Wickham crest

Wickham Parish Council

The Early History of Wickham

This extract is based on a talk given by local historian, the late Bruce Tappenden

Perhaps Wickham has Stone Age origins with the first settlers attracted to the site as a ford across the River Meon. The Romans established a military post at Wickham and probably built the first bridge over the river, the village being on the road from Roman centres at Chichester and Winchester. Moving forward to Saxon Britain when the first written mention of the village appears in a Royal Charter of 826. The Saxon settlement is thought to have been to the east of the Meon and would have consisted of wooden houses with a brush roof, there may have been a church and manor house too but no remains have been found.

After the Norman Conquest King William granted the Manor of Wickham to Hugo de Port and the village appeared in the Doomsday Book as part of the Titchfield Hundred. The present church of St Nicholas dates from 1126 and was run by the Canons of Titchfield.

In 1269 King Henry III granted a charter to Roger de Scures for fairs and markets to be held on a Thursday, all the other local markets being on a Wednesday. It is from this time that the layout of the village as we now know it began to emerge. The increasing population of skilled craftsmen and merchants had sufficient wealth to build themselves substantial houses and the new developments took place away from the old houses and the church on the west bank of the Meon.

Mention should be made of Wickham's most illustrious son - although not born in Wickham his father, John Long, moved there with his young family and it was then that the Lord of the Manor, John de Scures, noticed the clever boy and sent him to Winchester to be educated. John de Scures knew a bright lad when he saw one - the boy was William of Wykeham, who became Bishop of Winchester, twice Lord Chancellor of England and founder of Winchester College and New College Oxford!
Later years saw plague, pestilence, butchers shops, coaching inns, the arrival of the railway and the building of the Chesapeake Mill from the timbers of an American frigate captured in 1813.