THEY are names we're all familiar with but don't necessarily know came to be.

Jack Wilson of SeeSouthampton looks at the city’s electoral wards and how they got their names.


The settlement was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Rodbrige.

Both spellings indicate a bridge over the reeds here.

The first proper bridge was constructed in Medieval times.

The picture below is from 1855.   

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The Anglo-Saxon Charter of 956 says Coxford was within the boundary of the Manor of Millbrook.

It's assumed that a chap named Cox lived there at some time and that the ford was where Coxford Road crosses Tanner’s Brook.


Millbrook was named from a mill on Tanner’s Brook.

Millbrook Ford is mentioned in a Saxon land charter of 956, and the land called Melebroc was granted to the Bishop of Winchester in a charter of 1045.


A family named Basset is known to have lived in South Stoneham in the 15th century, and the place name may be from their family name.

On the 1791 map, Basset Lane is marked and the village of Bassett appears on an 1810 map.


Shirley derives from early English and means a clearing in a wood next to water.

The original settlement probably dates to the Saxon period.

Shirley Warren denoted the area over which the Lords of Shirley exercised “Rights of Warren”, such as farming and hunting small game.

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In the first half of the 14th century, William Ace owned land called Fremennal in Mullebroke.

The 1558 Southampton Book of Remembrance records that merchant Thomas Fashon left in his will a house called Free Mantell, with lands belonging to it.

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The area was recorded as Swæthelinge in 909.

The Old English word swætheling is believed to have meant misty stream.

It may have referred to Monks Brook.

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Portswood comes from the Old English Porteswuda, meaning wood of the town.

The Manor of Portswood was first named in a charter dating from 1045.

The Manor was granted to St Denys Priory by Richard I in 1189.


Sir Bevois of Southampton was the hero of an ancient ballad.

The name was picked up by Charles Mordaunt, third Earl of Peterborough, and applied to an Estate and House he built in the early 18th century.

The site included a mound, Bevois Mount, which according to legend was a burial mound containing the tomb of Sir Bevois.

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Bargate is named after the city’s most iconic building, the Bargate and some parts date from the 12th Century or possibly even earlier.

The Bargate’s name derives from the bar used to halt traffic for the town broker to exact tolls.

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The first mention of Bitterne occurs in the Bishop of Winchester’s register, circa 1090.

It’s thought that the name derived from the Old English words byht meaning bend (in the River Itchen) and aern meaning house.

The National Liberal Land Company began developing the land that is now Bitterne Park in 1882.

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Peartree Green is an open space on high ground on the east bank of the River Itchen.

The Green take its name from a pear tree that grew near the parish church, supposedly from a seed planted by Elizabeth I.

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Woolston in the Domesday survey appears as Olvestune, signifying “the tun of Olaf”.

This is perhaps a reference to Olaf I (Trygvesson), King of Norway 995-1000, who was in the area in 994-5.


Harefield is named after Harefield House, built in about 1846 for Sir Edward Butler, one-time chairman of the Southampton and Salisbury Railway Company.

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The earliest reference to Sholing was in 1251, when Henry III granted the Manor of Sholing to the Abbott of Netley Abbey.

The name may have been derived from the Old English scholing, which means the hill above the slope.


Bitterne as a ward name is applied to the area to the east of Bitterne Village.

The name, though perhaps not as appropriate for this area, is explained above.

Jack Wilson is a tour guide with .