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Status Ceremonial & (smaller) Non-metropolitan county
Region: South England

- Total

- Admin. council

- Admin. area
Ranked 9th

3,769 km² (1,455 mi²)

Ranked 8th

3,679 km² (1,420 mi²)
Admin HQ: Winchestermarker (formerly Southamptonmarker)
ISO 3166-2: GB-HAM
ONS code: 24

- Total ( )

- Density

- Admin. council

- Admin. pop.

/ km²


Ethnicity: 96.7% White

1.3% S. Asian

0.8% Mixed

1.2% Other
Hampshire County Council
Members of Parliament
  1. Gosportmarker
  2. Farehammarker
  3. Winchestermarker
  4. Havantmarker
  5. East Hampshiremarker
  6. Hartmarker
  7. Rushmoor
  8. Basingstoke and Deanemarker
  9. Test Valley
  10. Eastleighmarker
  11. New Forestmarker
  12. Southamptonmarker (Unitary)
  13. Portsmouthmarker (Unitary)
Hampshire ( or ), sometimes historically Southamptonshire, Hamptonshire, (abbr. Hants), or the County of Southampton, is a county on the south coast of Englandmarker. The county borders (clockwise from West), Dorsetmarker, Wiltshiremarker, Berkshire, Surreymarker and West Sussexmarker. The county has an area of and at its widest points is about east–west and north–south. The county town is Winchestermarker situated at . The 2001 census gave the population of the administrative county as 1.24 million; the ceremonial county also includes the cities of Portsmouthmarker and Southamptonmarker, which are administratively independent, and has a total population of 1.6 million. Christchurchmarker and Bournemouthmarker, within the historic borders of the county, were made part of the non-metropolitan county of Dorsetmarker in 1974.

Hampshire is a popular holiday area, with tourist attractions including its many seaside resorts, the maritime area in Portsmouth, and the motor museummarker at Beaulieumarker. The New Forestmarker National Park lies within the borders, as does a large area of the South Downsmarker, which has now become a National Park. Hampshire has a long maritime history and two of England's largest ports, Portsmouthmarker and Southamptonmarker, lie on its coast. The county is famed as home of writers Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and the birthplace of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.Hampshire is blessed with some of the most beautiful countryside and accessible coastline, offering a wide variety of sporting facilities and leisure activities.


The chalk downland of the South Downs and southern edges of Salisbury Plain were settled in the neolithic, and these settlers built hill forts such as Winkleburymarker and may have farmed the valleys of Hampshire. Hampshire was part of an area named Gwent or Y Went by the Celts, which also covered areas of Somerset and Wiltshire. In the Roman invasion of Britain, Hampshire was one of the first areas to fall to the invading forces. The southern portion of the county known as the Meon and in particular the valley of the River Hamble was occupied by Jutish tribes from perhaps as early as 495. Later West Saxon migrants absorbed the Jutish tribes within Wessex after 530.

Movements of Cerdic through southern Hampshire, according to Albany F.
Major (1912).

Some scholars believe there is evidence to show the traditional county boundaries of Hampshire may date back to the years of the original West Saxon settlement in c.519. It is likely that both Winchestermarker and Silchestermarker would have fallen to the West Saxons between the years 508 and 514. A later thrust up the Hampshire Avon towards Old Sarummarker in 519 appears to have been checked by the Britons at Charford. The historian Albany Major in Early Wars of Wessex makes the case that the borders of the traditional county of Hampshire probably match those of the first West Saxon kingdom established by Cerdic and his son. Evidence of this comes from the border between Hampshire and Berkshire which follows generally the line of the Roman road that ran east and west through Silchester, but it is deflected in the north in a rough semi-circle in such a way as to include the whole of the district around the town. He argues that the capture of Silchester, of which no record has been passed down to us, was not the work of Mercianmarker Angles but of the West Saxons probably striking north from Winchester and possibly acting in concert with a separate force making its way up the Thames Valleymarker towards Readingmarker. Silchester was left desolate after its fall and it is most improbable that any regard would have been paid to its side of the border had the fixing of the county boundary been made at a later period.

Study of the borders between Hampshire and Wiltshire also seem to suggest the West Saxon's westward advance was checked by about 519AD. The area north of Charford This would corroborate the date given in the Annales Cambriae for the crucial British victory at the Battle of Mons Badonicus in 517AD which is believed to have stopped further Anglo-Saxon encroachments in south-west and midland Britain for at least a generation.

Hampshire was one of the first Saxon shires, recorded in 755 as Hamtunscir, but for two centuries represented the western end of Saxon England, as advances into Dorsetmarker and Somersetmarker were fought off by the Britons. The name is derived from the port of Southamptonmarker which was known previously as simply "Hampton". After the Saxons advanced further west Hampshire became the centre of the Kingdom of Wessexmarker, and many Saxon kings are buried at Winchestermarker. A statue in Winchester celebrates the powerful King Alfred, who stabilised the region in the 9th century.

After the Norman Conquest the county was favoured by Norman kings who established the New Forestmarker as a hunting forest. The county was recorded in the Domesday Book divided into 44 hundred. From the 12th century the ports grew in importance, fuelled by trade with the continent, wool and cloth manufacture in the county, and the fishing industry, and a shipbuilding industry was established.

Over several centuries a series of castles and forts were constructed along the coast of the Solentmarker to defend the harbours at Southampton and Portsmouth. These include the Roman Portchester Castlemarker which overlooks Portsmouth Harbourmarker, and a series of forts built by Henry VIII including Hurst Castlemarker, situated on a sand spit at the mouth of the Solent, Calshot Castlemarker on another spit at the mouth of Southampton Water, and Netley Castlemarker. Southampton and Portsmouth remained important harbours when rivals, such as Poolemarker and Bristolmarker declined, as they are amongst the few locations that combine shelter with deep water. Southampton has been host to many famous ships, including the Mayflower and the Titanicmarker, the latter being staffed largely by natives of Southampton.

Hampshire played a large role in World War II due to its large Royal Navy harbour at Portsmouth, the army camp at Aldershotmarker and the military Netley Hospitalmarker on Southampton Water, as well as its proximity to the army training ranges on Salisbury Plainmarker and the Isle of Purbeckmarker. Supermarine, the designers of the Spitfire and other military aircraft, were based in Southampton, which led to severe bombing of the city. Aldershot remains one of the British Army's main permanent camps. Farnboroughmarker is a major centre for the Aviation industry.

The county has in the past been called "Southamptonshire" and appears as such on some Victorian maps. The name of the administrative county was changed from 'County of Southampton' to 'County of Hampshire' on 1 April 1959. The short form of the name, often used in postal addresses, is Hants. This abbreviated form is derived from the Old English Hantum plus Scir (meaning a district governed from the settlement now known as Southampton) and the Anglo-Saxons called it Hamtunschire. At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) this had been compressed to Hantescire.

The Isle of Wightmarker has traditionally been treated as part of Hampshire for some purposes, but has been administratively independent for over a century, obtaining a county council of its own in 1890. The Isle of Wight became a full ceremonial county in 1974. Apart from a shared police force there are now no formal administrative links between the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, though many organisations still combine Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The towns of Bournemouthmarker and Christchurchmarker also fall within the traditional county of Hampshire, but were ceded to Dorsetmarker in the local government reorganisation of 1974.

United States

Hampshire was the departure point of some of those later to settle in the east coast of what is now the United States, in the 17th Century, giving its name in particular to New Hampshiremarker.
Southampton from Netley Hospital.


With the exceptions of the unitary authorities of Portsmouthmarker and Southamptonmarker, Hampshire is governed by a county council based in Winchester, with several non-metropolitan districts beneath it, and for the majority of the county, parish councils or town councils at the local level. The districts of Hampshire are the following: The county also contains a national park, covering the New Forestmarker, and therefore governance of this area is carried out by the National Park Authority as well as the New Forest District Council.


The Beaulieu River.

Hampshire is a relatively affluent county, with a Gross domestic product (GDP) of £32.3 billion in 2005 (£22.4 billion when excluding Southampton and Portsmouth). In 2006, Hampshire had a GDP per capita of £19,300, comparable with the UK as a whole and slightly below the South East England figure of £19,600.

Portsmouth and Winchester have the highest job densities in the county, and therefore there is a high level of commuting into the cities. Southampton has the highest number of total jobs and commuting both into and out of the city is high. The county has a lower level of unemployment than the national average, at 1.9% when the national rate was 3.3%, and as of March 2005 has fallen to 1.1%. 39% are employed by large firms, compared with a national average of 42%. Hampshire has a considerably higher than national average employment in high-tech industries, but average levels in knowledge based industry. 25.21% of the population work in the public sector.

Many rural areas of Hampshire have traditionally been reliant on agriculture, though the county was less agricultural than most surrounding counties, and was mostly concentrated on dairy farming. The significance of agriculture as an employer and wealth creator has declined since the first half of the 20th century and agriculture currently employs 1.32% of the population.

The New Forestmarker area is a National Park, and tourism is a significant economic segment in this area, with 7.5 million visitors in 1992. The South Downsmarker and the cities of Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester also attract tourists to the county. Southampton Boat Show is one of the biggest annual events held in the county, and attracts visitors from throughout the country. In 2003 the county had a total of 31 million day visits, and 4.2 million longer stays.

The cities of Southamptonmarker and Portsmouthmarker are both significant ports, with Southampton handling a large proportion of the national container freight and Portsmouth housing a large Royal Navy base. The docks have traditionally been large employers in these cities, though again mechanisation has forced diversification of the economy.


Southampton Docks.
At the Census 2001 the ceremonial county recorded a population of 1,644,249, of which 1,240,103 were in the administrative county, 217,445 were in the unitary authority of Southampton, and 186,701 were in Portsmouth. The population of the administrative county grew 5.6% from the 1991 census, Southampton grew 6.2% while Portsmouth remained unchanged, compared with 2.6% for England and Wales as a whole. Eastleigh and Winchester grew fastest at 9% each. The age structure of the population is similar to the national average.

96.73% of residents were white, falling to 92.37% in Southampton. The significant ethnic minorities are Asian at 1.34% and mixed race at 0.84%. 0.75% of residents were migrants from outside the UK. 73.86% stated their religion as Christianity and 16.86% were not religious. Significant minority religions were Islam (0.76%) and Hinduism (0.33%).


The school system in Hampshire (including Southampton and Portsmouth) is comprehensive. Geographically inside the Hampshire LEA are twenty four independent schools, Southampton has three and Portsmouth has four. Few Hampshire schools have sixth forms, which varies by district council.

There are four universities, namely the University of Southamptonmarker, Southampton Solent University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Winchester (which also has a small campus in Basingstokemarker).


Hampshire is divided into eighteen parliamentary constituencies. Ten of these are represented by Conservative Members of Parliament (MPs), four by the Liberal Democrats and three by Labour. Labour represent the large cities, including both Southampton constituencies (Testmarker and Itchenmarker) and Portsmouth North. The Conservatives represent the most rural constituencies, New Forest Westmarker, New Forest Eastmarker, Hampshire North Westmarker, Hampshire North Eastmarker, Hampshire Eastmarker and the constituencies of Aldershotmarker, Basingstokemarker, Havantmarker, Gosportmarker and Fareham, which are centred on towns. The Liberal Democrats represent Winchestermarker, Portsmouth Southmarker and Eastleighmarker, all centred around towns, and the largely rural constituency of Romseymarker. There is a new parliamentary constituency to be contested at the next general election as part of the new boundary changes: the Meon Valleymarker constituency is notionally a Conservative seat, based on the 2005 polling results in the areas it will cover.

The Isle of Wightmarker returns its own Member to the House of Commonsmarker and, in this way, it is often said that Hampshire returns nineteen Members of Parliament despite Hampshire and the Isle of Wight having been separated administratively and ceremonially for some time.

At the 2009 local elections for Hampshire County Council, the Conservative Party had a 47.72% share of the votes, the Liberal Democrats had 32.89% and Labour 7.07%. As a result, 51 Conservatives, 25 Liberal Democrats, one Labour and one Community Campaign councillor sit on the County Council. Southampton City Council, which is entirely independent, has 26 Conservative, 14 Labour and 8 Liberal Democrat councillors. Portsmouth City Council, also independent, has 23 Liberal Democrat, 17 Conservative and two Labour councillors.

Hampshire also has its own County Youth Council (HCYC) and is an independent youth-run organisation. It meets once a month around Hampshire and aims to give the young people of Hampshire a voice. It also has numerous district and borough youth councils including Basingstoke's "Basingstoke & Deane Youth Council".. Along with the Youth council for the Test Valley District, youthExpress.


Hampshire has wildlife typical of the island of Great Britain. One distinguishing feature is that Hampshire has a large free roaming herd of Red Deer, including more than 6500 stags during busy seasons. The stag population is protected by the government and hunting is prohibited.

Physical geography

Hampshire's geology falls into two categories. In the south, along the coast is the "Hampshire Basin", an area of relatively non-resistant Eocene and Oligocene clays and gravels which are protected from sea erosion by the Isle of Purbeckmarker, Dorset, and the Isle of Wightmarker. These low, flat lands support heathland and woodland habitats, a large area of which form part of the New Forestmarker. The New Forest has a mosaic of heathland, grassland, coniferous and deciduous woodland habitats that host diverse wildlife. The forest is protected as a national park, limiting development and agricultural use to protect the landscape and wildlife. Large areas of the New Forest are open common lands kept as a grassland plagioclimax by grazing animals, including domesticated cattle, pigs and horses, and several wild deer species. Erosion of the weak rock and sea level change flooding the low land has carved several large estuaries and rias, notably the long Southampton Watermarker and the large convoluted Portsmouth Harbourmarker. The Isle of Wight lies off the coast of Hampshire where the non-resistant rock has been eroded away, forming the Solentmarker.

In the north and centre of the county the substrate is the Southern England Chalk Formation of Salisbury Plainmarker and the South Downsmarker. These are high hills with steep slopes where they border the clays to the south. The hills dip steeply forming a scarp onto the Thames valley to the north, and dip gently to the south. The highest point in the county is Pilot Hillmarker, which reaches the height of 286 m (938 ft). The downland supports a calcareous grassland habitat, important for wild flowers and insects. A large area of the downs is now protected from further agricultural damage by the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Itchenmarker and Test are trout rivers that flow from the chalk through wooded valleys into Southampton Water. Nestled in a valley on the downs is Selbornemarker, and the countryside surrounding the village was the location of Gilbert White's pioneering observations on natural history. Hampshire's county flower is the Dog Rose.

Hampshire has a milder climate than most areas of the British Islesmarker, being in the far south with the climate stabilising effect of the sea, but protected against the more extreme weather of the Atlanticmarker coast. Hampshire has a higher average annual temperature than the UK average at 9.8 °C to 12 °C, average rainfall at 741–1060 mm per year, and higher than average sunshine at over 1541 hours per year.

Cities, towns, and villages

New apartment blocks in the rapidly changing Basingstoke.
Hampshire's county town is Winchestermarker, a historic city that was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessexmarker and of England until the Norman conquest of England. The port cities of Southamptonmarker and Portsmouthmarker were split off as independent unitary authorities in 1997, although they are still included in Hampshire for ceremonial purposes. Farehammarker, Gosportmarker and Havantmarker have grown into a conurbation that stretches along the coast between the two main cities. The three cities are all university cities, Southampton being home to the University of Southamptonmarker and Southampton Solent University (formerly Southampton Institute), Portsmouth to the University of Portsmouth, and Winchester to the University of Winchester (formerly known as University College Winchester; King Alfred's College).The northeast of the county houses the Blackwater Valleymarker conurbation which includes the towns of Farnboroughmarker, Aldershotmarker, Blackwatermarker and Yateleymarker and borders both Berkshire and Surreymarker.

Hampshire lies outside the green belt area of restricted development around Londonmarker, but has good railway and motorway links to the capital, and in common with the rest of the south-east has seen the growth of dormitory towns since the 1960s. Basingstokemarker, in the north of the county, has grown from a country town into a business and finance centre. Aldershotmarker, Portsmouthmarker, and Farnboroughmarker have strong military associations with the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force respectively. The county also includes several market towns: Altonmarker, Andovermarker, Bishop's Walthammarker, Lymingtonmarker, New Miltonmarker, Petersfieldmarker, Ringwoodmarker, Romseymarker, and Whitchurchmarker.

Towns by population size: (2001 census)

For the complete list of settlements see List of places in Hampshire.

Culture, arts and sport

Due to Hampshire's long association with pigs and boars, natives of the county have been known as Hampshire hogs since the 18th century. Hampshire has literary connections, being the birthplace of authors including Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and the residence of others, such as Charles Kingsley. Austen lived most of her life in Hampshire, where her father was rector of Steventon, Hampshiremarker, and wrote all of her novels in the county. Hampshire also has many visual art connections, claiming the painter John Everett Millais as a native, and the cities and countryside have been the subject of paintings by L. S. Lowry and J. M. W. Turner. Hampshire is also the birthplace of explorer Lawrence Oates, and entertainers Peter Sellers, Benny Hill, Carl Barat and Craig David.

Hampshire's relatively safe waters have allowed the county to develop as one of the busiest sailing areas in the country, with many yacht clubs and several manufacturers on the Solent. The game of cricket was largely developed in south-east England, with one of the first teams forming at Hambledonmarker in 1750. Hampshire County Cricket Club today is a successful first-class team, captained by Dimitri Mascarenhas.

Hampshire has several association football teams, including Premier League side Portsmouth F.C. and the now Coca Cola League One side Southampton F.C., which have traditionally been fierce rivals. Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 1939 and 2008 and Football League title twice, in 1949 and 1950, but have spent much of the last 50 years outside the top division and at one stage spent two seasons in the Fourth Division (the lowest division in senior football). Southampton, meanwhile, won the FA Cup in 1976, reached the final in 2003 and spent 27 unbroken years in England's top division (1978-2005).

Aldershot F.C. became members of the Football League in 1932 but never progressed beyond the Third Division and on 25 March 1992 were declared bankrupt and forced to resign from the league. A new football club, Aldershot Town, was formed almost immediately, and who were promoted from the Blue Square Premier Division (highest division outside the Football League) into Football League Two of the Football League in April 2008.

Thruxton Circuitmarker is Hampshire's premier motor racing course with the National Motor Museummarker being located in the New Forestmarker adjacent to Beaulieu Palace Housemarker. The Farnborough Airshow is a popular international event, held biennially.


The county's news is covered on BBC TV by BBC South Today from its studios in Southamptonmarker. ITV news covers the county as part of ITV Meridian. Countless commerical radio stations cover the area, with BBC Radio Solent looking after the majority of the county and BBC Surrey keeping across in North-East Hampshire.


Southampton Airportmarker, with an accompanying main line railway stationmarker, is an international airport situated in the Borough of Eastleighmarker, close to Swaythlingmarker in the city of Southamptonmarker. Cross-channelmarker and cross-Solentmarker ferries link the county to the Isle of Wight and European continent. The South Western Main Line railway from Londonmarker to Weymouthmarker runs through Winchester and Southampton, and the Wessex Main Line from Bristolmarker to Portsmouth also runs through the county as does the Portsmouth Direct Line.

The M3 motorway connects the county to London. The construction of the Twyford Downmarker cutting near Winchester caused major controversy by cutting through a series of ancient trackways (the Dongas) and other features of archaeological significance. The M27 motorway serves a bypass for the major conurbations and as a link to other settlements on the south coast. Other important roads include the A3, A31 and A36.The roads in the county are known for their heavy traffic, especially around Southampton and Portsmouthmarker and the M27 and A27.

The county has a high level of car ownership, with only 15.7% having no access to a private car compared with 26.8% for England and Wales. The county has a lower than average use of trains (3.2% compared with 4.1% for commuting) and buses (3.2% to 7.4%) but a higher than average use of bicycles (3.5% to 2.7%) and cars (63.5% to 55.3%).

Hampshire formerly had several canals, but most of these have been abandoned and their routes built over. Both the Chichester Canalmarker and Basingstoke Canalmarker have been extensively restored, and are now navigable for most their routes, but the Salisbury and Southampton Canal, Andover Canalmarker and Portsmouth and Arundel Canalmarker have all disappeared.

Emergency Services In Hampshire

See also



External links

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