Piri, a very hot fish dish which John some rimes cooks for the Bodega restaurant.

This pretty wine bar, in a Queen Anne setting in Broad Street, offers a good cross section of wines, from house wines to vintage clarets and German, French, Italian and Portuguese whites. A favourite is the Chateau Haut Batailley 1976.

Light meals are served in the bar, while conferences, weddings and private functions may be held in the Seville Suite.

Recipe: Terrine of Trout and Salmon

 

Julie Henman, Alresford Young Farmers’ Club

The aims of the YFC are partly to educate and partly to do a certain amount for the community by organising numerous fund-raising events. And, of course, it is largely a social club.

Education in the form of farm visits and talks includes – animal diseases, applying Rentokil on rodents, calf-rearing, First Aid (courtesy of the Red Cross) fly-fishing and the life of a private investigator! The club secretary is Jane Gray.

Recipe: Smoked Trout Cakes and Herb-baked Trout

 

Mrs Elizabeth Davis (nee Stiles), J S Stiles (Ironmongers) Ltd, 11 Broad Street

‘Stiles’ is an old-established County ironmongers, with a wide frontage in an attractive setting in Broad Street. They sell everything for the kitchen and garden – pots and pans, seeds and fertilisers, paint and wallpaper, and all that a handyman needs. Next door there is a china and glass department. They are noted for their wide range of stock, but also for their friendly helpfulness. In rooms above the shop, old exposed beams can still be seen, blackened and burnt in the Great Fire of 1689.

Recipe: Trout with Cream and Chives

 

Jo Gilbertson, 4 Pound Hill

Mr and Mrs Glenn Gilbertson are both dental surgeons. Their surgery at the bottom of Pound Hill was an old cottage and there are still small rooms and narrow staircases leading off narrow corridors. [This would not have been a problem for Jo, not so sure about how Glenn managed – Ed]

Recipe: Celery and Seafood Pancakes

 

The recipes on offer in Part 4 will introduce Meat, Poultry and Game courses

 

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1980s Taste of Alresford – 2: Soup Dishes

…………………..Stories from residents at the time

 

taste of alreThe following are descriptions by Alresford families of their houses/homes, and their lives in the early 1980s, provided to the charity recipe book ‘A Taste of Alresford’ published by Sally March, on behalf of Oxfam. There have already been several extracts from this book published in stories on this website. Most are listed under the “Taste of Alresford” tag, they include stories about the Hobby Horse, Beresford House, The Cricketer’s Pub and the Golf Course, Fulling Mill, and Anderson’s green-grocers.

The introduction to the book was written by John Arlott, which is also featured in one story, and his life here in the old Sun Inn is described in another AlresfordMemories story.

The authors and their recipe subjects for Soup dishes are as follows – all written in the early 1980s: TO GET THE RECIPES YOU NEED TO BUY THE BOOK!

 

John [and Betty] Bevan, The Manor Farm, Old Alresford.

‘The Alresford and District Annual Agricultural Show’

‘The entries in all classes are numerous, and the Show and Dinner are expected to be a great success’ proclaimed the advertisement in ‘The Hampshire Chronicle’ in December 1909. With such optimism, the Alresford and District Annual Agricultural Show began. Seventy five years later, despite two World Wars and epidemics of foot and mouth disease, the Show is the major event in the Alresford year, held nowadays at Tichborne Park.

Cattle and horses, sheep, goats and pigs, cereal and produce are shown, and there are more than a hundred Trade and Exhibition stands. The Horticultural tent bulges with fat onions and enormous dahlias, and visitors to the Rural Craft Tent are fascinated by displays of antique-style lace, pottery and painting, hand-turned wood and home-spun wool. But for most of us, the Show is especially a social occasion – meeting and greeting, and a spot of liquid refreshment, plus fun for all ages with Punch And Judy and the Perins school band.

The present Chairman is Mr John Bevan of Manor Farm, whose father, Mr J A Bevan, was President of the Show in 1958.

Recipe: Cold Watercress Soup

 

Betty [and John] Bevan, The Manor Farm, Old Alresford.

The Manor Farm illustrates Alresford agriculture very well. Besides the 450 acres of mixed farming, Mr Bevan has 3 acres of watercress, and 4 large ‘stews’ od trout, with 5000-6000 fish in each. His father, Mr J A Bevan, sent off the first consignment of watercress from Alresford railway station.

Today it is harvested all the year round: lorries take it to Hurn Airport, from where it is flown in refrigerated containers to London, the Midlands and the North. ‘Watercress is reckoned to be a sure fire cure for a hangover’.

Farm stock includes 100 dairy cattle, 40 calves and 25 in-calf heifers. They grow winter wheat and barley, some for malting, (for beer) and some for seed.

Recipe: Royal Watercress Soup

 

Terry and Sara McTurk, The Old School House Restaurant, 60 West Street.

The ‘Old School House’ is the original home of Perins Free Grammar School (Perins Community School). In 1774, Robert Boyes, Master of Perin’s Grammar School, wrote*: ‘The school was founded in 1698 by Christopher Perin ‘for educating 19 poor men’s sons in the Latin tongue, writing accounts etc. Every scholar was to pay one shilling a year for his admission, and one shilling a year towards providing rods and brooms to be used in the school. The School House is a plain strong building standing at the bottom of West Street, The school itself is in a large, very lofty room adjoining the dwelling house (occupied by the schoolmaster).

Today this building is the home of the Chef-Proprietors, Terry and Sara McTurk, who, with 25 years combined catering experience behind them,were delighted to discover the Old School House and to have such a good reception accorded to their style of cooking.

*‘The History of Alresford’ by A J Robertson.

Recipe: Cream of Parsley Soup.

 

Joan Riley, The Nythe House, Old Alresford.

Dr and Mrs Riley have lived in Alresford for over 30 years. Their home is an old Victorian house on the Old Alresford side of the big pond. Dr Riley is a partner in the Alresford Group Surgery in Station Road.

Recipe: Iced Carrot and Orange Soup.

 

Elinor Gush, The Fulling Mill, Old Alresford.

When Mr and Mrs Bryan Gush bought and restored the derelict Fulling Mill standing astride the lovely River Alre, they little realised that in 30-odd years it would attract so many visitors from all over the world.

In the 13th century, the English wool staple was at Winchester, where wool was sorted and graded. The Fulling Mill probably dates from then, soon after Bishop de Lucy had his Great Weir, and where the River Alre now runs purposefully along its new path.  The Mill was built above the water, with a smooth slope down into it, where woollen cloth could be washed and laid out to be dressed with powdered chalk (there being no Fuller’s earth in the district). It was then trodden or beaten to rid it of excess oil, and to shrink and concentrate the loosely woven cloth. The industry declined when the staple was moved to ‘English’ Calais, sometime before 1452.

The Old Mill, almost surrounded by running water, has the most beautiful garden, designed and cared for by Mr and Mrs Gush. They have also developed a small nursery, alongside the river, near where the old open swimming pool used to be. By selling its produce to passing visitors, they have raised £27,000 for charity since 1974.

Recipe: A Simplified Bortsch

 

Country Fare, Craft Gallery, 11 East Street.

Where would you find drunken sailors in Alresford? As skittles in Country Fare Where would you find a silver deck chair? In the jewellery case at Country Fare. Where would you find a hunter on an elephant? As a teapot. Or a six foot high tulip? As a lamp. Where do you find the smartest people in town? In Country Fare

Country Fare displays and sells original crafts from the British Isles.

Recipe: Juan’s Gazpacho.

 

Mike and Peewee Burchett, The Cricketer’s Arms, Tichborne Down.

The Cricketer’s Arms takes its name from an earlier pub, but Mike Burchett, its Landlord, is a well-known local cricketer, having captained Winchester and played for Tichborne and the famous ‘Hampshire Hogs’.

The pub was purpose built in the 1920’s, with a clubroom attached to it for the use of the neighbouring Golf Club. The first tenant, Mr W Boniface, was in fact the Club’s Professional.

Today Mike and Peewee welcome guests to the comfort of a Lounge bar, where families may sample a wide menu; to a public bar, and a poolroom-cum-children’s room. In the garden are tables, children’s swings and a trampoline. There are toilet facilities for the physically handicapped, and French windows with a ramp for wheelchairs.

The Cricketer’s Arms is very much a family pub, with good bar food and a friendly welcome to Alresford residents and visitors from further afield.

Recipe: Stilton and Celery Soup.

In Part 3 the recipes provided will introduce various fish courses.

1980s Taste of Alresford – 1: Starter dishes

……From residents of the time

taste of alre

A well used copy of the 1985 Oxfam recipe book

The following are descriptions by Alresford families of their houses/homes, and their lives in the early 1980s, provided to the charity recipe book published by Sally March, on behalf of Oxfam. There have already been several extracts from this book published in stories on this website. Most are listed under the “Taste of Alresford” tag: they include stories about the Hobby Horse, Beresford House, The Cricketer’s Pub and the Golf Course, Fulling Mill, and Anderson’s green-grocers.

The introduction to the book was written by John Arlott, which is also featured in one story, and his life here in the old Sun Inn is described in another AlresfordMemories story.

The authors and their recipe subjects for Starters are as follows – all written in the early 1980s: TO GET THE RECIPES YOU NEED TO BUY THE BOOK!

 

Marjorie Fuller, Villa Kedros, 11 Dover Close

“Mrs Fuller is secretary of the Alresford branch of the Townswomen’s Guild, whose aim is to “Advance the education of women”, and to encourage them to contribute to their own community. Joining TG is a very good way of making friends. There are handicrafts and cookery classes, play-readings and outings, interesting and educational talks.”

Recipe provided: Jellied Hors D’Oeuvres

 

Kitchen Elegance, 34 West Street

Kitchen Elegance specialises in planning, designing and installing fitted kitchens. They are agents for Commodore Kitchens and AEG Kitchen and Laundry Appliances.

Recipe provided: Cheesy Fish Starter

 

Glenys Brundish, 2 Shepherd’s Down

Glenys Brundish’s husband Keith is manager of the Alresford branch of Barclays Bank.

Recipe provided: Mixed Fish Patés

 

Sue Clark, Studley House, Rosebery Road

Mrs Clark is a Research Nursing Sister at Alresford surgery looking into blood pressure. She is married to one of the Group Surgery doctors.

Recipe provided: Fish Paté

 

Ann Wadman, Chestnut House, Dorian Grove

Mrs Wadman is secretary of the Alresford Art Society, which welcomes anyone who is interested to talks on all aspects of the visual arts. Painting, enamelling, book binding and calligraphy are some of the subjects in this present season. Outings to places of interest and theatres are arranged regularly. The society meets on the first Friday of each month.

Recipe provided: Chicken Liver Paté

 

Jo Newbury, The Globe Inn, the Soke

Recipe provided: Stilton Paté

 

Hampshire Watercress Ltd

Mr Raymond Isaac began growing watercress on one acre of land in the 1940s. Today his company, Hampshire Watercress Ltd, with its trade name Vitacress, cultivates more then 50 acres, and is the biggest grower in the UK and possibly the world. They supply most major supermarkets.

Watercress has long been regarded as a natural source of important nutrients, and contains vitamins A and B and Riboflavin, plus mineral salts such as calcium and iron. It is ideal for diets, having only 4 calories per ounce.

If bought as a bunch, wash thoroughly and trim as required, shake off excess water and put in a closed polythene bag, or a container from which air has been excluded. Keep it, and pre-packed cress, in a refrigerator.

             Recipes provided: Tangy Starter, Slimmer’s Special, Stuffed Tomatoes,                 and Egg and Watercress Mousse

 

Jill Shackleton, 24 Arle Gardens

Jill Shackleton is Clerk to New Alresford Parish Council. As its only paid officer she is secretary and archivist, keeping all plans, deeds records, letters, writings etc, and carrying out all functions and duties imposed by statute, regulation or order.

The council’s duties are to provide public open spaces, recreational facilities, street lighting, bus shelters, litter bins, and seats, and to make byelaws. Possibly its most important role, however, is to bring local matters to the notice of the District Council and the Hampshire County Council.

Recipe provided: Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Jane Long, Linnets Cottage, Tichborne Down

Alresford Golf Club (the course is opposite her cottage) was founded in 1890 on downland owned by Sir Joseph Tichborne (of the family of the Greta Tichborne Inheritance case fame), the course was grazed by sheep until 1907.Charles Marks, of Woking Golf Club, was then employed as the first professional greenkeeper, but unfortunately he fell out with Sir Joseph and only stayed for two years.

golf club railway carriage

Thatched and wood clad, this was the Golf course Clubhouse, based round a railway carriage: picture from alresfordheritage.co.uk, and “The History of Alresford Golf Club” by ER Hedges, 1990.

A room at the ‘Cricketer’s’ served as a clubhouse at first (no ladies permitted of course); later, in 1953, a retired railway carriage was placed by the first tee, and used for 16 years. The present Clubhouse on the Cheriton road now serves a membership of over 400 and is a social and sporting centre.

Recipes provided: Mushrooms Provencales, and also Savoury Toasts

 

June Gregory, Grasshoppers, Grange Road

June Gregory has worked hard for Oxfam for many years. Her husband Peter is a partner in a firm of Solicitors whose offices in Broad Street were formerly part of the Old George [Inn]. This In was owned by Winchester College and built for them in about 1420. Twenty years later, in 1439, it was burnt down in one of Alresford’s Great Fires, and not rebuilt until a lease was granted in 1460.

In 424 it was referred to as the ‘St George’. Presumably it was then known colloquially as ‘the Old George’ and that gradually became its proper name.

The Inn was sold by the college to a brewery in 1914. It was then closed on 1st September 1927, after more than 500 years of innkeeping.

Recipe provided: Mushroom Savouries (‘Mock Snails’)

 

Vasanti Rogers, Chalk Hill, New Farm Road

Born of Indian parents in the city of Lucknow, where she spent her childhood, Vasanti studied Manipuri dance at the Vidyodaya School in Madras and was a student at Wellesley Collegeand Columbia University in the USA. She teaches yoga in Alresford and Winchester.

Vasanti is part-owner, with her husband Tom, of the antique shop ‘Rogers of Alresford’. They deal in English pottery, furniture and works of art. They also exhibit at major antiques fairs.

Recipe provided: Indian Spiced Meatballs (Kofra Balls)

Part 2 of 1980s Alresford, covering people who gave recipes for Soups, will follow!

 

 

 

Alresford Ladies support the Men’s Shed!

There has been a lot of progress in the first few weeks of this year, now that the Alresford Men’s Shed has been able to commence creating the workshop area in 1 The Dean, our first Shed location – look out for our signboard outside the building soon, under the ‘Lorem’ sign. After clearing the rooms, half a dozen work benches have been built, and racking for tools erected.

The website, www.alresfordmensshed.org.uk has gone live.

Support from the Alresford Ladies Group

While our search for grants from major donors continues, we are delighted that the Alresford Ladies Group has voted to donate half their Charity giving for 2018 to the Men’s Shed!

Some sceptics might say that the Ladies want to find somewhere to send their menfolk, to get them out of the house, more reasonable people suggest it might be a way of telling the same menfolk to do those repairs, down at the Shed, where someone competent will suggest how to do it! This could be very true, but actually the Shed is expecting to attract Ladies as Members as well, and they will get the same help and support as the male Shed Members. So we look forward to having some of the Alresford Ladies join up too.

The Shed is buying and collecting donated tools, to equip the benches: so please sort the shed or the garage out and locate anything surplus to your needs. We are also looking for projects/jobs that we can do for individuals, or the community more widely, in the very near future – so line up any jobs that you would like us to consider doing for you. Repairing chair legs, rewiring table lamps, covering up scratches – anything is possible. There will be a charge for any materials used, but the labour is free – of course donations to our costs are welcomed.

Equal Opportunities

The Alresford Men’s Shed welcomes men and women as full members of our workshop: all will get the benefit of the experience and advice of other members, if needed, and the members equally will benefit from the experience of all!

 

1996 Bell Hotel Fire

News topics from the 1996 papers

The following two items appeared in the local newspapers found in the time capsule placed in the Methodist Chapel in the Dean, during its renovation for the Alresford Youth Association in 1996.

Bell Hotel Fire

In the issue of the Hampshire Chronicle that was placed in the Methodist Chapel time capsule that was re-created in 1996, there was a news item about a recent fire in the Bell Hotel. The newspaper was dated 8 March 1996 – it said

“Four people who were asleep in the Bell Hotel in Alresford, on Sunday night, had a lucky escape. Carl May, son of the Manager, woke up to the smell of smoke just before 0230 and raised the alarm. Hotel manager Courtney May, Carl, and two guests who were in the hotel at the time made their way to safety.

The first fire fighters on the scene were from Alresford, followed by those from Winchester. “When we arrived we could see fire coming out of the roof, it had obviously been burning for some time,” said Winchester sub-officer Kevin Oxlade. “It was a very serious fire.”

bell hotel fire 1

Efforts were originally made on preventing the flames spreading to nearby buildings. It took about four hours for six units plus a turntable ladder, and 40 firefighters from Alresford, Winchester, Twyford and Alton to get the blaze under control. Damping down operations continued for most of the morning. Fire investigators attended the scene on Monday: the cause of the fire was thought to have been an electrical fault

The roof, top floor, and the first floor where the guest bedrooms were located suffered the most damage.”

bell hotel fire 2

The scene the next morning

The hotel was owned by Phoenix Inns at the time. The building is Grade II listed, recorded as a coaching inn dating from 1756. Additional reporting by the Winchester Extra is included above.

Creamfields – Boomtown gets go-ahead

Also in a front page feature in the Hampshire Chronicle of 8 March 1996, the Winchester City Council gave the go-ahead for the music festival at Cheesefoot Head, stating the assumption that it would be likely to attract 50,000 people.

From 1896 Methodist Chapel to 2017 Event Space!

Whitespace-126

In Autumn 2017, the old Methodist Chapel, in the Dean in Alresford, was re-opened as “White Space Alresford”, an event space for hire in the middle of Alresford. The building has been totally renovated, and now features a single storey 850 square feet of space, with a 6.6m high vaulted ceiling. The space is truly described as a white space, with white walls and arched ceiling, and white light from windows in the roof, as well as the original long thin windows in the East wall facing the street. ‘White space’ is offered for hire as an ideal venue for ceremonies, pop-ups, photoshoots, workshops (for training or product launches) and wellness days. For a conference the room be fitted out with chairs, and tables if needed, to accommodate 26 delegates.

25011225_880578675400522_5890511482839367680_n   yoga4-379x592

During the 2016 renovation work at the building, the workmen found a time capsule placed there in 1996, when the last renovation took place. This time capsule incorporated the contents of another, earlier time capsule, installed when the building was originally constructed, which by coincidence was dated March 1896, almost exactly 100 years previously. Holly Budge of White Space Alresford has generously decided that the documents in the capsule should be passed to the Alresford Museum, so that they can be preserved and recorded as an important part of the town’s history.

The Methodist Chapel, 1896

The ‘Primitive Methodist Chapel’, in the Dean, Alresford, was built in 1896. Many current Alresford residents, passing by the front of the building, which is directly against the pavement, will have seen the original 10 foundation stones at the base of the front wall. These were laid by the local notables and officials on Wednesday 11 March in 1896. The Mayor of Winchester, A.R. Dyer, laid the first stone. Other local people who paid for bricks, have their initials engraved in the side of a brick here too, as can be seen on the photographs.

aya 88 old stones

The builder given the work of erecting the Chapel was H. Mundy, builder and contractor, house decorator and undertaker, of Essex Road, Basingstoke. On some of his headed paper, dated 12 March 1896, four of his builders signed their names and added this to the time capsule they created. Their signatures were interpreted as Fred Mundy, John Willis and Bill Gunner in 1996: a fourth name was not deciphered, but could be “Harvey Bundon”: Victorian writing is hard to read at times, as you can see. The total cost of the original building was £200.

Builders signatures 1896

The newspapers originally interred in a cavity in the wall next to one of the doorways in the Chapel were the Hampshire Chronicle, the Hampshire Observer, published by Warren and Sons, and the “Primitive Methodist World and Sunday School Worker”: all these newspapers cost one (old) penny each. Regrettably the Hampshire Chronicle had been severely attacked by insects.

The copy of the Hampshire Observer tells us that following Mr Dyer, S. Tanner Esq of Avington also laid a stone, followed by other ladies and gentlemen. One was laid by Miss I. Smith on behalf of the orphanage children, in Old Alresford. After these ceremonies there was a public tea in the Town Hall at 5pm (tickets were one shilling each)

The build-up to 1996

By 1964 the building was no longer suitable for worship, and it was sold for £3000 to enable the purchase of further premises in Pound Hill. However, some people attending the 1996 ceremony remembered worshipping there. Alice Alsford, long connected with the NCH in Old Alresford, remembered attending services there, with children from the home. Bobbie Sanderson and her late husband John were actually married in the Chapel.

aya april 89

The Chapel before the AYA renovation, in 1989

The building was possibly not used immediately, and by 1993 was in a derelict state. It was recognised as a possible site for creating a permanent place for the activities of the Alresford Youth Association, which had been established as a registered charity and legal framework to run the activities of “Tonix”, a meeting room and non-alcoholic bar for teenagers aged 14-18. Tonix had started in East Street in October 1992, in a room rented short term, on the first floor of ‘The Peaceful Home’ pub. This was a successful activity, but when the management committee decided to fund-raise from the public to seek permanent premises, it was necessary to establish the AYA as a registered charity. The AYA was formed with support from the County Youth Service, and many other local organisations including the local Churches, the Chamber of Trade, the Parish Council, Rotary and the Police.

aya roof restoration 1995

Renovation, November 95

Tonix was homeless, after vacating rented premises, and after the plan to park a vintage bus acquired for the club on Arlebury Park had been scuppered by the town council – when a planning permission request for electricity and water connections was rejected. So when the Chapel was offered for sale in 1994, further local fund raising efforts in the community, as well as grants from official bodies, enabled the purchase of the building in October 1995, and work to commence on the renovation of the building. Fixed assets reported by the AYA (valued at cost) at the end of 1995 were totalled at £42,300, of which the major part would have been the purchase price of the Methodist Chapel in October 1995.

The 1996 ceremony and their capsule

In 1996 the Alresford Youth Association invited Pat Norris, the Mayor of Winchester, to unveil a new Foundation stone to be built into the wall of the old Methodist Chapel in the Dean, to go alongside the other stones placed there 100 years before.  The photo shows the Mayor accompanied by Sir Peter Ramsbotham (the AYA President), laying the stone.

stone laying 19960003    aya 98 foundstone

Diana Woolridge, chairman of the AYA, later explained the history of the building to the visitors and guests, assembled on the first floor of the Chapel building. The audience included parish and city councillors, members of the local churches, chamber of trade, Rotary and Alresford Pigs, all of whom joined with the community in raising the funds needed to finance the renovations. Grants also came from the County Council. This large space, she explained, would be a large meeting room and event space, while downstairs a lounge, kitchen and office was planned. Tim Churchill explained that the two levels would work separately, with one group downstairs and another upstairs. The original concept of the Tonix coffee bar meeting room would be re-opened downstairs later in the Spring.

The building façade had been preserved and the windows with the original Cathedral tinted glass have been retained – looking much as they did 100 years before. The total purchase and restoration was budgeted to cost a total of £90,000: the building work still in progress at that time was being undertaken by Chamberlain Construction, of Laurel House in Alresford, working to a £45,000 budget. Part of their work was planned to involve the re-interment of the old time capsule, with added information from 1996, including several current local newspapers reporting on the stone laying ceremony, and some National newspapers. Additionally included were the AYA Annual reports to the Charity Commissioners for 1994 and 1995, plus a statement from Chamberlain Construction listing the unit costs of the materials and consumables used in the restoration.

[The above information was distilled down from the documents in the time capsule, such as reports in the Hampshire Chronicle of 15 March 1996, and also the Alton Herald of 22 March 1996, and the annual reports of the AYA charity for 1994 and 1995.

A subsequent story will quote some of the events reported in the 1996 local papers found in the time capsule]

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Alresford Men’s Shed launches!

Heard about Men’s Sheds? It’s the idea that started in Australia*, where ‘Guys’ get together to share skills and launch into doing the things they’ve always wanted to, like repairing broken furniture, making a corner cabinet, re-wiring a lamp – alongside other people who have done it before, and can give a helping hand.

It also gives a social interface away from the home, where you can talk as much as you want, or walk away if it’s a hassle. The idea may be to give your wife some free time, and get out of the house. Beware, there may be some wives getting away from their husbands too, to get those nagging jobs done themselves, with some different advice.

Part of the SHED objective is to provide a Community service, in return for a donation, where little elderly ladies (of Alresford), and others, can get their walkers repaired, and their lamps rewired, or chairs glued.

OK, Commercial over, what about the Alresford Shed?

Alresford Men’s Shed is about to start up! Come and hear the launch plans, the facilities available, not now, maybe not next week, but certainly the ALRESFORD SHED will be OPEN after Christmas! Come and find a use for all the Christmas presents that you might get, particularly if someone else knows what they do.

The Alresford Shed launch meeting is on Thursday 14 December at the ARC, 11am. DO COME ALONG TO HEAR SOME GREAT NEWS and take the opportunity to chat to your fellow potential “Shedders”. Be at the start of it all. Stay till 2ish.

If you do intend coming please let us know as we are planning to provide a simple Ploughman’s Lunch with drinks. Just reply by commenting on this post on the website, see the box below: it will not appear publicly, but the message will get noted, and you added to the list for future info, if you wish.

Find out how to be a part of it

The Alresford Men’s Shed Membership application form will be available for completion on the spot, on 14 December. Or take one away, and visit us at the “SHED” next year.

There are as yet few rules, but there will be more, for basic health and safety.

All are welcome, there are many “Men’s Sheds” that have both male and female members. Bring your own projects, or come and help with others.

There will be an annual membership fee, and maybe an attendance fee to cover tea and coffee and electricity for the microwave and fridge. We don’t believe anyone can work properly without sustenance!

What has happened so far?

Alresford Men’s Shed has applied for Registered Charity status, and start-up funding has been donated by Hampshire County Council and Alresford Pigs Association. Already neighbouring SHEDs are offering us free spare tools and benches and whatever.

Come and listen to what could be created!

*Background: Australia is a country where guys are guys, and that means they need to have a comfortable place to go where they can do their own thing, and do things, and maybe talk a bit. Search for “Mens sheds” on Google (no apostrophe), or go to menssheds.org.uk: this site is English – beware, there are a lot of Irish Shed websites!