East Woodhay Society

The local society for the residents of the wonderful area of Woolton Hill and the local hamlets within East Woodhay

Newsletter August 2014

East Woodhay Society Newsletter for August 2014

East Woodhay Society Events

Friday 5th & Friday 19th September – Walking for Health

The next “Walking for Health” walks are on Friday 5th September and Friday 19th September at 10.30am from the Surgery in Trade Street RG20 9UL. The walks last about an hour and are at a gentle pace. Please wear clothes and shoes suitable for walking in the weather. There is no need to book, just turn up on the day and register. These walks are free and available to both members and non-members. Please note that as of the 3rd October, the walks will be every week and will start from the Woolton Hill Church Hall on the 1st, 3rd & 5th Friday and from the Rampant Cat on the 2nd & 4th Fridays. This will enable us to have a greater variety of walks and enjoy some refreshments after the walk.

Sunday 27th July – A Play for Children at Highclere Village Hall

The numbers for the FalconGrange Production “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse” were down on previous years, but those who did come along were rewarded with an exciting adventure, packed with fun, laughter and songs.

Saturday 15th November – Wine Tasting Quiz & AGM

Our next event is a ‘Call My Bluff’ wine tasting quiz on Saturday the 15th November, starting at 7.30pm, so if you have not yet bought your tickets, please call John Angle on 253889 or send an email to the address below.  Tickets for this event normally sell out very quickly and cost £10 for members and £12 for non-members.

Prior to the quiz we will be holding our AGM starting at 7.00pm. Please come along and be rewarded with a glass of wine.  At the AGM we will be presenting a cheque to the Ark Cancer Centre Charity and deciding on which charity to support for the coming year. So if you have a charity in mind, please let us know.  On the night we will put forward a short list of three for members to choose from.

Other Events

Thursday 4 September – Highclere Film Club – Free Film

Life of Pi

Ang Lee (USA) PG, 127mins

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. Ang Lee succeeds where other directors have failed to produce a stunning visual treat.

Thursday 18 September 2014

The Book Thief

Brian Percival (USA) 12A, 131mins

While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Members’ Classic Film evening

All films are at the Highclere Village Hall and on Thursdays the doors open at 7:30pm with the film at 8:00pm and on Sundays the doors open at 6:00pm with the film at 6:30pm.

Sunday 7th September – Highclere & East Woodhay Conservative BBQ

The BBQ is being held at Bottle Row, Penwood by kind permission of Cllr & Mrs John Izlett between 12.30pm and 2.30pm. Tickets £12.50 adults and £6 for children from either Molly on 253264 or Diana on 254677.

Sunday 14th September – Walking Treasure Trail Quiz

An event within the village for ALL the family organised by St Thomas’ Church, Woolton Hill starting from the church at 2.30pm and followed by afternoon tea and cakes. Please do go along and join in the fun. The cost is £5 for adults and free entry for children. Please RSVP by 7th September (for catering purposes) to Angie Maxwell on 253233 or at info@angelamaxwell.com or Chris vane on 253707 or at vanechristine@hotmail.com.

Tuesday 23rd September – An Evening with Thomas Plant & Neil Shuttleworth

The event starts at 7.00pm in the Woolton Hill Church Hall.  For the first hour bring along your items to be valued.  Thomas will give a talk on his life and experiences at 8.00pm.  Tickets in aid of the St Thomas’ Church Living Stones Appeal are £10 each, to include nibbles and a drink on arrival. For tickets please contact either Bertha Bates on 253199 or Margaret Falconer on 253144.

Friday 26th September – MacMillan Coffee Morning and Cheese & Wine Evening

Be a part of the World’s BIGGEST Coffee Morning, raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support at Lostock, Church Lane, Woolton Hill. 10am-12 noon for coffee and cake and 6.30pm-8.30pm for cheese and wine. For further details contact Louise Rand on 250898.


Saturday 27th September – Woolton Hill Village Market

Please come along and support your local village market.  This will be the 5th anniversary in the newly extended and refurbished Woolton Hill Church Hall. All your favourite stalls plus some new special activities for children.


Sunday 28th September – A Sausage Sizzle

A charity event is being held at 10 Arkwright Close, Highclere from 12.30pm. The event is being supported by the Highclere Society. All monies raised at this event will go to the charity, Anna’s Challenges, supporting children with Cystic Fibrosis at Basingstoke Hospital.  Children with Cystic Fibrosis need a high fat diet so sausages are good for them! The event will start with a free glass of bubbly followed by barbecued Griffins’ sausages, rolls, salad and sauces with a light dessert to follow; there will also be a vegetarian option. Entry to a sausage quiz with a bottle of Champagne to the winner is included in the ticket price of £10.00.  There is no charge for children. There will be a wine, beer and soft drinks bar with all proceeds going to Anna’s Challenges. Please contact m_j.osgood@talk21.com or call Martin on 250756 to reserve tickets. Entrance is by advance booking only to ensure the correct numbers of sizzled sausages!

Saturday 4th October – Woolton Hill Church Hall Grand Opening

Come and join in the fun at 3pm for the Grand Opening of the extended and refurbished Church Hall.  The cutting of the ribbon is at 3.15pm. Enjoy a glass of something appropriate and meet representatives from our generous donors. Everybody is welcome, so why not take the opportunity of a tour of the wonderful new premises.

Sunday 18th January – “The Real Downton Abbey”

A lavishly illustrated talk by Diana Mitchell, head guide at Highclere Castle followed by a Reception and Buffet Lunch in the Conference Centre at Hermitage Barracks. The event is in aid of the ABF  The Soldiers’ Charity and starts at 11.00am. Tickets cost £22.50 and are available together with further information from Horace at horace@highclerevillage.com or on 254677.

Speeding Within Woolton Hill

A Campaign Group has been set up within the village out of concern for speeding and inconsiderate drivers within Woolton Hill. The Group comprises over 170 residents, and has the support of the Parish Council and our local police. There is also liaison with the schools in the area to engage them and gain support through the children.

There are two major areas of concern: inconsiderate and dangerous driving at school times, by parents, residents and others passing through the village; and speeding outside of school times

The above results in a circle of people not walking to school as it is too dangerous, but also not walking to school means more cars on the road! Clearly there is a need for some people to drive, but there are many more who could walk to school, but feel it is not safe enough for them to want to.

The group want to both raise awareness of the campaign and to recruit some volunteers to train for and man speed guns across the parish. So, if you are concerned about the issues and want to help, then please consider volunteering. It is not a massive commitment, perhaps 1-2 times per month and at different times… mornings, evenings and weekends, which are just as important as other times, and once started a pattern may emerge, which may need to be addressed.

The group also need a coordinator who will organise the locations (which are set and approved by the Police), and personnel.

There is a Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/447302165416516/. You are welcome to join the page to receive regular updates of how the campaign is progressing. If you are not on facebook, but want to help, please send an email to safevillageroads@gmail.com.

Achievements of the Campaign so far include:-

1. Advisory 20mph has been applied for and HCC Highways will complete a survey (the group believe they are next on the list) to assess feasibility as there are larger signs required etc.

2. Speed guns are being considered under the speed watch scheme but in conjunction with understanding where they can be used (i.e. suitable stretches of road).

3. HCC Highways are aware of the issue with the pinch points/Police cones and are considering best way to improve.
4. 30mph will be considered as you enter the village (not starting 40mph).

5. Church Road pavement was discussed and it was agreed that the PC would pursue looking into a footpath across the Parish Field which may be a better option all round.

6. The PC will order a load more bin stickers for the village as they have seen ours and like them!

7. Meetings held with WH Junior and St Thomas’ to discuss how they can help and options for the kids to be involved in general road safety, walking or cycling etc.

Swimming Lessons

If you are over 55, you are eligible to have free swimming lessons with some added benefits.  The 30 minute lessons are taken by a qualified swimming teacher. They will take place at Basingstoke Sports Centre at either 2.45pm or 3.15pm every Thursday from 11th September 2014 for 10 weeks.  Following the course you will receive a free 30 day pool pass and be given priority on Basingstoke Sports Centre’s regular over 55’s lesson programme.  For more details or to book contact Amy Sambell on 01256 845752 or send an email to amy.sambell@basingstoke.gov.uk .

Post Office

Some concern has been expressed about the migration of some services from the Post Office counter to online services. Car tax is a very good example; while it may be much easier to do the transaction on-line the net result is that if the volume of business at the Post Office reduces below a certain threshold that service and possibly other services will be withdrawn. So if you want to retain your Post Office you need to use it.

And now for something completely different

I have received an e-mail from a Mr Alan Comyns, who is researching his family history.  He intends to consult the French Family History Society about a potential exodus of Comines in the 13th Century. Meanwhile he is hoping someone local will be able to shed some further light. Besides his own ancestors, he is looking for evidence that other families migrated from Normandy in the 13th/14th centuries to this area. I have included his article below. Besides the graves in St Martin’s graveyard there is also at least one in St Thomas’. If you believe you can help please let me know.

The origins of the English Comyns

Comyns, in this spelling, is a rare name. Only 136 births of this name were registered in England and Wales between 1837 and 1902. The spelling Cummins is probably more common, but there are many spelling variants which are rarer. One reason for the variety of spellings is the habit of registrars to decide spellings. Harry Cummins, a farmer living near Highclere, tells me that his grandfather’s real name was George Comyns (possibly my ancestor who lived at East Woodhay from 1799 to 1868), but the registrar refused to use this spelling, insisting on writing Cummins.

In addition to spelling variants, there are hyphenated variants. Comyns-Carr is quite common. The novelist Barbara Comyns was married to Richard Comyns- Carr. The family name Harling (not hyphenated) associated with the name Comyns occurs 7 times in the register of births in London between 1859 and 1884.

The name is generally believed to derive from the town of Comines, now a small industrial town on the border between France and Belgium. The town’s most illustrious inhabitant was Philippe de Comines (1445-1511), a famous statesman and historical author.

The Scottish Comyns clan, which still exists, was basically founded by William the Conqueror. It was a contender for the crown of Scotland until its leaders were massacred by Robert the Bruce in 1306. After that date the family disappears from history. Many books have been written on the rivalry between the Comyns and the Bruces, but none of them sheds light on events subsequent to 1306.

People having rare names are fortunate in that the geographical distributions of their names at various times can shed light on their origins. The genealogical website Ancestry.com carries maps showing the geographical distributions of all names in England and Wales at the time of the 1891 census. The map for Comyns shows concentrations in the North of England, in London, and in Hampshire/Berkshire. The map for Cummins is similar but adds Lancashire. Birth records in the Family Records Centre (formerly Somerset House) between 1837 and 1902 show a similar pattern, with concentrations in London, the North, and Hampshire/Berkshire.

It is striking that so few Comyns lived in the midlands. The distributions do not indicate a southward drift after 1306, rather they suggest a separate migration from Comines to Hampshire. I have no information on the London group, it might represent another migration, or it might merely reflect the fact that London has always been a magnet, attracting people from the whole country. The Liverpool Cummins might have come from Ireland, where the name is more common.

The distribution of Comyns families within Hampshire is revealed by the records of marriages in the parish records from about 1500. They show a very clear concentration centred on the village of East Woodhay and a few surrounding villages. The index to memorials in the churchyard of St Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, available on the Internet, lists eight Comyns, two of whom were my direct ancestors (Jasper and Jane).

The Comyns family was well established in Hampshire in 1500 – there are many historical references to the name there from that date. If we accept the hypothesis that the migration was a single historical event, it must have occurred before about 1400 because it would have taken several generations for the family to have multiplied and drifted from the original home.

What might this event have been?  The History of the Parish of East Woodhay, published by the East Woodhay Local History Society to celebrate the Millennium, tells of a local legend that there was a Bishop’s Palace in East Woodhay, established by the Bishop of Winchester who was appointed in 1376. There has been an archaeological survey of the supposed Palace site (a field, illustrated in the History) which had extensive buildings, but no definitive evidence of its purpose has been found. The present owner of the site refuses to permit an archaeological investigation. In the 14th Century the See of Winchester was the wealthiest See in the whole of Europe and the Bishops had numerous palaces.

Highclere Castle was built on the site of a Bishop’s palace (Victoria County History, Hampshire, Vol 4, p. 285). I have not researched this yet, but this could have been a replacement palace for the Bishops of Winchester, built after the one in East Woodhay was abandoned.

The Bishop would have needed workers for his new Palace, but at that time the whole country had been depopulated by the Black Death. My hypothesis is that the Bishop recruited his new staff from France. Where else but from Comines, which had provided emigrants for William I two hundred years earlier? They had made spectacularly good emigrants because their clan became one of the strongest families in Scotland, until their massacre by Robert the Bruce.

So my hypothesis is that the Hampshire Comyns were imported from Comines by the Bishop of Winchester in the late 14th Century, to staff (and perhaps build) his new palace in East Woodhay.


This table lists about thirty villages in Hampshire and gives the number of marriages of people called Comyns in each of them between the years of about 1600 and 1800. There were more (14) in East Woodhay than anywhere else.


Mariages of Comyns in Hampshire
Parish Years Numbers of
East Woodhay 1618-1812


St. Mary Bourne 1670-1809


Eling 1539-1812


Portsmouth 1653-1775


Faccombe 1586-1812


Hurstb. Tarrant 1546-1812


Highclere 1656-1813


Winchester 1563-1761


Whitchurch 1741-1806


Hurst. Priors 1604-1812


Overton 1604-1812


Amport 1665-1812


Bradfield* 1559-1812


Coombe 1560-1812


Litchfield 1739-1803


S. Warnborough 1539-1812


Basingstoke 1638-1812


Dummer 1541-1812


Hannington 1768-1837


Harwell* 1559-1837


Newtown 1679-1812


Statfield Saye 1539-1812


Sulham* 1723-1836


Winchester Cath. 1599-1813


West Woodhay* 1653-1812


Winch. St. Maur. 1538-1837


Weyhill 1564-1812


Wooton St. Lawr. 1560-1812


Tangley 1703-1812


* = Berkshire


Information obtained from printed volumes of the parish registers published by Philimore.










East Woodhay Society


If you are not a member, but are interested in joining the society please print off a copy of the form on our website www.wooltonhill.com/ews_news and send an email to eastwoodhaysociety@wooltonhill.com. If you would like to respond to any of the items above please use the above email address.

Police & Crime

This is the crime summary for the month of July 2014 for the parishes of:


Ashmansworth, East Woodhay, Highclere, Burghclere, Newtown, Litchfield, Ecchinswell & Sydmonton.

Total Crimes reported – 21

House Burglary – 1

Criminal Damage – 5

Thefts from sheds and outbuildings – 1

Theft from Vehicles – 2

Other Theft – 6

Other Crime – 6

The community Policing priorities for this area are:-

Prevent thefts from garages, sheds and outbuildings (including theft of metal)

  • Following a very busy May and June for these types of offences, I am pleased to report that we have had just one report of a theft from a shed this month.
  • Occurrence between 28th June and 5th July. Chainsaw taken, Whitway, Burghclere.

Reduce anti-social behaviour across the beat area

  • We continue to receive reports of motorbikes in the woods in Bishops Green. Patrols are being carried out; at this time there have been no sightings by officers. If offenders are caught they are likely to be dealt with by Section 59 Warnings. These can result in the seizure of vehicles.
  • Those with scrambler bikes or similar are advised to find suitable locations where permission is given for off road vehicles.
  • Please note that BY WAYS (Green lanes) still require a vehicle and driver to be fully compliant with traffic laws, vehicles must have a registration plate, MOT, insurance etc and drivers must be insured to drive that vehicle and hold a valid licence.
  • With the summer and good weather upon us we have seen a small rise in the number of complaints regarding neighbour noise, parties in to the early hours etc. Please be mindful of your neighbours and ensure noise is kept to a minimum, particularly later into the evening.
  • If you have a noise complaint these should be made to BDBC Environmental Health Department, on 01256 844844.
  • Abbey has recently met up with Kerri SWINFIELD, the local Community Safety Patrol Officer responsible for some areas on the Highclere Beat. Kerri deals with some Anti-Social Behaviour issues and is there to ensure the safety and well-being of all people in the community. She will be on patrol regularly and reports of ASB can also be made to the council offices to ensure that she is aware of ongoing issues should they arise.

Reduce speeding across the beat

  • The safety camera van is continually being deployed across the beat area.
  • Officers have been carrying out additional speed checks in 30mph zones. Coming soon to your area!
  • Recently, Traffic officers have been deployed to Ball Hill and Richard has been covering Ecchinswell/Brocks Green.
  • One person has been dealt with by means of fixed penalty notice in Ball Hill.
  • In Brocks Green a verbal warning was given to a driver who was just in excess of the speed limit.
  • Abbey has been in contact with some locals who have previously shown an interest in a Community Speedwatch Scheme. The idea of this scheme is for volunteers to carry out speed checks on 30mph roads, providing advice and a deterrent to those who speed. If you are interested in knowing more about this scheme then please contact Abbey for more information.

Other incidents of note

  • 11/07/14 – Criminal Damage to three vehicles, Kestral Gardens, Bishops green.
  • 16/07/14 – Criminal Damage to one car in Kestral Gardens, Bishops Green.
  • 23/07/14 – Criminal Damage to one car in the car park of a block of flats on Beech Road, Bishops Green.
  • 15/07/14 – 16/07/14 – Theft of large wooden gates from St Michael’s School, Burghclere.
  • 26/07/14 – 28/07/14 – Theft of electric cable from a building site, Ecchinswell.
  • 18/07/14 – 19/07/14 – BURGLARY – Theft of vehicle – Theft of number plates. Overnight, offenders unknown have entered a property on Andover Road, Washwater. Whilst in the property offenders have removed the keys to an Audi TT TFSI in Black. The offenders have then made off in the vehicle. The same night in a possibly linked event, number plates have been stolen from vehicles parked on the forecourt of a nearby car sales garage.

Anyone with any information relating to this crime please contact PC Bannerman via the 101 number quoting 44140257478

CAR KEY BURGLARIES – A number of other offences targeting high performance vehicles have been reported across the north of Basingstoke district. The majority of cars targeted in these offences are high performance vehicles. It can happen to others, vehicles may be stolen to use in crime and no vehicle is safe from the attention of thieves. Car key or “vamoose” burglaries often happen when car keys are left next to an open door or window of a building or, in some extreme cases, when thieves have put a long stick or fishing rod through letterboxes to hook the car keys and make off with the vehicle. In extreme cases, thieves place an implement through the letterbox to pull down on the door handle (UPVC doors) from inside and then enter the property to remove the car keys.

Offenders have also been known to climb in to properties through windows.


  • Where possible, park your car in a garage.
  • If you can’t park your car in a garage, park your car in a well-lit area – either on your driveway, or on the road under a street lamp.
  • Make sure that your vehicle is properly dead-locked and that the alarm and immobiliser is fully activated.
  • If your car does not already have an alarm or immobiliser, consider having a Thatcham approved product fitted.
  • Lock all car windows and doors.
  • Keep your car keys away from any windows and doors to prevent them from being “fished” through letterboxes, or seen by opportunist thieves. However, make sure you know where they are in case of fire.
  • Consider installing a letterbox deflector.
  • Ensure that your front door is locked correctly (lift handle and turn key if UPVC door).
  • Close and lock all windows, especially on the ground floor.
  • If keys have been taken, change car locks immediately

If you have any information regarding any of the incidents detailed in this update please contact us either by email or calling 101

If you know someone who is involved in criminal activity, have information relating to crimes that have occurred, but you do not want to call police directly.. Then please visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/ or call 0800 555 111.This is a free and anonymous service.

Follow us on Twitter: @HighclerePolice

Please contact us if you have any questions

Richard & Abbey


Hampshire Constabulary,

Whitchurch Police Station, Dances Lane,

Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7EG

External: 101

Twitter: @HighclerePolice

Email: abbey.carpenter@hampshire.pnn.police.uk

Website: www.hampshire.police.uk