We have been busy in the Alton area recently and no wonder… it has much to attract anyone looking to move to the Hampshire area.
Alton is a historic market town in the East Hampshire district. It is the highest town in Hampshire, and located on the source of the river Wey. The town began as a Roman settlement known as Vindomis, but was named Aewieluntun, the village of the great spring, by Saxon residents. It was also recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086 and notable for having the most valuable recorded market in the Domesday Book. In 1307 King Edward II granted Alton a charter, enabling it to hold an annual fair. The town also bears the scars of a massacre of Royalist soldiers by the Roundheads in 1643. The history of Alton can be seen at the Curtis Museum which has one of the finest local history collections in Hampshire. It houses a wonderful array of objects including the celebrated Roman cup found near Selborne and an impressive Anglo Saxon buckle. Its childhood gallery is packed with toys, children’s books and dolls dating back to the 18th century.
One of Alton’s main industries used to be brewing. Hops and barley were grown in the surrounding area and the barley would have been malted in the town. The maltings still stand in Lower Turk Street, although it is no longer used for that purpose. They belonged to Halls Brewery from 1841 and were still producing malt in 1949. There have been a number of breweries in Alton since 1763. Today, Coors Brewing Company has a brewery in Alton which produces Carling, Grolsh and Worthington.
The Timber and Saw Mills employed over 100 people and produced all the wooden tools used for the brewing industry in the town from 1890s to 1939.
Alton was also famous in the 18th century for the manufacture of paper and of dress materials including ribbed druggets, shallons, silks and serges, bombazine and figured barragons.
Alton is ideally placed for those working in and around Hampshire or indeed travelling further afield. Commuting to London from Alton is just over an hour by train, and there is very easy access to the A31/A3/M3 for travelling by car to the south coast towns, or to Winchester, Basingstoke and Reading. Southampton, Heathrow and Gatwick airports are all within striking distance too.
Alton is surrounded by lovely countryside, with many walks, and cycle paths, including the Hangers Way and Alice Holt Forest. From one of the local villages, Chawton, the home of Jane Austen you can follow a circular path past places of interest that Jane Austen knew and loved. Local villages are also a great source of some outstanding country pubs and restaurants. The Watercress Line steam railway goes from Alton, trundling through pleasant countryside through the village of Ropley and on to Alresford.
There are of course plenty of other leisure activities, including several parks and a leisure centre with a swimming pool and sports hall. A carnival in the summer provides great entertainment for all the family, and the town hosts a beer festival in February and May. The town also boasts football, rugby and tennis clubs to name but a few. The Palace cinema is one of the few surviving independent cinemas around and shows films 7 days a week.
If you are searching for property in Alton there are a variety of styles from Victorian/Edwardian town houses to the more modern styles. A building boom between the wars, and another in the past few decades with a number of larger housing estates being built around the growing town gives a good variety of houses for those looking to move into the area. There are also many lovely villages just outside the town with much older traditional buildings.
Shopping facilites are varied, from the small independent shops to the larger retail outlets, so something for everyone. There is a general market every week and the town also hosts a Farmers market once a month.
If you are looking for great schools as part of your move Alton again comes up trumps. Rated as outstanding by Ofsted for two consecutive inspections, Alton College is one of the country’s top sixth form colleges. The local state schools, such as Eggars and Amery Hill also have great reputations and there are some independent schools to choose from too such as Alton Convent School which takes girls from two to 17 years and has a mixed sixth form, and at Long Sutton, Lord Wandsworth College is a co-educational boarding and day school for students aged from 11 to 18 years. Alton is also is home to Treloar College, the National Specialist college for Young Disabled People.
If you are looking to eat out, Alton and its surrounding villages boasts a variety of cafes, coffee shops, pubs and restaurants to suit every taste and pocket. All in all, its an often overlooked area which actually offers more than meets the eye!