By Tim Lambert
Buriton began as a Saxon settlement. It was originally called burh tun, which means the farm of hamlet by the fort (burh). The fort in question may have been a much older, iron age fort on Butser Hill.
At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 England was divided into estates called manors.
Buriton was part of the manor of Mapledurham. It probably had a population of less than 100.
The inhabitants lived by farming and they lived in simple wooden huts with thatched roofs.
St Mary’s Church in Buriton is believed to have been built in the late 12th century, although its tower was rebuilt in 1714 after the original burned down. Until the late 19th century Buriton Church was the ‘mother’ church of the area. Petersfield Church was a ‘daughter’ church.
In the 18th century, Buriton was on the main road from London to Portsmouth so many stagecoaches passed through the village.
In the early 18th century the manor house at Buriton belonged to the father of Edward Gibbon, the famous historian who wrote Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon visited Buriton on many occasions. He inherited the estate in 1770 but sold it in 1789.
At the time of the first census in 1801 Buriton had a population of 630. To us, it might seem tiny but by the standards of the time, Buriton was a large village. Most villages in Hampshire were much smaller. The population did not increase much during the 19th century. By 1901 it was still just under 800 and during the 20th century, the population of Buriton actually declined a little.
In the early 19th century the writer William Cobbett rode through the area and he described the scenery as ‘wild and impressive’.
Parchment was once made in Buriton. From the 1860s there was also a lime industry in Buriton. However, it closed in 1939, and today all that remains is a name, Kiln Lane.
There were also hop gardens in Buriton. At harvest time pickers came from Portsmouth to pick them. The hops were then dried in kilns and packed. However, the hop industry in Buriton ended in 1968.
Meanwhile, in 1859, a railway was built from London to Portsmouth via Buriton. Although Buriton did not have a passenger station freight trains often pulled into Buriton sidings to load and unload.
A National (Church of England) school was founded in Buriton in 1845. (The state did not provide schools until 1870). However, like many Hampshire villages, Buriton did not have piped water until the 1960s.
Today Buriton is a flourishing village with 2 pubs and a school. Today the population of Buriton is about 730.