Local history 4 articles

Local history 4 group articles

Emma of Normandy

by Sue Humphrey (Local History group 1)

In the Annals of Winchester Abbey, the Manor of South Hayling is stated to have come into the possession of the Church of St. Swythun in 1045, partly by the gift of Queen Emma wife of King Aethelred and King Canute, and partly by the gift of Aelwyn, Bishop of Winchester.

The story behind this statement is one that is well worth telling! Emma was the daughter of Duke Richard I of Normandy and sister to Duke Richard, the grandfather of William the Conqueror. As a girl of sixteen she came to England to become the wife of the ageing King Ethelred the Unready. As part of her wedding dowry Aethelred bestowed upon her many manors, one of which was the Manor of South Hayling. She and Aethelred had two sons, Edward and Alfred, who were raised across the channel in their mother's country as Norman princes.

When Aethelred died in 1016 the throne passed to Edmund Ironside, a son of Aethelred by his first wife. Canute, who had ravaged and conquered most of England, used every exertion to dethrone Edmund but they finally agreed to share the Kingdom. Edmund met a violent death in 1016 and Canute became the first Danish King of England.

To validate his place on Aethelred's throne, Canute married Emma and they had one son, Harthacanute. Emma was again left a widow when Canute died in 1035. Harold Harefoot, Canute's eldest son by his first marriage became King and set about ridding himself of Emma and her sons. Edward and Alfred were summoned to return to England by a forged letter sent in their mother's name. Alfred returned but Edward stayed in Normandy. Alfred was brutally assassinated by Earl Godwin, at the King's behest. Emma was banished and settled in Bruges with Harthacanute, where they started to build up an army of invasion. However, Harold Harefoot died in March 1040 and Harthacanute became King. He reigned for two turbulent years in which he very nearly provoked Civil War. When he died, all the people of England "immediately chose Edward as their King in London" and in 1042 Edward the Confessor was crowned.

But three of Edward's most powerful advisers, including Harold Godwin, were determined to destroy Emma's power base in England. They persuaded Edward that his mother had consented to the death of his brother Alfred and also accused her of criminal intimacy with Aelwyn, Bishop of Winchester. Edward was infuriated by what they told him and rode with them to Winchester where he confiscated all Emma's wealth and estates, banishing her to live out the rest of her life at Wherwell Priory.

Emma, however, wrote to all the Bishops of England whom she trusted, begging them to persuade her son to allow her to prove her innocence of all charges against herself and the Bishop by submitting to the "ordeal of burning iron". Edward finally agreed to this and, legend tells us, that Emma, aided by St. Swythun, walked blindfolded and unharmed over nine red-hot ploughshares set into the floor of Winchester Abbey - four ploughshares for her own crimes and five for Bishop Aelwyn's. The king, now thoroughly convinced of her innocence, begged forgiveness of his mother and restored all her confiscated property.

Following this miraculous event, the Winchester Annals tell us that "Queen Emma having possession of all the manors of her dowry which had been confirmed on her by former kings, gave the same day, as an offering to St. Swythun, for nine ploughshares - nine manors. One of these manors was the Manor of South Hayling.

Emma died in March 1052 aged 70+. She was buried in the Old Minster at Winchester alongside Canute. Emma was a remarkable woman of her day, the wife of two Kings of England and the mother of two Kings of England. She dominated the English Court for over 50 years as both Queen and Queen Mother, surviving five Kings. It is through her relationship to her great-nephew, William of Normandy, however, that she is best remembered in the History of England. Her own sons produced no heirs, but on Christmas Day, 1066 William of Normandy was crowned King of England and so a dynasty in Emma's bloodline was founded which continues to this day.

The salt industry on Hayling Island

by Maura Chapman (Local History Group 1)

Until the late 19th century, the making of salt featured prominently on the Island. An 1830's guidebook to Hayling mentions that the salt industry had been carried on for centuries. The Domesday Survey records that the production of salt was one of the three main sources of income for the Islanders, the others being fishing and farming; it refers to Hayling as possessing a valuable saltern worth 6s 8d. Richard Scott's "Topographical and Historical Account of Hayling Island" (1826) refers to salt making being the principle branch of trade on the Island. He states "there is a very fine salt works in the north and another in the south parish, and there are three others on the island".

A map dated 1834 shows two salterns at the north of the Island, at the head of Sweare Deep, named Great salterns and Little salterns, two in the south of the Island known as Jenman's salterns and Mengham salterns, now the home of Mengeham Rhythe Sailing Club, and where an old salt house, which was used for boiling brine, still exists. There is also one at Eastoke known as Eastoke saltern, close to the home of Hayling Island Sailing Club.

Mention is made of a Saltern (probably in the north) early in the reign of William I. John Reger in his book on "The History of Chichester Harbour" states that there is evidence all around the harbour in the form of briquetage. These are patches of reddish burnt earth along the shoreline showing that prehistoric man made concentrations of brine during the summer and then boiled it in heavy earthenware pots in the autumn. Nita Nicholson in her "Pocket Companion to Hayling Island" refers to two important ancient roads that met and crossed in Havant. One was a prehistoric coast road, which ran from Sussex, over Portsdown Hill and on to the west. The other was an old salt road - certainly used by the Romans and possibly improved and maintained by them. This began on Hayling where there were three excellent salterns, and ran north through Havant and into the South Downs, via Rowlands Castle, Finchdean and Charlton. It would appear therefore that salt was a staple article of manufacture on the Island long before the conquest.

Salt was used for curing hides and healing wounds as well as for preserving food and the salt made on the Island was highly regarded for its excellent quality and was generally preferred to any other. Reger refers to St. Augustine speaking in very strong terms of the salt made around its shores saying that "it is superior to every other made in the British Isles."

Common salt is a compound of the metal sodium and the poisonous gas chlorine. It is found in its crystal form in large inland deposits in many places throughout the world and in a soluble form in seawater. At first it is a pale green colour, but by boiling, it is made pure white. The making of salt depended a good deal on the weather, the best time being in the four months of summer. Ron Brown in his "Story of Hayling Island" describes the method for processing the salt. `Firstly the salt seawater was let into the brine-pans, which were square shallow places formed in a field adjoining the sea. In fine weather the salt became brine in approximately seven days, it was then pumped into reservoirs or pits each holding enough to make some 25 tons of salt. A wind pump fitted with sails achieved the pumping operation. The brine was then transferred as required into pans that were heated in a boiler house, the boiling operation lasting for twelve hours, during which it was skimmed twice. When the salt was formed it was shovelled out hot and wet into wooden troughs that had holes in the bottom, through these ran a dross that was referred to as "bitters". The crystallization of Epsom Salts was formed from these "bitters". After the salt had drained in the troughs for about ten hours it was removed to a storehouse to be made ready for distribution.' It was estimated that around 150 tons of salt were produced on Hayling during the season.

In his 1836 "Guidebook to Hayling" Clarke treated the making of salt on the Island as a tourist attraction, advising visitors that the best time to inspect the boiling house was at one o'clock in the afternoon, this being the time when the boiling process was nearly completed.

The Cole family were linked synonymously with the manufacture of salt in Hayling and Ebenezer Cole was one of the last, if not the last, salt-maker on the Island. He started working for his father as a young lad, earning two shillings a week working on a ten acre site; he carried on the industry latterly in a small way well into the 20th century. An article published in the " Hampshire Telegraph" in 1933, when Ebenezer Cole was 88, refers to him being at the end of a lifetime's work in the family business of salt production on the Island. It tells the story of his trips into Portsmouth with his horse and cart carrying 100cwt bags of salt. To break the monotony of these journeys, he made an occasional boat trip taking salt to Bosham and Emsworth. Rather than return with an empty cart, or boat, he would bring goods back to the Hayling folk for a small fee and the service developed into a flourishing carrying business. Ebenezer Cole was probably one of the earliest residents of Salterns Quay cottage, where he raised a family of 13. Sadly he died in 1934 at the ripe old age of 90! The Cole family were one of Hayling Island's best-known families and it was a Charles Henry Cole who was in charge of the Hayling Island Lifeboat when it went out of commission in 1924.

The oyster industry on Hayling Island

by Sue Humphrey (Local History Group 1)

Trigg’s Hayling guide of 1867 contains an article entitled “The adaptability of Hayling Island for Oyster Culture”. The article states that the Island of Hayling is the best part of the South Coast of England for the purpose of Oyster culture. The success of the South of England Oyster Company and the formation of another company, in 1865 called the Hayling Oyster Company, would appear to prove this statement correct. White’s directory of 1859 lists three oyster merchants on Hayling; William Crouch of Sinar, John Gamble of Milton and David Russell of Farlington. The Directory of 1878 lists only one, The South of England Oyster Company with Captain John Woods as the Managing Director, and James Dilnott as the local manager, so presumably by this time the South of England Oyster Company had “bought out” the other merchants.

In the reign of Henry II, the Emsworth Oyster Fishery at the northeast angle of Hayling Island, was valued at eight shillings and eight pence per annum to the royal treasury, and the harbour was from a very early date celebrated for the quality of its oysters. From the 15th century onwards, most Oyster farming took place in the English Channel, both along the Sussex coastline and on the other side of the Channel in Brittany. In these early years oyster fishermen returned the young oyster and spat to the sea, reserving only the marketable oyster; but by the early 19th century they were bringing home all they removed with their dredges, retaining the small oysters to deposit in their own oyster beds maturing them in baskets hanging from the surface of the oyster beds.

The best oyster growing conditions are to be found where there is protection from rough seas, but where there is still a tidal current to carry food for the larvae. Oyster farmers often built dykes to enclose large areas of salt water, with channels cut through them to let in the tidal swell. It is the remnants of these dykes, or bunds, which can still be seen at the northern end of Hayling Island. As the demand for oyster beds increased, the Lords of the Manor of Hayling granted portions of midlands to persons who cleared them, converting them into layings, and, according to the statute, planting sticks upon their boundaries, so that strangers should not dredge on their private beds. (These sticks can still be seen around old oyster beds today). These local beds in North Hayling were acclaimed as being the largest and best constructed in England in the early 19th century, with huge quantities of Langstone oysters being sent all over the country. (We still have a relic of this trade in the Oyster Boat “Terror” which has been beautifully restored and takes groups of six for a sail on the harbour on days when the tide is right!) A family of oyster farmers established their home on a tiny islet in Langstone Harbour in 1819. Matthew Russell and his eldest son, David, established oyster beds around the islet and in nearby Crastick’s channel and this later came to be known as Russell’s Lake. A house, which was built for them to live in also served to keep an eye out for oyster poachers, but local folklore has it that the house had suspiciously large cellars and was often visited by unlit vessels at the dead of night!

In the 1840’s things became tougher for the oyster fishermen. Many fishermen engaged in widespread dredging, clearing land on which to store young oysters, so that they might grow and fatten. This is where they fell foul of the new Lord of the Manor, William Padwick, who claimed his right to the soil and brought many court actions for trespass against the fishermen. But this was only one of the problems the oyster fishermen had to contend with; by far the greatest as the 19th century wore on was that of pollution. Drainage schemes for Hayling were put forward with alarming regularity, all of which seemed to involve outflows on to the shore in proximity to the oyster beds, Feelings were at their strongest in the 1920’s when a scheme costing £26,000 was presented. A group of local fishermen, led by a Mr. Moore, protested that the fishing would be polluted, pointing out that if the effluent was discharged at flood-tide it would flow rapidly up the harbour, thus affecting the oyster beds and oyster dredging in Langstone Harbour. As it happened, it did not really matter, for by the 1930’s many of the best oyster beds had been reclaimed, with one being used for tennis courts and another converted into a swimming pool for the local holiday camp.

The most notorious case of pollution of the oyster population occurred in 1902. Council workers in Warblington re-laid a number of sewers and drains, which emptied onto the Emsworth foreshore. An eminent Emsworth oyster merchant, J.D. Foster constructed a number of ponds in close proximity to the outflow and seeded them with a considerable quantity of young oysters. In 1902 there was a mayoral banquet and, naturally, one of the courses consisted of the oysters for which Emsworth and Hayling had by then become justly famous. Unfortunately some of the shellfish had been contaminated by the outflow and several of the diners, including the Dean of Winchester, died of typhoid. The oyster industry in the area collapsed almost overnight. J.D. Foster made a claim for damages against Warblington Council for £18,000. However, another local merchant, Jack Kennett, testified against Foster in court stating that he had not only known about the outflow but had deliberately put his beds in that area to make use of the extra nutrients in the water! Foster’s award was reduced to £3,300, the town avoided bankruptcy and Kennett became a local hero!

In the 1980’s Havant Borough Council was persuaded to allow a local firm to restart the oyster business and the first thing they did was to dump 800,000 tonnes of builders’ rubble over the old shingle beds. They then asked for permission to construct a building on the edge of the pools for business purposes! When this was refused the firm went bankrupt (some say that it had achieved its purpose which was not the culture of oysters but the acquisition of a free tip for rubble!)

A brief history of The Kench

by Dorothy Pullen

Was the Kench formed when the Solent and its harbours came into being? I found no written evidence to prove this, But because it is comparatively shallow, I presume that it came into existence in 1325 when there was a great inundation of water and Hayling lost its first church. There is little historic evidence of who owned it until William Padwick bought most of Hayling from the Duke of Arundel. The sale included Sinah Common, South Common, the ferry and mud rights. Presumably the Kench was included. The Golf Club bought it in 1924 and the Hayling Health Society bought part of it in 1972.On old maps this bay is labelled Kench Cove . It certainly looked cove-like with a very narrow opening, but why Kench? Kench means a deep bin in which animal skins and fish are salted. Was it so named because of its shape, or were hides really salted here? On the Eastern bank was a channel opening into a circular pond, its walls still steep and with a flat, heavy clay floor. Was this the remains of an old salt pan similar to smaller ones found further along the shore, or was this the bin after which the adjoining cove was named? The Kench was known for the quality of its winkles and cockles. It also had an oyster bed until the oysters were killed by the cold winter of 1905.

Smuggling took place in the Kench. On its shore was half of a boat that had been cut in half by the Revenue men, a nasty habit they had when they found a boat smuggling! It had been converted into a beach hut. The Revenue men were certainly based in the Kench for they had an old hulk moored there. There are references to the work carried out on the watch vessel in the Kench. This was replaced by a watch tower, but where? It was placed either at the end of Sinah lane or on the high ground of the Golf Course but there are more references to it being placed in the Kench.

What other buildings have been on the Kench? I like to think that Hayling’s first pub, the Norfolk Inn was. It was there before Colonel Arbuthnott built the high wall round his fruit garden; remove these and the shores of the Kench reach up to that old cottage that was the pub. To the northwest of the cottage a house is marked on maps of the 1700s named Parsonage House, but I found no reference to it elsewhere. On the opposite bank were about a dozen fishermens’ huts, felted and tarred, where fishermen waited for the tide and where they kept their gear. The Golf Hut was a corrugated iron building near the road where golfers could relieve or refresh themselves part way around the course. There would have been many more buildings on the Kench if William Padwick’s scheme had come to fruition. He planned a railway embankment from the Kench running north, planning to reclaim the land enclosed. Hayling would then have been twice its present size, but the strong tides of Sinah Lake swept away his shingle bank, and before they could find a solution the money ran out and the scheme was abandoned. The remains of his bank can still be seen and walked along at low tide.

With the completion of Fort Cumberland, Mr. Padwick and Mr. Sandeman felt that Langstone Harbour would be safe from marauders and would make an ideal commercial port. Plans were made for wharves, warehouses and, of course, the railway to take goods inland. All this in the Kench and out to Sinah Sands. It never got started. Mr. Sandeman also had the idea that a steam boat capable of carrying carts and carriages from Hayling to Portsmouth would be money saving and, even more, time saving He built a pontoon each side of the harbour and a mile and a half of road on the Hayling side. He then bought a boat only to find that carriages could not get on the boat, so the plan was scrapped; but the Kench now had a road along its south shore. He was successful in laying out an eighteen hole golf course on what was Sinah common and this included most of the western side of the Kench – that is where the 13th hole was and where you teed off for the 14th hole. In the 1930’s hitting golf balls across the road became too dangerous and the course was re-designed excluding the land in the Kench. By this time the old fishing huts had become beach huts used by familes enjoying the pleasures the site offered – a safe playground, safe bathing and boating.

Another developer tried to buy the land for an amusement park – but four wise men, tenants on the site, took out a lease with the Golf Club and thwarted that plan; the very next year, 1934, an amusement park opened at Beachlands and the Hayling Health Society was formed. If you think that the cold winds off the sea and the closeness to the road put an end to the nudist colony you are wrong. It never was nudist. It was, and still is, a place where families can enjoy all the facilities it offers. More huts were built, some of these ‘posh’ places as they were then can be seen in the south-west corner of the site.

With Dunkirk came fear of invasion. The Navy commandeered the site; houseboats were removed to Milton Lake and huts bordering the sea were pulled down. After the war the site passed to Havant Council who were going to use the Naval workshops for housing, but then thought better of it. So in 1948 the site passed back to the Society with flattened contours, a concrete road and slipway. Building materials were scarce after the war and it took time to re-instate the buildings, which were now bigger and better; many members returned with ex-naval boats, which were in plentiful supply. The Golf Club cashed in on this source of income and flooded their part of the Kench with houseboats many used for permanent occupation. Next a plan for a marina surfaced. As well as yacht berths there were to be 244 flats, a restaurant and bar, a yacht club and parking space for 250 cars. A lock gate was to go across the entrance of the Kench so that water could be retained. The Hayling Health Society still had many years of their lease on the ground left, so their permission had to be obtained. Notes from the Harbour Board minutes sum up the situation. “The marina project meandered on with reports at most meetings until at least 1973 when it finally withered on the vine.” It did not wither, it was chopped down by the Hayling Health society who bought their site right under the developers’ noses. To raise the purchase price for the site each member of the Society “bought” their own plot. Houseboat owners were allotted plots to buy on which they could build. Planning permission was given stating that for each new chalet built a houseboat had to go.One good thing arising from the marina project was that the houseboats on the land owned by the Golf Club had been removed, ready for development; but builders’ rubble, hardcore and subsoil was deposited on the eastern bank to raise it ready for building, completely spoiling the natural salt marsh and its flowers.

Another attempt to build a marina was made but was thwarted by Hampshire County Council buying the land which became Hayling’s third nature reserve. The remaining eight houseboats or their replacements will remain, giving a little character to the site. So we leave Kench Cove in 2007 with its peaceful nature reserve and contented members who are thankful, on their part, that the Kench has not become a rail terminus, a dock, an amusement part or yet a marina!

Smuggling in the Portsmouth area in the 18th century

A Hayling Island Tale of Tragic Consequences by Eric Palmer - Local History Group 3

Ralph Rogers and Peter Crasler were two young Hayling Islanders who had been pressed into the Navy. They returned from abroad and the hardships of serving at sea, to pick up the thread of life ashore. Unfortunately, they had been away so long that they found their parents and relatives dead, and they were treated mostly as strangers, except by Jane Pitt, previously a close friend of Ralph Rogers.At this time smuggling was carried out on a large scale. Hayling Island was heavily involved, acting as a depot for the distribution of contraband to East Hampshire and West Sussex. The Government’s Revenue and Coastguard services had difficulty dealing with the illegal activity and tried to employ secret informers prepared to betray the smuggling operations. They also offered an amnesty for past aggression if a smuggler entered as a common seaman into the naval service.

Rogers and Crasler were unable to find suitable honest work and eventually joined a notorious smuggling gang led by Will Watch (real name Gill Brown) in his ship the “Susan”. They made several voyages, and being familiar with life at sea, quickly learned the secrets and mysteries of the smuggling trade. After a time, however, they both became restless and sought the freedom of life ashore. They left the “Susan” to return to Hayling Island, having accumulated good financial rewards from their work with the smugglers.

This time they were well received, having acquired something of a reputation in a community, which tended to sympathise with the smugglers. Soon Ralph Rogers and Jane Pitt were married. Peter Crasler also was wed and they started to enjoy their family life ashore. It wasn’t long, however before the money, proceeds of their earlier smuggling, was gone and they needed to seek work. But their background and experience did not suit shore side employment, and, almost inevitably, they resumed illicit trading, soon becoming known as confirmed smugglers. At first they did well, but their runs were not always profitable and Peter Crasler suffered repeated losses. After a few months he was financially ruined and heavily in debt.

At about this time the Government found that its amnesty programme was not succeeding, and a new plan was adopted. This offered a large reward and permanent civil employment to smugglers prepared to betray their associates and give details of operations and smuggling methods.

Peter Crasler was desperately in debt, with a wife and child to support and no hope for the future. After much consideration he decided to offer his services to the Government. The offer was accepted, he was appropriately rewarded, told to make all the observations he could and attend at the Customhouse in London.

Crasler’s absence was soon noted, and his wife was put under some pressure by Rogers and other smugglers to explain where he was. When she acknowledged her husband’s action, consternation reigned – for the information he possessed could ruin their illegal operations and threaten them all. Ralph Rogers was particularly incensed, denounced his previously close friend and swore revenge. Ralph’s wife Jane, who could normally influence her husband, found that his rage only increased, and resolved to keep a strict eye on his behaviour.

Realising the likely danger to the smugglers due to Peter Crasler’s defection, measures were taken to counteract the expected action by the Revenue Officers. All the caverns on the south beach of the Island were emptied, and the contents dispersed as far away as was safe. Smuggling operations were suspended, with a hope to resume when the storm had passed.

It was two months after Peter Crasler left the Island that the smugglers realised that the best time for their operations was passing without any of the usual benefits. Peter Crasler knew this too, and returned to the Island in the dusk of the evening, accompanied by six dragoons, heading toward the beach. He briefly visited his wife and child before rejoining the patrol, his wife having told him of Ralph Rogers’ violent resentment. The arrival of Peter and the dragoons was soon known throughout the Island, and their movement south suggested an intention to examine the beach caverns. Jane Rogers was desperate that her husband and Peter would not meet, and made her way to the beach hoping to see Peter and persuade him to avoid meeting his former friend. In the meantime Ralph, on his way back home, saw the dragoons and realised what was happening. He borrowed a wild-fowler’s gun and kept the party in sight on their way to the beach. On hearing from their conversation that Peter Crasser was with them, he made his way toward his own cavern. With flaming torches the dragoons advanced along the beach in the dark. Ralph Rogers saw the lights, and burning with vengeance moved toward them. He saw a single figure against the lights, apparently pointing out the cavern to his followers. Full of bloodthirsty emotions he raised his weapon and pulled the trigger.

A loud and terrific shriek followed the explosion of the gun. To his horror and bewilderment Ralph Rogers realised the dreadful truth. The lifeblood of Jane, his own wife, was pouring out. In his rage and passion for revenge he had taken the life of the person he loved the most.

(Source: Topographical & Historical Account of HAYLING ISLAND. Published 1826 by L. Skelton)