Tag Archives: alresford

South Downs Way: Exton to Winchester

29 Jun

South Downs Way sign

Today I completed the final section of the South Downs Way, from Exton to Winchester (both in Hampshire). It was a bit of a spur of the moment decision last night, and it meant another early start and a marathon bus journey to get home.

The weather started rather grey and overcast, with a forecast of rain, but I was still in my shorts and short-sleeve shirt (and an umbrella in my rucksack). I did wonder whether I had got it wrong, but once I started walking it became clear that although the sun was not visible it was still a going to be a warm day.

I spent a little longer than I had planned in Exton, mainly at the church (pictured below), St. Peter and St. Paul, which was open and is a delightful church. There were several baptisms, marriages and burials of my ancestors that took place at that church and it was good to see it in detail at last.

Exton Church

I hurried off from Exton, trying to make up for the time I had spent in the church, heading in a north-westerly direction up Beacon Hill. The first half a mile or so was a gentle rolling landscape and I could almost see my ancestors working on these fields 150 years ago. Then things got steep and the thoughts of my ancestors turned to thoughts of mountain goats.

Stile on a slope

The view from the top was worth the climb, even in the gloom and haze there were quite spectacular views to the south and west. Also there was a trig point there as well, which made it really worthwhile. From Beacon Hill the South Downs Way continues in the same roughly north-westerly direction, and to be honest the path became a little dull again.

The views were very limited, often blocked by hedgerows either side of the track. The only thing that kept me going was trying to catch up with and stay ahead of a couple of groups of walkers, who had also got off the bus at Exton. My dalliance at the church had allowed them to get ahead of me, but it was a great motivator to try and catch up with them.

Fingerpost on Gander Down

The path started to open up a bit more after the halfway point and also it started to rain, fortunately it was nothing more than a few spots, although the skies threatened more. Within an hour or so the clouds started to break up, there was more blue sky than cloud.

The views at Cheesefoot Head were quite spectacular, and before long the city of Winchester came into view, then promptly disappeared as I rounded the side of the hill, but at least I could now see where I was heading, albeit still more than a couple of miles away.

Chilcomb church

As I descended towards Winchester I checked my watch and decided I could fit in a visit to Chilcomb church. I couldn’t remember exactly which one it was, but one of my MITCHELL relatives was baptised here, and I felt that I ought to get a photo otherwise I would probably never get around to visiting it again. It is such a delightful little church, I was really glad I took time out to visit, there are stunning views of Winchester from the churchyard.

The final couple of miles from Chilcomb to Winchester were not particularly interesting, the entry in the city is across a footbridge over the motorway, and then about a mile along pavements into the heart of the city. The final stretch is along the side of the River Itchen, which was quite nice, but it seems all traces of the South Downs Way had disappeared from the city.

Despite my brief efforts, I couldn’t find any sign marking the end of the South Downs Way, the statue of King Alfred has apparently been adopted as the end (or start) of the route, but having walked the 12 miles from Exton (and over 100 miles from Eastbourne over the last couple of months) I had hoped to find some official indication that I had reached the end.

King Alfred at Winchester

I must confess the path did bring me into a different part of the city, one which I hadn’t seen before because it is at the opposite end of the city from the Hampshire Record Office, and it was a much nicer part of the city, and somewhere I would like to come back to and explore further.

Then came the question of getting home. There were two options, bus or train. I had been hoping I would get to Winchester in time to get the bus, because I have been wanting to get the bus home from Winchester for over six months now, so I made my way to the bus station.

The bus journey home is an epic journey, and one that cuts through my Hampshire ancestral homeland. From Winchester the bus goes to Alton (home of the WRIGHT family) and then on to Guildford, Surrey. The journey takes about an hour and forty minutes, and as well as Alton it passes through Alresford, Hampshire which is home to my MITCHELL roots.

Racing through the Hampshire countryside on the top deck of the double-decker bus was a perfect way to end the day, especially as when we neared Ropley we passed alongside the Mid Hants Railway and were treated to the sight of one of their preserved steam trains heading for Alton.

From Guildford, Surrey it was another hour by bus to Horsham, Sussex where I was finally able to get on a bus that would take me home. For some people four hours on buses would be torture, but for me it was just a perfect way to end another little adventure in my life.

On the way home with two of my 4x great grandparents

10 Oct

After about four hours at Hampshire Record Office in Winchester, Hampshire I am back on the train again making my way home, mentally trying to make sense of what I found.

The Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire

The Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire

I found all the information I was looking for with the WRIGHT family, but then I was only double checking most of it. I have written about this WRIGHT family before and the confusion that surrounds whether Henry and Sarah Ann were in fact married. As I need to find their parents for my Christmas Tree Project it is time to try again and solve this puzzle.

Both Henry and Sarah Ann WRIGHT were buried in Alton, Hampshire, but checking the monumental inscriptions for the parish it doesn’t look like their gravestone has survived, if there ever was one.

The MITCHELL side of things went quite well, I now have William MITCHELL’s parents (John MITCHELL and Elizabeth LOCKETT) and some details of William’s siblings. The family were where I was expecting them, in New Alresford and latterly in Old Alresford. I think I have found John MITCHELL’s parents (John and Olive MITCHELL) there as well, so that takes me back another generation.

The POCOCK side of things was not so straight forward, and I am still left with no parents for Susannah POCOCK, it doesn’t appear that she was baptised in Hampshire (according to the Hampshire Baptism Index), and certainly not Micheldever.

There is an elderly POCOCK couple living in New Alresford (or was it Old Alresford) who seem to be the only POCOCKs for miles around. My instincts tell me that this couple (Richard and Mary) are Susannah’s parents.

They don’t appear to have been married in Hampshire (according to the Hampshire Marriage Index) and Mary’s place of birth on the census was Lambeth, Surrey. So when I get home I will be searching for POCOCK marriages and baptisms in Surrey and Sussex.

All in all it was a successful trip, so far the trains have gone according to plan and the weather has stayed dry, despite a few threatening clouds. I have added two more 4x great grandparents to my Christmas Tree Project so I feel this morning’s optimism was justified.

Missing from my Christmas Tree: The parents of William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK

9 Oct

Four of the missing individuals on my Christmas Tree Project stem from this couple. William MITCHELL and Susannah POCOCK are my 3x great grandparents, and were married on the 16th January 1832 in the parish of New Alresford, Hampshire.

To my knowledge they had ten children, including my 2x great grandfather William Henry MITCHELL (who I have written much about previously), and they appear to have spent most if not all of their married life in the parish of Exton, Hampshire.

I have found them in every available census from 1841 up to the 1881 for William (he died in 1888 aged 81) and the 1891 for Susannah (she died in 1898 aged 90).

The ages and places of birth are pretty consistent for both of them across the range of census years. William was born in Alresford, Hampshire and Susannah was born in Micheldever, Hampshire.

Their ages give a year of birth around 1807-08 for William, and 1808-09 for Susannah. There is a slight discrepancy with the 1861 census where both of them are a couple of years younger than they should be according to the other census data.

So there is a possibility that they may have been born slightly earlier, if the 1861 census was correct and the others are wrong, but that seems unlikely. Also the ages in the other census years also tie up with their ages in the GRO Death Indexes.

All of this seems quite straight forward, all I need to do is look in the parish registers for (New and Old) Alresford and Micheldever and there they will be. The problem, other than not having copies of the parish registers to hand, is that the baptisms for Micheldever are on the International Genealogical Index on familysearch.org and they don’t include Susannah or any other POCOCKs.

My saviour will hopefully be the Hampshire Baptism Index, this is available on CD from the Hampshire Genealogical Society and I know they have a copy at the Hampshire Record Office. I could buy a copy, but unlike the Sussex Marriage Index (from the Sussex Family History Group) I am not sure I will get enough use out of it to justify the cost. Perhaps one for my Christmas wish list.

POCOCK is an unusual enough surname that there shouldn’t be too many of them about and hopefully there will only be one Susannah in the right time frame. Hopefully I will be able to find William in Alresford without too much trouble, if not the problem will be just the opposite, there will probably be too many William MITCHELLs to choose from.

Time to schedule in a trip to Winchester I think. If I can find both sets of parents then I should hopefully be able to find out more details on their families, confirm what is in the index and hopefully go back a generation or two on the same visit. Now where is my calendar?

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