Much of Hamble Common is a site of special scientific interest due to its wide range of habitats including coastal heath, woodland, saltmarsh and mudflats. Many coastal birds like shelduck, oystercatchers and ringed plovers visit the area making it an ideal spot for wildlife photographers.
- School Lane, Hamble, Eastleigh, Hampshire SO31 4QG (approx postcode)
Directions: From Windhover (Tesco) Roundabout, Bursledon, follow Hamble Lane past Tesco Stores towards Hamble Village. Turn right into Copse Lane just after the Fire Station and BP refinery (signposted Hamble Point Marina) . Follow Copse Lane to its junction with School Lane, and turn right into School Lane.
Parking: There is free parking in the small School Lane car park, or the much larger Hamble Point car park at the very end of School Lane.
History of Hamble Common
At the start of the Twelfth Century the copse belonged to the nearby Priory of St Andrew. In autumn and winter, pigs were allowed to feed on fallen acorns, a practice known as pannage. Timber from the copse was used for local housing and to supply the shipbuilding industry on the Hamble estuary.
The earliest evidence of life on the common is the ditch and bank running right across the site, which probably protected an iron-age settlement. Other smaller medieval earth-works can also be seen. Since Tudor times the common has been used to help protect Southampton Water. In 1543, King Henry VIII had St Andrew's Castle built here, one of several sited along the Solent to defend against possible French invasion. All that remains today are a few foundation stones exposed at low tide.
During the early nineteenth century a gun battery was constructed on the same site, this time to fend off Napoleon's forces.
To help protect Southampton and the nearby oil terminals during World War II, an anti-aircraft gun was sited near Hamble Point. This was removed at the war end, but was replaced in 1989 by a similar Bofors gun to indicate the site's defensive importance in times past.