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Knowle Village: A fascinating history brought to life for residents

Knowle Village is in the Winchester district of Hampshire, residing between the Southampton and Portsmouth lines. It is in the south of the civil parish of Wickham on the outskirts of Fareham.  

The village is rich in history, having started its life as Knowle Manor with a farm and cottages. In 1850 the estate was purchased by the county for the building of a psychiatric hospital. The hospital buildings were within well landscaped grounds which covered an area of over 100 acres. Opened in 1852 to provide care for 400 patients, it expanded to cater for more than 1,000 patients before closing in 1996.

Today it is subject to growing interest amongst its community and beyond, Loraine Rappé, Chair of the Residents’ Association at Knowle Village and Jane Painter, a local historian, are doing a brilliant job of keeping the history alive. 

Loraine recognised that Knowle is a rising place of interest. She says: “We have a regular turnover of people moving into Knowle, that’s why the history side is important. We know that new residents, as well people who have lived here a long time, want to know more.” 

As the editor of ‘The Knowle Post’, a magazine released quarterly, she liaises with Jane who produces regular history slots that have been a welcome part of the magazine since 2018. 

The history sections of the magazine place emphasis on the community’s rich past. One of the first articles Jane wrote was about the War Memorial on site and some of the people listed on there. Today, Knowle Village holds an annual service for residents to gather at the memorial to pay respect to those who lost their lives.   

Jane also researches the history of people buried in the ‘decommissioned’ cemetery – both patients and staff – which is just outside the main building area. Jane explains: “It’s like being a detective. I get the name and look for records and various bits of information. It takes many hours of research which includes compiling their family tree and tracing their history leading up to their time in Knowle. This research forms the basis for my articles”. 

 “One story that sticks in my mind came from a newspaper cutting I found about a patient who was in the asylum, went home for the weekend and committed suicide. He had been a Royal Marine, served in World War I, and had suffered shrapnel damage in his brain, which had affected his mental health. Sadly, although a war casualty, he was not commended on any memorial”.  

 To further keep the history alive, there are exciting Wickham Parish plans to erect information boards around the Village for residents to highlight its rich heritage. These will include a potted history, prior use of land, information points and QR codes linking to the Wickham History Society website at with more detailed information. 

Sharing the history is something that brings the community of Knowle Village together and community engagement is a big focus for Loraine’s Resident Association role. Looking to the future, Loraine says: “We encourage community activities such as walking and running groups, along with tennis for young children” 

 She concludes: “Combining the historical legacy with exciting future community plans is the perfect combination that will mean residents can enjoy this wonderful development for years to come.”