18 July, 2010

Havant and Emsworth in Hampshire.

I thought I might make it into Sussex this time but I stayed within the bounds of Hampshire. Havant is another town on a crossroads like Chichester it has North, South, East and West Streets. It even has a pallant, although there is only one here and it's called THE Pallant!
The origin of Havant is in a spring that runs south west of the churchyard, where two ancient roads crossed. In the middle ages Havant became known as a parchment producer, assisted by this and other fresh water springs, and this trade lasted until the 1930s. The treaty of Versailles was written on Havant Parchment. There is a sculpture representing leaves of parchment by this well, although I hope nobody mistakes it for a urinal.

The church contains some of the oldest things in Havant, because it has Roman bricks in the wall. Open when I called with some cheery parishioners there are lots of cobwebs adorning the upper windows, but the lower windows have some modern glass. I particularly noticed a memorial window to the sailors of HMS Havant with a battleship on it. The Church is dedicated to St Faith and is pleasing inside and out. The Chancel has some beautiful vaulting of the 13th century although the nave was renewed in the 19th century.

One of the gardens, locked when I called, contains this pretty gazebo or 'gazing place'. A great pity it was locked.

The Post Office in the town is one of the few buildings to bear the monogram of Edward VIII. The Telephone exchange at Reigate also bears his monogram. It is a reminder that all communication used to be guaranteed by the crown, and that telephones used to be under the Post Office.

Emsworth is a pretty little yachting town at the top of the Hampshire side of Chichester Harbour. The museum contained a tribute to Emsworth's most famous resident P. G. Wodehouse, the author who broadcast for the Nazis during the Second World War. I enjoyed his books when I was about twelve but the world of pig breeding aristocrats soon pales into insignificance as one grows up. People do take Wodehouse seriously though. I once read an article that analysed train times to try to find out where Blandings castle was! I always thought the thing about fiction was that you made it up. Wodehouse escaped the fate of William Joyce, even though Wodehouse actually was under allegiance to the Crown, and Joyce wasn't, but Wodehouse went to America and stayed there.

The self guided tour takes one round the town, although there is nothing of more than local importance. However the boatyard and fishermans cottages are attractive.

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