History of Rotherwick

1. Introduction

This note consolidates information from sources in the Appendix to provide a historical context to inform the Rotherwick Neighbourhood Development Plan. It is not intended to be authoritative or complete. The note is divided into the following sections: 1. Introduction 2. Names 3. Historical overview, subdivided into: − Middle Ages − Tylney Family − Destruction of first Tylney Hall − Second Tylney Hall − War Years − Post War period − Changing social order − Recent years 4. Rotherwick Church 5. Village School 6. Village Hall 7. Wedmans Lane 8. Gordon Brown Centre 9. Conclusion The conclusion provides observations from the thread of history of Rotherwick until today, to inform all those concerned with planning the future of the Village.

2. Names

Rotherwick was first mentioned by name in the 12th century. The name is thought to derive from the Old English “hryther + wic” (cattle enclosure). It has apparently evolved as Retherwic, Retherwyke, Rutherwyk (13th century); Rotherwyke, Rytherwyke (15th century); and Rotherwicke (16th century). The name Cowfold similarly indicates cattle enclosure, originating from an early owner Richard atte Coufolde. The name Wedmans originates from woodman, after Wedmans Farm’s first known owner John atte Wood. 

3. Historical overview Middle Ages

Rotherwick is considered to have been part of the Royal Hundred of Odiham.  It is not mentioned specifically in the Domesday Survey of 1086, nor is it thought that there was a planned settlement in Rotherwick at that time. Rotherwick of today comprises various former estates. Part of Rotherwick was included in the grant by Henry II (1154-1189) to Juliana de Aquila of the Manor of Greywell, itself part of Odiham. The manor of Rotherwick was stated in 1422 to be held by Philippa Duchess of York, then Lady of Greywell and widow of Edward Duke of York. The L'Estrange family, relatives of Philippa, became lords of Greywell by the end of the 15th century. Lord L’Estrange was succeeded by his son William, but the manor of Rotherwick passed to the More family shortly afterwards with Richard More holding a significant estate on his death in 1495. Between 1333 and 1345, Adam Orlton Bishop of Winchester granted John atte Hooke permission to celebrate services at Rotherwick. At that time, Rotherwick had a chapel within the parish of Odiham. John inherited property in 1336 which was extended in 1379 by his mother Alice (widow of Hugh atte Hooke of Berkeley) relinquishing her interests. This estate passed by succession to William Berkeley in 1464. It is thought then to have passed to the More family, consolidating their estate. The More family owned Rotherwick manor for nearly a hundred and fifty years, adding to the estate over this period and ultimately giving it the name of Rotherwick. The additions included some 500 acres of estate land in Rotherwick and Hartley Wespall, sold by William Haydock of Greywell in 1590. The Mores were considered the first Lords of the ‘reputed’ Manor of Rotherwick.  In the 14th century, another estate in Rotherwick, also originally part of the manor of Odiham, was owned by Richard atte Coufolde. On his death in 1361, this estate passed to his daughters Edith, Margaret, and Isabel. Isabel and Margaret gave up their portions to Nicholas atte Broke, Edith’s husband. This holding was subsequently given to Magdalen College, who remained owners for four centuries until eventually selling it to Charles Edward Harris in the 19th century. At the end of the 14th century Wedmans Farm was owned by John atte Wood. As with Cowfold Farm, this holding also passed to Magdalen College and was later sold to Charles Edward Harris. Tylney family In 1629, Richard More sold the manor of Rotherwick to Richard Tylney, who already owned property in the parish. Frederick Tylney, Richard’s descendant, served as a Member of Parliament and was active in Rotherwick. He built the first Tylney Hall on the estate in 1700 and paid for a new village school (now School House) in 1711. In 1725, the parish was recorded as having about 250 inhabitants. On his death in 1725, Frederick Tylney was succeeded by his only daughter Ann, who married William, Lord Craven. On Anne’s death in 1730, the estates passed after dispute between the Craven family and Ann Tylney to her niece Dorothy, the wife of Richard Child, Viscount Castlemaine. Richard Child assumed the name of Tylney and was created Earl Tylney. When he died in 1749, the estate passed to his son John, who died unmarried in 1784. His nephew, Sir James Tylney-Long succeeded to the property and his son James after him. It seems the house saw little of its owners in the 1700s as the Castlemaine-Tylneys and the Tylney-Longs preferred their other titled homes.

When Tylney Park was laid out in the early 18th century, the road system which had connected Newnham to Mattingley via Ridge Lane and Runtens Lane to join Cowfold Lane was cut, its place being taken by the twisting Post Horn (Postern) Lane to The Street. The turnpike from Odiham to Reading by-passed the village, with a toll house at Hook Cross. In the later part of the 18th century, the estate became impoverished, with apparently half the population being on Poor Relief. Into the 19th century, there continued to be poverty. Tylney Hall was let to a succession of tenants, whilst farmers and labourers suffered in particular from the Farming Depression of the 1870s. Original Poor Books are available today. Destruction of first Tylney Hall After the death of Sir James Tylney-Long in 1805 aged eleven, in 1810 Tylney Hall passed to his sister and co-heir Catherine Tylney-Long, herself not yet of age. She became the ‘richest heiress in Europe’ and a target for fortune hunters. Catherine married William Wellesley-Pole, nephew of Richard Wellesley, second Earl of Mornington, in 1812. He took the name Wellesley-Tylney-Long-Pole.  William is considered to have been responsible for the demolition and dismantling of the first Tylney Hall. A popular explanation is that the terms of the trust dictated that “no timber can be felled within the sight of the house or while the house is still standing”. Therefore he demolished the house and sold much of its contents to settle debts, thereby wasting much of his fortune. Following the unlamented death of William Wellesley-Tylney-Long-Pole in 1857, the estate was sold to Charles Edward Harris in 1869. Charles was an Oxford undergraduate, who had inherited a fortune of his own and already owned property in Rotherwick.  Charles Edward Harris took his responsibilities seriously. He invested in rebuilding Tylney Hall on a hill close to the site of the old hall and became a general benefactor to the village, bringing much needed employment.  He also reassembled much of the former Tylney estate and augmented it. In the mid-19th century, at the time of Enclosure, a further change was made to the road system of Rotherwick to link The Street directly with the turnpike at Hook Cross, via the now Hook Road. Second Tylney Hall The estate was then sold to Sir Lionel Philips in 1898 for £77,000, Charles Harris retaining some land to the east of the estate.  Sir Lionel had gone to South Africa in 1875 as a fortune-seeker and returned with wealth from the goldfields. Aided by his wife, he completely redeveloped Tylney Hall to a design by architect R Seldon Warnum for a further £10,000. This building forms the basis of Tylney Hall today. As well as giving liberally to the Church and paying good wages, Sir Lionel spent freely on the grounds, planting exotic trees and many plants. One of the garden designers to have left her influence on the gardens was Gertrude Jekyll, asked in 1906 to produce designs for a wild garden. Sir Lionel returned to South Africa in 1906 to pursue parliamentary interests there. From this time onwards, his interests became divided and the influence of Tylney Hall on the inhabitants of Rotherwick started to decline. In 1910 the population of the Village was stated to have been 585.

War Years
In 1911 a prospectus became available for the sale on Tylney Hall. Preparations for the sale took time but, before the end of the War, the manor was purchased by Major Hennessy of the brandy distilling company, later becoming Lord Windlesham. Tylney Hall served as a hospital during World War I, with the Park being used as a base for mules. Most young men from the village were called up. Many trees from the estate were felled and taken to Hook railway station, destined to be used as pit props in the trenches in France.  Part of the Hall estate was used by a small factory to make medicines to treat mustard gas victims. At the end of World War II, Optrex acquired an area of parkland for a plantation of witch hazel as raw material. The Optrex factory site is a small business park today.  After the War in 1919, the Hall and much of the estate was bought by Major Herbert Robin Cayzer, later created Lord Rotherwick. He was wealthy from his shipping company Clan Line Steamers but had also had a notable career as a cavalryman and became an MP for Portsmouth. Lord Rotherwick was the last private owner of the Hall. He remained the principal local employer and property owner, but there was little contact between the Hall and the village during this period of significant change in the established order. In 1921 there were only 3 or 4 cars in the Village. In the 1920′s, Sir Cayzer spent two months each year at his estate in Scotland, letting Tylney Hall for shooting. For several years, the tenants were American railroad millionaires Mr and Mrs Henry De Forest from New York. They took a lively interest in Rotherwick and the Church, and were responsible for the construction of the Village Hall. After better times in the twenties, the thirties were harder again. During World War II, Tylney Hall became the headquarters for his shipping line, with other properties in the village being used as offices. For three years, Lord Rotherwick commanded a Battalion of the Home Guard. World War II had little direct impact. A searchlight battery was sited near Home Farm to support an anti-aircraft installation between Newnham and Old Basing. This is the site of Searchlight Cottages today. The pubs in the Village saw increased business from the service personnel billeted in the area. Post War Period Besides the Village Hall, inter-war development had largely been limited to a few new houses in Wedmans Lane, which saw significant growth in bungalows and new houses in the period afterwards. The focal point in the Village had remained the western end of The Street around the Church, the School and the small green and the Pond. At the end of the War, there was a major auction sale when the Hall, farms, fields, cottages and woodlands of Rotherwick were auctioned, including Bunker’s Hill Farm, Whitehouse Farm, Rooks and Church Farms, Runtens Farmhouse and Home Farm. Tylney Hall itself was sold to Middlesex County Council (later becoming London Borough of Brent through local authority reorganisation). In 1946, Tylney Hall opened as a special school for up to 180 children and was no longer the home of the squire. The school finally closed in 1984, though London Borough of Brent retained land to build the educational centre operating as the Gordon Brown Outdoor Education Centre today. 

Tylney Hall re-opened as a prestigious restaurant and hotel in 1985, after extensive refurbishment. It is currently in the Elite Hotels group. The property is of architectural and historical interest, being Listed Grade II. The golf course was developed in adjacent park land as an independent enterprise. In the auction, the cricket field (then ploughed up to support the War effort) was sold to someone from the Milk Marketing Board who wanted to make the pavilion his home. The Village opposed this and bought it back with support from the National Playing Fields Association. It re-opened in 1952. Changing social order A few families have proved enduring in the Village since the first census of 1801 recorded 354 inhabitants. These include the Caesars, Whistlers and Poulters, still with descendants in the Village or adjacent areas today. Some individuals from the 20th century are mentioned here. When Lionel Phillips redeveloped Tylney Hall, his Irish workforce made extensive use of the Coach and Horses pub, originally a coaching inn thought to date from the early 1500s. Julias Caesar kept the pub at the time of Lionel Phillips and was to become a significant figure in the Village. Julias Caesar was the first chief ranger of Rotherwick to hold a court for the Ancient Order of Foresters, establishing the ‘Pride of Rotherwick’ in 1885. To fulfil its charter of distributing sick and death benefits for the poor, the organisation ran fund-raising events in the Village over many years. Julias Caesar owned the village shop and post office at Kernets near the pond (since redeveloped) at Street End, considered amongst the oldest fabric of Rotherwick, and also owned the laundry. For a time he kept the Falcon pub, which is believed to have been a public house since around 1873. In the early 20th century, William Poulter, who lived next to the Coach and Horses ran a livery service. His stables were in Wedmans Lane, near the wooden chapel opposite the forge. The stables housed broughams for hire, good business with Hook station nearby, and hired for special occasions at Tylney Hall such as Empire Day. The business evolved into a taxi service for a time. Percy Whistler’s wife Cassie ran the laundry for Julius Caesar. Their son Bill Whistler also became important figure in the Village. Bill worked as a gardener in Newnham before World War II. After demobilisation, he continued to live and work in Rotherwick. He and his wife were committed to community activity around the Church, the Village Hall and the scout troop (a troop having first started in Rotherwick around 1910), which Richard and Sue Whistler still support today.    A theme in the recent period since the decline of ‘squiredom’ has been the dedication of certain individuals and families in the Village, committed to nurturing the spirit of community. This continuity was important, as traditional employers shed labour and transport increased mobility.  Recent years Until the 1970’s The Street was lined with trees. Many of which were large elms, which had to be felled in response to Dutch Elm disease and give The Street its more open appearance today. Reflecting the decline in local agricultural activity in the 20th century, Rooks Farm, Whitehouse Farm and Bunkers Hill Farm sites have various converted buildings and units which are let for commercial uses today. The Optrex site has become a small business park managed by Winkworth. The Village has been active in celebrating occasions such as May Day, VE Anniversary the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilees as a community. In 1991 the Village was the winner of Hampshire’s Best Kept Village award. Expansion of adjacent towns has increased traffic-related issues in the Village. Rotherwick is proud that it remains free of street lights, though never dark due to the glow of lights from nearby Hook and Basingstoke. In 1986 the village, as part of wider representation with Hook and Newnham, resisted the development of a ‘super estate’ of 2,500 new houses by a consortium of developers including the Charles Church company, which threatened to engulf the Village by the extension of Hook. Into the 21st century, the Fox Inn on Frog Lane, originating from at least 1840, finally called time. The Coach & Horses and the Falcon have faced challenges, but attract business from a wide area today. In March 2011, 5.5 acres of land at Hook Cross was acquired by the Hook Allotments Association. The Village continues to join through the Parish Council in a diverse range of activity in support of the Village, recently having included events at the Village Hall, community cleaning of the Pond, ownership of Hudson Copse by the Parish, purchase of the old chicken farm land off Cowfold Lane as safeguard against future development and the Rotherwick ‘faster broadband’ project. There are some 32 Listed buildings in the Village around The Street, with around 50 Listed buildings in all, which date between the 16th and 19th centuries.

4. Rotherwick Church

The earliest mention of a church was in 1386 by Bishop Wykeham. Then, as now, Rotherwick Church has no dedication (i.e. patron saint), reflecting its origin as a chapel attached to the mother church in Odiham. The current church was developed from an earlier temporary chapel. The oldest part of the building is the chancel, in flint and stone, dating from the 13th century. The nave was originally a timber-built structure of 15th century with brick filling (like Mattingley) but, in the 16th century, it was built round with brick faced walls. Now, only the timbers in the roof and east and west gables remain. The red brick west tower was added later in the 17th century. The north aisle dates from 1876, the porch and south doorway being of similar date. The wooden entry door is estimated as at least 17th century. The tower has six bells: three date from early 17th century, bell no. 3 is from 14th century. Apparently, there was no fighting at Rotherwick during the Civil War, though pitting by bullet marks in the north wall has been traditionally attributed to the muskets of Cromwell’s men. The church has a number of memorials to the More and the Tylney families from the 16th and 17th centuries. The 19th century saw the presentation of an organ by Lionel Phillips, the setting up of memorials to the dead of two World Wars. The clock face on the south of the tower was given by the village in 2001 to commemorate the Millennium. It is a copy of the original clock face which is now in the Willis museum in Basingstoke. A recent addition to the church has been a new stained glass window to celebrate the tricentenary of the neighbouring Whitewater Church of England Primary School in January 2012.

5. Village School

Frederick Tylney paid for the first village school (now School House) to be built in 1711. A new school was built in 1872 and extended in 1896, with further substantial extensions in recent years. Difficulties caused by overcrowding have been a repeating theme. John Bye was the first certified teacher at the school in 1900. Thanks to the prosperity of Tylney Hall under Lionel Philips, he was able to make a significant contribution to raising the standard of education in the village in the early 20th century. After Hampshire County Council had taken responsibility for the School, in 1983 the School was redeveloped and re-opened to accommodate children from Heckfield primary school which was closed down.  On 12th January 2012, the present Whitewater Church of England Primary School celebrated the tri-centenary of its founding date in 1712.

6. Village Hall

At the end of one of their vacations in Rotherwick in 1929, the son Charles of Mr and Mrs Henry De Forest De Forest of New York left his parents to embark on a world cruise. He was 24 years old, and a graduate from Harvard University. A short time afterwards, they learned of their son’s untimely death from fever while staying in Italy. Mr and Mrs De Forest paid for the construction of a new Village Hall as a gift to the people of Rotherwick and a memorial to their son. This was to replace a wooden Nissen hut then being used for village functions. The construction of the new Village Hall was completed in October 1932. The intention of the De Forests was that the style of the architecture of the new Hall should be simple, in harmony with the older houses in the vicinity, and capable of accommodating present and future requirements. The specifications for the Village Hall in 1931 proved to be foresighted, with provision for a large car park and amenities allowing use of the hall as a meeting place for the children of Rotherwick, and a venue for holding events for their benefit. The Village Hall is still managed by a committee in accordance with the wishes of the original donors. Its facilities have been modernised over the years and it remains in regular use today for village activities including dances, wedding receptions, badminton, Brownies, etc. The Village Hall was set in period when used for filming two episodes in the ITV drama series ‘Foyles War’.

7. Wedmans Lane

Wedmans Farm was originally a separate entity from the main village settlement at the west end of The Street, which developed eastwards from the Pond and the Church towards the current cross roads. Development in Wedmans Lane only became significant after World War II but the Lane now provides homes for a substantial number of the inhabitants of Rotherwick. In the 1930’s, Wedmans Lane was just a gravel lane with potholes from Street End to Laundry Farm, the lane to Lampards Close remaining gravel until recently. Besides the wooden chapel (redeveloped as Freelands Cottage today) and Poulter’s yard (previously the timber yard for the Tylney estate), there were no other buildings east of the Lane.  Besides the Forge, three thatched cottages and a pair of cottages near the cross roads, the few houses to the west of the Lane comprised Primrose Cottages, Timbers Cottage, Rosemary Cottage, Tudor Cottage, three cottages on the site of Lampards Close, six ‘modern’ houses in Wedmans Close (flush toilets), Forest Lodge and two small cottages on the lane to Wedmans farmhouse. In the 1930’s, Hampshire County Council owned Wedmans Farm and Laundry Farm, the three houses up the hill originally being let to ex-servicemen from World War I. Following World War II there was significant growth of housing in the Lane, initially with construction of bungalows to the east of the Lane but becoming the focus for more widespread development as development in other parts of the Village was restricted by designation of the Conservation Area in 1976, which has been extended several times since. 

8. Gordon Brown Centre

The Gordon Brown Outdoor Education Centre is set in grounds of some 25 acres retained by the London Borough of Brent when it sold Tylney Hall in 1984. The Centre is managed by Brent’s Children and Young People Directorate. It offers outdoor educational visits for children of all ages to the natural environment in a safe setting. It operates commercially and access is not limited to schools in Brent. 

9. Conclusion

The fragmentation of ownership since World War II, together with the reduced influence of farmers and long-resident families in the Village, creates new challenges for the Village of today in joining to influence a future for Rotherwick through the democratic process. Several chroniclers have noted that the mainstream of Britain’s story has passed Rotherwick by. Although Village has produced no great men and bears no obvious traces of events, it has nonetheless been affected by and reflects the history of the nation.  This may be seen as Rotherwick’s strength. Having remained outside the mainstream of events for so many years, its population has remained relatively stable, with housing set in a diversified landscape of farm land, woodland and water habitats tracing a thread back to medieval times. These features make Rotherwick attractive to residents and visitors alike today. Continued pressure on housing development in north-east Hampshire make it even more important to ensure evolution through inappropriate development does not destroy this diversity for future generations.

Development of a Neighbourhood Development Plan provides a framework for the Village to influence how future development is managed in Rotherwick.


REFERENCES This note draws principally from following references (in no particular order):
(1) BHO British History Online, Parishes: Rotherwick web page. (Digitised content from Victoria County History of Hampshire Volume 4, ed William Page, London 1911, pp. 99-101.) http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol4/pp99-101
(2) Rotherwick Village Hall web page. http://www.tylneyhall.co.uk/tylney-history
(3) Rotherwick – A Village History by G Timmins (undated).  Hard copy only, from Rotherwick Church (loaned by B Platt). (Item includes content digitised on BHO British History Online web page.)
(4) Rotherwick Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Proposals August 2011 (approved by Hard District Council 7th July 2011).   http://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2_Businesses/Planning_for_businesses/ Conservation_and_listed_buildings/Rotherwick.pdf
(5) Hampshire County Council, Historical Rural Settlement Assessment Reports – Hart/ Rotherwick web page (PDF file copyright Hampshire County Council).  http://www3.hants.gov.uk/landscape-and-heritage/historic-environment/historicsettlement/historic-rural-settlement-reports.htm
(6) Rotherwick and Tylney Hall, by KW Holmes, second issue November 1980 (updates first issue of May 1968). Hard copy only, available in village in 1980, proceeds in aid of Rotherwick Church Bell Fund.
(7) An Illustrated Social History of Rotherwick by Anne Pitcher MBE, published in memory of Emma Cowdrey, 1997. Hard copy only, available in village in 1997, proceeds to the Thomas Cowdrey Trust.
(8) Various Rotherwick scrap books, including cuttings of Bill Whistler’s ‘Down Memory Lane’ articles from Rotherwick News (kindly loaned by Richard and Sue Whistler).
(9) Whitewater Benefice web page ‘About Rotherwick’. http://www.whitewaterchurches.co.uk/our-churches/rotherwick/about-rotherwick/
(10) Gordon Brown Centre web site. http://www.thegordonbrowncentre.org.uk
(11) Brent Schools Forum Report 22nd October 2014 – Request for continuing Dedicated Schools Grant funding in 2015-16
(12) Tylney Hall home/history web page. http://www.tylneyhall.co.uk
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