Peartree Green is an open space on high ground on the East bank of the River Itchen in Hampshire which adjoins the districts of Woolston, Bitterne, Sholing and Merryoak within the city of Southampton.
It takes its name from the Pear Tree that once stood on the large green open space in this area. Some of that open space has since been urbanised, but a large proportion remains as a recreational area. It offers good views across the River Itchen to the ancient part of Southampton previously known as Hamwic in Saxon times. It is possible to see the spire of St Mary's Church, the St. Mary's Stadium and the Itchen Bridge.
Pre 1920, a small community
Francis Mylles, M.P. for Winchester from 1588 to 1593, built Peartree House in the late 16th century, using stone from Bitterne Manor which had previously been used by the Romans at their settlement at Clausentum. Captain Richard Smith, former governor of Calshot Castle lived at Peartree House from approximately 1617.
A small church, known as Jesus Chapel was completed in 1618, built by Captain Richard Smith. It was dedicated in 1620 and was the first new church to be built in England after the English Reformation. Although it was not part of Southampton at that time, Jesus Chapel served the parish of St Marys Extra which was used as an overflow for the parish of St Marys in Southampton. Construction of Jesus Chapel saved parishioners from a rough crossing over the Itchen to Southampton or a long journey to the neighbouring churches at Hound, Botley or South Stoneham.
Pear Tree Church is the oldest Anglican Church anywhere in the world - being the first church built (1618) and consecrated (1620) after the Reformation.
By the late 19th Century, the area contained many impressive houses and villas which were home to Southampton's wealthy traders.
Itchen Ferry village no longer exists, but it used to adjoin Peartree Green. The graveyard at Jesus Chapel contains a memorial to Richard Parker of Itchen Ferry village, who died at sea following the wreck of the yacht Mignonette off South Africa in 1884. Cast adrift without provisions, his companions were forced to murder him and eat his flesh in order to survive. It is one of the few recorded cases of cannibalism in modern times. The subsequent murder trial Regina v. Dudley & Stephens changed English law.
Post 1920, part of Southampton
Peartree Green was incorporated into the borough of Southampton in 1920. The area has subsequently experienced significant suburban development. The Boarding school became an Annex to Woolston School but has since been converted into residential homes.
- The Illustrated History of Southampton Suburbs. Jim Brown. 2004. ISBN 1-85983-405-1
- Images of Southampton. Southampton City Council.1994. ISBN 1-873626-59-2
- Memorial Stone on the old school building
- Maritime Memorials
- Cannibalism and the common law. A.W. Brian Simpson. 1984
- Southampton in the Twenties. Eric Wyeth Gadd
- Maritime Memorials website
- The history of Peartree Church
- Video and account of the case of Richard Parker who Edgar Allan Poe predicted would be eaten. Parker's remains are buried in Pear Tree Church.