Historic Hampshire - New Forest District
1828 - Manuscript Plan & Letters on Salmon Fishery - Hampshire
Harbridge Salmon Fishery and Breamore Watermill
[ 1828 - 1854 ]
Harbridge [Hants, Hampshire], 1828-1854. Mini archive of manuscript documents pertaining to a salmon fishery near Harbridge, comprising one large hand-coloured plan made in 1854 of the Avon River, extending from slightly north of Ibsley to Ringwood Parish, and three manuscript letters dated November 1828, December 1828, and May 1835, concerning a legal petition made against the Breamore Mill on the Hampshire Avon by the owner of the fishery. Plan measures approximately 110 x 27 cm, docketed to verso. Letters vary in size, two penned on watermarked leafs, one with remnants of a small red wax seal.
A nostalgic mini archive concerning a by-gone Hampshire fishery and now protected Breamore watermill on the magnificent Avon River, in the ever-so popular fishing districts of South England. [Touted as one of Britain's best fishing rivers today, an angler's nirvana, the Avon is thought to contain more species of fish than any other.]
The lovely historical manuscript map of the Avon River, roughly a four-mile stretch between Harbridge and Ringwood, illustrates the connection between the Harbridge Fishery and the Breamore Watermill, both making unique use of the Avon River. A large portion of the map represents what is known today as the Ibsley Pools. It shows the ancient Ibsley Bridge (formerly Ibbesley), which was named for the nearby picturesque village of Ibsley, at the time having only about 300 inhabitants. The river charting begins a 'Bound Post' on the shore of the Hamphire Avon, presumably the site of the fishery. Twelve (12) locations along the river, which are indicated numerically, appear to be gravel beds where salmon would typically spawn. Five letters further denote the locations of iron bar barriers to restrict fish movement, a sort of salmon ladder. In the upper margin is a hand coloured drawing of one of these iron barriers, this one constructed across the river on a bend near the Somerly bridge. Continuing past Ellingham Parish to Ringwood Parish, tributaries are drawn, including the Ashley Mill stream and King Stream which both flow into a pool captioned 'Brown Water.' The map scale is made in obsolete measurements, 6 chains to 1 mile.
The map maker also indicates Somerley House which was built only 63 years prior in 1795, and also Moyles Court which was previously a mansion and the seat of the Lisles, Colonel Lisle being one of the judges on the trial of Charles I. In Ringwood Parish he indicates the location of the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, the original dating to the 13th century and having survived until 1853, when it was razed and rebuilt.
The manuscript correspondence is as follows:
Signed manuscript letter written my Sir Charles Hulse of Breamore House [Sir Charles Hulse (1771-1854), 4th Baronet, MP for West Looe] on 28 November 1828, responding to Sir Henry Fane of Avon, in regards to Fane's complaint of the Breamore Mill having a square opening in its hatches which does not comply to regulation and which affects the salmon fishery. He specifically mentions the removal of two fixed hawks at the eel-stage.
[Breamore Watermill was built in the early 1800s and remained in use as late as 1970. Watermills were the most common type of mill used in Hampshire. Straddling the western of the two major river channels, Breamore Mill is in effect on an island. Now a Grade II listed building under the National Heritage List for England, the mill consists of the mill proper and an abutting mill house both of which are two story. Some 20 metres south of the mill is a group of outbuildings.]
[The author of this letter inherited Breamore House, an Elizabethan manor house constructed in 1583. It was purchased in 1748 by Sir Edward Hulse, 1st Baronet, physician to Kings George I and George II, whose descendants have retained Breamore House, the Lordship of the Manor of Breamore, and land in the area. The home is noted for its fine collection of paintings and furniture and, served as a filming location for the 2009 film about Winston Churchill entitled Into the Storm, where the house stood in for Chequers, the home of the Prime Minister.]
Dated 13 December 1828, a signed manuscript letter from Sir Henry Fane, is addressed to H. St. John Neale, solicitor at Ringwood, requesting an investigation of the hatches, with Baron Charles Hulse present, to illuminate the issue at hand and obtain a resolution. [Henry St. John Neale is listed in the 1855 printing of the Post Office Directory of Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire, as a resident of Christchurch Street, and employed as a "perpetual commissioner for taking the acknowledgements of married women, clerk to the board of guardians, superintendent registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, & conservator of the River Avon and River Stour"]
Finally some seven years later, on 15 May 1835 Mr. H. Curtis, who at the time was operating the Breamore Mill belonging to Sir Charles Hulse, writes a letter to the solicitor, advising him of two minor changes made in order to comply with regulation, indeed being the removal of two fixed hawks, as well as other specific components which he claimed had not been used.
According to Black's Guide to Hampshire, published a few years later in 1861, Harbridge still had a population of only 342. The volume mentions its eel fishery as having been famous at the time of the conquest.
Some age-toning and chips to map with one repaired tear to upper margin, otherwise the lot in very good condition.