Freefolk to Basingstoke (9 miles)

Wednesday 15 Nov  (Julian calendar) was dedicated to St. Albert the Great; St. Leopold of Austria (Hist). Henry took another leisurely ride to Basingstoke on this day.

Covering only 18 miles in two days, Henry VII was clearly in no hurry at all.

The road crosses the River Test at Freefolk and then runs straight into Laverstoke and then through the villages of Southington and Overton, past Ashe and Deane and under Oakley Hall (the modern, Georgian building stands on the site of a medieval manor house called Hall). Where the road brushes past Oakley today was open countryside only 140 years ago. Worting was a separate village then, but is a suburb of Basingstoke now.  Between Worting and Basingstoke, the road crosses a tributary of the River Loddon.

Robert Sampson, a privy seal clerk, appears to have been supporting the mobile King’s Council. He signed letters sent from Basingstoke.

Basingstoke’s history is buried under a concrete jungle.

It’s unclear where Henry actually stayed.  The town which had a population of only 2,500 at the beginning of the 19th century now has 90,000 and has a massive shopping centre at its heart.  As a market town on several major routes, it no doubt had several inns. A few years later, in 1501, Catherine of Aragon stayed in the town for one night at Winchester Street, as the guest of Richard Kingsmill, a prominent Basingstoke citizen (probably!).

Henry himself owned a property at Dogmersfield Park, quite some way east of Basingstoke (a few years later he took his eldest son, Arthur, here to meet his future wife Catherine).  The present building on that site was built in 1728 on top of the medieval house.

Closer to Basingstoke is The Vyne. Its owner, Sir William Sandys of The Vyne died in 1497 and the house and William’s son William became favourites of Henry VIII in future years.  Also just north of Basingstoke in Monk Sherborne was Pamber Priory (Benedictine), though this appears to have been a small house. Alternatively, there is Basing House in Old Basing, a mile east of Basingstoke (now in ruins, since Cromwell took the roof lead for musket balls). This was a noted Tudor palace after its construction in 1535, but it did incorporate the older keep of a ringwork castle. The older house hosted Richard II a century before Henry VII’s passage through the town.

The next day he would travel to Easthampstead, now a suburb of Bracknell.

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