The Stone Age
Palaeolithic 700,000 - 8, 000 BC Mesolithic 8,000 - 4000 BC Neolithic 4,000-2,200BC
The Whitehill- Bordon area is rich in Stone Age sites. The earliest finds are Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic) axes used c500,000 years ago. There are numerous Middle Stone Age (Mesolithic) hunter-gatherer campsites in the area.
In the 1950s a nationally important site was discovered at the warren, Oakhanger uncovering thousands of flint tools. The New Stone Age (Neolithic) marks the arrival of the first farmers and semi-permanent settlements. Causewayed camps, henge monuments and long barrows were created. Local finds include leaf shaped arrowheads and polished stone axes.
The Bronze Age
2,200 - 700 BC
The countryside around Whitehill and Bordon has an unusually high concentration of Bronze Age barrows (high status burial mounds) which may be linked with the nationally important ritual deposits of bronze weapons found at Whitehill and Woolmer to form a sacred landscape. Over-use of the sandy soils for farming led to the formation of the heathlands we know today. Bronze Age hoards have been found at Woolmer Forest, Woolmer Pond, Hogmoor, Longmoor Camp and Whitehill Village Hall.
The Iron Age
700BC - AD43
This period sees the expansion of farming and the first use of iron for tools and weapons. Settlements consisted of roundhouses with wattle and daub walls and conical thatched roofs as seen at Butser Ancient Farm. Hillforts were constructed to control the countryside; the Walldown Earthwork in Whitehill may be one such example. 'Celtic' art and the first British coins date from this period.
AD 43 - 409
A major Roman road ran from Chichester to Silchester passing through Woolmer and Blackmoor. Signs of settlement include villas at Blackmore, Kingsley and Liss. A cremation site at Blackmoor contained the highly coloured Blackmoor Beaker. Nationally important coin hordes have been found at Blackmoor (1873) and Woolmer Pond(1740-1).
The Battle of Woolmer in AD296 saw Emperor Constantius Chlorus's army defeat the usurper Governor Allectus to retake Britain. A major Roman pottery at Alice Holt supplied the capital Londinium (London) with most of its cooking wares in the 3rd & 4th centuries.
AD 450 - 1066
The 5th century saw the gradual transition from Roman to Saxon control of Britain. Little is known about this area in Saxon times: most of the clues come from the place names, such as 'Wulfamere'; wolves poll (Woolmer). 'Ancangere': a sloping wood of oaks (Oakjhanger), and 'Alfsiholt' (Alice Holt) named after Aelfsige, a Saxon Bishop of Winchester.
The powerful Godwin family held estates around the area, eg Greatham Manor. Some of the villages were probably established in the late Saxon period. This area was part of the Kingdom of Wessex, the capital being at Winchester, and Woolmer part of the great forest of Andredsweald.
The Medieval and Tudor Period
(AD 1066 - 1603)
The Norman invasion changed Britain forever. The country was quickly controlled through strategic mottes (pallisaded earthworks) occasionally built on earlier structures. Walldown may be an example. The name 'Burhdunsdene (Bordon) means a fortified hill above a valley. The Domesday Book (1086) provides the first reference to Headley Mill. Greatham and Oakhanger, Hollywater, Whitehill and Bordon are first mentioned in the 13th century.
The Royal Forest of Woolmer was created and hunting lodges built by King John at Walldown and Edward 1 at Woolmer. Medieval commons at Passfield., The Slab, Shortheath, Broxhead and Kingsley still exist today. The Knights Templar held land at Sotherington until the order was suppressed in 1312.
An Augustinian Priory was established at Selborne c1250 but closed by 1485 - well before the dissolution. Tudor records show that Prince Hal (later Henry VIII) was warden of Woolmer Forest.
In 1257 the Watermill at Standford is described in the Winchester Pipe Rolls as a fulling mill held by Henry the Tawyere. Previously it was held by Walter de la Brok... and two hundred years later it was in the possession of a man described as a cordwainer.
1348 - The Black Death arrived in Britain. The turnover of property due to death, as recorded in the Bishop of Winchester's Pipe Roll records, has 14 entries for Headley in that year compared to no more than 5 or 6 maximum in previous years. The following year it rose to 20 entries - which may have been the equivalent of a third of the households in the parish at the time.
(AD 1603 -1714)
The English Civil Wars (1642-49) raged around this area with major battles at Alton, Basing House, Winchester and Cheriton. It is likely that the polygonal banks and ditches at Walldown, superimposed on a much older earthwork, are part of a royalist chain of defensive works that run on a line SE of Bentley. In 1710 Queen Anne stopped to review her herds of red deer on Woolmer on her way from Southampton to London. A stone at Queen's bank marks the spot to this day. The herd is thought to have been removed to Windsor great Park around 1750
Gilbert White published the Natural history of Selborne in 1789 in which he refers to the ancient custom of building a Bower on Walldown at the feast of St Barnabas (Midsummer). Many oaks were removed from Blackmoor to provide naval timbers during this period and drove roads, such as Drift road in Whitehill, connected farms to local markets. In 1823 Radical MP William Cobbett passed through Woolmer to Selborne and observed that malme clay ` very nearly came up to my horse's belly' On the river Wey mills were gentrified and water meadows were in abundance. Around 1830 the agricultural `Swing Riots' erupted across the south. Workhouses were pulled down at Selborne then Headley with threshing machines broken at Kingsley. Dragoons were called out from Gosport and stationed at the Royal Anchor, Liphook which they `drank dry'.
(AD1837 - date)
In 1863, the war Office purchased 1602 acres in Bordon and Longmoor for military training. Two camps were created at Longmoor (1900) and Bordon (1903). The 'Longmoor Loop' rail-link to Bentley was opened in 1905. It closed to passengers in 1957 and to the army in 1969. Victoria and Albert visited the troops in in 1885 and George V in 1910.
In 1865 Sir Roundell Palmer, Attorney general to Gladstone bought Blackmoor Estate and he later became the First Earl of Selborne. He hired Alfred Waterhouse, architect of the Natural History Museum to design a model estate. the familiar Blackmoor apple orchards date from the 1920s. Sydney and Beatrice Webb, founders of Fabian Socialism lived in Passfield. The Parish of Whitehill was created in 1928, carved out of Selborne and Headley. Whitehill is now the 2nd biggest town in East Hampshire.
by kind permission of Woolmer Forest Heritage Society
Further details of the Society can be had from their vice-chairman Colin Brash on 01428 71 3256 or visiting their website