May 31, 2024|News | Reports

Wickham History Society: Annual Report 2023 – 2024

Chairs Introduction

Firstly, I should like to express our sorrow at the death of Margaret Edgworth. Margaret had joined the Committee relatively recently but had already become very involved in our oral history work. We all miss her enthusiasm and dedication.

It is very encouraging that our membership continues to grow – reflecting the care that goes into the selection of speakers and the summer visits programme and the hard work behind the scenes in keeping the show on the road. Do let us know of any ideas you have for speakers or visits – and any improvements we can make. If you have a local history project you are interested in, do get in touch. We are always happy to help in any way we can.

Membership and Talks

Membership is now 124 (112 – 2022)  463 people have attended meetings to April 2024, including 35 visitors so far. Our busiest ever meeting took place in September, when Geoff gave a talk on the early Manor of Wickham to 95 members and visitors.  This talk is being repeated on Tuesday 25th June, in an addition to the published programme, for those who were unable to attend the September meeting.

Andrew Negus returned in October to conclude his four talks on the history of Portsmouth and we are very grateful to Lyndon Palmer who stepped in at short notice in November to give a talk on Sutton Hoo – the famous Anglo Saxon ship burial site. Our Christmas joint meeting with the Wickham Society was a very convivial affair with fizz and mince pies. Anthony Strafford, in full Beefeater regalia, talked on women prisoners in the tower as well as providing some great insights into living and working in the Tower.

The two Zoom meetings in January and February continue to be well attended with participants from as far afield as Scotland, Switzerland and Australia. January’s talk was on influential women in early Medieval England and Europe given by Imogen Corrigan, followed by Rosemary Baird Andraea on “The Garniers of Rookesbury“ in February. This was a very well researched talk on Wickham’s last lords of the manor, and in particular the creation of Rookesbury house and park. In March we were back ‘face to face’ to hear about “Valerie Bacon’s War” taken from the WW2 diaries and letters of an Emsworth young woman by Nigel Gossop. April’s meeting was on conspiracy theories about the sinking of the Titanic with Andy Skinner. Our AGM talk is again by Andrew Negus – but this time the first of two talks covering the history of Southampton.

Summer Visits and village walks in 2023

The summer visits and guided walks proved very popular, with several becoming over-subscribed. Visits included a history walk around Portsmouth, God’s House tower and the Holywell Estate. The proposed guided walk around Hamble had to be postponed until 2024 due to the guide’s indisposition.

As well as a couple of guided history walks around Wickham, we also hosted a day visit for a group from the Romsey U3A. The walk around the Old Rectory and the Glebe was verry interesting, albeit the walk around the Glebe had to be postponed due to inclement weather. Guided history walks for festival goers were also run.

Wickham History Society on the Web and photo digitisation

The website continues to be updated with articles and meeting reports. It is used to publicise the Society meetings, walks and other events. Members and guests are able to contact the Society to book walks, make inquiries and offer donations. We have recently had 15 years worth of Wickham Parish Magazines, mainly covering 1975-1980/1985-1995, digitised. These magazines offer a fascinating insight into Wickham’s village life during this period. Over the coming months, the resulting PDFs will be uploaded to the website for all to read.

Additionally, over 1000 slides, from various contributors, have been digitised, along with two dozen glass plate negatives. Although broadly categorised, they need to be reviewed and renamed. It is planned to hold a few sessions at the Wickham Community Centre for those interested to view these images and, hopefully, generate potential for oral history recordings.

Knowle History Boards Project

This project, financed by the Wickham Parish Council, is for the design and installation of five history boards around Knowle Village. Although much content has been researched and accumulated, the project was on-hold during the last year.

Work has now resumed and the first board has been drafted and submitted to the designer. Two other boards are in-progress. Due to changes within the Parish Council and at First Port, the Knowle management company personnel, the chosen sites are to be re-visited.

Oral History Project

The Wickham Oral History group now has eight trained members, who are actively seeking participants to record their memories of life and work in and around Wickham over the past decades. We plan to have information leaflets available at future meetings. Please pass them to people you know who may be interested in sharing their memories or contact to express an interest or for more information.

School talks

During the autumn term, Vanessa spent an afternoon talking to the 6 and 7 year old children at Wickham Primary School about Wickham Now and Then, as part of their history curriculum.

Future Plans

Our summer visits are proving very popular with a combination of guided walks and trips to local museums. We continue our village history walks (free to members) and this year are adding a combined Wickham Churchyard and Glebe walk. We also hope to see many of you at the Village Fete and Taste of Wickham where we will have exhibitions, and we will be giving a short talk at the Taste of Wickham.

The transfer of the Glebe open space to the Parish Council has not yet taken place but we are working closely with the Parish Council, Wickham Primary School, other village societies and interested individuals to see how we can bring its important role in Wickham’s history alive. It is hoped this will involve a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support future community archaeology on the site as well as a wide range of community information and activities.

We are finalising the third edition of Bruce Tappenden’s “A History of Wickham”  – we are grateful to Tom Steele for agreeing to this and transferring the copyright to Wickham History Society. Wickham is very lucky in having a published village history and Bruce’s work has stood the test of time since 1996 – the new edition will have a short update chapter added and include new information, where the original text needs updating. We expect this will be on sale by the autumn.

The Committee

Chair: Geoff Phillpotts; Secretary: Vanessa Burlingham; Treasurer: Martin Rogers; Website Editor (and Talks Programme Secretary): Jane Painter; Brian Barrett, Mike Hollis, Sarah Daley.

Do you have something to contribute to the society?