OUTLINE HISTORY OF OVERTON & THE WORLD

 

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

Pre-Romans

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.

c.3BC

Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem

43-410

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

570

Mohammed was born in Mecca

597

St Augustine came to England to establish Christianity

909

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.

1066

Norman Conquest

1086

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.

c.1150

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.

1189

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

1215

The Magna Carta was signed by King John.

1218

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.

1246

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

1258

Salisbury Cathedral was completed (except for the tower).

1277

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

1299

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.

1300s

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

1348-9

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.

1415

Battle of Agincourt

1442

The White Hart Hotel was in existence.

1455-85

The Wars of the Roses

c.1500

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.

1534

Henry VIII made himself head of the English Church.

1577-80

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).

1588

Drake defeated the Spanish Armada.

Late 1500s

Cottages were built along The Lynch.

1600s

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

1615

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.

1616

Shakespeare died.

1620

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.

1665-6

The Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.

1670

The Overton halfpenny was in use.

1685

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.

1694

The foundation of the Bank of England.

1700s

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.

1716

The last execution for witchcraft in England.

1719

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.

1725

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.

1754

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.

1750s

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.

1756-63

Seven Years' War with France.

Mid 1700s

Start of the Industrial Revolution.

1768-71

1st voyage of Captain Cook.

1770

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.

1772

The Hampshire Chronicle was founded.

1775-83

American War of Independence.

1780

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.

1788

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).

1793-1802

War with France.

1798

Harry Portal built Laverstoke House.

1800s

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.

1804

Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor of France.

1805

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.

1807

Abolition of the slave trade in British territories.

1815

Battle of Waterloo.

1830

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.

1830

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.

1833

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.

1836-7

Charles Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers.

1836

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.

1837

Queen Victoria came to the throne.

1838

The Congregational chapel was built.

1848

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.

1850

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

1852

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

1853

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

1853

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.

1854-56

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.

1854

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

1859

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

1860

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

1868

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.

1871

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

1876

Bell invented the telephone.

1888

Jack the Ripper was at large in Whitechapel.

1897

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

1899/1908

Gas lighting came to Overton.

1899-1902

Boer War.

1900

Town Mill was rebuilt by Portals.

1901

Queen Victoria died.

1901

Marconi transmitted a radio message from England to America.

1907

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

1908/9

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

1910

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

1911

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

1911

22nd June - King George V's coronation.

1912

The Titanic sank.

1913

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

1913

Hide's was rebuilt.

1914

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.

1914-18

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.

1918/19

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

1918/19

Fords in Kingsclere Road were replaced by bridges.

1919

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

c.1919

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

1922

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).

1922

Portals new factory opened by the railway in Overton.

1929

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

1932

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

c.1935

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.

1935

Silver Jubilee of King George and Queen Mary.

1936

Billy Butlin opened his 1st camp at Skegness.

1939-45

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.

1941

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

1945

Atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1946

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".

1946

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.

1947

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.

1948

State of Israel established.

1950-53

War in Korea.

1950s

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

c.1950

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

1953

Queen Elizabeth II crowned.

1953

DNA discovered.

1953

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

1954

Food rationing ended (started in 1940).

1959

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.

1960

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.

1960

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

1963

Beeching Report on the railways.

1965

The death penalty for murder was abolished.

1966

The Overton Recreation Centre was officially opened.

1968

Outbreak of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

1969

Overton Railway Station's buildings were demolished.

1970

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

1972

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

1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act was enacted.

1975

Compulsory equal pay for men and women.

1978

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

1981

Polytechnics permitted to become universities.

1982

Falklands War.

1986

GCSEs replaced O Levels and CSEs.

1987

Riverside Close was built (4 houses).

1987

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.

1987

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

1987

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

1988

Town Mill was extended and converted into flats.

1988

Woodlands Garage closed and the site was redeveloped as Woodlands.

1989

The World Wide Web was invented.

1989

Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

1991

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

1992

The new Doctors' Surgery was opened in Station Road.

1994

The Community Centre yard was refurbished.

1994

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).

1995

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

1995

Portals was sold to De La Rue.

1997

Labour came to power.

1998

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.

1998

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

1999

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

2000

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

2001

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.

2001

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

2001

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

2002

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

2002

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.

2004

2nd New Sheep Fair.

2004

Launch of the village website www.overtonvillage.com

2004

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

2005

New houses on Kingsclere Road at Foxdown.

2005

Clock added to the Community Centre Spire.

2005

The ban on fox hunting with dogs came into force.

2005

Quidhampton Mill roof in state of collapse.

2005

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

2005

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

2005

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

2006

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.

2006

Little Meadow was planted by Overton Biodiversity Society.

2006

A major new housing development started on Overton Hill.

2006

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

2006

A new car park was opened on Overton Hill.

2007

overtonpictures.com was launched.

 

© Tony Morris - 13th March 2008