By Tim Lambert
DROXFORD IN THE MIDDLE AGES
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.
At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, the manor of Droxford was held by the Bishop of Winchester. Parts of the Church of St Mary and All Saints in Droxford date from the middle of the 12th century.
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 was 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 houses in Droxford are 18th century.
DROXFORD IN THE 19TH CENTURY
In 1801 the population of the 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 and 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.
DROXFORD IN THE 20TH CENTURY
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 on the train to 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.
DROXFORD IN THE 21ST CENTURY
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. However, Droxford has 2 pubs, The Bakers Arms and The Whitehorse Inn.