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Market Hill -Southam -Warwickshire.jpg
Market Hill, Southam
Grid reference: SP4161
Location: 52°15’7"N, 1°23’24"W
Population: 6,509  (2001)
Post town: Southam
Postcode: CV47
Dialling code: 01926
Local Government
Council: Stratford-on-Avon
Kenilworth and Southam

Southam is a small market town in Warwickshire, on the River Stowe (called "the Brook" by many locals), which flows from Napton-on-the-Hill and joins Warwickshire's River Itchen just outside the town. The town is about seven miles east of Leamington Spa, about 10 miles from Rugby and Daventry.

The main shopping street runs through the centre of town. Every Tuesday there is a market on the upper part of the town centre's Wood Street car park. Market Hill has a farmers' market on the second Saturday of each month. There is a range of shops in the town centre, including two supermarkets, a small independent supermarket, a post office, a newsagent, a pharmacy, a hardware store, a carpet shop, a stationery shop, a dry cleaner, a bridal shop, two ladies' clothing shops, other small speciality and gift shops, charity shops and two banks.

The 2001 census recorded a parish population of 6,509.


Southam was a Royal manor until AD 998, when Ethelred the Unready granted it to Earl Leofwine.[1] When Coventry Priory was founded in 1043, Leofwine's son Leofric, Earl of Mercia granted Southam to it.[1]

The Domesday Book records the manor as Sucham.[2] The Priory, which in the 12th century became the first Coventry Cathedral, kept Southam until the 16th century when it surrendered all its estates to the Crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The present parish church of St James was built in the 14th century.[1][3][4] In the 15th century the spire was added[3] and the chancel was rebuilt. The nave's clerestory and present roof were added in the 16th century, along with the present west door. St James' is a Grade I listed building.

In the Middle Ages, Southam minted its own local currency because local people found regular English currency too high in value for everyday use. In the Civil War King Charles I used Southam's mint to make new coins to pay his troops. The building is early 16th century[5] and is now the Old Mint public house.[3]

Southam has a holy well near the bank of the River Stowe close to the recreation ground.[6] Water from a natural spring feeds the semi-circular well and pours through the mouths of carved stone faces.

In the 1540s John Leland visited the town and described it as "a modest market town of a single street".[2]

William Shakespeare mentions Southam in Henry VI, part 3, Act V, Scene I, Lines 10–16:

WARWICK: Say, Somerville, what says my loving son?
And, by thy guess, how nigh is Clarence now?

SOMERSET: At Southam I did leave him with his forces,
And do expect him here some two hours hence.

WARWICK: Then Clarence is at hand, I hear his drum.

SOMERSET: It is not his, my lord; here Southam lies:
The drum your honour hears marcheth from Warwick.

King Charles I passed through Southam just before the outbreak of the Civil War and apparently was not made welcome by the townsfolk, who refused to ring the parish church bells.[2] On 23 August 1642 a skirmish was fought outside the town between Parliamentary forces led by Lord Brooke and Royalist forces commanded by the Earl of Northampton. Later that year, Charles stayed in Southam before the Battle of Edgehill.[2] In 1645 Oliver Cromwell and 7,000 Parliamentary troops stayed in the town.[7]

In the stagecoach era Southam became an important stop on the coach road between Coventry and Oxford and many old coaching inns remain in the town. However, few buildings in Southam date from before 1741, when a large fire devastated the town.[2]

RAF Southam, about half a mile east of the town, was a Second World War airfield. It was opened in 1940 and closed at the end of 1944. It was a training base and a relief landing ground.

Southam's history is commemorated in Southam's Cardall Collection.


There are four churches:


The dominant rock type for the area is blue lias clay. Hence until recent years there was a cement factory and associated quarry a mile north of the town. The works were served by both rail and canal transport, the latter by a short arm from the Grand Union Canal. Cement production was relocated to Rugby in the late 1990s but quarrying at the site continues.

South of the town is a small industrial estate that is a significant source of local employment. Europe's largest privately owned computer games company, Codemasters, was founded by two locals and is based nearby.

Southam has become a commuter town due to its road links and location. Taxi and minicab firms operate in the area and frequent bus services serve Southam and local villages.


  • Rugby: Southam Rugby Club, formed in 1962
  • Football: Southam United FC
  • Others: Bowling club, cricket club


Southam has 2028 (Southam) Squadron Air Training Corps, an RAF-sponsored (Royal Air Force) youth organisation for 13- to 20-year-olds. The squadron is based in Millar House, Wattons Lane.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Salzman 1951, pp. 219–226.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Allen 2000, p. not cited.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pevsner & Wedgwood 1966, p. 403.
  4. National Heritage List 1185823: Church of St James
  5. National Heritage List 1035589: The Old Mint Public House, Coventry Road
  6. Patchell, P.M.; Patchell, E.M. (Winter 1986). Jordan, Kathy. ed. "The Wells of Old Warwickshire". Living Spring Journal (University of Bath) 6. Retrieved 15 March 2012. 
  7. Warwickshire Federation of Women's Institutes (2000). The Warwickshire Village Book. Newbury: Countryside Books. ISBN 1-85306-652-4.