Joseph Dow's History of Hampton: North Hampton Common / Nook Lane / Exeter Road

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North Hampton Common

The Common, where the church and school-house now stand in North Hampton, was laid out in 1675. The town appointed Henry Robie and John Sanborn a committee, to exchange some land with Samuel Dalton on the north side of the North hill bridge, for a convenient passage-way over the Ridge, for the herds and for carting; and the committee, "considering the conveniency of the place and that a large passage might be of great use for the town in that place," laid out the way fifty-two rods in breadth at the south side, and thirty-three rods at the north, and about sixty rods in length; all of this land to be common throughout. (Return made, February 18, 1675.)

Nook Lane

In 1686 Dea. John Tuck, by liberty from the town, built a gristmill on Nilus brook; and it became necessary that a road or way should be opened, by which the mill could be reached. The most feasible route was to begin on the easterly side of the Little River road, so called, at a place nearly opposite the house of Benjamin Lamprey (now heirs of James and Samuel C. Lamprey), and to open a path from that place to the mill in as direct a course as practicable. Owing to the roughness of the ground, however, and other obstacles, there were many crooks in the path marked out and used for many years. It could hardly be called a road, and in fact, it was usually called Nook lane. In 1812 it was widened and straightened, and in 1844, extended from the mill to the sea-shore; and forms a part of the direct road from the railroad station to the North Beach.

Exeter Road

That the road from Hampton to Exeter was built at a very early period is certain, though perhaps no record of the fact remains; but the two towns, settled in the same year, and intimately connected in many ways, must have had means of communication with each other better than a mere Indian trail through the woods. Tradition has it that this road was laid out by a bear; the story being, that Bruin made a night raid on the settlement near "Wigwam Row," and that men going in pursuit the next morning, followed its tracks in the light snow to its watering place at Squamscott Falls, and built the road accordingly. They say this accounts for its crookedness.

This road passes through a part of the town, called Bride Hill. The origin of the name is obscure, but tradition says it was in honor of a marriage rite, performed in the open air. Off from the road some fifteen or twenty rods, down a sharp decline, stands a beautiful, lyre-shaped elm, towering high above a young pine growth. This is called the "bridal elm," for under it, it is said, the happy couple stood while the minister joined them in marriage -- a very pretty conceit, but spoiled by finding that Bride Hill is mentioned on the Town Records as early as October 12, 1669, when the bridal elm was not even a seed, and ministers were not authorized to marry. Some say, however, that the bridal elm was an oak; some say, a birch. Clio, daughter of Jupiter, shuts her lips and will not tell.

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