Hearing that sewage has been dumped into the River Loddon many times in recent months, I was reminded of the poem written by Thomas Warton ‘To the River Lodon’ (spelling was different then), in which as a former resident of Chute House, he called it his ‘sweet, native stream’. It’s a poem of its time, but the sentiment is nice.

Today, Warton has a Basingstoke Heritage Society blue plaque commemorating him on the gatepost of the former Vicarage, now Chute House, and a road named after him in South View. Another plaque emerged this year decorated with a Hampshire Hog. Found among the effects of a man called Roger Quinton, it was sent to the BHSoc and we were pleased to hand it to the Multicultural Forum, who now use Chute House. Why it was made we don’t know.

Thomas Warton was born in the Vicarage in 1728. His father, also Thomas, was Vicar of Basingstoke and is buried in St Michael’s Church. Young Thomas entered Oxford University at the age of 16 and was later appointed Vicar to Kiddington, near Woodstock, but he seems to have been a chap who lived well; a friend of Dr Samuel Johnson and a member of Johnson’s Literary Club, which ate well and often! In 1785 he was appointed Poet Laureate to George III, a post he held until his death in 1790.

The Loddon in Glebe Gardens is a very modest stream today, still fed by springs at West Ham and Bramblys Drive and eventually making its way through Eastrop Park, Old Basing and Sherfield-on-Loddon before joining the Kennet at Reading which later flows into the Thames.

Chute House, although extended during the 19th century was a fine square house, much better when viewed from inside Glebe Gardens, rather than the cluttered parking area on Church Street.

To the River Lodon

Ah! What a weary race my feet have run,
Since first I trod thy banks with alders crowned,
And thought my way was all through fairy ground,
Beneath thy azure sky and golden sun:
Where first my Muse to lisp her notes begun!
While pensive Memory traces back the round
Which fills the varied interval between:
Much pleasure, more of sorrow marks the scene.
Sweet native stream! those skies and sun so pure
No more return to cheer my evening road;
Yet still one joy remains, that not obscure,
Nor useless, all my vacant days have flowed,
From youth’s gay dawn to manhood’s prime mature;
Nor with the Muse’s laurel unbestowed.