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Upper Clatford parish comprises the communities known locally as Upper Clatford, Anna Valley and Red Rice. The parish is situated south of Andover and is separated from Andover by a designated Gap through which the Anton River flows. The Upper Clatford element of the parish is in a Conservation area.
The parish lies within the Test Valley Borough Council domain and our county council is Hampshire County Council. The parliamentary constituency is North West Hampshire and the European constituency is South East England.
The earliest inhabitants lived in Bury Ring, an Iron Age hillfort situated at the top of the hill in Red Rice Road. Following excavations, which revealed a large quantity of horse bones and part of a chariot, archaeologists considered that the site could have been used as a chariot training school.
As a community, Upper Clatford dates to the Saxon era. Clatford is an old Saxon English term meaning and takes its name from the Saxon ‘clad’ for burdock, hence ‘the ford where the burdock grows’. The village historically contained four manors: Norman Court, Sackville Court, Clatford Manor and Clatford Mills. It is highly possible that a small church existed at this time. Prior to the Norman Conquest in 1066, Saxi held the village from King Edward. It is probable that this is the origin of the name of ‘Saxley Farm’ which is situated in the most south westerly part of the parish.
Significant buildings at Clatford include thatched cottages and houses including the local public house The Crook and Shears, and the local parish church of All Saints, which was first built probably during the reign of Henry I (1100-1135). It was rebuilt in the sixteenth century and transformed into an 'auditory church' in the seventeenth. The Church sits between two arms of the Pillhill Brook; the village war memorial is within its grounds.
Following the Norman Conquest, William FitzOsbern, King William’s ‘closest boyhood friend’ and Steward of the Ducal Court in Normandy, was made Earl of Hereford, Lord of the Isle of Wight and joint regent for the King. William FitzOsbern granted English lands to his Abbey of Lyre (founded in 1046), which was in the Diocese of Evreux, Normandy, including three virgates of land in Upper Clatford and the ‘ecclesiam (church) de Claford’ just before he died in 1070, although the church itself is not mentioned in the Domesday book. The tithes of the village were also sent to the Abbey as recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086. The present church dates from the 12th century and includes solid pillars with their bead-ornamented abaci, typical of Norman church architecture.
There was an established farming community by the time of the Domesday survey covering a large area including a manor and there were also three mills and 15 acres of meadow (possibly around the church as now). There were sixteen villagers and twenty one smallholders with seven ploughs and eight slaves. The estimated population, calculated on the basis of a total of 37 families with four people would probably have been about 150- 160 in 1086. The first recorded Rector was John of Sheppey in 1292. As the Church was well established by the 12th century, it is likely that there were clergy based in the village prior to 1292, but the records are no longer available. Three large manors existed during the Medieval period. By the seventeenth century, the community was centred along the village street and the neighbouring farms/manors.
In 1581, Stephen Hopkins was baptised in All Saints’ Church, Upper Clatford as recorded in the baptism records which are now at the Hampshire County Record Office. His family moved to Winchester when he was about six years old and he was in Hursley at the time of the birth of his eldest son and daughter. He went on an adventurous trip to Virginia on board the Sea Venture when his children were still young. Unfortunately, the Sea Venture was shipwrecked off the coast of Bermuda, but the crew managed to build another boat to take them to Virginia. On his return to England, Stephen had the opportunity to travel to America on the ‘Mayflower’ given his previous experience. On arrival in America in 1620, as a member of the Governing Council, he was instrumental in the establishment of the colony. Having traced their roots back to Upper Clatford in the last few years, descendants of Stephen Hopkins now visit the church and village.
During the Civil War, the village was a Royalist village and the rector, the Revd Thomas Samborne was deprived of his living. In the 18th century, Red Rice House was built. In 1800-1, the Prince Regent visited Red Rice when the house was owned by the Errington family.
Until the 19th century, the inhabitants of Upper Clatford would have been primarily concerned with agriculture and allied occupations but in 1813, Robert Tasker founded his ironworks in the western end of the parish in Anna Valley, manufacturing agricultural machinery. The factory later became known as the ‘Waterloo Ironworks’. Robert Tasker was a Non-Conformist and provided houses, a small school, social facilities near the workplace, and a Mission Hall for his workers in 1867. The Ironworks provided more employment for local people. The Ironworks made the iron gates which are now inside the church and the narrow bridge over the River Anton, and many of the houses in the village have “Tasker” cast iron windows. The nearby canal from Southampton, which ran through the village, (adjacent to the later site of the ‘Sprat and Winkle’ railway line) enabled the transport of raw materials from Cornwall. Upper Clatford played a significant civilian role in the First World War as shells were manufactured by the Ironworks, who employed both men and women. Some of the village ladies worked in a local hospital for injured servicemen. The village lost fourteen young men who served their country at war who are commemorated on the village war memorial and there was a civilian casualty from the village who died in the course of his work at Ironworks. Red Rice House became a hive of activity during the Second World War with British and American Forces in 0ccupation. In 1944, General Eisenhower visited Red Rice. At the Ironworks, engineers designed and developed the now famous ‘Queen Mary’ trailers to recover crashed fighter planes and take them to repair depots. The Ironworks supplied the trailers to the RAF throughout the War and at its peak, it as employing nine hundred people. Eight men are commemorated on the village war memorial by the Church. In the 1980s, the Ironworks closed in the village and the land in Anna Valley was sold to developers for housing.