A Brief History
The borough of Basingstoke and Deane has a rich archaeological heritage. Early settlement dates back to the Neolithic period and finds from the Bronze Age, Stone Age and Iron Age have been discovered throughout the borough.
Roman occupation is much in evidence and pottery and coins have been found at a number of sites, including North Waltham where several Roman villas have been located. Calleva Atrebatum, now Silchester, remains a rich source of material for archaeologists. Abandoned by the Romans, it is one of the best-preserved walled towns in the country. The Celts, Danes and the Saxons also settled in the area, with the latter giving their name to Basingstoke.
A brief history of the borough
|c3000 BC||Neolithic settlements were established at Kempshott, Battledown and Wellocks Hill|
|c1000 BC||Bronze Age people settled at Kempshott|
|c600 BC||The Celts settled in the borough|
|c400 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)|
|c700 AD||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|
|c1246||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 spending 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|
|2011||The population was recorded as 167,800|
Did you know?
Besom brooms continue to be made in Tadley and were featured in the Harry Potter films.
In 1795 the future George IV spent his honeymoon at Kempshott.
Interested in learning more about Basingstoke and Deane?
Interest in local history has grown enormously in recent years, with individuals and communities keen to investigate their heritage. Find our more about where you live and for sources of information and suggested reading, by visiting The National Archives website.
For details of local history courses running throughout the country, take a look at The Local History Online website
GENUKI website provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland. It is a non-commercial service, maintained by a charitable trust and a group of volunteers. You can find a wealth of further information from one of the organisations below:
Willis Museum Resource Room
Located on the museum's second floor, the Resource Room holds a wide variety of books, photographs, postcards, maps and other reference material. A team of museum assistants can help with enquiries, although visitors are advised to contact the museum on 01256 465902 to check their availability.
The museum's galleries explore the borough's rich archaeological heritage, from the Iron Age period through to the Romans and Saxons, as well as detailing the town's more recent past. The Willis Museum also houses many items of local interest, including the Basingstoke Stump Work and The Deane Cup.
All Hampshire County Council libraries hold basic reference collections and information about their local communities.
Hampshire Record Office
Located in Winchester, Hampshire Records Office contains a wealth of material, from maps and manorial rolls through to film and sound records. You can visit the office in person or make use of the paid search facility. For further information visit Hampshire Archives and Local Statistics webpages.