Rising of the winter streams which causes havoc in villages
Iknow for a fact that some Portsmouth people have no idea where Rowlands Castle is and even less where the hamlet of Finchdean sits on the border of Hampshire and West Sussex.
They pass through them on the train to London but mean little to most.
These two villages are well known to people who live off Portsea Island and more so for the walkers who pass by and take refreshment in The George at Finchdean and any of the four pubs at Rowlands Castle. Any of them are well worth the visit.
Over the years the two villages have perhaps become more well known for the serious flooding that has occurred when the local phenomenon called a Lavant rises from way underneath the earth and runs like a tidal stream through the lanes, fields and hedgerows that surround the villages.
Three local historians, along with Ralph Cousins, have researched the Lavants and have come up with a superb A5, 104-page book filled with photographs about the history of the streams. At just £6 it is well worth the money and is available from The Spring arts centre at Havant or from Ralph on (023) 9248 4024.
The two branches of the Lavants start at Chalton and Woodcroft Farm about 150ft above sea level and meet at Idsworth.
Here the flow, which only comes into its own after periods of heavy rain, really starts and passes through Finchdean to Dean End Lane and then east along Finchdean Road until Rowlands Castle is passed by.
The waters then make their way through Stanstead Forest and alongside the railway line until they reach the east of Havant Thicket. They later pass along New Lane before coming to Havant, but just before that a relief pipe takes some of the river into the Hermitage Stream. It passes under Havant town centre by means of several culverts before emerging into the sea near Budds Farm.
The book gives far fuller details plus maps and photographs of some of the devastation caused in the floods of 1994.
In one of the photographs we see walkers on the trestle footbridge that protects them from the waters that pass beneath. Idsworth Church is on the hill in the distance. The photo was taken on January 30, 1994.
In another, we see other walkers near Finchdean among flooded fields. This field was once the home to Finchdean Cricket Club. The pitch was said to have been older than the pitch at Hambledon.