Wickham, formerly spelled Wykeham, is a small village in Hampshire, on the River Meon in the south of the county, about three miles north of Fareham. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 4,816. The village displays in its buildings and mien a something of its long history, though more ancient roots are found in the pattern of roads and in archaeology.
The centre of Wickham is focused on its wide and well-proportioned square, which is lined with historic buildings and is designated a conservation area.
This was the fording place of the River Meon on the Roman road between Noviomagus Regnorum (Chichester) and Venta Belgarum (Winchester), and the inferred divergent point of the route to Clausentum (Bitterne). The Roman road from Wickham to Chichester is still followed today by local roads, passing behind Portsdown Hill to the north of Portsmouth Harbour and then onwards by way of Havant. In contrast, the route to Winchester is mostly likely lost through neglect in the Dark Ages, before present field patterns emerged.
There have been a reasonable number of sites identified nearby associated with Romano-British industry. These have mainly been pottery kilns focused around the limit of navigation of the River Hamble, near Botley. It is also here that a ford on the Clausentum road has been identified.
Wickham has occasionally been hypothesised as an alternative to Nursling (on the River Test) or Neatham (near Alton) for the Roman station Onna listed in the Antonine Itinerary. However, no definite location for Onna has been determined.
It was the birthplace of William of Wykeham, founder of Winchester College and New College, Oxford, from whom boys of Winchester College are known as "Wykehamists".
The Admiralty Shutter Telegraph Line had a station at Wickham.
The village was an intermediate station on the Meon Valley Railway, a late Victorian route, until the line closed in 1955. At one time this railway was conceived as a direct route from London to the Isle of Wight. The closed line is now established as a cycle path and bridleway along the valley of the River Meon.
The village has a community centre which is home to many activities, including the Home-Start Meon Valley Charity.
A traditional gypsy horse fair is held annually, every May 20 (or another day if a Sunday), and is a picturesque if controversial scene in the village Square, characterized by brawling and a vast increase in local thefts and burglaries.
The first Wickham Festival, 2006
The first Wickham Festival was held from 3–6 August 2006 in the Community Centre and environs. Artists performing included Daby Blade from Senegal, Spiers and Boden, Los Pacaminos, Richard Thompson, Shooglenifty, Sparks, Oysterband, Fiddlers' Bid, Osibisa, Flook, Steeleye Span and The Larry Love Showband Conor Wickham.
- Sharp, Thomas (1946) The Anatomy of the Village, Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin