A BRIEF HISTORY OF MEON VALLEY

By Tim Lambert

Titchfield

In the 6th century AD people called the Jutes from Denmark settled the Isle of Wight and part of Hampshire. A tribe called the Meon settled in the Meon Valley and they founded the settlement at Titchfield.

Titchfield was originally a feld, that is an open area of land where animals could graze. This feld may have belonged to a man with a name like Ticca. In time Ticca's feld became the village of Titchfield.

St Peters Church in Titchfield dates from the late 7th or 8th century. It is still known for its Saxon 'long and short' stone work and for the Roman bricks which were incorporated into the building.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Titchfield or Ticefelle as it was called, was a flourishing village with a population of around 130 but it soon grew bigger.

In the Middle Ages Titchfield was a large village with a population of a few hundred. Its inhabitants lived by farming and on the River Meon was a mill which ground grain to flour for the villagers.

Although it was really only a village Titchfield did have weekly markets. (In the Middle Ages there were few shops and if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market). From 1447 Titchfield also had a fair. (In the Middle Ages fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area).

Furthermore Titchfield was a busy little port as the river was navigable in those days.

Titchfield Abbey was founded in 1232.

Titchfield has had several royal visitors over the centuries. Richard II stayed in Titchfield in 1393. He stayed in the Abbey. In 1445 King Henry VI married of Margaret of Anjou at Titchfield Abbey. It is said that Anjou Bridge was built specially for them.

Titchfield Abbey was dissolved in 1537. It was given to Thomas Wriothesley, who dismantled the building and used the stone to build Place House. In 1547 he was made Earl of Southampton. Then in 1552 King Edward VI stayed in Titchfield. He described it as 'a handsome town'.

Queen Elizabeth stayed in Titchfield in 1569 and William Shakespeare may have stayed there.

However in 1611 the 3rd Earl of Southampton built a sea wall over the mouth of the river. A canal was built at the same time. However the sea wall spelled the end of Titchfield as a port.

In the early 17th century a market hall was built in Titchfield. In 1972 it was dismantled and moved to Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

In 1779 peter Delme purchased Place Hall. He dismantled it except for the gatehouse and the outer wall.

In 1801 Titchfield had a population of almost 3,000. It was almost as large as Fareham! Titchfield grew steadily during the 19th century and by 1901 it had a population of almost 7,000.

In the 1830s a writer said that although Titchfield was 'not large'. He said: 'it is neat and there are many respectable people resident in it'.

In the 19th century there was a tanning industry in Titchfield. There was also a brewing industry and there were many pubs. There was also a large strawberry growing industry around Titchfield.

In 1865 a gas company was formed in Titchfield to provide gaslight. In 1894 Titchfield was given a parish council.

In 1891 a mentally deranged woman named Alice Hinton murdered her three children aged 12, 10 and 8 in Titchfield.

In the 1920s Titchfield was 'modernised'. It gained a piped water supply, sewers and electricity.

West Hill Park School opened in 1920.

Plessey opened a plant at Titchfield in 1963.

However during the 20th century Titchfield retained its character and today it is a charming village famed for its many historic buildings. A nature reserve was created at Titchfield in 1972.

Today the population of Titchfield is 7,000.

Wickham

In Roman times Wickham was on the road from Winchester to Chichester. There was probably a small Roman settlement at Wickham along the main road.

After the Romans left people called the Jutes from Denmark invaded central Hampshire. The Jutes founded a village at Wickham.

The second half of the name Wickham is derived from the old word 'ham', which meant village or estate. The first part of the name is probably derived from the Latin word vicus, which means district or vicinity. So it was the village or estate by the Roman remains. Wickham is, of course, a common place name in England.

The village of Wickham was first mentioned in history in 826 AD. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 it was a typical village with a population of around 120. It also had 2 watermills which ground grain into flour for the villagers to make bread.

In the early Middle Ages Wickham grew larger and more important. In 1269 the people of Wickham were granted the right to hold weekly markets. (In the Middle Ages there were few shops and if you wished to buy or sell anything you normally had to go to a market). Wickham Square was probably laid out at that time as a site for markets. Wickham also had a fair. (Fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year). The Wickham fair attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area. Wickham fair is still held each year on 20 May.

The Church of St Nicholas in Wickham was built in the early 12th century. (Although there has probably been a church on the site since the 7th century when the people of Hampshire were first converted to Christianity). However the church was largely rebuilt in the 19th century.

A famous person, William of Wykeham 1324-1404, was born in or near Wickham and grew up there. In 1366 he became Bishop of Winchester. He founded Winchester College, Oxford, in 1380. William of Wykeham also founded Winchester School.

In the year 1334 Wickham was worth 6 pounds, 8 shillings and 6 pence in taxes paid to the crown. (There were 20 shillings in a pound and 12 pence in a shilling). Wickham was worth more than Fareham so Wickham must have been a busy and prosperous place.

In the mid 16th century the writer John Leland described Wickham as a 'pretty townlet'. So even in those days it was an attractive settlement.

Through the centuries Wickham was a tiny but busy market town. In 1700 it probably had a population of around 500. However in the 18th century there was a tanning industry in Wickham and in the 18th and 19th centuries a brewing industry. Both needed a supply of fresh water, which was readily available in Wickham. In those days the people of Wickham obtained their water from the dip hole.

Queen's Lodge in Bridge Street has a fire mark (a metal plaque) above its front door. In the 18th century fire insurance companies provided the only fire brigades. You placed a fire mark on your house to prove you had a policy with the company. If you did not have a fire mark then the fire brigade let your house burn down!

In any case early fire engines simply water tanks with a hand operated pump and a leather hose. They were pulled by horses.

Wickham Bridge has a stone carved with an inscription saying it was built by subscription in 1792.

Through the 19th century Wickham continued to prosper and grow. In 1801 Wickham had a population of 901 and compared to most of the villages in Hampshire it was a large community.

In 1820 Chesapeake Mill was built with timber taken from an American ship called the Chesapeake, which was captured during a war between Britain and the USA in 1812-15.

Sir Richard Grindall (1750-1820) who commanded HMS Prince at the battle of Trafalgar was buried in Wickham churchyard.

Wickham parish council was formed in 1894. Meanwhile during the 19th century Wickham fair continued. As well as horses there were pigs, cattle and sheep on sale.

By 1901 the population of Wickham was almost 1,200 and it was a flourishing village.

In 1903 a branch railway was built from Fareham through Wickham, to Droxford and Alton. However it was closed to passengers in 1955.

In 1906 a Methodist Church was built in Wickham.

In 1931 Wickham gained a gas supply. An electricity supply followed shortly afterwards.

Rookesbury Park School opened in 1929. Wickham Primary School opened in 1969.

The first council houses in Wickham were built in the 1930s. More were built after 1945. Many private houses were also built and the village grew rapidly. By 1971 the population of Wickham was about 3,000.

In 1978 Wickham was twinned with the French village of Villiers-Sur-Mer.

Wickham Vineyard opened in 1984.

In 1990 an old brewery and village hall in Wickham were converted into flats called Riverside Mews. (The brewery shut in 1910 and the buildings were given to Wickham Parish Council to use as a village hall).

Bay Tree Walk opened in 1987. The community centre opened in 1988.

Knowle Hospital was first built in 1852 and was extended over the years. However it closed in 1998. The hospital was replaced by houses known as Knowle Village.

Today Wickham is a picturesque village known for its historical buildings. Today the population of Wickham is about 4,200.

In 2007 Wickham was named Hampshire village of the year.

Soberton

In the 6th century AD a people called the Jutes from Denmark invaded central Hampshire. They founded Soberton. At first it was called Sud (South) bere (grange) tun (farm). However the south grange farm soon grew into a village.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Soberton had a population of less than 100. To us Soberton would seem a tiny hamlet but settlements were very small in those days. The manor of Soberton belonged to the king and it had one watermill where grain was ground into flour for the villagers.

St Peters Church in Soberton was built in the late 12th century although it has 14th century wall paintings. They are believed to show Saints Anne, Catherine and Margaret. A fourth unknown figure is also shown. The tower was built in the early 16th century. It was restored in 1881. Much of the money to do so was raised by servants and butlers. However Soberton Church was not a parish church until 1897. (Soberton was only made a separate parish in that year).

The White Lion pub in Soberton dates from the 17th century.

In the 1660s a tax was placed on hearths. At that time there were 49 households in Soberton. So the village had a population of about 225. It was a typical Hampshire village. Out of the 38 households in Soberton 10 were exempt from paying the tax because they were too poor. In other words about one quarter of the population were living in poverty. That was normal at that time.

In Soberton 7 households only had 1 hearth. In the 17th century the poorest people lived in just one or two rooms. At the other end of the scale a man named Mister Eyre had 16 hearths.

In 1747 Admiral Anson took the title Baron Anson of Soberton.

In 1801 Soberton had a population of 672. By the standards of the time it was quite a large village and during the 19th century Soberton grew much larger. By 1901 Soberton had a population of nearly 1,200 although it was scattered over a wide area.

In 1851 a National (Church of England) school was built in Soberton.

In the 19th century the area south of Soberton grew, Soberton heath and Newtown (its name is self-explanatory!). In 1850 Newtown was made a separate parish. The Church of the Holy Trinity in Soberton was built in 1851.

In the late 19th century Soberton Towers was built by Colonel Charles Brome Bashford. During its lifetime Soberton Towers has served as a private residence a primary school and a home for Wrens from HMS Mercury, Leydene.

A war memorial stands in Soberton to commemorate the men from Soberton parish who died in both world wars. Unfortunately there were many of them.

Soberton Millennium Walk was laid out in 2000.

In 2008 Soberton Newton Infant School became affiliated with the Church of England.

In recent decades development has occurred at Soberton Heath. Soberton itself remains a charming village. Today the population of Soberton is over 1,500.

Swanmore

In the 6th century AD a people called the Jutes, from Denmark invaded Hampshire and they settled in the Meon Valley. The particular tribe who settled in that area were called the Meon and they gave their name to the river. They probably founded Swanmore.

Mere is an old word for pond so Swanmore is named after a swan pond. The swans may have belonged to the Bishop of Winchester. In the Middle Ages the upper class ate swans as well as peacocks, herons and cormorants.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Swanmore was a tiny hamlet. It was too small to have its own entry in Domesday and was included as part of Droxford. (For administrative purposes Swanmore remained part of Droxford until 1894). Swanmore probably had a population of less than 100. To us Swanmore would seem tiny but settlements were very small in those days.

For centuries Swanmore stood in the middle of a great forest that spread from the border with Sussex to Winchester, the Forest of Bere.

At first the people of Swanmore lived in simple huts with wooden frames filled in with wattle and daub (panels of wickerwork covered in a mixture of clay and dung mixed with animal hair). Roofs were thatched and there were no chimneys only holes in the roof to let out smoke. Windows did not have glass only wooden shutters which were closed at night.

However in the late 16th and 17th century living standards rose. Houses were rebuilt in brick and they gained chimneys and glass windows.

In the 1660s a tax was levied on hearths in people's houses. A survey was made to see how many hearths each house had. In Swanmore there were 46 houses so it probably had a population of around 220. Swanmore was a typical 17th century hamlet.

In Swanmore only one person had 8 hearths. So he was the only affluent householder. One person had 5 hearths and 3 people had 4 hearths. They would have been reasonably well off. However 11 people had only 3 hearths and 16 householders in Swanmore were exempt from paying the tax because they were too poor. Most of them had only 1 hearth. (In the 17th century poor people often lived in only 1 or 2 rooms). About 1/3 of the population of Swanmore were living in poverty, which was normal at that time.

In the late 17th century a Quaker burial ground was laid out in Hampton Hill. The first burial was in 1667 and the last in 1703. Altogether 27 people were buried there.

Holywell House was built in the late 18th century.

Swanmore also stood on a coaching road between London and Southampton. The Rising Sun was once a coaching inn.

In the 19th century the population of Swanmore rose. By 1901 it had risen to over 900.

Furthermore for centuries Swanmore only had a chapel. It was too small to be a parish in its own right. However in 1845-46 the Church of St Barnabas was built and Swanmore became a parish. In 1876-77 A south aisle and tower were added to the church. In 1863 the Methodists built a chapel in Swanmore.

In the 19th century and the early 20th century there was a brick making industry in Swanmore. However the brick making industry ended in the 1930s.

In the 19th century a famous person was born in Swanmore. Stephen Butler Leacock (1869-1944) was born in the village but when he was six he moved to Canada. He later became famous as a writer and economist. Leacock House is named after him.

Swanmore House was built for a rich man named Charles Myers. However he died before the house was finished in 1880.

Life in Swanmore in the early 20th century was still primitive. It wasn't until the 1930s that people had gas and electricity. Nevertheless Swanmore was self sufficient and had several shops.

A memorial cross to those who died in the First World War was erected in Swanmore in 1921.

In 1864 a National (Church of England) school was built in Swanmore. It was enlarged in the 1880s. In 1964 3 infants classrooms were added to Swanmore primary school. Other parts of the primary school were rebuilt in 1969-1971.

In 1961 a secondary school was built in Swanmore. It became a comprehensive school in 1973.

Meanwhile from the 1960s onwards the population of Swanmore grew rapidly. In 1961 it only had 1,200 inhabitants but by 1974 the figure had reached 2,000.

In 1980 a new village hall was built in Swanmore. The Paterson Centre was built in 1989. It was named after Ron Paterson who was vicar of Swanmore 1962-1985 and who died in 2009. Then, in 1993 Swanmore was twinned with Maneglise in Normandy.

Today Swanmore is a pretty village with a general shop, a post office, a hairdresser, a butcher and three pubs. Many of the residents of Swanmore commute to Portsmouth or Southampton.

Today the population of Swanmore is about 3,000.

Droxford

Before 2,000 BC Neolithic (stone-age) farmers lived in the Droxford area. They built a long barrow (a burial chamber) on the site of the village.

Much later in the 6th century AD a people called the Jutes from Denmark invaded central Hampshire. A tribe called the Meon settled in the Meon Valley and they gave their name to the River. They probably founded Droxford.

The name Droxford is probably derived from ford and an old word 'drocen' meaning dry place.

The settlement of Droxford was first mentioned in writing in the 9th century AD. It was then called Drokeireford

A Saxon cemetery at Droxford was excavated in 1973. Of 39 people only 5 were elderly and 8 were children or adolescents.

At the time of the Domesday Book, in 1086 England was divided into areas called manors. The manor of Droxford or 'Drocheneford' as it was called included Swanmore and Shedfield. (For administrative purposes they remained part of the parish of Droxford until 1894). In 1086 the population of the manor of Droxford was about 250-300. To us Droxford would seem a tiny place but settlements were very small at that time. The Domesday Book also says that Droxford had two mills that ground grain into flour to make bread for the villages.

Parts of the Church of St Mary and All Saints in Droxford date from the middle of the 12th century.

At the time of the Domesday Book the manor of Droxford was held by the Bishop of Winchester.

In the Middle Ages a keeper of the king's wardrobe was from Droxford. His name was John de Drokenisford and he served King Edward I.

In the 17th century Izaak Walton, the famous fisherman who wrote The Compleat Angler came to Droxford to fish in the River Meon. He said it was the best river in England for trout. His daughter Anne married William Hawkins rector of Droxford.

In the 1660s a tax was placed on hearths. In Droxford at that time there were 38 households so the village had a population of about 200. (So it was a typical Hampshire village). Of those 10 households were exempt from the tax because they were too poor to pay it. So about one quarter of the population were living in poverty. (That was normal at the time). Furthermore 7 households in Droxford had only 1 hearth. At that time the poorest people lived in huts with just 1 or 2 rooms.

At the other end of the scale one man, Sir Richard Uvedale had 15 hearths.

Today many of Droxford's houses are Georgian.

In 1801 the population of the parish of Droxford was about 1,200. (However that included Swanmore and Shedfield). The population of the village of Droxford was only a part of that. Even so by the standards of the time Droxford was quite a large village and it was quite an important settlement.

In 1837 a workhouse was built in Droxford. Conditions in the workhouse were made as harsh as possible to dissuade people from seeking help from the state. Droxford workhouse was demolished in 1971.

A police station was built in Droxford in 1858.

A Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in Droxford in 1886.

Droxford fire brigade was founded in 1902 after Midlington House was burned. Two servant girls died in the fire.

In 1904 a man named Thomas Merrington opened a cycle works in Droxford. Later it became a garage.

A railway through Droxford from Alton and Fareham opened in 1903. On 2 June 1944 a train stopped at Droxford railway station. In it were Churchill and General Smuts. The next day Anthony Eden and Ernest Bevin arrived by car. On 4 June Eisenhower, de Gaulle and the prime minister of Canada Mackenzie King and the prime minister of New Zealand Peter Fraser came. They all met in the train discuss the D-Day invasion. It was planned to invade on 5 June 1944 but they agreed to delay the invasion until 6 June.

However the railway through Droxford closed to passengers in 1955. It closed to goods traffic in 1962.

In 1966 Droxford had a population of 661. It had 1 school, 9 shops, 2 pubs and a bank (which only opened on Wednesdays). Droxford also had a police station (which closed that year) and a Magistrates Court.

Today Droxford is a flourishing little village. Today the population of Droxford is a little over 600. Unlike many Hampshire villages it has not grown since the 1960s.

In 1984 a Saxon man was discovered at Meonstoke. Furthermore a Roman building was discovered about 1 kilometre north of Meonstoke. In 1987 a Bronze Age woman from about 3,000 BC was discovered.

There is an old legend that the Romans tried to build the city of Winchester on Old Winchester Hill but each morning when they arrived for work they found the stones they had laid had rolled down the hill! Eventually they gave up and built Winchester on its present site!

However the Romans left Britain at the beginning of the 5th century. Then in the 6th century a tribe of Jutes from Denmark called the Meon settled along a river valley in Hampshire.

The word stoc meant a hamlet dependent on a larger village nearby. That is how Meonstoke got its name.

The origin of the name Corhampton is obscure. At the time of the Domesday Book it was Quedementune. The word tune (pronounced tun) meant hamlet or estate but it is not known for certain what the first part of the name meant.

Exton was Essessentune at the time of the Domesday Book. It is believed it was once East Saxon tun or the estate of the East Saxon (from Essex).

However by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Meonstoke (or Menestoche as it was called) was quite a large village. It had a population of about 150. That was a fair size for the time. Many villages were smaller.

At that time Meonstoke belonged to the Bishop of Winchester. Three huge fields surrounded it and it had a watermill where grain was ground to flour for the villagers. There was also a watermill at Corhampton.

Corhampton has a Saxon church which was built in the early 11th century.

In the 13th century Meonstoke was granted a weekly market and an annual fair. (In those days there were no shops and if you wished to buy or sell anything you had to go to a market. Fairs were like markets but they were held only once a year and they attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area). So Meonstoke was, apparently an important local centre.

However in the 1660s a tax was placed on hearths and it showed there were only 49 hearths in Meonstoke which gave it a population of probably less than 250.

In 1719 many of the houses in Meonstoke were destroyed by fire. Altogether 23 buildings were burned down, which was probably about half the total.

Furthermore in 1790 Meonstoke suffered an epidemic of smallpox. (A terrible disease, which even if it did not kill you could leave you with scars or blindness).

In 1801 at the time of the first census Meonstoke had a population of about 300. So it was a quiet little village where the people worked on farms. The population of Meonstoke reached a peak in the mid-19th century when it was over 500. It then declined to a little over 400 by 1901.

In 1801 Corhampton only had a population of 120. In 1901 it had only increased to 173. In 1801 Exton had a population of 224. by 1901 it had only increased to 257.

Most of the people of Meonstoke worshiped at the parish church. It was built about 1230 and was at first dedicated to St Mary. It was renamed St Andrew's Church in 1830. The church was restored in 1871 and a new wooden tower was built in 1903.

In 1842 a National (Church of England) school was built in Meonstoke.

In 1894 Meonstoke gained a parish council.

During the First World War 22 men from Meonstoke were killed and another 5 were seriously wounded.

In the early 20th century Meonstoke remained a small and sleepy village. It did not have a piped water supply till 1954!

However even then it was growing and about 35 new houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today the population of Meonstoke with Corhampton is about 700.

Warnford

In the Bronze Age people built burial chambers called barrows at Beacon Hill near Warnford. So human beings have lived and farmed in the area for thousands of years.

However in the 6th century AD a people called the Jutes from Denmark settled in central Hampshire. A tribe called the Meon gave their name to the River Meon. Warnford was, obviously, the site of a ford over the river but we do not know for certain what the 'Ward' meant. It is probably a corruption of a man's name like Warna. He owned the ford.

At any rate by the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Warnford was a little village. It probably had a population of less than 150 but settlements were very small in those days. Warnford did, however, have two water mills where grain was ground to make flour for the villagers. It was surrounded by 3 huge fields where the villagers worked.

Warnford Church of Our Lady was first built by St Wilfrid the Saint who converted the South Saxons to Christianity about 675-680 AD. However the church was rebuilt in the Middle Ages and restored in 1906.

St John's House was built about 1210 by the St John family but today it lies in ruins.

A new manor house was built at Warnford about 1580 by Thomas Neale. However it was greatly altered in the 19th century. Warnford Manor House was demolished in 1956.

At the time of the first census in 1801 Warnford was still a small village with a population of only 272. It reached a peak of 460 in 1861 but afterwards it declined to only 277 by 1901. In other words in 1901 it was hardly any larger than it had been 100 years before.

The population continued to decline although a few new houses were built in Warnford in the 20th century. In 1989 High Barn Cottages were built on the site of an old barn.

Today Warnford is a picturesque little village with a population of about 240.

West Meon

In the 6th century a people called the Jutes from Denmark settled along the Meon Valley. (As late as the 18th century the Meon Valley was called Jutedene, which meant Jute valley). They gave West Meon its name.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) West Meon was called Menes. It was quite a large village with a population of about 200. West Meon had a church and it also had 2 mills where grain was ground to flour for the villagers.

In March 1644 skirmishes took place at West Meon during the Civil War prior to the battle of Cheriton Down on 29 March 1644.

However little else happened at West Meon through the centuries. It was a quiet agricultural community.

In West Meon is a memorial to George Vining Rogers. He was born in 1777 and was the village doctor for over 40 years. He died in 1846 and the memorial was erected about 1901.

In 1801 West Meon had a population of 536. By the standards of the time it was a large village. Most Hampshire villages were considerably smaller. In 1851 the population of West Meon peaked at 901. However later it declined. By 1891 the population of West Meon had fallen to 824.

In 1830 Thomas Lord (1755-1832), who founded Lord's Cricket Ground retired to West Meon. He died there on 13 January 1832 and was buried in the village. (Today a pub in West Meon is named after him).

The Church of St John the Evangelist was rebuilt after 1843 using flint.

A Church of England school opened in West Meon in 1852.

In 1903 a railway opened from Alton to Petersfield with a station at West Meon. However it closed in 1955.

In 1906 a Roman villa was found in Lippen Wood.

In the First World War 30 men from West Meon were killed. Another 9 died in the Second World War.

In 1939 West Meon was an overwhelmingly agricultural settlement with 80% of the workforce working in mixed farming.

After 1945 many naval officers went to live in West Meon. Both private and council houses were built in the village. Knapps Yard was built on the site where flints were knapped for St John's Church.

In July 1979 there was a flood in West Meon. Muddy water flooded 8 council homes in Long Priors. When the water receded it left a residue of mud. There was also a 3 hour power cut in the village at that time.

Westbury House Nursing Home opened in 1982.

Today West Meon has 2 pubs and a village shop.

Today the population of West Meon is about 750.

East Meon

In the 6th century AD a people called the Meon from Denmark invaded central Hampshire. They settled in central Hampshire and they gave the River Meon its name. They founded the village of East Meon.

By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 the manor of East Meon had a population of about 450. By the standards of the time it was a large village (most Hampshire villages had a population of less than 150) and it must have been quite an important place.

In 2000 a woman found a Medieval ring in her garden at East Meon. It was made of a copper alloy and was gilded.

In the village of East Meon there were 6 watermills that ground grain into flour for the villages to make bread

All Saints Church in East Meon was built in the early 12th century, although there must have been a church on the site much earlier. Additions were made to the church in the 13th century and it has a black font made from marble from Belgium.

According to an old legend King John married Isabella in All Saints Church in East Meon.

In those days the parish of East Meon stretched from Hambledon to Steep.

In the Middle Ages the manor of East Meon belonged to the Bishop of Winchester and in the 14th century he built his own court house in the village. However by the 19th century it was in a dilapidated condition.

In the 14th century East Meon, like the rest of Europe, was devastated by the Black Death and perhaps 1/3 of the population died.

According to legend during the Civil War, in 1644, Royalists and Parliamentarians fought a skirmish in East Meon before the battle of Cheriton Down.

In the 1660s a tax was placed on hearths. In East Meon there were 59 households so the population was probably less than 300. Of the households nearly half (27) were exempt from paying the tax because of poverty. Most of them had only 1 hearth. Many families were living in huts of just one or two rooms.

However there were 2 affluent people in the village. William Randoll had 8 hearths and Thomas Randoll had 6.

In 1801 the population of the parish of East Meon was 1,061. (This figure includes both East Meon and the surrounding hamlets. The population of East Meon itself was several hundred). By 1851 it had increased substantially to 1,543. However in the late 19th century the population of East Meon and its hamlets declined slightly. In 1901 it stood at 1,533.

During the 18th century and the early 19th century there was a workhouse in East Meon where the poor were put to work. However in 1834 the law was changed to make conditions in workhouses much more austere. New ones were built and workhouse in Petersfield replaced the one in East Meon.

In 1845 a national (Church of England) school was built in East Meon.

In 1863 almshouses were built in East Meon by Mrs Forbes.

For centuries a fair was held at East Meon. (A fair was like a market but it was held only once a year and it attracted buyers and sellers from a wide area). However the East Meon fair petered out at the end of the 19th century.

On 21 February 1920 a man named Harry Silvester discovered the body of a naked man lying in a field beside the Petersfield to Winchester Road. The man's identity was never found.

Leydene House was built in 1924. In 1949 the admiralty bought it and turned it into HMS Mercury.

In 1927 the Court House was restored.

In the 1950s to prevent flooding the council deepened the river and concreted its bed. The bridges were raised.

East Meon village hall officially opened on 8 February 1975.

In the 1960s East Meon and it surrounding area grew rapidly as many commuters went to live there. By 1970 the East Meon area had a population of about 1,725. East Meon itself had a population of around 800.

Today the population of East Meon and its surrounding area is about 2,100. The population of East Meon itself is about 900.

The Origin of Meon Valley Village Names

In the 6th century AD a people from Denmark called the Meon Wara (wara meant people or tribe settled in the Meon Valley and they gave it its name. So West Meon and East Meon are obviously named after them. So is Meonstoke. It was originally Meon stoc. A stoc was a small hamlet dependent on a larger village nearby.

They also founded Soberton. At first it was called Sud (South) bere (grange) tun (farm). The south grange farm soon grew into a village.

The second half of the name Wickham is derived from the old word 'ham', which meant village or estate. The first part of the name is probably derived from the Latin word vicus, which means district or vicinity. So it was the village or estate by the Roman remains. Wickham is, of course, a common place name in England.

Mere is an old word for pond so Swanmore is named after a swan pond. The swans may have belonged to the Bishop of Winchester. In the Middle Ages the upper class ate swans as well as peacocks, herons and cormorants.

Warnford was, obviously, the site of a ford over the river but we do not know for certain what the 'Ward' meant. It is probably a corruption of a man's name like Warna. He owned the ford.

The name Droxford is probably derived from ford and an old word 'drocen' meaning dry place.

The origin of the name Corhampton is obscure. At the time of the Domesday Book it was Quedementune. The word tune (pronounced tun) meant hamlet or estate but it is not known for certain what the first part of the name meant. It has been suggested that it was corn haem tun (corn home farm) but we are not certain.

A Timeline of the Meon Valley

More Hampshire History

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