An Accidental Discovery

When I was a young boy my mother brought me to Lyndhurst and showed me the house where she had lived as a young girl. All I could remember was that it was white, imposing and set in its own grounds. Fifty years later I moved to Brockenhurst and became interested in seeing if I could find the house.

Herbert's passport 

My grandfather worked in coal logisitics, organising its delivery to strategic locations, mainly sea ports for the Royal Navy and merchant shipping. I knew that he never stayed long in any one place because his work took him all over Europe, and I knew also that he had never in fact owned a property.

 

I have been a volunteer in the Christopher Tower Reference Library in the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst for six years now, and in quiet moments tried in vain to find any documentation which might point to where the family had lived.

Signature on lease

 

One of my recent jobs in the library has been preparing the digitised copies of the Forestry Commission records of leases (Lease Books) into bundles for entry into our Adlib database and for publication on the New Forest Knowledge website. I had just finished a bundle when I looked at the last page of a lease and there was my grandfather’s name and a signature.

 

Was it my grandfather? What was the probability that there were two people called Herbert Bamber leasing property in Lyndhurst at the same time?

 

 

There are strong similarities between the passport signature and that of the lease, but the capital Bs look quite different. Equally there is a long gap in time between the signatures. Page two of the lease gives Herbert’s address as No 1 Canute Road Southampton. Our library copy of Kelly’s Directory for Hampshire 1931 shows that 1 Canute Road was occupied by Clarke, Stephenson & Associated Co. Ltd, coal factors.

Now what is the probability that there were two people called Herbert Bamber, leasing property in Lyndhurst at the same time and both working in the coal industry? It begins to seem more like a certainty. We shall know for sure only in 2031 when we get access to the 1931 census.

The Bird's NestSo where is this property? It turns out to be Crown Lodge, now occupied by the New Forest Nondescripts Club, on Church Lane in Lyndhurst. It was originally called The Bird’s Nest for reasons which the photo make clear.

 

Further details about the building’s history can be found on the New Forest Knowledge website at:

https://nfknowledge.org/record/nfp-15/

 Map of lease

 

 

The lease also shows that the land attached to the house comprises not just the basic property coloured red, but most of what is now the main Lyndhurst carpark coloured blue. Ironically, and somewhat irritatingly, three times while volunteering in the Library I have been fined for breaching parking regulations on land that was leased to my grandfather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Exhibition- Maps: the New Forest Unfolded

This exhibition reveals biographies of the New Forest and its people through maps selected from the collection of the Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library.

These maps, of large and small scale, illuminate not only the landscape but the individuals and institutions that shaped the Forest as it is today.

Maps help us to understand our world: to navigate, to show ownership, to describe the function or value of spaces, to indicate their characteristics, to explain the past and to plan the future. Behind our maps lie the stories of their creators, characters who dedicated themselves to sharing their enthusiasms with an eager public.

Not only surveyors, but foresters, archaeologists, a pioneering motorist, and a dancing master with a broken leg have all contributed to the wealth of maps, plans and charts that display what was, what is and what might have been.

The exhibition covers seven broad themes:

  • Geology and Archaeology
  • The role of government in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Place-names
  • Large scale mapping by the Ordnance Survey
  • Travel
  • What might have been
  • Forestry Commission stock maps

 

Defoe and the Poor Palatines

 

In 1709 Britain experienced an influx of about 13,000 refugees, known as the poor Palatines, from Germany. They were largely protestant, fleeing from aggression by the catholic Louis XIV of France. Mainly these people hoped to continue their journey to America where other German refugees had found new homes in previous years.

The Whig party which controlled parliament at that time was of the opinion that an increase in population would help develop the economic wealth of the nation, while the Tory party was concerned that the number of these immigrants who were largely poor would lead to instability.

Daniel Defoe, who was a leading radical thinker of the time, suggested that an area of the New Forest near Lyndhurst be set aside to create a model township for the refugees. Twenty honest and industrious men capable in husbandry would be identified and given 200 acres each. Known as farmers, these men  would be given money to stock their farms and live rent and tax free for twenty years. Through the wealth they generated from their farming they would pay for the whole infrastructure of the town, including doctors, ministers of religion, carpenters, builders, a miller and other labourers: inn-keeping was expected to be a part-time occupation. In total Defoe expected that this scheme would support some six or seven hundred people. After twenty years when the town was established the residents would start to pay taxes.

Ultimately Defoe expected there to be about 20 such schemes built across the country.

Defoe’s sketch map shows the layout of the township, with the central crossroad housing the necessary infrastructure for the establishment of a flourishing community. He expected that common land would be available outside the perimeter to allow the tradespeople to keep a few cattle or sheep to help eke out their existence. The twenty farms are marked out, although the farm buildings are probably not to scale.

Nowadays few of us have an easy understanding of what 200 acres means. Far less do we understand the concept of 40,000 acres, not to mention the extent of land required for the Town Hall, church, labourers’ cottages and other pieces of infrastructure.

The map shows the extent of land that Defoe’s township would have covered if it were planted half way between Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst.

Defoe made an assumption that the soil of the new Forest was of sufficient quality to make his scheme work. In fact the reason for the New Forest’s survival as a wilderness is that the ground is generally of little agricultural merit.

 

Author and Cartographer: Daniel Defoe
Scale: c. 1:40,000
Date: 1709
Defoe, D. 1927. A Tour through England and Wales: Divided into Circuits or Journies, Volume 1. London: Dent. G.915

https://archive.org/stream/tourthroughtthew006736mbp#page/n229/mode/2up/search/palatines

 

 

Roads Made Easy

For recently empowered motorists focused on their destination and unwilling to stop to make enquiries, the strip map was a practical choice for navigation. Roads Made Easy developed the concept so that the page simply showed information when it was relevant. An index map at the front of the book showed what routes were included.

There was no scale, just an assumption that you drove straight on until a change was required.  This minimised the paper consumed.  A short hand system showed the direction of turn needed: left, right or straight on.  Telegraph wires provided landmarks, along with pubs, churches and there were photographs of junctions where there might be any doubt.

One volume covered the main routes across the country south of a line drawn between London and Bristol.

 

Johnson, C. and Montagu, J. 1907. Roads made Easy by Picture and Pen. London: Car Illustrated. G.030 SC