The Origins and Historical Development of Basingstoke

There is evidence of prehistoric settlement in and around Basingstoke, including Bronze Age monuments and the remnants of two barrow cemeteries at Buckskin and South Ham, and an Iron Age hill fort at Winklebury. There is also evidence of Iron age settlements in Oakridge, Cranbourne and Cowdery’s Down.

Basingstoke is situated on the south slopes of the valley of the River Lodden and the ancient road links to Newbury, Reading, London, Winchester, Alton and Andover converge in the town, including the main Roman road systems from London and Silchester to the West Country.

Within the boundaries of modern Basingstoke are the sites of a number of rural medieval settlements, including Eastrop, Kempshott and Hatch.

There was a market in town from the 13th century and the earliest parts of St Michaels Church date from the 14th century.

The production of woollen goods was important to the town from medieval times to the 18th century when malting became the dominant industry.

In 1777-78 the Basingstoke canal was built, linking the town to London via the River Wey.

The coming of the railways in 1840 and 1848 brought a new growth in population and in the mid and late 19th century new roads were laid around the historic core of the town.

(Information provided by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.)

Key Dates in the History of the Holy Ghost Cemetery

The burial ground on Chapel Hill has been in use since 1208 during the reign of King John when burials could not take place in consecrated ground due to a dispute with Pope Innocent III.
The cemetery was consecrated in 1214 and The Chapel of the Fraternity of the Holy Ghost, was completed around 1244.

This 13th Century building was greatly enlarged in 1524 by Lord Sandys of The Vyne, when he added the Chapel of the Holy Trinity to the south side of the chancel as a private burial place for the Sandys family. Both Chapels are now Grade II listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments.

In 1858 the Cemetery was greatly extended into the current footprint to accommodate the growing population and wealth of the town. Two Gothic chapels were built serving the Episcopalian and Dissenter mourners, both of which have now been demolished, and the Cemetery Lodge on Chapel Hill which is now a Grade II listed building.

Several important local figures are buried in the Cemetery including Thomas Burberry, the clothing manufacturer, Alfred Milward of Milwards Shoes, John Mares, Supplier of polar clothing and raincoats and John Aidan Liddell, Victoria Cross.

The cemetery was closed for new burials in about 1912 when a cemetery in Worting Road was opened but is still being used for the internment of ashes.

A Brief History[ii] 

c. 3000 BC – Neolithic settlements were established at Kempshott, Battledown and Wellocks Hill

c. 1000 BC – Bronze Age people settled at Kempshott

c. 600 BC – The Celts settled in the borough

c. 400 BC – Iron Age settlements were established in the Winklebury area

43 AD – The Romans conquered North Hampshire. The influence of their occupation can be found in a number of the borough’s place names; North Waltham (from Wealtham, meaning a clearing in the forest) and Stratfield (meaning the field of the road or way, and deriving from the ancient Roman road from London to Silchester which crosses the parish)

c. A.D. 700 – The Saxon tribe of the Basinga’s made their settlement in the Loddon Valley. Evidence of Saxon occupation can be found in many of the borough’s place names: Overton (from Uferatun or ‘upper tun’, indicating a settlement on a slope)

871 – The Danes successfully fought the Saxons at Basengum (now Basing)

909 – Areas of the borough, including North Waltham and Overton, were given to Frithestan, Bishop of Winchester, by King Edward the Elder

1086 – The population was c. 200. Basingstoke market was recorded in the Domesday Survey. Since 1241 this has been held on a Wednesday.

1208-14 – The Liten, or South View Cemetery, was established as a result of the Papal Interdict banning burials on consecrated sites.

c. 1246 – The Overton Sheep Fair was established

1348 – The Black Death wiped out one-third of the area’s population

1642 – 45 – Basing House played a key role in the English Civil War, serving as a significant Royalist stronghold until it was destroyed in 1645.

1666 – The Plague came to Basingstoke, having spread from London. Up to 50 deaths were recorded in the town.

1724 – Henry Portal, founder of Portals paper mill in Freefolk, obtained the contract to make bank notes

1762 – The first detailed map of Basingstoke was produced

1775 – The novelist Jane Austen was born in Steventon and spent most of her life in the village

1794 – The Basingstoke Canal officially opened

1801 – The first British census recorded the population of Basingstoke as 2,589

1839 – The railway was opened between Basingstoke and London and Winchester and Southampton.

1868 – Thomas Burberry’s clothing factory opened in New Street in central Basingstoke

1901 – The population was recorded as 9,510. The Basingstoke Light Railway opened.

1903 – The Thornycroft Company began manufacturing cars in Basingstoke, continuing until 1912.

1921 – War Memorial Park was opened to the public

1929 – Construction started on the Basingstoke Bypass

1940 – German bombs fell on the town, killing at least 8 people

1952 – Construction began on Oakridge estate, to house staff of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, which opened the same year

1961 – Basingstoke was designated as a London over-spill town

1967 – Construction of a new town centre began

1970 – The M3 motorway was opened

1971 – Black Dam estate was developed

2001 – The population was recorded as 152,573.

The Holy Ghost Cemetery, Chapel Hill, Basingstoke. © 2020 South View Conservation Group Website by : ArThomsenDesign