The early Steep settlements were agricultural, with people falling into categories of agricultural labourers, husbandmen, farmers or yeomen, gentleman farmers and lord of the manor. The Baker and Clement families were prominent at this time. Their memorials are in Steep church.
Dr Daniel Quarrier was a colourful early 19thcentury ship’s doctor who owned land and property in Steep and Gosport. He features in the book ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ by Robert Holden. Moses Hoper, the entrepreneur who built the new Stoner Hill Road up the hill to replace the Old Coach Road, also appeared at this time. He was followed by Frederick Vernon Wentworth, an absentee landlord who let Ashford Manor to Admiral Edward Hawker, whose family later bought it.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw the building of large houses for gentry occupation. The retired Rev. George Taswell came to Stonerwood and the Shuttleworth family to Collyers. The Rev. Horsley Palmer and later the Hannay family came to Coldhayes. Mrs Gemma Falconer was at Island House. Sir William and Lady Kelly moved to The Knolls.
The creation of such establishments provided greater employment for the common people. Butlers, housekeepers, footmen, maids, nurses, governesses, coachmen, gardeners and others were required.
The coming of Bedales School in 1900 saw architects and names connected with the Arts and Crafts movement appear in Steep. Artists and writers moved to the area attracted by the liberal ethos of the school. Artists Muirhead Bone, Stanley Spencer, Paul Maze and Francis Bacon all lived for periods of time in Steep, as did poets Edward Thomas and Sturge Moore, writer John Wyndham and actor Alec Guinness. Rupert Brooke passed through when visiting Noel Olivier at Bedales.
The conductor Sir Adrian Boult visited a friend who lived in Church Road. The composer Elgar visited a house named Little Langleys. The same house was once the home of Winston Churchill’s cousin, Lord Ivor Spencer Churchill. Accounts report that General De Gaulle visited there too, in recognition of assistance given to The Free French in WWII.