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West End Local History Society
Local History - History of Telegraph Woods
Museum & Heritage Centre
The Old Fire Station
West End. Hampshire
Local History Index
For over two thousand years, the hill-top position of Telegraph Woods has played
an important role against invading armies from Europe.
During the Iron Age (600-100 BC), a hill-fort was built above the swampy wooded valleys. And around 100 BC, its ditches and ramparts, were strengthened as protection against the threat of the Belgic Gauls from western Europe.
Despite this, the hill-fort is likely to have fallen easily into the Gauls' hands, who would then have occupied the site until the Roman conquest in 44 AD.
As well as being a strong defensive position, the hill top was ideal for sending messages warning of the threat of foreign invasion.
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, fires, called beacons, were lit to warn of the invading Spanish Armada in 1588.
Also in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars, a tall wooden framed struture with signal shutters, called a Shutter Telegraph, was erected by the Navy and it became part of a line of stations passing Admiralty messages from London to Plymouth.
Not all of Telegraph Woods' history has been concerned with war. For most of the time, the land was used for farming and forestry. During the 1100s, the land was farmed to provide money for the paupers of the Hospital of St. Julian in Southampton. In 1343, King Edward III gave the land to its present owners - the then newly formed Queen's College Oxford.
Remains of the Hill-Fort's ditches and ramparts and also the circular bank of the Armada beacon can still be seen.
Telegraph Woods today is managed by the Countryside Service of Eastleigh Borough Council, under lease from Queen's College Oxford.
An information leaflet can be obtained from the Eastleigh Countryside Service. Telephone Enquiries: (023) 8046 6091 or West End Museum Open Saturdays 10am-4pm.
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