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.
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:
Pennington Remembered – A Pictorial Recollection, published circa. 1990 by Eon Graphics, Highcliffe, Dorset.
Snippets from long ago in Pennington, published in 2004 by Eon Graphics, Highcliffe, Dorset.
Pennington’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.
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.
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.
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
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,
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, 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.
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.
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.
In 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”.
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.
On 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 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!
Sopers in Britain on Ancestry.com, Author unknown
Pistol Dueling during the early Victorian Era, by R.S. Fleming, posted on 30 Oct 2012
The Death of Dueling, by Wade Ellett
Launceston Examiner, Date Tuesday 28 June 1859
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).
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.
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?).
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!
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.
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!).
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).
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”.
There’s more to come! (check back in a month or so)