History buffs have no shortage of rich treasures to find in the area of London, but for those looking to connect to ancient times, the town of Havant is a must-see. Located on England’s south coast and with a deep historical connection in easy proximity to major metropolitan areas, Havant combines all the tradition and modernity that makes up modern England.
This seaside town is perfect for travellers with families, as it offers a range of activities for people of all ages and activity levels.
The ancient past
Havant Town Centre is a historical conservation site, and was a hub for Roman activity in the early days of the common era. This area was the centre intersection of the major Roman travel routes, starting in Arundel on the south coast and passing all the way through to London.
As with many parts of the England landscape, Havant’s natural resources made it attractive to these travellers. The Homewell Spring provided a rich source of natural water, and the moderate climate meant that the region avoided freezing temperatures. This allowed settlers to stay in place during colder months, as opposed to searching for warmers land.
The early days
Havant plays a part in the continued settlement throughout England. A survey made in the year 1086 cited both mills and salterns as present in the area, and estimated the local population to be around 100 people. The main church in the town’s centre, St. Faith, is believed to have been built around 1150, and it contains additions from the 13th century, the 15th century, and the 19th century. This has made it a fascinating source of study for those interested in architectural history, particularly related to religious structures.
A market was established in the early 13th century under King John, and a large fair was held in the area from around 1450 until the 19th century, when it was terminated in 1871.
A large portion of the village was destroyed after a fire in 1760, but some cottages and the St. Faith church still remain today.
Industry has always been strong in the region of Havant because of its natural splendour, starting as a trade centre and through to its time as one of the major parchment-making facilities; in fact, Havant parchment was used for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. While these facilities closed in the early 20th century, the area retains a strong historical significance related to the growth of industry in England.
These days, Havant continues to thrive as a market town, drawing on its large history as a centre for trade.
What visitors can see now
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The historical site of Havant contains remnants from all of these past civilizations and settlements. In 1926 parts of a villa dating to the Romans was found, and in the Town Centre, the church of St. Faiths is built on top of foundations dating to the Roman times.
Several years ago a Roman well dating to around 250 AD was discovered, containing a number of artefacts like coins, jewellery, and dog skeletons.
In 1760 a large fire damaged a large part of the area, but there are some remains from buildings that still stand. Visitors can still witness the beauty of many Georgian buildings from the era.
Narrow walking paths, or “Twittens,” circle around many of these buildings, that nowadays include small boutiques and major retailers. To connect with Havant’s vibrant history as a trade centre, visitors can take in a street market twice a week, easy to access via walkways in the town centre.