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Market Hill -Southam -Warwickshire.jpg
Market Hill, Southam. The building to the left is the old Manor House.
Southam is located in Warwickshire
Population 7,327 (2020 estimate)
OS grid reference SP4161
Civil parish
  • Southam
  • Stratford-on-Avon
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Southam
Postcode district CV47
Dialling code 01926
Police Warwickshire
Fire Warwickshire
Ambulance West Midlands
EU Parliament West Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Kenilworth and Southam
List of places
52°15′07″N 1°23′24″W / 52.252°N 1.39°W / 52.252; -1.39

Southam is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon district of Warwickshire, England. Southam is situated on the River Stowe (called 'The Brook' by many locals), which flows from Napton-on-the-Hill and joins Warwickshire's River Itchen at Stoneythorpe, just outside the town.

In 2020, the population of Southam was estimated at 7,327.


Southam was a Royal manor until AD 998, when Ethelred the Unready granted it to Earl Leofwine. When Coventry Priory was founded in 1043, Leofwine's son Leofric, Earl of Mercia granted Southam to it. The Domesday Book records the manor as "Sucham". The Priory, which in the 12th century became the first Coventry Cathedral, kept Southam until the 16th century when it surrendered all its estates to the Crown in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The current Manor House is Grade II * listed and dates from the early 17th century.

The present parish church of St James was built in the 14th century. In the 15th century the spire was added and the chancel was rebuilt. The nave's clerestory and present roof were added in the 16th century, along with the present west door. St James' is a Grade I listed building.

In the medieval era the town minted its own local currency

Southam's Holy Well, in the picturesque Stowe river valley, is a Grade II listed building and scheduled Ancient Monument, and was first recorded in the year 998. The Well was used in medieval times by local monks and for hundreds of years as the town's principal water supply. Water from a natural mineral spring feeds the semi-circular Well and pours through the mouths of carved stone gargoyles into the river. The water from the Well was said to cure eye complaints. The Holy Well and paths were renovated in 2007 using a National Lottery grant including wheelchair access and oak seats designed by artist Will Glanfield as part of his Southam Stories project, and fall within the unspoilt Stowe valley Area of Restraint as a protected landscape of special significance and value to the town.

In the 1540s John Leland visited the town and described it as "a modest market town of a single street". William Shakespeare mentions Southam in Henry VI, part 3, Act V, Scene I, Lines 10–16:

Say, Somerville, what says my loving son?
And, by thy guess, how nigh is Clarence now?

At Southam I did leave him with his forces,
And do expect him here some two hours hence.

Then Clarence is at hand, I hear his drum.

It is not his, my lord; here Southam lies:
The drum your honour hears marcheth from Warwick.

Charles I passed through Southam just before the outbreak of the Civil War and apparently was not made welcome by the townsfolk, who refused to ring the parish church bells. On 23 August 1642, the day after King Charles 1st formally declared war on Parliament, a skirmish was fought outside the town between Parliamentary forces led by Lord Brooke and Royalist forces commanded by the Earl of Northampton. The Battle of Southam is claimed by locals to have been the first battle of the English Civil Wars. Later that year, Charles stayed in Southam before the Battle of Edgehill on 23 October 1642. In 1645 Oliver Cromwell and 7,000 Parliamentary troops stayed in the town.

In the stagecoach era Southam became an important stop

Southam was never on a railway. The Great Western Railway had absorbed the Birmingham and Oxford Junction Railway in 1848, and when the GWR line to Birmingham opened in 1852 Southam had a station 3 miles (5 km) to the south-west, named Southam Road and Harbury. British Railways (BR) closed the station to goods in 1963 and passengers in 1964. The line is now part of the London Marylebone to Birmingham Chiltern Line.

The London and North Western Railway completed its Weedon to Marton Junction Line in 1895 and opened Southam and Long Itchington station on it 2 miles (3 km) north of Southam. British Railways closed the station to passengers in 1958 and goods in 1965.

Southam was the seat of Southam Rural District from 1894 until 1974, when under the Local Government Act 1972 it was made part of Stratford-on-Avon District.

Southam was in the parliamentary constituency of Stratford-on-Avon until the boundary changes approved by Parliament in June 2007 when it became part of the new constituency of Kenilworth and Southam. The constituency was first contested in the United Kingdom general election, 2010.

RAF Southam, about 0.6 miles (1 km) east of the town, was a World War II airfield. It was opened in 1940 and closed at the end of 1944. It was a training base and a relief landing ground.

Southam's history is commemorated in Southam's Cardall Collection.

Historic population

Year Population
1801 900
1911 1,804
1971 4,435
1991 5,304
2001 6,509
2011 6,499



Southam has three primary schools and a secondary school (Southam College) that has about 1,400 pupils from Southam and local villages. There is a leisure centre with swimming pool and gym next to the school.


The main shopping street runs through the centre of town. Each Tuesday there is a small but popular market on the upper part of the town centre's Wood Street car park. Market Hill has a farmers' market on the second Saturday of each month. There is a range of shops in the town centre, including a Co-Op supermarket, a small independent supermarket - Acorn Stores, a post office, a newsagent, an optician, a pharmacy, a hardware store and undertaker, a carpet shop, a stationery and print shop, a dry cleaner and laundry, two florists, two ladies clothing shops, other small speciality and gift shops, charity shops for Acorns Hospice and Myton Hospice, and a branch of Lloyds bank. In Spring 2013 a branch of The Original Factory Shop opened on Oxford Street following the closure of Budgens Supermarket. A Tesco supermarket is located on the outskirts of town, on the Kineton Road industrial estate.


The town's pubs include the Black Dog, the Bowling Green, the Market Tavern and the Old Mint. There is also a CIU-affiliated Sports and Social Club in School Street. Southam town centre also has several cafes, various takeaway food outlets, a public library and information centre, several hairdressers, a beautician, two dental surgeries, a chiropodist, a bookmaker, a saddlery and professional services including solicitors, estate agents, accountants and financial advisers. The main car park in Wood Street is free of charge, and has public lavatories.

Southam also has a Retained Fire Station. The police station is now closed to the general public; for police enquiries, people should go to a public library, as long as it's open. Otherwise they should use a telephone. The main entertainment venue in the town is Grange Hall in Coventry Street, which hosts dramatic and musical performances, meetings and dance/exercise classes. The Graham Adams Centre in St James Road houses the Grange Pre-school, the Youth Club and a community cafe. It is also home to adult education classes and is a meeting place for many of the town's youth and community groups.


There are four churches. St James's parish church is behind Market Hill. Both Our Lady and St Wulstan's Catholic church and the Congregational chapel are on Wood Street, and the Community Church is on Coventry Street. There is also a small but active Bahá´í group in the town. The footpath from St James church along the protected Stowe valley to the historic Holy Well and on to Stoneythorpe Hall is a popular route for local people, ornithologists and other naturalists.

Sport and Recreation

Southam Rugby Club was formed in 1962. In 1969 the club purchased pitches at Kineton Road and started playing home games. Over three years money was raised to build the club house which was constructed mainly by the players and was opened in 1972. Today the club plays in the Midland League and has three senior teams and a colts team.

Southam United F.C. is the town's football club, and Southam also has a bowling club, a cricket club and the six pitch Dallas Burston Polo Club which includes conference and events facilities.

Southam has 2028 (Southam) Squadron Air Training Corps, an RAF-sponsored (Royal Air Force) youth organisation for 13- to 20-year-olds. The squadron is based in Millar House, Wattons Lane.


Southam Recreational ground, locally known simply as 'the Rec', is located on Park Lane, the land adjoins to the local church yard which extends to the lower part of the high street. The bottom of the park is a bare field used mainly for ball games and the upper part contains various kinds of play equipment, with a separate area for very young children. The second largest park is at Tollgate Road, locally referred to as 'Tollgate'.


Southam is between Leamington Spa and Daventry on the A425 road and between Coventry and Banbury on the A423 road. The A426 road connects it to Rugby. About 8 miles (13 km) south of Southam is the M40 motorway, though the town is surprisingly not indicated.

Stagecoach in Warwickshire run regular bus services connecting Southam with Leamington, Rugby and Daventry, and some of the local villages.

The nearest railway stations are Leamington Spa, Rugby and Banbury.

Southam has never been directly served by its own railway station, although there were two within a few miles of the town: The Great Western Railway opened its line to Birmingham in 1852, and Southam had a station 3 miles (5 km) to the south-west, named Southam Road and Harbury. The station was closed to goods in 1963 and passengers in 1964 by British Railways (BR). The line is now part of the London Marylebone to Birmingham Chiltern Main Line.

The London and North Western Railway completed its Weedon to Marton Junction Line in 1895 and opened Southam and Long Itchington station on it 2 miles (3 km) north of Southam. British Railways closed the station to passengers in 1958 and goods in 1965, although the line remained open to goods trains serving the cement works until 1985.

The new High Speed 2 line will pass immediately south of Southam, but will have no stations between London and Birmingham.


Southam cement works from east - - 1253724
The former Southam cement works, demolished in 2011

The dominant rock type for the area is Blue Lias limestone. For many years there was a cement factory and associated limestone quarry 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the town. The works was served at one time by both rail and canal transport — the latter being a short arm from the Grand Union Canal. The cement operations at Southam were owned by the Rugby Cement company. In 2000 cement production was relocated to Rugby, and Southam cement works was closed, but quarrying at the site still continues. The former cement works was demolished in 2011.

Southam is part of the area known as Silicon Spa: the area around Leamington Spa which is known for its concentration of companies involved in the video game industry: The computer games company, Codemasters, is based in Southam, and was founded by two locals. It was Europe's largest privately owned computer games company, until its purchase by EA in February 2021.

The railway rolling stock company Vivarail has been based in Southam since 2019.

South of the town is an industrial estate that is a significant source of local employment.

Southam has become a commuter town due to its road links and location. Taxi and minicab firms operate in the area and frequent bus services serve Southam and local villages.

Notable people

  • Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Allfrey, British Army commander, veteran of World War I and World War II.
  • Steve Beaton, 1996 World Professional Darts Champion.
  • Seth Bond, a participant in the Charge of the Light Brigade, lived in Southam for many years and is buried in St James' Church Graveyard.
  • Arthur Cox, who managed Newcastle United and Derby County football clubs between 1980 and 1993, was born at Southam in December 1939.
  • Richard and David Darling, aka Codemasters, award-winning videogames developer company, founded in 1986 and retains its head office of several hundred employees in Southam.
  • Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging, former Air Cadet at 2028 Squadron Air Training Corps, Red Arrows display team pilot during 2009 and 2011 seasons.
  • Trina Gulliver, nine times women's World Professional Darts Champion, who moved to Somerset in 2008.
  • Henry Lilley Smith (1787/88 – 1859) founded a cottage hospital, Southam Dispensary, in 1823.
  • Steve Walwyn, guitarist with Dr. Feelgood, was born in Southam in 1956.
  • Justin Welby, present Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013, was earlier in his clergy career Rector of Southam.
  • Adam Woodyatt, EastEnders actor, had a home in Southam for many years.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Southam (Warwickshire) para niños

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