Whitchurch In Hampshire

Whitchurch In Hampshire

13th century

By 1300, Trim had a population of about 1,500-1,800 and the town was surrounded by a strong earthen wall with three fortified gateways. There were also six watermills associated with the town. Trim Castle represented the most advanced engineering of the time. The castle was built on the crossing of the Royal and Dalkey arms of the River Boyne by King John in 1210 and he stayed there for a night before returning to England.

In 1250, one of the earliest recorded references to the village using its present name appeared, Hampshire List (hampshire-list.co.uk). The town probably took its name from the river, which originally denoted a broader area comprising lands of Countess Godiva, and later used only for the section between Coventry and Dunchurch. There is also a reference to Fillongley in an ecclesiastical record of 1222. Witcherche became the capital of “the hundred of Witcherche”, which was one of the wapentakes (administrative divisions) of the vast Honor of Pontefract; its court was held each year on Lady Day (25 March), and there are records from as early as 1284.

The town’s established industries at this time included 4 weavers, 2 blacksmiths and 3 drapers. The village also held a three-day fair on the feast days of St Giles (1 September) and the Holy Trinity. It was considered so important that in 1344 Edward III raised it to the rank of capital of an independent bailiwick. Similar to many English market towns, Great Dunmow's medieval prosperity was built on wool. Production of woollen cloth was such an important industry that Great Dunmow became known as the Wool Capital of England.

16th century

In 1531, during the reign of Henry VIII, the young King Edward VI was appointed to the title and style " Lord of Bowland and Whitchurch ". It was not until Edward's death in 1553 that Queen Mary removed his title to Bowland and Whitchurch. In her will in 1556, she left Bowland to the infant daughter of her half-sister. When Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, Bowland reverted to Crown property, and it was then bestowed upon William Blundell.

He sold it on the same year to Thomas Rishton of Yorkshire. His descendent John Rishton held land until 1670 when it was purchased by Richard Shuttleworth. Mary I restored the Church of England's relationship with Rome and Whitchurch, along with the rest of the country, returned to the Roman Catholic faith. Mary's death in 1558, again left Protestants in charge of England. However, it was not long before the next monarch, Elizabeth I, reapplied Protestant reforms.

She did this partly at Whitchurch because she was travelling from Oxfordshire to London [citation needed]  to be crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey. In 1553, Mary died and Elizabeth, her younger sister, took over the throne. During her reign, John White was staying in Plymouth on a return trip from America and baptised several of the local Native American chiefs. In 1569 Elizabeth granted Charter to Whitchurch to hold markets and an annual fair. The charter also allowed the townspeople to have street markets which have become the present day fair.

. When Henry VIII died in 1547 his nine-year-old son, Edward VI, inherited the throne. Under Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Edward Seymour the Lord Protector, England became more Protestant, and the people of Whitchurch were persecuted for their religious beliefs for six years until the death of Edward and the succession of Mary. The restoration of the monarchy began when Queen Mary I, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, married Philip II of Spain.

Under her, Catholicism was reintroduced to England, and the people of Whitchurch were required to sign an oath denouncing the tenets of Calvinism. The reign was short, ending with Mary's death in 1558. In 1553 the Church of England was declared the State Church of England and Whitchurch reverted to Catholicism. However, in 1558 the Roman Catholic Queen Mary died and Elizabeth I, Protestant daughter of Anne Bolyn (wife of Henry VIII) became queen. It is to this period that my novel ‘The Singers’ is set.

18th century

In 1720 a brewery was founded at the Anchor Brewery, which existed on the site of the current shopping centre. In 1790 James Kemsey, from Wiltshire, set up a coke-fired iron smelting business in the area; within a decade this had become one of the largest steelworks in the world. It was known locally as "Coles's Foundry", to distinguish it from others called "Kemsey's Foundry". In 1803, William Legs brewer, entrepreneur and 'scientific tinkerer'opened said first canal inclined plane railway (which he called The Albion), whereby canal boats could travel from Whitchurch to Nantwich.

He later invented a steam powered traction engine, which he sold. The earliest literary reference to the town is in Alfred the Great's will dated 888 which lists all of his possessions including several books and ""that of my harbour at Uchie [Whitchurch]"" which is listed separately from ships. This is the only writing in which Whitchurch is mentioned in a medieval context, but it probably contained manorial elements from before 1066. William I granted land in Whitchurch for the founding of Cirencester Abbey, held by William fitz Ansculf, under abbot William de Falaise and its comitone and abbey church was built between 1135 and 1140.

The extant ruins of its nave are from the fourteenth century. In 1720, a company was formed to build Royal Mint. The land was bought for £50,000, with a further £30,000 raised through subscriptions. The first stone was laid in October 1726. By the time the building was completed in 1769 it had cost £667,000 and 11 men's lives. Up to 13,000 coins a day could be struck by the six or seven furnaces operating day and night – mostly half-crowns, but with smaller quantities of shillings and fractional coinage too.

The forced air system of Alderman John Harford powered a large bellows under the floor of each furnace, making them the first steam engines in the UK; their location on the roof (. The town hall was built during the reign of Queen Anne. In 1712, Henri de Portal, a Huguenot refugee from France, established a paper mill at Bere Mill in Whitchurch, producing exceptionally hard and close-textured paper. The quality of the paper was considered so high that within twelve years, Portal was supplying the Bank of England, a tradition that still continues.

We arrived at the gates of Bere Mill just as they were closing for the day. We found one of the lodge keepers, who had two young pups rushing around his feet. He was a proud owner of these, a cross between a Saint Bernard and an English Mastiff. I asked whether they were for sale, and he replied that he would not part with them for anything less than 20 guineas each. The Whitchurch Paper Mill became one of the most extensive in the south, employing over 200 people by 1815.

It remained one of the last integrated mills, carrying on production from rags to pulp and then cloth until 1928. Some original buildings still remain but it otherwise no longer functions as either a mill or a museum. Around 1290, a charter of grant to the town was granted by King Edward I and this gave the people of the town the right to hold a weekly market. The Manor of Woolwich was then leased to James Duke of York in 1474.


Town red link'', an electrically operated one-carriage train with a carriage capacity of 14, regularly runs between Whitchurch and Winchester; it is run by a small team of volunteers who are members of Town Red Link Ltd. The journey takes approximately 19 minutes and the train can reach speeds not exceeding 45 mph. The service is currently operated by 'Rosie', a Ruston Hornsby Diesel engine built in 1957 during its period of operation on the Furzebrook halt for the Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway.

The service is sponsored by the Blue Boar public house in the centre of Whitchurch with fundraising events held at the pub to pay for operation expenses, including track maintenance. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, there were ambitious plans for a light rail scheme to connect Whitchurch with Winchester. The scheme would have seen a line built from an already-existing branch line (originating at Basingstoke) northwards along the western edge of Whitchurch and then eastwards towards Rackheath.

The centrepiece of the plan was to be two stops in the town: one called Longmoor and another called Chandler's Ford. The scheme was rejected due to cost in 1995. The town is served by Whitchurch railway station, which lies on the Basingstoke and Deane Line. Opened as Whitchurch in 1847, it became a junction with the opening of the direct line from Bristol to London Paddington in 1856, connecting with the main line just north of Andover railway station.

Local rail services are provided by Great Western Railway and CrossCountry. Basingstoke railway station is a stop on the West of England Main Line serving the town centre, while Whitchurch railway station is between the two. Both are operated by South Western Railway. There are also some local services and links to Southampton Central via Winchester (and other destinations in Hampshire) on the Wessex Main Line, operated by Great Western Railway. The Whitchurch And Countesthorpe Community Hospital in the neighbouring village of Countesthorpe closed in March 2010.

The nearest hospital with an accident and emergency department is Andover War Memorial Hospital. The A34 road runs close to the town. Transport in and around the town includes several regular westbound services from Andover to Southampton, Totton, Winchester and Manchester Piccadilly via Basingstoke. Eastbound services go towards Andover, Salisbury and Brighton. It will direct you round the village's most famous locations - Jane Austens House Museum, St Nicolas's Church and the Scotts'Arms pub (yes!).

Leisure and sport

There are two 18-hole golf courses at Whitchurch. The Woodland course was designed by Robert Trent Jones and opened in 1979. The Moorland course was designed by former European Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher and opened in 1998. Both courses have hosted tournaments on the PGA European Tour and in 1988 the Moorland course hosted the now defunct Benson & Hedges International Open. Sport plays a large part in Whitchurch life. Its main football club is Whitchurch United F.


The River Test is a chalk stream running through the English county of Hampshire. It runs from a spring near Stockbridge, in the New Forest, to its confluence with the River Itchen at Titchfield where it forms the southern part of the Portsmouth Harbour.  Although several maps record it as "River Test", old maps and documents refer to it as "River Tist" or "Tist". It gives its name to Testbourne Hospital, Testbourne Lilley and Testwoodhill Copse.

The River Test is a small tributary of the River Thames in the English county of Hampshire. It rises near Clanfield and flows southwards through Deane, Shipton Bellinger, Odiham, Basingstoke, Micheldever, Burghclere, Thruxton and Whitchurch before joining the Thames near Popham. C., currently playing in the Gloucestershire County League. The club has two senior sides, a veterans team and an Under-19 team, along with a reserve side, and has recently added a ladies team to complete their 'S'Team.

Hampshire Potato Day

Hampshire Potato Day is a charity event that takes place in the town. In 2007, it attracted 2,000 keen gardeners from all over the South of England who travelled to the town searching for seed potatoes not available anywhere else in the country. It boasts the largest selection of varieties available to amateur growers in one place in the world; in 2008 that was 143. More than 200 varieties of potato were represented. In addition to this, there was a selection of onion, shallot and garlic varieties, as well as vegetable seeds.

There are also five separate seed merchants offering over 500 varieties. A wide range of gardening-related stalls and equipment add to the general atmosphere. Since its inception (1975), HPD has grown from an event with around 25 exhibitors to one which attracts over 1,000 national and international growers of potatoes, vegetable seeds, and related items each season. Potato Day begins on the Friday with a buyer’s day, when growers show their varieties. Most of the visitors are large-scale growers such as major supermarkets and potato merchants.


The town is historically one of the largest in Hampshire, and can trace its rich ancestry back to 870AD when King Alfred the Great gave the settlement to his daughter Aethelgifu as a wedding gift. The first written evidence of Whitchurch comes from the year 959AD, and it was known by several different variations in spelling – with Wicecræft, Wychirche, Whitsunchestre and Witchetstrea all appearing in historical documents. In 1253 John Stourpaine was granted a Royal Charter establishing a weekly market on Wednesdays, and later in 1665 Charles II renewed this charter.

This time-hallowed tradition continues to be observed today; there are still a number of traditional. The town centre has many independent shops, cafés and restaurants. There are two main groups of houses in Whitchurch: those along the high street with narrow alleyways leading off, which date from medieval times, and those on the hill up to Chilbolton Road. The former were rebuilt at the beginning of the 19th century in Victorian styles to replace an earlier group of buildings destroyed by fire.

The town is particularly well known for its architecture and there are numerous listed buildings with very few intrusions by modern development. Whitchurch has been a centre of trade for over two thousands years, but it is the magnificent Norman Church of St Peter & St Paul (circa 1093) which dominates the town today. The church replaced an 8th century Saxon edifice on the same site, and was at one time classed as one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in England.

The Nave, Lady Chapel and Bell Tower are all 15th century additions. Later additions include a porch in 1817 and a war memorial by Sir Reginald Blomfield. Around 1,000 years ago the Normans arrived, establishing Whitchurch as a farming community. Remains of the original Norman castle can still be seen today. In the 19th century, the River Testwatermill was converted into a paper mill, and in 1846 the mill became one of the first paper mills to have an all-metal Fourdrinier Machine.

The village is located on the old cattle drovers route from the South West coast to London. Once a thriving cattle market, Whitchurch has also been home to the local racehorse trainers, and former training gallops can be found only yards from some of Hampshire's finest golf courses. Located in between Winchester and Basingstoke, Whitchurch has long been a source of agricultural and market produce, and has a rich cultural history being the site of many stately homes including:.

Road Directions

A34 north/south route. Whitchurch is on the A34, which links Southampton to the Midlands and the north. It is also just three miles north of the main M3/A303 London to West country route. For traffic from Andover and Basingstoke, the B3400 connects directly. The A34 north/south route which links Southampton to the Midlands and the north, is also just three miles north of the main M3/A303 London to West country route. For traffic from Andover or Basingstoke, the B3400 connects directly.

Whitchurch, Hampshire

Whitchurch is one of a number of commuter towns along the M3 corridor and benefits from its proximity to Basingstoke, which has seen 54 per cent house price growth over the same period. Savills head of research for Surrey and Hampshire Ben Rogers said: 'The M3 corridor represents some of the best value commuter housing in the south of England. '. There are now 23 commuter towns in Hampshire, 16 of which have recorded double-digit growth over the last five years.

It’s not just the north of the county that is seeing big price rises, however. The latest data from Savills also shows that price growth across all regions has increased by around four per cent year-on-year. Within commuting distance of London, houses in Whitchurch were valued at 309,000 on average two years ago - compared with 404,000 now. The commuter town has grown 17 per cent in the last five years and shows the strongest growth among towns within four miles of central London.

Whitchurch, Hampshire. Whitchurch heads a list of the most successful commuter towns in the county of Hampshire. New research from Savills shows it has seen price growth of 45 per cent over the last five years, to an average of 324,927. Thanks to its situation, with excellent links east-west and south-west, plus the presence of the M3 for those travelling north-east, Whitchur ch can offer an array of benefits which sees it top the commuter town index.

Whitchurch, Hampshire has taken the top spot as the most successful commuter town in the UK with a 45% growth in house prices, from an average of just £212,100 to £324,927. Whitchurch is within a short distance of Andover and Basingstoke. It lies on several major bus routes and is a short drive from the motorway network. The small airfield at Blackbushe, in Surrey, is close by. From the Midlands or further afield, Whitchurch is on the A34 between Land's End and John O'Groats.