In May 2003 a memorial stone to Reverend Heathcote was re-erected in the playing field adjacent to Old School Close.
Ash Parish Council saved the stone from Heathcote School when it was demolished, and has safeguarded it until it could be re-sited, in the playing field which formerly belonged to Heathcote School.
The stone commemorates the service to the community of Reverend Heathcote, and the inscription reads as follows.
THE LIBERALITY CARE AND LOVE SHEWN BY
THE REV GILBERT WALL HEATHCOTE
FOR THE PARISH SCHOOL WHILST RECTOR
THIS CLASS ROOM HAS BEEN ERECTED
BY HIS FRIENDS
IN THE UNAVOIDABLE ABSENCE OF MRS HEATHCOTE
THIS STONE WAS LAID BY HER NIECE ST ANDREWS DAY 1894
The Reverend Gilbert Wall Heathcote MA came from a prominent Winchester family whose family home was at Hursley Park, now the headquarters of IBM in England. Sir William Heathcote was Governor of the Bank of England, and was responsible for harnessing the skills of a Frenchman in making banknote paper in Hampshire, a trade mentioned by William Cobbett in his book Rural Rides. Florence Nightingale was a great family friend of the Heathcotes.
Reverend Heathcote was Rector of St Peterís Church in Ash from 1838 until 1884, the longest serving Rector in the history of the parish. He and his wife lived in the Old Rectory in Church Lane until 1863, when he was appointed Bursar of Winchester College and a curate took charge of St Peter's. The enlargement of St Peterís Church in 1864, including a new nave and chancel and a new spire, was proposed by Reverend Heathcote and carried out largely as a result of his personal generosity.
It is said that Reverend Heathcote wrote the Winchester College school song, which is still sung today; and he is buried at Winchester, within the College precincts. The east window at St Peterís Church is a memorial to him given by his widow Clara Rosalie, who is buried in the churchyard at St Peterís, alongside the south wall just to the left of the priestís door in the old chancel.
By John Daniels