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Basingstoke, Hampshire

Historical Description

Basingstoke, a municipal borough and a market and union town in North Hants. The town stands on a head-stream of the river Loddon, 15½ miles SSW of Reading, and 45½ SW by W of London. It is on the main line of the L. & S.W.R. to Southampton and Portsmouth, and also to Salisbury, Exeter, and Plymouth, and there is a branch line to the G.W.R. main line at Reading. The town dates from the Saxon times, and at that early period may have been inferior to Old Basing, but at the time of the Conquest it had obtained the superiority, and was a royal possession and a market-town at Domesday. In 1261 Walter de Merton, a native of Basingstoke, and founder of Merton College, Oxford, founded an hospital at Basingstoke for the maintenance of indigent and impotent priests, which was on the north side of the river, but it has entirely disappeared, and nothing now remains of the building. The town consists of several streets, and contains neat well-built houses. The town-hall is a handsome edifice of 1832, and cost £10,000. A handsome clock tower was erected in 1887, in commemoration of the Queen's jubilee, at the sole expense of Col. John May, the cost of which was £1200. The corn exchange was built in 1865, at a cost of upwards of £3000. The parish church is Late Perpendicular, large, and handsome; consists of nave, chancel, and side aisles, with a square tower; was built chiefly in the reign of Henry VIII., by Bishop Fox; was repaired and new seated in 1841; and contains a parochial library. A picturesque ruin, known as the Holy Ghost Chapel, founded in the time of Henry VIII. by the first Lord Sandys, stands adjacent to the railway station; shows characters of very Late Perpendicular, with debased and Italian details; and is believed to occupy the site of some previous religious edifice or edifices, dating back to the times of the Saxons. A burying-ground around it, now disposed as a new cemetery, contains two funeral chapels in Decorated Gothic, each with tower and spire about 70 feet high, founded in 1857, and contains also some ancient monuments. The town has several dissenting chapels, a grammar school with endowed income of £158, a Blue-coat school with £170, other charities with £500, three banks, a post, money order, and telegraph office. There is a drill hall, a masonic hall, and mechanics' institute, with a library containing over 3000 volumes. A cottage hospital was built in 1878. St Thomas' Home, built in 1874, is an institution for friendless and fallen women. The workhouse is at Basing. There are permanent "Barracks" for the Salvation Army. Hackwood House, the property of Lord Bolton, is a chief residence. A market is held on Wednesday. The manufacture of druggets and shalloons was once extensive, but malting and the corn trade and the manufacture of ready-made clothing are now the chief employments. There are also some large iron foundries for the manufacture of agricultural and other implements. A staff of the Royal Engineers Postal Telegraph Department is stationed at Basingstoke. The town sent members to Parliament in the times of Edward I. and II.; was chartered by James I. and Charles I.; and is now governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. Walter de Merton, mentioned above; John de Basingstoke, a celebrated Greek scholar of the 13th century; Sir James Lancaster, the eminent navigator in the time of Elizabeth; Richard White, the author of a History of Britain in the time of James I.; and the brothers Joseph and Thomas Warton, the former head-master of Winchester, the latter the well-known poet, were natives of Basingstoke; and Thomas Warton, the father of these Wartons, and Sir George Wheler the Eastern traveller, were vicars. Population of the municipal borough, 8213. The parish is politically con-terminate with the town, and comprises 4194 acres; population, 7960. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Winchester, and till 1864 was united with Basing and Up-Nately; gross value, £377. Patron, Magdalen College, Oxford.

Basingstoke Parliamentary Division, or North Hants, was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 70,497. The division includes the following:-Odiham—Aldershott, Bramshill, Cove, Crondall, Dogmersfield, Elvetham, Eversley, Farnborough, Greywell, Hartley Wintney, Hawley and Minley, Heckfield, Long Sutton, Mattingley, Odiham, Rotherwick, South Warnborough, Winchfield, Yately; Basingstoke—Andwell, Basing, Basingstoke Town, Bradley, Bramley, Cliddesden, Church Oakley, Deane, Dummer, Eastrop, Ellesfield or Illsfield, Farleigh Wallop, Hartley Westpall, Herriard, Mapledurwell, Mortimer (West End), Nately Scures, Newnham, North Waltham, Nutley, Pamber, Popham, Preston Candover, Sherborne (St John), Sherfield-upon-Loddon, Silchester, Stratfieldsaye (part of), Stratfield Turgiss, Tunworth, Up-Nately, Upton Gray, West Sherborne (otherwise Monk Sherborne), Weston Corbett, Weston Patrick, Winslade and Kempshott, Woodmancott, Wootton (St Lawrence), Worting; Basingstoke, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyHampshire 
Ecclesiastical parishBasingstoke St. Michael 
Poor Law unionBasingstoke 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

The registers dates from year 1638.


Church of England

St. Michael (parish church)

The church of St Michael is a building of stone in the perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, nave of four bays, with clerestory, aisles, side chapel, south porch and an embattled western tower, with angle turrets containing eight bells: the nave was erected in the reign of Henry VIII. Under the direction of Fox, Bishop of Winchester, and is a good example of the architecture of that period: galleries have been erected on both sides of the church: there are seven stained windows and carved oak pulp it on the stone base, placed in memory of the Rt. Rev. Samuel Wilberforce D.D. Bishop of Winchester, 1869-73: A small library the gift of Sir George Wheler, Vicar here 1685-94, is deposited in the parvise above the south porch. In 1908 the organ was rebuilt and placed in the southwest gallery and the high oak pews shortened. There are 1,400 sittings.


Congregational Chapel, Cross Street

The Congregational chapel, founded in 1662, was until 1710 in Cross Street.

Congregational Chapel, London Street

The Congregational chapel, in London Street, a building in the Classic style, erected in 1800, was enlarged in 1860, renovated in 1883 at a cost of £1,400, and redecorated in 1894, at a cost of £177. The church will seat about 700. In the rear is a school-room with class-rooms built in 1872 and 1888, at a total cost of £1,500.

Roman Catholic

The Holy Ghost, Sherborne Road

The new Catholic church, dedicated to the Holy Ghost, and situated in Sherborne Road, is of flint and stone, and was built in 1902 from the designs and at the sole expense of the Very Rev. Canon A. J. Scoles: There are 150 sittings.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Basingstoke from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Hampshire (County Southampton) is available to browse.


Online maps of Basingstoke are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Hampshire newspapers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitations of Hampshire, 1530, 1575, & 1622-34 is available to view on the Heraldry page.

DistrictBasingstoke and Deane
RegionSouth East
Postal districtRG21
Post TownBasingstoke