A History of Buckland, Portsmouth

By Tim Lambert

Buckland was founded by the Saxons who came from what is now Germany. They invaded Hampshire in the early 6th century. They settled on Portsea Island and they founded three villages. One was called boche (meaning book) land. In Saxon times any written document was called a book and if the king or an important noble gave land to someone and gave a written document with it then it was called book land. In time the name changed to Buckland. (It has nothing to do with bucks, male deer.

At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 Buckland was one of three manors on Portsea Island. Buckland was a tiny village with a population of only about 50. Nearby was a pond called Reed Mere (mere is an old English word for pond). The place-name survives as Rudmore.

By the 13th century, another little settlement existed nearby called Kings tun (King’s hamlet or estate). At that time villagers in Buckland lived in wooden huts with thatched roofs and farmed land nearby.

In 1665 a tax was raised on hearths. So we have a record of the number of hearths in each house in Buckland. Many houses had only 1 or 2 hearths as poor people lived in houses with just 1 or 2 rooms. In the 17th century, Buckland was only a little hamlet with a population of less than 100.

In the 18th century, the village of Kingston became a fashionable place for wealthy people to live. It was close enough to Portsmouth for them to reach it easily but it was away from the noise and dirt of the town.

In 1784 a bull was sent up in a balloon at Rudmore. The Air Balloon pub is named after it (the present building dates from the beginning of the 20th century). There was also a Flying Bull Lane nearby. (Flying Bull Lane School was the first state school in Portsmouth, following the 1870 Education Act, which opened in 1873).

Charles Dickens was born in Buckland in 1812. His father worked in Portsmouth Dockyard.

Until 1823 people who killed themselves were buried at a crossroads. People believed their ghost might ‘walk’ but if they were buried at a crossroads the ghost would be confused and wouldn’t know which direction to go in! In Portsmouth, suicides were buried where what is now Kingston Crescent met another road, which went north to south.

The village of Buckland changed completely in the 1860s as the town of Portsmouth grew. Buckland became an area of Portsmouth. In 1865 horse-drawn trams began running along Kingston Crescent. Buckland United Reformed Church opened in 1869.

Malthouse Lane in Buckland is named after a malt house, where barley was made into malt. Sultan Abdulaziz visited Portsmouth in 1870. Sultan Road in Buckland may be named after him.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Buckland transformed again when slum clearance meant that whole swathes of Portsmouth were demolished.

Most of Buckland was rebuilt. In 1968 the council approved a plan to redevelop Buckland in stages. The plan called for homes to be built for about 8,500 people on 83 acres. According to the plan some of the new homes would be 3,4,5,6 or 7-storey buildings and some would be 2-storey. There would also be children’s playgrounds and public amenity areas in Buckland.

The motorway and the ferry port both opened in 1976.