The glorious countryside and buildings of today’s East Meon are the result of thousands of years of farming, which was until recently the sole industry in the valley. Originating in the Middle Ages this was the largest Hampshire estate of the diocese of Winchester, reaching to the Sussex border and beyond. Its magnificent church and bishops’ palace were the centres of religious and feudal control. Strip farming in communal fields made way to enclosed farms, oxen to horses, then machinery, natural tillage to artificial fertilisers.
Members of the East Meon History Group have researched life in the Hundred of East Meon – its great houses and profitable farms, in stark contrast to the insecurity and poverty of their labourers. They have sketched a portrait of life in a typical English rural community.
From the past emerge colourful figures, such as the legendary millionaire recluse, the Dowager Countess Peel, and the penny-pinching Victorian vicar, the Rev Thomas Cook Kemp. And East Meon’s involvement in national events are highlighted, including the Black Death, the Civil War, Swing Riots and two World Wars.
The design and printing of this lavishly illustrated book have been funded by a grant from the Hampshire Archives Trust. It contains original maps which plot the changes to life and work which underlie all that is told in Farming the Valley. The cartography was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Farming the Valley can be ordered by phone or online from: One Tree Books, 7 Lavant Street, Petersfield, GU32 3EL, 01730 261199, firstname.lastname@example.org.