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What’s on offer in the village of Micheldever

PUBLISHED: 10:03 05 June 2018

Photo by Jim Breakell

Photo by Jim Breakell

Archant

Rich in history and community, this little village is small but perfectly formed

A potted history

Many’s the passenger who has sat on the train at Micheldever Station and wondered idly why this apparently tiny settlement would have its own stopping place. The answer’s simple – if they hopped off and made their way to the main village in this lively parish they’d soon discover somewhere whose proud history got going in prehistoric times.

In fact, so lively was the area now known as Micheldever Wood, situated immediately east of the A33, that it’s become a scheduled ancient monument, protecting Bronze Age burial sites, Iron Age remains, a Roman villa, and medieval earthworks.

The parish was owned by King Alfred the Great and enlarged by his son, Edward the Elder, before he gave it to the abbot of Hyde Abbey who managed to hang onto it until the time of Henry VIII and his brutal Reformation.

After the Stratton Estate – which encompassed the village - was bought and sold on several occasions it ended up in the hands of Sir Francis Baring in 1801. When the second Earl sold much of the estate in 1920, many savvy residents took the opportunity to buy their own houses.

In recent years the name Micheldever has become synonymous with two things – the presence of Micheldever Tyre Services (MTS) which was founded in 1972 as a part-time venture, and now sells more than over six million tyres nationwide. And the two-decade battle put up by the parish and others to tackle the proposed Barton Farm estate, which would have seen 10,000 new homes built near to the station. Eventually the village saw a plan for 2,000 new homes granted, at what is now called Kings Barton.


Getting there

Micheldever is six miles north of Winchester and the 96A bus will get you there from Winchester Broadway. The 96, 95 and 95a also travel there, too, stopping at various locations in the village. London Waterloo is less than an hour from Micheldever Station; Portsmouth Harbour just 70 minutes. The village is also handy for the M3 at Junction 8, or the A303 to the West Country.


Food & drink

Teas, coffees, fruit juice and cake are on offer at the community-run Warren Centre from 2pm – 5pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays. Thursdays see the weekly visit of Frying High Fish and Chips to the centre’s car-park, from 6.30pm-9pm.

For something more varied and formal, the Northbrook Arms in Stratton Lane, East Stratton – which has two bars - offers a sumptuous menu, including home-made pork and black pudding Scotch egg with crispy bacon, mayo and Alresford watercress. Or their homemade shortcrust pie of the day with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and rich gravy.

The Half Moon & Spread Eagle in Winchester Road, Micheldever, is a traditional country pub which recently closed temporarily for renovations.

The Dove Inn, directly opposite Micheldever Station, is a free house with two bars, as well as highly-rated accommodation. Wednesday night is burger night - and they are open for Sunday lunch.


Famous station

Micheldever Station was the starting point for the first automobile journey in Britain. In 1895 Daimler Panhard-Levassor was transported to the village from France and then driven to Datchet by the Hon Evelyn Ellis, in an attempt to test the law which required all self-propelled vehicles travelling on public roads at more than 4mph to be preceded by a man waving a red flag. The journey took five hours and 32 minutes and the Act of Parliament was repealed a year later.


What’s going on?

From Military Whist to wine circles and a WI, from pre-schools to Pilates, Micheldever parish and its settlements have a diverse range of groups and activities for villagers to enjoy. Along with St Mary’s Church, the C of E Primary School (rated good by Ofsted) is at the heart of village life. Walkers are invited to join the ‘First Sunday in the month Walk’ while the annual village fete and occasions such as the rounders tournament provide the perfect excuse for villagers to get together. There’s even an Oil Buyers group, to help residents get this expensive household fuel at the best price!


What a riot

It’s all peaceful and friendly in Micheldever now. But in 1830 farm workers rioted, wanting to be paid 12 shillings a week instead of the miserly eight they were getting. A member of the local gentry had his hat knocked off and the resulting prosecution of Henry Cook for attempted murder ended in his hanging at Winchester. Cook was just 19. He was buried in Micheldever churchyard with legend having it that snow would never settle on his grave, and has been honoured by the Unison trade union with a plaque in the church’s nave.


Did you know?

The name Micheldever is synonymous in the world of photography with the image created by photographer Bill Brandt, who started his career working with Man Ray. Micheldever Nude was taken in 1948 inside Micheldever House, the home of the photographer’s father, L. W. Brandt.


Village voice

Chairing the parish council helps you get to know a place and for William Helen that’s certainly true – he’s been doing it for the past 20 years.

He’s seen plenty of changes in his time but, he says, the essence of the village has remained the same.

He and his wife came to Micheldever in 1992.

“We were looking for a property with some ground and we found what we were looking for in Micheldever so we bought it,” he says. “The village had what I call all the elements; a good school, church and shop and a lovely atmosphere so we thought we’d give it a go.”

The ‘go’ worked out very well – suiting his then job, as a lecturer at Sparsholt College, which he took up following an apprenticeship, then a career, in agricultural engineering. “There’s still a lot of agriculture links round here,” he says, citing as an example Oakes Bros and Claas, both agricultural machinery dealers.

Many of the employees from the local businesses and farms live in the village and families go back many generations, he says. “That’s always great to bond a community and retain traditions established over many years.”

The presence of the station means the village is a draw for commuters, with an ever increasing number of residents working in London, but it hasn’t lost its atmosphere, says Helen.

He believes one of the reasons for this is the groups and clubs in the village, as well as its three parish halls, which contribute to its success. “We have a Wine Circle, the Variety Club do some good stuff and we have excellent village halls for people to use,” he says. “The village has got bigger over time but we do welcome newcomers and everyone helps out, companies as well as people.”


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