If “Waltham” is early Anglo-Saxon for “clearing in the woodland”, there must have been a settlement here since Roman times. This isn’t surprising as the main road from Silchester to Winchester forms the south-east parish border and a Roman villa site lies towards Steventon. After the Roman left in 410AD, maybe the inhabitants of the little Roman town near the Wheatsheaf moved down to the pond as the climate got drier.
The manor of ‘Wealtham’ was given to the Bishop of Winchester by Edward the Elder in 909 AD but doesn’t appear in Domesday Book as it comes under Overton. However, as North Waltham, to distinguish it from Bishop’s Waltham where the bishop had one of his five palaces, it features in the annual pipe rolls of the bishop’s income kept through the middle ages. Wheat and sheep farming on the downland was recorded from 1210 AD and continued through to the mid 20c, though the sheep have now gone.
The manor was taken from the bishop in 1648 and though restored under Charles II, was leased by John Yate and sold to John Batchelor in 1772. The population doubled from 150 in this period, continuing to grow to 500 in 1850 as food production rose and infant death rates fell, overcrowding many of the ninety houses. The population then declined as mechanisation of farming reduced employment and cheap wheat imports from the Americas hit wages. North Waltham, like much of the rural south, became impoverished, which is why the old cottages were not replaced.
Charles Hall, the rector, got most of them condemned in the 1930s, to be replaced by new council houses in Coldharbour. Only the advent of WWII stopped their removal from Yew Tree Lane and Church Road, since when they’ve been listed and restored by incomers.
Things were to change after 1964. The manor was split in 1953 and when Manor Farm was sold in 1964, several plots were offered for development. Now that electricity, water and sewerage had arrived, together with buses and cars, North Waltham attracted commuters to Basingstoke and London. The middle class moved into St Michael’s Close and Mary Lane, and Elizabethan Rise, the Meads and Barley View followed. Some 250 houses were built and population grew to 900.