FAIRFIELDS lies to the south of the central town area and was once just that - fields with an annual fair and cattle market.

The Bounty pub was once known as the Cattle Market Inn, with the road to Cliddesden a country lane until the early 19th century.

In 1830 part of Upper Hackwood Field was sold by Sir William Oglander to Charles Henry Foyle. Foyle was described firstly as a wharfinger and later as a coal merchant.  A wharfinger would have been responsible for goods arriving at Basingstoke on the canal.

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Basingstoke Gazette: Fairfields Road

In 1839 Edward Covey bought the land from Foyle and built The Shrubbery, living there with his wife Jane and children.  The Covey men had been apothecaries and surgeons in Basingstoke since the mid-18th century supplying aldermen and mayors as townspeople with some standing.  

After the Coveys, the house belonged to William Fryer and after he died, his widow Jessie sold to Thomas May who sold to Ambrose Bassett, who gets a fine obituary in the Hants & Berks Gazette in 1893. He lived there with his cousin James Swinford and they are buried close together in the old cemetery at South View.

Thomas Burberry bought the house. His son Thomas Newman Burberry and his wife Mary-Ann lived there. The 1901 census shows him away from home, staying with his brother Arthur in Bristol.  Of their 6 young children, only the one-year-old twins are at The Shrubbery with their mother in this census.

Mary Ann remained at The Shrubbery with her son, another Thomas until 1946 when the house was sold to Basingstoke Council for £21,000 for use as the town’s first maternity home, coming under the NHS in July 1948.  

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Basingstoke Gazette: Foyle Lodge, Cliddesden Road

Cllr Edith Weston, Basingstoke’s first woman mayor and tireless campaigner for women, worked to secure the maternity home, which may have been compulsorily purchased if Mary Ann and her son hadn’t moved out.

The maternity home closed in 1973 when the new hospital opened. In 1976, the house became home to the Horseshoe Theatre Co. where rehearsals took place for many years.

Fairfields Junior School, then The Shrubbery Girls’ School, were in the former grounds. The changes to secondary education in 1972 led to the opening of Queen Mary’s Sixth Form College in the old Shrubbery school buildings.

The land had already been purchased for the Ringway, but when the proposed dual carriageway for that stretch was cancelled the house fell into ruin and in 1992 was demolished.  

An early map shows that houses subsequently built on the Shrubbery land in a southerly direction were Erdesley, then Foyle Lodge with a long drive and then Coombehurst, of which the drive remains today, with some of the trees from Coombehurst’s garden surviving.

By 1871 Arthur Wallis, founder of Wallis & Steevens, lived in Coombehurst with his wife Charlotte Sterry. Arthur’s son, John Wallis, lived at Erdesley and his nephew, Richard lived at Foyle Lodge. In 1901, John Charles Baker lived at Foyle Lodge. He had married Charlotte Wallis. The house had 16 rooms and was set in 6 acres of land.

Basingstoke Gazette: Cliddesden Road bomb damage

Farirfields School was built in 1888 as a Board school when compulsory elementary education became law. After WW1, a tank was acquired and parked outside the school until the pupils had virtually destroyed it and it was scrapped. John Arlott remembered playing on it.

The land close to the school where Jubilee Road and Beaconsfield Road are today developed from around 1887.  It was known as Jubilee Field, later Jubilee Meadow, which derived its name from the Jubilee of George III in 1809.

Development in Beaconsfield Road began around 1887 presumably named for the Earl of Beaconsfield, the 19th-century politician better known as Benjamin Disraeli, who had died in 1881.  

Cliddesden Road was developed around the 1890s, it was blocked for through traffic around the 1980s.

On 24 October 1940, a bomb landed close to St Vincent’s School in Cliddesden Road. Luckily the school children were out having a walk in the War Memorial Park.

Montague Place was built where the bombs had fallen. Another school, called Quidhampton School was in Fairfields Road.

This article was written by Debbie Reavell from the Basingstoke Heritage Society.