The Bombay Sapphire distillery, Laverstoke
|Council:||Basingstoke and Deane|
Laverstoke is a village in north-west Hampshire, on the south bank of thee River Test about two miles east of Whitchurch. Almost beside Laverstoke, on the north bank of the Test, is the village of Freefolk, where the parish church, St Mary's stands.
In the early 18th century, Laverstoke Mill was purchased by the Portals, a family of Huguenot immigrants from Languedoc who were establishing a successful paper making business. Henry de Portal was naturalised in 1711 and had the mill rebuilt in 1719. In 1724 he won the contract to make Bank of England notes and pioneered the use of the watermark in paper currency.
Henry Portal's son Joseph went on to become High Sheriff of Hampshire and purchased the Laverstoke estate adjoining the mill. Following generations prospered further, becoming major land owners. By the 1790s they also owned the Manor at Freefolk Priors and Ashe Park House.
Jane Austen and her family were acquainted with the Portals and two of her brother Edward's sons went on to marry members of the Portal family.
In 1796 the Portals had the old Laverstoke House demolished and a new house erected in neo-classical style by John Bonomi. It is this house that still stands today (although no longer owned by the Portals and not open to the public).
In Richard Adams' Watership Down, the punt on which the rabbits escape from the Efrafans was boarded on the River Test at Laverstoke.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|