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). Perhaps not so much information,
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 bogs or marshes. 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 (left) 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 (below, 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 TheCrook 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.
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.
Left: some of the cottages along the main street which were standing in the nineteenth
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
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.