Communications and roads in and around St. Mary Bourne
The means of travelling were so deficient that few ventured
beyond the neighbouring market towns, hunting in the day, and drinking and smoking
at night, formed the summary of much of the country life, to which old prints and
songs bear testimony. To travel to Andover by cart a distance of five miles took
over an hour, the cart was hooded in bad weather and had fixed wooden seats and
moved just faster than on foot. It went on Mondays and Fridays (Market days.) The
carriers cart was regarded as so much a local institution that, when one day the
news came around that his horse had dropped dead in the shafts on a journey, a collection
was made in the village to help him to purchase a successor. The post was brought
from Andover five miles by foot. The postman who brought it took letters on to a
neighbouring hamlet and stayed there all day using a small hut. In the evening he
took the hamlets collection back to the village, where he picked up the bigger load
and walked again back to Andover. (Kathleen Innes)
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal Monday
April 3rd 1826.
On Tuesday evening last, as the subscription
coach was starting from the Star Inn. Andover, an elderly lady between 60 and 70
years of age, who was seated on the hind part of the coach, was by sudden motion,
thrown from her seat, and fell to the ground with such violence, that three of her
ribs were broken, and she now remains in a dangerous state.
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal Monday
February 2nd. 1829.
On Sunday morning last the Prince George coach
arrived in Andover, from Winterslow hut, without any coachmen or guard, having one
lady on the inside who was not aware of her perilous situation till the coach arrived
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal Monday
February 2nd. 1829.
On the 12th. Instant, between Andover and the Queen Charlotte, an intoxicated
man, was run over by 2 or 3 coaches, and was killed on the spot, an inquest being
held on the body, a verdict was given in, “Killed by some coaches.”
Some hundreds of years ago, and before the introduction of a
road wagon, and when the idea of a coach had not yet entered the traveller’s
brain, this was a famous way for the conveyance of goods from the north to the south
of England. The means employed were
pack horses, and long strings of these might have been seen wending their way along
White flood and up the sharp hill to five lanes end, old roadster long used to the
duty of leader, or lagged behind to lighten the journey with a friendly chat with
some fellow traveller. Smuggled goods found a passage through the country in this
way, and valuables such as could not be purchased in provincial towns. Tobacco,
brandy, and even foreign brocades and silks from seaport places often filled a corner
in the packman's bundle, and met ready exchange with cutlery and other commodities
in the interior. The late Mr. John Moore, who died at the advanced age of ninety,
placed in my possession two black, rudely made, squat, globose bottles which had
contained spirits obtained of a packman by his grandfather. They are of about the
date of the end of the seventeenth century, and probably contained hollands. The
packhorses travelled in lines laden with bundles or panniers, the baskets being
about three feet in length, two feet in depth, their width being about one or two
feet. The horses backs were padded, and the panniers were suspended by hooks attached
to a curved billet of wood which crossed from side to side; and it has been suggested
that the Inn sign known as the "Crooked Billet" derived its name from
In my possession are several small globular bells of pleasant
tinkling sound, which were picked up in the village from time to time. They are
of the seventeenth century, and there is little doubt they were worn by packhorses.
One specimen has a transverse bar of iron attached to it for fixing apparently to
a cross bar. They are smaller than the bells which were formerly worn on the market
teams of the farmers, although the early examples of market bells were globular.
Such bells were once universal among the farmers, and the object of their employment,
in addition to any small pride in their use on the part of the employers or carters,
was the necessity of warning any counter traffic in narrow roads during the night
or early morning. Another motive that I have heard stated was the scaring away the
demons of the night from obstructing the wains by putting what the carters call
"Spells" on the wheels.
The blunderbuss then was a necessary appendage, for foot pads,
and people calling themselves "gentlemen," frequented the roads, which
made it their business to
empty the traveller’s pockets. There are stories of such "gentry"
frequenting this neighbourhood, and among others Bolter, who was an accomplice of
the notorious Turpin; but this refers to a period long subsequent to the time of
the pack horses. Bolter's favourite spot, so report says, was Hogdiggin corner,
and the roads about Woodcut, in order to be in readiness for folks travelling between
Newbury and Winchester. Strange tales are current respecting him that he had a horse
which used to wake him when anyone approached. He met a felon's well deserved
fate at Winchester, and the wife of Brown, the tailor of this village at the time,
made a journey to the gallows to touch the dead man's hand for the cure of some
disease with which she was suffering. A barbarous custom permitted in those days.
(Dr. Joseph Stevens)
The Bolter, Dr. Stevens refers to must be Thomas Boulter born
at Poulshot, near Devizes Wilts. in 1748 a millers son, whose father was also a
Highwayman who had been sentenced to death, but through the intercession of several
of his friends, his punishment was transmuted into transportation to the colonies
for fourteen years in 1775. Thomas Boulter junior was sent to the gallows at Winchester
on Wednesday, 19th, August, 1778 along with James Calderwell his accomplice. Boulter’s
career had lasted for three years. (It is also said he used to feed this horse with
bread soaked in wine.)(Kevin Holdway)
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal December
On Sunday the 26th. ult. About noon, two gentlemen and a lady
coming to this city, were robbed on the plain, about eleven miles off, by a single
highwayman, who took from them about twenty-seven shillings English, and forty small
pieces of Spanish silver coin, value about 5d. each. He was a young man, about five
feet nine inches high, of a fresh complexion, and wore his own black curled hair,
and a round narrow brim’d hat, was dressed in a claret coloured Bath beaver
surtout coat, black waistcoat, leather breeches, and light coloured ribb’d
stockings, but had neither boots nor spurs on; was mounted on a brown cropp’d
horse, about fifteen hands high, seemingly of the draught kind. He was not uncivil
in his behaviour, but appeared to be much confused by his manner.
Soon after, we hear, he robbed another Gentleman near the same
place, of 19s and on Monday, about six in the evening, a post-chaise driver, coming
from Devizes, with an empty chaise, belonging to the Red Lion in this city, was
robbed near the seven mile stone, of twenty-four shillings and six pence, by a highwayman,
on a black horse, who, on coming up, bid him stop, and presenting a pistol, asked
him if he had anybody in his chaise ? to which the driver answering No, he demanded
his money, made him turn out his pockets, and asked him if had any watch, and then
Whoever apprehends him, will, on conviction, be entitled to
a reward of £40 by act of parliament.
We are informed the above robberies, together with other mentioned
in former papers, were committed by two different highwaymen, said to be father
and son, and that one of them lived in Lavington. They seldom rode the same horse
twice, but stole a fresh one every expedition; one of them a poor ordinary black
horse, was found loose on the down, the bridle and saddle hid among some trees in
the Duke of Queensberry’s park; from whence the rider walked to Amesbury,
and stopped near an hour at the Three-Tuns , drinking; but hearing some persons
present talk about apprehending the highwayman that had committed so many robberies
on the Devizes road, he took an opportunity to walk privately away, ’tis supposed
went towards Andover or Winchester.
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal Sat.
May 16th. 1835.
Robbery- Mr. Robert Dowling of Clatford Oakcuts, was, on Wednesday
evening, about 9.O,clock, stopped in his gig, when on his return from Andover Fair,
about three quarters of a mile from Andover, on the Winchester road, by two men,
who robbed him of about £16 consisting two £5 notes of the Andover Bank, and the
remainder of Gold and silver; and also of an accountable receipt from Messrs. Heath
and co. Of the Andover Bank, to Miss Susan Dowling, for £42.7s. A reward of £5 has
been offered on the conviction of the offenders.
Salisbury and Winchester journal October. 1784.
The mode of committing robberies on the highways at present,
is not on horseback, but on foot, two or three in a gang. One holds the horses,
boots, and great coats, in a neighbouring field, while the other two stop and rob
the passengers. Then they go to this field, draw on their boots and great coats,
get out into the road, and if they hear any hue and cry, they join in pursuit of
themselves. This mode has been adopted lately about London.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal October
WHEREAS JACOB ISAAC, of Andover, was attacked this morning between
ten and eleven o’clock, as he was going to Cutwood end, by three footpads,
who robbed him of 15 guineas, a £10 bank note, 5 new watches, 10 old ditto. 25 pair
of large silver buckles, 3 pair of children’s ditto, 4 pair of knee ditto,
13 large table spoons, 7 half dozens of tea spoons, 3 pair of tea tongs, two pair
of silver salts with blue glass, 2 pepper boxes, 2 cream cups, some plated buckles,
and about one dozen of spectacles.
Two of the above men are rather stout, wore silk handkerchiefs
round their necks, had von round smock frocks, straitish hair, and appeared to be
about 30 years of age; the other short, with a light coloured coat.
Whoever will apprehend any or all of the above felons, shall
on conviction of the offenders, receive a reward of Ten Guineas, by me JACOB ISAAC.
The Salisbury and Winchester Journal Monday June 26th. 1826.
A woman age 70, has for the last 27 years carried letters and
parcels from Longparish to Andover, and back, every day in the week except Monday
she therefore performs 14 miles each day, 84 miles a week, 336 miles per month 4032
miles a year and has performed 108864 miles in the 27 years.
Books were but seldom published, and these only in London and
a few of the principal towns. News came by post letters, restricted chiefly to the
wealthy, which were passed about from family to family till they were almost thumbed
to pieces. People travelled in road wagons chiefly, which were excessively crowded.
A few coaches were introduced at the end of the seventeenth century, between places
of importance, for even the roads between such towns as Newbury and Reading were
almost impassable. What, then, must have been the condition of those of St. Mary
Then the main road was merely a swampy drove, almost impassable
to vehicles in winter. The river ran at will down the road and across it, and in
times of flood was dangerous to travellers
The following notice of the floods appears under the head of
"John Bull, his account of the floods, written by his father’s orders
December ye 23rd. 1797".
" A memorandom of a flood Sunday, February ye 8th., People
at church obliged to be carryed home on carts and with horses, the waters rising
so fast while morning service continued between 11 and 12 O’clock, being the
third flood in a fortnight by snow and sharp frost and quick thaws. Jany.ye 28th
February ye 1st; but ye 8th.of February was heavey and shocking, the banks of the
water courses brake out and the street full of water and no passing."
Thirty years ago, on the top of the hill known as five lanes
end (being the spot where Hungerford lane crosses the St. Mary Bourne road to Andover),
a direction post stood, bearing on its arms “Hungerford” and “Winchester”,
showing that the lane must have been at one time a main road. It is an old packhorse
way, and was probably used for centuries as such, when no other method of traversing
the country was possible from the swampy state of the valley in winter, and when
the rugged hills were not convenient for vehicles. As late as forty years ago, when
there were no county bridges, fords were of frequent occurrence, not less than three
such occurring between St. Mary Bourne and Hurstbourne Tarrant. And when in winter
the brook became swollen and the road flooded travellers were compelled to traverse
the outlying water in journeying from village to village.
Swamp-ton, the name of one of the St. Mary Bourne tithing’s, lying along the valley,
has been thought to point to the condition just described; but the word is written
“Suantune” in Domesday, and doubtless has its origin in the Anglo-Saxon “Suan”
a swain, herdsman, or servant, in reference to the serfs of the manor at the time
of the survey.
The packhorse road is still observable at Lower Week, and traversing
the hills west of St. Mary Bourne it continued onwards to Hurstbourne Tarrant, where
it appears to have taken the line of the hill-country through Tangley to Hungerford, a portion
of the direct Roman road through the former place being called Hungerford lane on
the six inch Ordnance map. The road is doubtless older than the period of the Conquest,
the name “gang”, which is applied to a passage over the brook near Stoke village
implying that there must have been a ford at this point in Saxon times. It was the
custom of the Saxon people to designate their roads according to their width; “anes
waenes gang” representing their four-foot road, or single wagon-way; and “twegna
waenes gangweg” their eight-feet or double wagon track,--a disposition which assorts
with the dimensions of some or our winding country lanes. In places where the packhorse
road is still used the sunken state of the way below the banks on either side suggests
long usage without adequate repairs. (Dr.Joseph Stevens)