1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hampshire

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HAMPSHIRE (or County of Southampton, abbreviated Hants), a southern county of England, bounded N. by Berkshire, E. by Surrey and Sussex, S. by the English Channel, and W. by Dorsetshire and Wiltshire. The area is 1623.5 sq. m. From the coast of the mainland, which is for the most part low and irregular, a strait, known in its western part as the Solent, and in its eastern as Spithead, separates the Isle of Wight. This island is included in the county. The inlet of Southampton Water opens from this strait, penetrating inland in a north-westerly direction for 12 m. The easterly part of the coast forms a large shallow bay containing Hayling and Portsea Islands, which divide it into Chichester Harbour, Langston Harbour and Portsmouth Harbour. The westerly part forms the more regular indentations of Christchurch Bay and part of Poole Bay. In its general aspect Hampshire presents a beautiful variety of gently rising hills and fruitful valleys, adorned with numerous mansions and pleasant villages, and interspersed with extensive tracts of woodland. Low ranges of hills, included in the system to which the general name of the Western Downs is given, reach their greatest elevation in the northern and eastern parts of the county, where there are many picturesque eminences, of which Beacon, Sidown and Pilot hills near Highclere in the north-west, each exceeding 850 ft., are the highest. The portion of the county west of Southampton Water is almost wholly included in the New Forest, a sequestered district, one of the few remaining examples of an ancient afforested tract. The river Avon in the south-west rises in Wiltshire, and passing Fordingbridge and Ringwood falls into Christchurch Bay below Christchurch, being joined close to its mouth by the Stour. The Lymington or Boldre river rises in the New Forest, and after collecting the waters of several brooks falls into the Solent through Lymington Creek. The Beaulieu in the eastern part of the forest also enters the Solent by way of a long and picturesque estuary. The Test rises near Overton in the north, and after its junction with the Anton at Fullerton passes Stockbridge and Romsey, and enters the head of Southampton Water. The Itchen rises near Alresford, and flowing by Winchester and Eastleigh falls into Southampton Water east of Southampton. The Hamble rises near Bishops Waltham, and soon forms a narrow estuary opening into Southampton Water. The Wey, the Loddon and the Blackwater, rising in the north-eastern part of the county, bring that part into the basin of the Thames. The streams from the chalk hills run clear and swift, and the trout-fishing in the county is famous. Salmon are taken in the Avon.

Geology.—Somewhat to the north of the centre of the county is a broad expanse of hilly chalk country about 21 m. wide; the whole of it has been bent up into a great fold so that the strata on the north dip northward steeply in places, while those on the south dip in the opposite direction more gently. In the north the chalk disappears beneath Tertiary strata of the “London Basin,” and some little distance south of Winchester it runs in a similar manner beneath the Tertiaries of the “Hampshire Basin.” Scattered here and there over the chalk are small outlying remnants which remain to show that the two Tertiary areas were once continuous, before the agencies of denudation had removed them from the chalk. These same agencies have exposed the strata beneath the chalk over a small area on the eastern border.

The oldest formation in Hampshire is the Lower Greensand in the neighbourhood of Woolmer Forest and Petersfield; it is represented by the Hythe beds, sandstones and limestones which form the high ridge which runs on towards Hind Head, then by the sands and clays of the Sandgate beds which lie in the low ground west of the ridge, and finally by the Folkestone beds; all these dip westward beneath the Gault. The last-named formation, a clay, worked here and there for bricks, crops out as a narrow band from Fareham through Worldham and Stroud common to Petersfield. Between the Gault and the chalk is the Upper Greensand with a hard bed of calcareous sandstone, the Malm rock, which stands up in places as a prominent escarpment. The Upper Greensand is also exposed at Burghclere as an inlier; the rocks are bent into a sharp anticline and the chalk, having been denuded from its crest, the older sandy strata are brought to light. A much more gentle anticline brings up the chalk through the Tertiary rocks in the neighbourhood of Fareham. Besides occupying the central region already mentioned, which includes Basingstoke, Whitchurch, Andover, Alresford and Winchester, the chalk appears also in a small patch round Rockbourne. The Tertiary rocks of the north (London basin) about Farnborough, Aldershot and Kingsclere, comprise the Reading beds, London clay and the more sandy Bagshot beds which cover the latter in many places, giving rise to heathy commons. The southern Tertiary rocks of the Hampshire basin include the Lower Eocene Reading beds—used for brick-making—and the London clay which extend from the boundary of the chalk by Romsey, Bishop’s Waltham, to Havant. These are succeeded towards the south by the Upper Eocene beds, the Bracklesham beds and the Barton clay. The Barton clays are noted for their abundant fossils and the Bagshot beds at Bournemouth contain numerous remains of subtropical plants. A series of clays and sands of Oligocene age (unknown in the London basin) are found in the vicinity of Lymington, Brockenhurst and Beaulieu; they include the Headon beds, with a fluvio-marine fauna, well exposed at Hordwell cliffs, and the marine beds of Brockenhurst. Numerous small outliers of Tertiary rocks are scattered over the chalk area, and many of the chalk and Tertiary areas are obscured by patches of Pleistocene deposits of brick earth and gravel.

Agriculture and Industries.—Nearly seven-tenths of the total area is under cultivation (an amount below the average of English counties) and of this area about two-fifths is in permanent pasture. The acreage under oats is roughly equal to that under wheat and barley. Small quantities of rye and hops are cultivated. Barley is usually sown after turnips, and is more grown in the uplands than in the lower levels. Beans, pease and potatoes are only grown to a small extent. On account of the number of sheep pastured on the uplands a large acreage of turnips is grown. Rotation grasses are grown chiefly in the uplands, and their acreage is greater than in any other of the southern counties of England. Sanfoin is the grass most largely grown, as it is best adapted to land with a calcareous subsoil. In the lower levels no sanfoin and scarcely any clover is grown, the hay being supplied from the rich water meadows, which are managed with great skill and attention, and give the best money return of any lands in the county. Where a rapid stream of water can be passed over them during the winter it seldom becomes frozen, and the grasses grow during the cold weather so as to be fit for pasture before any traces of vegetation appear in the surrounding fields. Hops are grown in the eastern part of the county bordering on Surrey. Farming is generally conducted on the best modern principles, but owing to the varieties of soil there is perhaps no county in England in which the rotation observed is more diversified, or the processes and methods more varied. Most of the farms are large, and there are a number of model farms. The waste land has been mostly brought under tillage, but a very large acreage of the ancient forests is still occupied by wood. In addition to the New Forest there are in the east Woolmer Forest and Alice Holt, in the south-east the Forest of Bere and Waltham Chase, and in the Isle of Wight Parkhurst Forest. The honey of the county is especially celebrated. Much attention is paid to the rearing of sheep and cattle. The original breed of sheep was white-faced with horns, but most of the flocks are now of a Southdown variety which have acquired certain distinct peculiarities, and are known as “short wools” or “Hampshire downs.” Cattle are of no distinctive breed, and are kept largely for dairy purposes, especially for the supply of milk. The breeding and rearing of horses is widely practised, and the fattening of pigs has long been an important industry. The original breed of pigs is crossed with Berkshire, Essex and Chinese pigs. In the vicinity of the forest the pigs are fed on acorns and beechmast, and the flesh of those so reared is considered the best, though the reputation of Hampshire bacon depends chiefly on the skilful manner in which it is cured.

The manufactures are unimportant, except those carried on at Portsmouth and Gosport in connexion with the royal navy. Southampton is one of the principal ports in the kingdom. In many of the towns there are breweries and tanneries, and paper is manufactured at several places. Fancy pottery and terra-cotta are made at Fareham and Bishop’s Waltham; and Ringwood is celebrated for its knitted gloves. At most of the coast towns fishing is carried on, and there are oyster beds at Hayling Island. Cowes in the Isle of Wight is the station of the Royal Yacht Squadron, and has building yards for yachts and large vessels. The principal seaside resorts besides those in the Isle of Wight are Bournemouth, Milford, Lee-on-the-Solent, Southsea and South Hayling. Aldershot is the principal military training centre in the British Isles.

Communications.—Communications are provided mainly by the lines of the London & South-Western railway company, which also owns the docks at Southampton. The main line serves Farnborough, Basingstoke, Whitchurch and Andover, and a branch diverges southward from Basingstoke for Winchester, Southampton and the New Forest and Bournemouth. An alternative line from eastward to Winchester serves Aldershot, Alton and Alresford. The main Portsmouth line skirts the south-eastern border by Petersfield to Havant, where it joins the Portsmouth line of the London, Brighton & South Coast railway. The South-Western system also connects Portsmouth and Gosport with Southampton, has numerous branches in the Southampton and south-western districts, and large work shops at Eastleigh near Southampton. The Great Western company serves Basingstoke from Reading and Whitchurch, Winchester and Southampton from Didcot (working the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton line); the Midland & South-Western Junction line connects Andover with Cheltenham; and the Somerset & Dorset (also a Midland & South-Western joint line) connects Bournemouth with Bath—all these affording through communications between Southampton, Bournemouth, and the midlands and north of England. None of the rivers, except in the estuarine parts, is navigable.

Population and Administration.—The area of the ancient county is 1,039,031 acres, including the Isle of Wight. The population was 690,097 in 1891 and 797,634 in 1901. The area of the administrative county of Southampton is 958,742 acres, and that of the administrative county of the Isle of Wight 94,068 acres. The county is divided for parliamentary purposes into the following divisions: Northern or Basingstoke, Western or Andover, Eastern or Petersfield, Southern or Fareham, New Forest, and Isle of Wight, each returning one member. It also includes the parliamentary boroughs of Portsmouth and Southampton, each returning two members, and of Christchurch and Winchester, each returning one. There are 11 municipal boroughs: Andover (pop. 6509), Basingstoke (9793), Bournemouth (59,762), Christchurch (4204), Lymington (4165), Portsmouth (188,133), Romsey (4365), Southampton (104,824), Winchester (20,929), and in the Isle of Wight, Newport (10,911) and Ryde (11,043). Bournemouth, Portsmouth and Southampton are county boroughs. The following are urban districts: Aldershot (30,974), Alton (5479), Eastleigh and Bishopstoke (9317), Fareham (8246), Farnborough (11,500), Gosport and Alverstoke (28,884), Havant (3837), Itchen (13,097), Petersfield (3265), Warblington (3639); and in the Isle of Wight, Cowes (8652), East Cowes (3196), St Helen’s (4652), Sandown (5006), Shanklin (4533), Ventnor (5866). The county is in the western circuit, and assizes are held at Winchester. It has one court of quarter sessions, and is divided into 14 petty sessional divisions. The boroughs of Andover, Basingstoke, Bournemouth, Lymington, Newport, Portsmouth, Romsey, Ryde, Southampton (a county in itself) and Winchester have separate commissions of the peace, and the boroughs of Andover, Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester have in addition separate courts of quarter sessions. There are 394 civil parishes. Hampshire is in the diocese of Winchester, excepting small parts in those of Oxford and Salisbury, and contains 411 ecclesiastical parishes or districts wholly or in part.

History.—The earliest English settlers in the district which is now Hampshire were a Jutish tribe who occupied the northern parts of the Isle of Wight and the valleys of the Meon and the Hamble. Their settlements were, however, unimportant, and soon became absorbed in the territory of the West Saxons who in 495 landed at the mouth of the Itchen under the leadership of Cerdic and Cynric, and in 508 slew 5000 Britons and their king. But it was not until after another decisive victory at Charford in 519 that the district was definitely organized as West Saxon territory under the rule of Cerdic and Cynric, thus becoming the nucleus of the vast later kingdom of Wessex. The Isle of Wight was subjugated in 530 and bestowed on Stuf and Wihtgar, the nephews of Cerdic. The Northmen made their first attack on the Hampshire coast in 835, and for the two centuries following the district was the scene of perpetual devastations by the Danish pirates, who made their headquarters in the Isle of Wight, from which they plundered the opposite coast. Hampshire suffered less from the Conquest than almost any English county, and was a favourite resort of the Norman kings. The alleged destruction of property for the formation of the New Forest is refuted by the Domesday record, which shows that this district had never been under cultivation.

In the civil war of Stephen’s reign Baldwin de Redvers, lord of the Isle of Wight, supported the empress Matilda, and Winchester Castle was secured in her behalf by Robert of Gloucester, while the neighbouring fortress of Wolvesey was held for Stephen by Bishop Henry de Blois. In 1216 Louis of France, having arrived in the county by invitation of the barons, occupied Winchester Castle, and only met with resistance at Odiham Castle, which made a brave stand against him for fifteen days. During the Wars of the Roses Anthony Woodville, 2nd earl Rivers, defeated the duke of Clarence at Southampton, and in 1471, after the battle of Barnet, the countess of Warwick took sanctuary at Beaulieu Abbey. The chief events connected with Hampshire in the Civil War of the 17th century were the gallant resistance of the cavalier garrisons at Winchester and Basing House; a skirmish near Cheriton in 1644 notable as the last battle fought on Hampshire soil; and the concealment of Charles at Titchfield in 1647 before his removal to Carisbrooke. The duke of Monmouth, whose rebellion met with considerable support in Hampshire, was captured in 1685 near Ringwood.

Hampshire was among the earliest shires to be created, and must have received its name before the revival of Winchester in the latter half of the 7th century. It is first mentioned in the Saxon chronicle in 755, at which date the boundaries were practically those of the present day. The Domesday Survey mentions 44 hundreds in Hampshire, but by the 14th century the number had been reduced to 37. The hundreds of East Medina and West Medina in the Isle of Wight are mentioned in 1316. Constables of the hundreds were first appointed by the Statute of Winchester in 1285, and the hundred court continued to elect a high constable for Fordingbridge until 1878. The chief court of the Isle of Wight was the Knighten court held at Newport every three weeks. The sheriff’s court and the assizes and quarter sessions for the county were formerly held at Winchester, but in 1831 the county was divided into 14 petty sessional divisions; the quarter sessions for the county were held at Andover; and Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester had separate jurisdiction. Southampton was made a county by itself with a separate sheriff in 1447.

In the middle of the 7th century Hampshire formed part of the West Saxon bishopric of Dorchester-on-Thames. On the transference of the episcopal seat to Winchester in 676 it was included in that diocese in which it has remained ever since. In 1291 the archdeaconry of Winchester was coextensive with the county and comprised the ten rural deaneries of Alresford, Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Drokinsford, Fordingbridge, Isle of Wight, Sombourne, Southampton and Winchester. In 1850 the Isle of Wight was subdivided into the deaneries of East Medina and West Medina. In 1856 the deaneries were increased to 24. In 1871 the archdeaconry of the Isle of Wight was constituted, and about the same time the deaneries were reduced to 21. In 1892 the deaneries were reconstituted and made 18 in number, and the archdeaconry of the Isle of Wight was divided into the deaneries of East Wight and West Wight.

After the Conquest the most powerful Hampshire baron was William Fitz-Osbern, who in addition to the lordship of the Isle of Wight held considerable estates on the mainland. At the time of the Domesday Survey the chief landholders were Hugh de Port, ancestor of the Fitz-Johns; Ralf de Mortimer; William Mauduit whose name is preserved in Hartley Mauditt; and Waleran, called the Huntsman, ancestor of the Waleraund family. Hursley near Winchester was the seat of Richard Cromwell; and Gilbert White, the naturalist, was curate of Farringdon near Selborne.

Apart from the valuable foreign and shipbuilding trade which grew up with the development of its ports, Hampshire has always been mainly an agricultural county, the only important manufacture being that of wool and cloth, which prospered at Winchester in the 12th century and survived till within recent years. Salt-making and the manufacture of iron from native ironstone also flourished in Hampshire from pre-Norman times until within the 19th century. In the 14th century Southampton had a valuable trade with Venice, and from the 15th to the 18th century many famous warships were constructed in its docks. Silk-weaving was formerly carried on at Winchester, Andover, Odiham, Alton, Whitchurch and Overton, the first mills being set up in 1684 at Southampton by French refugees. The paper manufacture at Laverstoke was started by the Portals, a family of Huguenot refugees, in 1685, and a few years later Henri de Portal obtained the privilege of supplying the bank-note paper to the Bank of England.

Hampshire returned four members to parliament in 1295, when the boroughs of New Alresford, Alton, Andover, Basingstoke, Overton, Portsmouth, Southampton, Winchester, Yarmouth and Newport were also represented. After this date the county was represented by two members, but most of the boroughs ceased to make returns. Odiham and the Isle of Wight were represented in 1300, Fareham in 1306, and Petersfield in 1307. From 1311 to 1547 Southampton, Portsmouth, and Winchester were the only boroughs represented. By the end of the 16th century Petersfield, Newport, Yarmouth, and Andover had regained representation, and Stockbridge, Christchurch, Lymington, Newtown and Whitchurch returned two members each, giving the county with its boroughs a total representation of 26 members. Under the Reform Act of 1832 the county returned four members in four divisions; Christchurch and Petersfield lost one member each; and Newtown, Yarmouth, Stockbridge and Whitchurch were disfranchised. By the act of 1868 Andover, Lymington and Newport were deprived of one member each.

Antiquities.—Hampshire is rich in monastic remains. Those considered under separate headings include the monastery of Hyde near Winchester, the magnificent churches at Christchurch and Romsey, the ruins of Netley Abbey, and of Beaulieu Abbey in the New Forest, the fragments of the priory of St Denys, Southampton, the church at Porchester and the slight ruins at Titchfield, near Fareham, and Quarr Abbey in the Isle of Wight. Other foundations, of which the remains are slight, were the Augustinian priory of Southwick near Fareham, founded by William of Wykeham; that of Breamore, founded by Baldwin de Redvers, and that of Mottisfont near Romsey, endowed soon after the Conquest. There are many churches of interest, apart from the cathedral church of Winchester and those in some of the towns in the Isle of Wight, or already mentioned in connexion with monastic foundations. Pre-Conquest work is well shown in the churches of Corhampton and Breamore, and very early masonry is also found in Headbourne Worthy church, where is also a brass of the 15th century to a scholar of Winchester College in collegiate dress. The most noteworthy Norman churches are at Chilcombe and Kingsclere and (with Early English additions) at Brockenhurst, Upper Clatford, which has the unusual arrangement of a double chancel arch, Hambledon, Milford and East Meon. Principally Early English are the churches of Cheriton, Grately, which retains some excellent contemporary stained glass from Salisbury cathedral; Sopley, which is partly Perpendicular; and Thruxton, which contains a brass to Sir John Lisle (d. 1407), affording a very early example of complete plate armour. Specimens of the later styles are generally less remarkable. The frescoes in Bramley church, ranging in date from the 13th to the 15th century, include a representation of the murder of Thomas à Beckett. A fine series of Norman fonts in black marble should be mentioned; they occur in Winchester cathedral and the churches of St Michael, Southampton, East Meon and St Mary Bourne.

The most notable old castles are Carisbrooke in the Isle of Wight; Porchester, a fine Norman stronghold embodying Roman remains, on Portsmouth Harbour; and Hurst, guarding the mouth of the Solent, where for a short time Charles I. was imprisoned. Henry VIII. built several forts to guard the Solent, Spithead and Southampton Water; Hurst Castle was one, and others remaining, but adapted to various purposes, are at Cowes, Calshot and Netley. Fine mansions are unusually numerous. That of Stratfieldsaye or Strathfieldsaye, which belonged to the Pitt family, was purchased by parliament for presentation to the duke of Wellington in 1817, his descendants holding the estate from the Crown in consideration of the annual tribute of a flag to the guard-room at Windsor. A statue of the duke stands in the grounds, and his war-horse “Copenhagen” is buried here. The name of Tichborne Park, near Alresford, is well known in connexion with the famous claimant of the estates whose case was heard in 1871. Among ancient mansions the Jacobean Bramshill is conspicuous, lying near Stratfieldsaye in the north of the county. It is built of stone and is highly decorated, and though the complete original design was not carried out the house is among the finest of its type in England. At Bishops Waltham, a small town 10 m. S.S.E. of Winchester, Henry de Blois, bishop of Winchester, erected a palace, which received additions from William of Wykeham, who died here in 1404, and from other bishops. The ruins are picturesque but not extensive.

See Victoria County History, “Hampshire,” R. Warner, Collections for the History of Hampshire; &c. (London, 1789); H. Moody, Hampshire in 1086 (1862), and the same author’s Antiquarian and Topographical Sketches (1846), and Notes and Essays relating to the Counties of Hants and Wilts (1851); R. Mudie, Hampshire, &c. (3 vols., Winchester, 1838); B. B. Woodward, T. C. Wilks and C. Lockhart, General History of Hampshire (1861–1869); G. N. Godwin, The Civil War in Hampshire, 1642–1645 (London, 1882); H. M. Gilbert and G. N. Godwin, Bibliotheca Hantoniensis (Southampton, 1891). See also various papers in Hampshire Notes and Queries (Winchester, 1883 et seq.).