Parchment makers worked hand in glove at Havant

Skins being  soaked in a lime pit ready for glove-making
Skins being soaked in a lime pit ready for glove-making
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It was always local legend that parchment made in Havant was used for the writing and signing of Magna Carta in 1215.

In his new book Parchment and Glove Making in Havant, author Ralph Cousins dismisses this legend.

TREES Men stripping oak bark in Southleigh Forest for the tanning industry

TREES Men stripping oak bark in Southleigh Forest for the tanning industry

Another claim that the waters of the Homewell spring made pure white parchment is also debunked. It appears that white fleeces tended to produce white parchment.

Having said all that Ralph’s book is filled with facts dating back many hundreds of years and that parchment-making in the area gave employment to many men and women.

In 1653 St Faith’s Church records were written on local parchment. The process of making parchment continued until 1936 when the last yard closed.

Alfred Stent’s glove-making empire began in May 1916 when he opened a purpose-built building in Brockhampton Lane. He had a staff of 100 including skilled workers brought in from Yeovil and Westbury.

NIMBLE FINGERS Havant girls who worked in  Stents glove factory

NIMBLE FINGERS Havant girls who worked in Stents glove factory

A five-year apprenticeship was needed to became a craftsman in the manufacture of gloves.

One aspect of working for Mr Stent was his enlightened attitude to his workforce. He supplied a staff room for his workers to rest in and eat their food.

The 105-page A5 book is excellent value at £6 from the Havant Spring and Arts Centre or from Ralph himself on (023) 9248 4024.

FASCINATING The cover of Ralph Cousinss latest book

FASCINATING The cover of Ralph Cousinss latest book