Bereleigh 1840 – 1881
Captain Samuel Pechell, who had successfully fought the Tithing of Turnips, died in 1840 and his family moved to Alton. George Forbes, who was born in Bombayand his wife Johanna took over Bereleigh; the couple had no children but were looked after by a butler, footman, cook and three maids, with a coachman, gardeners, and grooms living in cottages and lodges on the estate; Tigwell and Drayton farms were let to tenants. The Tithe Apportionment shows that Forbes farmed 274 acres subject to tithes.
Forbes describes himself in the 1851 census as a ‘magistrate and landowner’ and evidently played the role of squire; he and his wife were subscribers to the local national school, founded in 1845, and an entry in the 1860 accounts notes: ‘March 16th, G. Forbes Esq. Making waistcoat 5s.0d. Presumably the garment was made by pupils and was considered successful, for a few months later we find ‘July 24th, Mrs Forbes for waistcoat, 5s 0d’. The school register entry for February 23rd 1863 has the entry: ‘Owing to the illness and subsequent deaths of G. Forbes Esq and J.H.Waddington Esq, two gentlemen on our Committee, a log book was not produced at the commencement of the year’.Johanna Forbes continued to serve on the Committee after husband’s death and the school log for February 1st 1872 notes that ‘Mrs Forbes of Bereleigh gave 24 prizes to the children’.
In December 1863, the year George died, Johanna transferred to trustees a piece of land ‘containing 19 perches with almshouse buildings thereon’upon trust to be occupied by persons ‘above 65 years of age and a parishioner of [East Meon] parish or irremovable from the same, of good character and reputation, but in indigent circumstances’. She endowed the trust with £300, from which it could pay the ‘inmates’ 5s a week, as well as maintain the buildings.
Johanna Forbes ran the estate for twenty five years, which was not without its tribulations; we have records of a dispute between her and the tenant of Tigwell Farm, Mrs Wing, whose late husband had allowed the farm and fields to fall into a ‘frail and neglected state’… ‘a foul state’.
Tigwell had changed hands several times in the preceding twenty five years; Harriet Wing, 66 years old at the time of this dispute, had been the second wife of Charles Wing, who had died eight years earlier in Suffolk. Tigwell was then made over to Edward Cunningham, from Sussex, who was Mrs Forbes’ farm bailiff.
Johanna Forbes died in April 1898 and is commemorated by one of Ninian Comper’s most successful stained glass windows, in the Lady Chapel of All Saints, depicting the Annunciation. It carries the arms of Joanna Forbes and of her husband.
While the Forbes were the most prominent family in the parish, Park Farm’s Henry Barnard was a successful and colourful figure in his own right. Although it is the closest farm to Bereleigh House, it was not part of the estate until the last quarter of the 19th century. The ownership and occupancy of Park Farm before then is complex. (Click here for history of the medieval deer park.)
An Indenture of 1858 records James Barnard being granted the lease of Park Farm by the Bishop of Winchester; it details the land, with an elegant map showing that the farm covered the same territory as East Meon deer park, stretchingnorth east across the lane leading to the farmhouse. The Tithe Apportionments list Park Farm as ‘owned’ by James Barnard but ‘occupied’, i.e.lived in and farmed, by Henry Barnard, described as a ‘yeoman’.
In 1851 Henry farmed 830 acres and by 1871 he had expanded it to 900 acres, employing 20 men and 4 boys. He was a prominent member of the village community and continued the sporting tradition of the Park; he was master of a pack of harrier hounds and his funeral in 1887 was attended by both sporting gentry (Colonel Jervoise, Admiral O’Callaghan, Colonel Briggs …) and by his fellow farmers.