Village History

1900-1918: The Great War


PC 1914 - Military Influx - July, 1919 - Nov, 1920 - The Great War - April, 1917 - Parkhouse Camp

We now come to the twentieth Century; the Century which brought not only even greater scientific achievements than those of Victorian times, but also such horrible destruction as well. This is the Century which probably, more than any other over the past 5,000 years, has caused the biggest upheaval our village has ever known, more, even, than the various invasions of "BC" times. Shipton was to come to know the marvels of such modern things as water from a tap; light by the flick of a switch; mechanised transport, and the wonders of modern communications. Village life, as an integral, self-supporting entity, with all its shops and trades to supply its needs, was eventually to come to an end - some would say at the stroke of a pen - as a result of the sale of the Tedworth Estate to the War Office. There was a transition from a close-knit, compact community, to an open and expanded village, as witnessed by the extracts from the Parish Council Minutes and the scene set by the paragraphs which follow.

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Extracts from the Parish Council Minutes 1900 - 1914

November 1900 "The overseers were asked to request the Road Surveyor to clear out the water course and to repair the Bridge in Bulford Road which was dangerous to the community".

March 1901 "A request to the postal authorities that the mail cart which at present runs from Weyhill to Tedworth should run to Shipton Bellinger".

September 1901 "The Chairman was directed to write to Mr. Lovelock requesting him to remove within seven days, the fence which he had erected around a plot of ground belonging to the Parish.

"It was proposed that five lamps should be erected at a cost of 28 which would necessitate a 6d rate".

December 1901 "It was proposed that a man be employed to remove the fence erected by Mr. Lovelock enclosing the site on which once stood the cottage belonging to the Parish. (This is now the site for the bus shelter at the top of the High Street).

"It was agreed to postpone the erection of 5 lamps owing to the rates being much heavier than usual".

February 1902 "Mr. H. C. Stephens was elected Chairman"

June 1903 "Mr. Plowman called attention to the overcrowding of the Parish and the insanitary conditions of some parts and also to the gipsy nuisance and that it would be a very serious matter if Fever broke out"

November 1903 "Mr. H. C. Stephens called attention to the need of a Parish Hall and he would be pleased to meet them in a liberal spirit as regards a site".

January 1908 "It was proposed by H. C. Formby Esq. seconded by Mr. Sheehy that the meeting accept the proposals for a new County Elementary School with a grant of 1000 and the balance on a 30 year loan to the Parish".

March 1908 "It was moved by Mr. Formby seconded by Mr. Young that the meeting is opposed to a County Council School. Carried by a large majority"

June 1908 " Mr. Formby explained that because of the difficulty of enlarging the old church school the only way out was the building of a County Council School"

February 1909 "Mr H. C. Stephens offered to give to the Parish the ground required for the school on the condition that it included the provision of a Teacher's House".

June 1909 "Mr. Hale said he had known the path through the churchyard as a public right of way for 50 years. Mr. King had known it for 40 years and Mr. John Cox for 80 years".

July 1911 - Coronation of George V.

"The festivities started at 11.30 with a procession. First of all was Mr. John Cox, the oldest inhabitant, in a decorated trap escorted by members of the Boy Scouts in full uniform, then the Rev. W.A.S. Parry and Churchwardens, then members of Shipton Lodge of Buffaloes in full regalia, next the parishioners followed by the band of the 3rd Battalion Gloucester Regiment and lastly the children of the vi1lage each carrying a small flag"

September 1913 "Mr. Noyce proposed that it was not correct that it was the insanitary condition of the village that caused Messrs. Shaw Porter & Co. to lose his Pass for trading by the Military Authorities but the insanitary conditions of his own Premises"

June 1914 "Proposed Mr. Smart that the R.D.C. (Rural District Council – Ed.) be told about Surface Water and Drainage from stables running into the cesspits of Capt. Innes and Mr. Holdworth".

31 August 1914 "Mr White, Chairman, regretted his inability to carry on owing to his urgent business supplying the troops"

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The Influx of the Military

The building of Tidworth Barracks (about 1904) had an immediate impact on the village, as civilians employed to work on the building of the Garrison sought accommodation. At

about the same time, the laundry and "pop" factory were built, requiring further "immigrant" workers and their families. Tragically, war was already looming on the horizon and by 1910, the village, instead of being surrounded by thousands of sheep (especially during drove times to the Weyhill Sheep Fairs), became surrounded by tented accommodation for the military, building up to the rapid training of men for the First World War in 1914.

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The First World War (1914-1918)

During the "Great War" there was a significant presence in the Parish by the Australian troops. "Parkhouse Camp" was built, comprising roads and tin huts, and sited to the West of the continuation of Parkhouse Road. The remains of the camp are just visible, even today. The first troops arrived under the Command of Colonel Dirbel and numbered approximately 8000, soon being reinforced by many more, who were encamped at Perham Down. A small chalk walled barn in Vigors Field (now St. Peter's Close) was converted into Arnold's Cinema to provide entertainment for the troops.

Click on the thumbnail for a complete photo of Australian Soldiers in the village during the 1914-1918 war.

There was rioting in the village, lasting two or three days, between Australian Troops and Australian Military Police (MPs). Mr. Ray Bradbury relates one very ugly incident, which happened when he was in his early teens, when two MPs on horseback tried to escape the melee via Perrin's Farm. One horse jumped the gate, but the other refused and the MP was trapped, knocked from his horse and stoned, and would have been severely injured, if not killed, but for the intervention of the British Provost Marshall who was living in the Manor Farm House. He and his wife both came out with loaded guns and quelled the riot by threatening to shoot. They shouted that the guns were both loaded and he said, "My wife is as good a shot as I am and we will not hesitate to shoot if you do not lay off".

The troops did a lot of their training in the immediate area. The road running diagonally up the hill, known by the villagers as the Chalk Road, or Chalky Path, was made during this time and the area beyond was one mass of trenches and dug-outs. Evidence of some of the regiments camped around Shipton is contained in a programme for Highland Games for the 44th Highland Brigade held at Parkhouse Camp on June 3rd 1915. The regiments taking part were the Black Watch, The Seaforth Highlanders, The Gordon Highlanders and the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders.

The afternoon started with a Piping Championship and a Dancing Championship featuring the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance and besides the usual athletic events included Tossing the Caber. But for fun!

"Event 23 - Officers Mule Race"

"Each entrant must bring a Mule which will be drawn by lot. No saddles, spurs or whips allowed, unbroken or vicious mules MUST NOT BE BROUGHT".

'The Parish Council was still concerned with local affairs during this period. The appointment of Overseers (Rate Collectors) and Scavenger (Refuse and night soil collector) was always full of controversy. A letter was written in April 1916 to Education Authorities complaining that the Headmaster of the School was running a business, viz "Motor Cars for Hire" to the detriment of his duties as Headmaster.

One event in the locality did become known nation-wide.

A murder in Shipton?

A soldier called Toplis was reported to have shot and killed a taxi driver on the A303 at Thruxton Hill.

Private Percy Toplis was one of the leaders of a mutiny at a Base Camp in France during the Great War. Hunted by the Military Police he masqueraded as an Officer and even joined the RAF under his own name!

Still undetected and back in the Army, he was stationed at Bulford Camp, where after the War he organised a black market in Army stores and petrol.

He frequented the Soldiers Institute in Harg Road, where he played the piano. His special tune was "Let the great big world keep turning". Another haunt was the Rose & Crown in Bulford Village.

His friend, Private Fallows, who was with him in the taxi, on that fateful day, was arrested and charged before a special Magistrates Court set up in the school at Shipton Bellinger, but Toplis had escaped again.

On 24th March 1920, the Andover Advertiser headline read, "Toplis Still at Large". Outraged villagers in Collingboure Ducis set upon and beat up Private Coop, a deserter from the 9th Lancers in mistake for Toplis. Coop managed to steal a bicycle and escaped, but he was captured in Burbage. He was returned to the Lancers Guard Room in Tidworth, where he later hanged himself in his cell.

After a man hunt all over the country Toplis was shot dead in a police ambush in Scotland.

Thruxton Hill is still called Toplis Hill by some folk in Shipton.

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April 1917

The village circulars were distributed about the imposition of National Service (Conscription).

In June 1917, the Parish Council asked the Andover Rural District Council to tar the roads through the village because of the enormous amount of Military Traffic.

In January 1918, the Parish Council accepted an offer from the War Office for land for growing more potatoes.

In April 1918 a request was made to H.C. Formby re shooting of rooks in the Assac Copse in consequence of the great damage done to crops.

At the end of World War I, the Parish Council Minutes reveal that in November 1918 the Rev. Vesey Ross opened the Annual Parish Meeting with a Prayer of Thanksgiving followed by the singing of the National Anthem.

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Parkhouse Camp During the War

We were lucky enough to obtain a scan of a postcard of Parkhouse Camp, when it was in use during the Great War. This was provided by Paul Sambrook who stated that he:

"..found it in a collection of letters and photos that belonged to a Private Ben Noot, a native of my home town, Neath, South Wales, who served in the RAMC from 1915, but who somehow ended up in Salonika, Gallipoli and eventually Palestine, where he died of malaria 3 weeks before the end of the war."

In Ben Noot's letters there was one from his old school pal, Fred Nicholas, with whom he served in the 9th Battalion of the Welsh Regiment (Fred Nicholas died of wounds in France in December 1915). The letter is dated Oct 4th, 1915 and refers to an attack on the German trenches:

"On Saturday 25th we made a charge on the German trenches, as did our whole line. We attained our object but not without loss. My pal Jack Williams the Barber was killed, also Jack Lloyd. You know Jack Lloyd, he was in our tent at Parkhouse."

So this means Ben was at Parkhouse, with the Welsh Regiment, in late 1914 or early 1915. and it was probably from around this time that the picture below was taken.

Click on the thumbnail for a complete photo of the Australian Camp at Parkhouse during WWI.

Perhaps there are others who have other photos or memories, or memories of family and friends who were around at the time. Do get in touch.

There is now no visible evidence of Aussies encamped around Shipton, but the Kiwis carved out their national emblem in chalk, on the Beacon ridge above Bulford, before returning to their home land. Our links with Australia have been maintained by the many village families that have emigrated out there.

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July 19th 1919

Peace celebrations held in a huge marquee in Mr. Vigor's field (St. Peter's Close) included Fancy Dress for the children, decorated prams and decorated bicycle competitions and the usual sports, which were marred by heavy rain. An impressive service of Thanksgiving was held in the marquee with addresses from the Vicar and Mr. S. King, followed by a meat tea for adults

The day finished with an impromptu concert contributed by Mr. Horn, Sergeant Weight, Miss Rasey, Miss H. Plank and several Australian Soldiers.

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November 1920, War Memorial

Mr. L. King reported that a stone cross nine feet high at a cost of 106 was to be erected and General Wigham had been asked to unveil the cross at a suitable service. A band of buglers would attend and all local organizations to make it an impressive ceremony.

The War Memorial, situated by the River Bourne in front of St Peter's Church, carries the inscription:

To Glory of God and Grateful memory of the men in this Village who laid down their lives for the Empire in the Great War 1914 - 1918

Noble in Life
Faithful in Duty
Glorious in Death

Francis G Bratchell Walter Hale

Cecil White Cecil E Horne

Charles Windlass Ernest Collins

Benjamin Gale Ernest Bartholomew

John Harvey Edgar Inman

Norman Colllns Sidney Johnson

George Short Thomas Spencer

William Waite

Our own men returned from France. The ANZACS had a long sea trip.

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