Close to the town, opposite the Anvil, Glebe Gardens once belonged to the rectory, Chute House.
The gardens have many old trees and in the spring snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils grow amongst the grass around the trees. The River Loddon winds through the willow trees.
The grounds of Glebe Gardens originally formed the lawns and meadows attached to the rectory for St Michaels Church. In the early 1900s the main summer event of the year was the annual pageant, held on the rectory lawn and meadows, the church garden party continued into the 1960s. In 1925 one of the events at the pageant was the re-enactment of Danes landing from a boat on the river.
The Poet, Thomas Warton, (1728-1790), was born at the parsonage which preceded the rectory. Warton was made Poet Laureate in 1785. He wrote a sonnet "To the River Loddon" recalling his early years.
The Georgian rectory, Chute House was named after the Rev. Anthony Chute, vicar of St. Michael’s Church from 1938 to 1947. It stands in the north eastern corner of the gardens and dates from 1773 but has been altered and extended since. In the 1960s it was decided to build a new rectory which now stands close to St Michael’s Church. The gardens and the rectory were bought by the borough council in the early 1970s.
Although the River Loddon is now only a very small stream, in the past it had a considerable flow and its water was used in various industrial processes such as fulling cloth, milling and brewing. Records show that fullers were fined for polluting the river with their waste and in 1547 a vicar was ordered by a Basingstoke court to remove the privy he had erected over the common brook. A Mulberry tree remains in the gardens near the car park entrance, planted in connection with the silk mill which used to be in Brook Street.
In the 16th century, there was a bridge across the Loddon at the bottom of Wote Street and there was a causeway at the bottom of Church Street. A small footbridge in the grounds, which still remains, gave the vicar direct access to the church. During the construction of the town centre in the 1960s, the river was diverted underground and now re-emerges in Eastrop Park.
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