Wonston Parish Council
The history of the Parish is fascinating. There is evidence of occupation and therefore almost certainly settlement, dating from as long ago as 2000BC. It is therefore impossible to even scratch the surface in the few lines we have available. So if you are interested in the history of your Parish – and we think you should be – we recommend you read Peter Clark’s book, Dever & Down originally published in 2002 and with a 2nd updated issue published in 2011. Copies are available from the Wonston Arms public house and all profits from the sale of the book go to local charities. There is an earlier history Historical Notes on the Parish of Wonston, its Manors, its Church and its Rectors published in 1913 by the Rector of the day, the Reverend Biggs-Wither, but that’s a bit out of date now and more for the serious historian!
The Square, SUTTON SCOTNEY
A PLAQUE HAS BEEN UNVEILED TO COMMEMORATE THE SIGNING OF A PETITION TO THE KING IN SEPTEMBER 1830 FOR PARLIAMENTARY REFORM, THE SUBSEQUENT 'SWING RIOTS' AND THE OUTCOME FOR SOME LOCAL PEOPLE.
A copy of the plaque is attached. It is mounted on the wall of the Coach & Horses Public House which faces where The White Swan Inn once stood by kind agreement of Publican, Mr. Ray Barber. (These Coaching Inns once stood on the main London to Salisbury/West Country Road, before the A30 by pass of the village).
Organised by Wonston Parish Council, and the then Chairman Mr. Mark Ferguson, to coincide with the conclusion of environmental improvements to The Square (a medieval market place), contributors to the plaque were:
The Parish Councils of Barton Stacey, Bullington and Micheldever - all of whom had inhabitants involved in the petition and the uprisings.
The Rural, Agricultural & Allied Workers section of the TGW Union ( Barry Leathwood, National Secretary will be attending the ceremony).
Local Inhabitants who have recently learnt of this important part of their history through various historical exhibitions mounted in the village by Mrs. Jane Gray and who has a copy of William Cobbett's Two Penny Trash - July 1832 (Cobbbett of 'Rural Rides' fame).
Guests at the ceremony included:
Mr. Frederick Diddams of South Wonston - descendant of the four Diddams' who signed the petition. Enos Diddams was one of the few who could read at the time and he read 'The Times' to the labourers gathered in the White Swan Inn to discuss the conditions of the day and what could be done to find food & clothing for their families.
Jill Chambers, author of 'Rebels of the Fields' and the 'Hampshire Machine Breakers'. Jill is going to Australia and to meet descendants of the Mason family of Bullington, amongst others.
"To the King's Most Excellent Majesty"
Thus was headed the petition to King William IV for parliamentary reform, signed by some 177 men of the parishes of Wonston, Barton Stacey and Bullington, in September 1830. It described in graphic detail their state of misery with "not that sufficient to satisfy our hunger ..... we have not clothes to hide the nakedness of ourselves ..... nor fuel with which to warm us" and yet, all around them, the fields of Hampshire were rich in produce. They sought the vote, "not one of your majesty's subjects has ever been allowed to exercise his right of voting at an election", complained at the immense weight of taxes as a result of earlier "unnecessary and unjust wars", and quoted the law of the land that "money shall not be taken out of the pocket of the people in the shape of taxes without their consent or the consent of their representatives".
The petition was drawn up in the White Swan Inn in Sutton Scotney, "a hamlet withiin the Parish of Wonston, about seven miles from Winchester and on the road from London to Salisbury". William Cobbett referred to it as, "more dear to me and it ought to be dear to every Englishman for it was at this spot that was singed the petition for parliamentary reform which labourer, Joseph Mason carried to the King, at Brighton". Cobbett chose to celebrate the successful passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 at Sutton Scotney and the Hampshire Chronicle, records the occasion.
Sadly, the White Swan Inn was pulled down in the 1960's, but the other coaching inn, the Coach and Horses, which stands across The Square from the site of the White Swan, has been chosen as the place on which to erect a plaque to commerate the history of that time. Many of the names of those who signed the petition are still the names of the village families, and the causes and events of The Swing Riots are now recognised within the local school's syllabus.
1830 This plaque commemorates the petition for parliamentary reform signed in September 1830 by men from the parishes of Wonston, Bullington and Barton Stacey meeting in The White Swan Inn, in this Square, and carried on foot to the King, William IV, at Brighton by Joseph Mason. The Wonston signatories were:
Edward Wm. Hoar
William TaylorRichard Pike
John RenoldsJames Whicher
James Groves, Jun.
James TaylorCharles Leach
Edward TarrantThomas Judd
In November, men from ten surrounding parishes went out from Sutton Scotney, to remonstrate with farmers, parsons and landowners with regards to wages. The uprisings, part of the 'Swing Riots', led to severe penalties:
Joseph Carter of Sutton Scotney spent two years in prison hulks. James Pumphrey of Sutton Scotney was transported. Joseph & Robert Mason of Bullington and David Champ of Micheldever were transported. James Annals, John Dore & James Whitcher of Barton Stacey were transported. Thomas Berriman & Henry Hunt of Barton Stacey and Henry Cook of Micheldever were hanged.
William Cobbett held a 'Reform Festival' at Sutton Scotney on 7th July 1832 for the petitioners who had not been transported, and those farmers who had supported the cause for better conditions.