Village History

The 19th Century

An Administrative Oddity

At the beginning of the 19th Century the village was a bit of an oddity. It was still in the Broughton Hundreds for administrative purposes, with the largest landlord, owning most of the north and west of the Parish, living in Tedworth House in the Parish of South Tidworth. The Smith family had owned this, besides property in London and Cheshire and slate quarries in North Wales, since 1650 and were said to be the richest commoners in England with an annual income of around 1 million pounds in today's terms.

When, at the end of the 18th Century, the male line became extinct, the properties passed to a nephew, Assheton Smith, who in the first part of the 19th Century was a celebrated cricketer and famous huntsman, besides being a Member of Parliament (MP) for Andover. Whilst there is plenty of evidence of Assheton Smith's presence in Tidworth, including his enterprises in Ashdown Woods above Tidworth, his development of Tidworth Park, and building new kennels at Home Farm, Tidworth (Happy Land, as it is locally known), practically none exists of his influence in Shipman, except as landlord to several farmers.


The ''Shipton Award'' of November 26 1800 runs to 117 pages containing over 30,000 words. The original manuscript, discovered in the ''Parish Chest'' is held in the County Archives in Winchester, although the Parish Council keeps a photocopy of the typed transcription. It lays out, in many repeating phrases, how the Commissioners, Reverend Thomas Sheppart of Amport, Charles Wade of Worley Green, Southampton and Richard Bloxham of West Dean in the County of Wilts, met at the house of John Waters, which was a public house and known by the name of Parkhouse, and there enacted the awards contained in the volume.

They first appointed John Tredgold of Chilbolton and John Bale of Quarley as their surveyors and then set about the gigantic task of valuing, appraising and awarding the Open and Common Fields, Common Meadows, Common Downs and other commonable Lands and Grounds, to the various proprietors, improprieties, cottagers and others having use of church lands.

Amongst these claimants are listed George Green, William and Mary Brine (Cordwainter), George Rumsey, John Gilbert, Elizabeth Poole, Thomas Dix, Thomas Whitcher, Robert Gilbert, Thomas Kent, Thomas Gilbert, all of Shipton, but also the Right Reverend Father in God Brownlow Bishop of Winchester, the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, Vincent Gilbert of Lambs Corner, Rev. Wrench of Lower Thomas Street, London, William Taplin of Andover, John Osgood of Collingbourne Ducis, James Vidler of Dorking and Ann Gale of Merchant Taylors Alms-house in the City of London. It is difficult to understand how these latter names had a claim to the common and open field in Shipton. Eventually the commissioners made their decisions in 30,000 words!

Many of the Shipton claimants could not write and made their Mark ''X'' and it would appear that the smaller cottagers lost their rights on the common land in exchange for exclusive rights to a few acres. Certainly in the tithe records of 1840, Thomas Assheton Smith of Tedworth House, whose ancestors had been there since .

Thus the village lost its landowning peasantry and their rights to common land and waste land and it was the advent of the employment of labourers by large farms. 1650, owned over 1,000 acres of the northern half of the Parish adjoining his manor of South Tidworth. Ralph Etwall owned most of Snoddington Manor comprising over 800 acres. George Rumsey owned approximately 300 acres and the Gilbert family nearly 100 acres between them. Sarah Dix had 1 acre, Thomas Snooze had 1 rood 4 perches and Henry Sweetapple had 1 rood 2 perches and Robert Perry, who seems to have been our first Grocer and Publican, had 4 perches.

Although in the Parish Awards the fields are all numbered with their acres, roods and poles and their cultivation all recorded, the same fields were all named which made them more personal. Few of the names are in current use, but Smoke Acre (north of Bulford Road), Little Gore and Great Gore (near Parkhouse roundabout), Culver Mead a n d Bargrove Hill behind Snoddington Manor are still to be found. It's strange that the names of some fields should survive for over 180 years, but the only family surname to survive is that of Snook.

Conscious of the needs of the Parishioners, the Commissioners also accorded a gravel pit at the end of the lane past the Workmen’s Club, a chalk pit up the Croft Road and a soil pit for the depositing of night soil further along the hill. In the words of the Commissioners, ''The Said Public Pits should for ever thereafter be used and enjoyed by the owners and proprietors of Lands & Estates in the Parish of Shipton and their Tenants''.

Before the Enclosure Act, the whole Parish consisted of 2,315 acres 23 perches, of which 1,308 acres, 2 roods, 16 perches was common land and waste land, to be used by anyone living in the Parish.

Click on the thumbnail to see a copy of a map of the village from the Mid 19th century.

After the Enclosure Act, Shipton was left without any common land and even our gravel pit, chalk pit and soil pit have now disappeared. The Enclosure Act left many villagers paupers and gave rise to the following:

They hang the men and flog the women
That steals a goose from off the common
But leave the greater criminal loose
That steals the common, from the goose.

Piers Plowman

Here are two extracts from the Post Office Directory circa 1851 and 1881. Just over one hundred years ago and yet how many of the descendants of these names are still in Shipton?

Meanwhile the vast South Tidworth estate had passed to Assheton Smith's nephew, Mr. Sloane Stanley and in 1876 he sold it to Sir John Kelk and to the south of the Parish in 1885. H.D. Stephens acquired the Cholderton Estate, which included large parts of Shipton Bellinger. Thus the two largest landowners both lived outside the Parish, which may have contributed to the independent and sometimes cussed nature of the villagers, enhanced when the War Office bought the Tedworth Estate from Sir John Kelk in 1897 and all the Parish to the north east and west became Crown Property. As taxpayers, the villagers no doubt thought themselves as part owners!

This is almost in living memory and a long cry from when in 1841 William Mogg Bowen, vicar of Shipton Bellinger, was entitled to as tithes, 8 sacks of wheat from Assheton Smith and 3 sacks from George Pothecary. The great tithes had to be paid to the Countess N olson, but in what form we do not know.

How the Press Saw Us

The files of the Andover Advertiser reveal that John Dykes was their first ''Newsagent'' or distributor in Shipman in 1868, a year in which a John Morton of Snoddington Farm was declared bankrupt.

1865: A juvenile Arthur Cole was taken into custody. Apparently he was frying a rasher of bacon close to some wheat ricks belonging to George Porthecary and his small fire spread across the dry grass and destroyed the two ricks and two 2 waggons.

1867: Reverend Fowle of Shipton advertised to board and educate three or four boys, for entry to Public School.

1868: Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert were leaving Andover for Shipton when their horse took fright, upset the day cart, broke free and bolted back to Shipton. The occupants were shaken but unhurt.

From ''The Times'', 19th January 1882:

A Question of Boundaries

About 40 years ago, a poor fellow was killed in the sight of a hundred men and an inquest was held on the body next day, when there was no lack of witnesses.

It was impossible to discover the name of the man, or when he came? or anything else about him, except that he was civil and inoffensive. There was nothing strange in that, for he was a harvest man who had come in for the occasion.

But it was strange, yet quite true, that it was found impossible to ascertain what had killed him, in what county he had died and even on what day.

It was a club feast at Parkhouse Inn, on the road from Andover to Amesbury and standing so directly across the frontier line between Wilts and Hants, that this was said to pass through the front door. A hundred fellows were there, the worse for liquor An Exeter coach was timed to draw up exactly at midnight. Just as it was drawing up, a drunken savage knocked the poor stranger down, under the feet of the leading horses and he wa taken up dead.

The belief was that he was knocked out of' one county into another and out of one day into another, but whether the blow killed him, or the horses' hoofs, or in what county or day he died, no-one could say,

The question was carried further. Neither Parish concerned was ready to give him a Christian burial, for fear it might ''parish'' the public house. He did receive a Christian burial, but the Sexton had to declare that he received no fee by digging the grave '' (The man was buried by a Mr. Morley in Cholderton churchyard between 1836 and 1847)

1884 12 September: Parkhouse Inn was on this day destroyed by fire. An engine arrived from Andover too late to be of any service. Very little property was saved, but happily there was no accident or loss of life.

1896: Henry Penny', carter for Frederic Tucker Rabbits, farmer, of Shipton, was involved in an incident in which a Mr. Smith was knocked over by a horse and cart.

As mentioned earlier, the south of the village was, during this period, partially owned by the Dean and Chapter of Winchester. Snoddington Manor, originally owned by Richard Bird, passed through his daughter, Elisabeth, who married Ralph Etwall of Andover in the 18th Century and it, remained in the Etwall family until 1885. An early tithe map shows the by-road to the Manor about 200 yards nearer to Shipton than the present road, and the Manor itself situated in front of the existing house, with the road passing by it before winding up and over the hill to Kimpton. In the park in front of the present day Manor are bunks and ditches suggesting the position of the original Manor House and accompanying cottages and farm buildings. Certainly it was a place of some importance.

In 1831, Shipton Bellinger was transferred from the Hundreds of Broughton to the Hundreds of Andover, thus forming the first association with the adjoining Parishes, instead of the Wallops, Thytherly, Lockerly and Wellow. Interestingly though, South Tidworth was always in the Andover Hundreds. In 1851 we learn that the Parish had a population of 308, including four Gentry and fourteen Traders. The Gentry were Misses Beaumont, Rev. Benjamin Cotter and Mr. John Gilbert and Mr. Robert Runsey, yeoman farmers. Amongst the traders were five Farmers, two Innkeepers, three ShopKeepers, two Boot Menders, a Carpenter and a Blacksmith.

Robert Perry of the ''Old Boot'' was also a grocer and Postman (the mail arrived on the Salisbury - Marlborough coach at 6.30 in the morning, which returned at 6.30 in the evening) and William Dyke acted as a carrier to Salisbury Market every Tuesday.

In 1861 the population was down to 270. Rev. Cotton had built a vi1lage school and Mrs Martha Dyke was the first Schoolmistress. Prominent among the names of the farmers is that of Gilbert, but the great-grandfather of Gilbert (of opera fame) left the village before the turn of the century and had made his fortune in London as a tea merchant. Two names of interest also crop up in 1861; George Mist, Shoemaker; and William Hale, Shoemaker. There were still Hales and Mists in the village in the 1920 - 1930 period. In 1871 the population was still only 267.

1897: F. Ellen & Son presided over the sale by autumn of Tedworth flock and the implements, machinery, 10 cart horses, dairy cows and 400 tons of hay on Bedlam Farm ''consequent on the property having been acquired by the Government for the purpose of a military manoeuvre ground''.

1897: The Shipton Bellinger Mission Hall had a special collection for the Famine in India and raised 1.2s.6d.

1897: Mr. Sturgess, whose farm house and yard stood where Old Farm Close now is, at the bottom on the High Street, quitted his farm.

1897: Clark-Webb advertised that they would deliver New Zealand lamb to Shipton in response to requests following their advertisements.

The 19th Century drew to an end with two important changes in the village:

1. The War Department bought up most of Salisbury Plain and started to plan the new barracks at Tidworth (and Bulford).

2. Under the Local Government Act of 1894, the affairs of the village were controlled by an elected Parish Council, whereas previously, they had been controlled by the Lords of the Manor and the Parish Church. A Mr. W. F. Hellyer was the first Chairman and Mr. S. King and Mr. Chamberlain the first Overseers and the Rev. Wright Anderson the first District Councillor. Thus, in the last decade of the 19th Century, two changes occurred which had a lasting and profound effect both on the economic structure of the village, once based almost entirely on farming, and on the social fabric of the village, hitherto centred exclusively on the Church. The population of the Parish had been relatively static for 100 years, totalling 297 in 1801 and 290 in 1901, the average being 278, based on the ten-year census figures. Three-quarters of a century later, the population is over 1000.

The following Chapters tell the story of the effects those changes had on village life, based largely on the reminiscences of the people who have lived in Shipton Bellinger for most of their lives.

[Orig by S. Hart]

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