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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

The Wriothesley Monuments at Titchfield. Green Sandpipers & a Whinchat at Titchfield Haven 10.09.22

I go to Titchfield Haven every few months; as it is such a great site for birds. Titchfield Haven is a National Nature Reserve manged by Hampshire County Council' see: Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve | Hampshire County Council (

It is fifty-three miles from Brighton but relatively easy to get to by public transport. I catch the train to Fareham (two an hour; 1 hr 24 mins journey time). I then get the Solent X5 bus from outside Fareham Station to Stubbington Village Service X4 X5 - May 2020.pdf ( (one bus an hour; 12 mins journey time); be careful you get the X4 going in the right direction (Gosport) as both directions stop at the same stop! You have to walk for about 40 minutes from Stubbington Village to get to the reserve. Basically take the road down to the Solent shore and turn right (west) and the entrance to the reserve is on the shore, just after Hill Head Sailing club; see map:

It is also possible to get the X5 to Titchfield bypass (and walk into Titchfield village and then walk down the Titchfield Canal, from behind, the church to the west side of the reserve; this is about an 60 minute 2-mile walk from the Titchfield Village to the Solent Coast, The Canal Path passes the west side of the reserve and often Marsh Harriers can be seen from the path; and in the summer there are lots of Dragonflies on this route. se: Canal | Hampshire County Council ( and Titchfield Canal | Map, Guide - Hampshire, England | AllTrails

On 10.09.22 I walked to Titchfield Haven via Titchfield Village; visiting the fascinating monument to the Earls of Southampton in Titchfield Church of St John; and walked back via Stubbington Village

Titchfield Village

Post box topping

St Peter's Church, Titchfield

The monument to the Wriotheselys, the first two Earls of Southampton; who acquired power and wealth through association with Henry VIII and Elizabeth II. The monument is an extraordinary record of Renaissance self-fashioning - the hair, beard and moustaches of the Earls of Southampton, and their clothes, are carefully recorded in much detail in the tomb sculpture (and great attention is payed to the heraldic beasts; cows). How you looked in English Renaissance courts was very important!

Thomas Wriothesley became a clerk to Thomas Cromwell in 1524, the great political strategist and secretary to Henry VIII, and became Henry's Clerk of the Signet. After the dissolution of the monasteries he was given extensive lands in Hampshire, particularly Southampton and Winchester. Cromwell fell out of favour with Henry VIII but Wriothesley did not. He was knighted and in 1544 became Baron of Titchfield. Henry then made him Earl of Southampton in 1547.

His son, Henry, was honoured by having King Henry VIII as Godfather and went on to become the second Earl of Southampton. Henry had an on-off relationship of favour with Elizabeth I and he commissioned the Wriothesley Monument. The figures are of his father Thomas, and his mother, Jane, and himself. The sculptor was Gerard Johnson, a Flemish mason.

Henry's son, also a Henry, became the 3rd Earl of Southampton, famous for his relationship with Shakespeare.

The Titchfield Canal path

Very little is known about this waterway; it does not appear in the standard canal history books. There are those that claim that the canal was not intended for navigation but was built as an irrigation or drainage ditch. It seems that there is little firm evidence one way or the other. In medieval times, Titchfield was a market town and port at the head of navigation on the west bank of the tidal River Meon. The small town/village lies about two miles upstream from The Solent. It seems that by the beginning of the 17th century, silting was making navigation of the estuary increasingly difficult. For this and other reasons, trade in Titchfield was declining.

In 1537, upon the Dissolution, land that included Titchfield Abbey was given to Thomas Wriothesley. A loyal servant of the crown, he was knighted in 1544 and three years later became Earl of Southampton. The third earl, Henry, was associated with Shakespeare and also became involved in Catholic plots against Queen Elizabeth I. He spent several years in the Tower before being released by James I. He was responsible for a number of developments in the Titchfield area: the building of ironworks at Funtley, Stony Bridge across the river near the Abbey, and the market hall in the town. He was also responsible for a full scale survey of the area from which a map was drawn up in 1610.

The biggest work, however, was the construction of a dyke or dam across the mouth of the River Meon at Hill Head making the river non-tidal. This part of the river is still called Titchfield Haven. The estuary of the river was about 600 yards wide and, although the mouth may have been partially blocked by a natural shingle spit, this was still a substantial undertaking.

On 24 June 1611 the parish register notes that “the same day Titchfield Haven was shutt out by one Richard Talbotts industrie under gods permisione at the costs of the right honorable the Earle of Southampton”. This has been taken by some to mean that a dam was built across the entrance to the river in 1611 preventing access to Titchfield by sea-going vessels. However, precisely what was done in 1611 is unknown. In addition, it has been said that the Titchfield Canal, or ‘New River’ as it was originally known, was built to provide a navigable replacement but no contemporary evidence has been found to confirm this idea.

It seems that in the 1670s additional extensive work was done in the Meon Estuary. In 1739, elderly residents stated in court that boats sailed up to Titchfield within their lifetimes. This was stopped when the heirs of the Earl constructed a barrier across the river. They were unclear about when this happened but their evidence could cover the 1670s as the time the river was shut off. Further, statements were made in the Titchfield Manorial Court in 1676 that the Lord of the Manor had cut the New River and “hath taken away and doth detain” parts of the copyholds of two tenants. This implies that the New River had been dug recently. Southampton Canal Society - Titchfield Canal (

Speckled Wood

Hollom House on the east side of the Meon

Hollam House, overlooking Titchfield on the south side of the river, was built in 1802 for a Royal Navy captain, James Anderson. Although just completed in the 19th century it is characteristic of late 18th century building. Pevsner has almost nothing to say about it, so I don’t think he found it in any way remarkable. The origin of the name Hollam House is obscure.

In 1957 it was developed as a care home but sometime later it was remodelled and restored to a spacious mansion. In recent years it gained some notoriety during the MP’s expenses scandal because it was owned by Sir Peter Viggers, the MP for Gosport, who commissioned a very expensive duck house for the pond at Hollam House. Hollam House – Titchfield history

Map of the Canal

Grey Heron

Large White on Purple Loosestrife

Speckled Wood

Red Admiral

Red Admiral - underwings; Red Admirals hibernate; there underwings make them look like leaves

Hoverfly approaching Water Mint

Rush Vaneer Moth; a European migrant

Common Carder on Water Mint

Helophilus pendulus (hoverfly) on Water Mint

Purple loosestrife; a flower of wet lands

A Moorhen

The path by the canal

A big mushroom!

The Solent waterfront / Hill Head beach




Common ern at the dammed mouth of the Meon


House Sparrows

Starling eating blackberries

Sailing race in the Solent

Titchfield Haven National Nature Reserve - west side


Meon View Hide


Juvenile Avocet

Black-Tailed Godwits and Avocets

Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Black-Headed Gulls, Mallards

Green Sandpipers and a Redshank

Green Sandpipers and a Redshank and a Lapwing


Avocets in Flight

Mallards, a Redshank, a Black Headed Gull and two Snipe

West Side Path

Speckled Wood


From the Meon View Hide


Oystercatchers and Black-Headed Gulls

Lapwing, and Avocet having a bath

Avocet having a bath

Bottom path to the canal, outside reserve




East Side Path

Common Darter

From the Suffern Hide


Grey Heron

The Meon

Carder Bumblebee in Marsh Thistle seed head

Marsh Harrier

Walk back to Stubbington

The Solent - Isle of White in the background



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