Hampshire – Our Beautiful Local County

Here are a few little known and strange facts about the beautiful county of Hampshire.

Winchester was the capital of England until it was changed in the 12th Century to make London the capital. Alresford, boasts one of the main watercress production in the UK, they even have a watercress festival! Did you know you can still see the very rare & endangered red squirrel in Hampshire? They are living on both the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island (Poole harbor islands). This is so amazing as you would have to travel as far north as Cumbria or Northumberland to see another in England.

The gabardine raincoat (waterproof raincoat or trench coat) and various other forms of waterproof clothing were first created in Hampshire. Basingstoke was the town where Thomas Burberry met briefly with a shepherd whose clothes were covered in lanolin. This meeting sparked the idea and the designs are still going strong today. His quintessentially British brand Burberry is now a fashion label and not just for outdoor explorer types as originally intended.

Author Jane Austen came from Hampshire and wrote most of her work here, but did you know she also lived in Bath for a while too. She first published Sense and Sensibility when she returned to Hampshire and in later years published Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma; her remaining two novels were published after her death. She received some good reviews, a little money and security in her lifetime but only became famous and honored as a literary writer after her death in 1817. She was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral.

John Keats once stayed in Winchester; drawing inspiration from his daily walks past the Cathedral he wrote his ode ‘To Autumn’

Want to know where fish fingers were first served to the public? Southampton, Hampshire in 1955!

The New Forest is around 38,000 hectares of protected land and is bound by the rule that ‘commoners’ who own land with ‘common rights’ attached can graze a certain amount of animals within the forest, there are currently around 5,000 animals that graze the land, mainly 3,000 pony’s and then cows and a few Donkeys.

Have you ever heard of a dry dock? Well it’s narrow basin area with watertight gates which can be flooded to float a boat in then drained so the boat rests on dry land, its uses are mainly for hull repair or upkeep. The very first one in England was created in the time of Henry VII and was in Portsmouth, Hampshire; it still exists to this day and now holds HMS Victory.

Cricket birthplace is in Hambledon, Winchester in the 1760’s at broadha’penny Down Cricket club.
I hope these weird & wonderful facts about Hampshire have brightened your day; it truly is a beautiful part of England and an interesting place to visit or live.