Proceeding up the fertile valley of the Test, Stockbridge is reached in another three miles. This sleepy old country town and one-time parliamentary borough occasionally wakes up when sheep fairs and other rural gatherings take place in its spacious High Street, but on other days it is the very ideal of a somnolent agricultural centre; it is, therefore, a pleasant headquarters from which to explore the north-western part of the county. The long line of picturesque roofs and broken house-fronts, in all the mellow tints that age alone can give, makes as goodly a picture as any in Hampshire. On the right-hand side, going down the street, is the Grosvenor Inn with its projecting porch. Next door is the old Market House and across the way stands the turreted Town Hall.
Alone in a quiet graveyard at the upper end of the town is the chancel of old St. Peter’s church, now used as the chapel of the burying ground. Most of the removable items were taken to the new church erected in High Street in 1863, including certain fine windows and the Norman font of Purbeck marble. In a neglected corner of the old churchyard is the tombstone of John Bucket, one-time landlord of the “King’s Head” in Stockbridge. It bears the following oft-quoted epitaph:
And is, alas! poor Bucket gone?
Farewell, convivial honest John.
Oft at the well, by fatal stroke
Buckets like pitchers must be broke.
In this same motley shifting scene,
How various have thy fortunes been.
Now lifting high, now sinking low,
To-day the brim would overflow.
Thy bounty then would all supply
To fill, and drink, and leave thee dry,
To-morrow sunk as in a well,
Content unseen with Truth to dwell.
But high or low, or wet or dry,
No rotten stave could malice spy.
Then rise, immortal Bucket, rise
And claim thy station in the skies;
’Twixt Amphora and Pisces shine:
Still guarding Stockbridge with thy sign.
The main street crosses the Test by two old stone bridges and from these, glancing up and down the street, one has a charming view of the surrounding hills which fill the vista at each end. The road out of the town to the east runs over the shoulder of Stockbridge Down on which is a fine prehistoric entrenchment called Woolbury Ring. Thence to Winchester is a long undulating stretch of rough and flinty track with but few cottages and no villages on the way until tiny Wyke, close to the city, is reached. One welcome roadside inn, the “Rack and Manger,” stands at the cross roads about half way, and occasional ancient milestones tell us we are on the way to “Winton.”