Damerham’s history starts before the Normans and we are mentioned in the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. We were an important Village in those times, and accounts are peppered with the names of Kings, Queens, and prominent churchmen. But history is all around you as you walk round the Village, for you to see and explore!
St. George`s Church.
Look at some of the special things in the Church – the corbels in the roof, the wooden nails in the south aisle, and the 12th century Tympanum of St. George killing a Saracen. But think also about what this Church means to its worshippers, and to the wider community. Join the Cleaning Rota, and you will have a unique opportunity to become part of a thousand years of people caring for this wonderful building. You’ll find a leaflet about the Church’s history inside the building itself. Contact Rev. Les Player (Rector) 01725 518642 firstname.lastname@example.org
Court Farm has been looking down over Damerham for 800 years! Some of the beams inside are even older, as they were recycled ship’s timbers. It is understood that the Court was held there – the name “Damerham” itself means “Place of the Judges”.
Henry VIII gave the Village to Catharine Parr, and it is thought that she bred racehorses at Court Farm. Damerham was the centre for collection of Wool Tithes from the whole district, and the 12thcentury barn still stands there. The barn is in use today, but not for involuntary contributions!
Of course, there are always the “It is saids”. One such is that there’s a tunnel or covered route from the Church to the farm, dug as a bolt hole for priests during the reformation. “It is said” that there are ghosts – a coach and four gallops round the pond (which has been subsequently filled in!). And quietly, in the garden, some ghostly person – unseen, but smelt – puffs contentedly on his/her pipe!
The Coote Family.
The portraits of the fifth Eyre Coote and his wife watch over us from their portraits in the Village Hall. They donated the land for the Hall and Sports Field early in the 20th Century. West Park House – now destroyed - was their home, bought by the first Sir Eyre in 1764. He won fame through his military campaigns, which played a large part in adding India to the British Empire. He left West Park to his nephew, the second Sir Eyre, and it was his wife who erected the Monument on the Estate, in memory of both men.
The Great Fire of Damerham, 1866.
The fire started in a house where Wath Cottage now stands. The flames spread speedily along the thatched walls between the cottages, until thirty-two houses and three farms were burnt. An contemporary account describes the Percy family spending the night of the fire underneath a shepherd’s hut during a terrible thunder storm. In the time that followed, the account says “We slept in a barn or where we could, and finally we went into one of the Barracks before the roof was properly on”.
The real name of “The Barracks” is “The Terrace”, and these homes behind the trees opposite the Garage were meant to be temporary accommodation for the people made homeless in the Great Fire. They were built by public subscription, organised by the then Rector, William Owen.
The Village School nestles on the corner of Steels Lane and Mill End, and dates from about 1862. The Millennium Domesday Book, in the foyer of the Village Hall, has some of the records showing how tough school life could be. The school is remarkable in the unique way it avoided closure when numbers fell. In 1982, it combined with Rockbourne School to form a federation, with the Infants’ Department in Damerham, and the Juniors in Rockbourne. This has proved to be an unqualified success.
Looking at names
Names hint at local history – take Pound Lane, for instance, which leads you to Pound Cottage in the High Street, with its thatched barn at right angles to the house. If your animals strayed and ended up in the Pound Barn, you would be fined by the Court Leate. .At Mill End, you can actually see machinery from the Old Water Mill in the garden of the Old Corn Mill – but what of Little Mill Lane at North End? There’s not a trace of a Mill there – some research, perhaps, for new arrivals?
Damerham celebrates Millennium Year.
Remember, history starts now! Opposite the Church Gate stands the Village Beacon,. For several years before the Millennium, our Community worked to raise funds to make the Day really memorable. The Beacon was part of this, and was lit on 31stt December, 1999, as one of a string of beacons across the nation. Next to the War Memorial, there is a wooden bench, designed and made by David Tiller, and donated to the Village in Millennium Year. The beautiful embroidery between the Coote portraits in the Village Hall was sewn for this special year by Betty Maycock , (who was a resident here) as a gift to the Village. It depicts some of our interesting houses.
Damerham Domesday Book.
Damerham produced its own Domesday book in 2000 as part of the Millennium. This was done by a group of residents who assembled all the information on current residents, took photographs and then assembled them in to a large document. This can be view by going to this link. The book appears here in parts to make viewing easier
See the latest edition of the Parish Pump for forthcoming events (link above)