Jack Wilson takes another look into areas of Southampton and how they have obtained the names we all know.

St Mary’s

St Mary’s dates back to the Saxon period.

St Mary’s Church was mentioned in Saxon charters of 713 and 776, as “the Minster at Hamwic”.

St Marys Street featured in old postcard.

St Mary's Street, as featured in old postcard.

But as growth took place within the town walls, the Saxon settlement slowly disappeared, leaving only the church and the line of the main street – now St Mary Street.

In the 18th century the area was semi-rural but with the coming of the docks in the early 19th century, cheaper housing for workers was developed and St Mary Street became an important shopping and market area.

After World War Two, the fortunes of the street declined due to changing employment, shopping and population patterns.

In 1880, the St Mary’s Church football team began playing on the Church’s Deanery Field, explaining their nickname “The Saints”.

Aerial Pics of Southampton's football club St Mary's Stadium.

After a move to The Dell, they are now back in the area.


Midanbury is the area north-east of Bitterne. The name has been spelt variously. It may be derived from Middan(Middle)-burh, where burh could be any sort of earthwork – perhaps here, a hill camp.

In 1790, a country house on the east side of Midanbury Lane near the junction with Thorold Road, was known as Midanbury House (or lodge or heights).

Midanbury the castle.jpg

The Castle in Midanbury.

Its earliest known occupant was a John Norse and later it was owned by Nathaniel Middleton.

It was demolished in the mid-1930s. Midanbury Castle was the lodge to the House, probably early 19th-century. It was situated at the junction of Woodmill Lane and Midanbury Lane, but was demolished in the early 1920s.

The Castle pub in Midanbury.

The Castle pub in Midanbury.

The Castle Inn was on the site until 2012 when the building became a Tesco Express.

Bassett Green and Bassett

The Basset name was recorded among the Norman soldiers at the Battle of Hasting. The French word basset, “lowish”, was a nickname for someone short – possibly where the short-legged basset hounds got their name.

A family named ‘Basset’ is known to have lived in South Stoneham in the 15th century.

On the 1791 map ‘Basset Lane’ is marked, and the small village of Basset appears on an 1810 map, located roughly where Bassett Green Village is today.

In the late 18th century this area grew as a retreat for rich people.

Bassett Green, as featured in an old postcard

Bassett Green, as featured in an old postcard.

By the time of the Ordnance Survey of 1897, the original Basset had been renamed Bassett Green (with a double ‘t’), whilst an area west of Bassett Wood was now identified as Bassett.

Both became part of Southampton borough in 1920 and, soon after, the Bassett Green housing estate was developed by the Stoneham Estates and funded by Herbert Collins’s Swaythling Housing Association.

Bassett Green, which still retains its rural feel, was given conservation area status in the 1970s.

Townhill Park

The Manor of Townhill was granted to Sir William Paulet by Henry VIII in 1536. The land became known as Townhill Farm.

It was purchased in 1787 by Nathaniel Middleton and the estate became known as Townhill Park.

Townhill Park House

Townhill Park House.

In 1897 it was purchased by Samuel Montagu, 1st Baron Swaythling, for his son Louis who built Townhill House.

In 1927 Louis was succeeded by his son, Lord Stuart.

The Second World War saw the family move out and the house was taken over by the Red Cross as a convalescent home for soldiers.

In 1948 the mansion and grounds were bought by Middlesex County Council for use as a boarding school for girls who had learning difficulties. The school remained open until 1969.

Next it became a hostel for Merchant Navy cadets, then a conference centre for some years and was finally bought by The Gregg School in 1994.

Southampton Council bought large areas of land for housing and built the Townhill Estate and the suburb of Townhill Park in 1959. The hub of the area is Meggeson Avenue where a small parade of shops and a community centre are located.

There are also Townhill Infant and Townhill Junior schools.

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Jack Wilson is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .