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|BY Harnham Neighbourhood Association.|
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Harnham is a village on the southern outskirts of the Cathedral City of Salisbury. There was a settlement here before the Norman Invasion, and the parish of Harnham and St George’s Church both appear in the Domesday Book.
It is less than a mile to the City on foot via the Town Path across the Harnham Water Meadows. Road links are provided by the Harnham (or Ayleswade) Bridge originally constructed across the River Avon in 1244, and latterly by New Bridge a short distance downstream, opened in 1933. When built, Ayleswade Bridge attracted traffic from the West which had previously passed through Wilton, leading to a growth in trade, and in the importance of Salisbury relative to Wilton.
The Water Meadows, which lie between two branches of the river Nadder, joined on one branch by the river Avon, form the northern boundary of Harnham. They are part of an extensive irrigation system dating from the 17th Century, and are still used for grazing to this day. They were made famous in John Constable’s painting ‘Salisbury Cathedral – A View from the Water Meadow’.
During its long history Harnham has been home to many industries and trades. On the edge of the Water Meadows close to Salisbury, Harnham provided the industry to finish off yarn-making through the process of “fulling”, and for a short period saw the beginning of paper making in England.
To the South rises Harnham Slope, a wooded chalk escarpment forming the northern slope of Harnham Hill. The abandoned West Harnham Chalk pit was the source of many fossils now in the Natural History museum London. A Roman Road running South West from Old Sarum forms part of the western boundary pf Harnham. Fields to the west of Harnham were the site of the Salisbury Hoard – one of the most important discoveries of Bronze Age artefacts ever found in Britain, now in the British Museum.
THE MAKING OF MODERN HARNHAM
Originally there were two small but separate communities of West and East Harnham, but these were united in 1881 to form the parish of Harnham.
Recent changes by the Boundary Commission have led to Harnham being split electorally, with only the area to the South now being called Harnham, the area to the North being part of St Martins and Cathedral division, and a small part to the West is in Fovant and Chalke Valley. However, to its residents, Harnham village remains a single social entity, and Harnham Neighbourhood Association represents all parts of the parish of Harnham within its traditional boundaries.Effectivelly all of Harnham falls within the boundary of Salisbury City Council.
The 20th Century saw huge developments in Harnham, with extensive new housing being built in the 1930’s.
Salisbury and Salisbury Plain is an important military area, and for many years the General Officer Commanding Southern Command had his official residence at Government House in Harnham. This has now been demolished, but the adjacent bunker under Harnham Hill, believed to have been used for military communications, survives to this day.
Since the War, further housing estates have grown up in both East and West Harnham, offering a wide range of housing in all price ranges. This expansion has continued into the 21st Century.
Harnham offers extensive amenities within its own boundaries and also easy access to the facilities of Salisbury. We have tried to create as comprehensive a list of these as possible in our Directory section.
There are two C of E churches – the Norman church of St George in West Harnham, and the Victorian church of All Saints in East Harnham, plus a Free Church. All other major denominations are to be found in Salisbury.
There is a Social Club, and meeting rooms at the Memorial Hall and St Georges Hall. Sports facilities include football pitches at the Social Club and at Harnham Meadow, cricket at the Recreation Ground, and Salisbury’s premier tennis club. The prestigious South Wilts Golf Club is located at Harnham’s western boundary, and Salisbury Racecourse is about two miles distant. Harnham slope offers excellent recreational walking, with fine views over the City.
There are local supermarkets at One Stop in West Harnham, and NISA in East Harnham, plus a filling station and mini-market.
The Old Mill Hotel, The Rose and Crown, and Grasmere Hotel offer hotel/restaurant/bar facilities, whilst the Grey Fisher is a pub/restaurant.
Harnham has adjoining Infants and Junior Schools. Secondary education is provided in Salisbury with boys and girls grammar schools, and a choice of single-sex and co-ed comprehensive schools, also a range of private schools.
BUPA has a large complex providing nursing and residential care, and there is privately owned and charitable and local authority sheltered housing. Salisbury District Hospital is a major hospital just beyond Harnham’s eastern boundary.
Harnham Trading Estate has around 30 small units for light industrial use, and the Business Park currently has space available for new development. Also within the Harnham boundary is Salisbury’s livestock market. Other Harnham businesses include a garden centre, removals and storage, and a discount retailer.
Harnham nonetheless retains much of its village charm, and offers a calmer, and we think, a friendlier way of life.