History of Havant and the St Faith’s Conservation Area
St Faiths Conservation Area is centred on the ancient cross roads by St Faith’s Church and encompasses those buildings which line these principal roads.
The earliest recorded spelling of Havant is “Haman Funta” or “Hama’s Spring” which is now known as the Homewell Spring. Close to the site of this spring the settlement of Havant has its origins on the Roman crossing point of the road between Chichester and Wickham, with the north-south route linking the Downs with Hayling Island.
Evidence from road junctions suggests a settlement of some significance associated with a market as well as a Saxon settlement and it is possible that Havant has been occupied since Roman times. However the earliest phase of St Faith’s church only dates from the late 12th century.
By 1200 King John granted a weekly market at Havant and in 1451 Henry VI granted a further market day as well as an annual fair, a sign of the town’s continual growth and prosperity.
By the 18th Century Havant had become a prosperous market town through the gradual changes in the economic base from sheep rearing and grazing to arable farming, particularly the growing of corn. However in around 1760 a disastrous fire destroyed nearly all the buildings in parts of West Street near to the crossroads as well as parts of North Street and East Street.
In the 19th Century Agriculture Continued to prosper locally and many local industries, based on water from the springs in the area, became established in this era such as parchment making, tanning, the production of leather goods and brewing.
In 1847 the importance of the town was recognised with the opening of the Brighton to Portsmouth railway.
In 1895 Fairfield School was built following the introduction of the 1870 Education Act.
The leather and parchment industries have disappeared, development has continued on the back land surrounding the centre while the construction of new roads has reduced the role of the four original crossroads.
More information can be found in the booklet ‘A Brief History of Havant’ by Ralph Cousins
This is one of a series of local history booklets available from the Havant History web site either as a hard copy or a download.