Pokesdown Farm and its cottages were situated adjoining the present Herbenon Road, near its junction with Sunnyhill Road at the very edge of the heath. Life at the edge of the heath was not without some benefits. Turf could be cut for fuel for fires and was free to all local inhabitants under the custom known as Turbary This custom was jealously guarded and as will be seen every effort was made under the Inclosure Award to preserve it. There were also some grazing rights. Honey was an important by-product of the bees which frequented the gorse and heather.
No entirely satisfactory explanation has been obtained regarding the origin of the name of Pokesdown. It is related by some people to a connection with Puck and fairies. Herbert Druitt suggested that it might be a corruption of Peaksdown, a high point in the downs; the suffix "down" is certainly related to Littledown, Moordown (previously spelled Moredown) and Wallisdown Again, it may have been a personal name "Pocs'down, similar to Poxwell, near Weymouth, which is pronounced Pokeswell. In his book "Place names in Dorset A. Miller suggests that the name is of 13th century origin.
Whatever the case may be. Pokesdown is worthy of recognition if only because it is one of the local names to go back before the foundation of Bournemouth. Records of at least one family connected with Pokesdown exist as far back as the 16th century. In 1586 and 1594 John Mantell was included in the Lay Subsidy Rolls for Westover. Henry Mantle of Pokesdown was elected a churchwarden of Christchurch Priory on 23 April 1660. again the Churchwardens' accounts for 1662-63 record the receipt of one shilling from Henry Mantle of Pokesdown in payment 'for a place for his wife where his mother did sit' - a sitting in the Priory Church. The Heath Tax List of 1665 included John, Henry and William Mantle.
When Pokesdown became an Urban District in 1895, the boundaries were defined as running from the sea front to Wollstonecraft Road, and just east of Crabton Close Road, along south of Christchurch Road to Warwick Road, along the railway, which was crossed to take in Clarence Park, and so over part of King's Park to beyond Harewood Avenue. It then re-crossed Christchurch Road and the railway, running alongside the line to Cranleigh Road, after which it turned towards Southbourne Road, between Irving and Watcombe Roads. It then turned into Belle Vue Road and along Clifton Road to the sea front. Thus it included the Shelley, Portman, Stourwood and Stourfield Estates.
Although the name Pokesdown survives today, it is usually related to a very restricted area: there seems to be a long-standing reluctance on the part of residents to acknowledge that they live in Pokesdown, preferring to use such addresses as Boscombe East, West Southbourne, and even in some cases Southbourne.
Reproduced with permisson of the Author.
© J. A. Young