THE memoir left by Henry (‘Harry’) Moody Junior (1840-1921) was not a polished piece ready for press, but a collection of jottings about the events that had stuck in his mind as a ‘native’ living in Winchester during the reign of Queen Victoria. 

It was a time when the arrival of the railway and other changes were transforming the city, though, much went on as it had for a very long time. Harry worked on the Hampshire Observer published by Warren & Son and there progressed from printer’s apprentice to ’newspaper correspondent’, according to the 1891 census.

He was no doubt influenced by his namesake father, son of a brewer, who wrote popular works on local history and for 24 years was curator of the first museum in Winchester.

His memoir, which has been edited, is more ‘vox pop’ than ‘hard facts’. The duty on paper – now regarded as a ‘tax on knowledge’ – was not repealed until 1861, and the 1856 date he gives probably refers to the repeal of stamp duty in 1855. Something he repeatedly emphasised was how everyday behaviour in the city had changed. 


REVIEWING the drunken customs of the past, I am led to the conclusion that it was self-interest which led the master – not then the ‘employer’ – to wink at these shortcomings in his men, for he had the security of knowing that when his money was expended, the workman would be forced to return to work or starve.

I am rather afraid, looking back, that the clergy turned a blind eye towards these drinking customs. At least, they did not openly condemn them.

Trade societies have latterly sprung up giving assistance whilst seeking work from town to town, and thus foistering a cleavage between master and man. 

Charities, almost innumerable, now diverted mostly into other channels, were attached to all parish churches, and it was said that they militated against the poor’s independence. Indeed, the practice of asking help at the door daily of the well-to-do was attributed to the departure from the city of the aristocracy.

Garland Day (May 1) was a great event for the youngsters. The chief garlands, of large size, were carried between two boys, College choristers emanating from the Cathedral, Christ’s Hospital and the Free School.

This calls to mind church-going. The services, as required, were twice on Sunday, mainly morning and afternoon, for it must be borne in mind that the system of gaslight was still in its infancy, and it is an acknowledged fact that the Church of England is slow to adopt any innovation.

On Saints’ days there was morning service, as well as on ‘special’ days, including the martyrdom of Charles I, the Restoration [of Charles II] and the Gunpowder Plot. The churches themselves were cold and cheerless with high pews, the best of which were ‘appropriated’. The poor of the congregation were relegated to the free seats, and a place ‘somewhere’ was set apart for schoolchildren.

The Cathedral was a veritable ice-house in winter, and draughty, the wind coming down from the openings to the roof in the north and south transepts of the nave and other quarters. The only semblance of a fire in the place I can call to mind was a charcoal fire with settles near the cloister door.

Hampshire Chronicle: The local paper owned by Warren & Co. that employed Henry Moody

The head of the capitular body in those days was known as ‘the Good Old Dean’. I refer to Dean Garnier, also rector of Bishopstoke, who intoned the service up to the Absolution Prayer over the age of 90. His name is perpetuated in the naming of the road past the pumping station. His annual outing of the choir and others to his rectory grounds I well remember.

Parish magazines are a modern institution but matters relating to religion, between church and dissent, the Church and Rome, written with much anti-Christian feeling and intolerance and on other subjects, were discussed in the form of octavo tracts. 

A champion of non-conformity, who published innumerable tracts, was Rev [William] Thorn, pastor of the Congregational Chapel in Parchment Street, who engaged in ‘wordy warfare’ with a Prebendary resident in the Close. The Rev. [John Carysfoot] Proby, rector of St Peter Cheesehill, disseminated tracts of a Prophetic nature relative to the fulfilment of a scriptural prophecy of a circle engirdling the earth [that he believed] was being fulfilled by the laying of telegraphic wires.

There were formerly but two Assizes, Lent and Midsummer, and the events were awe-inspiring, for the Judges were direct representatives of Her Majesty the Queen and stood on their dignity. The sentences were more severe –  death, Botany Bay or the Hulks at Portsmouth, for offences now treated as trivial. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Dean Thomas Garnier, founder of the Hampshire Horticultural Society and an ‘anti-muckabite’

Javelin men, carrying bright-headed spears, were the Judges’ escort. They were provided by the Sheriff of each year, at what must have been a great cost, as they were clothed in the family servants’ uniform, similar to the coachmen and footmen of the current day.

The accommodation of the two courts in the county hall was very limited. Each court occupied about one fourth of its capacity at either end. A large hot-air stove occupied the centre, faced by the payer of expenses. Here congregated jurymen, witnesses, opposite the entrance to the hall and courts, as well as people curious to see inside a criminal court.

These events gave a fillip to trade in the town. Barristers robed at their lodgings, and consequently passed through the streets in wig and flying gown. Public houses found temporary homes for jurors and witnesses. The soldiers were rigidly confined to barracks during the assizes. Indeed, military witnesses were in kept there till required at the court. Sports, to vary the monotony, were provided on the barrack, one of which was a pig with a greasy tail. 

Hampshire Chronicle: The Dog & Duck, serving ‘Winnall Ales & Stout’ on Wharf Hill until 1923

A similar confinement awaited the soldier on election days. A newspaper in the barrack room was a luxury and also at the Workhouse. A daily newspaper, The Times, costing 6d was often hired by the hour, being left and called for again to duty elsewhere by the enterprising bookseller. With the repeal of Paper Duty [stamp duty?], things changed. The Winchester Observer, four pages crown folio, news and ads, with a London insert, came out in about 1856, but its life was brief.

Parliamentary elections were exciting times, though the electorate was small, and the working man as yet had no vote. But if he had no vote, he did the shouting and drank deeply of the free tap of beer flowing everywhere, seemingly a necessary adjunct to a parliamentary contest.

The nominations were made from the windows of St John’s Rooms from whence the candidates, shielded by their immediate friends from various missiles hurled at them, addressed the electors, or rather those assembled below. Polling-day was one of intense excitement, and not an out-voter was missed, and [all] were brought in to poll.

Hampshire Chronicle: Lent Assizes, Winchester, 1846, trial of Lieutenant Pym, second in a duel

Party favours were in evidence everywhere, and the manner in which each elector recorded his vote was subsequently published. The poll closed at 4 o’clock, but the result, from open voting and the small electorate, was already known. Indeed, ‘state of poll’ was published every hour. Bands of music were in evidence and the proceedings usually culminated in ‘chairing’ the newly elected.

What an election really cost in those day no-one can say or hazard a guess. The municipal contests in many instances were ‘battles royal’ and proportionately expensive undertakings – that of the question of the New Guildhall and the sewage system extended over several years. No-one can realise in the present day what the old cesspits and their night -clearing was like.

To be continued. This is an edited version of excerpts from a 34-page manuscript held by the Hampshire Record Office (3A00W/I6).