In 1888, travelers heading to Hampshire and the south coast could buy a useful book for the sum of ten shillings (50 pence), the equivalent of around £50 today.
A popular publication, the book was now in its fourth edition and the compiler even took the time to explain how it was created.
“The handbook has been compiled from a careful personal exploration of the country, aided by the latest information obtainable from the residents,” said the book’s editor.
At this time in the Victorian era, the book explains that Hampshire was the eighth English county “in terms of size” with an area of 1,070, 216 acres, or about 1,672 square miles compared to today’s 1,400 square miles, a reduction mainly due to limit changes.
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According to the 1881 census, the population of Hampshire was then 593,470, while a 2018 estimate puts the number of people living in the county at a total of 1.376 million. This is despite the county becoming smaller, with part of West Hampshire becoming Dorset.
The guide’s section on Southampton and the surrounding area doesn’t paint the city in a great light to begin with, but things improve as you explore further.
“Like other seaports it has its dirty lower quarters, but of late years what may be considered a new town, and about it is an air of bustle and activity suitable to a place where, and from which, many of the better ocean steamers. they come and go every day,” says the anonymous author of the book.
“It is as a parcel station that it is now so important, and it would deserve a visit for that, even if it had nothing of interest to the antiquarian.
“The large packet boats which ply the wharves are usually shown for a small fee, which goes to the infirmary of the town, as the admirable fittings and accommodations are well worth inspecting.” , and it is remembered that it was formerly known as English Street.
The guide says: “The High Street is one of the most beautiful streets in England. It is over a mile long, almost straight, quite broad, and a great deal of bow-windows.
“The shops are beautiful, and there is a great trade, presenting a gay and bustling aspect especially from 3 and 5 p.m.” Another essential place to visit, according to the guide, was the “grand Military Hospital”. established about two miles south of Netley Abbey overlooking Southampton Water.
“Connected by a narrow line of mean houses and beer shops, the hospital was established immediately after the Crimean War to satisfy a sorely felt want,” the book says.
“Many objections were made to the place, in Parliament and elsewhere, from the point of view of the supposed unsanitary nature of mud banks at low water.
“Experience, however, has shown that these objections are unfounded, and that the position is as healthy as it is convenient.” less than a quarter of a mile long.
According to the guide: “The hospital contains 138 rooms and 1,065 beds, while the corridor, used for exercise, runs through each of the three floors, and in good weather canopies are installed on the front lawn, well equipped with seats for convalescents.”
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