August 1853


This was a month for cottagers to enjoy what had been growing in their gardens. The seasonal rhythm of the year now providing the promise of delivering ripe fruit and vegetables all across the village.

Village communities fed themselves. Even the humblest of cottages had something of a garden attached. Whilst some would be cropping early apples, the reports from the markets were of cherries and damsons as well as apricots and plums. Gooseberries, blackberries and raspberries were to be found in gardens or growing in the wild.

It was not too soon to start a store of produce for the winter months. Thoughts when digging up the early potatoes would turn to the choice of other crops to plant for harvest later in the year.

The policy of the parish officers of the Vestry favoured outdoor relief, providing land which could be worked by those unable to bring in wages. Nevertheless, a further repeat of a poor harvest followed by an especially miserable winter could threaten months of hardship.

The weather during the previous twelve months had been disappointing in both respects. Who knew what the future would bring? While there was good light, the days still long, all members of the household, including children, would be working in their gardens, as later would many in the fields for their masters.

That said, at the close of each day, there were thirsts to be quenched. The Red Lion and the Bee Hive, the two public houses at either end of the village Street, would both be open for business.

Map showing Bee Hive and Red Lion, 1841

The Red Lion Inn was not far from the village green. It marked the end of the Street where the Ash Road began, leading down to the Blackwater River and the County boundary into Surrey. Red Lion Lane was to the right with its slow incline up to where Church Lane East became Church Road.

Map from 1855 showing Manor House, Elm Place, Aldershot Lodge and Red Lion

Little doubt but each hostelry had its own regulars, with separate rooms to cater for those of different social standing. The uppermost map, made in 1841/42, contrasts the immediate catchment of the Bee Hive, in what was the commercial centre of the village, with that of the less populated catchment of the Red Lion. The lower map, made in 1855, highlights the proximity of the Red Lion Inn to the residences of three of the four leading figures in Aldershot’s elite: Richard Allden of Elm Place; James Elstone of Aldershot Lodge and Captain Newcome at the Manor House. Charles Barron Esq. of Aldershot Place was the fourth, latterly Chairman of the Vestry.

The recent meetings at the Red Lion about the enclosure of Aldershot Common had generated an additional buzz of excitement. There would be plenty to discuss of an evening. That would continue with the experience of a surprise visit. August was to be an eventful month in the history of the village, although tinged with the sadness of infant death.

Red Lion Inn

Management of the Red Lion had previously been with local families, dating back to Joseph Hart in 1800, his widow and then his son until the 1830s. Frederick Freeman took over the Red Lion in 1838. The carpenter John Kimber was installed as landlord by 1841 until 1847.

Now owned by a Mr Barratt, George Falkner had been the landlord at the Red Lion for about five years. The 1851 Census listed him as both an inn keeper and a plumber. The latter was the trade of his father Thomas with whom he had been living along the Borough in Farnham in 1841 as the eldest of five children.

George had been born in Farnham in 1820, marrying there in April 1845. His wife Ann was the daughter of Edmund Elseley, a farmer from Elstead. Before moving to Aldershot, George and Ann lived along the Farnborough Road, their son Frank baptised in 1848 at St John the Evangelist in Hale.

=> More on the Red Lion Inn and former landlords

Thursday, 4th August 1853

The farmers had reasons to be in a positive mood, not just because of the improvement in the weather. The weekly market at Farnham was experiencing brisk trade for wheat. Prices varied from £10 – 10s. to £16 per load, even better than two days before when they fetched £9 – 10s to £15 on the Tuesday at Alton.

There had also been the positive outcome from the Inclosure Commissioners to the proposal that the 2,715 acres of Aldershot Common should be enclosed. This carried the prospect that farmers could bring additional land into productive use.

The Provisional Order, made two weeks ago on July 18th, also ensured that some common land would be kept for common purpose. Fifteen acres were to be put aside “as endowment for [a] national school”, in addition to the ten acres for the “labouring poor.” The four acres of the village green were to be preserved as common land, still referred to as Paine’s Green, after James Paine who had once held the smithy.

What was unclear when this would all come to pass. The neighbouring parish of Farnham had received Provisional Order for lands in Badshot and Runfold back in April, but nothing was known of progress on that either.

The inner-wheels of government were still in motion, however. The Secretary of the Inclosure Commission had written to Home Secretary Palmerston on that very day. He had forwarded the draft of a Bill for Parliamentary approval for as many 27 applications for the enclosure of common land; those for Aldershot and Farnham were both included in the accompanying Special Report.

The civil servants at the Home Office hastily sent the Report and Bill to be printed “with as little delay as possible.” The letter sent by the Inclosure Commission was annotated to the effect that the Bill was to be “introduced as soon as possible.” Those civil servants were conscious that the current session of Parliament was shortly to be dissolved. Authorisation to enclose Aldershot Common would form part of the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill which would be put to Parliament alongside the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill.

Saturday, 6th August 1853

The Hampshire Chronicle echoed the importance of the upcoming harvest, also warning of high prices,

“Attention is now naturally directed to the harvest, and, under the inspiring influence of returning sunshine, we are enabled to take a calmer view of the prospects before us. .. 

“For several consecutive years previous to 1852 we had good crops; still Great Britain has been capable of consuming the whole of supplies other countries have been enabled to furnish.”

Stocks from overseas were low, with only America having capability to supply sufficient:

“the importance of our own harvest can therefore be scarcely over-rated;
and the next month is likely to prove a period of great excitement.”

Ann Bedford

Locally, the news that day was of the death of Ann Bedford. There were two of this name in the village, thoughts likely turning to the teenage Ann who was a domestic servant for the Elstone family at Aldershot Lodge.

The tragedy instead was for the loss of her young cousin, the infant daughter of George Bedford who lived up at Deadbrooks. Baptised in September 1852, she had died aged only 11 months. Her mother Eleanor had reported the cause to be ‘teething convulsions’.

So prevalent was this attributed cause of infant mortality, it was termed ‘dentition’. It was associated with any negative outcome following the eruption of the first teeth. That included the unwanted effects of the various attempts at remedy during a time of poor sanitation. This period in a child’s life was also when weaning onto cow’s milk would start.

Sunday, 7th August 1853

As though to highlight the significance of vital events in the village, there were to be three christenings at Matins this Sunday.

Jane Rebecca Bedford

At the first, what was intended as a happy event for Thomas and Mary Bedford would surely have been tinged with the sadness for the death of Jane’s baby cousin Ann. She had been the daughter of Thomas’ younger brother George.

Thomas Bedford was a farm labourer in a tied cottage on Church Hill belonging to the Aldershot Lodge estate. He was the father of the Ann Bedford who was now in domestic servant up at the Lodge in the household of James Elstone Junior and his wife Caroline (‘Mrs C’).

The infant Jane was their eleventh child, her ten older siblings all born in Aldershot, with baptisms dating from 1836. The four eldest were daughters, born about a year apart; their younger brother Thomas, born almost 18 months after the fourth, was the sole boy between two sets of daughters.

There had been more than enough daughters in the Bedford household when Ann had secured her position at Aldershot Lodge. Charlotte, the next oldest, also went into domestic service. By 1851, at the age of 13, she was in the household of Thomas Eyre, an established grocer in the Borough in Farnham. Such opportunities brought in extra income for the family and certainly meant one less mouth to feed. This was also a chance for the girls to do more than be minding children at home.

Thomas Bedford was from a local family, his father Charles baptised at St Michael’s Church in December 1790. His mother Sarah was from Pirbright, where Thomas had been born in 1813. His parents had been based on Church Hill in 1841, his father Charles presumably then working for James Elstone Senior. Thomas and Mary were based in a cottage there too. Thomas’ parents later moved to live along North Lane.

Thomas Bedford and Mary Hockley had married at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot in June 1835. Mary had been baptised in 1814, in Nutley, 20 miles distant from Aldershot in central Hampshire. Perhaps Mary had been in domestic service closer to Aldershot at the time of the marriage.

James Thomas Cooper

James was the next child listed in the parish baptismal register. He was the third child for George and Elizabeth Cooper, their two young daughters also born in Aldershot. The parents, however, were both born outside the village.

They lived in a tied cottage on the Aldershot Place estate on which George was a farm labourer. Baptised in Farnham, he had married Elizabeth Smith at the church in Hale in 1847. Before that, in 1841, he had been employed at Dockenfield where he stayed with his brother and sister. Elizabeth was the daughter of a gardener from Weyborne,

    • The elderly James Cooper lived with his son William at Dog Kennell, not far from Weyborne. This was not George’s father but maybe he was a relation.

Peter Robinson

The infant Peter was one of six children of William and Caroline Robinson. The previous five had also been baptised at St Michael’s Church, between July 1844 and October 1851. William was an agricultural labourer, he and his family living in a cottage at West End, close by Thomas Smith’s Rock Farm.

Reverend James Dennett would come to realise that there were many of the name Robinson in the village. The 1851 Census recorded as count of 27, second in number only to those of the Barnett family. Some owned land, many more were labourers on the land. Several had the same Christian name. These families had connections through marriage with many of the other well-established farming families, both throughout the parish and across in neighbouring Ash.

William was the son of the tenant farmer George Robinson; his mother had been Mary Avenell when she had married in in Farnham in January 1813. 

    • The marriage register had no space to record the name, nor the occupation, of the father of Mary Avenell. However, a man called John Avenell, aged 70, was in the household of George and Mary in 1841. His death was registered in Farnham in 1842, aged 71.
    • He was not the John Avenell who died in 1844, aged 84, who was recorded by the 1841 Census as the farmer at Hale Farm in the tithing of Badshot. In 1851, his son, James Avenell had taken on Hale Farm, a hop planter of 156 acres employing 17 men and 3 boys. His extensive landholdings included 38 acres in Aldershot, mostly up at Deadwoods.

William Robinson had been baptised at St Michael’s Church, in May 1821. Before his marriage in 1843, he was his parents’ household in a house and garden owned by the widow Ann Robinson in North Lane; his father George was working as a tenant farmer. Others in the house in 1841 included James Pester, aged 5, the son of William’s older sister Ann. She lived next door with two small children from her marriage to John Pester in Aldershot in 1834. He was an agricultural labourer from as far away as East Budleigh in Devon.  

William and Caroline had married in Bentley, which was where the 1841 Census recorded the child’s mother as Caroline Young. She was in the household of her uncle, Richard Young, an agricultural labourer in the village of the Eggar family.

    • The influence of the Eggars is clearly evident in the biographical history of the Young family. Caroline, born in Binsted, had been baptised at St Lawrence’s Church in Alton in 1822, the daughter of William and Hannah Young.  Her father died in 1840, buried in Aldershot that October. This likely prompted Caroline’s move to be with her Uncle Richard’s family in Bentley. Richard’s first child Elizabeth had also been baptised in Aldershot, in July 1817 shortly after his marriage to Catherine Barnard in Bentley in February 1817. (Catherine Barnard was listed in the Census as having been born in Aldershot around 1795 although no baptismal record is found.)
    • William was the older of the two brothers, sons of William and Elizabeth Young. William was baptised in 1790 at St Peter’s Church in Ash, his parents then resident in nearby Normandy; Richard was baptised later in Aldershot in 1796 at St Michael’s Church.

=> The Families Robinson [to be added later]

Monday 8th August 1853

Any in the village keen to see progress in the matter of the enclosure of Aldershot Common would have been pleased to learn that the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill and the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill had now been laid before Parliament. Aldershot was amongst the 27 parishes with applications for enclosure listed in the schedules attached to the Bill.

Tuesday 9th August 1853

Progress was indeed swift. The Evening Mail and the evening edition of the Sun both reported that the Copyhold & Commission Continuance Bill and the Commons Enclosure (No. 3) Bill were read a second time in the House of Commons. This was, perhaps, only noticed then by Charles Barron Esq. when at his London address in Pall Mall. News might have been relayed to Captain George Newcome by his brother-in-law Ross Donnelly Mangles, the Member of Parliament for Guildford.

Wednesday, 10th August 1853

None in the village would have read the addendum included by the Limerick Chronicle to its report of the Queen’s review of her troop at Chobham Common. The Irish newspaper confided,

“The Government has secured, for next year’s Camp, ground very superior to that of Chobham, on Aldershot Heath.”

This rumour was repeated verbatim in editions across Ireland on the following Saturday, notably in the Cork Constitution, the Newry Examiner and the Louth Advertiser, Roscommon & Leitrim Gazette.

No sign of this ‘story’ is found in the searches of the newspapers on the British mainland, however. Seemingly, the article had not been noticed. However, this ‘news’ could be taken as suggestion that the prospect of success for Viscount Hardinge’s plans was being taken for granted in some circles. He had, of course, secured neither approval nor finance for a permanent camp of instruction, a wish he had express in June to Lt. General Colborne (Baron Seaton).

Friday, 12th August 1853

The funeral service this day, the seventh by Reverend James Dennett, who was still only in his fifth month, had an added sense of intimacy. He would be saying prayers for the death of the niece of his parish clerk. In his combined role as village sexton, Thomas Attfield had been called upon to dig the grave of the daughter of his sister Eleanor. The dead child was only eleven months old.

Ann Bedford

Baby Ann’s father was George Bedford, an agricultural worker. George and Eleanor had married in January 1838. They lived up at Deadbrooks, baby Ann the latest of eight children, the eldest, at 13 years old, listed as a seamstress.

George had been baptised in neighbouring Ash. His mother Sarah was born in Pirbright, as was George’s older brother Thomas. George’s father Charles had been locally born.

Eleanor was the tenth of George and Nimmy Attfield’s thirteen children. Then there was the large number in the Bedford family, twenty of that name recorded in the parish by the 1851 Census. There would be many at the funeral.

The child’s mother went to Farnham to register the death on the same day. Making her mark, she indicated that she had been present at the her daughter’s death and stated that the cause was attributed to teething convulsions.

Saturday, 13th August 1853

This week’s edition of the Hampshire Chronicle had several items of interest.

The Chronicle remarked that the prorogation of Parliament was expected soon, probably during the next week. Lack of parliamentary approval would mean delays to the enclosure of Aldershot Common.

Given the excitement generated by the prospect of enclosure of Aldershot Common, two more items had particular relevance.

The Valuer acting on the matter of the Ash Inclosure for road contractors had placed a call for tenders “for the forming and making of roads over the waste lands of the Manor of Ash.” The paths that crossed Aldershot Common to the Canal Wharf from the settlement around Drury Lane needed comparable improvement.

There was also a notice proposing the exchange of property between Dame Jane St John Mildmay of Dogmersfield Park and Charles Edward Lefroy of Crondall. These exchanges, if judged to be beneficial by the Inclosure Commissioners under “The Acts for the Inclosure, Exchange and Improvement of Land” would appeal to farmers seeking efficiencies.

Elsewhere in this Saturday’s edition of the Chronicle, the Mark Lane Express column noted that the weather had been fine during the greater part of the past week. However, even with a few more weeks of settled weather, it conjectured that the quality of the harvest might be improved, but not the yield.

“It is the opinion of some that that the produce of wheat will prove the smallest that has been harvested in these islands since 1816.”

The recent rise in prices was due to a mix of circumstances:

“deficient Wheat harvest in Great Britain and France; a failure of that crop in several of the southern countries of Europe; short stocks everywhere except in America; .. imminent danger of the quarrel between Russia and Turkey leading to a war in which England and France may become involved.”  

Few might have paid much to heed to news that the Succession Duty Act had received its royal assent. This was essentially a wealth tax which required a complex of tables to determine the level of tax to be paid on the inheritance of family property. However, some had argued during the preceding parliamentary debates that it would be damaging to the smallholder, more so than to those owning the great estates, and would undermine the viability of the yeoman farmer.

There were continued mixed opinions about the prospect of war. The reports earlier in the week were that the British Government had received telegraphic dispatch from Vienna that the Czar accepted the proposition of the four powers (of Britain, France, Austria and Prussia). However, there was no certain confirmation of this. A letter from Paris, dated Friday, stated that the Sultan had accepted the Vienna proposals but awaited news that the Russian troops would vacate the territory it had invaded.

Wednesday, 17th August 1853

Locally, news was of another death in the village. Once more, there might have been confusion about the identity of the deceased, Stephen Barnett also being the name of James Elstone’s father-in-law, Caroline’s father. The sad news was instead for the loss of an infant, aged 19 months.

The child’s cause of death, reported much later, was attributed to ‘Hooping Cough’; he was said to have had consumption since birth. 

The funeral was set to take place at the end of the week.

Thursday, 18th August 1853

The Commons Enclosure No. 3 Bill received its third reading in the House of Lords. It then later went through its final Committee Stage in the House of Commons, as reported by the London Evening Standard. This would be greeted with delight by those who had proposed the enclosure of Aldershot Common.

Elsewhere in the village, a sadness fell across the length of the village with the loss of a third infant, that of Jesse Stonard, not yet 18 months old. His death, was attributed to Hooping Cough, as well as to ‘Dentition’, the high temperature due to teething.

That funeral would be set for Wednesday. The child’s mother Agnes would later travel to register the death in Farnham. 

Saturday, 20th August 1853

Stephen Barnett

First, there was the funeral of young Stephen, 19 months old, born to George and Rebecca Barnett. The funeral held for his mother in June was still in recent memory for many of those gathered at the parish church.

Rebecca’s death was attributed to having suffered consumption over a period of four months until her death on June 4th. This diagnosis had not been medically certificated; it was instead stated by George’s sister Jane Bullen who had been in attendance. The cause of death, again not certificated medically, of the infant Stephen was reported by George’s sister Harriet Derbridge. She attributed it to ‘Hooping Cough’, but also stated that the child had suffered from consumption since birth. 

The family lived on Drury Lane in a cottage rented from Mr Hall. At the start of 1853, George, an agricultural labourer, had a wife and four children. Now he was a widower with three small children. His world had been turned upside down.

Locally born, George was baptised in 1822 to parents James and Elizabeth Barnett. Before his marriage in 1845 he had lived in the family home in the cottage and garden across the Street from the Drury Lane. Known as Culls, this was rented from Richard Allden.

George’s widowed father James still lived at Culls, George’s married sister Jane and husband James Bullen having moved in as lodgers. They now had a small baby of their own, baptised in December 1852. Bullen was a carpenter who had served his apprenticeship in the village of Shere, on the other side of Guildford. 

It seems probable that one of George’s sisters would have helped by taking care of his four young children after his wife died. Harriett seems the more likely to care for Stephen. She was in receipt of parish relief, staying in a cottage owned by Mrs Benham. This was in a locality known as Bakers, about three hundred past the Bee Hive Inn, at the northwestern end of the Street. 

Harriett had stated she was present at the child’s death. With children of her own, it seems plausible that Stephen was in her home when he died. Harriett’s own daughter Elizabeth, aged six, had developed what seemed like Hooping Cough. 

George and Rebecca Chandler had married at St Peter’s Church in Ash in 1845. Their eldest child Elizabeth, probably now also deceased, had been christened there in January 1846. Two of their children, Jane and William, had been born in Pimlico, baptised at St Peter’s Church in Eaton Square in 1847 and 1848, respectively. George and family had returned to Aldershot by 1850, their fourth child then baptised at the parish church. The 1851 Census does not include Elizabeth who, had she lived, would have been not much more than five; child mortality in London was high.

Commons Inclosure Bill

On this same day, the Government used the last of the Parliamentary session to push through had a long list of bills.

Viscount Palmerston was in the House of Commons having to speak on many matters as the most senior member of the Government. As Home Secretary, it fell to him formally to introduce the Commons Inclosure (No. 3) Bill.

Copy Act Inclosure 20 August 1853The Bill was duly passed on that same Saturday, the day of prorogation, later to be given royal assent.

Aldershot was 19th on in the list of parishes named on the Schedule to the Act, the related comment in the Special Report stating,

“This inclosure will lead to the reclamation of a large tract of land, now almost useless.”

Tuesday, 23rd August 1853

Three days later, the Morning Post carried a report of the very long list of public and private bills which had come into law. That included the Commons Inclosure (No. 3), as it was known. No details of its contents were given.

Just who in the parish had learnt that the proposal to enclose Aldershot Common had now secured government approval is not known. Once again, Charles Barron Esq. and Captain Newcome were the most likely to have been kept informed.

Wednesday, 24th August 1853

Jesse Stonard

Locally, Reverend James Dennett was called upon to bury yet another infant, the fifth in as many months and the third in less than a fortnight.

The funeral brought together the Stonard and Nichols families, the two largest families of brickworkers in the village. They had been assembled before for Jesse’s baptism as recently as January of this year. 

Jesse had been the fifth child of Henry and Agnes Stonard. The family were lodging in the household of Agnes’ parents, James and Eleanor Nichols, at West End in the cottage rented from Stephen Barnett.

The child’s father Henry was a tilemaker, the son of James Stonard, the Master Brickburner. Henry and Agnes had married in 1844. 

This would be the young curate’s first formal encounter with the families of workers in the village’s brick business.

=> Clay for Bricks: Aldershot’s Brickworking Families

Newspaper Reports

The nation’s press was full of the comings and goings of the members of the Government as well as the upper echelons of society.

First, the daily newspapers were reporting that Viscount Hardinge had been attending Queen Victoria at her holiday home at the Osborne estate on the Isle of Wight.  Doubtless, Prince Albert would have taken the opportunity to be briefed by Hardinge about his plans for the location of a camp on Aldershot Common.

Then the Portsmouth Times and Naval Gazette reported that General Viscount Hardinge and his staff had arrived in Portsmouth that evening. He was to dine as the guest of Major General James Simpson, the Commander of the South-West District at Government House. Simpson was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh and a contemporary of Adjutant-General Sir George Brown, the latter a staunch opponent of Hardinge’s reforms. Notwithstanding, this was another suitable opportunity for Hardinge to share his thoughts about the location of a permanent camp.

Thursday, 25th August 1853

The next day, the Court Circular noted that Viscount Hardinge had returned to London that morning. He maintained a large household at his residence in Stanhope Street, north of the Euston Road. As many as ten staff were employed to his wife, daughter and himself.

He had a seat in the House of Lords and although a member of Cabinet, his duties as Commander-in-Chief of the Army involved a busy schedule that kept him away from obligation to engage much in Parliamentary business.

The Commander-in-Chief travelled down to Aldershot Common to inspect the site. He lodged that evening at the Red Lion Inn.

Friday, 26 August 1853

The story goes that later that day, Viscount Hardinge called for paper and ink and then penned a letter to Prince Albert. In this, Hardinge recommended that the camp should be established upon Aldershot Heath, writing “to say that he had ridden over the ground from the slopes of Caesar’s Camp to the Canal, and that the area was admirably suited for an encampment for a Division, reserving all the rest of the ground for the purpose of manoeuvres.” [Cole, 1951]

Hardinge indicates that he intends to set off to reach for South Park, his residence in Kent,  by the evening.

Just how quickly news of that visit had spread across the village is moot. Likely, Hardinge had arrived at the Red Lion at dusk, late into the summer evening. It is not known whether he was in uniform, nor whether he was accompanied by any other officer. However, is unlikely that his visit went unnoticed. One can imagine James Hone, the local veteran of Waterloo, enjoying a pint that night at the Red Lion, and noticing the missing left hand of the acknowledged war hero of that campaign.

This was an iconic moment, with memories both real and manufactured, enhanced with each retelling.

One thing is certain, even with this visit to the Red Lion where the inquiry meeting for the enclosure Aldershot Common had been held. Neither Commander-in-Chief Hardinge nor Prince Albert had slightest inking that Government approval and Royal Assent had already been granted.

Saturday, 27 August 1853

Indeed, no mention was made of Aldershot was made in the Hampshire Chronicle which included the enclosure legislation as amongst the acts passed at the close of Parliament on August 20th.

Viscount Hardinge would write in positive tone in letter headed Saturday (but otherwise undated) to his Adjutant-General, Lt General Brown, with the words,

“I rode over the ground at Aldershot & found I would get home for dinner but that I should be too late for any meetings in London .. 

“The ground around Aldershot is excellent for our purpose.”

Monday, 29th August 1853

The national press began its extensive coverage of the military career another renowned military commander. Lt. General Charles James Napier he had died at five o’clock that morning at the age of 71. He was well connected by birth, his mother a descendent of Charles II, his father from John Napier of Merchiston (of logarithm fame).

The Sun carried a front-page eulogy of Napier on the Tuesday. The article included favourable references to Viscount Hardinge, as did the account in the Manchester Times on the Wednesday.

    • The careers of Hardinge and Napier intertwined. Both were severely wounded during the Peninsular War. Both fought at Albuera; Napier crediting Colonel Hardinge, as he then was, for the tactics which saved the day. Napier had then risen in the Bombay Army to become Commander-in-Chief in India. Governor General Hardinge returned the compliment. He wrote to praise James Napier: “He is, besides his warlike qualities, a very fine fellow. .. practicable, good-tempered, & considerate.”

Civil Registration

Back in Aldershot, Agnes Stonard and Harriet Derbridge visited Farnham to register the deaths of two of the infants who had died during August. Perhaps the two women had travelled together; it was about an hours’ walk via Weybourne to the centre of Farnham from their neighbourhood. Agnes was the mother of the infant Jesse, Harriet the aunt who had sat by the bedside of Stephen.

Farnham Register of Deaths 1853

The details concerning the deaths of the two children were listed consecutively in the register, entered straight after those for Ann Bedford. Her death had been attributed to ‘Teething Convulsions’. The earlier death of Francis Barnett in late May had also been attributed to ‘Dentition’ following three days of convulsions.

None of the toddlers who had died were first children, born to young inexperienced mothers. All appear to have been teething, likely weaned from breastmilk to cows’ milk. Stephen’s death, and his mother’s death in June, had been attributed to months of having suffered from ‘Consumption’, another term for tuberculosis (TB). Milk in the 1850s was unpasteurised and therefore a potential source of Bovine TB.  Hooping Cough had also been listed as a cause of death.

No doctor has been present at any of those infant deaths. All the entries were signed off by John Mayor Randall, the surgeon and general practitioner, aged 66. Perhaps Registrar Randall, whose residence was along the street in Farnham known as the Borough, was confident of making a judgement on the basis of the symptoms reported by the two women. It is unknown whether or not he would have been prompted to investigate this cluster of infant deaths, there being no resident doctor in Aldershot.

=> September 1853

June 1853

Wednesday, 1st June 1853

The conflict between Russia and the Ottoman Government had reached a stand-off. The Morning Post was reporting that the money markets were “heavy, in anticipation of the next demonstration that may be made on the Russo-Turkish question”.

    • Protracted diplomatic activity was based at what was called ‘The Porte’, the central authority of the Turkish Government in Constantinople. The balance of view in news reportage to the general public was that outright war would be averted. The extended lines of communication between ambassadors and governments, meant huge delays, however. 

In other, seemingly unrelated news, newspapers were reporting the preparations being made for the large-scale military exercise at Chobham. Troops from around the country had begun to assemble at the Camp at Chobham, with various activities scheduled to last at least two months from the middle of June.

The Camp at Chobham in early June 1853From London Illustrated News

As many as 8,000 men, 1,500 horses and 24 guns were expected to be mustered on the heathland in Surrey for drill, field operations and parades. As though to provide a diversion for the public’s attention, the press set out the list of regiments which would be taking part and details of who would be commanding. 

The London Evening Standard that day had chosen to highlight its concern about the Alteration of Oaths Bill, then in its Second Reading in the House of Lords. The newspaper’s Leader Column argued that it was a backdoor attempt to allow Jews to sit in the House of Commons. The Bill was subsequently defeated.

Earlier, in April, there had been a majority within the House of Commons for a ‘Jewish Disabilities Bill’, of 288 to 230; not so in the House of Lords. The ‘Jew Bill’, so termed in the press, was opposed by the Earl of Shaftsbury and Bishop of Salisbury, for example, and it was subsequently defeated by a majority of 164 to 115.

    • There had been several types of Oath, those during the reign of William III directed against  “Catholic Pretender” and thus excluding Roman Catholics from public office. The provisions of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829 resulted in a separate Oath to allow Roman Catholics elected as Members of Parliament to take their seat, and there was a separate one for Quakers, “yet if a person of the Jewish persuasion [elected as a Member of Parliament] were to go into the House of Commons and take an affirmation” he would be required to do so as “on the true faith of a Christian.” 

Saturday, 4th June 1853

Locally, the news around the village during the first weekend in June was mixed. Saturday’s edition of the Hampshire Chronicle confirmed what farmers already knew. After a prolonged cold Spring, the weather had eventually abated.

The milder temperatures were now leading to a good showing of young wheats and spring corn. Notwithstanding, the extent of land sown with wheat was down by 15 to 20 percent when compared with the previous year, which meant there was good prospect of favourable prices. That happy thought by the growers was offset, however, by concern about the ease with which supply would be procured from abroad, given the lack of duties levied on imported cereals since the repeal of the Corn Laws. Much would depend upon the prospects of imports from the Black Sea given present tensions in the area.

Francis Barnett

Up at the parish church, the Reverend Dennett was called upon to conduct the funeral of yet another infant in the village. Francis had been baptised at the church by his predecessor just over a year previously, in May 1852. Francis had been the third son of William and Esther Barnett. Their loss would have brought back memories of their two daughters who had also died as infants, aged one and four months, respectively, in 1847 and 1848.

William married Esther Newell in Aldershot in November 1844, aged 24 and 23. It had been Esther, not William, who was able to sign her name in the register. She was the daughter of the sawyer James Newell; it had been her mother Jane who had registered the death of Francis, attributing the cause as ‘Dentition’ after three days of convulsions.

One of several of that name, William Barnett, the child’s father, had been recorded in the 1851 Census as a gardener as West End. Otherwise listed as a labourer, he was the son of agricultural labourer James Barnett, a widower.

Charles Collins

The news that Charles Collins was dead had also begun to circulate that weekend. Not yet turned 60, he had been the master potter at the shop on the opposite side of the green to the smithy.

His funeral was to be held on Wednesday. The parish sexton, Thomas Attfield, would have been had time to brief the curate beforehand, alerting him to the prospect of many potters from the other side of Aldershot Heath attending the service. Thomas knew this well, having himself married into a family of Aldershot potters in 1830. His wife Rebecca was brother to Richard Chitty, their father John Chitty having been both a potter as well as the former parish clerk.

Charles’ niece would later travel to the market town of Farnham to register his passing and attribute his death to dropsy. The term then was used to describe the build up of fluids, such as in the leg or on the brain. No doctor had been called, as was typical for deaths in the village.

The niece was daughter of Charles’ brother William. Now aged 38, Mary had remained in the Collins family keeping house for her father and her uncle, as well as for all of her brothers before they left to marry. She had done so for over twenty-five years; her mother Sarah having died in February 1827. Her young sister, two year old Jane, was buried soon afterwards, in May 1827. 

At first, Hannah, her younger sister by four years, had been a help but she had left to marry in 1838. The brothers, Henry and William, had both been in the family home in 1841, Henry, like his father and uncle, then recorded as a potter. In 1845, Henry married Elizabeth Hatt. She was the daughter of Daniel Hatt,  recorded in the 1841 Census as a farmer in Bramshot Lane, Yateley. Henry had married well,  resulting  in them  moving to Cove to operate his own pottery based at White Hall Farm.

Mary’s brother William had married the next year, in 1846, to Charlotte Hore when he was working as a potter in Farnborough; she was a servant there, the daughter of a farmer from Mapledurham by the Thames in Oxfordshire. William and his wife had moved back to Aldershot, taking on the other remaining pottery located by the Bee Hive Inn.

The 1851 Census had recognised Mary as a potter in her own right.

Sunday, 5th June 1853

Reverend Dennett had a baptism to perform at Matins. It would be the fifth he had to conduct in the first nine weeks of his tenure as curate, the fees he received being a welcome addition to his stipend. 

John Matthews

Just how much Reverend Dennett would have been told about the parents of the infant John Matthews is less certain, nor of the extent to which the child’s parents had troubled family backgrounds.

The parents of the child to be baptised were Moses and Jane Matthews. The curate had not been present earlier in the year when his predecessor, Reverend Carey, had conducted the wedding of Moses Matthews and Jane Fludder; he had not, therefore, observed the bride walk up the aisle in a very expectant condition.

The curate had met others called Matthews four weeks previously in May when conducting the funeral of the infant Charles Young. The mother of that child had been Moses’ sister, Martha. Moses and his sister had shared tragedy in their childhood, both the death of their parents, their mother in 1843 and their father in the Farnham Workhouse in 1849, but also, before that, of a sister aged 13 in 1835 and the death of three brothers, variously aged 6 in 1836, 24 in 1839, 25 in 1842. 

=> Matthews Family [to be added later]

Moses Matthews was a carpenter, as the curate made sure to note in the baptismal register. Before their marriage, Moses had been a lodger at the Bee Hive Inn. They were now renting a nearby cottage and garden from the owner, Mr Hall of Alton.

Jane, the mother of the child to be baptised, had been raised by her mother in her grandparents’ home. At age 9, she then became part of a blended family when her mother having married in December 1837.  By 1841, the family were at the Kings Head, Frimley. Jane then had five half siblings: three from her mother’s marriage and two older children from her stepfather’s previous marriage. Jane had moved out by the time that family relocated to Fish Ponds in Farnborough in 1851. By then, Jane had become a mother herself, she and her infant daughter Lucy moving back to live in Aldershot with John Fludder, her uncle. Perhaps he had escorted her up the aisle on her wedding day and it was after him that the infant son being baptised was named.

The curate might have recalled meeting some members of the Fludder family before, when he had conducted his first wedding in the parish. That was of Jane’s Uncle William, a widower, who married Miss Carpenter at the start of April.

=> Fludder Family [to be added later]

Wednesday, 8th June 1853

The funeral of Charles Collins was not the first funeral for Reverend James Dennett had to conduct in Aldershot but there would still be surprise at the sight of so many gathering.  Not only was the Collins pottery a long-standing part of village life, the Aldershot potters were part of a much larger network of potters who for centuries had been producing what was known as the Borderware on either side of the Blackwater which ran between Northeast Hampshire and West Surrey. 

=> Borderware

Competition from the likes of Wedgwood in Staffordshire and Doulton in London had diminished the national significance of Borderware pottery. Josiah Wedgwood and others had deployed better designs and more industrial forms of manufacture, long distance transport made easier by canals and then railways.

Sketch map of potteries

Ex: ‘A Preliminary Note on the Pottery Industry of the Hampshire-Surrey Borders’ by  F W Holling, Surrey Archaeological Society, Vol 68, 1971.

There were many connections forged over the years between the potters in Aldershot and those based in Ash, Cove, Farnborough, Frimley and as far away as Pirbright. It was also not unusual for young men from one family to work in another family’s pottery. There were also several intermarriages.

Potters would meet incidentally when collecting the white clay from Farnham Park, when foraging on the heath to collect turf for drying, but also for family occasions, those marriages having created additional bonds between them.

The heath all about the River Blackwater was important for turf which was cut according to a system that allowed the growth to come back within an eight-year period. They used wood to fire their kilns. Turbary rights to Aldershot Common were important.

Aldershot Potteries

Charles Collins had worked one of the only two active potteries in Aldershot with his brother William and William’s daughter Mary who had also been recorded as a potter by the 1851 Census.

Charles’ death signalled that end of an era was fast approaching for the craft of making pots from clay in Aldershot. Pottery and brick-making had provided employment  in the village for many centuries. Even by 1841, there had been ten or more active potters. However, by 1851, there were half as many active potters, three being members of the Collins family.  The others were the two journeyman potters, Richard Chitty and his son John.

William Collins and especially his daughter Mary would have wondered, once the word was around about the death of Charles,  just how many they should expect at the wake after the funeral.

Whilst agriculture was the dominant activity in Aldershot, William would not have been the only one at Charles’ funeral with memories of what it was like when at least four potteries were active in the village.

The Collins Pottery

The main Collins pottery is marked as Plot 26 in the map drawn for the Tithe Apportionment Survey, shown at the foot of the left-hand panel below. It also features in the right panel, marked as Plot 357 in an extract of a map made around 1854.  

Charles’ older brother William knew the story of how the pottery had come to be in their family. 

William’s mother had been baptised Jane Cols in Aldershot in 1750, her parents James and Ann (Couls/Coules). William’s parents had married in 1767, his mother then 17.

William’s maternal grandmother, Ann, the daughter of John Baigent, inherited three copyhold properties in 1775. These included a “parcel of land commonly called the Park”, one acre in size, as well as a messuage, cottage or tenement, with outhouses buildings garden and orchard.

On her death, Ann’s will left part of her properties to her husband James; the parcel of land called the Park was left to John Collins of Aldershot, potter for his natural life and then to his son Henry Collins, William’s eldest brother. 

John Collins Family Group

When John Collins died in September 1800, William had been 15, Charles then aged only six. Their sister Elizabeth was eight.

It was then that the “messuage or tenement and potkiln and potshops with the land and appurtenances known as Park” passed to Henry. At age 32, he became head of the business, sharing the role as head of the family with his widowed mother.

The eldest sister Jane had already married ten years before, in 1790 to Robert Lloyd, a local farmer with a smallholding. She already had four of the nine children she would bear before 1815; the youngest, also called Robert, would latter marry Ann, the only daughter of the farmer Thomas Harding.

The second eldest brother John, also a potter, had also left home by 1800, marrying Mary Matthews.  Her siblings were Mercy (who married William Wheeler, the cordwainer), Sarah (who married William Hone) and Stephen Matthews, the latter being the carpenter whose family suffered many tragedies. John and Mary moved away, settling in Wallington, in Fareham Hampshire, which is where they were in 1841. John died in July 1847, his widow surviving him, living on an annuity in 1851 and described in a later census as a potter’s widow.

Richard, another potter, was three years older than William. He did not marry, but was likely working elsewhere, later referred to in 1827 as ‘Richard, a potter from Frimley’.

Ann had been next to wed, in 1805, to a potter called John Smith, a potter in one of the four local potteries: three of their first children were baptised in Aldershot between 1809 and 1814. John and Ann Smith were in Mytchett in 1841, John active as a potter.

    • Their eldest son Stephen was in Aldershot in 1841 as a potter, the 32-year old father of three young children, having married Henrietta Hennessy in August 1833 in the parish of Frimley. He was described there as ‘of this parish’ before returning to Aldershot. By 1851 Stephen was up by the wharf at Frimley as a potter, his two sons listed as potter and potter’s labourer.
    • Their son Charles had also married in Frimley at age 22 in 1836. He was also a potter, in his own household in ‘Mytchett’ in 1841, likely working with his father. By 1851, John Smith having died, Ann and son Charles continued the business at Mytchett, sharing a household which included Charles’ son John, baptised in Frimley in December 1837.

William himself wed in July 1813, to Sarah Hamarton. The marriage took place in Worplesdon, a village to the east of Aldershot, between Pirbright and Guildford. Eliza, the first of their children was baptised in October 1813 at St Peter’s Church in Ash, William listed as a potter living at Westwood in the Parish Worplesdon. Sadly, the infant Eliza Collins died at 15 months old, buried at St Michael’s Church in Aldershot in December 1814. William and his family moved back to Aldershot, their daughter Mary was baptised there in May 1815; the next four of their children were also baptised at St Michael’s Church. 

William’s wedding was preceded by what would appear to be a major family tragedy, the death of Elizabeth Collins, buried at St Michael’s Church on June 6th, 1813. Whilst no age was recorded, this was likely the sister Elizabeth who had been baptised in Aldershot as the daughter of John Collins in April 1792, therefore aged 21. She died of birthing complications, the baptism of Harriett, the daughter of Elizabeth Collins, listed as a servant, recorded at the same church on the same day, June 6th.  

The widowed Jane Collins died four years later, in March 1817.

Not long after, it was Henry’s turn to marry, at age 49, to Elizabeth Marshall at St Peter’s Church, Ash in July 1817.

William could never forget the three deaths in 1927 which came in such quick succession. The first, in January 1827, was that of his brother Henry, then in February that of William’s wife Sarah, followed soon afterwards in May by the death of his daughter Jane, aged only four. The cause of deaths is not known but the suspicion must be that of a contagious disease, such as smallpox, typhus of cholera.

At the death of Henry, the property called Park passed to his widow Elizabeth, with debts owing to his brother “Richard Collins of Frimley, potter”, to whom Elizabeth mortgaged the property for £150.

William’s brother Richard therefore took charge of the business. Richard was aged 50, Charles then aged 32.

When Richard died unmarried in February 1836, it was not William but his younger brother Charles who took over the pottery . Just prior to that, in 1835, the widow Elizabeth Collins had sold the holding called Park, including the pottery, for £220 to Charles, by then aged 42, who promptly mortgaged it to John Allen Ward of Farnham.

William, however, was also a beneficiary of his brother Richard’s will, bequeathed other copyhold properties which Richard had bought from Samuel Andrews, a farmer and butcher from Farnham. One condition was that William had to pay £100 to his sister Ann, who had married the potter John Smith, and a further £20 to her daughter Mary. William promptly mortgaged the properties for £110 to John Allen Ward of Farnham, auctioneer.

The 1841 Census records that William and his brother Charles shared a household in the house by the pottery, together with William’s daughter Mary and sons Henry and William. HIs daughter Hannah had left to marry in 1838.

By 1851, the household comprised William, Charles and Mary. Now, with his daughter Mary, there were just the two working the Collins pottery.

The Smith Pottery

William’s son, also called William, was operating the other pottery in the village. It was owned by Mr Hall, the brewer from Alton.

The location of the pottery is labelled as such near the top and centre of the right hand panel, just above the Bee Hive Inn, also owned by Mr Hall. The pottery is at Plot 11 in the earlier map shown in left hand panel, the Bee Hive Inn in Plot 8. The pottery is also marked in Plot 254 in the right-hand panel.

Both enterprises had previously been owned by ‘Thomas Smith of Frimley’. He was referred to as such in 1841 so as to distinguish him from the locally born Thomas Smith who was the local farmer of 30 acres at Rock Place Farm at the West End of Aldershot. 

    • The pottery and other nearby properties were recorded in 1841 as occupied by ‘Charles Knight and others’, presumably under a lease from Smith who was otherwise absent. One of the buildings might have been for Knight’s own purpose as a shoemaker as there is no indication that he was a potter. The ‘others’ referred to were likely potters. (By 1851 Charles Knight had moved to Gravel Hill, Lower Bourne, Farnham.)

Thomas Smith, although a baker from Newtown, Frimley, had married Hester Robinson, the granddaughter of the Aldershot potter James May. At his death, May’s properties had been distributed in 1835 to his eighteen grandchildren which was when the pottery and the Bee Hive Inn became available to Thomas Smith. In addition to that left to his wife Hester, Thomas acquired additional properties by purchase from other beneficiaries of the will, both directly and by purchase of a mortgage. They would be put up for sale and bought by Henry Hall in 1850. 

    • It is unclear what relation, if any, that John Smith, the potter who had married Ann Collins in 1805, was to Thomas Smith of Frimley.
The Fedgeant Pottery

The third pottery in operation in 1841 had been located at the top of Drury Lane (Plot 6 in the left hand panel). This had once been owned and operated by the Chitty family, acquired by the potter George Faigent in 1789 from Ann Chitty, the widow of the potter John Chitty. It’s owner at the start of 1841 was George’s son, locally-born William Fedgeant, had died at the age of 59, buried in February. Jane, his widow, inherited the pottery as well as a cottage; she was recorded as living in Morland Cottages, in the household of her mother-in-law, Elizabeth Fedjent, aged 75.

    • The surname had various spelling, including that of ‘Faggeant’ entered for a christening in the registers of St Michael’s Church as far back as January 1782.

With the death of her husband, and then deaths and departures of the young journeyman potters, the widow Jane ‘Faigent’ had become a laundress, listed as such by the 1851 Census. This suggests she had converted the pottery into a laundry: it certainly was not marked as a pottery on the map extract on the right hand panel.

When her mother-in-law passed away, Jane then shared a household with her daughter Elizabeth and her son-in-law and three small children. Elizabeth had married the baker Henry Elkins in 1845.  He had been living close by in 1841, lodging in the house (Plot 21) of the ‘meal man’ George Baker. 

The Gosden Pottery

That Henry Elkins was a baker by profession suggests another potential use for one of the other former potteries. This was likely the pottery which had belonged to Mr Gosden, the ‘house and premises’ on the corner of Drury Lane and the Street (Plot 15). 

When William Gosden first arrived into the village, he was a former potter, born in Cove in 1783 to parents Lucy and George. He was baptised at St Peter’s Church in Farnborough where his uncle, also called William Gosden, had married to Ann, the daughter of  the potter, Thomas Smith of Cove. (William Smith of Farnborough, Thomas’ son, who would later feature as a potter and farmer in the writings of George Sturt, was therefore Gosden’s younger cousin.) 

Gosden was also described as a potter in a will in 1806, the same year he married in Farnborough to Mary Wheeler. Their first two daughters, Caroline and Lucy, had been baptised at St Peter’s Church in 1808 and 1810, although the family were in Aldershot by 1817 for the baptism of their daughter Harriet. William’s daughter Harriett would survive him, but her older sisters Caroline and Lucy died in their early twenties. 

William’s wife Mary was only child and heir of John Wheeler from whom she inherited property in Aldershot when he died in 1815. Then, in 1818, William paid John Eggar £350 for a messuage (or tenement), a potshop and pot-kiln and a turfhouse and outhouses.

It is unclear when Gosden had ceased operating a pottery. His son George, who was born around 1820, and therefore a child when his father was acquiring farmland, never became a potter. By 1841, in addition to the former house and pottery (Plot 15), Gosden also owned two cottages and garden (Plot 13) and farm buildings and a yard (Plot 14) and about 20 acres of arable land, 11 acres of meadow and over an acre of land for hops. The 1841 Census recorded him as a shopkeeper and a farmer.

In 1828, William Gosden referred to as a potter, had paid Samuel Andrews, the butcher from Farnham, £850 for three parcels of land totalling 8 acres.  

    • Five years earlier, in 1823, Gosden had bought property from from John Chitty Stevens for £120, selling it on to William Tice for£145. Tice later bought two land parcels direct from John Chitty Stevens for £520.  

The 1851 Census, conducted shortly before he died in May, recorded him as a farmer of 30 acres, his role as grocer by then performed by his son George. He had served as an Overseer for the parish on three occasions, 1836, 1841 and 1850.

William Gosden had also worked four acres of arable land in two fields called (H)Owlings and Bush Field (Plots 315 and 317) which were said to be owned by Daniel Bateman. He was the miller at Bourne Mill in Farnham.

By 1853, Daniel, his wife Harriett and their five young children had moved to Aldershot, occupying occupying the premises in Drury Lane as Bateman’s Corn & Forage Merchants. The Rate Book recording Daniel as the owner and occupier of 4 acres of land on which stood a house called Owlands.

In 1836, Daniel had married Harriett Collins, the daughter of the Elizabeth Collins who had died of birthing complications, the sister of the potters, Charles and William Collins. Harriett was heavily pregnant at the time of Charles’ funeral.

Journeyman Potters

The village had several other journeyman potters. They included some  younger potters  living in Morland Cottages in 1841. One was locally-born William Mullard, 25, living with his mother and his brother. William died in January 1848, his older brother Daniel was dead not long after, by October 1849. Their father Daniel had owned property in 1795 before selling to William Newnham, a gentleman; Daniel continued to operate the smithy by the village green.

Another potter in Morland Cottages was younger still, Robert Mason, newly married at age 20 to Ellen Fludder. His younger brother William, another potter, had fathered Matthew Matthews. They had all left Aldershot by 1851, Robert moving to the household of another potter, his uncle James Mason who had like his father been born in Farnborough. His father, also called Robert ‘of Cove’, had been a potter, recorded as having property in Aldershot, although not that of a pottery, as far back as 1782 when it formed part of a sale to Thomas Buddle, the future owner of the Halimote Manor estate.

By 1851, John and Richard Chitty were the only family of journeyman potters remaining in the village. Likely they had been working at Smith’s pottery when the Mullard brothers had been working at Fadjent’s pottery.

Thursday, 9th June 1853

The funeral took place for Rebecca Barnett, aged 33 and a mother of three. She had been baptised as Rebecca Chandler at St Peter’s Church, Ash in 1820. Both she and George Barnett were recorded in that parish register as resident in Ash when they married in May 1845. Rebecca was able to sign her name but not George. Elizabeth, their first child, was baptised at St Peter’s in January 1846 but the baptism of their second child in 1850 was in Aldershot.

Jane Bullen had been in attendance at her death was which attributed to ‘Consumption’, endured by Rebecca over a four month period.

Tuesday, 14th June 1853

The Camp at Chobham opened, the preparations for which, via the press, had proved successful in attracting the public’s attention. Special trains had being advertised for the expected crowds of visitors.

Some of those expected to take advantage of the crowds were less welcome. Instructions had been issued from the Home Office “to send a number of efficient constables immediately” without delay twenty men and two sergeants from the reserve force of each division”.

The day itself began with “no less than three thunder storms swept over the common, each accompanied with .. dense and heavy rain”, as reported the next day in the London Evening Standard and extensively elsewhere.

Most of the military activity was concerned with arrival, by train and by foot, and with each regiment pitching their tents. First the Household Brigade of Guards, then the 50th Regiment, followed by the Rifles and the 42nd Highlanders.

There was praise for the preparatory work of the Royal Engineers and Sappers, but also reports of the heavy and broken ground elsewhere causing cavalry horses to have severe falls, causing several to be put down.

Thursday, 16th June 1853

The Morning Chronicle carried a small snippet from its ‘own correspondent’ that news had been received “by submarine telegraph” from Vienna that the Russians had entered the Danubian Principalities and that “a panic had ensued”. The same article declared that another source had contradicted the report.

The same newspaper had a digest of a long article in the French newspaper,  Le Pays, which contended that the “European Powers could not permit Russia to occupy the Moldovan and Wallachian provinces, because any such occupation, without a similar and simultaneous occupation by the Turks would be a direct violation of existing treaties”.

There was similar report in the London Evening Standard, noting the 1847 treaty of Delta-Liman, which also quoted the Berlin Temps, “a Government paper” in Prussia, as having stated that “the English Ambassador at Constantinople had been invested with extensive powers by the British Cabinet, with the restriction only that his lordship was not to consider the entrance of the Russian troops into the principalities as a declaration of war.”

The territories described above were one and the same. They had been a protectorate shared between the two parties at the end of the war in 1829 between Russia and Turkey. There had been various uprisings since against each associated with Greek Independence from Turkey and the move against Russian rule in 1848.

    • Much of those territories now come within Romania. 


What went unreported, and might have been only a source of rumour for most in the village, was that an application had been made on this day to enclose Aldershot Common.

The procedure under the Acts of ‘Inclosure’ was that application was made by persons interested in the land to be enclosed, representing at least one-third in value of the interests. The identity of the person or persons who had made the application is unclear.

An Assistant Commissioner was assigned to each application received, as part of the formalities of the enclosure process. A meeting was then called with fourteen days’ notice placed on the church door of the parish, and by advertisement. The latter likely meant a notice posted on the door of the Red Lion Inn.

Following his report, the Commissioners might then deposit a provisional order in the parish with notice of intent that the proposed enclosure would be put to the Secretary of State.

Application for enclosure had already been made for lands in the nearby tithings of Badshot and Runfold. By 1849, Binsted and Headley had already been subject to enclosure , of 990 and 1532 acres, respectively, followed by 108 acres at Bentley by 1851. The latter parish was the home of the Eggar family who would therefore have gained experience of both the process required and the benefits that could be derived.

Friday, 17th June 1853

The funeral done, Reverend Dennett wrote the name of Charles Chandler in the parish register. He recorded his age as 25 and that he was resident in Aldershot.

The cause of death is not known as none of that name and age was registered with the civil authorities, locally or anywhere else in England.

Nor was Charles Chandler resident  in Aldershot in 1851. It is possible that this was the Charles Chandler who was baptised at St Peter’s Church in Ash in August 1831, as was his cousin Rebecca in March 1820; she had been buried at St Michael’s Church eight days previously, on Thursday, August 9th, recorded under her married name, Rebecca Barnett.

Saturday, 18th June 1853

The weekend newspapers carried reports of the Camp at Chobham which had opened on 14 June. The forces assembled for the first ‘field day’ were estimated at between 8,000 to 10,000 strong. The Duke of Cambridge was at the head of the Cavalry Brigade; Lord Seaton, the commandment for the Camp, led the Infantry Brigades. The newspapers reported details of the four hours given over to various manoeuvres and skirmishes.

The day, however, was mired, in both senses, first by an initial thunder storm and then, at intervals, by what were reported as “showers of pelting rain”. With Chobham Common described as a wild, extensive and heath-clad tract of land, poor drainage meant that parts soon turned to mud.

Even as the Camp at Chobham had begun, plans were being made for a better location for training camp in the following year. In a letter written on this day to Lord Seaton, Viscount Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, disclosed an even more ambitious plan. Hardinge wanted a permanent camp of instruction capable of operating all year round, without the need to repeatedly hire land and request annual grants from Parliament.

Monday, 20th June 1853

The week in the village began with the wedding of Mary Ann Barnett, the daughter of William and Ann Barnett, to William Kircher, a labourer from Farnham on Monday the 20th.  Reverend Dennett would have observed that the couple and the witnesses, the bride’s father and sister Caroline, had to make a mark when signing the marriage register.

William Kircher, now aged 22, was the younger of the two. He had been baptised in Farnham, at St Andrew’s Church, where Mary Ann, now aged 25, had been baptised two years earlier.

Mary Ann had been the eldest of five living with their parents in one of the cottages in West End in 1851.  It was owned by Stephen Barnett. By 1853, her elder brother William, with a wife and child of his own, was occupying another of Stephen Barnett’s cottages.

It is not clear where the newly weds, William and Mary Ann, went on to set up home; William is not listed in the Aldershot Parish Rate Book for July 1853. In 1851, William had been living in his father’s household in Badshot, together with three brothers, all like himself listed as agricultural labourers, and his four younger sisters. Their father, Reuben, was a farmer of 17 acres. The likelihood would seem to be that William’s bride moved to Badshot.

Tuesday, 21st June 1853

There was to be a royal review at Chobham. Visitors started to arrived to see the troops at drill, field operations and parades under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Colbourne, Baron Seaton. Queen Victoria herself paid a visit, first traveling by train to Staines and then by open carriage to the Camp.

The number of spectators who travelled to the Camp that day was estimated at 100,000, including those who had travelled by special excursion trains.

Review Chobham 21 June 1853 National Army Museum (Out of Copyright)

Wednesday, 22nd June 1853

Victoria was evidently impressed with what she saw, as shown in her letter from Buckingham Palace to her Uncle Leopold. She was, however, still preoccupied by worries about the Eastern Question.


Saturday, 25th June 1853

The Hampshire Chronicle carried report that, on the whole, the month’s weather had “been auspicious for the growing crops as could possibly be desired … The autumn sown Wheat has shot into ear, and that put in [during] the spring wears a more promising aspect than it did a fortnight ago.” The prospect for prices at market remained good, as the imports “expected from the Black Sea and Mediterranean have not come to hand”. There seemed to be a silver lining for domestic farmers in the mention made of “the uncertainty which exists as to how matters may terminate between Russia and Turkey”.

Most of the whole of page 3 of the Hampshire Chronicle was given over to an account of that earlier visit to Cobham by Queen Victoria. She had ridden upon a dark bay horse, to review her troops and then watch military manoeuvres and a mock battle. 

However, had any villagers decided to visit the Camp at Chobham on that Saturday morning, they would have been met with rain descending in torrents. It was sufficient to prevent the start of operations at the Camp and to deter many spectators. The weather had cleared up by noon,  and witnessed by Prince Albert and a party of distinguished foreign officers, the event was declared “the most brilliant field-day”.

Wednesday, 29th June 1853

By the following Wednesday, “owing to the fineness of the weather”, the number of visitors to the Chobham Camp increased. That was reported to have included both those of the aristocracy and “a very unusual number of fair[ground] equestrians upon the ground, who cantered in among the masses of troops or charged at the head of squadrons of cavalry”. The next day there was again to be a grand review attended by the Queen Victoria, her “illustrious visitors” taking luncheon at what was termed the Queen’s Pavilion.

Thursday, 30th June 1853

A letter is sent to Home Secretary Viscount Palmerston alerting him to the work of the Inclosure Commission and recommending that an enabling bill was put before Parliament to extend the life of the Tithe Commission which would otherwise expire in August.

=> July 1853