Steep History Group

Steep History Group began in 2012 with a small group of people who met to transcribe the registers of All Saints’ church, Steep, dating from 1610. This is now complete and is a valuable research resource. 

The group has since extended its remit to research the history of the houses and farms in the village, along with the lives of the families who occupied them, the development of the settlement etc.  Research topics have included a survey of illness in the village, 1870-1883 (based on: Register of Sickness and Mortality, HRO/33M67/141/8), World War I, the Free French sailors who had a rest home in Steep during World War II, and also the circumstances of two local murders/manslaughters in Victorian times. 

Research has also been carried out on the kneelers in the church, 1967-1980, their makers and designers, including the vicar of the time, Canon Douglas Snelgar, who was the chief designer (and served in the Special Boat Squadron during World War II).

A number of famous names are associated with or have visited the village: Edward Thomas, poet; Alec Guinness, actor; Stanley Spencer, artist; Rupert Brook, poet; Ernest Gimson, architect, Sir Winston Churchill, General de Gaulle and others. Edward Thomas is remembered by the Poet’s Stone, which stands on the Hangers Way, on the shoulder of Mutton Hill in the Ashford Hangers Nature Reserve. An inscription reads:

This hillside is dedicated to the memory of Edward Thomas poet. Born in Lambeth 3 March 1878. Killed in the Battle of Arras 9 April 1917.

AND I ROSE UP AND KNEW THAT I WAS TIRED AND CONTINUED MY JOURNEY

Much on the life and work of Edward Thomas can be found in the collections of Petersfield Museum (13 Dragon Street, Petersfield, GU31 4JN; https://www.petersfieldmuseum.co.uk).

Bedales School, founded in 1893 by J.H. Badley, is situated in Steep.  It has an interesting history and has attracted a number of famous names to the village (https://www.bedales.org.uk/home/about-bedales/history-bedales). Its archivist is Jane Kirby (archive@bedales.org.uk) and it has a digital archive (http://bedalesschools.daisy.websds.net). There are 5 pages about its buildings in the group’s The Buildings, Gardens and Monuments of Steep. The history of Bedales has been well documented in books etc, but there is still much research to be done.

The numbers in the history group have grown. It meets monthly during the winter, October to May, for a presentation on a local topic. It is the social history of the village which is most popular and which is mostly featured.

Publications (available from: franboxsteep@yahoo.co.uk, or One Tree Books, Petersfield 01730 261199):

F. Box, H. Routh, C. Storey and T. Struthers, The Buildings, Gardens and Monuments of Steep, rev. 2018, col. Illus, £10 (postage £3).

F. Box, The Kneelers of Steep Church, 2019, col. Illus., £8 (postage £3)

F. Box , The Free French in Steep in World War II, forthcoming.

Website: under construction.

Contact: Fran Box, franboxsteep@yahoo.co.uk, 01730 266284



Collage of ‘famous people’ associated with Steep