I have always had difficulty in placing past local events in their chronological sequence and in relating them to milestones in world history. Working on the presumption that others might have similar difficulties I have produced this summary which aims to show the development of Overton and to set it in the context of world events. I am no historian so I have shamelessly cribbed from any source which came to hand including anecdotal evidence; and I have not kept records to enable me to give attribution to the authors in question. If anybody recognises any words as their own then I hope they will please forgive me. I accept full responsibility for any errors and if anybody thinks there is anything which should be changed or added I should be pleased to hear from them.

Tony Morris
13th March 2007


Evidence of Stone Age, Bronze Age and Celtic occupation is shown scattered across the Ordnance Survey map of the parish and surrounding countryside, including:-


tumuli at Popham Beacons at the southern tip of the parish;

Abra Barrow on the boundary south west of Overton;

a long barrow to the west of Willesley Warren Farm in the north of the parish;

strip lynchets on Rotten Hill;

all along the edge of the downs to the north. Notably - Beacon Hill Fort, field systems; and Ladle Hill Fort, earthworks, field systems, tumuli;

the Harrow Way, an ancient track runs across the parish north of the village.


Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem


The Romans settled in Britain. The only obvious evidence of this in the parish is the path of a Roman road which marks the northern boundary of the parish for about a mile and a half.  But Roman pottery shards have been found in Little Meadow next to the village graveyard.  Pottery shards and Roman coins have also been found on Foxdown, the hill to the north of the village.

430 +

Angles, Saxons & Jutes settled in England; and later the Danes


Mohammed was born in Mecca


St Augustine came to England to establish Christianity


King Edward the Elder confirmed that the Manor of Overton be held by the Bishop of Winchester. Prior to then the land was owned by the Crown.


Norman Conquest


The Domesday survey, commenced in 1085, was completed and written up as the Domesday Book. It included:


a church on the site of St Mary's Church;
a corn mill on the site of Town Mill in Kingsclere Road. In more recent times this was turned into a rag mill for Laverstoke Paper Mill;
a corn mill on the site of Quidhampton Mill;
a corn mill on the site of Southington Mill. This was formerly known as Lynch Mill;
Othin's Mill which is thought to have been located in what is now called Silk Mill Lane. It was rebuilt and re-named as New Mill in the late 1400s. It operated as a fulling mill into the 1600s when it was converted into a corn mill and, in the 1700s, to a silk mill.


At the time of the survey the village was located round St Mary's Church and Court Farm, north of the river. Most of this old village disappeared during the Middle Ages.


At this time St Mary's is thought to have been a simple structure consisting of a short nave and chancel. It was enlarged several times during the next 3 centuries.


Richard the Lionheart was crowned King and immediately went on crusade to Jerusalem.


The Magna Carta was signed by King John.


The Bishop of Winchester built a "new town" south of the river in a grid pattern which can still be seen today. This included Winchester Street - a nice wide street so that markets could be held there. Until then the main N - S route through the village was via Bridge Street and Red Lion Lane.


Sheep fairs were held annually in Winchester Street. These continued, from time to time, through to the 1930s.


Salisbury Cathedral was completed (except for the tower).


Henry Tredgold, a local man, was hanged at Winchester - offence unknown.


A pillory was built in Overton at a cost of 19 pence for labour with wood provided by the Bishopric. The pillory was a device to lock a miscreant by the neck and wrists. Stocks were built later. These were used to restrain offenders by the ankles.


The courts at Overton were held at Court Farm - except for serious offences when the accused were taken to Winchester.


Overton suffered badly from the Black Death. The population of England was reduced by about a third (approx 2million deaths) and did not begin to rise again until the early 1500s.


Battle of Agincourt


The White Hart Hotel was in existence.


The Wars of the Roses


Court Farm (Overton Court House) was rebuilt with a great barn.

Early 1500s

The ownership of much of the village passed to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, as part of its foundation endowment, but a good deal of land continued to be owned by the Bishopric until the 1800s. The College was prevented by statute from disposing of land until 1858.


Henry VIII made himself head of the English Church.


Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the world in the Golden Hind which was only 75 feet long at the waterline. (They had no satnav or auxiliary engines, and no maps to cover much of the voyage).


Drake defeated the Spanish Armada.

Late 1500s

Cottages were built along The Lynch.


Bridge Street and the outer stretches of the High Street began to be developed.


A map of the village shows Corpus Christi College and the Bishopric as the major landowners. The road up Overton hill is not shown on the map and some have suggested that it was built at a later date. If this is true then the main road out of the village to the east would have been what is now called Two Gate Lane.


Shakespeare died.


The Pilgrim Fathers landed in N America.

1642 - 9

Civil War. Overton was largely unaffected. Parliamentary forces under Sir William Waller passed through the village in October 1644 on the way to the Battle of Newbury.


The Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.


The Overton halfpenny was in use.


Young Henri de Portal, a Huguenot (French Protestant), escaped from religious persecution in France and arrived in Southampton. He served an apprenticeship at South Stoneham as a paper maker and was naturalized in 1711 as Henry Portal. In 1712 he started paper making at Bere Mill near Whitchurch.


The foundation of the Bank of England.


The Red Lion and the Greyhound both date from at least the 18th century.


Coaches did not become general in Hampshire until well into the 18th century and farmers' wagons were the more usual form of transport for those who could not go by horse.


The last execution for witchcraft in England.


Henry Portal expanded his business and started making paper at Laverstoke in a former corn mill which he rebuilt for the purpose. In 1724 Portals acquired the contract to make banknote paper for the Bank of England. This contract has been retained by Portals through to the present day. Henry died in 1747 and is buried in the parish church at Whitchurch.


A representative of the Bank of England, the Bank Officer, was sent to Laverstoke to oversee the manufacture of bank-note paper. A house was built for him next to the mill. It can still be seen there today.


During the 16th century, the east/west road through Overton became more important than the north/south road. This was because it was developed as a royal post horse route between London and the West Country. In 1754 it was turnpiked and its surface improved. This might possibly have been when the road was built up Overton hill.


The New Inn (also known as the Poyntz Arms) was built on the site of the present Community Centre. This was to cater for the thriving coach traffic between London and the West Country.


Seven Years' War with France.

Mid 1700s

Start of the Industrial Revolution.


1st voyage of Captain Cook.


There was a major refurbishment of the White Hart Hotel. A room in the hotel was used as a Magistrate's Court until 1895 when a new system of local government was established.


The Hampshire Chronicle was founded.


American War of Independence.


Overton House was built about this time by the owner of Overton Silk Mill. The remains of Overton House are incorporated in the housing development next to the White Hart in London Road. The Silk Mill was located on the River Test by Silk Mill Lane and employed hundreds of women and children.


Britain started sending convicted prisoners to Botany Bay, Australia. The convicts were forced to work building the infrastructure for settlement of this new land and later, as settlers arrived, the convicts were used as a free source of labour. This is not as bad as it sounds as their living conditions were often better than for free men back in England.


The settlement of Australia was not welcome by the existing occupants who had been there, undisturbed, for many generations. They resisted and lost the battle. Within a few years this led to their total extermination in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land).


War with France.


Harry Portal built Laverstoke House.


Overton Workhouse was built in the early 1800s on the north side of Dellands, on the edge of the village.


In 1817, in a borrowed room, a new curate, David Williams, established the first National School in Overton. Prior to that there had been a handful of "dame schools" but this was the first free primary school. It was called a National School because it was affiliated to the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church.


In another room David Williams also established a parochial lending library. In 1853 the reading room acquired its own premises and a management committee.


By the end of the century the workhouse was no longer needed and it was converted to cottages. These have since been demolished.


Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France.


The combined French and Spanish fleet was defeated at Trafalgar but Nelson was killed. England now had rule of the oceans and this enabled the development of the British Empire.


On the 5th November 1805 a frigate captain, taking news of the victory to London from Falmouth, stopped in Overton to change horses. This event is commemorated by a plaque on the north wall of the Community Centre.


Abolition of the slave trade in British territories.


Battle of Waterloo.


Agricultural disturbances swept across most of the south of England - known as the Swing Riots. The rioters acted against farmers who kept wages low and used threshing machines which deprived labourers of winter work. In Hampshire the riots lasted about a week and ended with three men being hanged in Winchester and over 100 being transported to Australia.


In Overton, several hundred labourers marched through the town demanding money, food and higher wages. Prompt negotiations with local farmers and Portals resulted in a settlement.


See above (1788) re settlement of Australia. By 1830 the settlers in Tasmania were near the end of their total extermination of the indigenous population.


1st Factory Act. Its main provisions included:-


children under 9 should not be employed in factories;

children under 13 should not work in factories for more than 8 hours a day;

women and young persons under 18 should not be employed for more than 12 hours a day.


Charles Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers.


A new National school was built by the river on the Kingsclere Road on the site of 3 cottages which were bought from the Church for £60. This was an unfortunate choice of location and the conditions were so unpleasant that the school teacher refused to live there.


Queen Victoria came to the throne.


The Congregational chapel was built.


Overton Silk Mill, which employed many women and children, went bankrupt and closed. The mill building was subsequently demolished but some workers' cottages remained until the late 1950s.


The Pike family split from the traditional Chapel and built their own small chapel in their garden at 26 High Street.


The parish rector, John Johnstone, absconded having incurred enormous debts. Despite a diligent search he was never found.


Despite John Johnstone's "failures", St Mary's Church had major works carried out - a new roof, new tower and interior rebuilt.


Overton's reading room was moved from the workhouse to its own premises. A photograph from 1897 shows the Reading Room located in Winchester Street on the site that is today occupied by the Redfort Restaurant.


Crimean War - the Charge of the Light Brigade. Colonel Robert Portal was one of the 600 who rode into the "valley of death" but he was one of the survivors. He died in 1888 and is buried at Ashe Church.


The railway came to Overton and long-distance coach traffic abandoned the road.


Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species and the Church establishment was outraged.


The New Inn, which had become unprofitable following the coming of the railway, was demolished.


A new National School was built on the site of the New Inn (now the Community Centre). This was paid for by George Lamb, a founder member of the firm of solicitors Lamb Brooks which still operates in Basingstoke today.


A new school for infants was built in Red Lion Lane on land provided by George Lamb.


Bell invented the telephone.


Jack the Ripper was at large in Whitechapel.


Laverstoke Mill held a fete at Malshanger to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.


Gas lighting came to Overton.


Boer War.


Town Mill was rebuilt by Portals.


Queen Victoria died.


Marconi transmitted a radio message from England to America.


St Mary's church tower suffered a major crack and was in danger of collapse.


St Mary's tower was rebuilt at a cost of £2,000 but without a spire on the upper half.


An electricity turbine was built on the Test at Southington to supply power to Southington House. Its remains are there today.


Hide's stores and 3 cottages in the High Street were destroyed by arson.


22nd June - King George V's coronation.


The Titanic sank.


A spire was added to St Mary's new tower at a cost of £300.


Hide's was rebuilt.


St Mary's Hall was opened in the High Street. It housed the library from 1954 until 1978 when it was moved to the Community Centre.


World War 1. The war memorial in the churchyard shows that Overton did not escape unscathed.


There were approximately 9m military deaths in WW1 and a similar number of civilian deaths.


A Spanish flu pandemic killed an estimated 40m people worldwide.


Fords in Kingsclere Road were replaced by bridges.


The vote was given to women over 30. The school leaving age was raised to 14.


The Overton Memorial Institute was built next to Moore's Farm on the corner of Station Road and London Road.


Stalin came to power in Russia. Up to his death in 1953 it is estimated that he was responsible for between 45m and 66m deaths (estimates vary).


Portals new factory opened by the railway in Overton.


The first TV broadcast was made using the BBC's transmitter in London.


Main drainage came to Overton. Prior to that "night soil" was removed by a man with a horse and cart.


The Whitchurch, Overton and District Official Guide informs us that gas was supplied by the Whitchurch Gas & Electricity Company Ltd and electricity by the Basingstoke Corporation. Water was supplied by the Kingsclere & Whitchurch Rural District Council.


Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary.


Billy Butlin opened his 1st camp at Skegness.


Only 21 years after World War 1, the war to end all wars, came World War 2. Overton again suffered along with all other towns and villages throughout the nation.


Estimated total deaths this time were 22m military and 37m civilian.


Bank of England staff moved to Overton and were housed in temporary buildings (the chalets) on Foxdown. St Luke's Hall was built (a temporary single skin structure) to provide facilities for their entertainment.


A bombing raid on Portal's Mill caused the death of two people and injured three others.


Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


St Luke's Hall in Winchester Street was presented as a gift to the village by the Bank of England "for the general benefit of the residents".


There was a shortage of labour for Portal's Mill and they advertised nationally for young female factory workers. Several came and they were housed in the chalets on Foxdown.


Within a few years most former British colonies, which had provided soldiers to fight for the allies in two world wars, demanded and were given independence. Most joined the British Commonwealth.


State of Israel established.


War in Korea.


The late 1950s saw the demolition of the remaining Silk Mill cottages in Silk Mill Lane.


Bathing pool in the river above Town Mill closed, possibly because of fears of polio.


Queen Elizabeth II crowned.


DNA discovered.


St Mary's Church in Laverstoke Park was demolished. Its bell was dated 1624.


Food rationing ended (started in 1940).


By now only one of The Lynch cottages, built in the 1500s, remained. The last ones to go were condemned as uninhabitable and were demolished.

1960s - 70s

Lordsfield School opened in Court Drove replacing the two National Schools. The infant school became a Youth Hostel and more recently a private residence. The junior school became the Community Centre.


With fears of nuclear attack by the Russians, a Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post was built on Overton Hill. This was part of a network across the whole country. The network, including the Overton post, was closed down in 1991.


End of National Service (conscription into the armed forces).


Beeching Report on the railways.


The death penalty for murder was abolished.


The Overton Recreation Centre was officially opened.


Outbreak of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.


Overton Railway Station's buildings were demolished.


Age of majority and voting rights reduced from 21 to 18.


Heath signed the Treaty of Brussels re entry into the Common Market.


The Health and Safety at Work Act was enacted.


Compulsory equal pay for men and women.


The library opened in the Community Centre. It had previously operated from St Mary's Hall.


Polytechnics permitted to become universities.


Falklands War.


GCSEs replaced O Levels and CSEs.


Riverside Close was built (4 houses).


The site was cleared for the new Co-op shop in Winchester Street. The Post Office subsequently moved from the crossroads into the new Co-op building.


The Airpak site was cleared at top of Winchester Street and redeveloped as Papermakers (which is a little strange because they made quilted fabric).


The use of the cane for corporal punishment in state schools was abolished.


Town Mill was extended and converted into flats.


Woodlands Garage closed and the site was redeveloped as King'

s Meadow.


The World Wide Web was invented.


Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.


The Royal Observer Corps nuclear attack monitoring post on Overton Hill closed down.


The new Doctors' Surgery was opened in Station Road.


The Community Centre yard was refurbished.


The Tour de France passed through Overton. (The Overton section was "won" by local octogenarian Alec Smith who rode down the High Street, well ahead of the main pack, much to the delight of the waiting crowd).


Massacre of 7,000 Moslem men and boys at Srebrenica, Bosnia whilst under the protection of the UN.


Portals was sold to De La Rue.


Labour came to power.


There had been an annual carnival in Overton for many years. The last one (?) was in 1998. The main reason for its demise appears to have been the greatly increased cost of obtaining insurance cover and the increased tendency towards litigation whenever things go wrong.


The Human Rights Act was passed and came into force in 2000.


The Meeting Rooms were added to St Mary's Church.


1st "New" Sheep Fair held in Winchester Street.


The source of the River Test moved up the valley from Ashe to the sewage works beyond the Beech Arms at Oakley. The main road into Deane was closed for several months because of floods.


September 11 - terrorist attacks on World Trade Centre and the Pentagon causing 3,030 deaths and 2,337 injuries.


Villagers protested over the hedging and fencing of The Lynch. Eventually the offending obstructions were removed and The Lynch returned to its undisturbed state.


Invasion of Iraq because of the threat of weapons of mass destruction which subsequently could not be found.


The Overton Design Statement was published setting out the standards that the people of Overton want adhered to as the village is developed in the future.


2nd New Sheep Fair.


Launch of the village website www.overtonvillage.com


Expansion of the EU which subsequently resulted in massive increase in immigration from other European countries and their former colonies.


New houses on Kingsclere Road at Foxdown.


Clock added to the Community Centre Spire.


The ban on fox hunting with dogs came into force.


Quidhampton Mill roof in state of collapse.


Terrorist attacks in London with 50+ dead and 700 wounded.


Berrydown Garage closed for the sale of petrol (the last petrol station in the village).


A new rugby pitch on Overton Hill awaits finance to build changing facilities.


Great excitement and weeks of traffic hold-ups followed the discovery of the remains of an old brick and flint retaining wall on Overton Hill roadside. With no funds available for restoration, the wall was re-buried.


Little Meadow was planted by Overton Biodiversity Society.


A major new housing development started on Overton Hill.  The  design and layout of the development paid little regard to the 2002 Overton Design Statement.


The building of a new garden was commenced behind St Mary's Hall.


A new car park was opened on Overton Hill.


overtonpictures.com was launched.


© Tony Morris - 13th March 2008