Places of Interest

In the 16th century, on the site of a Norman castle, a Tudor mansion – reputed to have been one of the grandest in England – was built. It was home to the Paulet family who held the titles Dukes of Bolton (from where one of the village pubs, the Bolton Arms, takes its name) and Marquises of Winchester. The family was loyal to the Crown during the English civil war and the beleaguered King Charles I is reputed to have sheltered there.

As Cavaliers (or loyalists) this devotion to the Crown cost the family dear. Opponents of the monarchy, the Roundheads (or Parliamentarians) laid siege to the house before Cromwell in person massed his troops and on 14 October 1645 attacked and plundered the old house. Many of the houses in the centre of the village are built with bricks from the ruined Basing House.

Old Basing is littered with mentions of that great siege and subsequent battle. Reference to Bolton, Cavalier, Cromwell, Crown, Loyal, Oliver, Paulet, Roundhead and Royal abound (just look at the pub names!).

The parish remained fairly static in size until the 1920s when building began in Hatch Lane, Byfleet Avenue and Park Lane (continuing through to the 1950s) and then again in the 1960s at Cavalier Road and Belle Vue Road (probably to coincide with the sudden surge in population of neighbouring Basingstoke which was being developed as a London overspill town). In effect the village doubled in size.

Since then development has become part and parcel of Old Basing life with the new housing at Lychpit and Binfields (part of the South Chineham development) and more recently Crabtree. The historic connections continued with names such as Saxon, Oliver, Gage, Whitehead and Norton.

Now a busy parish nestling on the perimeter of Basingstoke, it is hard to imagine that some 150 years ago Basing was small self-contained village on the outskirts of the Hackwood estate (ancestral home to the Lords Bolton). Byfleet and Binfields were working farms and Lychpit boasted just three farm workers cottages.

Basing House

Old Basing’s most exciting historic ruin was once the country’s largest private house, the palace of the powerful courtier William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester. A rich servant of the Tudor sovereigns, his new buildings covered about 10 acres and formed the last of a succession of castles. The earthwork banks of the castle built by the Normans still dominate the ruins. The wealth and power of the Paulet family, their loyalty to the Crown and their nearness to London brought disaster to Basing in the Civil War. After long and stirring sieges, and bombardments by great armies the house fell to Oliver Cromwell in person. The ruins, the old and new houses, the riverside walk and the spectacular barn all help to make an attraction of beauty and charm. The recreated 17th century garden enhances this beauty and brings life back again to the long deserted ruins.
Basing House was recently the subject of a Channel 4 Timeteam dig.

You can find out more about Basing House and what is happening there from the Hampshire County Council website.

 

Basing House Gateway

Basingstoke Canal

The Basingstoke Canal has had quite a chequered history having opened in 1794, linking the River Wey at Weybridge with Basingstoke – a distance of 37 miles. However, traffic was always very light and it struggled to survive financially. Grand plans were afoot to make it a through route, but the arrival of the London to Southampton railway in 1846 dealt the final blow. The canal lingered on, in and out of trouble, until 1914, when traffic between Woking and Basingstoke ceased. The collapse of the Greywell Tunnel near Odiham closed this section in 1932, but boats continued to Woking until 1949. The Greywell tunnel, now home to a large colony of bats, and the M3 motorway prevent a complete reopening, but much of the canal has now been restored and there are boat trips from Odiham. The path of the canal can still be followed (even though it now forms the basis of some gardens in the village) because of its distinctive cut and by the canal bridges that still exist in places in Old Basing.

 

Basingstoke Canal

St Mary’s Parish Church & old cemetery

The parish church of St. Mary is a grade one listed building steeped in history. Basing was once an important place in north-east Hampshire and this is reflected by the size of its church: a huge triple-gabled building with a strong central tower. The building was originally built of ‘Hampshire diamond’ flints, but rebuilds have largely replaced this with local Tudor brickwork.

The church today is mainly 16th century but there is visible evidence of its earlier roots. The earliest mention of a church in Old Basing was in 1077. The original wooden church was rebuilt in stone in 1089 but the oldest structural features of the present building date from the early 12th century. St Mary’s is well worth a visit, not least because it gives a chance to relive history. It suffered at the hands of the victorious Roundheads during the siege of Basing House, and bullet holes from that war are still visible (as indeed they are at nearby Basing House and the Great Barn).

Such was the destruction heaped upon St Mary’s by the puritan troops of Cromwell that only the statue of the Virgin Mary remained intact. Tradition says it was hidden by a covering of ivy. At the restoration, the building was in such a poor state that there was a national appeal for the relief and restoration of ‘Desolate Basing Church’ which had have been “demolished, the seats and pulpits burned and bells and other ornaments plundered and taken away, the window ledges used as breastworks with firing platforms beneath them; the walls had been breached and the lead roofs disappeared.

The Friends of St Mary’s helps to maintain and refine St. Mary’s Church. Further information from: The Friends of St. Mary’s, The Vicarage, Church Lane, Old Basing, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG24 7DJ. The PIOCC Conservation Group (see club’s and societies for contact details) looks after the church grounds including a conservation area.

 

St MArys Church

Cemetery 

Blacklands Farm

Blacklands Farm

Blacklands Farm
wet meadows and peaty soil on the floodplains of the rivers Loddon and Lyde boast abundant wildlife including birds such as snipe and insects including dragonflies.

 

River Loddon

River Lodden

The Loddon with its floodplains and water meadows provides a tranquil reminder of the parish history. The river was almost certainly a reason for the first settlers deciding this was a place to live, and was used for watercress beds, which still survive in the village.

The River Loddon rises at was once West Ham Farm, Basingstoke and is fed by springs that come from the upper chalk aquifer. It flows for 45.2km, in a north-easterly direction, over London Clay, to its junction with the River Thames just west of Wargrave. While the River Blackwater is the major tributary of the Loddon and joins it near Swallowfield, two other tributaries, Pettys Brook and the River Lyde both join the Loddon close to the north-east boundary of Old Basing parish. The River Lyde also rises within the parish close to Huish Lane.

 

Great Barn

The Great Barn

The outer walls of this 16th century barn still carry the scars of war. As you walk around the outside and interior of the great old barn it is possible to imagine being there during those
battles. Regular full-dress re-enactments help.