« Its striking and unspoiled location on the upper reaches of the Meon Valley, with chalk ridges to three sides Its development as a major ...»
Conservation Area Character Appraisal
and Management Plan
Summary of Significance
East Meon is especially notable for:
Its striking and unspoiled location on the upper reaches of
the Meon Valley, with chalk ridges to three sides
Its development as a major village, important to its
immediate hinterland, but somewhat isolated from major
roads or the railway network
The Twelfth Century Church of All Saints, one of the
finest parish churches in Hampshire A long association with the Bishops of Winchester The late Fourteenth Century Court House, an exceptional survival of medieval domestic architecture A varied collection of timber-framed domestic architecture from late medieval and post medieval periods Wide survival of a thatch tradition in a village context Glenthorne, an imposing example of a brick built house of A varied sample of well preserved Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century cottages, houses and villas Linked nodal historic development at Frogmore Survival of public houses and retail businesses, serving the village and its hinterland Introduction
1.1 Conservation Areas are defined as “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character and appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance” (Section 69 (1) (a) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990).
1.2 The South Down National Park Authority (SDNPA) has a duty to determine which parts of the Park have that special architectural or historic interest, to designate those parts as Conservation Areas, and to keep the existing Conservation Areas under review.
1.3 East Meon was first designated as a Conservation Area by Hampshire County Council in 1968 and was extended in December 1976. With the creation of the South Downs National Park in April 2011, the National Park Authority became the Local Planning Authority for the village.
1.4 This Appraisal seeks to set out what the National Park Authority considers are the most significant elements which define the character of the Conservation Area; it has an important role in making informed and sustainable decisions about the future of the area. Whilst comprehensiveness may be sought, the omission of any particular feature should not be taken as meaning that it is of no significance.
1.5 It sits within a wider policy context, including:
The Purposes and Duties of the South Downs National Park.
The National Planning Policy Framework, 2012 The East Hampshire District Local Plan Joint Core Strategy, 2014 English National Parks and the Broads. UK Government Vision and Circular 2010 East Meon Village Design Statement
1.6 In looking at the area, issues which pose a threat to the quality of the area and any possibilities for improvement and enhancement have also been identified.
1.7 The document was the subject of a six week public consultation process from 3rd August to 14th September, 2015. Specific consultations were sent to the Parish Council, East Hampshire District Council, Hampshire County Council and Historic England.
1.8 Where appropriate, the initial document was amended to reflect comments received and the revised document was adopted by the South Downs National Park Authority for the purposes of Development Management and to inform other activities of the SDNPA and other agencies on 12 November 2015.
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Location & Topography
2.1 East Meon lies about four miles west of Petersfield, astride the road linking that town to West Meon as well as the river Meon itself, which flows from east to west at this point. The landscape character type is identified as a chalk valley system surrounded by downland mosaic.
2.2 The village sits about at 100 metres above the ordnance datum in the bottom of the river valley. The land rises steeply to downland north, south and west of the village. The gradient is gentler to the east.
Figure 1: Location of East Meon in relation to the wider landscape
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Historical Development 3.1 East Meon is a settlement of Anglo-Saxon origin and takes its name from the river on which it stands. ‘Meone’, which seems to refer to both East and West Meon, appears in a number of charters in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries but the first specific mention of East Meon, distinguished from its neighbour, is in a charter of the Bishop of Winchester dated to 1047. The spelling ‘Menes’ predominated from Domesday through the Middle Ages, while ‘Mean’ is frequently recorded from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
3.3 The manor had been held by the Bishops of Winchester since well before the Norman Conquest and was the largest of their holdings in Hampshire.
It was already a large settlement when Domesday Book recorded the presence of 138 households, equating to about 650 - 700 people. The manor remained with the Bishops until the 19th century except for a short disruption during the Commonwealth.
3.4 The Domesday survey refers to the presence of a church and this might just be the existing building, which is generally thought to have its origins in the early 12th century. However, it seems probable that it replaced an earlier AngloSaxon Minster and it is to this earlier church that the survey refers.
3.5 Domesday records as many as seven mills in the village.
3.6 The village makes a brief appearance in the wider historical story in March 1644, when the Parliamentary Army under Sir William Waller mustered there before its victory at the Battle of Cheriton.
3.7 A purpose-built Pest House was built in 1703 outside the main village and this may be the Parish Workhouse recorded in 1777. From 1835, the village formed part of the Petersfield Poor Law Union and was served by the workhouse in that town.
3.8 The 19th century saw the creation of new institutions within the village.
The Forbes Almshouses, in Church Street, were built in commemoration of George Forbes, squire of Bereleigh, who died in 1863, and were for the benefit of “parishioners of indigent [poor] circumstances”.
3.9 Greater provision was also made for the spiritual well-being of the villages with the provision of three non-conformist chapels; a Providence (Calvinist) Chapel on Church Street, where the school now stands; a Primitive Methodist Chapel built in 1867; and a Zoar (Strict Baptist) Chapel on Temple Lane, now converted into a house.
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan
3.10 The provision of a new school building was another aspect of these improvements. Teaching had taken place in the north transept of the church until the National School was built in 1845. The latter continued to provide for the education of the village children until it was replaced by the existing school on Church Lane in 1964.
3.11 The village common land was enclosed in 1860.
3.12 The eminent ecclesiastical architect Sir Ninian Comper worked in the parish, restoring the church itself in the early years of the 20th century and designing the memorial East Window and the war memorial after the Great War.
3.13 Fires were not uncommon but a major one in 1910 destroyed six thatched cottages on the south side of High Street just before it enters The Square. The site was later redeveloped.
3.14 Flooding was also a problem and an alleviation scheme was implemented in 1955 which included the creation of a new river course from The Cross to the western extremity of Workhouse Lane. This by-passed and shortened the old course, provided the reconstruction of six bridges to allow a greater volume of water to flow through, and deepened and widened the river channel along the length of High Street as far as Frogmore.
3.15 Isolation from major roads and the railway network tended to limit built growth well into the 20th century. Post-war housing development to the south and south-west of High Street has almost doubled the size of the historic village.
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Figure 3: East Meon as shown on Taylor’s 1759 map of Hampshire
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Figure 5a and 5b: Ordnance Survey mapping of East Meon in 1869 (above) and 1896 (below) East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Figure 6: Tithe Map (courtesy of Hampshire County Council)
Entrance & Boundaries
4.1 The boundary of the Conservation Area is shown on figure 7. It encompasses the developed areas which appear on the tithe map and early Ordnance Survey mapping. The modern development to the south of the village, although inserted within an earlier pattern of lanes, is excluded.
4.2 Frogmore is more diffuse in character and forms a separate node of development but is incorporated within the Conservation Area, with a link which follows the river and an area of allotments on the north bank.
4.3 The core of the village lies south of the main road running down the valley (cf West Meon and Droxford) and does not have to accommodate significant through traffic. The main access into the village centre is off the main road via Church Street.
4.4 East Meon lies at the extreme south-western end of the Wealden beds, at a point where the South Downs ‘turn the corner’. The chalk ridge, remarkably, surrounds the village on three sides, to the south, the west and the north, before continuing northwards. The River Meon breaks westwards through this chalk surround, before veering south at West Meon and eventually reaching the sea at the foot of Southampton Water.
4.5 The topography of its river valley location gives the village a broad eastwest axis. Within that overall form, however, the street pattern which appears on the tithe map is essentially that of a grid. High Street, with its continuation of Workhouse Lane, and Church Road form the two main east – west streets, with Church Street and The Cross linking the two on a north – south alignment.
4.6 Chapel Street and Temple Lane extend this grid to the south, although development was relatively limited along these lanes until construction of housing in the 20th century saw this part of the grid in-filled. Figures 9 – 18 show general street scene views.
4.7 The Church and the Court House must have been the most significant buildings in the medieval village. The current structures are early 12th and late 14th centuries in date but the long, pre-conquest relationship between the village and the bishops of Winchester would support the suggestion of a minster, monastic settlement or curia predating the current buildings.
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan
4.8 Medieval and early modern (16th and 17th century) buildings are found throughout the street grid, suggesting that its origins are early. The chronological relationship between any such developments and the street grid remains uncertain.
4.9 There are no formal open spaces within the village. The area where High Street meets The Cross is known, rather suggestively, as The Square and has two important early structures. However, it does not really present the aspect of a significant public space when viewed on the ground.
4.10 The River Meon flows through the centre of village, along most of High Street before dog-legging up alongside The Cross. At the northern end of The Cross, the river dog-legs again and resumes its westerly flow. This course must be canalised, which presumably happened when High Street was laid out. The prominence of the river in the village-scape is in marked contrast with the other villages of the valley.
4.11 Within the village, Glenthorne Avenue is the only street of modern creation.
4.12 Frogmore is a quite separate node of development from the main village, well to the east and linked to it by a lane which joins High Street at its eastern end, by the village forge.
Use & Activities 4.13 For most of its existence. agriculture provided the economic base for the village. Like many villages in the past it was self-sufficient to a significant degree. In addition to at least three pubs and ale-houses – The George, The New Inn (now the Izaak Walton) and The Angel - there were several shops including Potter General Warehouse and T.A. Adams Family Grocer on High Street, and the post office on Church Street. Unfortunately, only the last of these, Post House retains a period shop front (figure 47)
4.14 Today, a single village shop and two pubs survive and the village is largely a residential commuter settlement.
4.15 The environmental quality of the village centre benefits from the fact that through traffic passes along the Langrish to West Meon road, known as Church Road and The Hyde as it passes through the village, and is therefore slightly displaced to the north of High Street.
East Meon Conservation Area Appraisal & Management Plan Buildings & Structures
4.16 The Parish Church of All Saints and The Court House, both grade I listed buildings, are the oldest surviving buildings in the village and the representatives of spiritual and temporal authority, albeit both invested in the Bishop in this instance.
4.17 The Church has its origins in the early 12th century when it took the form of a cruciform plan with a central tower (figure 21). Pevsner gives a date of circa 1150 for the tower and describes it as ‘splendid’. He judged the church as a whole to be ‘one of the most thrilling village churches in Hampshire’. The font is a magnificent feature of around 1130 in black Tournai marble, one of a distinguished Hampshire group (figure 22), with others to be found in Southampton and in Winchester Cathedral. A south aisle and Lady Chapel were added to the church in about 1230; the close proximity of the church to the hill behind possibly precluded a north aisle.
4.18 A restoration campaign was undertaken under the auspices of the eminent church architect, Sir Ninian Comper, around 1906. After the Great War he designed the East Window and the village war memorial (figure 55).