March 31, 2019|Reports

“Wickham’s Mill and Water Meadows” – Geoff Phillpotts

In 1656, a Mr Mowbray, tenant farmer of Great Funtley Farm on Titchfield Road, is said to have built Wickham’s ‘New River’ – running for about four miles from the current water meadows in the centre of the village to the farm.

Over 60 members and visitors heard from Geoff Phillpotts on Tuesday 26th March about what he called Wickham’s ‘vanished glory’ – its extensive water meadows systems extending on both sides of the river, north and south of the village. These were major feats of engineering involving miles of ridges and trenches, bridges, sluices, weirs and even an aqueduct.

It is not only water meadows that have vanished – only traces remain of the two iron mills and a fulling mill (used in cloth making) that also made Wickham and Funtley centres of industry in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1715 the millers ‘conspiracy and confederacy’ led to the destruction of the weir diverting the water into the New River and ended up involving the Duke of Portland and Wickham’s Lord of the Manor in a court case. There was a lot of money to be made out of controlling the River Meon’s water, and the lawyers got their share!

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