Notable People

Below are some of the notable people with connections to Hampshire (listed by earliest birth date to latest):

Alfred the Great (849 – 899)

Alfred was the fifth son of Aethelwulf, king of the West Saxons. Alfred successfully defended his kingdom (Wessex) against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death he had become the dominant ruler in England. He died on October 26, 899 AD and is buried at his capital city of Winchester.

King Canute (Cnut) (c.985 or 995 – 1035)

Also known as ‘Cnut the Great’, he was king of England, Denmark, Norway and parts of Sweden. He won the throne of England in 1016. Canute’s famous shoreline action of ‘ordering back the waves’ is said to have happened in Southampton. Canute Road in Southampton is named after him, as well as the large floating crane in Southampton Docks.  A sign on Canute Road reads, “Near this spot AD 1028 Canute reproved his courtiers”.

Gilbert White (1720 – 1793)

18th century naturalist and ornithologist. White is best known for his The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne (1789). He lived at The Wakes in Selborne and the house and gardens are open to the public. www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)

Jane Austen was  an English novelist who wrote romantic fiction, based in country houses. She lived in Southampton between 1806 and 1809. The house in which she lived no longer exists. To mark the 200th anniversary of the year Jane took up residence in Southampton, a Jane Austen Trail was launched in July 2006. In the last 8 years of her life she lived in a cottage in Chawton, now the Jane Austen’s House Museum. During her time at Chawton, she published four novels: Sense and Sensibility ( 1811), Pride and Prejudice, (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). She died in Winchester on 18 July 1817, at the age of 41 and is buried in the north aisle of the nave of Winchester Cathedral.

Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812 – 1870)

Charles Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period. Works include The Pickwick Papers, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop, David Copperfield and Bleak House. A Christmas Carol, is one of the most influential works ever written. He was born in Portsmouth but is buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey, London.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 – 1859)

Isambard Kingdom Brunel was born in April 1806 in Portsea, Portsmouth. He became a world famous mechanical and civil engineer. He built the Great Western Railway, the first propeller-driven transatlantic steamship and many notable tunnels and bridges. He revolutionised modern engineering.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 – 1863)
Author famous for Vanity Fair. He was educated in Southampton. In later life he stayed at The Dolphin Hotel in Southampton’s High Street where he wrote part of the novel Pendennis.

Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910)

Celebrated social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing. Born in Italy, she moved to England in 1821 and was brought up in the family’s homes at Embley, Hampshire and Lea Hurst, Derbyshire. She died in her sleep, aged 90, and is buried in the graveyard at St Margaret’s Church in East Wellow, near Embley Park.

Harry ‘Brusher’ Mills (1840 – 1905)

Harry was a hermit who lived in the New Forest and made his living as a snake-catcher. He would carry the snakes dangling from a stick over his shoulder.Harry became a local celebrity and an attraction for visitors to the New Forest. He regularly attended cricket matches at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst, and was paid to sweep the pitch between innings, hence his nickname. He died in an outbuilding of the Railway Inn, Brockenhurst – a pub where he had been a regular. In tribute, the pub was renamed The Snakecatcher. A marble headstone, paid for by locals, was erected over his grave in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Brockenhurst.

Captain Edward John Smith (1850 – 1912)
Captain of the RMS Titanic, he died when the ship sunk on its maiden voyage. He lived at ‘Woodhead’ on Winn Road in Highfield, Southampton. The site of the house is now occupied by a block of flats.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930)

Writer and physician, most noted for creating the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes.He was a founder member of the Hampshire Society for Psychical Research.Conan Doyle was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden but later reinterred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest.

Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, KBE, RD, RNR (1869 – 1940)

Rostron was made famous for being Captain of the Cunard Line and master of the liner RMS Carpathia when it rescued the survivors of RMS Titanic in 1912 following the iceberg disaster. He was also Captain of the Southampton Master Mariner’s Club and wrote an autobiography called Home from the Sea. He died of pneumonia and is buried at West End Church, Southampton.

Augustus Edwin John OM, RA, (1878 – 1961)

John was one of the most celebrated British artists of the early twentieth century and regarded as a brilliant draughtsman and etcher. By the 1920s he was Britain’s leading portrait painter and Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw were known to have sat for him. He was well known for his bohemian lifestyle. He died of heart failure at his home at Fryern Court in Fordingbridge.

Roy Chadwick (1893 – 1947)

Designer of the Avro Lancaster bomber used for night attacks on Germany in World War II. He worked for A.V. Roe aircraft builders at Hamble, a few miles from Southampton.

Reginald Joseph Mitchell (1895 – 1937)

R J Mitchell came to Southampton in 1917 to work for Supermarine, located at Woolston on the banks of the River Itchen. R J Mitchell designed 24 aircraft including the Vickers- Supermarine Spitfire, a fighter plane forever associated with the Battle of Britain in the Second World War. The Spitfire first flew, from what is now Southampton Airport, on 5 March 1936. Seventy years later, that first flight was re-enacted at the Airport on 5 March 2006 and five Spitfires then flew in formation up Southampton Water watched by huge crowds of people. At Solent Sky aviation museum in Southampton (www.spitfireonline.co.uk) a Mk 24 Spitfire is exhibited, the last version of the fighter plane.

Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900 – 1979)

Admiral of the Fleet. Uncle of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. He oversaw the defeat of the Japanese offensive towards India during World War Two. Romsey is home to Broadlands, the Moutbatten estate which has gardens designed by Capability Brown. In 1979, Mountbatten, his grandson Nicholas, and two others were killed by the IRA, which had placed a bomb in his fishing boat, Shadow V.

James Callaghan (1912 – 2005)

British politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and the Leader of the Labour Party from 1976 to 1980. He was born at 38 Funtington Road, Copnor, Portsmouth and attended Portsmouth Northern Secondary School (now Mayfield School). He was often known as Jim.

Jack Foreman Mantle VC (1917 – 1940)

Recipient of the Victoria Cross (awarded posthumously) for actions in or over England. The VC is the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Jack Mantle’s home was in Southampton. He died at Portland in Dorset of wounds received during a German attack on ships in harbour there, including HMS Foylebank on which he was serving. He is buried at Portland Naval Cemetery where his Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone bears the engraving of the Victoria Cross. He is commemorated in Southampton by Jack’s Corner, a children’s play area at the Sports Centre.

Murray Walker, OBE (1923)

Born Graeme Murray Walker, Murray is a former F1 commentator. Most of his career was spent working for the BBC. Murray lives in Sandleheath near Fordingbridge.

Donald Malcolm Campbell CBE (1921 – 1967)
British speed record breaker who broke eight absolute world speed records on water and on land in the 1950s and 1960s. He remains the only person to set both world land and water speed records in the same year (1964). In January 1967, he was killed in his water-speed record jet hydroplane Bluebird K7. His Bluebird CN7 is on display at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu – it achieved the world land speed record on Lake Eyre in Australia on July 17, 1964. The vehicle set the FIA world record for the flying mile at 403.10 mph (648.73 km/h).

Alfred Hawthorne “Benny” Hill (1924 – 1992)

Comedian and actor best known for The Benny Hill Show. Born in Southampton he lived there in the family home. He was educated at Taunton’s School and before becoming a television entertainer worked as a milkman in Eastleigh. He is buried in Southampton at Hollybrook Cemetery.

Peter Sellers, CBE (1925 – 1980)

Born Richard Henry Sellers at 96 Castle Road, Southsea, he was an actor, comedian and singer. He was well known for being Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther series of films.

David Elsworth (1939)

Race horse trainer David trained the legendary Desert Orchid,  Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, Barnbrook Again and Persian Punch.  His horses have gone on to win many prestigious races including The Irish 1,000 Guineas, the Champion Stakes, the Coronation Cup, the Goodwood Cup, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. He spent 25 years at Whitsbury Stud.

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE (1940)

Journalist and television presenter best known for presenting the BBC TV series That’s Life! for 21 years. She is founder of the child protection charity ChildLine, which she set up in 1986, and The Silver Line, designed to combat loneliness, which she set up in 2012. Rantzen was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1991 for services to broadcasting, Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 Birthday Honours for services to children, and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to children and older people through ChildLine and The Silver Line. She has an honorary doctorate from the Southampton Institute. Rantzen lives in 17th century cottage in the New Forest.

Reg Presley (1941-2013)

Reg Presley was born Reginald Maurice Ball in Andover, on 12th June 1941. He was lead singer of The Troggs, the 60’s pop group famous for hits such as Wild Thing. He died from lung cancer on 4th February 2013.

John Nettles (1943)
Actor and author best known for his roles in Midsomer Murders and Bergerac. He studied history and philosophy at the University of Southampton.

Ian McEwan CBE FRSA FRSL (1948)

Novelist and screenwriter. Author of Amsterdam, Atonement and On Chesil Beach. He was born in Aldershot.

Alan Titchmarsh (1949)

Gardener, presenter and novelist. He was made a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of the County of Hampshire in 2001. Barleywood, his former home on the outskirts of Alton, was the most famous garden in the country from 1996 to 2002 when, every Friday night, it was the chief location for the BBC’s flagship gardening show Gardeners’ World.

Jody Scheckter (1950)

Born in South Africa, Jody had a career as a sucessful F1 driver. He was the 1979 Formula One World Drivers’ Champion. From 1972 – 1980 he drove for McLaren, Tyrrell, Wolf and Ferrari, achieveing 10 race wins and 33 podiums. He is now an organic farmer and owner Laverstoke Park Farm, near Overton.

Tiff Needell (1951)

Timothy Needell  was born in Havant. He is a racing driver, motoring journalist and television presenter. He is best known for being a co-presenter on the BBC’s Top Gear programme and then as a co-presenter of Fifth Gear.

Adrian Newey (1958)
Formula 1 engineer. chief technical officer of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. With ten Constructors’ Championships he has won more than any other designer and is the only designer to have won constructor’s titles with three different Formula One teams. He studied Aeronautics at the University of Southampton.

Colin Firth (1960)
Academy Award winning actor. Films include The King’s Speech, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Mamma Mia! and Love Actually. He is also well known for the role of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In 2011, Firth received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Firth was born in the village of Grayshott, Hampshire and attended the Montgomery of Alamein Secondary School (now Kings’ School) in Winchester. He also Barton attended Peveril Sixth Form College in Eastleigh. He was awarded an honorary degree on 19 October 2007, from the University of Winchester.

Nicholas Lyndhurst (1961)

Actor known for playing Rodney Trotter in Only Fools and Horses and Gary Sparrow in Goodnight Sweetheart. He was born in Emsworth.

Chris Packham (1961)

Naturalist Chris Packham was born in Southampton and educated at Bitterne Park Secondary School, Taunton’s College and the University of Southampton.  He is well known for presenting The really Wild Show, Springwatch and Inside Out, amongst other programmes. He lives in the New Forest and is President of The Hawk Conservancy Trust.

Rosemary Hardy (1962)

The most successful ever female exhibitor at Chelsea Flower Show, Rosemary Hardy was awarded her 21st gold medal in 2016. When not at flower shows, Rosemary can be found at Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants in Whitchurch.

Charlie Dimmock (1966)

Gardening expert and TV presenter Charlie Dimmock is a former pupil of Wellow Primary School and The Mountbatten School in Romsey. she is famous for her appearances on the BBC TV show Ground Force.

Roger Black MBE (1966)

Athlete. He won individual silver medals in the 400 metres sprint at both the Olympic Games and World Championships, two individual gold medals at the European Championships, and 4×400 metres relay gold medals at both the World and European Championships. He was born in Gosport and attended Alverstoke Church of England Primary School and Portsmouth Grammar School, where he was Head Boy in 1983/84.

Major Timothy (Tim) Peake (1972)

British Army Air Corps officer, European Space Agency astronaut[3] and a former International Space Station (ISS) crew member. He become the first British person to fly into space without a private contract. Peake got a BSc (Hons) in Flight Dynamics and Evaluation from the University of Portsmouth.

Ben Fogle (1973)

Author and broadcaster. Rose to fame on the BBC reality show Castaway in 2000, which saw him marooned for a year with 35 others on the Scottish island of Taransay.

Shappi Khorsandi (1973)

Comedian and author.She studies drama at the University of Winchester. Khorsandi became president of the British Humanist Association in January 2016.

Iain Bryden Percy OBE (1976)

Southampton born Percy is a British sailor and Olympic champion. He won a gold medal in the Finn class in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and a gold medal in the Star class at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing (with Andrew Simpson).Percy won silver in the star class in the 2012 Summer Olympics (gain with Simpson). He was awarded the OBE in the 2009 New Year Honours.

Ben Ainslie, CBE (1977)

Born Charles Benedict Ainslie, Ben Ainslie  is a professional English sailor. In 2012 he became the first person to win sailing medals in five different Olympic Games, the third person to win five Olympic medals in the sport and the second to win four gold medals making him the most successful sailor in Olympic history. Ainslie attended Peter Symonds College in Winchester and he now lives in Lymington where he is a member of the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

Peter Waterfield (1981)

Diver. Olympic silver medallist 2004, Commonwealth gold.He lives in Southampton.

Lauren Cohan (1982)
Actress and model. Best known for her role as Maggie Greene on hit T V show The Walking Dead. She graduated from the University of Winchester with degree in drama and English Literature.

Danielle King MBE (1990)

Dani King is an English track cyclist. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, she won a gold medal and set a new world record for the team pursuit alongside Laura Trott and Joanna Rowsell. She was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to cycling. She studied at Hamble Community Sports College and Barton Peveril Sixth Form College.