Fareham is a market town at the north-west tip of Portsmouth Harbour, between the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton in the south east of Hampshire, England. It gives its name to the borough that comprises the town and its surrounding area. It was historically an important manufacturer of bricks (notably used to build the Royal Albert Hall, London) and a grower of strawberries. Current employment includes retail (including a shopping centre with around 100 shops), small-scale manufacturing, and defence (with the Royal Navy's HMS Collingwood and the Ministry of Defence's Dstl nearby).
Archaeological excavations around the old High Street area and the church of St Peter & Paul on high ground over the Wallington Estuary have yielded evidence of settlement on the site contemporary with the Roman occupation. No extensive programme of investigation has been possible due to the historic nature of the buildings in this area.
The town has a documented history dating back to the Norman era, when a part of William's army marched up from Fareham Creek before continuing to the Saxon capital of England, Winchester. Originally known as Ferneham (hence the name of the entertainment venue Ferneham Hall), the location was determined by the ford of Fareham Creek at the top of Portsmouth Harbour. The ford was the location of the Bishop of Winchester's mills; the foundations were subsumed in the A27 near the railway viaduct. Commercial activity continued at the port until the 1970s, and continues on a smaller scale. By the beginning of the 20th century, Fareham had developed into a major market town.
In the 1960s, Fareham experienced a huge amount of development, as it was one of the areas highlighted for major expansion in the South Hampshire Plan. The idea was to create many thousands of homes as a base for the many people who were looking to move away from the traditional urban centres of Portsmouth and Southampton. During this era that the large housing areas of Hill Park, Miller Drive, and much of Portchester grew until there was a continuous urban conurbation from Portsmouth to Southampton. By this time Fareham had expanded to almost encompass the surrounding villages of Funtley, Titchfield, Catisfield and Portchester.
In the late 1990s, a settlement called Whiteley, straddling the boundaries of Fareham Borough and the City of Winchester, was developed to the north of Junction 9 of the M27 motorway. It is predominantly residential, but it includes the extensive Solent Business Park.
An urban renewal initiative began in 1999, renovating the town centre and historic buildings to include a new entertainment and shopping complex. It featured a major iron sculpture park installed in 2001 to celebrate the work of influential Lancastrian iron pioneer, Henry Cort, who lived in neighbouring Gosport but who had an iron rolling mill in Funtley (or Fontley), on the outskirts of Fareham. There is a school named after him, Henry Cort Community College.