( or ), sometimes historically
(abbr. Hants), or the County of
Southampton, is a county on the south coast of England. The county borders (clockwise from
West), Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex.
The county has an area of and at its widest
points is about east–west and north–south. The county town is Winchester situated at . The 2001 census gave the population
of the administrative county as 1.24 million; the ceremonial county
also includes the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton, which are administratively independent, and has a
total population of 1.6 million. Christchurch and Bournemouth, within the historic borders of the county,
were made part of the non-metropolitan county of Dorset in
is a popular holiday area, with tourist attractions including its
many seaside resorts, the maritime area in Portsmouth, and the
museum at Beaulieu. The New Forest National Park lies
within the borders, as does a large area of the South Downs, which has now become a National Park.
has a long maritime history and two of England's largest ports,
Portsmouth and Southampton, lie on its coast.
The county is famed as
home of writers Jane Austen
and Charles Dickens
and the birthplace of
engineer Isambard Kingdom
.Hampshire is blessed with some of the most beautiful
countryside and accessible coastline, offering a wide variety of
sporting facilities and leisure activities.
downland of the South Downs and southern edges of Salisbury Plain
were settled in the neolithic, and these
settlers built hill forts such as
Winklebury and may have farmed the valleys of
Hampshire was part of an area named
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
and in particular the valley of the River Hamble
was occupied by Jutish
tribes from perhaps as early as 495. Later
migrants absorbed the Jutish
tribes within Wessex after 530.
Movements of Cerdic through southern
Hampshire, according to Albany F.
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 Winchester and Silchester would have fallen to the West Saxons between the
years 508 and 514.
thrust up the Hampshire Avon towards Old Sarum 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.
that the capture of Silchester, of which no record has been passed
down to us, was not the work of Mercian 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 Valley towards Reading.
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
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.
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 Dorset and Somerset were fought off by the Britons. The name is derived
from the port of Southampton which was known previously as simply
"Hampton". After the Saxons advanced further west
Hampshire became the centre of the Kingdom of Wessex, and many Saxon kings are buried at Winchester.
A statue in Winchester celebrates the
powerful King Alfred
, who stabilised the
region in the 9th century.
Norman Conquest the county was
favoured by Norman kings who established the
Forest as a hunting forest.
The county was recorded
in the Domesday Book
divided into 44
. 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.
several centuries a series of castles and
forts were constructed along the coast of the
Solent to defend
the harbours at Southampton and Portsmouth. These include the
Castle which overlooks Portsmouth Harbour, and a series of forts built by Henry VIII including Hurst Castle, situated on a sand spit at the mouth of the Solent, Calshot
Castle on another spit at the mouth of Southampton Water,
Castle. Southampton and Portsmouth remained
important harbours when rivals, such as Poole and
Bristol 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 Titanic, the latter being staffed largely by natives
played a large role in World War II due
to its large Royal Navy harbour at
Portsmouth, the army camp at Aldershot and the military Netley Hospital on Southampton Water, as well as its proximity to
the army training ranges on Salisbury Plain and the Isle of Purbeck. Supermarine
designers of the Spitfire
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.
Farnborough is a major centre for the Aviation
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
. 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
called it Hamtunschire. At
the time of the Domesday Book
this had been compressed to Hantescire.
Wight 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
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.
of Bournemouth and Christchurch also fall within the traditional county of
Hampshire, but were ceded to Dorset in the local
government reorganisation of 1974.
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 Hampshire.
Southampton from Netley
exceptions of the unitary
authorities of Portsmouth and Southampton, Hampshire is governed by a county council based in Winchester, with
districts beneath it, and for the majority of the county,
parish councils or
town councils at the local
The districts of Hampshire are the following:
county also contains a national park,
covering the New
Forest, and therefore governance of this area is carried
out by the National Park
Authority as well as the New Forest District
The Beaulieu River.
Hampshire is a relatively affluent county, with a Gross domestic product
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
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
Many rural areas of Hampshire have traditionally been reliant on
, though the county was less
agricultural than most surrounding counties, and was mostly
concentrated on dairy farming
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.
Forest area is a National Park, and
tourism is a significant economic segment in
this area, with 7.5 million visitors in 1992. The South Downs 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.
cities of Southampton and Portsmouth are both significant ports, with Southampton
handling a large proportion of the national container freight and
Portsmouth housing a large Royal Navy
The docks have traditionally been large employers in
these cities, though again mechanisation has forced diversification
of the economy.
At the Census 2001
ceremonial county recorded a population of 1,644,249, of which
1,240,103 were in the administrative county, 217,445 were in the
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
The school system in Hampshire (including Southampton and
Portsmouth) is comprehensive. Geographically inside the Hampshire
are twenty four
independent schools, Southampton has three and Portsmouth has four.
Few Hampshire schools have sixth forms, which varies by district
four universities, namely the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University,
the University of
Portsmouth and the University of Winchester (which
also has a small campus in Basingstoke).
Hampshire is divided into eighteen parliamentary
. Ten of these are represented by Conservative Members of Parliament
(MPs), four by
the Liberal Democrats
and three by
. Labour represent the
large cities, including both Southampton constituencies (Test and Itchen) and Portsmouth
North. The Conservatives represent the most rural
constituencies, New Forest West, New Forest East, Hampshire North West, Hampshire North East, Hampshire East and the constituencies of Aldershot, Basingstoke, Havant, Gosport and Fareham, which are
centred on towns. The Liberal Democrats represent Winchester, Portsmouth South and Eastleigh, all centred around towns, and the largely rural
constituency of Romsey. There is a new parliamentary constituency to
be contested at the next general election as part of the new
boundary changes: the Meon
Valley constituency is notionally a Conservative seat,
based on the 2005 polling results in the areas it will
Wight returns its own Member to the House of
Commons 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
for Hampshire County Council, the Conservative Party
had a 47.72%
share of the votes, the Liberal
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
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.
falls into two
categories. In the south, along the coast is the
"Hampshire Basin", an area of
Eocene and Oligocene
clays and gravels which
are protected from sea erosion by the
Purbeck, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight. These low, flat lands support heathland and woodland
habitats, a large area of which
form part of the New
The New Forest has a mosaic of heathland,
grassland, coniferous and deciduous woodland habitats that host
. The forest is
protected as a national park
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
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
Water and the large convoluted Portsmouth
Harbour. The Isle of Wight lies off the coast of
Hampshire where the non-resistant rock has been eroded away,
forming the Solent.
north and centre of the county the substrate is the Southern England Chalk
Formation of Salisbury
Plain and the South Downs.
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 Hill, which reaches the height of 286 m
a calcareous grassland
important for wild flowers
. A large area of the downs is now protected
from further agricultural damage by the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural
. The Itchen and Test are trout rivers that flow from the chalk through wooded
valleys into Southampton Water. Nestled in a valley
on the downs is Selborne, and the countryside surrounding the village was
the location of Gilbert White's
pioneering observations on natural
is the Dog Rose
has a milder climate than most areas of the
Isles, being in the far south with the climate
stabilising effect of the sea, but protected against the more
extreme weather of the Atlantic 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
town is Winchester, a historic city that was once the capital of the
ancient kingdom of Wessex and of
England until the Norman
conquest of England. The port cities of Southampton and Portsmouth were split off as independent unitary authorities in 1997, although
they are still included in Hampshire for ceremonial
purposes. Fareham, Gosport and Havant 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 Southampton 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
Valley conurbation which includes the towns of
Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yateley and borders both Berkshire
lies outside the green belt area of
restricted development around London, 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.
Basingstoke, in the north of the county, has grown from a
country town into a business and finance centre.
Aldershot, Portsmouth, and Farnborough have strong military associations with the Army, Royal Navy and
Royal Air Force respectively.
county also includes several market
towns: Alton, Andover, Bishop's
Waltham, Lymington, New
Milton, Petersfield, Ringwood, Romsey, and
Towns by population size:
New apartment blocks in the rapidly
For the complete list of settlements see List of places in
- Southampton - 234,224
- Portsmouth - 187,056
- Basingstoke - 90,171 (town), 152,573 (borough)
- Gosport - 69,348,
- Waterlooville - 63,558
- Aldershot - 58,120
- Farnborough - 57,147
- Fareham/Portchester - 56,010 (town), 109,619 (borough)
- Eastleigh - 52,894 (town), 116,177 (borough)
- Andover - 52,000
- Havant - 45,435
(town), 115,300 (borough)
- Winchester - 41,420
- Fleet - 32,726
Culture, arts and sport
Due to Hampshire's long association with pigs and boars, natives of
the county have been known as Hampshire hogs
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
lived most of her life in Hampshire, where her father was rector of
Hampshire, 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
and J. M.
. Hampshire is also the birthplace of
explorer Lawrence Oates
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
in the country, with many yacht
several manufacturers on the Solent. The game of cricket was largely developed in south-east England,
with one of the first teams forming at Hambledon in 1750. Hampshire County Cricket Club
today is a successful first-class
team, captained by Dimitri Mascarenhas
Hampshire has several association
teams, including Premier
side Portsmouth F.C.
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
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).
became members of the
in 1932 but never
progressed beyond the Third Division
and on 25
March 1992 were declared bankrupt
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
division outside the Football League) into Football League Two
of the Football League
in April 2008.
Circuit is Hampshire's premier motor racing course with the
Motor Museum being located in the New Forest adjacent to Beaulieu Palace House.
The Farnborough Airshow
is a popular
international event, held biennially.
county's news is covered on BBC TV by BBC South Today from its studios in Southampton. ITV
news covers the
county as part of ITV
. Countless commerical radio stations cover the area,
with BBC Radio Solent
the majority of the county and BBC Surrey
keeping across in North-East Hampshire.
Airport, with an accompanying main line railway station, is an international airport
situated in the Borough of Eastleigh, close to Swaythling in the city of Southampton. Cross-channel and cross-Solent ferries link
the county to the Isle of Wight and European continent.
South Western Main Line
railway from London to
Weymouth runs through Winchester and Southampton, and
the Wessex Main Line from Bristol to Portsmouth also runs through the county as does
the Portsmouth Direct
The M3 motorway
connects the county to
London. The construction of the Twyford Down 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 Portsmouth and the M27 and
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%
Hampshire formerly had several canals, but most of these have been
abandoned and their routes built over. Both the Chichester
Canal and Basingstoke Canal have been extensively restored, and are now
navigable for most their routes, but the Salisbury and Southampton
Canal and Portsmouth and Arundel Canal have all disappeared.
Emergency Services In Hampshire