Thursday, 25 June 2009

County of Hampshire / Hamptonscir ****



Hampshire (pronounced /ˈhæmpʃər/ or English pronunciation: /ˈhæmpʃɪər/ ( listen)), sometimes historically Southamptonshire, Hamptonshire, (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 1,455 square miles (3,769 km²) and at its widest points is approximately 55 miles (90 km) east–west and 40 miles (65 km) north–south.

The county town is Winchester situated at 51°03′35″N 1°18′36″W / 51.05972°N 1.31°W / 51.05972; -1.31. 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 1974.

Christchurch Harbour at Hengistbury Head













Bournemouth Beach and Parade

Hampshire is a popular holiday area, with tourist attractions including its many seaside resorts, the maritime area in Portsmouth, and the motor 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. Hampshire 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 Brunel.

Wildlife
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 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 Forest. 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 12 mile (19 km) long Southampton 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.
In the 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 (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 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 history. Hampshire's county flower is the Dog Rose.
Hampshire has a milder climate than most areas of the British 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.

History
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 Winklebury 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 county was occupied by Jutish tribes until Saxon times. 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 Dorset and Somerset were fought off by the Britons. After the Saxons advanced 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.
After the Norman Conquest the county was favoured by Norman kings who established the New Forest as a hunting forest. The county was recorded in the Domesday Book divided into 44 hundreds. 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 Solent to defend the harbours at Southampton and Portsmouth. These include the Roman Portchester 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, and Netley 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 of Southampton.
Hampshire 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, 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. Farnborough is a major centre for the Aviation industry.


Southampton from Netley Hospital.

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 was compressed to Hantescire.


The Isle of 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 full ceremonial county in 1974. Apart from a shared police force and health authority 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.


Carisbrook Castle , Isle of Wight

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 Hampshire.

Governance
With the exceptions of the unitary authorities of Portsmouth and Southampton, 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:
1. Basingstoke and Deane
2. City of Winchester
3. East Hampshire
4. Eastleigh
5. Fareham
6. Gosport
7. Hart
8. Havant
9. New Forest
10. Portsmouth (Unitary)
11. Rushmoor
12. Southampton (Unitary)
13. Test Valley

The 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 Council. Cities, towns, and villages

New apartment blocks in the rapidly changing Basingstoke.

Hampshire's county 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 Blackwater Valley conurbation which includes the towns of Farnborough, Aldershot, Blackwater and Yateley and borders both Berkshire and Surrey.
Hampshire 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.
The county also includes several market towns: Alton, Andover, Bishop's Waltham, Lymington, New Milton, Petersfield, Ringwood, Romsey, and Whitchurch.
Towns by population size: (2001 census)
Southampton - 234,224
Portsmouth - 187,056
Basingstoke - 90,171 (town), 152,573 (borough)
Gosport - 69,348, 77,000 (borough)
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

Calleva Atrebatum (or Silchester Roman Town) was an Iron Age oppidum and subsequently a town in the Roman province of Britannia and the civitas capital of the Atrebates tribe. Its ruins are located beneath and to the west of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, which lies just within the town wall and about 0.5 miles (1 km) to the east of the modern village of Silchester in the English county of Hampshire





Description
Most Roman towns in Britain continued to exist after the end of the Roman era, and consequently their remains underlay their more recent successors, which are often still major population centres. Calleva is unusual in that, for reasons unknown, it was abandoned shortly after the end of the Roman era. There is a suggestion that the Saxons deliberately avoided Calleva after it was abandoned, preferring to maintain their existing centres at Winchester and Dorchester. There was a gap of perhaps a century before the twin Saxon towns of Basing and Reading were founded on rivers either side of Calleva. As a consequence, Calleva has been subject to relatively benign neglect for most of the last two millennia.
The site covers a large area of over 100 acres (400,000 sq. metres) within a polygonal earthwork.

The earthworks and, for much of the circumference, the ruined walls are still visible.

The remains of the amphitheatre, added about AD 70-80 and situated outside the city walls, can also be clearly seen. By contrast, the area inside the walls is now largely farmland with no visible distinguishing features, other than the enclosing earthworks and walls, together with a tiny mediaeval church in one corner.












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