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To explain the present undertaking, it should be mentioned that a history of Hursley and North Baddesley was compiled by the Reverend John Marsh, Curate of Hursley, in the year 1808. It was well and carefully done, with a considerable amount of antiquarian knowledge. It reached a second edition, and a good deal of it was used in Sketches of Hampshire, by John Duthy, Esq. An interleaved copy received many annotations from members of the Heathcote family. There was a proposal that it should be re-edited, but ninety years could not but make a great difference in these days of progress, so that not only had the narrative to be brought up to date, but further investigations into the past brought facts to light which had been unknown to Mr. Marsh.
It was therefore judged expedient to rewrite the whole, though, whenever possible, the former Curate's work has been respected and repeated; but he paid little attention to the history of Otterbourne, and a good deal has been since disclosed, rendering that village interesting. Moreover, the entire careers of John Keble and Sir William Heathcote needed to be recorded in their relations to the parish and county. This has, therefore, here been attempted, together with a record of the building of the three churches erected since 1837, and a history of the changes that have taken place; though the writer is aware that there is no incident to tempt the reader--no siege of the one castle, no battle more important than the combat in the hayfield between Mr. Coram and the penurious steward, and, till the last generation, no striking character. But the record of a thousand peaceful years is truly a cause of thankfulness, shared as it is by many thousand villages, and we believe that a little investigation would bring to light, in countless other places, much that is well worth remembrance.
For the benefit of those who take an interest in provincial dialect, some specimens are appended, which come from personal knowledge.
The lists of birds and of flowers are both from the actual observation of long residents who have known the country before, in many instances, peculiarities have faded away before the march of progress.
The writer returns many warm thanks to those who have given much individual assistance in the undertaking, which could not have been attempted without such aid.
C. M. YONGE.
18th June 1898.
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