Silchester (St. Mary)
SILCHESTER (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Basingstoke, hundred of Holdshott, Basingstoke and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 7½ miles (N.) from Basingstoke; containing 403 inhabitants. This place, which is situated near the border of Berkshire, was the Caer Seiont or Segont of the Britons, and the Vinconum of the Romans, being one of the principal stations of the latter in the south of England, and the spot where the usurper Constantine was invested with the purple, in the year 407. About 493, it was destroyed by the Saxon chief, Ælla, on his march to Bath from the coast of Sussex, where he had made his landing. The inclosed area is an irregular octagon, nearly a mile and a half in circumference; the walls are most perfect on the south side, being in some places nearly twenty feet high. About 150 yards from the northeast-angle is a Roman amphitheatre, now covered with trees; and about a mile and a half to the north-west of the station, near a village called the Soak, are some remains of a camp. In 1833, the walls of the Thermæ, or Roman hot-baths, were discovered, while sinking a drain about 200 yards from the church; the foundations of a building eighty feet in length were fully exposed to view, and about 200 coins were found. The parish comprises 1881 acres, of which 174 are common or waste: the soil is partly gravel, and partly clay; the surface is elevated, and enriched with wood, of which oak and elm are the kinds most prevalent. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £9. 6. 0½., and in the gift of the Duke of Wellington: the tithes have been commuted for £410, and the glebe comprises 56 acres. The church is an ancient structure in the Norman style, with later additions. There is a place of worship for Primitive Methodists. Silchester confers the title of Baron upon the family of Pakenham, earls of Longford.
Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.