Bishop's Waltham High Street
Bishop's Waltham shown within Hampshire
|OS grid reference|
|District||City of Winchester|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
|UK Parliament||Meon Valley|
The town's name comprises three parts 'walt' - forest; 'ham' - settlement'; and 'Bishop's'. It started off as a Saxon village, and steadily grew to become one of Hampshire's largest villages, despite being burnt to the ground by Danes in 1001 AD. By the time of the Domesday book (1086 AD), it had a population of around 450. In 904, it was given by the king to the Bishop of Winchester. In 1136 Henry de Blois, a later bishop built the now-ruined Bishop's Waltham Palace. It was destroyed on the orders of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. Much of the old Palace is still in the town. Apart from the ruins, which are open to the public, material from the Palace was used as building materials in town buildings still standing to this day.
There are many Georgian buildings in the town alongside the Norman parish church. The town retains a unique character, with a number of small local businesses (such as a butchers, bakery and fishmonger) including an off-licence which was established in 1617 (Bakers Wine Merchants). The famous High Street in the town is also home to a number of chain stores (such as Co-op) and a small supermarket chain (Budgens), however, the owners of these and other stores have fought to prevent larger chains from threatening their businesses and, they argue, the character of the town. Unusually for the United Kingdom, there is a vineyard nearby.
During the 19th century, Bishop's Waltham was a successful market town, being home to several agricultural suppliers, merchants and a cattle market. The town also had a large brickworks to its north, along with a gasworks that provided town gas for lighting and heating the town. The town had a large enough working population by the late 19th century to support a Working Men's Institute, which occupied an ornate brick building on Bank Street, which remained open until 2003, when it was converted into housing. Bishop's Waltham was home to Gunner and Company, which was the last provincial private bank in the United Kingdom.
Bishop's Waltham's commercial status warranted the construction of the Bishops Waltham branch line railway to the town from Botley in 1862. The railway became part of the London and South Western Railway in the 1870s, who operated distinctive steam railcars on the line for passenger services, although the majority of traffic was goods - with bricks leaving the town and coal for the gasworks coming in. The LSWR laid on special services to allow farmers to bring their cattle to market at Bishop's Waltham, with trains made up of a mix of cattle trucks and passenger carriages. The line was closed to regular passenger traffic in 1932, but goods services remained, becoming ever less frequent and regular before finally stopping in the 1960s. Bishop's Waltham station was a distinctive brick/half-timbered design with numerous architectural details produced in terracotta by the local brickworks, which stood where the main roundabout in the town - now known as the Old Station Roundabout - at the junction of the B2177 and the B3035 towards Corhampton now is. A short section of the line and a pair of level crossing gates next to the roundabout have been preserved.
Culture and attractions
Bishop's Waltham is twinned with Saint-Bonnet-le-Château in France. The town has a number of privately owned shops. The Palace grounds are frequently used to hold festivals and other events. The town has a small museum.
The Bishop Waltham Youth Theatre takes place on Mondays during term time and is split into two groups, the drama group for ages 7–12 and runs from 4pm-5:15pm and the youth theatre for 12-17 year olds and runs 5:15pm–6:30pm, both groups are run by local emerging theatre directors associated with the Theatre Royal, Winchester. Over the last few years the groups have performed numerous performances in professional theatres and in a variety of genres, they are very successful and everyone is welcome.
The Moors SSSI, at Bishops Waltham, is a nationally (if not a European) significant tract of alkaline wetland and open waters located south of the Chalk outcrop in southern Hampshire at the head of River Hamble displaying a good diversity of habitat types, plant and animal communities and rare species. As a result, not only is the majority of the site designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act, but also as a Nature Conservation Review (NCR) site, in recognition of its special national interest.
The land comprises some 34ha mainly of hydrologically sensitive fen, fen meadow and wet woodland dissected by a series of south and west flowing streams and drains totalling some 1265m in length. Some of the drains originate from one-time watercress beds fed by clear chalk water springs and feed into either the Western Stream arising off the ‘Sand Boils’ or the Eastern Stream arising off Alexanders Moors. Both streams flow into Waltham Mill Pond and from where the water passes to The Moors Stream, a headwater of the River Hamble. The ‘Sand Boils’ is an area at the head of the West Stream in which upwelling spring water creates swirling sandy patches in the gravelly streambed.
The Moors comprises the wetland area fed by springs and surface watercourses within the SSSI and adjacent land and which discharge into the Waltham Mill Pond. Water from the mill pond passes through Chase Mill and then downstream as The Moors Stream tributary to join the Northbrook Stream tributary of the River Hamble.
The country town and parish of Bishop’s Waltham lies in the Hamble Valley at the junction of chalk downs and coastal plains which gives rise to the tributary of the River Hamble at Northbrook on the northern edge of the town, the river then flows south toward through the North and South Ponds and then out towards Botley where the Moors Stream tributary joins the Northbrook Stream tributary on the southern edge of Bishops Waltham. The river then flows through Curdridge to the head of the tidal estuary at Fairthorne. A common misconception amongst some visitors and residents of the town and is that Bishop’s Waltham is in the Meon Valley which lies several miles to the east of Bishop's Waltham
Bishop's Waltham Infant School Ofsted outstanding school 2010/11
Sport and leisure
Bishop's Waltham has a non-league football club Bishops Waltham Town F.C. who play at Priory Park. There is also a large youth development club called Bishop Waltham Dynamos who also use the facilities at Priory Park. The Dynamos were founded in 1975 and are now one of the largest junior and youth football clubs in Hampshire, with the largest membership of any society and club within the town of Bishops Waltham and its confines.
Bishop's Waltham Cricket Club runs three sides in the Hampshire Cricket League in addition to junior teams and non-league teams that play friendly matches. The ground is beyond the allotments at the end of Albany Road.
Destinations from Bishop's Waltham
- Census data
- "Bishops Waltham's off-licence shuts after centuries". BBC News. 27 March 2011. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
- "British towns twinned with French towns". Archant Community Media Ltd. Retrieved 2013-07-11.
- "Bishop's Waltham Junior School - Inspection Report". Ofsted. 13 September 2010. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
- Bishop's Waltham CC official site
- Hampshire Cricket League official site