Freemantle is a suburb and electoral ward in Southampton, UK.
Origins of the name are uncertain, but there are similarly named places in Hampshire, notably a suburb of Hannington and Freemantle Common in Bitterne. The name of the Hannington suburb is thought to have come from "Frigidum Mantellum", the Latinised form of a French name meaning "cold cloak".
Freemantle was originally a large house and estate within the parish of Millbrook
and before that was a farm house and land within that same parish. In 1851 it was deemed a separate parish, although some sources still refer to Freemantle as being part of Millbrook. The Freemantle House and Estate was sold by its last owner, Sir George Henry Hewett in 1852, and was bought by Sampson Payne, a local property developer. Sampson Payne was not only a merchant and local property
developer, he was a town councillor of many years standing, and also was Mayor of Southampton from 1854-1856. He disposed of the land in smaller parcels ranging in value from £20 to £100 to various property developers and building societies. Within a short time, he had also intersected the park by nearly twenty roads.
Freemantle began to be built up in the 1850s and is still mostly small Victorian semi detached and terraced houses. The school was built in 1857 and the Church was completed in 1865.
Christ Church Freemantle
The parish church for Freemantle is Christ Church. The origins of a church community begin however in 1856, when a church meeting took place in the Bailiffs House, and then later church services took place in the school rooms. On 25th July 1861, the foundation stone of the church was laid by Archdeacon Jacob and on 27th July 1865 the church was consecrated by Dr Sumner, Bishop of Winchester. On the 19th April 1866 the Ecclesiastical Commission of England agreed that Freemantle would be a separate district from Millbrook, and declared the new Church of the Parish of Christ Church, Freemantle. The tower and spire were added in 1875.
Rather confusingly perhaps, there is also a Freemantle Common
in Southampton, although this is a considerable distance from Freemantle itself, in the suburb of Bitterne
Civil Service Sports Ground
The main patch of green space in Freemantle is the former Civil Service Sports Ground. Since the 1700’s this field has been used for sports and community gatherings. The land was owned by the Atherley Family who sold it to the Civil Service with a covenant for sports use. In the last few years the land fell into disrepair, there were problems of fly-tipping and at one stage travellers took up residence. After footing the bill for every clean up operation, the City Council investigated compulsory purchase of the site.
During 2004, the then owners of the land (Civil Service Property Holdings Ltd) put the site out for sale by closed bid informal tender. At this time local residents, councillors (supported by local MP Alan Whitehead) attempted to negotiate with the owners but to no avail.
The vast majority of the site has now been sold to Bovis Homes but the council has not agreed any planning permission. There is strong local and political support to ensure the site can be used for the community.