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Local History Section

Women: Their contributions to Hampshire’s history

Date: Saturday, 23rd April 2016


The focus of this year’s Local History Section Spring Symposium was the role of women in the history of Hampshire. The programme included the following talks:

  • Michael Hicks: ‘Hampshire heiresses in the later Middle Ages.’ 
  • Nicola Pritchard-Pink: ‘Genteel women’s experience of singing c.1800’
  • Christine Grover: 'The formidable Madam Knight and her enduring legacy.'
  • Alys Blakeway: ‘What did Charlotte Yonge ever do for Hampshire?’
  • Roger Ottewill: ‘The campaign for women’s suffrage: A Hampshire perspective.’
  • Vicky Green: Southampton women in the First World War.
A pdf of the programme is also available for download. (0.5 mb)

The Speakers & their topics:

Prof. Michael Hicks
From 1978 Michael Hicks taught at what is now the University of Winchester ending in 2014 as Head of History and Professor of Medieval History. He has written numerous books and articles and is director of the “Mapping the Medieval Countryside” project. He was Hon. Secretary of the Hampshire Field Club from 1980 to 1990.

Medieval Hampshire was dominated by Church landowners. Aristocrats’ lands lay mainly on the periphery and were outliers of major estates focused elsewhere. There were two substantial properties, Christchurch in the south-west and Basing in the north. A big turnover in landholders between 1300 and 1550 is deceptive, since the name changes result not from sale of lands but from inheritance through the female line. In almost every case a heiress or heiresses carried their inheritance to a new family. Hampshire heiresses had a key role in changing the composition of the Hampshire elite.

Nicky Pritchard- Pink
Nicky Pritchard-Pink has recently completed a masters in Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of Southampton, specialising in country houses and gardens, and domestic music-making for genteel young women, c1800. Nicky has spoken at many academic conferences on these subjects since graduating, including the ‘Charles Dibdin and his World’ conference in 2014, in which she interpreted Dibdin’s songs in Jane Austen’s music collection, a written summary of which is awaiting publication. As a semi-professional singer, Nicky has also recently performed a highly successful lecture-recital at the local Chesil Theatre in Winchester, in which she performed songs owned by Austen interspersed with details about their relevance to her personally.

Traditionally, scholars have argued that the domestic singing of young women at the turn of the nineteenth century was trivial and simple. However, from exploring both the correspondence and sheet music collections of young Hampshire women at this time, it appears clear that the pleasure to be found in amateur singing was part of its power to manipulate emotion, express enjoyment and challenge or extol ideals of femininity, masculinity, politics and culture. Singing at home in front of a large gathering of family and friends could allow girls to be powerful agents in their own self-expression and the role of music in female social bonding (via training and song-sharing) attests to the hegemony of vocal music in the development of identity in young women.

Dr Chris Grover
Chris Grover has lectured at the University of Winchester for nearly 30 years, first in the Mathematics department and then in the Business School. Her prime research interest is urban morphology. Her PhD looked at Winchester’s suburban development between 1850 and 1912, and her book - Hyde: From Dissolution to Victorian Suburb - traced what happened to the site of Hyde Abbey. She has co-authored a number of papers in real estate, good governance and land rights.
In the 18th century, English county society was dominated by the landed gentry such as the Knights of Chawton; the Woodwards of Fosters, Surrey; the Lewkenors at West Dean, Sussex; and the Martins of Eynsham, Oxfordshire. These estates became united through marriage and inheritance. Following the death of her two brothers, Elizabeth, daughter of Michael Martin and Francis Lewkenor, found herself heir to Chawton in 1702 and Abbots Barton, Winchester, in 1707. She married twice, first to her cousin William Woodward and then to Bulstrode Peachey. As a condition of the will of the last direct descendent of the owners of Chawton, Elizabeth and her husbands changed their name to Knight. This is the story of how Elizabeth retained her independence in a patriarchal society, how she managed her estates, and how, three generations later, her will influenced the life of Hampshire’s most famous writer.
Alys Blakeway
After reading Classics at Oxford Alys Blakeway trained as a librarian, and from 1993 - 2008 worked in the Hampshire Local Studies Library, and then for Hampshire Archives and Local Studies until 2014: an ideal job for a Charlotte Yonge enthusiast. Alys was introduced to Charlotte's books by her mother, and has been a fan since early youth. She is a member of the Charlotte Yonge Society and Secretary of the Charlotte M Yonge Fellowship. She has written several papers on CMY, including “Charlotte Yonge and the city of Winchester” for the Fellowship's Journal no 9, 2009, and “Miss Yonge and Female Emancipation” for the Hampshire Field Club Spring Symposium in 1997.
Charlotte Yonge is known as a popular 19th-century author, who not only described aspects of Hampshire life and history in her works, but also contributed actively to the life of our county. Her Christian faith motivated her to support church-building, to teach and to support new schools. In addition, she played a significant part in the development of Eastleigh. She is less well-known as a keen naturalist and observer of village life, who recorded valuable information about local wildlife and folklore.

Dr Roger Ottewill
Roger Ottewill retired in 2008 after 35 years in higher education. He has recently completed a PhD in Modern Church History at the University of Birmingham. His interests include local political, administrative and religious history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is currently researching Protestant Nonconformity in Basingstoke for the new Victoria County History project and is Acting Chairman of the Local History Section of the Hampshire Field Club.
In the years leading up to the First World War, the controversial campaign for women’s suffrage, waged by both militant suffragettes and moderate suffragists, was a symptom of changing attitudes towards the status of women and affected every part of the country. In Hampshire evidence of its impact can be seen in the reporting of national incidents in the local press; public meetings organised by local leaders with some being addressed by well-known figures, such as Mrs Pankhurst, Annie Kenney and Millicent Fawcett; propaganda and marches; various forms of ‘direct action’; as well as intense opposition to the cause of ‘votes for women’.

Vicky Green
Vicky Green works in the Local Studies and Maritime Library, Southampton City Libraries, where she has developed a range of skills in response to enquiries, from the location of lost Southampton streets to the identification of a music hall near to a bathing place for elephants. She has written articles on Southampton Methodism for the Southampton Local History Forum Journal, and an occasional paper: “The Floating Hospital City of Adelaide: controlling infectious disease in the Town and Port of Southampton, 1893-1923.” Other projects have included “Census Enumerators 1861-1891”, “the Development of Southampton’s Parks”, “200 years of Southampton Methodist Local Preachers,” and “Who buried whom on the Common.”
The women of Southampton, like their sisters up and down the country, found themselves more and more involved in the war effort. Their role in 1914 was still seen as a traditional one, keeping the home fires burning and providing comforts for the troops, but by 1918 women were wearing uniforms and serving overseas. The growth in opportunities for women of all ages is reflected in the Southampton volume of the “National Roll of the Great War”, where 254 women paid their subscriptions for entries celebrating service as “Special War Workers.” Photographs of women appeared in the “Southampton and District Pictorial” proudly wearing police, tram and post office uniforms, carrying their toolboxes as employees of the gas company, or posing with their tug-of-war trophy. The surprised tone of the early captions became pride in the “girls who helped to win the war” – always with the proviso that they would only be required “until the boys come home.”


Any questions about the Local History Section?
Then email Roger Ottewill Local History Section Chairman