What’s on offer in the village of Chilworth
- Credit: Archant
From fetes to fine food, the village of Chilworth near Southampton has lots to offer residents as well as visitors, including the chance to stay in an Edwardian manor house. Claire Pitcher reports
Dates for your diary
There’s an annual fête in June at the old church of St Denys. The church, when built, would originally have been in Celeworda, as the village was called in the Domesday Book. Most summers there are performances of Shakespeare on the Green, and during the Olympics the Village Green also stages the Chilworth Olympics, which is great fun for all.
From house to hotel
Chilworth Manor was a stunning Edwardian mansion house on the Chilworth Estate.
John Willis Fleming rebuilt the house in 1904 but sold it in 1947. In 1967 it was sold by Catherine Ann Young, wife of British entrepreneur Jock Young, to the University of Southampton, which converted the manor into a hall of residence. In 1990 it was developed into a Conference and Training Centre, until 2001 when it was turned into a hotel.
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Did you know?
Chilworth’s St Deny’s Church, a short walk from the community centre, dates from the 12th century but was rebuilt in 1812.
The two bells you can see in the church’s tower are thought to be the originals, dating back to the 12th century. They are believed to be the two oldest bells in Hampshire and for the pair to have survived for so long is considered to be extremely rare.
The village is known for attracting ex-footballers. Matt Le Tissier, 48, spent his entire career with Southampton and won eight caps for England. But he’s not the only footballer who chose Chilworth. Francis Benali, who also played for Southampton, made his home there, as did former Southampton and Blackburn Rovers forward James Beattie.
Grabbing a bite
Set among Spring Copse Park, The Chilworth Arms is modern and eclectic, with cosy corners and open fires. If you’re going for dinner they do some wonderful fresh pizzas as well as dishes like lamb rump and battered halloumi. Nip in for lunch to have a smoked brisket brioche roll, pizza or Wagyu burger. It’s always worth booking a table on 02380 766247 or go online to chilwortharms.co.uk.
Brian Luff is chairman of Chilworth Village Hall trustees and long time Chilworth resident. He started his first business in 1992 at Southampton University’s Science Park in Chilworth. “It looked ideal for several reasons. It’s a lovely environment, and it’s well connected being north of the busy city yet close to the airport, the mainline railway station and two motorways. The networking with other technology companies and the supply of graduates from one of the country’s top universities are additional bonuses.”
Since taking on the role of chairman a few years ago he’s made a lot of new friends. “It’s been more than usually demanding because the hall needed a lot of refurbishment work that is only now nearing completion. Many people have helped. The hall’s used much more these days and there are numerous clubs and societies holding meetings there. I’m pleased that it’s becoming more of a community focal point, alongside the excellent Chilworth Arms.”
It certainly sounds like there’s plenty to keep Chilworth residents occupied. “Many local people socialise at The Club at Chilworth Manor while meeting their needs for exercise. There are several easy ways to get into Chilworth Common, Lordswood and Hut Wood for walking, jogging or off-road cycling. Southampton Golf Course is accessible on foot, and it’s as good a municipal course as you’re likely to find. There are two other courses within a stone’s throw, at North Baddesley and Stoneham. The village has a tennis club, with courts in the Old Village. On a more sedentary note, Chilworth Bridge Club started at the hall a couple of years ago and has really taken off. The Parish Council acquired the pub’s football pitch and turned it into a Village Green with seating, exercise apparatus and enclosed play area for children.”
Brian has semi-retired and is taking a back seat as part-time chairman of the company. “I’m active on a couple of Solent LEP committees, I’m a business mentor with Southampton University’s excellent FutureWorlds initiative and – perhaps best of all – I’ve started doing some research in astrophysics at the University. Luckily for me, there’s a very strong Physics & Astronomy Department there, where I can pursue the interest that should have been my career had I not taken a different turning nearly fifty years ago!”