Froyle before and after 186=

Thomas Robinson, born 1848, died 1926
Mrs. Scriviner, born 1853, died 1947

The writer had conversations with these two in 1922 to 1925, and they gave clear accounts of what Upper Froyle was like, about 1860, and before, from what they could remember, and what their parents had told them.
The main road was much narrower than today.

The railway, a single line from Farnham to Alton, had been opened in 1852, but was not continued to Winchester until 1865. Nearly all the people of Upper Froyle assembled near the Hen & Chicken on July 26th, 1852 to see the first train go along.

There is a story told that, among the people waiting to see the train, was a man who stuttered badly. When the train appeared in sight, he commenced “Here she c-c-c-c ------- omes. There she g-g-g-g-------” but before he could get “goes” out, the train had come and gone. As this is also told about other places, it was probably a story “going the rounds” in those days.
West End, and Lodge, were not there. The three cottages stood opposite Millcourt turning. The Hen & Chicken, and four Turnpike Cottages were there. Part of the present Shrubbery was a River Keepers cottage. Froyle Mill was in use as a mill. There was a house opposite what is now known as Park Gates, but the opening and pillars were not there - just the lane entrance to the village. The double Lodge at Park Gates was built in 1864, and pulled down in 1878.

The so-called Roman Stile in Quarry Bottom was there, with a footpath following the stream, then across the lane, and across the fields to Lower Froyle. This path was much used by Lower Froyle people to get to Alton. A wall extended across the park dividing the Miller’s land from the Moody’s.

Froyle Manor was Place Farmhouse, (later West End), and more hop kilns than at present stood at the back. The main road was reached from here by a footpath through a wood, from the pond, to the Hen & Chicken*. The road into the village from the main road was what is now called Gate Lane, or Gid Lane. All the cottages round West End Farm were there.

*However, the Tithe Map of 1847, which was unavailable to Tom Knight, shows that the road from the Hen & Chicken was in place well before 1860, in fact the first Ordnance Survey Map of 1817 shows the road as well.

Mr. Henry Burningham lived at Froyle House, and the Rev. Sir Thomas Combe Miller Bt., at Froyle Place.

Froyle Cottage was there, with its school room at right angles to the main building. This school room had been added in 1856. Mr. Burningham’s coachman lived at Froyle Cottage, and his daughter (the coachman’s), was the school mistress.

The Racquet Court was used as a Laundry. St. Joseph’s Cottages were not there.

There were five ponds in Upper Froyle:-

1. At the corner, near Froyle House  Still there 
2.  In the Park, just below the Churchyard  Still there 
3. Just beyond Post Office Cottage  Filled in 
4. Near the entrance to Blunden’s Farmyard  Filled in 
5. At Rye Bridge  Still there 
The Vicarage was there.

A house, called Froyle Park, owned by the Moody’s, descendants of the drapers, stood opposite the present school. The walled premises, now occupied by the school and schoolhouse, formed the kitchen garden for this house.

Fern Cottage and Heath’s Farm, (where Park Edge now stands), were small-holdings, with a Blacksmith’s Shop and a large barn at the back. When Park Edge was built, this barn was pulled down, re-built at Blunden’s Farm, and is still in use. It was originally thatched, but is now tiled.

The Chestnuts was not there, but there was a holding with a Butchers Shop and Slaughterhouse at the back.

Other holdings were the present Post Office Cottage, (part of the old clockface from the Church forms the back door step), Blunden’s, Blunden’s Cottage, and the present Coombfield.

The present Post Office was a Carpenter’s Shop, with double doors in front, and a loft over the top to store timbers. ’There was a saw-pit inside and another outside, for heavier work. The Post Office was a "hole in the wall" where people bought their stamps and posted their letters near the front door of the Post Office Cottage. Thomas Robinson worked in this Carpenters Shop as a young man, and later lived, and brought up his family, in the Post Office Cottage.

The stretch of hillside from the War Memorial, towards Hawkins Wood, was Froyle Common Land, originally “strip land” as it was called. Before 1860 that had been enclosed under the Enclosures Act. Part of this land is still called Common Field.

The Rev. Sir Thomas Combe Miller, Bt., died in 1864. Several stories were told of him. His grandson, Sir Hubert, said in 1936, “My grandfather hunted hard to hounds and drank two bottles of port with his dinner. I wonder he wasn’t sick”. As Sir Hubert was only 5 years of age when his grandfather died, he could hardly have remembered it.

If someone did a thing once, people have a habit of saying “He use to do so & so”. These two examples may illustrate this:-

1. They said Sir Thomas “used to smash the Church windows with his walking stick on hot Sunday mornings to let air in”. One very hot Sunday morning he signalled to a groom to open a window. The groom struggled with it but could not get it open, so Sir Thomas put his walking stick on the frame, and pushed. The stick slipped and broke the window. He did it once; but it was handed down as stated.

2. Sir Thomas “used to drive to Yarnhams after Church on Sunday mornings to gather stones to build Yarnhams House”. One Sunday morning after Church he drove to Yarnhams with his Agent. He showed the Agent where the house was to be built, and they gathered stones and put them in several heaps to mark the spot.

A similar story was told about Sir Hubert, years after:- “He used to go round after Church on Sunday morning pulling ivy off the cottage walls”. One Sunday morning after Church, he walked down the road and noticed ivy growing into the tiles of the lean-to at the back of Fern Cottage. He pulled some of it away, and told the tenant to get the whole of the ivy cleared from the wall.

Many stories were told, not only in Froyle, but in the surrounding district, about the death and burial of Sir Charles Miller in January, 1868. He went to bed on January 10th, 1868, and was found dead in bed in the morning of January 11th. Thomas Robinson, who was a young man at the time, told me that he considered that Sir Charles took an overdose of sleeping draught. Suicide, said the rumours, which became in the minds of the rustics a certainty. The Burial Register says that he died on January 11th 1868 and was buried on January 16th 1868. Nothing hurried about that. The midnight story arose from the fact that the men worked by the light of lanterns until late at night bricking up the entrance to the vault.

Another story of a later date deserves mention:-
In 1812, the nave was rebuilt on a higher level than the old one, so the floor of the Chancel was; raised to the level of the new nave. In 1906, Sir Hubert Miller having installed, for those days, a very modern organ, wanted more height to the Chancel because of the sound. He considered raising the roof, but experts advised him to lower the floor to its original level. This was done and the earth so removed was carted to the top of Steeple Hill, on Blunden’s Farm, and put in a heap under the big beech tree. Some practical jokers got a lot of animal bones, and stuck them all over the heap, and the people of Froyle firmly believed that the bone came from the Chancel. At any rate, a “rag & bone man” of those days, hearing of it, went and gathered them, and so got for nothing what he would normally have paid for. Even today in 1956, some people in Froyle will not believe that they were animal bones.