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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years ago

Reminiscences of Old Yateley




Please note that these are reminiscences, recorded about 1933. Some information is now out of date or may be factually incorrect. They do however provide a glimpse into the world of Yateley as it was in the nineteenth century.


It is strongly recommended that you download and print this PDF file, because this not only has the text of the publication given below, but also provides a large number of explanatory footnotes by R H Johnston, 2008, which clarify what and where the author was talking about. To create the A5 Booklet, print the odd pages, turn over the paper in your printer, and then print the even pages IN REVERSE ORDER, then staple them together.


Reminiscences of Old Yateley




(William Burrows Tice b 16.8.1860, d 3.6.1941)


(UNDATED(About 1933))



Printed by


Vigo Lane, Yateley, Hants.





I have been asked by several people at different times to write a few of my recollections of the Parish where I was born and lived a long, busy life. I was born just in time to see the end of the old regime and the beginning of the new.


There are great changes in the Parish since I can first remember, but one is glad to see the Old Village or Church End as we used to call it has not altered much, the quaint old "Dog and Partridge" has had to make way for a more stately and up-to-date building, but the old village smithy are much the same as they always were until you get up to the "White Lion." The residence of Miss Stilwell is where I went to school it was known as a Dame school and was kept by an old lady named Bunch, whose husband was the blacksmith; I went there until the new school was built on the Green . Where Mrs. Chapman's gardener's house now stands there stood a delightful old thatched cottage I remember, with green shutters, there was no fence as now, and no garden in front, but was all open and part of the Green. The gate and fence to the cottage was almost close up to the house and all that part which is now enclosed by a brick wall was all open to the road. I have many times played "here we go round the mulberry bush round the walnut tree that now stands on Mrs. Chapman's lawn. Between the fence (which was only trellis work) to the old house which then stood there, there was only a gravel path between the fence and the house, when we made too much noise Captain Halhed who lived there, would rap the window and put on his hat, making out that he was coming for us; we used to run across the road and jump the ditch and out into the new road in double quick time, we knew we were safe when across the ditch, There was no fence by the side of the road until you got to Simla Cottage which was then a bungalow where Dr. Biddle, our local doctor, lived.


The suburbs have greatly altered, Mill Lane for instance, there was no house down there at all until you came to Mascalls Farm on your way to the Old Mill, now unhappily done away with, but which has been immortalized by the late Mr. Benson in his book "The House of Quiet" which deals so largely with Yateley. When I first remembered the Old Mill the road went down past the Mill House, turning sharp to the right over a small brick bridge that took you over the water that turned the Mill wheel and down into the ford. The way for those who were walking there was a wooden bridge. The present bridge was built and the road straightened about 40 years ago.


The road round the Vicarage corner to that part of the Green which was known as Goose Corner there were only two houses, White Mead and Chandler's Farm (in my young days Chandler's Farm was very important and was owned by Farmer James Ellis who was born there in 1797, and lived there until 1876 when he retired and went to live at the Hollies, which he had built on the Green, he died there in 1884 at the age of 87 years. He frequently came to Church in the Summer in his smock frock which was White instead of green to distinguish him from his men, he always wore breeches and top-boots) then going on down the road there were no houses at all until you turn the corner going towards Sandhurst, you then came to an old cottage called Mill Cottage, which bears that name to-day. The old moor at the corner with the cattle shed inside the gate is William's Moor and was known by that name in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, as was Chandler's Farm. Coming back up the road toward Eversley after passing The Poplars as it is now called but which then was a Farm House with farm buildings of wood and thatch standing in front and down towards the present back entrance. After leaving the old house next to the Poplars there was only the old house that stands at the top of Mouseham Lane until you got to the Fox Inn at Eversley, now called the Noah's Ark.


John, the last of the famous Geale family died at The Poplars, I remember him well, he was deaf and dumb.


Taking the top of the Green there is very little alteration since I can remember only the Old House now occupied by the Misses Kelsey which was a Public House known as the Wheat Sheaf Inn with a grocer's shop attached.


Now a few words about Cricket Hill - on the right hand side of the common there were no houses at all, only the old cottage called Burnt Hall Cottage, until you came to what is now called the Red Lodge (Timorue) where stood a delightful old thatched house, a real bit of Old Yateley, on the other side there has not been much alteration only that the Cottage Hospital was the Yateley school and the large red house was a public house. On the enclosed piece of ground near the Cricketer's Inn, there stood a barn and stable that was always occupied by the farmer who lived at Hanford, the last farmer I remember to have it was farmer James Searle. Where. Mrs. Brown's house now stands there stood a double tenement house also with thatch for the roof, but which was unfortunately burnt down.


We must not forget the Old Church. I have seen great alterations there. I well remember the old high-backed square pews with doors that shut us in, they were more like small cattle pens than anything else. and the enormous reading desk which reared its hideous self and excluded our view of the sanctuary, it was not a three-decker like the one at Eversley, it had three book-rests one for the prayer-book, one for the Bible, and one for the sermon, there was also a most elaborate pulpit with an enormous red cushion along the front adorned with an imposing red tassel at each end, it stood on the same side of the Church as the present pulpit only not so near the north wall, the entrance to it was at the back, somewhere where the stall now stands on the left-hand side of the Chancel, the entrance also to the reading desk was at the back, there were three steps up into which put the Vicar in a very elevated position. Old Isaac Hilton the verger had a little box pew right underneath, he did a great deal of the responses and all the Amens, if anyone spoke out a little louder than was allowed the old man would look round, as much as to say now then, is this your job or mine, he was quite as much consequence as the Vicar, he always gave out the Hymns, or rather, the Psalms, which we had in those days, and can be found at the end of any old Prayer Book, as we can find the Hymns in some of the modern Prayer Books.


Poor old Isaac was very fond of a glass of hot gin and water, and I have often seen him sitting in his little box with a vinegar rag on his head, there were naughty people in those days who would say unkind things, they used to say the old man made a miscount and had one over the usual. Before the Service began he would walk round and see if all the pew doors were shut, if he found one open he would shut it then come round and take his place in his little box, when he shut his door that was the signal for the Vicar to begin the Service.


The men and women sat separately in those old days. The men always wore their smock frocks, breeches and gaiters and high crown hats to Church, and all sat on the north side facing the pulpit just as now, the women sitting in the centre aisle. The seats on the south side 'Were raised one above the other like as at a theatre.


I said just now there was a place for the Bible in the old reading desk, but I never heard Mr. Lewin read the lessons himself, there were several gentlemen who did it for him, but only a few would go up to the Lectern, the remainder simply standing up in their seats and reading. Mr. de Winton Corry, Mr. Shute, Mr. Stilwell and Mr. T. Barlow were among those who walked to the Lectern.


I must not forget the ladies of both high and low degree, their crinolines were most formidable articles of dress, there was one lady in particular of rather stout build who wore a most wonderful one; I have seen her try time after time to get into her pew in the ordinary way, but, was unsuccessful, at last she would take hold of it at the side and turn it up like a cart wheel and so get in.


Another lady who was acknowledged to be a leader of fashion in the village, her bonnets were also most wonderful creations and were the envy and admiration of all ladies, her crinoline also was all that could be desired.


I am going back once more to the old Dog and Partridge - on a window-pane in the room where I frequently took the club members contributions was written the following:-

God gave us light

He thought 'twas good

Pitt he's taxed it

Damn his blood.

it was supposed to have been written by a gentleman with his diamond ring whilst waiting to be served with refreshment he had called to obtain. Pitt who was afterwards Earl of Chatham was Prime Minister in the early twenties of the 19th century. Money had often been offered to subsequent landlords for the above but was always refused, it was eventually stolen, not a difficult job being in a lead frame which could be easily turned up with a small knife or even with the thumb nail.


There is a very interesting and romantic story in connection with the two angels that are carved in stone at each end of the Chancel Screen, they were carved from a large piece of stone that used to lie in the Chancel under the north wall, no one knew what it was, it had lain there for years, some thought it was the base of a monument or statue that had fallen down, no one could be certain what it was, they were carved by a gentleman who kept the White Hart Hotel, Blackwater, named Gomm, and the story is this:- Mr. H. Hilton, who as the verger, had been in the habit of going to the White Hart hotel to act as an extra waiter during Blackwater fair and Mr. Gomm had come over to ask him if he would come as usual. Hearing that there was work going one in the Church and that he would find Mr. Hilton there, came in and found him in the Chancel and asked him what that large piece of stone was, he replied he did not know or how it came there. Just as this conversation was going on the Vicar came in and Mr. Gomm repeated the question to him, he also said he did not know what it was, it was in nobody's way and simply laid there. Mr. Gomm suggested that he could make something of it, so the Vicar asked what could you make? Mr. Gomm said I can see two angels in it, so it was arranged that he should take it away and do as he suggested. After a time he returned with his work, he sent for the Vicar to inspect it and when he saw what was done he was very delighted and said, have you found a place for them, Mr. Gomm said, "Yes, sir, with your approval, one at each end of the Chancel Arch," there being no Screen at that time, he pointed out the spot where he thought they should be placed at the entrance to the Chancel, being emblematical of the Holy Communion, so that is where you will find them to-day. They are beautifully carved and are well worth a close inspection, on the background of the one with the Chalice is carved a grape vine, and the other with the Paten, wheat ears and straw.


On all the Sundays in Lent we school-children filed up into the Chancel and stood along by the Altar rails where the Vicar or Curate heard us say the Catechism. On Good Friday we all had a bun; the Vicar had a large basket of buns taken down to the Church and he stood inside the Vestry door and gave each one of us a bun as we passed out of the Church through the Vestry, they were substantial, quite as big as a tea plate.


The Chancel was quite bare with the exception of Mr. Lewin's private pew where Mrs. Lewin always sat. If the Vicar was only taking the sermon he would don his black gown and take his seat beside her until sermon time and if the Curate was preaching he would do likewise. Once the Vicar attempted to preach in the surplice, but the people were all up in arms about it and said he was too lazy to go and change, he said to the verger, "They shall not say that again, Hilton," and he preached in the black gown until his death on November 13th, 1874, aged 94 years, having been Vicar for 53 years.


Decorations of the Church.


The Church was only decorated at Christmas when old Isaac the verger used to stick a sprig of holly in a hole which he made with a gimlet, at each corner of the old square pews.


Re-opening of the Church.


The greatest day in Yateley in connection with the Church, either before or since, was when it was reopened after the great restoration in 1878. The Clergy from all the neighbouring parishes were present, without exception, even the Rev. F. Sotham, the aged Vicar of Cove came over, also the Rev. R.T.P. Wyatt, accompanied by Mr. James his Curate, Dr. Randle, who was afterwards Bishop of Reading, but who was then Rector of Sandhurst, he was accompanied by his two Curates, Mr. Copleston and Mr. Ditchfield (Mr. Ditchfield died at Barkham Rectory in 1931, having been Rector for over 40 years). We had two Bishops, the Bishop of Winchester and the Bishop of Guildford, then being part of the Diocese of Winchester. The Bishop of Guildford at the time was Mrs. Summer's father, Dr. Utterton. The Rev. Sir William Cope also came over from Bramshill House, and he wore a coloured stole. Oh my goodness! Of course we quite thought it was something to do with Roman Catholicism, we had never seen seen such a thing in Yateley before.


Mr. Gadd lent his drawing-room for the Bishops and Clergy to robe in, and the Hall for the Choir. We then formed a procession outside the front door - it was a most imposing sight, the different hoods of the Clergy added colour to the scene - we then moved off towards the Church, and such was the length of the procession that when the leading boys had reached the Church gate, the Vicar, who was acting as director of Ceremonies, halted us, as the two Bishops, who were of course in the rear, had not emerged from the door. When they appeared we again started and entered the Church by the North door, the Choir and Clergy quite filling the Chancel. The Bishop of Guildford took his seat in the Sanctuary and the Bishop of Winchester went straight up into the pulpit. The service consisted of bright Hymns and Psalms, appropriate for the occasion. The Bishop's address was of course very lengthy, congratulating us on the work that had been so carefully done and splendidly carried out by the workmen who were all Yateley men. After the service was over the Vicar introduced the leading workmen to the Bishop, who said he was very gratified to have the opportunity of speaking to them.


I feel I must record this little incident:- The first Sunday of the new pews an old lady who used to come all the way from Starveacre, the colony of houses on the left hand side of the Common near Blackwater, she came in the door and pulled up suddenly and looked all round the Church, then turning to Mr. Hilton, the verger, said quite loudly, "Where have I got to set now Henry?" which was very amusing to us boys who were sitting at the back of the verger's pew where the school children sat in those days. He said, "Come along Mrs. Coles, I will find you a seat." This same old lady was always careful to come in the morning when it was Sacrament Sunday, because Mr. Lewin used to avail himself of the Rubric, which says, "If any remain of that which was consecrated it shall not be carried out of the Church but the Priest and such other of the Communicants as he shall then call unto him shall reverently eat and drink the same." The said old lady's name was never omitted, I believe the reason was that the Vicar knew what a long way she had to come and would have to retrace her steps before getting any refreshment, he did it out of kindness of heart.


That Sunday was the only time we had a collection; one of the Churchwardens used to stand at the Church door with a basin for the people to put their offerings in, those who were staying for the Communion would go and put their money in, then go back to their seat.


The Choir, etc.


In 1870 the Vicar brought home the second Mrs. Lewin, a lady much younger than himself, who soon began to wake things up a bit, she went round the parish and rounded up the young folk and induced them to come forward and be prepared by the Vicar for Confirmation, a great many came forward and she took them to Heckfield, I remember, where there was to be a Confirmation.


She then turned her eyes to the Church and thought it would be nice to have a small choir. The Vicar brought her over to the School and asked the Schoolmaster to let us sing something, she then went round putting her ears down to listen, and when she had got something useful she made us sing again. I remember when she got to me, she said, "This little chap has not a strong voice, but it's very sweet what there is." I was one of the lucky ones to be chosen for the choir and I have been in the choir ever since. In the meantime Mr. Shute had very kindly given a key organ, and that did away with the handle organ and small gallery at the west end of the Church.


Mr. Shute was invited to be the first Choir Master, and his eldest daughter, who was afterwards Mrs. Ward, the first Organist, it was a mixed choir. The new organ was placed in the south-east corner of the Church, by the Screen that divides the Church from the Priests' Vestry, and four or five seats in front of the Organ were reserved for the new Choir, we sat there until Mr. Summer came and moved us up into the Chancel.


Our first choir treat was given us on January 2nd, 1872, when we had been in existence 2 years. There was no place where we could have it in those days, the Vicarage being then quite a cottage, so the Vicar hired the Club Room at the Dog and Partridge, and there gave us a bounteous meat tea, being at the Hotel the men could of course, have beer or any drink they liked, but we boys and girls had tea. Mr. and Mrs. Lewin came down to see if we had got everything we wanted, the Vicar said Grace for us and hoped we should have a pleasant evening, they then left us to enjoy ourselves. Later on Mrs. Lewin came down and gave us all a Hymn Book with our names and date written in. I have mine now.


Two Stories.


Mr. H. Hilton during his 40 years as Parish Clerk must have been able to record many funny little stories in connection with weddings, etc. Here are two he told me:-


"The parties came from Cove, and it appears the young man lived at home with his parents and to insure having plenty of food for the wedding, killed the pig. The young man had for his breakfast what is known as a pig's hock, having picked the bone he wrapped it up and put it into his pocket, remarking to his bride elect who was breakfasting with him, "I will put this in my pocket and when it comes to the words "with this ring I thee wed" I shall take it out and say "with this bone I'll break your head," and of course when they got to that they both burst out laughing, this was a great deal too much for the old Vicar, he closed the book and said, "I think you had better come again another day for me to complete the ceremony. I don't think you understand what a solemn obligation you are entering into," with that he turned round and went into the vestry. Mr. Hilton said it was the hardest job he ever had in his life to get him to return and finish the Service, which he did eventually, but he read the riot act to them very severely afterwards. The Bride went down the Church crying bitterly, and the young man looked very serious, as though he felt he ought to cry too. Mr. Hilton followed them out into the Church Porch and asked them what it was all about, they told him the story as I have told you, he also gave them a bit of good advice and sent them home."


This story concerned two Yateley people:-

"The bride was a very, very nervous person and when she had to repeat the words "I Mary, take thee John, etc.," she could not get the words out, so the young man put his arm round her waist and said very appealingly, "Now my dear, do say it!" Mr. Stooks, who could always see the humorous side of things, took no notice.




Cricket in the Parish was always well supported, we could always raise a good eleven. The late Mr. Henry Bunch was a great supporter and a good player, he used to bowl round-arm bowling. The Paices were also good. The late Mr. Henry Hilton was also a most enthusiastic cricketer and played very late in life, he was a most tantalizing underhand bowler, I have seen him win a match when it seemed we had lost, often when the bowlers could not part the batsmen I have seen the captain put Mr. Hilton on, his bowling would be slower and the batsmen could not wait for them, if they did strike the ball it was alright, but if they missed it they were out at once as he was always dead on the wicket. I remember once he got four men out with five balls and won the match.


Coaching Days.


Before the new road was made through the Green, the Coach and Road Waggon used to come by the old road and stop at Mouseham Corner (in those old days known as Whitehall Corner) where they would stop to pick up passengers and goods, they changed horses at Blackwater.


The Trees.


When the new road was made through the Green the people who lived along the old road thought that it would be closed and they would be able to extend their boundaries to the new road. The gentleman who lived at Barclay House was particularly anxious, he planted a row of trees up near the new road and fenced his piece in, they all formed a little fund and proceeded to put up a fence at the Vicarage corner and made that small road that goes from the said corner to the Reading Road but Farmer Geale who lived at Mouseham Farm took serious exception to it, he came up with one of his powerful cart-horses with trace harness and promptly pulled it down, he then waited on the gentleman at Barclay House and pulled his down also. He let the trees remain, perhaps they were too tough a job; they are there to-day, and it is said that one of the trees is an almost unique species, there being only one more of the same in England, in Kew Gardens, it is the second one from the Chain Pond going towards Eversley, it grows a profusion of red berries annually.


The oak tree in front of the White Lion near the school path was planted to commemorate the Coronation of King George V. and Queen Mary by three of the oldest inhabitants of Yateley, viz.: Mrs. Gill of the Red House, Mr. John Mills and Mr. Henry Bunch, all over 90 years of age.


The trees on the Cricket Green near the Pond were planted to commemorate the passing of the Parish Councils Act by the first elected P.C., each giving one, Mr. Stilwell, the Chairman, giving two, making nine in all.


Charles Peace.


It was proved without a doubt that we had a visit from that notorious burglar, Charles Peace, in 1871. A gentleman calling himself Mr. Ward, took the White Cottage on Mouseham Green, pretending he was going to start business as a poultry and pig farmer, he had sheds put up suitable for that purpose, he never lived in the house but had his meals and slept at the White Lion Hotel, which was then kept by Mr. Frank Rogers. He stayed for some time, then suddenly disappeared, rumours got about that a notorious burglar was going about in several different aliases, among which was Ward. At last he was run to earth, when he made the great mistake of shooting a police constable at close range when disturbed at his nefarious business at a place called Banner Cross, which ended his career.


His trial opened at the Old Bailey, and Mr. Rogers, out of curiosity, went up to London and saw him brought into court, and said when he came home, it was certainly the same man, he had the same clothes on as when he saw him last in Yateley. The only article that was found in the cottage was a walking stick, a powerful oak twig which I have in my possession. it came out at the trial that he once took a cottage in the north-east corner of Hampshire; you can't get much further north-east than the White Cottage.


The Clubs.


We had two permanent Friendly Societies in Yateley, the Yateley Friendly Society or the Old Club as it was usually called was established in the year 1819 and continued its good work until 1912, when it was put out of action by the National Health Insurance Scheme, thus you will will see it was doing a useful work six years before the Hampshire Friendly Society was established in 1825. The late Mr. Bertram Currie was astounded when Mr. Stooks told him of the existence of the Old Club and said he thought it was wonderful to think that in 1819 there were men in Yateley who had any idea of looking out for themselves and providing for sickness or any infirmity, he thought their successors were deserving of all praise and encouragement, he handed Mr. Stooks a cheque for £100 to be put to the funds.


The other Society was an off-shoot of the Old Club, and consisted of much younger men and was established in 1865. For many years they held their Festival day on separate dates, the Old Club on Whitsun Wednesday, until it was thought by some of the members it would be nice to hold the festival together. It was finally agreed when Mr. Stooks said in his address at the Club service he thought it would be better. A General Meeting was called of the Club and they invited the Old Club to be present, after a good deal of discussion it was decided that they would keep their festival together, because Whitsun Wednesday had been "Club Day in Yateley for nearly 100 years they decided to have it on that day and it went on from that time until the Clubs were dissolved in 1912.


I was Secretary to both Clubs for exactly 20 years. As the Clubs have been done away with so long, I think I ought to explain what I mean by the "Festival." The members used to meet once a year and dine together in a large marquee that was placed on the Green in front of the Dog and Partridge, they hired a band of music, and at 11 a.m. a procession was formed in front of the Dog and Partridge and headed by the Band and Banners of the two Societies, proceeded to the Vicarage to escort the Vicar down to the Church to hold a short service for them with an address, we then reformed the procession and took him back, by the time we got back to the Club House it was 1 p.m., dinner time. It was then served in the marquee to which about 125 sat down, including the gentry and others who could afford the time to come, the tickets were 2/6.


The late Mr. J.P. Stilwell who took a great interest in the Clubs generally presided. The Green would be turned into a fair ground, and the road from the Dog and Partridge down to the main road would be quite a street with stalls on either side, there were often two sets of round-a-bouts and coconut shies galore.


In the evening the people would come from the neighbouring parishes for dancing on the Green or in the marquee.


One is glad and proud to record that all the restorations of the Church was carried out by Yateley men, chiefly by the talented brothers, the sons of the late Mr. William Bunch, who were working for their uncle, the late Mr. Henry Bunch who had the contract for the work. The beautiful work of the Screen and pulpit was exclusively the work of Mr. Aaron Bunch, Mr. Moses Bunch and Mr. James Bunch. Mr. Aaron and Mr. Moses, we regret, are no longer with us, but Mr. James Bunch still lives at Mostyn Cottage, he made and fitted the Cross in the centre of the Screen, Mr. Gomm who carved the Angels, carved the figure of the lamb in the centre of the Cross. The old oak carving that is so skilfully worked into the present Screen was that which was saved from being burnt, by the old verger, Mr. Isaac Hilton, when the old Screen was ruthlessly pulled down because it wanted repairing about the year 1835, he snatched it off a hand-barrow as it was being wheeled out of the Church to be burnt, he kept it in hiding for more than 40 years. In 1878 his son Henry who was then verger, unearthed it from its hiding place, much to the delight of Mr. Summer, who immediately took it down himself to the brothers Bunch to see if they could use it. One can see by looking at the Screen how beautifully it has been done, we raise our hats to the dear old verger (and freely forgive him for having his extra gin and water) for saving such a precious relic of the past, also for his great courage.


Until 1869 there was no face to the Church clock, we could only put our clocks and watches right when we heard it strike. I suppose that was why we always rang the hours on Sunday mornings, there was the eight, nine and ten o'clock bells. I often rang the eight o'clock bell to save Mr. Hilton coming across, when as a young man I lived at the Old Village Stores.


One is sorry that the old names of places have got altered. The field where the Red House is built was called Black Hedges in the 16th century. Mouseham Farm was called by that name in 1470, the farmer's name was Peter South, how it came to be called Moor Place one cannot tell. The Hill now called Yateley or Holly Hill was always called Potley Hill from time immemorial.


I feel I cannot conclude without a word of appreciation and congratulation to the Hilton family who have for so many years been so closely connected withthe dear old Parish Church as vergers. Mr. John Hilton is the fourth generation of the family to hold the office, his great-grandfather was appointed by Mr. Caswall in the year 1808 and members of the family without a break have held the office ever since; 125 years a splendid record.




Created RHJ 25.3.2008 from text scanned and checked by R H Johnston 24.4.1997 (c) The Yateley Society, 2008

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