By Tim Lambert
Early 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). The tribe who settled there were called the Meon wara (wara meant people or tribe). They gave the Meon River its name. They also gave the village of 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.
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.
Modern West Meon
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.
The famous economist James Edwin Thorold Rogers was born in West Meon in 1823.
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 and 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. Then in 1906, a Roman villa was found in Lippen Wood.
In the First World War 30 men from the village of West Meon were killed. Another 9 died in the Second World War.
In 1939 West Meon was an overwhelmingly agricultural settlement with most of the workforce working in mixed farming. Then after 1945, many naval officers went to live in West Meon. Both private and council houses were built in the village. Knapps Hard was built on the site where flints were napped 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 the Thomas Lord pub and a village shop (which also has a very nice cafe). Today the population of West Meon is about 750.