The parish of Oliver’s Battery sits at the very edge of the city of Winchester. Its high situation and far-reaching views have made it a desirable location for many centuries. Its history dates back to the iron age; excavations on the site in the 1930s found fragments of pottery used by the original residents around 800BC. The Romans subsequently developed the site and they are believed to have built the earthworks which are still visible next to St. Mark’s church. The earthworks are also the site of the grave of a high-ranking Ango-Saxon man, believed to date from the 7th or 8th centuries. The man’s status was indicated by the beautiful enamelled bowl that was buried with him and which is now on display in the British Museum.
The name Oliver’s Battery comes from the area’s association with Oliver Cromwell. Local legend suggests that the Cavaliers set up a battery of cannon here to attack the castle and the cathedral. Given the cannons’ range, it is more likely that “a few shots were fired into the city in order to intimidate the inhabitants, from the distant eminence that still preserves the name Oliver’s Battery” but the attacks on the castle were “thundered upon it, from a much nearer battery.” (The history and survey of the antiquities of Winchester).
Retaining its links with the military, the modern community of Oliver’s Battery has its roots in the First World War when the army set up an extensive veterinary hospital there. The military huts were gradually replaced by permanent homes, with a large swathe of development occurring in the 1970s. The local shops, which are still popular today, were developed in the 1960s and the primary school was opened in 1973. The community became a parish in its own right in 1956.
Today, Oliver’s Battery is home to around 1400 people who enjoy living in a thriving community surrounded by wonderful countryside. The local shops include a post-office and convenience store, a family butcher, a hairdresser, a barber, a cycle shop and a pet shop, as well as a café.
Although Badger Farm is linked to Oliver’s Battery by the historical Clarendon Way, its own history is far shorter. As its name suggests, the area was farmland until the 1970s when it was developed under the Badger Farm Development brief produced by Winchester City Council. This laid down the standards for roads, open spaces and housing. A residents’ association was formed to try and coordinate residents’ views, especially to the city council. Various phases of development in the 1970s and 1980s resulted in a large, modern community which still enjoys open spaces and views over the Winchester’s rolling chalk downland.