Village History
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Forge Sound

A 14th Century Hall House, its structure unique in Hampshire.

Background

In 1350, England under King Edward III was at war with France and the Black Death raged throughout the land, but for the people of East Meon life continued much as usual – land was farmed, livestock herded and corn milled. There was at that time a ford over the River Meon, leading to the Court House. Forge Sound (left) and Riverside (right) were built on either side of this track.[/caption]

The Hall House


Forge Sound is a ‘single-aisled hall house’; diagonal structural beams (‘passing braces’) form the framework of the building, leaving a lean-to-space beyond the upright wall beams – the aisle. The main chamber had two bays, in which a number of people would have lived (and some animals …). Smoke from a fire in the middle escaped through a louvre in the centre of the ceiling and smoke ‘gablets’ at the ends of gables; blackened wattle and daub are still visible in the sides of the louvre.  A second section would have contained two stories. The house was built of timber, wattle and daub, with thatch on a flint base.

The roof timbers are conformed in a style known as ‘sans purlin’ – purlins were horizontal structural members supporting the deck. This provides evidence of construction in the early 14th century. The floor was of beaten earth, and recent work reveals that this survived until quite recent times, when tiles were laid directly onto the ground.

There was probably no upper floor in the hall area until some two hundred years after the house was built, when a massive longitudinal beam and floor joists were added (seen, below, left, in today’s sitting room).

Owners

Because the house was the property of the Church, tenanted to the Church’s nominees, no title deeds or other transfer documents were originally required.  The earliest documents in our possession relate to a fine (lease) granted by the diocese of Winchester to Elizabeth Wolfe on the 24th October 1819. The House was then known as ‘Trimmers’ Cottage.

The house remained the property of the Church until 1934, when a deed was signed by the Diocese giving compensation to Laura Louisa Hockley (Widow) on the 8th November.

At some point the house was divided into two cottages (‘Hockley Cottages’), each with two downstairs and two upstairs rooms. Privies were in the garden to the west of the house. During World War II, the house was further divided to provide shelter for four families, two of which were evacuated from Portsmouth during the bombing. One of the evacuees recently visited the house and confirmed the layout at the time –extremely cramped! In 1958 Mrs Eva Iremonger restored the house to a single dwelling and changed the name to ‘Forge Sound’.  In the same year the District Council applied for ‘Listed Building’ status, and it is now a Grade II* Listed Building.

For source material on Forge Sound, in the online archive, click here.