Most of Havant is a conservation area, which developed from a junction of anvient thoroghfares dating from Roman times. The route went from Arundel, along the south coast, through Chichester and then towards Winchester, crossing a road from Hayling Island to Rowlands Castle and probably on towards London, joining what is now the A3. The Homwell Spring attracted the Romans to Havant and those who succeeded them. This spring has never been known to freeze even in the hardest winter, and until 1970 it had never run dry.
Several traces of Roman Life can still be found here - the remains of a villa was discovered in 1926 in the garden of a house in Langstone. Coins, rings, brooches and combs were also found together with an almost intact hypocaust, which was the Roman system of central heating. Further remains exist at Warblington and Bedhampton, and there are also some Roman foundations under St Faith's Church in the heart of Havant town centre.
The hamlet of Havenhunte was later established and by 1086, when the Domesday survey was made, it boasted two mills and three salterns.
In the reign of King John, a charter was granted authorising a weekly sheep and cattle market, and in the 15th century the town was granted the right to hold a two-day fair on the Feast of St Faith on 6th October. The fair was abolished in 1871.
It was the Homewell Spring that saw Havant becme a centre for the treatment of animal skins for leather and parchment making, and the production of tallow and other by-products. Havant parchment was very highly regarded because of its unique whiteness, a quality imparted by the spring water.
The centre of Havant was devastated by fire in 1760 leaving the Old House at Home in South Street, the only remaining half-timbered building with projecting upper storey. (restored picture above) However, there are some attractive Georgian buildings in both South Street and East Street, and the area behind East Street (The Pallant and Prince Georges Street), has considerable character which is protected by the designation of much of the town centre as a conservation area.
Way back in 1947, building began on plans previously agreed by Portsmouth City Council, Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council to establish a kind out out of new town on part of the Staunton Estates which was to be called Leigh Park and would be able to house many families who lost their homes in the Second World War. The first shops opened in Stone Square in 1952 and the other shope in greywell andPark Parade opened in 1955. Construction of the estate was not fully completed until the early 1700s, although most of the houses in the area were built by 1960.
While well known nowadays as a housing estate, Leigh Park has existed since much earlier. As early as 1750 mention was made of a farm on the site in the will of that year and so it is likely that a farm existed there around 100 years earlier.
And so this is the base for our Family History Centre which covers not only the Havant area but wherever in the world researches take the members. We are quite proud of the fact that we have moved ito the centre of the Estate and looked forward to January 2016 when we celebrated our 25th birthday.