Oliver’s Battery is situated on a prominent hilltop just over two miles south west of Winchester City centre. Its name alludes to the English Civil War when, according to legend, Oliver Cromwell shelled the city from a battery of cannon within an earthwork on this hill during the siege of 1645. Recent research suggests that the historical accuracy of this legend is very doubtful. However, the earthwork exists and is certainly ancient – probably Romano-British – and is also known to be the burial site of a Saxon warrior. A very fine bronze hanging bowl from this burial is exhibited in the British Museum.
For centuries, Oliver’s Battery was open downland grazed by sheep. Permanent settlements only appeared in the early years of the twentieth century with the establishment of a military camp. During the First World War the army maintained an extensive Veterinary Hospital for horses. After the war, the camp was split up into small holdings with army huts being used as dwellings. Gradually, a community developed in the 1930s as huts were replaced with houses and other homes were built. The greater part of the houses we see today date from a period of rapid development in the 1970s, but others date from earlier or later periods and two of the original army huts still exist.
The civil Parish of Oliver’s Battery was created in 1956 and was 50 years old in September 2006. As of the 2001 Census there are 700 dwellings, 1,300 Council tax payers and a total population of 1,600. Further statistical analysis is provided by the National Office of Statistics. Oliver’s Battery Parish Council has seven members elected from local residents. It is affiliated to the Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils.
In 2000 David Farmer produced “A Brief History of Oliver’s Battery”. We have drawn extensively on David’s work here and are very grateful for his kind permission to do so.
Here is a link to two 1932 reports by W J Andrews, on the Hampshire Field Club & Archaeological Society website, concerning excavations in the parish: http://www.hantsfieldclub.org.uk/publications/hampshirestudies/vol12p1.html