Things to see and do in the village of North Baddesley

PUBLISHED: 10:10 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:10 28 August 2018

Photo by Anne Richardson

Photo by Anne Richardson

Anne Richardson

With a vibrant local community, this is a shining example of a true Hampshire village

A potted history

Hard to believe it now – as North Baddesley has done so well to absorb new developments - that this Hampshire village is actually knee-deep in history.

There’s nothing unusual about being mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Badeslei’ was, in 1086; a hamlet with a church, four farms, seven holdings and woodland worth a princely £3. But not many Hampshire villages can claim to have hosted the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, the Knights Hospitalier, carers for pilgrims to the Holy Land, who rocked up in the 12th century.

Their preceptory is on the site now occupied by the local manor house, but Knights actually stayed in North Baddesley for around 400 years until the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when they met their match in King Henry VIII. However their name lives on, if you know where to look, in places such as Zionshill and Knightwood.

But there’s more. North Baddesley is investigating the possibility of a Roman villa in its midst – as well as evidence of lives even before this. The church existed before 1100 and the village itself maintains a rich archive of memories and photographs, thanks to its historical society. Perhaps this is how it has been able to grow and thrive – by honouring the past while crafting the present to suit modern village life.

It’s bursting with groups, societies and things to do and that even extends to the local wildlife. Baddesley Common provides a large area in which to roam, with a woodland walkway and it is also the location of Emer Bog, home to skylarks, adders, grass-snakes and rare White Admiral butterflies.

Getting there

Its proximity to the M3 and the cities of Southampton and Winchester makes North Baddesley an easy place to visit. Follow the M3 to exit 14 for the A27 then continue on the Chilworth Road which takes you to the village.

The nearest train station is Romsey, which connects to Salisbury and Cardiff to the west, and Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton to the south. Trains also run to Eastleigh with connections to London Waterloo from nearby Chandler’s Ford, and it’s also served by a number of local bus routes.

What’s going on?

One thing’s for sure, the community atmosphere is a big part of what makes life in North Baddesley so appealing – the parish does everything it can to bring all ages and interests together.

The annual Village Day, usually held in May, sees up to 4,000 people gathering to eat, drink and enjoy games and events.

They have a thriving Youth club based in North Baddesley Sports Pavilion offering a spread of entertainment from cooking, to pool and Xbox Kinect.

Memory Walks for those living with a memory problem have started, and there is a Men’s Shed on Tuesdays from 2-4pm where mainly retired chaps can use their skills and knowledge to benefit the community – and have a natter over coffee, tea and biscuits.

North Baddesley WI – formed in 1946 – provides equal fun for the village’s women, with a number of sub groups to enjoy, from crafts to reading and cycling.

The local library is another hub of activity and for those who like to make new friends; Village Dog Walks take place on the first Sunday of every month.

Food & drink

Lovers of Chinese food are well-catered for by The Water Margin in Botley Road. Prefer Indian cuisine? Pipasa Balti are ready to serve! Find them on Fleming Avenue.

Bella Vita on Botley Road, which is part of the Ox Lounge Bar serves classic Italian dishes. Try their Quattro formaggi pizza, with tomato sauce, dochelatte, parmesan and goat’s cheese, or linguine with cherry tomatoes, seafood, chilli garlic and tomato sauce.

Pub food and a community atmosphere are on the menu at The Bede’s Lea in Rownhams Lane. Choose from a Sunday carvery or treat yourself at the weekend with their Buffet Breakfast. They also do some tasty takeaways.

Only got time for a cuppa and a cake? The T-cup is one of a string of community cafes serving a brew and a slice of something nice. It’s open most Thursday mornings between 10am-12 noon at All Saints Church, North Baddesley. There’s more tea at Beadles Tea Rooms on Fleming Avenue, open every day apart from Sundays.

Where he lies

It’s not often a humble man receives one gravestone, let alone two. But that’s what happened in the churchyard of St John the Baptist; both stones dedicated to the poacher, Charles Smith. He was hanged at Winchester after wounding a gamekeeper on the Broadlands Estate, then owned by Lord Palmerston. The first memorial is alleged to have been commissioned by the writer and social reformer, William Cobbett. The second stone was erected by Palmerston’s grandson and claims his grandfather had actually pleaded for clemency for the wretched and, it would appear, locally popular Smith.

Did you know?

Ventriloquist Keith Harris (of Orville the Duck fame) lived in North Baddesley as a child, before moving to the north of England.

Village voice

Parish chairman David Knight reckons the secret of North Baddesley’s success is the way it’s managed to use its growing size to its advantage.

“We are a real community, lots of people know each other and they in turn have welcomed others,” he says. “We have a good mixture of housing; large and small and the developments bring in younger families so you get younger people moving in all the time.”

Part of the village’s popularity is its rural feel, despite its nearness to local towns and sources of employment, he says. “Draper Tools have one of their main warehouses here but there is not a huge amount of employment in the village, Bordon Chemicals left in 2000,” he says. “While we do have people running their digital businesses from home, people tend to work away from the village and return for the evenings and weekends.”

This means there are plenty of people to join clubs and support village events which they do, often in their droves. “Our annual Village Day event is amazing, it’s not like a fete, we regularly get 3,000-4,000 people coming,” he says.

They also bestow an annual Parishioner of the Year award for someone who has helped improve life in North Baddesley. “This has been going for 20 years, this year it went to a lady who has been the treasurer and driver for the Baddesley Friends service,” he says.

Knight has been a parish councillor for 23 years and has seen enormous changes, such as the splitting of the parish to form North Baddesley and Valley Park in 2000. “We’d got up to 14,000 people and that was seen as too big for a parish,” he says.

But large numbers of people also mean a large pool of potential club and organisation joiners and that has benefitted groups such as the Historical Society, of which he is a leading member.

The society’s interest spans thousands of years. “We have a Roman villa that hasn’t been completely discovered but there’s lots of stuff coming out of the ground now as well as a Roman well,” he says. Their church was established in 987 which makes it a ‘first millennium church’ and they also have an archive of thousands of images and memories from residents covering the past 100 years.

A moving example of the village’s commitment to honour its past, he says, is the planned memorial to mark the centenary of the World War I Armistice in November. “It will be like the Tower of London poppies, at the church tower, but ours will be knitted by the WI.”

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