Hambledon murder stone found destroyed

  • Published
Undamaged and damaged Hambledon murder stoneImage source, David Stares
Image caption,
The memorial before and after it was damaged

A memorial which commemorates an 18th Century murder has been destroyed.

The Grade-II listed murder stone near Hambledon, Hampshire, was found in pieces on Friday.

Pieces of the memorial, which was erected in 1782, have been collected by the parish council while Historic England is consulted about repairs.

The cause of the damage is unknown, although social media posts claim a tractor-driven hedge cutter was being operated near the stone last week.

Hampshire County Council, which is responsible for roads, said its initial investigation suggested highway work was not to blame.

Image source, David Stares
Image caption,
Hambledon Parish Council has collected broken pieces of the monument for safekeeping

The 3ft (0.9m)-high roadside monument marks the spot where labourer James Stares died in a violent robbery 238 years ago.

The stone's Historic England listing says the "plain stone pillar... commemorates an early conviction on purely circumstantial evidence".

Members of the Stares family regularly gather to retrace their ancestor's final steps from Hambledon to the monument site in Cams Hill.

David Stares, from Horndean, said "up to a third of the stone was broken off" and "I hope it can be repaired".

Image source, David Stares
Image caption,
The Stares family regularly meet in Hambledon to visit the stone

Mr Stares said the family had previously made an unsuccessful request to the county council to erect a sign to mark the stone, which is often submerged in undergrowth.

He said Hambledon Parish Council had collected broken pieces of the monument for safekeeping.

Murder stones were erected by local communities around the UK, mostly in the 18th and 19th Centuries, to commemorate violent deaths.

In a statement, Hampshire County Council said it had launched an investigation into the cause of the damage.

Councillor Rob Humby, in charge of highways, said: "I am aware of the suggestions that have been made on social media with regard to the involvement of the county council. However our initial inquiries suggest that the damage was not caused by highway work."

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