The river's name may be connected with the traditional name for the New Forest, Ytene. If so it may have constituted a boundary between the Ytene-wara on the west and the Meon-wara on the east.
The source of the river is just south of the village of Cheriton. It flows north then west before entering Winchester, through which it flows in several channels. From here it runs south to Southampton Water, becoming tidal after Woodmill. Its full course is about 25 miles.

Attempts to improve the navigability of the river date back to the 12th century, when Godfrey de Lucy, Bishop of Winchester, built the first canal reservoir in England on the Itchen near Old Alresford, and later trenched part of the river. The section between Winchester and Mansbridge was widened and deepened in the 18th century as part of the now-disused Itchen Navigation.

The Itchen is one of England’s premier chalk streams and is popular for fly fishing. It is a site of Special Scientific Interest and it is noted for its habitats supporting a range of protected species.

Itchen (The New River)
This was a bound in the South Stoneham land charter of 1045. It has been identified with the modern mainstream above Gater's Mill, which was evidently constructed to power an Anglo-Saxon mill.

Itchen (The Old River)
This is also a bound in the South Stoneham land charter of 1045. It has been identified with one of the larger secondary channels of the Itchen, still carrying the city boundary in the vicinity of Gater's Mill. It was evidently supplanted as the natural mainstream when the mill stream (the ‘new river’ of the charter, see above) was constructed in pre-Conquest times.

See also

Further reading:

River Itchen Flood Alleviation Scheme: Preliminary Study. Appendix 4 – Environmental Baseline Report (pdf).


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