The name of the village, Upper Clatford, charmingly means, ‘Ford where the burdock grows’. This immediately provides information about the area - there must a river (for there to be a ford) and the local ecology supports the prolific growth of burdock (a weed that grows in hedgerows and besides streams).
The village is centered on the River Anton (right) which is one of the four headwaters that form the River Test which empties into Southampton Water. Upper Clatford is two miles south of Andover.Its backdrop is classic Hampshire landscape - green and rolling. No stark crags. No dense forests. The climate is dry but the shallow, meandering Anton is constantly fed by the water table of the Salisbury Plain, which is to the north. The area is a happy juxtaposition of flowing water, meadows, plough-land and easy communications - just the kind of spot where a small community would settle.
All Saints Parish Church at Upper Clatford (right) dates from the twelth century and has had several additions over the years. One consequence of these changes is that a large section of the congregation cannot see the altar. Several of my family, the Dees, Smarts and Dowlings were baptized, married and buried in this church.Many of the buildings in the village from 1836 are still standing today - an echo of bygone years. They include the Crook and Shears public house (right, and shown on Tithe Map below) the name of which gives a clue to some of the local farming activity.The Upper Clatford manorial Court Baron met irregularly at The Crook and Shears. Like so many of rural communities in the nineteenth century, Upper Clatford had its gentry, its farmers and its agricultural labourers. In 1851, there were ninety-one ‘Ag Labs’ included in a total work force of 256 men and women. There was also the necessary sub-culture of trades which supported the farming fraternity - the carpenters, wheelwrights, bakers and farriers. Another waterway emerged at Upper Clatford at the end of the eighteenth century. A canal was cut to Southampton which shadowed the course of the River Anton. In the mid-1800s the canal was filled in. It was a ‘late’ canal and proved uneconomical. A railway was built along it’s course soon afterwards but this was also a temporary feature as it felt the effects of Dr Beeching’s remorseless axe in 1964.In the mid-nineteenth century, many families moved from Upper Clatford into the cities - Andover, Winchester, Southampton and London. They were probably forced into this migration by the poor wages in Hampshire’s rural areas which sparked the Swing Riots when labourers destroyed agricultural machines.
Above: some of the cottages along the main street which were standing in the nineteenth century (shown as A on map below)
My last relative to live in the village was George Smart, a son of my great x3 grandfather who died, unemployed, in the summer of 1874 in Clatford Street.
Selected portions of the Tithe map of Upper Clatford (1841) showing the location of John Dee’s and William Smart’s holdings. (The River Anton flows to the east of the village)
The Upper Clatford ‘Swing Riot’ 1830
The ‘Swing Riots’ of 1830-31 were the violent reaction of farm workers to threatened cuts to their paltry pay and the effects of enclosure. The written demands of the insurgents were signed, ‘Captain Swing’.The rebellion sprung up in Kent and surged through southern and eastern England. Hampshire and Wiltshire were the counties most affected – each seeing 208 incidents. The rioters burnt ricks and barns, maimed cattle and destroyed machinery, which was perceived to cause un-employment. Upper Clatford experienced its own Swing Riot. On 20th November 1830, a mob of 300 armed with sticks and bludgeons assembled at Andover and, flying a flag, marched to Upper Clatford in the late afternoon. Their target was Taskers foundry at Clatford Marsh. The foundry was founded in 1813 at a location that was near the river (which provided power by a water wheel) and a canal (which was used to bring in raw materials). Taskers made cast-iron ploughs and other agricultural implements and employed a large local workforce for whom they built houses. The owners, Robert and William Tasker, became aware that their factory might be attacked and sent some of their workers to Andover to gather information. These remonstrated with the plotters but failed to divert them. The mob broke through the locked gates and, seizing material from the factory, began an orgy of destruction, damaging the water wheel and crane as well as destroying several manufacturing machines. They broke down the works walls, knocked off the roof and smashed windows. When the case came before the court, three ring leaders (including a man who had come from the other side of London) were sentenced to death. Twenty others were transported.