Jane Hicks's Journal - Gallery Page

An illustrated companion page to the Journal Of Jane Hicks web-page  
The 'Lost' Village Of Muccleshell
In 2008, a descendant of our diarist Jane Hicks came from Australia searching for the village where his ancestors had lived, only to be told by local tourism staff that there was no such place as Muccleshell. Though officially it no longer exists as a village, the hamlet stood just west of Holdenhurst village, centre of a parish which included the then-small seaside "spa" of Bourne that would become the South Coast's top resort - Bournemouth. (The village is just S of what is now Bournemouth Hurn International Airport.) The name Muccleshell, old spelling Muckleshell, probably came from "Muckles Hill," meaning in old dialect Great Hill - later, Berry Hill (a name mentioned in the diary - see June 10th entry). This hill forces the River Stour to make a northward loop around it, and represents the most northerly reach of the Lower Stour villages. Muccleshell was one of 4 "tythings" of the parish of Christchurch's Chapelry of Holdenhurst occupying the Liberty of Westover, the other 3 being Holdenhurst, Muscliff (just west), and Throop.
Muccleshell [OS grid reference SZ108961] no longer officially exists as a district, subsumed into neighbouring Throop, but in the early 1840s it contained around a hundred and twenty inhabitants. Jane's then quite rural neighbourhood was bounded on the south by Castle Lane (now a busy main road) down the Stour, leading SE to Christchurch [where the castle stood], and on the north by the Stour itself, flowing into Christchurch Harbour. The built-up area of streets on the south side of the Stour is now part of Bournemouth, the former hamlets here being adopted into the expanding Borough in the 1930s. Most of this land was part of the County of Hampshire (earlier Southamptonshire) until boundary changes in 1974 handed parts of it over to Dorset.

Muccleshell village, circled in red, now part of Throop village and conservation area, on a modern map. It forms the northernmost portion of Bournemouth, whose boundary reaches to the River Stour. The modern airport at Hurn is just across the river. The routes Jane took to Bournemouth and Christchurch (via Iford) would be what today are Holdenhurst Road and Castle Lane, respectively.

village plan To see exactly where Jane was living at the time, you can click on the thumbnail map at right to see a larger version.The red dot is the likely location of the Hicks's farm. You can see how the built-up area ended on the S bank of the Stour, which became the boundary of the new municipality of Bournemouth. The green patch is an area of flood plain, bottomland well-watered by tributary streams, while the brown area is generally dry, non-arable heathland stretching N of the river into Cranborne Chase, which was only "disafforested" by Parliament in 1830 to help clear out the smugglers and poachers who haunted it. Although the name has disappeared from the map, many of the cottages are preserved as this is now part of the Throop & Muccleshell Conservation Area, while neighbouring Holdenhurst is also now Conservation Area of its own, including the Church Of St John [pictured below].  

This 1759 map by Taylor shows the location of many of the place names in the diary, often with the older spellings (including the 'Shakespearean' style long s which looks like an 'f'). Jane and family live at Muccleshell, which is now part of neighbouring Throop (as a conservation area). Neither place-name is mentioned in the diary as they are simply 'home', and the same applies to Holdenhurst just E, where the family attends church. The Lower Stour between Parley down to Iford is shown. This is the old course of the river - it was later straightened in places for land management purposes. The road S past Moredown (Moordown) is one route Jane would have taken with her donkey cart to get to the new resort of Bourne or Bournemouth, where Jane sells dairy produce, just off the map to the SW.


A few places mentioned in the diary have disappeared. One such now-unlocatable place referred to several times is Preston. The name is generic, meaning priestly place, and It has been suggested the church originally had three local 'moieties' left intact after the Reformation's land sell-off for some (probably agricultural) purpose.
The early map (H. Moll c1720) at left shows 2 sites of that name. The one north of the Stour probably became the present Hampreston, which is also mentioned in the diary as such. Hampreston, from Saxon Hamme-Prestone, is referred to in the County History by Hutchins by both names, ham being a hamlet), and by 1841 the hamlet had grown enough to have its own census list. Its church is still extant, but the other Preston has vanished. In the other early map below right (Norden 1595), it is shown, along with surviving settlements whose modern names are Longham, Holdenhurst, Kinson, Parley, Iford. Two other local place names, Cranford and Longford, seem to have also vanished; these were probably river fording places (perhaps to Longham before the relocated current bridge was built, and Cranborne) which fell out of use as bridges were built and the winding course of the Stour itself was straightened to increase productivity.


The Stour Valley bottomlands, being unsuitable for building on, are still maintained as farmland. View looking south, with the village of Muccleshell in the background. The Stour flows SE down to the sea at Christchurch, and a series of Saxon hamlets developed along its banks, with Christchurch as the local market town. Today the river is Bournemouth's northern boundary.


Holdenhurst Church Of St John, which the Hicks family attended on Sundays. It was built in the 1830s to replace a smaller, crumbling Saxon-Mediaeval one, where Jane's male relatives had been churchwardens. This was the 'mother' church for the new resort of Bourne, the main road NE out of Bournemouth still being known as the Holdenhurst Road. (The older form of Holdenhurst can be seen on the 1595 Norden map above: Holnehurst, meaning Holly-copse.) The new, 1830s, church also had a Sunday school here for Church Of England parishioners.



The oldest available photo of the Hicks farm cottage, built 1727 and demolished 1959. The thatched farm cottage was superseded by the red brick farmhouse building which stands on the farm site today, pictured below. (Mouse-over images at left to see 2nd photo.)



The poverty of Dorset country folk was noted at the time. The previous decade had seen the troops called out during the Captain Swing machinery-smashing riots as well as the Tolpuddle Martyrs cause celebre, when 6 Dorset farmworkers were transported to Australia for swearing a secret union oath to try to improve their lot. Richard and Jane were a cut above, with their own servants, but some of their servants and neighbours would be living like this, and would continue to do so for some decades.


The growing resort of Bourne was where Jane went to sell dairy produce at the local 'villas' i.e. holiday homes, there being yet no local shops.
The 'Bourne church' that Jane attended would not have necessarily been the one shown here in this 1842 view looking E. The original St Peter's (demolished and replaced by the larger, present St Peter's c1855), was begun in 1841 but not consecrated until 1845. Earlier, there was a makeshift church/school on the W side of the town square (near where the coach is shown bottom left), created by knocking 2 cottages together, which may be the one Jane refers to.
The larger building towards the top right would be the Bath Hotel (later enlarged as the Royal Bath Hotel), which opened on Queen Victoria's Coronation Day in 1838, helping launch the resort. The row of buildings to the right of St Peter's would be the Westover Villas, begun in 1837 and completed in the 1840s.The large building at bottom right must be the Belle Vue boarding-house hotel, opened in 1838, on the E side of what became the pierhead area. The flat area is the meadows which would later be landscaped as the Lower Pleasure Gardens.


The coming of the railway to the area in the 1840s meant major changes. It would allow dairy produce and other goods to be transported quickly between the local towns and distant markets like London. The Southampton-Dorchester railway took a winding route designed to connect up the various local towns and villages, hence its nickname, Castleman's Corkscrew. Castleman was the name of its principal backer and his clerk appears in the diary, with subsequent details suggesting Richard Hicks was involved in provisioning contracts during the railway construction. Its coming was nevertheless a matter of public concern. The meeting publicised at left is a followup to one held the month Jane's journal ends. The Hicks family themselves would relocate to other areas as the railway arrived there.
The railway reached the Dorset county town, Dorchester, by 1847. Passenger travel was not cheap but the goods trains allowed dairy produce and other goods to be transported quickly between the local towns and distant markets like London (cf the "milk train" in Hardy's Tess Of The D'Urbervilles). However it would not reach the new resort of Bournemouth until the 1870s, the route having been planned when the township was a small, rather exclusive resort, which did not want the railway bringing holiday crowds in.


The village of Muccleshell the family left behind became part of a conservation area, in modern Throop. Throop was originally the neighbouring hamlet, described in 1842 as a "Pleasant and secluded village." The houses are now mostly red brick, some whitewashed. (Mouse-over image to see 2nd photo.)




The Hicks farm appears on the modern conservation plan, off Throop Road. Note there are two buildings, the Farm House and a Farm Cottage. Mouse-over image to see Google Map satellite-view screenshot.


Left: Muccleshell-Throop and surrounding area. The airport across the river is a useful starting reference point. You can click on the map screenshot to go to the interactive Google Maps original for more detail.


Left: the satellite-view version on Google Maps. This shows the area is still largely free from modern urban development. Again, you can click on the screenshot to go to the interactive original, where you can zoom in for greater detail.


We have no photo of Jane's husband Richard, the main character depicted in the diary (as "Richd" or just "R"). However we have one of Jane and Richard's eldest son Dale, in later life. Age 9, he was left behind when the family emigrated to Australia, with his widowed grandfather, no doubt as a helper. In the 1870s Dale set up his own grocery business on Poole High Street and married a Poole girl before moving to the east coast, where he died in 1906. He never saw his parents or siblings again.


The final portrait of Jane, who survived her husband and several of her children. Jane died in 1896, age 82, at her son Walter's house in Yarrawanga, Victoria, Australia, being survived by a considerable number of grandchildren. Her 1840s journal was preserved there as a family heirloom.

     Return to Top |   Return to Jane Hicks Journal Page