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Not many of you who don’t hail from this part of Hampshire will have heard of the Tichborne Dole, a charitable ceremony which dates back over 850 years to roughly the year 1150...

This week sees the anniversary of the Dole, one of those extraordinary customs from our rich and fascinating history which dates all the way back to the 12th Century. The ceremony has been held in our local village of Tichborne, near Alresford, Hampshire since about 1150 - which is really quite a long time and the story is an incredible mix of charitable deeds, meanness of spirit and black curses!

According to tradition, the local landowner’s wife, Lady Mabella de Tichborne, was a pious and charitable woman who did much for the local poor. When lying near death, she decreed that the poor of the parish should be gifted a donation of farm produce annually.

Unfortunately her husband, Sir Roger de Tichborne, was a professional soldier and known for his harsh regime and lack of compassion. Objecting to her bountiful bequest and he pronounced that she could only gift the amount of produce derived from the exact area of land that Lady Mabella could encircle under her own power, whilst carrying a burning torch in her hand. The poor woman amazingly managed to drag herself from her deathbed and determinedly crawled around a large 23 acre field before collapsing, her torch extinguished. The field on the estate she is said to have encircled is still called The Crawls.

The Tichborne Dole by Gillis van Tilborgh


Her dying  pronouncement charged her husband to pledge the dole from that day hence and she put a curse on the family should it be abandoned after her death. The curse stipulated that, in the event that the Dole should cease, the family would bear seven sons followed by seven daughters, ending the family name and the house would then descend into ruin.

The tradition of the Dole continued until 1796 at which time there was much hardship and the distribution of the Dole caused local disturbances which led to the practice being stopped. The Baronet at the time was the 8th Baronet, Sir Henry, and strangely he was the eldest of seven sons. In an uncanny unravelling of the old curse, he then produced seven daughters but no heirs and then in 1803 part of the house collapsed into ruins.

Several more disasters, childlessness  and a succession of untimely deaths befell the family in quick succession which led to the Dole being revived in 1853, since when the tradition has continued annually and the family has lived in peace!

Today the tradition lives on with with approximately two tons of flour being distributed - given freely to every villager who turns up to the ceremony held in late March every year.   Distribution of Tichborne Dole

Tradition and memory are so important to all of us. All of our interests and passions are different - but what unites us all is that they create memories that shape our lives. The next time you would like those memories enshrined in a photo montage to keep them alive - just send us your pics, call us on 01420 562208 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - we would love to hear from you!


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Emmy Watt set up ‘The Collage Company’ in 2010 after finding a gap in the digital photographic market. Instead of creating photo books, which end up on the shelf along with long-forgotten photo albums, they wanted to find a way of getting all your favourite photos out on show and still produce a quality product. Taking their marketing and design experience they have taken the traditional collage idea into the 21st century...


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