Highcliffe Allotments have been captured in a photographic essay on show at the Guildhall Gallery, Winchester. The Winchester allotments began life in 1906 when land was rented from the Church Commissioners.

At that time, said Miranda Johnson, the photographer behind the exhibition, the Winchester and District Allotment Association Ltd had around 1,700 members.

Before World War I there were strict rules governing the behaviour of allotment holders, including a "lunacy" rule, which Mrs Johnson said, she had not been able to get to the bottom of and one forbidding women to go on the site unaccompanied by a man.

"During the Great War," she said, "members were encouraged to produce meat as well as vegetables, this setting the pattern for the allotments' present-day variety of inhabitants - several breeds of pig, chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, sheep, bullocks and a pony.

In 1927, allotment holders took out a mortgage to buy the land outright.

By the early 1930s, the Winchester bypass was built, cutting through the far end of the site and leaving a piece of land isolated. Use of this section gradually declined and it was sold off in 1994.

"After the Second World War, take-up of allotments generally declined throughout the country, but the Highliffe allotments continued to flourish. In 1974, the group split from what became the New Winchester and District Allotment Holders Association."

But the two organisations remained on good terms, Mrs Johnson said, and had recently undertaken a joint coppicing project with Hampshire County Council.

Fragments of Heaven: Highcliffe Allotments, August 2001 to July 2002, continues at the Guildhall Gallery, Winchester to January 26th.