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About Where We Live

Longstock is in the county of Hampshire in Southern England.  It is about 64 miles south west of London and 20 miles north of Southampton sitting midway between the cities of Winchester and Salisbury.

The village was recorded in the 1086 Doomsday Book as Stoches. The village is mainly on the western slope of the Test Valley which runs parallel with the bank of the River Test.  The houses are on either side of the road which runs down the bank of the river.

Evidence of man in the area dates back to 2500 BC.  Ancient burial mounds are within the parish and a few yards beyond the boundary is one of the finest early Iron Age hill forts in the country commanding a distant view and giving evidence of the pre-Roman civilisation.

The Romans came to this part of the country in 43 AD and the remains of a Roman villa evidences the flourishing agriculture of the time.  The tribes here were so thoroughly destroyed that the area became one of the most Romanized parts of Britain, an urban culture superimposed on a rural culture which led to the ultimate decay of the towns and the prospering of the rural landowners.  The Saxon invasion of 367 AD destroyed the Roman villas and it was mainly rural civilisation that survived.

Centuries later the Danes had a ship maintenance and construction yard in Longstock for their long ships, fifteen miles up the Test from Southampton water.

The village is one of the most beautiful in Hampshire, with one winding street lined with period houses – colour washed, timber-framed with brick and thatch.  A smaller road, called The Bunny, pictured on the right, leads eastwards across the Test.  At this point the river runs in separate channels and along the banks of the river stand circular thatched huts used by anglers.

The Manor of Longstock’, now known as Longstock House, was held by Edward the Confessor in 1086 by Hugh, son of Osmund and it changed hands many times over the years until passing to the Crown again when Henry of Lancaster became Henry IV.  Various leases of the site were made by late kings, James I granting it to the trustees of the Earl of Southampton.

Through marriage and descent the manor was conveyed to the third Duke of Portland: the story being that the Duke frequented an inn in Andover but never settled his account in cash and to discharge his debt to the landlord he parted with Longstock.  It was bought by the Beddington family in the early part of the twentieth century.  During the Second World War the property was bought by John Spedan Lewis, a successful retailer who owned about forty stores throughout the country.  The house served as his residence for some years until it was converted to a club for executives with his company.

The Peat Spade pub was formerly a thatched cottage.  Peat of a rather inferior quality was dug near the river and it is recorded that one former Lord of the Manor allowed his labourers to dig as much fuel as they could manage in a day.  The Inn is a reminder of this, and until 1939 a real peat spade with an extra long blade hung from the ironwork on the house.

As most villagers formerly worked on the land on one of the many local farms: Upper Manor, Lower Manor, Charity, Church, Waters Down, Westover, Windover and Hazeldown, it was not unusual to see 40 day-labourers waiting at the sharp bend near Corner Cottage in the hope of getting a days employment.  Records show that in 1865 there were two blacksmiths, a wheelwright, a horse trainer, a bricklayer and two builders in Longstock. The register also shows that in 1865 there were two shops one of which was a baker and grocer.  In addition to two inns there were also two beer retailers.  The thatch cottage opposite the Peat Spade was at one time The Post Office.

In the thirteenth century there were two mills in the village.  One continued to work until 1934 when it ceased to make flour.  It continued provender milling for another 12 months before becoming a store.  30/40 men were employed.  The heavy sacks of flour were moved in wagons that were harnessed with three horses.

In 1832 Lord George Bentick moved the Houghton Stables to a site adjoining Stockbridge Race Course, which lay in Longstock parish under Danebury Hill.  Many famous jockey's were trained at the Danebury Stables and the Head Trainer's daughter married a young jockey, the great-grandfather of champion jockey, Lester Piggott.  The race-course closed down when it was inherited by a lady who did not approve of gambling, the derelict grandstand can still be seen.  The last race to be run at Stockbridge (Danebury) Race Course was in 1898.

The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, rented on a regular basis Hermit Lodge in Houghton Road.  Lillie Langtry is known to have rented a house just over the river from Hermit Lodge during race weeks, the gardens of the two houses are still joined by a private footbridge. 

The School House, built in 1867 for 80 children in the Vicarage grounds, is said to have been erected by a former Lord of the Manor with the proceeds of a fine imposed on a man who was captured killing a pheasant before October.  It closed in 1924 and the building has now been converted into dwelling house.

The present St. Mary's Church was built in 1880 and it replaced a very ancient chalk walled building  which was built 1830 -1837.

The Church is of flint structure and the North-west tower is an octagonal shingled broach spire. There are some mediaeval tiles behind the altar.  The list of incumbents dates from the year 1315.

The Grange is a two storey house with painted brick walls, an old tiled roof and gothic type casements. It was the original club house of Longstock Fishing Club.  It was enlarged circa 1902 for use as a fishing lodge. Again enlarged in same style in 1936.

The Drovers Cottage, on the left, is in Houghton Road and has brick and flint walls with a thatched roof.  Used as a hostelry by drovers many years ago it has welsh inscription under the eaves.

The Cossack Inn, also in Houghton Road, is of a colour washed brick structure.  Remnants of old stonework are in the corner of the house at the road edge, the front is possibly C.15.  The house was originally 'The Horse and Jockey' and renamed after a horse which won the Derby, now a private house.

Charity Farm has a rectangular earthwork comprising a bank and ditch enclosing three sides of a square, the fourth side being formed by the river Test.  This was probably a Danish dock and likely to be related to the fighting in this area in 1016 between Edmund Ironside and Cnut.

Longstock, Five Ways - A limited excavation was undertaken as part of the Danebury Environs Programme close to the modern road junction, near to the entrance to the Danebury car park, to explore the relationship of the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age linear earthwork, which runs from Danebury to the Iron Age site. The site chosen lay immediately north of the unmetalled track which leads eastwards from the road junction to the Test Valley at Longstock.  Sufficient evidence was obtained to suggest that the field system was laid out first and that later the linear cut diagonally across it putting the immediately adjacent arable out of use.  At a later stage, probably by the late Iron Age or Roman period, a road had developed along the old linear and also along the earlier lynchet boundary. The excavation was sited exactly at the point where the two roads joined.  The picture above shows the magnificent views from Danebury Hill.

Meon Hill is a little woodbury type enclosure with pits, named in a Saxon charter and discovered from the air in 1924.  There is evidence of occupation through Roman-British times.  A late Saxon execution cemetery was discovered within the filling of the ditch of the main enclosure.  
     

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