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October 2015 Print E-mail
Hambledon in the Early Years of Queen Victoria The History Group's online archive project will bring together a wealth of photographs and historical accounts of the village right up to the present day on an easily accessible website.

This will chronicle how village life has changed during the course of the 20th century and the
21st century thus far. But can we go back a bit further, and learn something more of the village
before there were cameras and post cards?
The answer, as the Deeds Group has already shown, is yes — and it's remarkable to discover that stepping back in time we find that the Hambledon portrayed in 19th‘ century records is recognisable as the Hambledon We see around us today.

The most familiar source of information is the Census, and documents are available for every
tenth year from 1841 to 1911. Equally important however is the Hambledon Tithe Map and Award, signed off in 1844. This is a survey of the entire parish (which then included Denmead) showing who owned what with a view to determining what monetary payments should be made following the abolition of the ancient system of tithes in kind (typically 10% of agricultural production had been due to the Church of England or other tithe-owners).

In 1970, local resident Charles Lutyens was the first in modern times to analyse the Tithe Map and Award and he collated it with the 1851 census;
his study 'The People of Hambledon 1842 to 1851‘ will not be superseded. It gives a detailed account of who lived Where in the village and what they did — who were the blacksmiths, the publicans, the tailors, the dressmakers, and so forth. However, much of the underlying information is now available in digital form and is much easier to research, and so our efforts have been to build on Charles's work, not always systematically, and additionally to take input from the earlier census of 1841.

The History Group's plan is to devote a section of the online archive to the tithe map and to show it overlaid onto a modern map with individual property and field boundaries marked where they are today. The resulting map will be correct to GPS standard. We also plan for the map to have clickable content which will give access to historical or modern day photographs of certain
properties and details of the relevant tithe apportionment — in other words who owned the 
field or property at the time of the survey, who occupied it, what type a building was (mansion,
house, cottage, tenement), what the acreage was, as well as what charge applied. The  underlying work is well advanced thanks to the efforts of one of our skilled residents currently working in the Gulf States.

This sort of analysis might appear rather dry to some until one looks at individual cases. For
example, we know from collating the Tithe Map and Award with the 1841 census that the family
living in our own cottage in Chidden was called Moon — a familiar Hambledon name — and that
it comprised ]ohn Moon, probably a widower, who was 56 and worked as an agricultural labourer, his son John Moon, 24, also an agricultural labourer, and his five daughters, Ann 18, Hester 12, Sarah 10, Eliza 7, and Frances 5. Interesting how elder sons were often named after their fathers; interesting too how large the family was (in a small cottage).
Their cottage and garden extended at the time to 32 perches (a fifth of an acre) and formed part of the holdings of Richard Ring, the biggest landowner (1265 acres) in the parish.

An altogether bigger house, indeed a "Mansion, Offices and Pleasure Grounds" was, and is,
Whitedale House, recorded in the 1840's as owned by Godfrey Higgens and occupied by Admiral
Dacres (presumably Vice-Admiral ]ames Richard Dacres, RN, 1788-1853, a member of a distinguished naval family), six daughters and six servants. His wife Arabella had died in 1828. Notably, in August 1812 as Captain of HMS Guerriere Dacres had engaged, heroically but unsuccessfully, the American frigate Constitution off Nova Scotia. When asked by an American lieutenant if Guerriere was prepared to surrender, Captain Dacres apparently responded, in a very English way, "Well, Sir, I don't know. Our mizzen mast is gone, our fore and main masts are gone I think on the whole you might say We have struck our flag." This is the engagement as painted by Michel Felice Corne:
This story of a local man is an intriguing reminder that 200 years ago the UK and the US
were at war with one another (the Anglo-American war of 1812-15). The British occupied
Washington DC in 1814 and set fire to the White House and the Capitol, but they failed to take
Baltimore, New York, and New Orleans and the war ended as it had begun with the status quo ante.

It is exciting to think that as we are guided through Hambledon's history by the Tithe Map and Award and other sources (such as the churchyard survey) we're going to uncover numerous events of significance not just to our local history but also to the nation's: events which may already be recorded in existing histories and such sites as Wildpedia (to which I am indebted for information about Vice-Admiral Dacres and the painting above). It's quite thrilling to bring these documents to life and plenty remains to be discovered.
Stephen Crew