The History & Heritage section is constantly evolving as we learn more.

The History sub-section below takes a chronological approach to recounting human history in Pennington.

The Heritage sub-section (on a separate page) sets out the origins of Pennington’s place names, old buildings and grand houses.



Overview Books by J. Stephens

– Introduction

Up to 1200 Prehistoric

Early historic



After 1200 Pennington Manors

Pennington saltworks

Early maps

1789-91 valuation


After 1800 Guns at Dawn

1826 map

1841 Tithe map

1897 maps

1898 description

After 1900 1908 maps




1932 map

1939 map


After 1950 – (no content yet)
After 1980 – (no content yet)

Books about Pennington by Joan Stephens

The modern history of Pennington from the late 19th Century through to the late 20th Century is well documented in three books written by local Penningtonian Joan Stephens. The titles of Joan’s books are:

fullsizerender-7Pennington Remembered – A Pictorial Recollection, published circa. 1990 by Eon Graphics, Highcliffe, Dorset.

dsc_0096Snippets from long ago in Pennington, published in 2004 by Eon Graphics, Highcliffe, Dorset.

fullsizerender-6Pennington’s Sacrifice in the Great War (co-authored by John Cockram and Richard Williams), published in 2007 by Natula Publications, Christchurch, Dorset.

Joan’s books were the inspiration for PenningtonVillage.UK. All three of these publications no longer appear to be in print at the time of writing, but are available in the local library and from specialist booksellers. This website does not aim to replicate the works above (this author’s knowledge and standard of writing is not comparable to Joan’s!), but some reference is made to them below given their significance to the documenting of Pennington’s history and in particular the substantial change that Pennington saw in the period from 1930 through to today.

Other sources have been referenced below where applicable. Please note that all work on this page and website has been written for non-commercial research and study purposes only.

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Pennington’s history – Introduction

“Penyton” first appears in historical records in 1283, as a fief for the knight, John de Acton.

Similar place names appear across the British Isles following the Norman conquest in 1066. The meaning is a farmstead (or settlement/enclosure), i.e. a “Tun”, that paid a penny’s rent.

Whilst “Pennington” was an area name from at least 1283, the human settlement itself is older. Or at least the settlement of Yaldhurst is older, which is within the boundaries of modern day Pennington.

Whilst the place name Pennington dates back a long way, the term has been used for different purposes over time. Up to 1839, Pennington was a name identifying the manors in which the village, saltmarshes, farms and roads existed. From 1839, the manors of Pennington were co-extensive with the ecclesiastical and civil Parish of Milford-on-Sea of which Pennington was a part. From 1911, Pennington became a civil parish in its own right and had its own parish council, which lasted for 21 years.

In 1932, the Pennington civil parish became a ward within the Borough of Lymington, which after 1974 has a “town council” responsible for the electoral wards of Pennington, Lymington and Buckland. Pennington’s story since 1932 is well documented in Joan Stephens’ books “Snippets from long ago in Pennington” and “Pennington Remebered – A Pictorial Recollection”.

Whilst some parts of Pennington’s residential areas have effectively joined to parts of the residential areas within the wards of Buckland and Lymington over time, Pennington remains separate and distinct through its history, family and place names, land use, community hubs, and its environment.

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Prehistoric (500,000 BC – AD42)

In 2009 the New Forest National Park Authority with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, the Crown Estate, Hampshire County Council and Exxon Mobil based at Fawley set up the Coastal Heritage Project. The project recorded the variety of archaeology found along the New Forest coast.
Phase I (desk based investigation) and Phase II (fieldwork) projects identified over 2,900 archaeological sites within the Study Area ranging from pieces of pottery to abandoned villages and castles. In Appendix B to the report, the coastline between Milford-on-Sea to Elmers Court is evaluated, and there are several references specific to Pennington.
Archaeological records indicate that 12 early prehistoric hand axes have been found in the Pennington and Lymington area.
An excavation at Lower Farm in Pennington uncovered late prehistoric human activity (a burnt mound).
Early Neolithic human activity is evidenced in Lower Pennington by a ditch enclosure. A Bronze Age ring ditch is also recorded as having been documented, but the 2009 study did not spot it.

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Early Historic (AD 43 – AD 409)

The report indicates that two stone carved heads from this period were once found at Lower Farm in Pennington. However, no settlements are known except those at nearby Buckland and Ampress.

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Medieval (AD 410 – 1539)

Excavations at Manor Farm in Lower Pennington found evidence of medieval settlement including hearths, ditches gullies and post holes.
Widespread food production in the Lower Pennington area is evidenced by enclosures and droveways uncovered in Lower Farm.
The report states that Oxey Marsh in Lower Pennington was the primary salt production site during the local industry’s peak. More discussion of the Pennington and Oxey salt works is set out below.

Credit: NEW FOREST RAPID COASTAL ZONE ASSESSMENT SURVEY PHASE 3: FINAL REPORT Prepared by: Wessex Archaeology Portway House Old Sarum Park Salisbury SP4 6EB For: New Forest National Park Authority South Efford House Milford Road Everton Lymington SO41 OJD Report ref.: 72201.02 April 2011
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Yaldhurst (up to 1200’s)

The village of Yaldhurst is mentioned in the Domesday Book but it goes back even earlier than that. With Highcliff, Beckley and Hinton, it formed the New Forest ‘Hundred’, the division of the County in Saxon times supposed to contain a hundred families.


In the reign of Edward the Confessor (1003-1066), the land was held by Brixi and was assessed at five hides. In old English law a hide was a variable unit of land that was enough for a household. However the Estate of Yaldhurst (“Cildeest” XI Century) was held in 1086 by Alvric the Little or ‘Younger’.

Because of the creation of the New Forest by William the Conqueror for his hunting preserve, three Yaldhurst hides had become part of the Forest such that only two remained as meadow (presumably farmed).

Nobody knows the site of the medieval settlement of Yaldhurst but today the name is preserved in the former farmhouse of Yaldhurst (which is a listed building) and the lane leading to it from Pennington Common.

Credit: Jane Chitty, “Yaldhurst – Forest Crafts, A Hampshire Home”, 1989, Belhaven

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A note on the New Forest:

In Norman times the word ‘Forest’ did not mean a wooded area, as we understand it today. Instead it meant a separate legal system with its own courts and officers to protect the venison (beasts of the chase) and vert (the green undergrowth they fed on). The 150 square miles of the New Forest or “nova foresta” was one of 21 areas in England to be placed under forest law by William the Conqueror.

Forest law was deeply disliked by the local population who could no longer hunt for these protected animals for the cooking pot or take wood to build their homes and light their fires. They were not allowed to enclose their land or fence their crops, as such activities restricted hunting. The penalties for contravening forest law were severe.

When William the Conqueror died in 1087, his son William II became King of England. Known as William Rufus because of his ruddy complexion, he took an even harder line than his father against those convicted of interfering with hunting. Anyone who stole venison was sentenced to death. People who shot at a deer had their hands cut off, while disturbance of deer resulted in blinding.

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The three Pennington manors (from 1285 to 1875)

John de Acton was Pennington’s first knight and, as far as we know, its ‘Founding father’. De Acton received Pennington as a Knight’s fee from Gilbert De Clare (or “Red Gilbert”) who was a powerful noble in the service of Edward I (or “Edward Longshanks”).

 Through a series of transactions,
A later Acton family crest

De Acton effectively carved Pennington up into three manors: two Pennington manors, and Pennington Narvett (named after the family that owned this manor for about 300 years).

It wasn’t until the early 19th century that Pennington became unified under the single ownership of William Tomline, the son of the Bishop of Lincoln and subsequently Winchester.

Tomline sold the estate to  John Pulteney in 1834.

John Pulteney’s son, John Granville Pulteney, was born in 1836 and succeeded him. He died at the age of 39 and lies with his wife and family still in St Marks graveyard in Pennington village.

Keppel Pulteney, Esq., the last Lord of the Manor, succeeded John Granville upon his death.

From him, ownership of the manor passed into the hands of a company known as the Keyhaven Syndicate. There had been prospects of building a port along the Pennington-Keyhaven marsh area with railway running right through Pennington, however WW1 brought a stop to those plans such that the land was sold off privately. At this time, the manorial rights to Pennington Common were acquired by Lymington and Pennington Town Council.

Some of Pennington’s more interesting manor owners include:

Sir John Lisle, Regicide Poster
Sir John Lisle, Regicide Poster

Sir John Lisle, who also owned Ellingham manor in Ringwood, was an English lawyer and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1640 and 1659. He supported the Parliamentarian cause in the English Civil War and was one of the Regicides of King Charles I of England. He was assassinated by an agent of the crown while in exile in Switzerland.


Giles Stibbert, who made his fortune as Lieutenant General of the East India Company and then  Commander in Chief of India, before returning to the New Forest.


George Tomline, who was the Bishop of Lincoln and subsequently Winchester, and was Private Secretary to William Pitt the Younger.

A summary timeline of the manors of Pennington, from the 12th Century through to the 20th Century, has been put together by the website team.

This timeline is based upon the research already published in Victoria County History – Hampshire: A part-volume covering the cathedral city of Winchester, Christchurch and the parishes of the Isle of Wight, published in 1912, and digitised by British History Online.

Pennington Manors – A timeline based on secondary sources

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So far, of a number of documents viewed at Hampshire Records Office in Winchester, two have provided some assistance in approximating the manor boundaries.

Manor of Pennington Narvett – survey of 1790

At the back of the survey of Pennington Narvett (spelt “Nervett” in the document) there is a page entitled ‘Commoning and lanes within the manor of Pennington Narvett’ (for those interested, the reference is 24M61/M8). The areas identified within the manor of Pennington Narvett include:

  • Pennington Great Common
  • Pennington Little Do
  • The New Mill Common
  • Ramleys Lane
  • Road from Hookey’s to Ayles’s Barn
  • Earley’s Lane
  • Road from Honey Crofs into the Common (named preserved by Honey xx off of Wainsford Road)
  • Road from Furzey Crofs into the Common (named preserved by Furzey House off of Wainsford Road)
  • Road from Christchurch to Lymington
  • Lane from Lymington to Pennington
  • Lane to Pennington Farm
  • Highley Lane
  • The Pound

Two other manors within Pennington are also referenced (in the summary valuation page). Based on the above information, we have approximated the boundaries of Pennington Narvett Manor below, and will update this approximation as research progresses/until better information is received.


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Up to the mid nineteenth century (c. 1845) smuggling was one of Pennington’s more lucrative industries.

Kegs of brandy would be brought by boats to the low water mark at Pennington Marshes. By rope, men would haul the kegs to shore and transport them by donkey and cart to the Common or Upper Pennington. Its understood the old marl pit on Upper Common or in nearby Bower’s Copse were favorite hiding places (see note below about these places…).

In Pennington Remembered, Joan Stephens writes that whilst hanging washing to dry on the furze bushes (as was commonly done by women of the village to supplement their usual income) women would hide bottles of brandy in their washing baskets and use the disguise as a means of transporting it to their customers.


Now, if you’re wondering “where exactly is Bower’s Copse?” – you’ll be forgiven because it’s gone!

However, it can be found in older maps of Pennington. Below, Bower’s Copse is east-north-east of Upper Pennington Common. Go there today (or look on GoogleMaps), and you’ll see open fields.


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Pennington tithe map – 1841-2

A tithe map from 1841-2 of Milford Parish including the tything of Pennington is helpful in identifying the above road and place names from the earlier survey (above) where they do not exist today.

It is also interesting that since 1842, whilst there has been a lot of residential development toward the village, there has been very little change in the boundaries in upper and lower Pennington.

There have been name changes however. For example, what is today Pennington Common, Middle Common and Upper Common were previously The Great Common, Little Common, and New Mill Common respectively. The last being on account of the Mill that was at Wainsford just across Avon Water (this is represented by the building in the bottom left of the picture below – leading to the Mill were the resevoirs that are today used for carp fishing:


BingMaps ( provides a variety of mapping options for viewing the current landscape of Pennington (search the coordinates: 50.754336, -1.561499). When layered on top of the Tythe map, there is a large amount that has not changed from 1842 through to 2017.

(+More sketches and comparisons of tythes).

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A note about tythings and tythe maps:

The concept of giving a tithe, or tenth, of income to support a local priest can be traced back to before the Norman Conquest of 1066 and the word ‘tithe’ itself is an Old English word. By the twelfth century it had become accepted that tithes should be given to the parish priest; before then, they could be given to any priest. Tithes were classified as

  • ‘predial’, arising from crops
  • ‘mixed’, arising from livestock
  • ‘personal’, arising from the product of labour.

They were also divided into

  • ‘Greater tithes’ – the tithes of hay, corn and wool
  • ‘Lesser tithes’ – of everything else

In the Middle Ages, churches and their tithes were often granted to religious houses and Oxford or Cambridge colleges. The monks, nuns and scholars could not act as parish priests so they appointed deputies, known as ‘vicars’ (from the Latin word ‘vicarius’, meaning a substitute) and gave them part of the tithes. Often the religious house, which was the ‘rector’ of the parish, simply kept the greater tithes but sometimes there was a more complex division of the tithes recorded in a written agreement, known as an ‘ordination of a vicarage’, confirmed by the bishop of the diocese and often copied into his register.

Tithe was one of the three main sources of clergy income, the others being the produce from glebe (land belonging to the parish and farmed by the vicar or rector) and fees for conducting baptisms, marriages and burials. Income from tithes was often the most important of the three. Originally, tithe payments took the form of the tenth sheaf of wheat or barley, the tenth calf or lamb, the tenth cheese and so on, known as payments in kind. Many fine, large, late medieval barns, are referred to as tithe barns and may have been used to store tithes of crops belonging to institutional landlords.

In many counties, the system of open field farming persisted into the early or even mid 19th century. In these counties farms often consisted of a number of strips distributed throughout two or three large arable fields, with associated rights in the common pastures and meadows and other common land. With the introduction of more scientific farming methods in the 18th century this system was gradually abandoned and the land was redistributed into many smaller fields, a process known as enclosure.

Enclosures could be carried out by mutual agreement, by local Acts of Parliament and later under general Enclosure Acts. Details of the redistribution of land were recorded in enclosure agreements or enclosure awards. Most of the redistribution was carried out based on land ownership within the open fields, in many cases to the disadvantage of small landowners and landless labourers, although land was often allocated to the parish or for the use of the poor. Tithes were often commuted for money payments as part of the enclosure agreement.

The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 Agreements to exchange payments in kind for money payments, also known as ‘moduses’, could be altered when a new incumbent came to the parish. Disputes about tithes often caused bad feeling between clergy and their parishioners and from the later 17th century an increasing number of these parishioners could be Non-Conformists who resented having to pay to support a church to which they did not belong. In 1836, the Tithe Commutation Act was passed, which provided for the commutation of tithe payments in kind to money payments, known as tithe rent charges or corn rents, based on the national price of certain quantities of grain over a seven year period. Three Tithe Redemption Commissioners were appointed to carry out this work.

Tithe records

The 1836 Tithe Act produced two main records: the tithe map and its accompanying apportionment.

Tithe maps:

The tithe map was a large-scale map of all tithable lands in a parish. They were often on a scale of 3 chains to the inch (a chain equals 22 yards), roughly equivalent to 25 inches to the mile, and for many parishes they are the earliest surviving large-scale maps available. The maps had to be approved by the Tithe Commissioners and were classified according to their scale and accuracy.

The maps showed each piece of tithable land, identified by its tithe field number, which is linked to a written description in the apportionment. Occupied houses are coloured pink or red, while other buildings are shaded in grey. Sometimes a building is linked to a field by a shape like an elongated ‘s’, showing that both were part of the same tithe field number. Although it was not their main purpose, tithe maps also show roads, railways and watercourses. Many maps were drawn especially for the tithe redemption process, but others were based on older maps which were not always fully updated.

Tithe apportionments:

The tithe apportionment had two sections: the agreement between the tithe payers or, if no agreement could be reached, the Commissioners’ award, setting out their decision on the calculation of tithe payments and stating the amount of tithable land in the parish; and the apportionment, a detailed description of how the payments were to be allocated. The apportionment is arranged alphabetically in order of the landowners’ surnames and gives the following information:  name of landowner;  name of tenant;  tithe field number, which enables the description to a particular area on the map to be found;  a brief description of the property, including farm and field names;  the cultivation, for example, arable, pasture or hops;  the area of the piece of land in acres, rods and perches, abbreviated to a r p (an acre was 4,840 square yards; there were 4 rods (also known as roods) to an acre and 40 perches to a rod);  and the all important amount of tithe rent charge payable.

Tithe maps are out of copyright but tithe awards, because they are deemed to be literary works under copyright law, remain in copyright until 2039.

The later history of tithe

The Tithe Act of 1891 stipulated that in future tithe rent charge was to be paid by the landowner. After World War I many large estates were broken up and tenants who bought their farms found themselves responsible for tithe payment. By this time, there were substantial numbers of agnostics and atheists, as well as Catholics and Non-Conformists, among farmers and the payment of tithe rent charge was often bitterly resented. The 1925 Tithe Act introduced a fixed rent charge and vested almost the whole of the ecclesiastical tithe rent charge in the Queen Anne’s Bounty which had been set up in 1704 to deal with the problem of inadequate clergy incomes.

The Tithe Wars

The economic depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s brought the situation to a head. According to Alan Armstrong, ‘…small owner farmers rebelled against the incidence of tithe-payments which in real terms became particularly onerous in the early 1930s when prices tumbled.

The 1936 Tithe Act abolished the tithe rent charge and made provision for it to be redeemed either in a single lump sum or by yearly payments, or annuities, to be redeemed by 1996. The payments were administered by the Queen Anne’s Bounty and, from 1948, following the merger of the Queen Anne’s Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commission, by the Church Commissioners. If the amount of the annuity was £1 or less the whole amount was to be redeemed compulsorily. Annuities were set at a low level to placate the farmers and ultimately the church incurred heavy losses.

Credit: A guide to tithe records held at the Kent History and Library Centre, Kent County Council
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Pennington saltworks (from at least 1217 to 1845)

For most of the 18th century Pennington & Lymington were the main producers of sea salt in the country. It was an industry that had existed along these shores for many hundreds of years, from at least 1217 and possibly dating back to Roman times.

There was a continuous line of salt works along the five miles of coastline from Lymington to Hurst Spit. The greatest concentration being in an area of two miles by half a mile wide situated in Oxey and Pennington marshes.


In Pennington Remembered – A Pictorial Recollection, Joan Stephens recounts that ‘there was a time that this part of Pennington was far from beautiful for.. the great local industry was the manufacture of salt. Along the marshes were the salt pans, where sea water was evaporated by the sun; and boiling houses, where day and night smoky coal furnances made the final extraction, causing a dirty smudge on the coastline…

Philip Fallé writing in 1694, saw Pennington Marshes as “a most unhealthy place, without fresh water.. with stinking vapours and smoke that arise out of the neighbouring marshes.”

Per Stephens, the sea salt undertaking was finally abandoned in 1845 ‘when an inexhaustiable supply of mineral salt could be provided from Cheshire. Thus ended a great local industry going back to very early times when in 1217 we are told the Sheriff was ordered to restore to Henry de Pont the possessions of his “customs” of salt in Pennington and Efford which had been taken into the King’s hands.’

Other commentators site the duties imposed on sea salt as a significant contributor to the downfall of the Pennington and Lymington salt industry, and indeed express surprise that a local industry even managed to survive until 1845.

(More detail on the different perspectives regarding the contributors to the decline of the saltworks to be added).


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Celia Fiennes (1662-1741) wrote a diary of the journeys she made ‘Through England on a side saddle’ (during the period 1684 – 1703) “to regain my health by variety and change of aire and exercise”. She stayed with a relation in Buckland ward just outside of Pennington in around 1695 and gave a first hand account of a saltworks she visited.

…. ‘it’s a mile to Limington a seaport town – it has some few small ships belonging to it and some little trade, but the greatest trade is by their salterns.

The seawater they draw into trenches and so into several ponds that are secured in the bottom to retain it, and it stands in the sun to exhale the watery part of it, and if it prove a dry summer they make the best and most salt, for the rain spoils the ponds by weakening the salt.celia-fiennes

When they think its fit to boil they draw off the water from the ponds by pipes which conveys it into a house full of large square iron and copper pans; they are shallow but they are a yard or two if not more square, these are fixed in rows one by another it may be twenty on a side, in a house under which is the furnace that burns fiercely to keep these pans boiling apace, and as it candy’s about the edges or bottom so they shovel it up and fill it in great baskets and so the thinner part runs through on moulds they set to catch it, which they call salt cakes’.

The rest in the baskets dry and is very good salt and as fast as they shovel the boiling salt out of the pans they do replenish it with more of their salt water in their pipes. They told me when the season was dry and so the salt water in its prime they could make 60 quarters of salt in one of those pans which they constantly attend night and day all the while the fire is in the furnace, because it would burn to waste and spoil the pans which by their constant use wants often to be repaired. They leave off saturday night and let out the fire and so begin and kindle their fire Monday morning, its a pretty charge to light the fire.

Their season for making salt is not above 4 or 5 months in the year and that is only in a dry summer. These houses have above 20 some 30 more of these pans in them, they are made of copper.

They are very careful to keep their ponds well secured and mended by good clay and gravel in the bottom and sides and so by sluices they fill them out of the sea at high-tides and so conveyed from pond to pond till fit to boil’.

In 1825, David Garrow also provided a description of the saltworks in ‘The History of Lymington’:

‘The principal manufacture of this town is salt, but this has been of late years sensibly on the decline, owing to the superiority of the same species of commodity in the Liverpool market, and the depressed prices at which the latter retail it. Where, about thirty-five years ago, a dozen salterns were in full play, there are now not more than three employed, and those on a scale far inferior to that on which they were conducted six years since. Indeed, within the last nine months, the Lymington manufacturers have imported salt from Liverpool, to retail at home; so that it is probable, in the course of a few years, the salt works here will be wholly disused. Some years back, these salterns paid into the exchequer, for duty alone, the enormous sum of £ 50,000 per annum, which at once shows the great trade they must at that period have enjoyed. The method, by which salt is here made, is very simple. The sea water is first pumped into shallow quadrilateral reservoirs of earth, called salt pans; in these it remains exposed to the rays of the sun, till the quantity of water is sensibly reduced, so as to leave the remainder considerably stronger of saline than when first introduced into them. It is then, by the instrumentality of a forcing pump, which is excited by flyers, on a principle similar to that of the wind-mill, conducted into large flat iron pans, from six to eight inches deep; these are placed over a fierce fire, and the brine is suffered to boil till it almost wholly evaporates in steam. The sediment that remains at the bottom, is the salt, which is afterwards housed and dried.

The medicinal or Epsom salts made here, which are a preparation from what is decomposed from the culinary commodity, may be considered the purest in England; and Mr. West, banker and merchant, of this town, after many years’ persevering attention to the subject, has brought them to a high state of perfection.’

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Early maps including Pennington

Pennington – a key stop on the Road from London to Poole



Pennington as part of Milford. Dated 1760. Credited to Kitchin.



The importance of Avon Water as a geographical and political boundary. Dated 1791. Credited to Thomas Milne.


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Guns at Dawn, 1814

In early August 1814, Captain William Henry Souper of the Chasseurs Britanniques (which was about to be disbanded in nearby Lymington) was tried at Winchester Assizes.

His Crime: the murder of Adjutant Dieterich, in a duel using pistols, on Pennington Common.

Much to his dismay, the jury found Souper guilty, but there was such an outcry from the public and the army (for whom dueling was still considered an honorable way to settle one’s differences) that the Judge had to pardon Souper and set him free!

After this incident and other notable cases, dueling was outlawed in the British army.

“Am I to get led to execution like the vilest felon?”

Captain Souper breaks down as his sentence is passed

Captain William Henry Souper was born in St Michaels, Barbados in 1775. He married Amelia Ann Reinagle on 3 October 1897 at St Mary, Marylebone Road, London; and fathered six children.

He began his military career in 1795 with the Royal Scots (aka “1st Regiment of Foot”), during which time he was responsible for the “recruitment of free-born blacks and slaves in the West Indies”.

The 1st Batallion had been garrisoned in the West Indies from 1790 and left in 1797. As such, Souper had spent two years serving there when he joined the 2nd Batallion in the Mediterranean. Based in this timing, we understand he would have fought with them in the Battle of Egmont op Zee in the 1799 Helder Campaign, and in the 1801 Egyptian campaign at the Battle of Aboukir and the Battle of Alexandria.

CBritUniformIn 1801, the Chasseurs Britanniques unit was formed from French Royalist emigres under the charge of British officers, and served throughout the wars. Souper joined the Chasseurs Britanniques, as an officer and later became its paymaster!

The unit served chiefly in the Mediterranean until 1811, when it participated in the later stages of the Peninsular War. It had a good record in battle but later became notorious for desertion, and was not even allowed to perform outpost duty, for fears that the pickets would abscond. Between fighting, the Regiments were stationed on the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands, and were stationed at Lymington’s Foreign Depot in 1814 before being disbanded in October of the same year.

In “Snippets from long ago in Pennington”, Joan Stephens notes that ‘during the threatened Napoleonic invasion of this country bands of Militia were camped on the common. Between 1789-1815 French emigrants began to land all along the south coast. At this time, the neighbouring town of Lymington was a dump for a turbulent and ruly mob of German, Dutch, English and French fighting units”.

The Duel

According to Souper’s testimony, Adjutant Dieterich had publicly insulted him. Of course, per Souper, if he’d not offered a duel he would loose his commission! For Dieterich, to refuse a duel would be a serious blow to his manhood and reputation.

It is to be remembered that up to this point, dueling with pistols had been considered the most gentlemanly way of resolving any kind of personal dispute or dishonor. In particular, the army had kept the tradition ‘alive’ a lot longer than the public at large.

PistolOn  15 Apr 1814, the two duelers, armed and accompanied by their assistants, or “seconds,” to ensure a fair fight, met at Pennington Common to settle once and for the grievances that divided them.

Dieterich fired first; he missed.

Then Souper took his shot. The bullet went through the hip of Dieterich  into his spine; the shot was fatal.

The Trial

The trial of WH Souper was reported in newspapers across the country.

Souper was arrested and tried by jury at Winchester Assizes. The Judge Sir Justice H Dampier presided.

Souper had a wife and children and expected acquittal or short imprisonment, but the jury returned the verdict of ‘Guilty of Murder’. Souper feinted but then, ‘pathetically’ apologised, saying he had no fear death having been in battle and having faced the West Indies climate.

He protested: ‘Am I to get led to execution like the vilest felon’.

Being a gentleman himself, Justice Dampier sympathised but passed a sentence of execution! The Justice, in addressing the Jury, lamented recent cases of a similar kind in that the court had not been able to deter gentlemen in the army from the odious practice of dueling; and explained that all persons concerned in a duel, either as principals or seconds, must, in case of death to either of the parties, be guilty of willful murder, both by the laws of God and man, in as much as it was not the rash act of a passionate moment, but done generally deliberately in cold blood.

Souper’s execution was scheduled for later in the summer, being the 27th August.

After the conviction and by 4 August that year, Winchester Assizes received five petitions for Souper to be pardoned from the public and the army. The petitions came from:

  • 21 officers of the Chasseurs Britanniques;
  • 33 Lymington inhabitants;
  • 35 other officers resident at the foreign military depot at Lymington;
  • 36 other officers resident at foreign military depot, Lymington;
  • From Souper’s sister, Mrs Alshed.

The Justice then used his powers to pardon Souper. In other words: he got away with it!

The last recorded duel with pistols was in 1854, but it was generally outlawed in the British army before that following the Souper trial (and other similar incidents). In Snippets from long ago in Pennington, Joan Stephens notes that British Army magazine ‘The Soldier’ heralded this “the Army’s last duel” in an article written by Capt. O’Donavan. Stephens also notes that the Foreign Depot in Lymington had ‘long since gone but, until 1974 – when it was destroyed by vandals, stood the grim reminder in Lymington Churchyard of the Army’s last duel – a stone erected to the memory of John Dieterich late Lieut and Adjutant of the Foreign Depot who fell in a duel on the Common at Pennington’.

What happened to Souper?

Souper died in (1834? Place and cause TBD). He continued to receive half pay until his death. His wife, Amelia, died in 1859 in Brighton, England. Their daughter, a doctor in Australia, put a notice of Amelia’s death in the Australian newspapers.

In 1815, Souper’s son (also William) was appointed Ensign for the York Chasseurs. Formed on 13 November 1813 from the ‘Better Class of Culprit and Deserter’ and confined aboard Isle of Wight military prison ships, this expendable corps of ‘Serial Deserters’ was dispatched to survive or die in the islands of Barbados, St Vincent, Jamaica, Grenada, Tobago and Guadeloupe, where 26 per cent successfully deserted.. and 30 per cent perished!

  1. Sopers in Britain on, Author unknown 
  2. Pistol Dueling during the early Victorian Era, by R.S. Fleming, posted on 30 Oct 2012 
  3. The New Annual Register, Or, General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, by Andrew Kippis 
  4. The Death of Dueling, by Wade Ellett
  5. Launceston Examiner, Date Tuesday 28 June 1859
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Map including Pennington – 1826

Pennington as part of Ringwood Hundred, Dated 1826. Credited to Greenwood.


Per “The hundred of Christchurch: Introduction, British History Online”, The hamlet of Pennington in Milford parish is a detached portion of the Ringwood Hundred, to which it belonged as early as 1316.

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Maps of Pennington from 1897

The following photos are of original maps available in Lymington library (we are informed by the library that due to their old age any copyright protection has expired and as such, it is OK for us to use these photos on this website):

Pennington village – 1897

The two images above are the same except the right hand image was taken slightly closer to the document, thereby excluding nearby Lymington.

Some notable features with respect to the maps are as follows:

  • The municipal boundary line with Lymington is clearly marked as a dotted line and is labelled. Pennington was in fact part of the parish of Milford-on-Sea at this time, as is noted in the left hand margin “Milford PH”.
  • Pennington Square isn’t marked, but is understood not to be the area today between the Old School and the convenience shops, but rather the area between The Musketeer and the southern side of South Street.
  •  There are significantly less buildings than there are today. In particular, note the absence of any buildings north of Pennington Square and south of Pennington square, and the limited number of buildings between South Street and North Street (then called “Front Lane” and “Back Lane”, respectively).
  • What is today The Musketeer Pub was then called The Lion and Lamb. Whereas The White Heart has retained its name.
  • What is today Highfield Avenue was called Cemetary Road, as it does indeed lead toward the cemetary.
  • What was more recently known as “the BMX track” at Pennington Common was as far back as 1897 already called the “Old” gravel pit. There appears to have been two ponds along the north side of Pennington Common next to what is today Ramley Road.
  • There was a Lodge in the wooded area at the bottom of Stanford Hill next to the stream. Today there is just a wooded area that is part of the Preistlands site.
  • Priestlands Farm was situated where today we see Pennington Juniors and Infants schools.
  • The Vicarage was located further north and on the opposite side of Ramley Road compared to where it is today.

It should also be borne in mind that the roads at that time were not tarmac but were dust. As Joan Stephens writes in Snippets from a long time ago in Pennington when recounting the annual sprint clean before the invention of the hoover, ‘the roads were only covered with gravel and every time a hose and cart (or the odd motor car) passed by, up would come a cloud of dust…’ Stephens was born in 1912 in Pennington, and so the mention of a motor car can be discarded in considering the above map (the fist Ford not being available to the masses until 1908).

Lower Pennington – 1897


A few comments on the 1897 map of Lower Pennington:

  • The ponds and streams are colored blue on this map. The markings (a small tick within the unbroken outline of a pond) confirm that the markings identified in the maps above on Pennington Common are in fact ponds.
  • There are markings indicating that the path around Woodside gardens was already laid down, but no trees are marked inside the path. The house at Woodside was standing (although not sure the state of repair at this point).
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Description of Pennington in Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire – 1898

Pennington is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1839 out the parish of Milford, bounded on the west by the river Avon; the village is about a mile west from Lymington terminal station on a branch of the London and South Western railway and 11 east from Christchurch, in the New Forest division of the county, hundred of Ringwood, petty sessional division, union and county court district of Lymington, rural deanery of Lyndhurst and archdeaconry and diocese of Winchester. The church of St. Mark, situated on Pennington common, and erected in 1839, is a cruciform structure in the Early Decorated style, consisting of chancel, nave, transepts, double bell turret and 1 bell, and porch on the north-east, the church not standing due east and west: it has 407 sittings, 300 of which are free; the church is surrounded by a burial ground, planted with ornamental trees and shrubs, and inclosed by a bank and hedge. The register dates from the year 1839. The living is a vicarage, gross yearly value £88, with residence, in the gift of the vicar of Milford, and held since 1892 by the Rev. Arthur Charles Crick M.A. of St. John’s College, Cambridge. A soup kitchen was erected near the church in 1897, in commemoration of H.M. Diamond Jubilee, by Keppel Pulteney esq. and during the winter months soup is distributed to the poor of the parish, the expense being covered by voluntary contributions. The Victoria Reading Room and Club, opened in 1888, is also used for social and public meetings. Priestlands is the seat of Capt. Frederick Ellis J.P. Keppel Pulteney esq. of Symington, is lord of the manor and chief landowner. The soil is strong loam; subsoil, clay and gravel. The chief crops are wheat. The area is 1,698 acres.


Parochial (mixed), erected in 1852, chiefly at the expense of the late Mrs. Pulteney, of Northerwood, Lyndhurst, for 175 children; average attendance, 122; the schools are endowed with £20 a year by the late Rev. Richard Pulteney. Infant, erected in 1887, to hold 75 children; average attendance, 63.

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Maps of Pennington from 1908

Pennington village – 1908

Compared to the 1897 maps from eleven years earlier, limited development appears to have taken place:

  • What is now Oliver Road has been built, along with three new houses.
  • An additional track has been built from Priestlands House (now the Guerney Dixon centre) to the road with a second lodge having been built (a replacement for the old lodge?).
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World War One, The Great War (1914 – 1918)

The men we lost

“In 1914 Pennington was a small village of about 809 people living in about 202 houses. Of this small number, by the year’s end 94 men were serving in the Army or Royal Navy and by March 1915 the number was nearer 120. Given conscription, by the end of the war the number would have arisen to about 160 men in uniform.”

Tragically, Pennington lost 36 brave men to the Great War.

Cockram, Stephens and Williams’ book, Pennington’s Sacrifice in the Great War, recounts those fellows and the parts they had played in village life. The reason the book was written was to “ensure Pennington’s outstanding support of the Great War continues to be remembered.

Following the Great War a section of Pennington Common was taken to enlarge the churchyard. After a public meeting it was decided to place the War Memorial in the centre of this plot. It bears the names of 27 of the Pennington men who fell in that War.


Bombing in 1915

In Pennington Remembered, Stephens writes of “a unique event in the history of the parish”.

Pennington was shelled!

In particular, the Chequers Inn was hit.

Not, it turned out, by German shells but by shells fired from our own guns on the Isle of Wight!

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The last days of being a small rural village.

Pennington WI was formed.

A troop of Guides and Brownies was formed.

Pennington Tennis Club was extremely popular; taking place in a field in South Street.

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The Rural District Council instruct the building of 30 houses on Pound Ground Allotments.

The Blacksmiths at Pennington Cross closed, and was replaced by a garage (where today a Shell garage stands).

Roads were resurfaced for motor cars. As such, children no longer played in the street as had been common place beforehand.

A big sewerage scheme was undertaken through Pennington (whereas previously one would had had to visit the privy at the end of the garden when one felt the need!).

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Maps of Pennington in 1932

Pennington village – 1932

As Joan Stephens describes in her books, Pennington started to expand in the late 20’s and early 30’s (baby boom years?). The following changes had occurred by 1932 when compared to the map from 1908:

  • The first section of Pound Road had been built, adding 32 new houses to the village.
  •  To the North East of the Common, Council Road and Northover Road had been built along with approximately 48 new houses.
  • Lodge Road and Lawn Road had been built, along with an additional five houses.
  • Along Church Road (now Ramley Road), opposite the Common, ten larger houses had been built.
  • As detailed above, St Marks Church graveyard has been expanded with the war memorial at its centre.
  • There are additional five houses along the north side of South Street, however behind these allotments remained on the south-side of North Street (both now named on the map).
  • The field south of Yaldhurst has been divided in two (the creation of the sports field?) and the two circles of trees seen in the top field today have appeared on the map.
  • Along Church Road opposite the Common, the WI hall has appeared on the map as well as St Marks Club.
  • The parish boundary line has not changed, however Pennington is now independent and holds its own council (see “Pennington P.H.” in the left margin).
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Maps of Pennington in 1939 (at the start of WW2)

Pennington village – 1939

Comments on the above maps, as compared to those from 1932:

  • The second section of Pound Road has been completed, with the southern point now touching the wooded area of Haglane Copse.
  • There has been further infill along South Street. Off of North Street, Forward Drive (built by the Forward brothers) now stretches into the area that had previously been allotments.
  • More houses have been added around Lodge and Lawn Roads.
  • The bottom field south of Yaldhurst is now called the Recreation ground.
  • The boundary line has been re-labelled a “ward boundary”.
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There’s more to come! (check back in a month or so)