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Between 1806 and 1820 it was the home of the famous journalist and radical politician William Cobbett, who described the village as the most delightful in the world. There is a memorial stone to William Cobbett in the village square.
Flour mills have existed in Botley for over 1,000 years; the old Botley Mill is at the end of High Street.
The village itself grew around a ford over the River Hamble (which powered the mill) where an Inn was built for travellers to stay in overnight on occasions when the tide was in. At high tide small boats such as canoes can still navigate up the River Hamble, which runs through the village.
Nowadays, the village can be easily accessed from Eastleigh and Fareham by train. Previously, a rail service operated to Bishops Waltham along the Bishops Waltham Branch Line. Botley railway station is just outside the modern boundary of Botley, within Curdridge.
Places of worship
Botley has possessed a place of worship for at least nine hundred years.
The early church, commonly called St Bartholomew’s, adjacent to the old village of Boteleigh, was mentioned in the Domesday book. This church was largely destroyed by the falling of a large poplar tree onto the nave resulting in the original capacity of 500 being reduced to what had been the chancel.
The present building, dedicated to All Saints, was constructed between 1835-6 as a result of a petition to the Bishop of Winchester and much fund-raising, following the destruction of the old church. The centre of the village had long since moved away from the old church and parishioners were finding it increasingly troublesome to take the path across the fields to the church. Prior to this, a ‘Dissenters Church’ had been built in Winchester Street in 1800 and was attracting a growing congregation. The parcel of land on which the church is built was given by James Warner (Snr) and the foundation stone was laid on 11 June 1835. The building was consecrated on 22 August 1836 at a service with a congregation of 700. It was built to seat 250 and had an income of £330 (£310 after deductions.) The Reverend Richard Baker was installed as rector and had no curate.
The Walkers organ was installed in 1852, later enlarged and recently dismantled, enlarged and overhauled. Baker died and his successor was John Morley Lee, who was bought the benefice by his father, a prosperous London builder who built a new rectory for his son. The present chancel and choir vestry were added in 1859.
Further large increases in population made necessary the major work of removing the North Wall and replacing it with an arcade supported by oaken pillars on stone bases. A lower outer wall was built of stone crowned by a parapet. This, with the installation of dormer windows to improve the interior lighting, greatly improved the Northern aspect of the building by reducing the large area of slated roof visible from the ground. The work was completed and consecrated by The Lord Bishop of Winchester on 25 October 1892. With this increase in seating capacity the gallery across the West End was removed and the access from the tower filled in.
The narthex across the West End was added in 1895, and removed in October 2006 to make way for an extension on the west end of the church. The church room was built in 1967
In 1927 with the creation of Portsmouth Diocese, Botley was transferred from Winchester.
In the 1990s the office was built into the narthex by David Brand using timber from the pews removed from the rear of the church.
On 2 October 2006 work began on an extension to the west end of the church. The narthex was removed and foundations for a two-storey extension, with the same cross-section of the existing church build, were dug. Funding for this work was provided by a substantial legacy from the Maffey sisters[clarification needed], and the fund-raising of parishioners. The new extension houses a Rural Discovery Centre operated by Hampshire Library Services, enabling the church to provide services to the local community throughout the week.
Botley is twinned with:
- Cobbett's Return To England, 1800, Part 5 to the Life & Works of William Cobbett. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Hampshire Railways Remembered. Kevin Robertson & Leslie Oppitz. 1988. ISBN 0-905392-93-0
- "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
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