Gothic Tourism

a Titchfield History Society talk

By Cheryl Butler

At the last minute Cheryl Butler kindly offered this talk, as the planned speaker was unwell. To most members the title didn’t give much away, but what a fascinating insight into 18th century life we received and such a local connection to Gothic Tourism.

The story of Netley Abbey, on the banks of the River Itchen, mirrors Titchfield’s own monastic past in that both Abbeys were dissolved by Henry VIII and turned into Tudor houses. In Netley’s case the house was left to become the picturesque ruin in the early 18th century and a magnet for the ‘Picturesque Movement’ in art and literature. The Romantic idea of Medieval Gothic (as opposed to the stark design of Greek and Roman architecture) appealed to the likes of artists John Constable and Thomas Rowlandson and writers such as Thomas Gray and Horace Walpole.

By the mid 18th century Southampton had become a spa town, attracting wealthy and retired visitors and as part of their engagements a boat trip to the romantic ruins of Netley became ‘de rigueur’.

The Gothic fashion for turrets, arches and other architectural embellishments led to houses being built in this style, either from new or converted from other ruins. Later in the century retirees who had previously worked for the East India Company plus the French Émigrés fleeing the revolution all brought additional influences in the form of a cornucopia of styles in architecture and ornament. An example was Southampton Castle owned by the Marquis of Lansdowne built in the early 1800’s. 

Artists and poets streamed into Southampton, the former to find patrons with bare walls in their new homes and writers seeking inspiration. At this time reading was a popular pastime for aspiring upper classes, with newspapers available and a circulating library in existence.

Southampton’s increased tourism required nurturing with pamphlets and maps which included illustrations. Excursions to Netley Abbey required these so the visitor could walk among the ruins reading the Netley inspired poetry with engravings included. A particular favourite pastime was having a picnic among the ruins, a practice which became so popular and, as much detritus was left behind, caused a degree of consternation among the locals. And we thought litter bugs were a 20th century invention.

As more and more visitors arrived, guidebooks got bigger and bigger and this required more stories to be written. Embroidering early rumours of ‘other worldly’ spirits and with tales of curses and hidden treasure, writers were never short of material.

Another writer who read contemporary gothic novels and was influenced by Southampton Society of the time was Jane Austen, who moved to the town with her cousin in her late teens and picnicked at Netley Abbey.

The Netley Abbey ruins have been the subject of an opera, a musical and ghost tours throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and they continue to hold a fascination, evidence being the proliferation of postcards, newly found stories and a couple of centuries of graffiti on the stones. 

Was this a missed opportunity for Titchfield or a lucky escape? 

Visitors from Beaulieu – September 26 2019

Titchfield History Society paid host to the Beaulieu History Society.  Their first stop was a tour of the Abbey, given by Marilyn and Colin Wilton-Smith, luckily the heavy showers forecast did not happen.  They were particularly interested in the Abbey due to the connections they have through Lord Montague of Beaulieu who is a descendant of the Wriothesley family, the second earl being married to Mary Browne, the daughter of the 1st Lord Montague from Cowdray Park in Midhurst.

We then proceeded to the Barn, where we had arranged a ploughmans lunch for them, with a talk on the Barn itself given by Ken Groves, our President.

Back on the coach which took them to the village, a short walk through to the Church where they were met by Richard Boden and David Mugford, who gave different insights into the church and some of its benefactors. Again special interest was taken on the Southampton Monument.

A big thank you to all the people who helped make the day go well.

Marilyn Wilton-Smith

Chairman’s Report 2019


I first of all I must apologise for not presenting this in person and would like to thank Peter Mills for chairing this meeting in my place.

2018/19 Season has been very busy and productive for the Society.  Attendances at meetings have been consistently above those of previous years and bearing in mind our total membership is just under 80 at the present time, attendances of 60 + at the meetings is remarkable.  This must reflect the hard work put in by Ros Seaward in researching and arranging our speakers.  I will mention at this stage that Ros is standing down after a number of years and her place is being taken by Amanda Laws.

I would personally like to thank Ros for her support she has given to me as chairman………(present flowers)……….

During the summer we had several social events, the most memorable probably being our visit to Bucklers Hard, where on a very fine summer’s day we were well received and entertained on a conducted tour by Lady Mary (Lord Montague’s sister) who is a member of their History Society.  This has resulted in the Beaulieu History Society paying a return visit to us in September.

Our picnic in the Abbey, was in fact held in the Great Barn this year as a change, and again a fine summer’s evening with a good attendance including representatives from Beaulieu’s research team and guides.  Towards the end of last year, the Committee were invited to hold a meeting on HMS Victory, this being organised by Sean Searight.  A very entertaining conducted tour by the Master in charge was followed by sampling of Navy Rum in the wardroom.

Whilst mentioning Sean Searight we must thank him and Ken Groves for their work in researching and producing ‘The Titchfield Emblem’ which as you know has been adopted by the history society and looks as if it will be used more widely within the village going forward, including on new entry signs being erected on the roads  into the village.  We promoted the flags and bunting at the Church fete and it was very well received with a number of orders taken.

The Committee has been working hard on ideas and other projects, Bryan Dunleavey has designed a new website which you are all welcome to interact with, research data will be added to this website in time.  The Historic Houses project has investigated several properties including the Old Vicarage and St Margaret’s, this project is ongoing.

I would at this stage to remind members of the Summer events this year.  Our trip to Winchester on Thursday 25th July is now full unless you wish to make your own way there, so I would just need to know for venue entry numbers.  With regard to lunch before we make our way to the College, the Hospital do not do that sort of food, however John Ekins has visited ‘The Bell’ pub which is very close and they have said they would supply a buffet for us at £5 per head.  This would be a nice idea for us all to stay together, however they do other pub style lunches, or you can bring your own picnic to have in the Hospital grounds etc.  I will be in touch shortly to find out who of you would like to be included in the buffet, or you can email me.

The picnic in the abbey on the evening of 20th June will be attended by Bishops Waltham Society, so it would be nice to have a good attendance and support from ourselves.  Members with guests are welcome.  It’s a fun and entertaining evening.  If the weather is inclement, we will be meeting again at the Barn.

Bishop’s Waltham have given us a return invite to join them in August on the evening of Wednesday 7th, to picnic in the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace with a tour of the palace and exclusive access to the Museum.  Again, it would be nice for us to support this event with a good attendance.  If you feel you would like to attend this event, with no obligation, can you please put your names down so that we have an idea of numbers to give to Bishop’s Waltham.

As mentioned previously the Beaulieu History Society are visiting us in September with a tour of the Abbey, Barn and Church.

Finally, I would like to thank the officers and members of the Committee for their continuing support and input which makes my life as chairman considerably easier.  And thank you all for making the History Society a successful group.


Due to the difficulties of fulfilling the coffee rota and responsibility of organising this every month, it has been decided by the committee to trial a new format for our meetings.

Firstly, the meetings will commence at 7.00p.m. allowing members time to socialise with refreshments prior to the meeting which will start at 7.45p.m.  The speaker will then make the presentation followed by questions with no intermittent break.

This format has been adopted by other organisations and seems to work.

In order to facilitate this, we are hoping to engage a couple of people to organise and serve the refreshments, this will impose a small cost upon the Society and in order to help cover this the visitors charge will be increased from £2 to £3.

The above is being put forward as a proposal by the committee, however for it to be implemented it needs to be put to a vote at this meeting.  It is proposed to review this again at the end of the year.

This report will be forwarded shortly to you all by email, however if you do not have an email address and would like a copy, please let us know.

Thankyou…Have a lovely enjoyable evening.    Marilyn Wilton-Smith

List of Summer Events for THS Members and Guests

Titchfield History SUMMER EVENTS

Summer Outings 2019


The AGM meeting itself will be fairly short and this will be followed by a fun Quiz, so join us for this Social event.


A fun event, you don’t have to book for this the Abbey is open exclusively to the History Society and their guests from 6.00p.m.  Bring your own picnic, (no barbecues).  There will be tours of the Abbey, and entertainment.  We will be joined this year by the Bishop’s Waltham Society, so let’s make them welcome.

If the weather is against us, I have arranged for us to have this event in the Great Barn, but hopefully we will have a glorious sunny evening in the beautiful Abbey grounds.



(See email sent or separate sheet for full details of this event).

The cost of this outing is £30 per person this includes refreshments on arrival, entry fee to both venues, payment for private tour and coach.

Depart Titchfield 10.00a.m. – Southampton Hill
Arrive Hospital of St Cross – refreshments on arrival
12.30 ish – lunch –
2.00 p.m. – Tour of College
4.30ish – return to Titchfield

If you wish to book on the coach please email me on or ring on 01329 843822
Payment on or before the next meeting please.      Cheques made payable to Titchfield History Society



Picnic at Bishops Waltham Palace with access to the Museum.  This will be an early evening event as with our own picnic, and the Museum will be open for us to visit.  So we are aware of numbers could you please let us know your intention to come along.  A great opportunity for us to have exclusive access to this site.





St George’s Day and Titchfield

April 23rd, St George’s Day, has two important historical associations with Titchfield; the royal wedding of Margaret of Anjou to Henry VI, and the birth of William Shakespeare.

Margaret of Anjou was the bride chosen for the hapless king Henry VI. She had royal connections in France; her father Rene, duke of Anjou, was a cousin to the king of France, but she came without a dowry as her father had bankrupted himself in the vain pursuit of a supposed title to the kingdom of Naples. English diplomats had agreed the marriage in 1444 in the hope and expectation that it would bring to an end the Hundred Years War with France. In this they were correct. War quickly ended with a complete loss of all French territory held by the English, with the exception of Calais. It was a high price to pay and perhaps not for the first time, a policy of appeasement ended with negative consequences. Within a decade, England was itself plunged into civil war.

Nevertheless, the wedding at Titchfield on 22 April 1445, the eve of St George’s Day, took place in a festive atmosphere at Titchfield Abbey. After this, the court journeyed back to London, where Margaret was crowned queen on April 30th.

The second association with St George’s Day is through William Shakespeare who was born on 23 April 1564 in Stratford upon Avon.The date is not accurate. He was baptised on April 26th and convention has assumed that he was born three days earlier. In the 1590s the young third earl of Southampton became the patron of our great poet and playwright and theories have been advanced that William Shakespeare, at one time or another, came to Titchfield. Strong advocates of this theory are our own Ken Groves and Londoner Stewart Trotter, who has written a book, Love’s Labour’s Found, which explores Shakespeare’s possible associations with Titchfield. The book is out of print but second hand copies can be found on Amazon.

History of the Ordnance Survey

Thankful for the great British mapping system, history society members managed to find their way to the community centre and listen to a talk about the history of Ordnance Survey.

The founding father of the Ordnance Survey is considered to be William Roy, who as a Scottish military engineer, was assigned the task to carry out surveys of the Scottish Highlands, a request sent out by George II after the Jacobite rising of 1745.

Surveying methods devised was by triangulation and Roy then used this method to carry out a triangulation connection, starting at Hounslow Heath, to connect to Paris in order to establish the true line of the Meridian. Greenwich was finally recognised as the prime Meridian in 1884.

The Board of Ordnance, a department of the MOD, on 21st June 1791, purchased a Ramsden theodolite, and this entry in the purchase ledger of 373 pounds and 14 shillings, is recognised as the birth date of Ordnance Survey. The acquisition of this theodolite was necessary for the intending military survey work starting across the South, all in preparation for the threat from France at this time. As a result, in 1801 the first published map was produced and was of Kent. Most of the South was mapped by 1810 and by 1840 all but a few northern most counties and all of Wales was mapped.

By 1821, the Ordnance Survey was headed up by Thomas Colby, who remained at the head of the organisation for 27 years. He was instrumental in directing a revision of the maps to improve the quality of surveying. He and his team did have to spend some considerable time surveying in Ireland, for a valuation and taxation commission and so it was the Ireland maps that were all completed first. Bad winters and tensions with locals meant work didn’t complete till 1846.

Ordnance Survey offices back home at this time were in the Tower of London, but a fire in 1841 meant they had to move out, and a suitable place was located in London Road, Southampton.

The Land Registry Act of 1862, necessitated larger scales of 1”, 6” and 25” to the mile needing to be produced. The 1” scale maps started becoming ever more popular for public use as by 1909 there were 53,000 registered vehicles on the road.

In 1911, Charles Close, became head of OS, through till 1922 and therefore oversaw the OS through WW1 during which a staggering 33 million maps were produced, including vital maps for the western front.

The Davidson committee was established in 1935 and its role was to look at the future of the Ordnance Survey. It recommended a National Grid system and also that the entire country be remapped and to all the same standards by 1980. This was actually achieved by 1962. A re-triangulation programme involved the installation of some 6500 trig pillars.

There was however another interruption, that being WWII, and this time 42 million maps were produced. Many were of France, Germany and Italy in preparation for planned forthcoming invasions. The OS was also affected at this time by the bombing of its head offices in Southampton, and it was necessary for them to relocate to Chessington and other temporary buildings around Southampton. A new headquarters were finally established at Maybush, Southampton in 1969. More recently, a purpose built site adjacent to the M271 at Adanac Park was open in 2011.

During the past 25 years, as the fast moving digital age continually moves forward, there has been rapid developments in surveying techniques and the OS now has 500 million features in its database and currently 20,000 changes are made daily. An example of this would be that it is a requirement that a new house must appear on digital mapping within 6 months of completion. Today’s technology allows us to accurately map a position to within 2cm of its actual location on the earth’s surface.

Steve Nash

Summer Outing Winchester

This Season’s Summer Outing for History Society members and guests  will take us to Winchester to visit the Hospital of St Cross and Winchester College.

On arrival we will have refreshments, followed by our own group tour carried out by one of the brothers wearing traditional gown .  The hospital is one of the oldest continuing almshouses, renowned for its tranquil setting and beautiful architecture.    The tour itself  takes us into the Georgian kitchen, Norman church, minstrel gallery, Tudor ambulatory and bread room this should last about 1 hour, there are also attractive grounds to explore.



We will then stop for lunch.  This will be your own time and there is a pub close by, or there are refreshments at the Hospital or if you would prefer you can bring your own picnic.


In the afternoon we will proceed with a tour of Winchester College where again we will have our own group tour around the Chamber Court, Chapel, College Hall, Cloisters and 17th century school building.  There are also formal gardens.

We should be in a position to leave Winchester around 4.30p.m.



The cost of this outing is £30 per person this includes refreshments on arrival, entry fee to both venues, payment for private tour and coach.

Depart Titchfield 10.00a.m. – Southampton Hill
Arrive Hospital of St Cross – refreshments on arrival
12.30 ish – lunch –
2.00 p.m. – Tour of College
4.30ish – return to Titchfield

If you wish to book on the coach please email me on or ring on 01329 843822
Payment on or before the next meeting please.      Cheques made payable to Titchfield History Society.

Marilyn Wilton-Smith

Chair Titchfield History Society

A Country Divided: The Meon Valley and the Civil War, 1642-1649


The Country is divided; there is a battle between two forces, over the Irish question, the country’s finances and the manner in which England is being governed.

Ring any bells? Actually I am talking about 1642, but you would be forgiven if you thought it was a headline from today.

The irony that the THS had asked Duncan Colin-Jones to speak about The Civil Wars in the Meon Valley on the very night of the vote on Teresa May’s Brexit deal  was not lost on the speaker or the audience.

Well at least we know the outcome of the English Civil Wars and the well documented impact on those living within the Meon Valley.

Like most major incidents in history the personalities of opposing factions, some taking uncompromising stances, impacted on the whole country and in this case eventually led to the abolishing of parlia
ment. Yes I am still talking about the Civil Wars and Cromwell.

Duncan Colin-Smith eloquently took us through the various disputes between Parliament and King Charles I and where our local aristocracy and landowners allegiances lay during the three Civil Wars of 1642 to 1651. 

The 4th Earl of Southampton at Place House was a Royalist (Cavalier), yet towards Winchester there was Sir Robert Wallop and at Southwick Park Richard Norton (and his Hambledon Boys) on the side of the Parliamentarians (Roundheads).

The south of England was split and the Meon Valley was the line between the two forces, with key sites fought over such as Winchester Castle, a battle at Cheriton and a siege at Bishops Waltham.

Between 1643 and 1645 both armies moved backwards and forwards across the land around the Meon Valley, playing a cat and mouse game, amassing and moving troops around the south. 

During this time the biggest losers were the small land owners and farmers of the area. When troops from either side arrived in a area they felt entitled to help themselves to food, livestock, horses, hay and even to ‘impress’ local lads into their fighting force, leaving promissory notes that the King or Parliament would reimburse them. Eventually a local militia formed, known for their weapon of choice as ‘The Clubmen’ who banded together to protect their goods and chattels.

In the Meon Valley the Parliamentarians led by Colonel Norton gained the upper hand, pushing the Royalists towards Oxford. 

Defeated King Charles moved north to meet up with his allies, the Scots. He didn’t bargain for his kinsmen selling him back to Parliament and his eventual imprisonment at Hampton Court in 1647. Charles escaped and while wandering around southern England trying to find a passage to safety he arrived at Place House to broker a deal with Parliament. This failed and he was taken to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight and despite several failed escape attempts and peace delegations, Charles was beheaded in 1649 at Cromwell’s instruction. The 4th Earl of Southampton watched over his body that night before its burial, a Royalist to the end.

The ascendance of Thomas Cromwell as Lord Protector, followed by his ineffectual son Richard, the eventual forming of a new Parliament and the return of the monarchy ended this tumultuous period in British history.

Our speaker identified parallels with the mid 17th century and our divided society today and I wonder if serving politicians ever learn from the mistakes of the past.




Titchfield History Society will be getting a bit of a reputation.  Earlier this year we learnt about the medieval brothels in London and have now progressed to the Harlots of Portsmouth.  Andrew Negus gave a light-hearted presentation, something in the style of ‘Horrible Histories’, of the early history of Portsmouth from 1100 – 1800.  He was born in Portsmouth, the only island city in the UK and having the densest population.

The island of Portsmouth was known as Portsea after about 1150, prior to that it was populated by small Hamlets, Copnor, Fratton etc with agriculture and salt making the main occupations.

The Normans under Henry I recognised Portsmouth as a safe anchorage with the Camber being a small harbour.  He used the Roman fort at Portchester to build a castle which was also a prison. Under Henry II the area around the Camber was developed and Thomas a Becket church now the Cathedral was built.  Richard I granted Portsmouth its Charter in 1194 and the Portsmouth Coat of Arms, ‘the star and crescent’ maybe in recognition of this and the crusades.

King John in 1215 was the founder of the Royal Dockyard in the Gunwharf area.  The Monastery of Domus Dei was founded then, this is now the Garrison Church.

Gunwharf was also the location of a tidal mill known as the ‘town mill’.  Portsmouth had no sewerage system up until the 19thC and was known as the dirty town due to the dung and sewage on the streets, the camber was like an open cesspit.  There was an annual fair attracting traders from around Europe.  Due to the distance they travelled it was known as the ‘dusty feet fair’, later known as the ‘pie powder fair’ derived from the French interpretation of the original name.

The time of greatest chance was from 1338 onwards at the start of the 100 years war with France. Both Portsmouth and Southampton were attached by the French.  Henry Isaw the need to strengthen the Port’s defences and built the round tower and installed the defensive chain across the harbour entrance.

Henry Tudor in about 1500 further strengthened the defences and built the square tower, moving the dockyard to its present location, later Henry VIII built Southsea Castle.

Under Elizabeth I the dockyard saw a period of decline with the Queen favouring Chatham dockyard to its proximity to the Netherlands and its threat there from.

At the start of the 17thC Charles I made George Villiers the duke of Buckingham the head of the Navy, he was murdered on a visit to Portsmouth and there is a memorial in the Cathedral said to contain his bowels.

The middle of 17C saw the civil war, following this Charles II married Catherine of Braganza in the Governor’s residence. He made his favourite mistress Louise De Keroveoille the Duchess of Portsmouth and Countess of Fareham.

Samuel Pepys became administrative head of the Navy.

The 18C saw an expansion of the City with extensive new fortifications and a new town hall, this coincided with the growth of the Navy.  In the 1780s the dockyard was the largest factory complex in the world.

It was at this time ‘The Point’, the strip of land partly enclosing the Camber became infamous. It was outside the city walls, it had 44 inns, many of which were brothels.  The whores of Portsmouth known as ‘Portsmouth Pols’ plied their trade both onshore and aboard the warships.  From this grew Nelson’s Navy and the vast Naval Dockyard we see today.   ‘That is another story’.

Colin Wilton-Smith