City of Southampton Society
Registered Charity No 1006256 England and Wales
caring for our city's heritage and its green open spaces
Webmaster John Avery
                                      Titanic departing from Southampton April 1912          John Melody Town Crier          
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Queen Mary entering KG DOCKOur outdoor visit to Minstead Church in 2011 image Will TempleWarrior who after service on the front in WWI became a Southampton Police Horse. Image by kind permission Bitterne Local History SocietySouthampton CenotaphJohn Melody Town Crier at Tudor Revels 2012 image Arthur Jeffery

 Our general meetings are held at the Edmund Kell Church Hall [ground floor] in Bellevue Road off London Road. There is a hearing loop and facilities for disabled visitors. The meetings start at 7pm. The February meeting is the AGM and our President the Mayor of Southampton takes the chair.
We attempt to have a variety of talks and speakers, some make return visits especially when a presentation has been well received by the members.  
We normally meet on the 4th Monday of specified months but occasionally alter this arrangement to avoid clashing with public holidays such as Easter. Please note SCC charge to park on the street until 8pm
We welcome visitors to our meetings Image courtesy Will Temple


City of Southampton Society

 Please note that from January 2014 SCC imposed street parking fee of £2 from 6pm to 8pm
but from 9th March 2015 a new charging structure: it will also include scrapping the controversial evening charge that forced motorists to pay £2 to park for even a few minutes, and replacing it with a new fee of 50p every half an hour after 6pm until 8pm.

2020 Our committee is aware of the concerns over the coronavirus spreading and will follow expert advice on people mixing at meetings etc. This may mean that we have to cancel talks / visits at short notice

23rd March 2020 Cancelled Mary Beale 17th Century Painter by Dr Cheryl Butler

27th April 2020 Cancelled The Economic Growth of Southampton by Denise Edghill SCC Service Director -Growth

 18th May 2020 Cancelled [avoiding bank holiday] Messages from the Front by Margaret Braddock. From her collection of 5000 postcards Margaret selects some cards sent from the WWI Front.

28th September 2020 Shipwrecks Found in the Solent -Maritime Archaeology Trust
It is the intention to use this meeting to decide the future of the Society members will be kept in touch

26th October 2020 Cancelled John Vine - artist. A man born with deformed arms who became a fine artist. Talk by Margaret Braddock.

23rd November 2020  Cancelled
1940, air attacks on Supermarine Spitfire factory. Talk by John Smith

Notes on talks presented to CoSS members and guests

24.10.2016 Meeting notes © Linda Pritchard

Lepers in Southampton by John Avery

John explained about the history of the treatment of lepers in Southampton, covering the period from 1173 to 1420.  The leper hospital / refuge was established outside the town walls, and dedicated to St Mary Magdalen, with the name later corrupted to Marlands.  Its foundation was established by St Denys Priory, and later financially supported by a tax on each tun of wine, by the Burgers of Southampton and then the King. Southampton's was one of 200 leper refuges in England. Interestingly John mentioned that bell ringing was not a forewarning of a leper's approach, but rather a call for alms.

The presence of the leper hospital and its burial ground is now commemorated more visibly by a blue plaque on a pillar at the entrance to Watts Park. In addition a new information board 'Time for Compassion' was unveiled in 2012 in a ceremony attended by the Mayor Derek Burke, members of faith groups, members of our Society, and by the Director of New Hope, Eliazar Tumari Rose, both of whose parents had leprosy.

John’s talk was followed by Jill Ghanouni’s account of her 30 years work with the New Hope Rural Leprosy Trust

24.10.2016  Meeting notes © Linda Pritchard

The New Hope Rural Leprosy Trust by Jill Ghanouni MBE

Jill started her talk with an account of her 30 years connection with leprosy, its treatment, and the repercussions on the lives of its sufferers and in particular, her work with the amazing New Hope Charity.

In 1980, before nurse training, Jill had visited a leper colony in Uttar Pradesh, housing 500 people. Here she learned about the devastating progress of the disease, the possibility of treatment, and saw how sufferers were, to an extent, adapting to their physical conditions to become useful and productive. With specially adapted looms, they made fabrics and especially mats, using yarn they themselves had dyed and woven.  (There is no cure for leprosy, but there is a drug that halts the deterioration that leads to disfiguration and limb amputations. Maybe a vaccine will be developed in 5 years, but so far, nothing).

Jill knew that although she was 'useful' in this colony, she did not feel essential there, and thought she could be more helpful to them, being trained back at home. This feeling was enforced when on an intended brief visit to a leper colony in Orissa, she was trapped for several months by a devastating monsoon flood. The flood had drowned 6,000 people it had swept away roads and a vital viaduct and there was widespread destruction of buildings as mud bricks disintegrated.

During her extended time there, she saw girls of 13 or 14, 'coolie ladies' carrying newly made bricks to rebuild wards and the recovery clinic at the main base. Also, by bike and rickshaw she visited remote outlying leper colonies that had been damaged and were desperately short of medical help and supplies. Lacking buildings, the shelter of a tree was used as a treatment point during these visits.

Eventually, supplies arrived, and the situation eased somewhat and Jill returned to England determined to continue her connection and support of these people with whom she had built such strong bonds of affection and admiration.  

Over the years of her work in setting up New Hope, the scope of the care it provides has increased and widened enormously. Now in addition to care for lepers New Hope is providing education and homes for children orphaned by AIDS, street and railway children, those rescued from rubbish dumps, and abandoned babies.

Hostels are provided for the older boys and training is given in shoe making, tailoring, embroidery, brick making, mechanics, engineering, and in art - one foot and mouth painter's work is internationally admired.

22 years after her first visit, she took her daughter to India, where New Hope's schools and hospital surgery facilities are greatly improved and where her daughter joined in the care during their stay.

New Hope funds and runs the only home in Orissa for people with profound and multiple needs, including polio victims. Much effort is made to improve the quality of life for those whose life span may be very short.

Jill's charity works with tribal families from the hills, with their complex needs. It gives family planning advice, and classes in basic literacy, it also supplies first aid kits, and provides adapted equipment for the varied disabilities.   

Cataract operations are carried out in its own cottage hospital, as well as maternity care and vaccinations. Emergency bundles of sheets, food and sandals are prepared for distribution to the needy.

Much of the work in the settlement is self-supporting - they are self-sufficient in 68% of the fruit and vegetables used, and generate solar powered electricity. There is an anaerobic digester, providing 80% of the fuel for the kitchen, where everything is recycled, including human and animal waste.

The endless, limitless, work undertaken by Jill and New Hope is made more difficult by coping with the awful problems of the Indian caste system. Ostracism still causes immense suffering and has lead to an increase in the number of young people with leprosy.  One of New Hope's efforts to eliminate and destroy the stigma of the caste system is to give rescued orphans three names, one each, Hindu, Christian and Muslim i.e. Anil Paul Gupta, in this way to confuse local authorities by excluding automatic identification and consequent discrimination.

28th November 2016 Meeting            Notes © Linda Pritchard

Prisons and Punishment in the 19th century by Colin Moretti

Colin gave us the history of how 19th century offences had been judged and punished and described the conditions in the prisons in which offenders were detained.

At this time, prisoners were released only after the Head Jailer's fees for board and lodging had been paid. Release was often delayed until long after the sentence had been served.

Fees were not only paid to the Head Jailer, but also by a system of 'chummage' to the Top Prisoner. Conditions under which prisoners were kept were greatly influenced by their ability to pay, and varied enormously.

Prisons were dark, overcrowded, without sanitation or ventilation. The prisoners’ diet was poor and jail fever rife. As well as imprisonment, punishments included a variety of humiliating or painful treatments, such as being whipped through the town, pillorying, putting in the stocks, branding, even amputating ears, hands, or nose.

There were 220 offences punishable by death. These included oddities like ‘being with gypsies for a month’, 'malice in 7-14 year old children’, and ‘blacking face’ or ‘going disguised at night’, as well as more 'normal' offences like theft (of as little as 12d.), shoplifting, stealing sheep, cattle, and horses. Between 1770 and 1830 there were 35,000 death sentences, although the number actually carried out was considerably fewer.

Prisons had been using different systems for housing and controlling the inmates. The ‘Separate System’ separated prisoners totally except at exercise time, when they would wear hoods and were forbidden to talk during their walks around the yard.  The chapels at Wandsworth and Lincoln were built with semi-circular ranked seating with rows of individual booths isolating the prisoners from sight and sound of each other. The solitary cell design was 13' x 7' x 9', with toilet, washbasin, heating, and window. An illustration showed such a cell, with a loom for mat making.

Colin went on to describe changes in prison design, Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon was a successful one: a central tower overlooking radiating wings, giving a full view of activities.

He detailed the progress and improvement eventually brought about following John Howard and Elizabeth Fry's campaigns to reform the prison system. John Howard (1726-1790) was High Sheriff of  Bedfordshire, and Superintendent of lock-ups and prisons.  He devoted his life to the reform of prisons and the treatment of prisoners, both in England, and abroad.  The Howard League for Penal Reform was formed in 1866 by his followers, and is still very influential in continuing his humanitarian work in this field. Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845), a Quaker, is called 'The Angel of Prisons'. She was appalled by the conditions she saw at Newgate prison, where men, women and children were crammed together in dreadful conditions.

In spite of some improvements, 'chummage' continued, there were frequent riots and disturbances, and overcrowding persisted in many of the 270 English prisons, as did malaria and other fevers, leading to a high turnover of governors.

By 1823, classification of prisoners was brought in. Men, women, juveniles and children were to be housed separately. A National Prison Department was set up, leading to nationwide standardised regulation of accommodation, diet, remission for good behavior, etc.  Reform schools instead of prisons for juveniles were introduced - the first one being at Borstal, Rochester. Above all there was a reduction by over 100 of  the offences incurring the death penalty.

Debtors prisons were abolished in 1869, but strict punishments were encouraged to deter repeat offenders of all crimes.  10,000 had been imprisoned for debt in a year, although conditions varied, and some prisoners were still able to conduct their business affairs from inside.  After 1869, imprisonment for debt was limited to 6 weeks, except for defaulters and refusers.

Transportation of offenders against a variety of laws had been used as punishment since 1600's with prisoners being shipped to work in Bermuda and North America to ease overcrowding in England's prisons.  Australia was the main destination from 1787 until 1868 when strong objections from there about over-loading with 'criminals' lead to the total abolition of transportation in 1877.

Public works prisons were a very important part of the system. In Chatham and Portsmouth prisoners built the dockyards, at Chattenden the arsenal, while at Dover and Portland prisoners built the harbour and breakwaters. Other activities undertaken were somewhat less productive - oakum picking was very unpleasant but useful, and Dartmoor and Broadmoor prisoners broke stone for road making. However other activities such as cranking and treadmilling, were intended to tire, exercise and occupy the prisoners, but served no other purpose.

Particularly close to Mr Moretti's heart was the story of his great grandfather, Joseph Moretti. As a prisoner serving 6 years hard labour, in Portland jail, for theft, he worked on creating Weymouth Bay breakwater and Portland Harbour. He was among the 2,000 prisoners who shifted 6 million tons of rock during their construction, using only their own strength and wheelbarrows, with a derrick and pulley for the very heaviest stones. They also dug by hand the impressive Verne Ditch,120' wide, 75' deep, surrounding  Portland army garrison, which they also built.  They did have much deserved and necessary extra rations as a reward for their hard labour.

Mr Moretti read us excerpts from the Governor of Portland Prison's journal.  This detailed arrivals and departures, visitors, punishments, health matters, accidents and deaths, rebellions and assaults on officers, escapes and recaptures, and, of course, the weather. Trafficking of candles, paper, carved souvenir bone work, tobacco (what's new?) were reported, as was the fact that the prison was a popular sightseeing resort.  Prince Albert with his sons Princes Arthur and Albert were among the notable visitors.

In summary reforms to the end of the19th century were;

Regulations to improve diet and living conditions.

Older prisons closed

End of unproductive labour

Fees abolished

End of transportation

Women and children housed and treated separately from men.

End of public executions

Reduction in capital offences

Sentencing rate reduced

Shorter sentences

Experiments in other prison regimes

Other non-custodial options sought.

A very thought provoking talk, for which we offer Mr Moretti our thanks.

23rd January 2017 Meeting            Notes © Linda Pritchard

Southampton – The Slavery and the Sugar Trade by Andy Russel

Andy Russel's talk on Southampton's involvement in slavery and the sugar industry started with a photograph of the bombed ruins of the huge Sugar House. This six-storey building had been built in the 1740's as a sugar refinery, on the site of the dissolved Franciscan friary.  The factory complex was well situated to take advantage of Southampton's trade links to import both the raw molasses from the West Indies, and the coal required to turn it into the highly desirable refined white sugar.

Andy gave us a brief history of the production of sugar from cane, which had probably developed in the Middle East, thence to Sicily, and onwards, feeding the increasing demand in Europe for the convenient sweet substance. The climate in the West Indies was ideal for growing sugar cane, but was not so for Europeans transported for penal servitude of 5,7,or 9 years on the plantations. Very few survived, and this led to an increased trade in African slaves, who were considered better able to survive the hot climate.

Well before this time, there were several mentions of African or Moors in the Southampton records, none of whom were slaves.  The first documentation of a black person dates back to 1546 when a ship carrying valuable cargo sank close to Southampton.  The ensuing court cases regarding compensation for salvage involved the testimony of one Jacques Francis questioning whether his word could be accepted as trustworthy as he was a non-Christian Moor.  The court decided he could be believed, and it is very unlikely he was a slave. A black trumpeter at the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, ironically called John Blanc, is also mentioned in the city's records as such.  In 1555 a London consortium brought 5 Africans to England, not as slaves, but to be taught English, in order to improve trade as translators and interpreters.  In 1561, Queen Elizabeth I granted licences to adventurers to bring back African seamen, again, as interpreters.

According to Huyklyt, in 1562 John Hawkins captured 300 negroes 'by sword and other means'.  As these may have been purchased this might be the start of England's involvement in the slave trade, as they were taken and then sold in Domenica.  By 1596, there were complaints at the very highest level about there being too many blackamoors claiming relief which should go to the English, but just how many is not known.

Andy then gave an illustrated description of the production of sugar from cane. The cane was planted, cut down by scythes in about 7' lengths, and hauled to a man powered mill where it was crushed, pressed, and the resulting liquid piped down to another shed, where it was boiled, barrelled, and then transported as molasses to England for refining. Southampton was ideally placed to carry out the other processes required to produce sugar, to feed the great demand for the 'white death' sweetener.  The Sugar House was the biggest building in Southampton and was built by the French Briseau family. They came to Southampton from being bakers in Whitechapel, in London, and set up an extremely successful and productive business, lasting for many years. The foundations of their large factory complex have been excavated by Andy and his team, and we were shown photos and plans of the dig.

Making sugar from molasses is a very skilled job. It has to be boiled to an exact temperature without burning, to crystalize.  After boiling the liquid was poured into conical clay moulds (by the thousand) to be stored for several months to drain and dry.  Bulls blood was added through the cones to extract impurities. The stacked cones were kept clean and warm on the top 6th floor, which was strengthened with extra beams to support the great weight. Large moulds made coarser sugar than smaller one.  Andy showed illustrations of the manufacturing procedure for the sugar loaves, which, when ready were wrapped in blue sugar paper for distribution across southern England.

A result of the increased consumption of white sugar, which was no longer highly taxed, was a severe deterioration in the teeth of the populace. From 18c onwards, skeletons show rotted teeth, signs of diabetes and arteriosclerosis in all ages.

From being an imported luxury item, sugar had become cheap and easily accessible, and now there were many refineries countrywide. This eventually led to M. Briseau Snr. going out of business, and becoming bankrupt. The company's assets were put up for sale, and it seems from the existing Bill Of Sale the auction was very successful. 5,000 clay moulds are listed, and so few pieces were found during the excavation of the area, that it would seem all the goods and equipment were sold and removed from the site.

Briseau's son-in-law became influential in the town, and lived very well.  His 3 houses were cleared by 1870's from the site now occupied by Telephone House and Gloucester Square car park.  Their original sugar factory complex had extended from the town walls to High Street.

When sugar refining ceased, the Sugar House was used for a while as a hospital for sick soldiers. However, close proximity, poor sanitation and dirty blankets lead to outbreaks of typhoid. Subsequently the building became White's Furniture Depository, and this was its role until bombed in the German air raids of WWII, which was the sad photo shown at the beginning of Andy's talk.

There is no evidence that Southampton was involved in the infamous 3-way trade, like Bristol and Liverpool. Nor is there any sign that rum, as a by-product from boiling molasses, was made here. However, there is much evidence of Southampton people being involved in slavery. After the abolition in 1836, compensation was paid by the government to plantation and slave owners. The records show many Southampton citizens received generous compensation for their 'loss'.  The Town Clerk, Mr Stebbing acted on their behalf to administer this. The extent of their ownership varied considerably, from modest, to numerous. The lists and records of compensation payments to Southamptonians exist, and show very widespread involvement, including several present day families.

Both sides of the slavery debate were represented locally - many wealthy local landowners were pro-slavery, while William Wilberforce himself, son of the vicar of St Mary's, Wm.Cobbett, and Chamberlain were abolitionists.  Their campaign, backed by Lord Mansfield was successful, and he decreed 'Let the blacks go free'.

Andy was thanked for his informative talk, full of interesting details, including his own family's (somewhat unwilling) slave owning past!

27th February 2017 Meeting            Notes © Linda Pritchard

 Admiral of the Fleet, John Rushworth Jellicoe, GCB. OM. GCVO. SGM. DL     by John Avery

John Jellicoe was born in Southampton on 5th December 1859, and joined RN Training Ship Britannia in 1872, as a midshipman. He served on several ships and saw much service, mainly with the Mediterranean Fleet.

 In 1893 he was aboard HMS Victoria, flagship of the Admiral of the Mediterranean Fleet, Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon, when it was in collision with HMS Camperdown. Tryon devised a berthing exercise whereby the five battle cruisers would enter a formation 1200 yards apart at Tripoli. The distance did not allow for suction created by ships’ propellers and the two ships collided. Jellicoe was one of a few survivors. This incident, and the loss of 22 officers and 336 men who died is commemorated on the Portsmouth memorial. A family headstone on a grave in Southampton Old Cemetery also records the event. The wreck of HMS Victoria, off Tripoli, is a protected site.

 He was badly injured at the Battle of Beicang during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion, in 1900, and after this conflict, he commanded HMS Drake in North America and the West Indies.

 Jellicoe became a Rear Admiral in 1907 and carried through many modernising measures in the Navy.  As a member of the Admiralty Ordnance Committee he supervised the introduction of  mechanical range finders to improve firing accuracy, and he also supported the construction of Dreadnought battleships, and Invincible battle cruisers.

 He become Commander of the Grand Fleet and was awarded many national and international honours.  By August 1914, and the start of WW1, he was a full admiral, and was mostly much admired throughout the nation.

 At the Battle of Jutland, in May 1916 his command of the Great Fleet was considered disappointing.  Despite enormous losses on both sides, neither could claim 'victory' and he had ordered his remaining ships from Scapa Flow to turn back to avoid further losses. His decisions and behaviour were compared unfavourably with Admiral Beatty who had joined the battle from Rosyth.

He became at odds with Government and the Admiralty. Among these disputes, Jellicoe disagreed with ships being deployed to convoys, which he disliked, but which, in fact, were a successful way of protecting convoys from attack. In 1917 he was removed from the post of First Lord of the Admiralty by David Lloyd George.  

In 1918 he was created Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa Flow and from 1920 - 1924 was Governor of New Zealand. On his return to Britain, he became Earl Jellicoe and Viscount Brocas of Southampton. He died of pneumonia in London in 1935, and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral. His bronze bust is on a plinth in Trafalgar Square - a great Sotonian, indeed!

William Walker - The Diver at Winchester Cathedral by Margaret Braddock. - 27.3.2017.      

Meeting notes © Linda Pritchard


The original Winchester Minster, built in 635 was demolished and replaced by a new church consecrated in 1093. However its waterlogged peaty site has meant the Cathedral has suffered continually from severe subsidence.  Until 1905, the work to repair damage had been carried out by Cathedral staff in a piecemeal fashion and without great success.  Architectural surveyor, John Colson reported an alarming degree of subsidence and of cracked walls with daylight visible between the stonework. The Cathedral was in danger of collapse. Thomas Jackson, the Diocesan Architect, was appointed to assess the work required to save the Cathedral. A trial dig found that the foundations, a raft of beech logs laid in part over peat had moved or rotted. Francis Fox, the eminent civil engineer estimated that the cost of repairs and underpinning the sagging structure would be £20,000,

The Dean appealed for financial support by writing to newspapers and eminent, powerful people. Fundraising events were held throughout the years of work, as costs continually rose. These included the Winchester Pageant and selling items crafted from the old timbers as well as appeals for money.

The repair work commenced, scaffolding erected, damaged stonework replaced with new Portland stone and tie bars fitted. The tie bars are still checked for movement. 500 tons of 'cathedral quality' grout was pumped in to stabilise the walls. The exterior walls were shored up with oak timbers leaving 'cup' marks in the grass.

Francis Fox's plan to stabilise the foundations was to drive drift tunnels beneath the Cathedral and fill them with cement. However the tunnels flooded and it’s here that the wonderful William Walker enters the story. William Walker born in 1869, was senior diver for Siebe Gorman. His single-handed work was to take bags of cement under the Cathedral and position them by touch alone in the pitch-black peaty water. Starting at 8am he worked 6 hours a day 5 days a week, for 6 years eventually putting in position 25,000 bags and 110,000 brick blocks.

He wore a red woolly hat and wore wool underwear under his rubberised twill diving suit. The suit, pulled feet upwards had greased tight cuffs but no gloves. His boots, breastplate, helmet and knife, weighed a total of 200 lbs. William West was the main signal / linesman who kept check on his airflow tube, assessed the depth of the water, and prepared for his swift removal if an emergency occurred. Francis Fox also dived to inspect the work, and was famously photographed wearing a diver's suit. When the Cathedral work was finished, William was presented with a silver rose bowl, and was appointed Member of the Royal Victoria Order. He died from Spanish flu on 31 October 1918 and is buried in Beckenham Cemetery in London.

In the Cathedral grounds there is a small statue of a diver. When the statue was unveiled a grandson declared "That bugger ain't Grandad" its likeness having been taken from the diver's suit photograph of Francis Fox. A true likeness is now in the Cathedral, as a fitting tribute and memorial to a remarkable man and his efforts, to whom all lovers of the Cathedral owe an enormous debt of gratitude.

Meeting 23 4 2017 “The Lost Pubs of Southampton” by Dave Goddard. Some brief notes © Linda Pritchard 
Dave Goddard’s talk was based on research for his book. He mentioned a 1878 map by the Temperance Society, produced to shame the licensing authority [A copy is in Tudor House Museum]. The map became a drinkers' guide to the many establishments serving alcohol in Southampton. His book 'Southampton’s Lost Pubs' was published in 2014. Dave illustrated his talk with slides, in roughly alphabetical order, with a commentary of short descriptions of the pubs and ale houses, their situation, age, incidents which had happened in the pubs, and their changes of name, and eventual fates. Some had become residential accommodation, or retail premises; some were demolished for development, and many were lost by wartime destruction. Some were not 'lost' at all, but are still in business. The talk was followed by an opportunity to see Mr. Goddard's memorabilia and research material.

The talk 22/5/2017 “Berthon and his Boats” by Barbara Burrudge. Some brief notes © Linda Pritchard
The Reverend Edward Lyon Berthon 1813-1899. Barbara Burridge treated the members to a fascinating talk about this remarkable polymath whose achievements had a worldwide effect and influence. After studying theology at Magdalene College, Cambridge Edward was ordained in 1845 however he maintained his many early interests in inventions, engineering, architecture, astronomy, and writing. The sinking of SSOrion in 1850 inspired him to invent a collapsible lifeboat.The Orion had sunk within sight of land with great loss of life because there was no lifesaving equipment on board. Edward had become Vicar of Romsey Abbey and he lived for many years [1859-1899] in Folly House, the vicarage that he had designed. With encouragement from Samuel Plimsoll, he set up theBerthon Boat Co.Ltd. within the grounds of the Abbey from where he could oversee the work in the factory. The finished boats were tested on the nearby stream.Among the many contracts he received were orders worth £15,000 came from the Admiralty. The long lasting waterproof coating of the double-skinned canvas sheeting of Berthon's folding boat remains a secret. It is impermeable and flexible, and enables the sides of the boat to be erected or collapsed quickly and easily around a central keel. The boats were made in many sizes, from 7'-30' (capable of carrying 70 people). They were flat packed and could be transported by horse. The use of the Berthon boats was worldwide, they were used on explorations from the Arctic to Africa, and in later years, on a circumnavigation of the globe! General Gordon had them in Khartoum, H.S.Stanley used them in his African explorations on the Zambezi. In addition to his business activities, he also initiated and carried out many alterations, renovations and improvements to Romsey Abbey itself. He wanted to return the Abbey to its original authentic Norman / Romanesque style, and removed many unsightly extensions. The demolition work at the east end Lady Chapel revealed that the windows were askew and required his workmen to lower them to match. Rev. E.L. Berthon's funeral was attended by many hundreds and his memorial in the Abbey depicts the famous collapsible folding boat for which so many have so much to thank him.

‘Jane Austen and Southampton Spa’. a talk by Cheryl Butler 25.9.17

Notes © 2017 Linda Pritchard edited by Brian Sefton

Doctor Cheryl Butler treated us to an interesting, amusing and wide ranging race through Jane Austen and her life, her family, and their connections, with an overview of her times here in Southampton.

Jane's immediate family, the Austens of Steventon had many relations richer than them, possessing grand houses all over England, which Jane visited. During these visits, and on many  extended stays, Jane developed her close and incisive knowledge of the life styles of 'high society', with its oddities and rigid expectations of manners and behaviour.  This clear observance is shown well in her books and letters, because she, with her mother and beloved sister Cassandra were the poor relations, especially after the death of her clergyman father in 1805.  They went on seasonal rounds of touring staying with friends, acquaintances, and relations and Jane created her style from being a keen observer during these quite difficult times. These, however, are probably responsible for the enduring popularity of her witty books.

Jane's family background and her wider family were explained by Cheryl, with their many relations and connections through marriage.  

Her first stay in Southampton was not a happy one.  She had moved from Reading to Southampton with Mrs. Cawley's Ladies Boarding School as an 8 year old  pupil, together with her sister and cousin Jane Cooper.  However, although Southampton had become a fashionable spa town partly due to the Prince of Wales's visits,  little Jane, Cassandra, and Jane Cooper all contracted 'putrid throat', diptheria. This illness probably left Jane Austen weakened for the rest of her short life.

Her happier times in Southampton as a teenager coincided with its heyday as a spa town. She attended dances at The Dolphin, and The Assembly Rooms, and many social gatherings.  These were remembered later, in a letter to Cassandra, and were enlivened by a Master of Ceremony at the Assembly Room, who set the manner of fashionable styles.   Interesting and varied people came to these events, including Nathaniel St. Andre, anatomist to King George, and infamous for endorsing the verisimilitude of the claims of the multi-birthing Rabbit Woman.

Jane's third stay in Southampton, for the 3 years, 1806-09, was after a period in Bath, which she appears to have hated and despised.

Cheryl explained that after Jane's father's death in 1805, their remaining income dropped, and it was with Naval Officer brother Frank's help that Jane, Cassandra, and their mother settled in lodgings in Castle Square, together with Frank's wife, and a friend Martha Lloyd. The property was prestigious, with the highest rent in Castle Square, (£40 pa), and very pleasant gardens down to the town walls, and beautiful views over Southampton Water.   The site is now occupied by The Juniper Berry pub.

No.2 Castle Square was close to the Marquis of Lansdowne's newly built castle, where many social events were held. The stories of the behaviour of the eccentric marquis and his wife must have given Jane much amusement, but sadly Cassandra burned the majority of Jane's correspondence after her death 'to save her reputation'.  Given the caustic and waspish content of the surviving letters, one is left to wonder about the destroyed ones!!

The Austens enjoyed crossing the Itchen by ferry for walks along the nearby shore, as far as Netley Abbey, which may have inspired ' Northanger Abbey'. They also called on the David Lances at Chessel House.  Jane took with her on some of these expeditions, two little orphaned nephews, who she looked after and with whom she  was extremely close.

Theatre-going with Jane's friend Mrs Fitzhugh to Sarah Siddons' performances at the Theatre Royal in French Street, were enjoyed as Mrs Fitzhugh was a great fan.

Among Jane's many relatives was her cousin Elizabeth, of the Kent Austens, who had married John Butler Harrison. He was a wine importer who became Mayor of Southampton.  Jane was godmother to their daughter, and Elizabeth and John are memorialised in Peartree Church.  Harrison Cut off St Mary's Road is named after him.  

Cheryl's talk covered a wealth of Southampton related  subjects, and touched on:

The slave trade, paintings and drawings by Turner, Constable and Tobias Young  Pebber, The Marchioness of Lansdowne's plastered face, Charles Dibden's hymns and songs, Nelson's battles (a propos brother Frank's naval career) , Wm Cowper and his Millbrook strawberry growing,  and gas lighting in Bugle Street following Thomas Lintott being crushed against a pole in the pitch black night.

Mention was made by Cheryl of Thos.Telford and MacAdam's road improvements,  which made Jane's journeying sometimes more comfortable. (Apparently, more wooden legs were needed because of coach accidents, than from warfare.)  The halted development of the Polygon, God's House Tower and the penal system, ship yards, Horace Walpole, King Edward VI school, the East India Company, Taking the Waters, and the Flounce, the French Revolution, emigres, Hants Militia and Edward Gibbon's hat, Captain Bligh, flogging, Beau Brummel's trousers, were all referred to, along with Jane's teasing of the Rev Mount's rebuilding of All Saint's Church as a Greek Temple, and his imaginary romances. 

‘Memories of the Great War’ a talk by Geoff Watts 23.10.17 

Notes © 2017 Linda Pritchard edited by Brian Sefton.

Geoff Watts' talk was full of anecdotes, information, and was well illustrated with photographic slides, postcards and included a moving poetry recitation.  

The photographs showed before and after depictions of the devastation caused by the brutal conflicts of the Great War. Others were illustrations of the memorials raised across the countries affected. These were very varied, and range from the immensely imposing to the very simple. The exception in the cemeteries is the standardised design and shape of the official individual War Graves markers of white Portland stone.

He related the widely reported legend of the strange events of 23/ 24 August 1914. The BEF was pinned down under heavy pressure by German forces near Mons, and were in a desperate situation.  Apparently, the German onslaught was halted when an odd vision appeared in the sky of shining shapes that resolved into angelic warriors or an army of archers, like Henry V's army before the victorious battle of Agincourt. In an interview with The Echo in 1964, a veteran of this conflict declared he was at Mons and had seen the apparition in the sky for himself. This account somewhat coincides with another version, where the German advance was halted by a 'mad minute' of rapid firing at 15 rounds per minute from the BEF allowing them to retreat.

In 1922, King George V visited the cemetery at Etaples, where 11,000 war dead are buried.  Queen Mary had been asked by the mother of a Captain Mathews to lay a bunch of forget-me-nots on his grave, which the King did on her behalf. The impressive memorial and Cross of Sacrifice at the War Cemetery frames a nearby tall column topped by a statue of Napoleon commemorating his attempt to invade England.  He is facing inland....

We were also shown photographs of some French memorials: - a huge hand and torch to symbolize tunnelling, and on the Marne battlefield an enormous 33m high redstone structure, which took 5 years to build. It honours, chiefly, Field Marshal Foch whose huge image is flanked by statues of 4 other war leaders, including Joffre and Haig - but much smaller! A detailed description of the conflict is deeply incised into the memorial.

In England, before WW1, there were few public war memorials, except inside churches. After the Great War, the design of memorials was decided locally, leading to a countrywide variety of styles. There was a generally accepted symbolism regarding the Cross of Sacrifice, a frequent choice, and the significant details were explained by Geoff.  At many of these, throughout the land, the names of those commemorated on them are read out of Remembrance Day, so that hopefully 'Their name liveth forever more' is not just an empty phrase.

Many German war dead are also buried in England. In 1959, those who were not already in war graves were exhumed, and reburied in an isolated cemetery for 5,000 on Cannock Chase. He showed a photograph of a black ledgerstone engraved with 15 names and a date. The memorial was for the crew of an airship, shot down having been on a bombing raid on London. The pilot, Lt. Leefe Robinson, was awarded the VC. for his action, and later met Baron von Richthofen’s squadron in combat but was shot down and taken prisoner. He was ill treated as a POW when his identity became known. He escaped but was recaptured. Following repatriation sadly he died of Spanish flu in December 1918. The airship crew were among those exhumed to be taken to Cannock.

We were reminded of Southampton's own Jack Mantle VC, and Fl. Lt. Nicholson VC, both memorialised here.  We also heard the sad story of a Welsh farmboy and poet, Ellis Humphrey Evans.  He was conscripted in 1916, and is better known now as Hedd Wyn. He had submitted a poem to the Eisteddford but on presentation of the winner's Bardic Chair, when his name was called it was learned that he had been killed on the first day of the battle of Passchendaele and had been buried at Artillery Wood Cemetery. The posthumous award was announced and the Chair draped in black has become his memorial.

Throughout the war, many postcards were produced, by both sides.  Some patriotic, some satirical, some sentimental, and many in beautifully embroidered silk. These can frequently be bought now for little money. We were shown one purchased recently, it was from a French soldier and addressed to Edith --------, The Garage, Methuen Street, Avenue, Southampton.  Louis' card, appreciating Edith's letters, is dated 19.2.15 and says he has been on the front. It is known that he died on 28.2.15, so was probably already dead when Edith received it.  We do not know the story behind this card, which was found in perfect condition after her death.

After the war, a League of Hope was set up to help the devastated French towns. Money was raised by a Flag Day, and many English towns, including Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and London, all adopted French villages.  In 1921 thousands of little paper flags were sold to raise funds, here, depicting the arms of Southampton, and the fleur-de-lys.

The Dolphin Hotel was a BEF HQ in 1914, and until a recent refurbishment, had a brass plaque referring to this, and also a Haig Room. The Polygon Hotel was also BEF General HQ. and Geoff wondered where the plaque commemorating this is now - he has been told it is in the care of the City Council, but specifically where, he has been unable to ascertain.

Still mounted on the wall near the entrance to Ocean Village, is the London and S.W.Railway's Docks memorial. It carries 75 names. Another wall plaque memorial is by Dock Gate 4, to the many members of South Western SSC. The names of their fallen employees are listed, along with their position i.e. stewardess, cook and their age, and includes poor little Horace Wood, a 15 year old deck boy.

Following the discovery of the disgraceful neglectful treatment of so many war memorials in defunct or refurbished business premises, or even redundant churches, Ian Davidson set up The Friends of War Memorials. Shamefully, many brass memorials were being melted for scrap, and a beautiful large brass one was retrieved from a Bournemouth scrap yard. Detective work, compared names on Southampton's own impressive Lutyens' designed cenotaph, with other records and the plaque was found to have belonged to St Luke's Church in Bevois Valley.  Presumably it was found to be surplus to requirements when this church became a Sikh temple.  It is now believed to be in the care of the Council.

Geoff told us about Southampton's ancient Sword of State. It is of 16C German design, and although refurbished in 1870's by Mayor MacAlmont, is very fragile. The custom is that it is unsheathed when England is at war, and replaced in its scabbard when peace is declared. Sir Sidney Kimber did this in 1914, and it was kept unsheathed beside the mayoral chair throughout WW1.  (He referred to it as the Sword of Fate, as it is quite plain in design, and State swords are usually much more decorative) When the war was over, it was put up in its sheath and despite subsequent conflicts and probably because if its fragility may not have been removed since. However Carol Cunio, is sure that during her mayoral year, a young visitor did indeed remove the ancient sword from its sheath and according to her recollection it was replaced unharmed.

A particularly moving local memorial is that to the ex-war and police horse ‘Warrior’. When this venerable and famous horse died, instead of being consigned to the knackers yard, he was buried with great ceremony at the Sports Centre, the place clearly marked with a commemorative engraved stone.

Thank you Geoff, for such an interesting, fact-filled, and appropriately timed talk.

Southampton in Bloom a talk on 22nd January 2018
notes by Linda Pritchard

'Southampton in Bloom' is a small charity founded in 1986 by Gerald Morgan, of Southampton City Council, and Neville Yeates, of the Royal Southampton Horticultural Society to encourage, celebrate, and reward the talents ofSouthampton's gardeners, young and old, and gardens, large or small. There are 12 categories for entry to Southampton in Bloom to invite a wide range of age in the participants and a huge variety of styles, types, locations and sizes of gardens and horticultural exhibits. There is a children’s competition for which the charity provides 6 plants, compost, and trays free for the young entrants to try their hand. A special cup is awarded for the most Promising Young Gardener. Children also take part in the Children’s School Garden competition. There are also cups and awards for allotments, public parks, business premises, sheltered housing complexes, individual private gardens large and small, courtyard gardens, frontages, hanging baskets, containers, walkways and balconies. Apart from the schools category, no financial support is received from the Council. The charity survives with the support of Mayfield Nurseries, by grants from a variety of sources, and from a tombola stall at the Lions Gardeners' Fayre, held annually at Wide Lane, Eastleigh. The Fayre will be on Sunday 3rd June this year. Being wildlife friendly, and showing regard to water conservation receives recognition, as do amusing or unusual plant containers, such as Wellington boots or an iron kitchen range It is free to enter, and the judging is done in two rounds - the first by society members, and the second by professional judges. As weather can play an important part in the appearance and readiness of a garden to be at its best photographs are also used to help assess entries. Presentations of the well-deserved cups and awards are made in October at Haskins who for several years have been the generous hosts to the event. Jeanne's talk was beautifully and colourfully illustrated with photos of entrants' competition exhibits showing the amazingly varied selection of the sometimes hidden and undervalued talents of our Southampton gardeners.


Our talk 23 April 2018 'Bevois Mount 'by Allyson Hayes                 Some brief notes © Linda Pritchard
   Alison Heyes, founder member of Bevois Mount History group historian, treated us to a well illustrated talk about Charles Mordaunt, later Earl of Peterborough. He was born to Royalist parents in 1658. He became a peer, was First Lord of the Treasury was a successful soldier, politician, friend of the arts, and supporter of royalty - advising James II, William and Mary and latterly Queen Anne. The principal local connection with this fascinating man is in his holding of the Bevois Mount estate. He purchased the land, Padwell Farm and Bevois Mount from St Denys Priory and developed the retreat into a much admired sanctuary for his family and many friends who included Alexander Pope and JonathanSwift.Bevois Mount House was demolished in 1948, the whole estate having been broken up and sold off in parcels from 1859 onwards. There had been several changes of ownership including being a girls' school and a German officers POW camp. Allyson's talk was full of much information from her research into Charles Mordaunt, and we are grateful to her for having him drawn to our attention.

Our Summer Outing to Romsey Abbey June 2018
An extract from notes by Linda Pritchard

Members met in the pleasant gardens of King John's House for refreshments, before going to Romsey Abbey for our guided tour. We are grateful to have had the opportunity of a guided tour by a clearly enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide. The present Abbey's survives as a parish church, although greatly reduced from its original size and magnificence. It is an almost perfect example of Norman architecture, with an Early English extension dating from 1220. Our guide indicated the join at which the Norman string coursing ends and the style changes. Many Abbesses are listed on boards in an aisle and include St. Ethelflaeda who was step-daughter of King Edgar, King of Wessex, and her mother Alfrida. Unfortunately, the auspicious early days were followed over the years by a severe deterioration in standards, with many scandals being reported of bad behaviour. One Abbess, Elizabeth Whiterose lived a very 'secular' life. She was fined and 20 of her nuns, being 'naughty', were ordered to leave during the Dissolution. By 1530 most of the complex had been destroyed however In 1539 Romsey townspeople purchased the building for £100 from King Henry VIII's Commissioners to be their parish church. Romsey Abbey, with its long history, massively beautiful architecture, stained glass windows, wall paintings, tapestries, intriguing stone carvings, rare encaustic tiles, choir stalls, organ, and monuments, is a real treasure. The many memorials are full of interest and importance, especially, perhaps, that of Lord Mountbatten, who lived at nearby Broadlands, and was murdered by the IRA in 1979. Our thanks to John Avery for organising the outing

Our talk 22nd October 2018 'Southampton [Old] Bowling Green' by John Sanders Notes by Linda Prichard 

Bowls has been played on the Green since at least 1299, despite the efforts of many kings to curtail, or even forbid the sport, as it was a time wasting, gambling encouraging, distracting evil. Laws to control the game were legislated by Richard II in 1388, by Edward IV in 1483, Henry VIII in 1534, and Charles II in 1670. Southampton's Court Leet could fine offenders, and did so in 1556. Severe penalties were threatened for playing bowls as it interfered with archery practice Edward IV set a fine of £20 or 3 years in gaol. Despite this, it appears the game continued, notwithstanding the possible consequences. When Charles II 'settled the rules' in 1670, it was clearly intended to be a game for gentlemen, and this may perhaps have led eventually to the use of the title 'sir' for the winner of the annual 'Father of the Green' tournament. This competition was started by Samuel Miller, and has been held continuously since 1776. It is the world's oldest continuously held annual competition, and the world's 2nd oldest sporting competition. The winner is dubbed Knight of the Green, has the title 'sir', and is presented with a large silver medal to be returned to the Club on the member's death. The clubhouse has many of these beautiful medals on display. John told us that unfortunately the records are incomplete but the archive is in process of being tidied and sorted. However he was able to tell us of documented instances where the game, the deeds and misdeeds of members and Masters are mentioned, regarding boundary fencing disputes and quarrels, even duels are noted. One person was accused that he had 'digged in God's House Green and laid his rubidge to create nuisance'. In 1869, the draper Edwin Jones objected to the amount of alcohol being consumed by members in the bar, and left the club to found the teetotal County Bowling Club. John told us that the club still depends on the income from the bar for its survival. 

Our talk 26th November 2018 'Southampton Docks' by Alistair Welch Some brief notes by Linda Pritchard 
Alistair told us of the port’s present situation, and gave some insight into future hopes and proposals. He said that Southampton is the biggest cruise port in Europe, handling many millions of passengers each year. Larger cruise ships are already in production, which will increase this high turnover. The massive 'Iona' will be built by next year, and in preparation for her arrival, 55m long rods have been driven into the quayside to support the first of several 18ton bollards required to hold her. Car imports form a large, financially rewarding part of the docks' economy. More dockside stacked storage capacity is being built to accommodate the huge numbers arriving. Southampton is convenient for exporting cars and parts too. Container ships are the most frequent visitors, and these vessels are increasing in size and capacity. In 2016 the Marco Polo at 16,000 TEU was the largest visitor. The Antoine de St. Exupery is 20,000, and in 2019, a 23,000 TEU will be ready. Expansion and updating equipment for the future continuing development of the docks to cope with these increased sizes is required, including dredging deeper channels. Container goods form 30% of the docks trade with automotive trade at 24%, cruising 25%, and bulk grain at 15%. Sadly, 80 - 85% of the containers from the Far East arrive full but 80% return empty 22 trains a day leave the docks, carrying 30% of the imports leaving a large amount travelling by road causing congestion and emissions in the city and beyond. Long term plans for docks expansion were reviewed. ABP have acquired 7 acres at Eling Wharf. Solent Gateway the former Marchwood Military Port may become the hub. The mixed ownership of the rest of the New Forest Waterside area is split between ABP, the Barker Mill Estate, the Drummond Family Estate at Cadland, and the Exxon Mobil Refinery. A Waterside Development Group comprising these landowners and local politicians are trying to foresee development over the next several years. Questions were asked about ABP's intentions towards the heritage of the docks, with special reference to 'Shieldhall' and 'Calshot', currently based on ABP's land. Alistair said he respected the volunteers involved with 'Shieldhall', and would support them as far as possible. The unseaworthy tug tender 'Calshot' is different. He had questioned its future several times with the Trustees as to their intentions and each time they had not met proposed deadlines. He was adamant that free berthing was coming to an end.

John Avery asked about ABP's position regarding the thousands raised to transport the light vessel Calshot Spit from Ocean Village to an agreed site in the docks but subsequently the site was transferred by ABP to Red Funnel. He felt a refund from ABP would be due to compensate the money raised by the volunteers. Sadly the meeting closed with many questions unanswered.

Our 28th January talk

'The Southampton Airport Master Plan' by the Airport Manager Neil Garwood
Some brief notes by Linda Pritchard
Our speaker Neil Garwood came to Southampton 8 years ago, and
became the Southampton Airport Managing Director in June 2018. He
gave us a fascinating illustrated talk about the history of the airport, and
explained some of the problems in developing plans for Southampton
Airport's position in the competitive world of aviation.
The earliest flying activity in the Borough of Eastleigh was by the incredibly inventive, brave, and far-sighted Mr Edwin Moon on fields at North Stoneham Farm in 1910. Public aerial displays were held there until 1914 when
Handley Page commenced building heavy bombers on the site. It became a base for the U.S. Navy. The US Navy left in 1919, and the Atlantic Park Hotel was established to house migrants from Europe awaiting clearance for their
onward voyage to America.
In the 1930's, Vickers Armstrong commenced flying boat manufacturing and regular commercial flights to Jersey and international destinations were established. Famously now came the development and test flight of what
became called the Spitfire. Designed by R.J. Mitchell at Supermarine at Woolston, the prototype of this celebrated plane was first flown by  Joseph 'Mutt' Summers on 5th March 1936.
In 1938, Cunliffe Owen built experimental planes on the site, their buildings suffered terrible damage from bombing in WW 2, and 50 people were killed in one raid. In 1945 'HMS Raven', as the airport had been called throughout
the war, was returned to civilian use. The manufacturers Saunders Roe were creating some very weird and wonderful aircraft like the 1947 autogyro. Mr. Garwood thought that some of these experimental craft are still buried
somewhere, under the grass!
Silver City Airways car transporter plane regularly flew from Eastleigh but by 1963 the grass runways were inadequate, and the airport's wish to expand by concreting and extending the length of the runway became a
planning problem. By 1966, 275,000 passengers a year were using the airport, and we were shown plans from 1970 illustrating how restricted the site is, bounded as it is by the M27 motorway, the railway and railway works.
Peter de Savary a short-term owner of the airport, purchased it for £45million in 1988, with plans for expansion. Some were achieved before it was sold to the BritishAirportsAuthority in the early 1990's.A new passenger terminal
was opened by the Duke of York in 1994 and the previously important cargo carrying side of the airport's activities was discouraged. Passenger numbers increased throughout the 2000's, Planning proposals to extend hours of
operation, and lengthen the runway were refused and the financial crash of 2007-8 halted the masterplan from being completed.
New routes have been opened and passenger numbers have now exceeded 2 million a year and despite some difficulties, continue to increase. Mr. Garwood said that in order to maintain Southampton Airport's position in the
aviation market an extension in runway length is essential to receive these bigger planes. New plans to be submitted include adding at least 170 metres to the northern end of the runway.
Among many questions asked; would advances in aircraft design and technology make longer runways necessary?
The question of environmental impact was also raised, and discussed.

February 2019 'A Walk in a Victorian Cemetery’ an illustrated talk by John Avery notes by Linda Prichard

The Victorian cemetery was created to relieve the ghastly situation that existed in the dangerously overcrowded and unsanitary town and city church graveyards.

John explained that Southampton Old Cemetery was a typical example of a Victorian municipal cemetery with some unique features.  The Jewish cemetery, the entrance gates, chapels and historically interesting memorials make it a very special place. Work by Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery helps to safeguard, conserve and preserve the cemetery’s heritage and associated information, they maintain safe access to the monuments, statuary and associated epitaphs. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission supports the Friends' efforts in maintaining access to their war graves, located throughout the 27acre site.

The City’s Titanic connection attracts many researchers and overseas visitors. Although no bodies were returned for burial in the cemetery many of the deceased are commemorated by family memorials and identified by blue markers. Friends' research has produced an extremely useful publication for visitors.  Titanic's high profile has now encouraged the City Council to treat the cemetery as of international interest and not as just a peaceful 'managed' wildlife sanctuary, once criticised for its apparently neglected, overgrown state.

John referred to many notable or unusual graves or monuments in the cemetery, among which is the beautiful and recently conserved Three Graces statue. The sculptor was the famous eccentric, Richard Cockle Lucas, who lived in Chilworth, drove to town in a toga and chariot, and married the Queen of the Fairies. More seriously, we were told the sad story of the SS Douro memorial, to the 17 people who all drowned when they would not get into the lifeboat in front of a woman who refused to jump into it.

The comedian Benny Hill is buried in the post Victorian Hollybrook Cemetery, his tomb interestingly has a Burke and Hare preventative of a solid thick black marble slab over his resting place.

John's illustrations showed a number of contemporary cemeteries including;

Highcliffe, Dorset, the burial place of Mr. Selfridge, who is in a considerably more modest grave than the adjacent elaborate plot of his wife.

Ford Park, Plymouth containing an extremely long grave, for 4 people drowned in a seaplane disaster.

Brookwood, in Surrey, is the largest cemetery in Europe, and had its own platform at Waterloo Station.  Here, the graves were clustered according to trades, and is home to many magnificent monuments and mausoleums.

Brompton Cemetery is uniquely managed by the Royal Parks, with many breathtaking memorials.

Kensal Green, in London was made fashionable by the Duke of Sussex, son of George III. It was also much used by boatmen and bargees, whose coffins arrived by the adjoining canal. Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Charles Babbage are among the many notable people buried here.

We were also shown Ilkeston Cemetery in Derbyshire, and Bath Abbey, which like Southampton's originally proposed cemetery, was designed by John Claudius Loudon.  All these Victorian cemeteries were beautifully laid out, with landscaped trees, paths, chapels and religiously segregated areas.

Victorian cemeteries in other parts of the UK appear to have fared better regarding ground maintenance. However, all have faced the same problems as Southampton. Sadly, we saw photographs of vandalism. Smashed crosses, demolished angels, and toppled broken headstones. Other memorials, including military ones, were daubed with graffiti.  In Highgate Cemetery, Karl Marx's stone head often has 'tributes' added to his memorial. Insensitive action by officials has seen red tape and 'Danger' labels on headstones.  In Edinburgh, 9,000 headstones failed the 'topple test' and were laid flat. Other damage has occurred more naturally through age, frost, or erosion. Also there has been deterioration due to poor quality stone and shallow engraving.

We are grateful that John shared his knowledge with us, especially at such short notice, due to the indisposition of the arranged speaker.

25th March 2019

Sentimental and Mourning Jewellery by Margaret Braddock

Talk notes by Linda Pritchard edited by Brian Sefton ©

Margaret explained that her interest in sentimental and mourning jewellery began over 30 years ago. Images illustrating her talk included the Aberdeen Jewel, a delicate pendant in gold, a gift to Mary Queen of Scots, decorated with garnets, rubies, pearls, opals and diamonds, and scandalously, a lock of hair. Portrait rings were popular for many years, but those of King Charles I were worn clandestinely.

A Georgian custom was for sentimental jewellery to contain hair only as acceptance of a proposal of marriage. Most pieces had secret compartments unless they were in memento mori when the hair was usually openly displayed.

When King George IV died sentimental pieces containing tresses from lovers were found among his personal effects. Following Nelson's death, the market for memento mori including his hair boomed. Few genuinely contained his!

Wills provided for rings in memory of the deceased. Lancelot Andrewes of Winchester Cathedral left £300 for 23 to be given to friends.

The London craftsmen Antoni Forrer’s factory catalogue illustrated complex settings for mounting hair. Margaret described the intricacy of the work, how hair was gathered into 80 single strands, to be made into bundles of 16, prior to weaving as in lace making. The long hair required came from convent postulants and from women selling

their hair from financial need. Queen Victoria in extreme mourning set the fashion for black jewellery and Whitby Jet became very popular. Jet, the fossilized remains of monkey-puzzle trees can be carved, polished, engraved, and infilled. The material is only found in a 7 I/2 mile long seam along the cliff at Whitby that crosses the beach and passes under the sea. The industry employed 1,400 of a population of 4,000 in Victorian Whitby.

Margaret showed items from her own collection, many made of Whitby Jet, while other pieces were of plaited and woven hair. Her research into the inscriptions engraved on pieces provided several anecdotes. From a mourning jewel engraved 'Andrew Cazabar obit Bath 5 March 1825' she learned that Andrew, son of a Huguenot Spitalfields Draper took the ‘Grand Tour’.She traced his fine three storey house in Bath, learned of his daughter’s £44,000 dowry and of legacies for the French Protestant Hospital in London and a chapel in Bath.

Other engravings traced by Margaret included Lord Vernon of Sudbury Hall after whom HMS Vernon was named, also of Sir Edmund Lacon, who owned a whaling fleet, became Mayor of Yarmouth, and was knighted for quelling a riot.

The desire for memento mori continues. Whitby jet is still made and jewellery from hair is again being made by a Swedish Co-op.

Margaret is to be thanked for her fascinating talk, and for bringing some of her beautiful collection tonight, and for telling us about the research she has carried out on this interesting subject.

The Story of King John's House - Barbara Burridge

23rd September 2019. Notes by Linda Pritchard


Barbara introduced tonight's subject as being 2 stories, and 1 fib. Her entertaining talk attempted to explain the reason for the subtitle regarding this precious and well-loved part of Romsey's heritage, always referred to as King John's House, or Hunting Lodge.

Charles Moody, a successful gunsmith, bought the property at 13 Church Street in 1875,  and rebuilt the front of the premises as a double fronted shop with accommodation above, and workshop cellar below, by 1918.  The income from the dwellings behind the shop, and other property he owned in Romsey made him a wealthy man.


He had 9 children, 4 of whom survived to adulthood - one son and. three daughters, who all lived above the shop.   The son, William Frank, took over the gunsmith and cutlers shop, with a dangerously full window display of guns, knives, swords, cutlasses, flick knives, etc., and this is what we now see as the more gentiel Heritage Centre.  This also houses a display in the recreated Moody shop Museum, and period accommodation in the upper rooms.

She was already intrigued by her inheritance, and when she had full access to all the accumulated documentation, deeds, leases, etc., relating to her properties, she sought further help and advice from a local antiquarian and archaeologist, Walter Andrew.  

The only visible evidence of its age was a very small window from KJH overlooking the cottage, but this was enough to investigate further.  

They took down the ceiling and in the loft found dog tooth moulding around the window, and also revealed the timber roofing.  Especially, they uncovered many graffiti, after removing 5 layers of wall-paper and plaster.   The graffiti, of heraldic shields, faces, mottoes, initials, etc.,  are cut into the original lime plaster, and obviously of great age and interest.

The FIB:  The dating of KJH is difficult, but almost certainly King John never used this building. Walter Andrew had found a record of King John having a hunting lodge in the area, but it cannot be proved to be here, and the remaining architectural features are of a later date.  Dendrochronologists have dated the roof timbers, and they were cut in Spring 1256.  King John died in 1216, so the name is undoubtedly a misnomer.

Linda Pritchard’s notes 25.11.2019 Jubilee Sailing Trust by Andy Milner  

Andy Milner, together with Christopher Rudd were co-founders of The Jubilees Sailing Trust. In 1978, supported by the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Fund, they were keen to make sailing tall square rigged vessels accessible, at reasonable cost, to people with all sorts of disabilities and handicaps, together on an equal basis with inexperienced able bodied people.


The search for a suitable vessel resulted in the building in 1984 of the STS Lord Nelson. This was built in Wivenhoe in Essex and served world-wide for many years.  Sadly, due to financial difficulties caused largely by important sponsors withdrawing support (Barclays Bank for one) this brave boat is now lying in Bristol, having been decommissioned, stripped and de-sailed in October 2019 - A sad and not popular decision, forced upon the Trust, hoping to ensure its survival, with just 1 ship.


The Trust's second boat SV Tenacious, designed by Tony Castro, started construction in 1996, and incorporated many lessons learned from the adventurous voyages of Lord Nelson.  The initial budget for this unique vessel, the largest wooden boat built in England for 100 years, was £6.25m.  This was exceeded fairly quickly, with an eventual cost of £14.5M.  65% of this was Lottery funded, and the balance was raised by donations, fund-raising, and sponsorship.  


Tenacious incorporated not only traditional ship-building skills and methods, but also used many new techniques and materials. Expensive adjustments and additions were necessary to meet current safety and environmental requirements, as well as making the vessel totally suited for its purpose.  These adjustments added greatly to the costs of completing the project. For instance, to qualify for insurance from Lloyds, the generator within its wooden hull  had to be totally encased in metal, for fire protection,  and metal screws, not nails had to be used throughout, with thousands of epoxy dowels also required.  All materials were vigorously tested for fire resistant/retardant qualities.


Tenacious was built in the Woolston Merlin yard of Vosper Thornycroft, and the enormous Itchen riverside site was renamed Jubilee Yard.  The build benefitted from professional ship building workers. together with the invaluable help from many thousands of volunteers. Some of these were accommodated in converted shipping containers whilst at work. The project also received much generous help from other bodies, such as Southampton's Universities and College, as well as Vospers.


The impressive wooden hull was constructed upside down in the huge shed, of 5 strip laminated Siberian larch, with sapele wood from South Africa for finishing.  The traditional boat building wood, Iroko, was too expensive, and also environmentally unacceptable, being toxic. European larch is susceptible to wood worm, but fortunately Tenacious benefitted from a lucky 'cheap' purchase of surplus-to-requirements Siberian larch, from forests planted by Peter the Great in Russia!  This supply was accessed thanks to Captain Vladimir Martous, of Shtandardt fame.


Andy described the tedious, lengthy process of lamination, and the labour intensive work involved to produce 114 deck beams, 69 half frames, and 54 wooden floors, with 300 hanging and lodging knees (!) all bent in frames, cut and sanded before fitting.   These had to be clamped during laminating, and each clamp needed to be cleaned of the epoxy resin, by hand (mostly by disabled volunteers) each night.  The generous loan of steel rings borrowed from a Barrow in Furness shipyard considerably shortened the length of some of the processing.


The beautiful finished hull of the vessel was launched into the Itchen in February 2000. The equipment and thoughtful adjustments incorporated to enable full participation by disabled and handicapped sailors is impressive. Hundreds have now been enabled to sail worldwide in this unique 3 masted barque.


On board, there are no motorised windlasses to assist with dealing with the hundreds of ropes needing hauling, with the sole exception of the one for the anchor.  The bosun's chairs up the masts are self - operated with a system of pulleys, to deal with the sails and rigging. The emphasis throughout is on teamwork,  not necessarily on individual effort.  The vessel is fitted with lifts for wheelchair users; Also, there are rising sinks, audio visual and vibrating alarms, talking compasses, sensory hand rails for navigating around the decks, among the many sensitive and careful considerations made ensure all on board are made welcome and fully useful.


This has been proved repeatedly - a fellow with 95% sight loss has safely steered the vessel, and a crew of BLESMA (limbless ex-serviceman) took Tenacious to Jersey.  And back. (Wheelchair evacuation into lifeboats is one of the first drills carried out on each trip - this has to be completed in less than 4 minutes. )


Each voyage has an able-bodied experienced crew from the permanent staff, but each of the 4 watches are manned (womanned too!) with equal numbers of disabled and inexperienced crew, using a buddy system to cope with each others' needs.  


Under this very successful organisation, Tenacious has sailed worldwide, including around Cape Horn, and is  a great ambassador for recognising the wide capabilities of the 'disabled'.

Andy also told us some of his own background story, and the meeting ended with the sincere hope that the valuable work done by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, despite difficult times, will continue well into the future. 


Women at Work - Women's Role in the Railway.

By Liam Kenchington. 27th January 2020

Notes by Linda Pritchard

Liam's interesting illustrated and fact filled talk started with information about the Watercress Line, and his 17 year involvement with it. This has covered all aspects of the preservation, renovation, promotion and possibly best of all, actually driving the full size steam driven locomotive 'Canadian Pacific' owned and run by this important heritage railway line.  The Watercress Line holds special themed events, and regularly runs a popular service from its Alresford base, to the delight of enthusiasts young and old.

He followed this happy advertisement with a description of how women had been working on the railways from its very early days, but with special emphasis on their important contribution during the two world wars.

The first known and recorded railwaywomen were Elizabeth Holman, who was working for 14/- per week for GWR  in 1850, and Mary Walker, in 1860: however, they were recorded and accused because they worked whilst masquerading, dressed as men!

Also mentioned was a crossing keeper in 1840 who probably took over the job after the death of her husband. Mrs Jenkyn was a rare Station Master (?Mistress) for LSWR at Latchley Halt, a fairly remote location. Many women were employed in railways' early years, as Waiting Room attendants,  clerks, carriage interior cleaners, and mainly in catering and hospitality roles in the many hotels owned by the railway companies.  However, more physical roles for women were limited, until the start of WW1.

In 1914, after losing so many men to wartime duties, of necessity large numbers of women took over erstwhile 'male' roles, despite objections by some unions 'concerned' about the mental and physical abilities of 'feeble minded and weak women'.

Nonetheless, their contribution quickly became immense and essential to the war effort.

We were shown a American film made in 1943 during WW2 for US consumption, called 'Bundles for Britain.  It was a morale-boosting informative film, probably propaganda, but certainly factual as well. It showed very clearly that when permitted and trained, British women were completely capable of (cheerfully) and efficiently doing all the tasks previously done by men.

It was clear that this was achieved all the better when the women were able to wear more suitable clothing than the WW1 female employees.   Initially, they had only been permitted to adjust their full length skirts and petticoats to the very daring slightly shorter ankle-revealing levels whilst doing locomotive carriage cleaning and wheel greasing in the loco sheds. By 1916, women were allowed to work in the yards too, and by 1917 many wore trousers and overalls for the dirtier tasks.  (Not supplied by the Management, though! The first uniforms specifically for women had to wait until much later in the 20th century)

Despite being paid as little as half a man's wage, the records and especially the 1943 film, show women doing all types of 'men's work', including many skilled tasks,  such as lathe turning and machining to highly accurate standards, and various other heavy engineering work in the Workshops.

Other laborious, demanding, physical and dirty work was being done outside in the open too, and women were now allowed  (expected) to do full track work, with loco engine cleaning, wheel gauging and greasing, including the climbing of ladders, which had previously been forbidden.

The physical strength of women such as Emma Vine was demonstrated by the photo of her lifting 2 chairs weighing 46lb each, but I am not sure if she was typical!  Humorous wartime posters were printed asking train passengers and commercial customers to be considerate towards the female porters, regarding the size and weight of loads they had to deal with.

By now, women were also police officers, with power of arrest - but not of men!

Women's work in both world wars was essential and invaluable, but by 1919 very many of the 36,000 employed had been dismissed and replaced by returning ex-servicemen,

Much hostility was faced by those wishing to remain doing 'mens work' in WW2 too.

Of the 105,340 female employees during the war, 58,000 were women doing 'mens work'.  By 1947, only a TOTAL of 59,000 women were employed by the railways, in all capacities.  

Post war, some women may have wished to continue their work, with the financial independence it gave them, and more perhaps were relieved to no longer carry out the hard dirty work, with long shifts that they had been doing,  but the list of 'male' jobs women had carried out so well was long and extensive, and should be acknowledged:

  Welders, blacksmiths, wheel tappers, loco cleaners and gaugers and greasers, lorry     and fork lift drivers, porters, capstan lathe operators, machinists, inspectors, painters, crane drivers, drillers, sharpeners, track maintenance, signal box keepers, fog signallers, gas fitters, lamp women, crossing keepers, police women, and many more, with possibly most impressive being loaders of live ammunition onto the trains!

Many traditionally 'female' roles continued, such as ticket selling and collecting, office working in secretarial and clerking positions, tea dollies and other catering   jobs, hospitality and carriage cleaning etc., in the sleeper trains, and housekeeping the many railway hotels, and of course, the envied position of station announcer. There has been some improvement in the equality of women's employment on the railways, but it has been slow - it was not until 1978 that the first woman became a train driver, and even now 90% are men.

Liam was proud to say the Watercress Line has equal opportunities for women, and we thank him for his efforts on behalf of this precious heritage organisation, and for his interesting talk tonight.

Mural unveiled 25th May 2013 Image Jill Ghanouni
Image Jill Ghanouni
Our summer visit in June 2010 was to Chawton where we visited the Jane Austen Museum. For part of her life Jane resided in Southampton and the Society has with the help of Southampton Council developed a Jane Austen trail and published a booklet.
Jane Austen Museum at Chawton image by Will Temple

Monday 27th June 2011 
We visited  Minstead Parish Church and then continued on to The Swan at Emery Down. The church has many interesting features and in the churchyard is the grave of the author of Sherlock Holmes.

The churchwarden kindly explained some of the features of minstead Church. Image Will Temple

  © Copyright City of Southampton Society 2011/15/16/17/18

Outdoor visit to Minstead Church image courtesy Will Temple Outdoor visit on a Guy Arab open top busTug tender Calshot in preservation