A History of Droxford

Wallops Wood is located in Hampshire’s beautiful Meon Valley and is a stone’s throw from the village of Droxford. Some of our guests pop into Droxford, mainly to take a wander along the riverbank or have a meal at the Bakers Arms. But there’s a lot more to Droxford than the pub! It has an interesting and varied history going back around 2000 years when Saxon farmers built a barrow (burial chamber) on what is now the village. 

Droxford's Entry in the Domesday Book
Droxford’s Entry in the Domesday Book (Professor John Palmer, George Slater)

In the 6th century when Britain was invaded by the Jutes from Denmark, they settled in the area and the village was thought to have been called Droccanford (Drocca’s ford), then renamed later to Drokeireford in the 9th century when it was first mentioned in writing. At the time of the Domesday book in 1086, there were 250 to 300 people living in Droxford. The manor of Droxford was held by the Bishop of Winchester and parts of the church go back to the mid 12th century.

In the 1660s a tax was placed on fire hearths. In Droxford there were 38 households with a population of around 200. 10 households were exempt from the tax as they were too poor to pay it, meaning about a quarter of households were living in poverty. 7 households had only 1 hearth which meant these dwellings had only one or two rooms. In contrast, one man, Sir Richard Uvedale (who rented the Droxford Manor from the Bishop of Winchester) had 15 hearths!

Wayside sign to London at Droxford
Wayside sign to London

By 1801 the population of Droxford had grown to 1200 (which also included Shedfield and Swanmore). Droxford was becoming quite a large and important village and a workhouse was built in 1837. Conditions were very harsh to dissuade people from seeking help from the state and the building was demolished in 1971. 

As Droxford grew, so did its facilities. A police station was built in 1858. A Methodist Chapel in 1886 and a fire station in 1902 after two servant girls died in a house fire. A cycle works opened in 1904 which later became a garage. 

WWII Allied Leaders meet at Droxford Station
Allied Leaders on a platform in the run-up to D-Day – from left to right: Mackenzie King (Canada), Winston Churchill (UK), Peter Fraser (NZ), General Eisenhower (USA), Godfrey Huggins (S. Rhodesia), General Smuts (South Africa)

A railway line was opened in 1903 serving the area from Alton to Fareham. Droxford had a station which played a critical function during WWII, due to the length of its siding close to a deep cutting, meaning the train could be pushed to the safety of the cutting in an air raid. This location was chosen for a summit between Churchill, Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, Jan Smuts and General Dwight D. Eisenhower to discuss the final plans of Operation Overlord (the D Day Landings) where it was decided to postpone the invasion from 5 June to 6 June 1944.

The railway line was closed to passengers in 1955 and to goods in 1962 as part of the Beeching cuts. This line now forms the Meon Valley Trail which is a popular trail for walking and cycling. 

By the 1960s Droxford had a population of 661 and 1 school, 9 shops, 2 pubs and a bank. The police station closed in 1966 and the bank and shops have since closed. The population of Droxford now stands at about 700 so it hasn’t grown much since the 1960s. It still has 2 pubs (The Bakers Arms and The White Horse) and our guests have enjoyed delicious meals in both and recommend them!

The River Meon at Droxford
The River Meon at Droxford

Sources:
A History of Droxford via Local Histories
The Meon Valley Railway on Wikipedia

Images:
Featured image of Meon Valley – Nick Fewings on Unsplash
WWII Allied Leaders meet at Droxford Station ( via friendsofdroxfordchurch.org.uk)
Domesday Book entry for Droxford (Professor John Palmer, George Slater, via opendomesday.org/place/SU6018/droxford/)