Some history and early images of Four Marks - 1950's to 1970's
Just outside of Alton, Four Marks is a village in the east of Hampshire, with a population of just under 5,000. It is situated 630ft above sea level. The Four Marks station on the Watercress Line is the highest in Hampshire.
The earliest sign of human activity in the area are several mesolithic finds such as flint picks and scraper dating back possibly to as far as 10,000 BCE. Stone age finds are particularly numerous in Four Marks and parts of Ropley, suggesting a settlement in the later ‘Neolithic’ around 6,000 years ago.
In the later Bronze Age several other finds from this period have been found, comprising mostly of stone tools. Although bronze was the new technology in this age it was still very expensive and rare so tools and weapons were still made with flints well into the Bronze Age. Burial Mounds, known as Tumuli also exist in Four Marks, although not yet formally recorded, the three stand clumped together near Barn Lane.
In the later Iron Age a number of enclosures; a type of small rural farmstead, dot Ropley and one is to be around Newton Common Wood. Additionally in the 1800s a burial from either the iron age or Roman Period was ploughed up near Headmore Farm. Roman pottery and coins have also been found scattered around.
The period after the Romans give up their british colony; the Anglo-Saxon period is known for its rare archaeology. Four Marks is no exception, although one piece of saddle jewelry from this period has been by detectorists. Their presence is not forgotten, however, as their names and descriptions for their landscape still survive till today; as place names. Weathermore, Headmore and Greenmore all preserve the Old English word ‘mere’ in their names, meaning pond. Swelling Hill, references an abyss- possibly the steed sided Swelling Hill Lane, and Lymington Bottom is an ancient name that once described a farmstead surrounded by lime trees.
The village got its name as it was the place where four parishes met (until 1932 when Four Marks parish was created), these parishes were Medstead, Ropley, Farringdon and Chawton. It was first recorded in the 1550s as ‘Fowremarkes’ from the Old English word ‘Mearc’ meaning boundary.
The oldest part of the village is the hamlet of Hawthorn, formerly a part of Ropley. This hamlet houses the oldest buildings in the hamlet Headmore farm (built in the mid-1600s) Jayswood Cottage (Built around 1660) and Beech Farm (built in the 1740s). Four Marks is also notable as what today makes up the majority of the parish once comprised the common lands of Ropley, Farringdon, Newton Valence and parts of Chawton. These commons were a core part of the lives of some villagers in these parishes as it was collectively owned land where animals could be taken to graze and crops grown.
The land around Four Marks has always supported farming. There were large poultry farms from the 1920’s and then arable and dairy farming. Sheep are now seen in fields around Four Marks. Two sisters called The Muffet sisters in the 1930’s who lived in Brightstone Lane kept cows and supplied the Four Marks villagers each day come rain or shine with milk.
Fetes and galas have been part of the village since the early settlers were a big enough population to support them. There has also been horse racing in past years as part of yearly celebrations.
The famous Watercress Railway Line is named after the proud history of transporting watercress to markets during the huge popularity of this plant to eat in Victorian times. It is the marketing name of the Mid-Hants railway. It runs 10 miles from Alresford to Alton with a station at Four Marks. The Original railway line was opened in 1865 and operated by London and South Western Railway transporting goods also to London. It is used now as a heritage railway being linked to Four Marks in the 1980’s.
Businesses over the years have grown in Four Marks with people developing new ventures.
The first village store started in Lymington Bottom Road which is now arrows the Off Licence. Many other stores, cafes and local businesses have opened providing services for the growing population of Four Marks.