St John's Church, Holdenhurst
Holdenhurst is a parish and small isolated village situated in green belt land in the north-eastern suburbs of Bournemouth, Hampshire. The village comprises fewer than 30 dwellings, two farms and the parish church. There are no shops and few local facilities in the village.
The village has only been accessible by car via a single narrow lane since the through route was cut off in the late 1960s by the building of the Bournemouth Spur Road (A338). There is no public transport.
Although the village itself has always been small, as is the civil parish, the ancient parish extends right to the Dorset border, encompassing the greater part of what is now Bournemouth. The ecclesiastical parish encompasses a vastly different area, including Hurn, East Parley and Bournemouth International Airport, as well as the Townsend and adjacent areas of Bournemouth.
Holdenhurst is recorded in the Domesday Book as Holeest suggesting an etymology of Old English holegn meaning "holly "and hyrst meaning "grove, wood", giving a meaning of "wood where holly (Ilex aquifolium) grows. In succeeding centuries it was spelt Holeherst (12th century), Holhurst (13th century), Hollehurst (14th century), Holnehurst (15th century), Holnest (16th century) and Holnirst (17th century).
The location of Holdenhurst on the edge of the flood plain of the lower Stour valley made it an ideal location for early farmers. There have been a large number of archaeological finds in the area including coins of the Durotriges tribe of Celtic Britain, and Roman coins have also been discovered making it likely that the Romans also settled in the area.
The hundred of Holdenhurst existed in 1176, but was soon extended and became known as the hundred of Christchurch; with that part west of the Stour (the original hundred of Holdenhurst) being known as the district of West Stour, or Westover. By 1263, however, the hundred of Christchurch with Westover had again become known as the hundred of Holdenhurst.
In 1802, the Christchurch Inclosure Act, entitled An Act for dividing, allotting and inclosing certain Commonable Lands and Waste Grounds within the Parish or Chapelry of Holdenhurst in the County of Southampton was passed in Parliament. Commissioners were appointed to divide up the land and allot it according to an individual's entitlement, and to set out the roads and to sell plots of land in order to pay for their work.
In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Holdenhurst like this:
- HOLDENHURST, a village and a parish in Christchurch district, Hants. The village stands on the river Stour, 3 miles NW of Christchurch r. station. The parish contains the tythings of Redhall, Moordown, Charminster, Stronden, Great Dean and Little Down, Muccleshell, Muscliffe, and Throop; extends to the coast: and is all included in Christchurch borough.
By 1931 the developing town of Bournemouth had swallowed up virtually the entirety of the parish, leaving just the small isolated village around the parish church remaining, much as it does at the beginning of the 21st century.
- Map of Holdenhurst parish
- 'The liberty of Westover: with Holdenhurst and Bournemouth', A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912), pp. 133-37. Date accessed: 17 March 2007.
- History of the Saxon Village of Holdenhurst - Location and Settlers
- 'The hundred of Christchurch: Introduction', A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 5 (1912), pp. 81-2. Date accessed: 17 March 2007.
- A Vision of Britain Through Time: Holdenhurst Hampshire.
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