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Kempshott Village. The Early Years 1900 - 1920

Kempshott Village
– the early years, 1900 -1920

At least from early Mediaeval times onward, what we know as the Kempshott area was part of the great rural landscape of North Hampshire - downland farms, country estates and hunting parks with a network of tracks between small market towns like Whitchurch and Basingstoke and the intervening villages like Overton and Dummer.

Come the 18th century, the agricultural revolution brought major changes to the way farms were run and the capacity of farms to generate agricultural produce.

Come the 19th century, the transport revolution with the coming of the railways, very quickly changed all parts of society and the economy.

What impact did this have on our Kempshott?
To the end of the 19th century this was still a rural area of country houses and farms: Kempshott Park, Worting House, Buckskin Farm, Battle Down Farm, Hatch Warren Farm.

The triangle of roads which defines Kempshott now have their roots in ancient times: the east-west trackway from pre-history called The Harrow Way forms Pack Lane in this immediate area, the Roman Road from Silchester to Winchester still defines the western boundary and the highway from London via Basingstoke to Southampton and Portsmouth on the south coast (now the A30) completes the triangle. The area was called Basingstoke Down for many centuries and was the common grazing land of Basingstoke residents until common land enclosure in this area in 1788. On enclosure the area was divided up into a series of fields, individually owned but soon integrated into the pattern of farms we know from the 19th century. By the time the Ordnance Survey First Series map for this area is published in 1816, a property so new that it does not have a name is shown – by 1818 this was to become Down Grange.

                                                                                                Fig 1. North Hampshire in 1816 – 200 years ago

Ordnance Survey First Series map of North Hampshire showing what is now Kempshott – some 2 – 3miles to the south west of the market town of Basingstoke through which the great route from London to the south west (Portsmouth and Southampton) passes and connects with routes to the Thames Valley and the north.

 1. Kempshott at the end of the 19th century

Fig 2 The Kempshott area on the 1901 Ordnance Survey map

 2. Developments in the 20th century

Fig 3 Kempshott in the mid-1930s from the 1938 Ordnance Survey map , the next detailed map of the area -which shows dramatic new developments in the preceding 30 years. A whole community is living on what used to be Basingstoke Down.

By 1921 there are 104 adults over 21years of age in Kempshott but we don’t know how many children there were. What happened in those 30 years to change the picture?

While farming in the 19th century had undergone many changes and technological improvements, and in many ways the arrival of the railways had been a benefit in providing easier access to markets and the growing conurbations, the expansion of the empire had meant captive markets for Britain’s manufacturing economy, but competition for Britain’s agricultural economy with cereal and meat imports from around the world.

Small mixed farms such as those in North Hampshire experienced an agricultural depression for the last 20 years of the 19th century.

The expansion of urban economies, especially in the south of England, meant that the balance of value in land used for agricultural purposes versus urban or suburban purposes tipped inexorably towards urban/suburban expansion. As they entered the 20th century the owners of Old Down farm (at this time the trustees of Queen Mary’s School, Basingstoke) decided to realise that value.

Fig 4 Ordnance Survey 1901 map showing the division of fields within the Kempshott area between the 3-4 farming tenancies.

In the second half of the 19th century the land reallocated during the enclosure process was farms as 3-4 farm units. For practical farming purposes Old Down Farm was absorbed into the farm management orbit of Down Grange farm for most of this period, although the land was separate owned.

What were the significant milestones in the process of converting the Kempshott area from rural farmland to suburban development?

1901 - 1921 Timeline

1901 The census of that year gives us a snapshot of the community at the beginning of the 20th century.

1908 April. Homesteads Ltd purchase the 103 acres of Old Down farmland, which has been tenant farmed by the Portsmouth family, along with Down Grange Farm, since the mid 19th century. The freehold of this land is owned by Queen Marys School, Basingstoke and sells for £1,600. The intention is to create a homestead village similar to developments lsewhere, including Oakley. There is a water supply to Old Down via the Winchester Rd from the town water company but no other utilities.

1909 The first plots are sold and planning permissions sought in March of this year.

1912 The Wesleyan Methodists establish their new church – the ‘Tin Tabernacle’ on Kempshott Lane.

1914 By April of this year at least 29 new houses are planned to be built when WW1 interrupts proceedings. All development activity cease during the First World War.

1918 War ends. Representation of the People Act passed enfranchising all males over 21 year of age and females over 21 for local elections - but only over 30 years of age for national elections and still retaining a property qualification. (Electoral Registers from 1918 onwards are an important source of data in the absence of census data).

1920 Homestead development resumes and now includes land on the Crossways Estate.

1926 A water main brings a water supply from the Worting Road to the Kempshott area.

3. Homesteads Ltd and the Homestead Movement1


What was a homestead? The key features were:
    - A rural or semi-rural setting were land was still relatively cheap
    - A basic house (usually a single storey ‘colonial’ style bungalow) per homestead
    - Land available for market gardening /self-sufficiency
    - The development of a ‘do it yourself’ community

 The homestead movement had appeared periodically through the 18th and 19th century and earlier – not always with that title - mostly associated with European settlement and expansion in colonial lands (Ireland, America and the Antipodes). But it manifests itself in England before and after WW1.

Homesteads Ltd was the brainchild of William Carter who was born in Branksome, Dorset in 1852 (died 1920). Son of a master builder based near Pool in Dorset, he went to America where he did very well in building and property. On returning to England in the 1880s, he settled in Dorset and bought the Kinson Pottery. The presence of suitable clay deposits near Poole had been the basis of manufacturing bricks and products for the building trades for some years and his family had been associated with this local industry. (The development of decorative pottery - Kinson Pottery and Poole Pottery would come much later in the 21st century).

At the end of the 19th century Carter began to buy land over a wide area in the south of England with the idea of encouraging people back to the land by offering one-acre plots where the occupiers could have a smallholding at a reasonable price. William’s company, initially William Carter Estates, was based in Parkstone and later became known as Homesteads Ltd.

Some of these homestead projects were at Ropley Common Farm, Beech Place Estate and the Goatacre Estate at Medstead, the East Oakley development and Down House Estate in Andover in addition to the Old Down Farm or Kempshott Village Estate development.

The Kempshott Village development was advertised widely and described as ‘this well located Freehold property is on the high ground above Winchester’ and that ‘the land is very good, having grown as much as 42 bushels of wheat to one acre, and specially adapted for cutting into Poultry, Fruit, Game, Bee and other small farms, or as a retired health resort.’ Purchasers would be allowed possession on payment of 20% of the purchase price and could ‘leave the remainder on mortgage at 5% or the principal may be paid off in instalments extending over a period of years.’ One of the main attractions seems to have been that the kennels of the Hampshire Hunt foxhounds were close by, so that four days a week hunting could be ensured if desired, whilst the district was noted for good shooting, both partridge and covers.

In developing the Kempshott Village Estate, as it was to become known, the company had several standard ‘colonial bungalow’ property designs which could be submitted to Basingstoke Borough Council for approval –these are an invaluable source of information on what was built where and for whom – but the records in the county archives are by no means complete and piecing together the story of Kempshott becomes a ‘Sherlock Homes’ exercise.

While we have extracts from the ‘master plan’ of land plots, we do not have a copy of the whole scheme,that is still to be discovered in the archives. We suspect it changed over time anyhow, as circumstances dictated.

As a homestead development it was considered entirely acceptable for land to be sold wit no utilities available:

    – no clean water supply (the solution for residents was a water tank or a well),

    - no electricity supply (the solution would be to use your own generator for industrial/farm purposes, and for residential purposes the use of              alternative fuels for heat ( solid fuel stoves and fireplaces) and kerosene or gas lamps for light.- no telephone, of course until the inter-war period,

    - no sewerage network – each house had an earth closet toilet in the early days and then septic tanks later.

While some new residents came to Kempshott to retire, or live here and work in Basingstoke (a 2-3 mile cycle ride away), many came to develop a market garden life style – breeding poultry mainly for eggs, orchards and nurseries for other fruit and veg. Our previous research papers have documented the development of the egg production industry in Kempshott from 1910 – 1960 and the issues with water supply (both for new residents and for agricultural purposes).

 4. The Kempshott Village development2

So what was the original plan of Homesteads Ltd which would entice purchasers to buy their own small plot of land and settle .

The missing link! The yellow areas are where we have complete and/or partial copies of the Plot Master Plan – we have yet to find a plan for the middle section. This reconstruction is based on the 1938 Ordnance Survey data on plot boundaries at that time and may or may not reflect the Plan as originally envisaged in 1910.

Fig 5 A possible plan for the development of Kempshott.


This is our best estimate of the overall plan, dividing up the development area into small domestic plots on Pack lane and Kempshott Lane, back plots available for orchards, market gardens and poultry plots; and in the south much larger plots accessed via Homesteads Road for plant nurseries and larger poultry farm.
The yellow areas have been compiled from the plot diagrams we are aware of, the middle section where we have no complete information is compiled from some building permit data and the property boundaries indicated on the 1938 Ordnance Survey map of the area.

Fig 6 The plot layout as published by Homesteads Ltd for the Pack Lane section of the development.


Fig 7 The plot layout for the smallholdings section based around Homesteads Road.

The original plot layout around Homesteads Road was amended very early in the development process , we know, as Leslie Lodge was one of the first smallholding plots to be sold and comprised of part of two plots 86 and 87 which ran east from Homesteads Rd, plus a section of land originally part of the Old Down plot. The reason for this reassignment of land is not known. Access to this smallholding was arranged by a narrow lane running east from Homesteads Rd which is represented now by the footpath from Coniston Rd to Homesteads Road.


So what did a basic homestead look like? 

We know roughly what a ‘Homestead’ house looked like from the architect’s drawings for Mr Dunnings’s house “Shirley” now 134 Pack Lane. This house still stands but has been much improved and extended in the last 100 years.

Fig 8 The architects drawing of a basic homestead house from the building permit documentation for 134 Pack lane.

Fig 9 The closest example we have of the original appearance of a homestead house is 166 Pack Lane photographed here before it was demolished in 2018.


As a small ‘rural’ development it was also considered perfectly acceptable for there to be no provision by the developer for community services – shop, school, community hall, church. That was for the residents to develop. Being a market gardening and poultry raising community, local initiative supplied most things – and it was only a few miles into town … But a place of worship was a different matter.


5. Kempshott Methodist Church3

Fig 10. Showing a photograph of the original chapel when it was erected in 1912 ( courtesy of the Kempshott Methodist Church) and a contemporary bird’s eye view of the church premises showing the original building still intact and incorporated into the much larger building on site, with a view of the church as now seen from Kempshott lane.


From the earliest days a place of worship was desired by the residents – many being non-conformist rather than Church of England members. The nearest church and school were at Worting until the 1970s, so the founding members of the Kempshott non-conformist congregation came together in 1912. Outdoor services were held in good weather during the year and in inclement weather Mr Southey of Merrileas in Homesteads Rd. offered his front room.

A plot was purchased from Homesteads Ltd. and Messrs Hedderley & Purdue, builders, constructed a corrugated iron structure, lined with matchboard (tongue and groove boarding) on a brick foundation. The building accommodated up to 80 people for services. The total cost of the land, building and furnishings was £135 which would be £15,000 in current purchasing power.

At its inauguration on Thur. 21st November 1912 the congregation were supported by friends and representatives from across Basingstoke and a number of donations from well wishers were announced – including 3 guineas from Mr Carter of Homesteads Ltd, a £5 anonymous donation, the proceeds of sale of refreshments and the children’s collecting boxes – in all £17 11s 8d. That represents over £1,900 in current money terms.

A further £1 12s 9d (£183) was collected at the evening service which included recitals, a hymn by the children’s choir and finally the singing of a doxology.

Founding members of the church included:

Mr Harry Carter, Mr T & Mrs E Southey, Mr G K Whiteman, Mr A Batley, Mr G H Webber, Mr G Wright, Mr W J Bird.

6. What of ‘old Kempshott’ while the village development is taking place

7. Returning to the pre-1914 building boom in Kempshott…

The building permit archives provide a wealth of information on early 1909 – 1914 building activity in Kempshott but the records are not complete – we have not, so far, found the construction plans for Leslie Lodge (1909) or the Methodist Chapel (1912), or the semi-detached houses at Plot 7 Pack Lane… but we will keep looking. There are several other interesting files, however.

Two Semi-detached agricultural cottages built for the Down Grange estate (Col G L E May) on Pack Lane in 1909
– now 95 and 97 Pack Lane

Fig 11 Semi-detached cottages at 95 & 97 Pack Lane


Plans for ‘superior’ bungalows were also offered by Homesteads Ltd – and several were built on Pack Lane and Kempshott Lane. These had 2 bedrooms, 2 reception rooms, kitchen & other offices, including a bathroom accessed by an outside door. Variations on this design were used from 1910 into the 1930s.

Fig 12  Bungalow with veranda – a design developed from 1910 into the 1930s.


8. Some of the pioneering families of Kempshott

These records are far from complete – there is much more investigating to be done in the County Archives and genealogical records.

Kempshott Methodist Church Elders in 1912 included:

Mr Harry Carter, Mr T & Mrs E Southey, Mr G K Whiteman, Mr A Batley, Mr G H Webber, Mr G Wright, W J Bird. Mr. Bird later lived on Pack lane at the house now incorporating The Wool Shop and Tea Room. Mr Webber was connected with the motorcar dealership and garage in Basingstoke.

Fig 13 Showing the original plot layout and numbering on Pack Lane and the initial resident of each plot where known.

There were no street address numbers until after World War 2, residents named their houses, but that does not always help to identify which house was on which plot. Building permit documents do not always provide the name of the first occupant and seldom include a house name.

The grey lines indicate the location of Coniston Road and Windermere Avenue, which emphasis the extent of each plot – 50 feet wide and 400 feet long.

Fig 14 the original plot numbering and development of smallholdings on Kempshott Lane and Homesteads Road.

Again we do not have complete details of what was built for whom and where in these early years.

Our researches on the origins and lives of the early homesteaders has only just begun. What attracted them to Kempshott, where did they come from, what did they hope to achieve?


Here are a few preliminary sketches of those pioneers.

(1851-1921) is the founder of the Beaver clan as far as we can find at the moment –we have no details of mother or father but John was born in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire. He and his wife married in 1873 and moved to Kingsclere having 9 children – among them Eli, Maurice and Ida May(Sturgess) who are all key members of the Kempshott community from at least 1912 to 2000s. The family merit a family history review of their own.

Philip UREN (1865-1936) came from the Isle of Wight, married in 1886 in Winchester where the family lived for several years until moving to Basingstoke before 1892. They and 5 children moved to Pack Lane by 1911. The family earned a living as tailor/tailoresses and by working their smallholding plot in Kempshott.

Edward Hungerford Caulfield BROWNE (1867-1940) a man of Somerset who, as a young man of 25 sailed from London to South Africa … and adventure! Some years later he is listed as being retired from the Bechuanaland Border Police, and in 1893 fought in the Matabele campaign. In 1894 he returned to London from Durban and is described as a ‘mechanic’. He married in Kent in 1910 at the age of 43 and lived in Market Place , Basingstoke. He and his wife moved to Pack Lane by 1912.

Job STARR (1855-1921) he, his wife (married in 1884) and 5 children had lived in Basingstoke, Bramley, Church Crookham and Whitchurch. While Job and his eldest son were listed as General Labourers his youngest son was listed as a baker in Basingstoke Co-op. The girls were machine tailoresses. They moved to Pack Lane in 1909.

Robert MILLS (1843- )was born in Lincolnshire and went to London where met his wife and worked for the Post Office from which he retired and came to Pack Lane with his wife and son in 1909. When living in Kempshott he and his son were listed as insurance agents.

Ernest DUNNING (1877 - ) was born in Southampton lived for a time in Surrey before he and his family ( 2 children) moved to Basingstoke and their house in Pack Lane before 1911 (perhaps 1909). Ernest was an Auctioneer’s porter.

George Jesse Ernest BRAZIER (1868-1933) although born in Alresford, the family lived in Portsmouth as George joined the Royal Navy in 1890 ending his engagement as a Chief Stoker. Although retired from the navy in 1912 he signed up for the duration of WW1, finally being demobbed in 1919. Meanwhile the family of 5 children are associated with the house in Pack Lane from 1911.

Thomas SOUTHEY (1861- ) The Southey family were founding members of the Kempshott community, elders of the new non-conformist church and resident at Merrileas nursery from at least 1914 onwards. Thomas was an agricultural traction engine driver from Great Durnford, Wiltshire, worked in Wiltshire in the 1890s and 1900s, with a son (also called Thomas) and 2 daughters. The family had moved east to Mitcheldever by 1911 and by 1914 are living at Merrileas in Homesteads Rd.


Arthur VANDERVELL (1874-1921) born in London to Henry Eugene Vandervell and Fanny (nee Thornton) and married there in 1895. The family , with 5 children born and 3 surviving childhood, lived in Croydon for a number of years before coming to Basingstoke some time before 1910. His occupation is listed as Fruit and Poultry farmer. He dies relatively young at 46 and both his sons died relatively young (37 & 46) although his wife lived into her 90s at Leslie Lodge. The family seem to have had many connections and merit further research.

Charles Henry BELL (1873-1953) born in Stone, Staffordshire the son of a joiner, he enlisted in the North Staffordshire regiment in 1890 (aged 18) and completed 21 years of service with the regiment. He was first stationed on Portland Bill in 1891 but by 1894 he has been posted to Ireland where he married in Dublin. His wife Kate who was born in Dorchester. They had 9 children, who’s birth places reflect a British Army life in which, having left Belfast after 1896, they are posted to: Umballa (near Dehli) by 1897, Subattee in Punjab by 1899, Rausalie in Punjab in 1901, Colaba (Bombay) 1903 - 1908, with 2 other children who’s births are registered in England in 1905 and 1908 (in Kent and Staffordshire). Charles finally retired from the 64th Regiment as Sergeant, on completing 22 years of service in 1911 and immediately took up residence in his new house on Kempshott Lane. But that was not the end of his army career. In 1914 when war broke out he re-enlisted with the Hampshire Regiment in Winchester (although now 41 years old and quite a lot bigger than his teenage self). He was posted to France in Dec 1915 in the Labour Corps but was hospitalised in 1918 in Nottingham and was awarded a disability pension due to acute rheumatism. All the while the family were living at what is now 301 Kempshott Lane, until 1922. There is some evidence they moved to Walthamstow at that point but he died in Basingstoke at the age of 80.

John Paul PRINCE (1860-1943) was born in Coton in Staffordshire, while his wife came from Sussex, but they lived in central London as he was a police constable with the Metropolitan Police for some years, retiring to live in their new house ‘Cotonfirle’ on a double plot on Kempshott Lane 1911 - 22 until they moved to Dorset where they gave their house the same name (a combination of Coton and Firle in Susssex where they were married).

Joseph Arch(ibald) OVERTON (1875-1958) came from Northamptonshire and was a Railway Dining Car Attendant with the Midland Railway living in Middlesex in 1911 until he, his wife and 5 children came to Kempshott to work their smallholding. His brother George Overton joined him.



    Marion Wolstencroft







1. Leaflet No. 100 Published by the Friends of the Curtis Museum and Allen Gallery .April 2012

Dorset Ancestry website http://dorsetancestry.webeden.co.uk for additional material on old Dorset industries and families.


2. Building Permit documentation Kempshott Village Estate 1909 - 1912 Hampshire County Archives.


3. Picture of Kempshott Methodist Church 1912 and report of its inauguration in Hants & Berks Gazette

Saturday November 23rd 1912.


4. Stag & Hounds Inn in 1915 from the Robert Browne collection Hampshire County Archives.