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Michael Blakstad is the 'publisher' of the East Meon History Group. His career was spent initially in broadcasting, in BBC TV, and both Yorkshire TV and Television South, and as in independent producer. His company Workhouse was a pioneer of interactive media. He lives in East Meon and manages the History website.

Church Hall

In November 2000, a new Church Hall was opened by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth. This was the outcome of a vigorous fundraising campaign, as well as sensitive architecture within the constraints of the site and the heritage of All Saints Church. Captain Chris Cobley RN led the project, and here summarises the project.

The Challenge

The size, shape, overall design and siting of the Hall were greatly constrained by Church of England and Local Authorities’ planning requirements, and by the overwhelming requirement to have minimum visual impact on the historic Norman church itself.   The building therefore had to be sited behind the Church, and set back from the line of the Church’s West end.

This brought two immediate complications: The slope of the hill required additional excavation; and the North side of the church had once been (following ancient custom) the traditional site for unconsecrated burials in unmarked graves. There was also the possibility that remains of other ancient church buildings might exist in that area.

The site therefore had to be excavated under the supervision of Hampshire County Council archaeologists. Fortunately, no evidence of buildings was revealed, but a considerable number of human remains were carefully unearthed, recorded, and subsequently reburied elsewhere in the churchyard.


Total cost of the project was just under £221,000.

Existing funds and legacies provided sufficient funding for the first phase of excavation, planning and design to start in 1997-8. This was quickly underpinned with a major fundraising project. Applications were submitted for grants from suitable charitable foundations. A number of fundraising events were held, including a Grand Auction of antiques, collectibles and promises conducted by Chris Jacobs, the local auctioneer.

But by far the largest proportion of the funds raised, was donated by some 90 individuals: members of the congregation and many other friends of the church, donating sums ranging from £25 – £10,000, and enhanced by a considerable amount of tax reclaimed under Gift Aid.

A very popular scheme was the ‘sale’ of Chilmark Limestones with which the building is dressed. Donors wishing to make a lasting contribution, could donate the cost of a stone, perhaps in memory of someone.

Construction & Management

The Church Hall was built by Everest Construction Ltd, to a design by architect Gary Seymour. The project was managed by the Standing Committee of the PCC:

The Rev’d Canon Terry Louden, Vicar

John Rendle CBE, Sara Cobley and Anthony Perkins, Churchwardens

Captain Chris Cobley, Project Leader

The Hall was opened by the Rt. Revd. Dr. Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth, on Sunday 26 November, 2000. Chris Cobley, PCC Project Leader, received the keys from David Everest, Builder, and presented them to the Bishop, who blessed the new building and dedicated the Keystone in memory of John Rendle, CBE, who was Churchwarden at the start of the project and one of its strongest supporters.

The Church Hall Today

The Church Hall provides essential facilities in support of Church activities, such as: PCC and Deanery Synod meetings; Sunday Club for children; Tea and coffee after services; and Choir Practices.

It also provides a venue for other suitable activities, such as presentations and meetings when the village hall is unavailable. For private and non-church-related activities, a hire charge is made to offset heating and running costs, and to include a contribution towards Church expenses. A fundamental principle is that the Church Hall does not deprive the Village Hall of custom or revenue.


Church Hall facilities include: a 60 sq. m. Meeting Room, Toilet with disabled access, Sink and preparation facilities for hot drinks and refreshments, and storage for crockery, choir music and Sunday Club activities.
]Dedication of Church Hall

Saxons in East Meon

Saxons in Meon Valley banner

East Meon History Group is participating in the Saxons in the Meon Valley project which in 2014 is conducting geophysical surveys to establish where the earliest settlements might have been located.

Click here for an brief account of the Saxons in East Meon.

Click here for source materials in our online archive.

East Meon History Digital Archive

Magnetometry survey in foreground, metal detection in distance.

Magnetometry survey in foreground, metal detection in distance.

In September, a team from Saxons in the Meon Valley led East Meon volunteers in a survey near the village, using geophysical scanners and metal detectors,

To access the record,click here

Forge Cottage

Forge Cottage was known as Pillstyle Cottage, derived from the Romano-British word “pill” – a ditch, hole, or pool – reflecting its position on the edge of a steep dip.

Forge Cottage from the High Street

Forge Cottage from the High Street

Closed Hall House

Forge Cottage is a thatched, timber-framed house, built around 1600. It represents a significant advance in design from traditional hall-houses, of which East Meon has many, For a thousand years these had open fires in the middle of beaten-earth floors, vented through the thatch, which guaranteed a smoky environment and precluded an upper floor in the heated areas of the house. Forge Cottage is a ‘closed hall-house’ and has fireplaces with chimneys. This practice had started in the mid 16th century and was made possible by increased production of bricks by the Tudors.

Floor plan of Forge Cottage

Floor plan of Forge Cottage

Images for construction of The Green and sports facilities

Living History

Galleries of photographs showing the buildiing of The Green and sports facilities, October 2002 to May 2003

Galleries of photographs showing the buildiing of The Green and sports facilities, October 2002 to May 2003

Galleries of photographs showing the buildiing of The Green and sports facilities, October 2002 to May 2003

Galleries of photographs showing the buildiing of The Green and sports facilities, October 2002 to May 2003

Photographs of recent events and of people and places in East Meon today.

1951 farming at Westbury

I have personal memories of what happened to part of Westbury Park in 1951 when the land was ploughed up for the first time and a subsidy of £5/ acre was paid from the then Official organisation of the government to encourage people to grow cereal crops to help food shortages. It is not actually rocket science but was the first time that grazed land at Westbury, was turned into a usable and viable crop of barley. As far as I remember the first year no artificial fertiliser was used and the ground was ploughed with a 2 furrow mounted plough on the back of a Ferguson TED 20 tractor. I should know as I was the ploughman and the originator of the idea to do it. In those days Westbury Park was inundated with rabbits, so in order to stop them eating the growing corn, the whole 30 acres was rabbit proof netted and fenced against cattle grazing the remainder of the 126 acre parkland. The area that I originally farmed and turned into arable land is still being farmed to this day as arable land.

Denys Ryder