ALTON  HAMPSHIRE

OUR HOME TOWN

I have lived in Alton, an old Georgian market town, since 1965. At this time I can only say, arriving from Brighton, a sea side resort, I thought Alton was a village, as it was so small. Over the last five decades I have seen a lot of changes. 

Due to the fact that the growth of Alton has followed the River Wey, Alton is a very narrow long town, so it does not matter where you live, because a five minute walk will find you, in some of the most beautiful country side in Hampshire.  

The weekly market, is now held on a Tuesday, in the centre of the high street, which becomes a pedestrian right of way. On any other day traffic is now directed via a one way system

 

The town is located,  between, Guildford, Winchester and Basingstoke it has become an ideal home for many commuting to work either in London or Southampton as well as the former three large towns.

The M3 and M25 are easily accessible to the north of the town , whilst the M3 and M27 to the south by way of the A31.

Town Hall and Market Square

Alton used to be the proud owners of three breweries. The Tuesday market consisted of cattle, fowl and a weekly auction of household goods. The market has become, sadly just a market of general goods, still held on a Tuesday. But Folk dancing, Jazz, French Markets and other events all take place throughout the year

 

The Norman Tower of the Parish church of Saint Lawrence, dates back to 1070. In 1643, the church was the final scene of the Civil War between the Roundheads and Cavaliers. Bullets and other relics are still preserved in the church walls and doors, which still bear the marks of the battle.

 

Kings Pond is situated in the heart of Alton, within walking distance of the main high street. It has a path, of approximately 0ne mile, all the way around, with large areas of grass and seats.

It is a natural lake fed by the River Wey, which goes under the main high street. The lake is a naturally haven to many wild flowers, birds and water fowl. It also has its own resident swans

River Wey going under the high street, The river continues on the other side of the high street passing through Flood Meadows, which is aapproximately 15 acres of natural grassland. The meadows includes a river side walk along the River Wey, which also flows along the adjacent Watercress beds which were last worked approximately 45 years ago.

The Allen Gallery shows a superb collection of pottery, many temporary exhibitions and the World famous Tichborne spoons. Situated next to Saint Lawrence Church Vicarage at the top of the high street

The Curtis Museum has a wealth of information about Alton .

Objects such as the unique Roman Buckle, which is 1,200 years old. and a unique history of the importance of brewing in the area.

 Old Cottage Hospital, was one of the first hospitals that Alton had, it has now been renovated but sadly not as a hospital.

Assembly Rooms

The Cairn

The War Memorial, situated between the Curtis Museum and the Assembly rooms was built with 30 tons of Cornish Granite, in 1920, in memory of those lost whilst on active service in the first world war.. The Cairn replaced Miss Bells fountain, now located in the public gardens

A further plaque was added to the Cairn in 1949, in memory of those lost during the second World War

  Public Gardens and Bandstand, Situated in the heart of Alton , on the opposite side of the main high street to Kings Pond

The bandstand was built in 1935 to commemorate King George V’s Silver Jubilee. The Town Council restored the Original building, with its unusual thatch roof, in 1989, when it was destroyed by fire.

In 1867, Alton was to witness one of the saddest tragedies. A solicitors clerk, Frederick Baker, met  eight year old, Fanny Adams, one lunch time. He took her to Flood Meadows where he chopped her body into unrecognizable pieces. To this day the expression 'Sweet Fanny Adams' is still referred to.

Frederick Baker was one of the last men, to be publicly hanged. Christmas eve, 1867, saw 5,000 people watch him be hung  outside the County jail of Winchester.

The house where Jane Austin lived with her mother and sister Cassandra from 1809 until 1817. She revised her earlier manuscripts, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, she went on to write Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion, before moving to Winchester, where she spent her last 6 weeks of her life. She is buried in Winchester Cathedral

Her mother and sister Cassandra are both buried in the church yard at Chawton

'The Watercress Line'

The once thriving railway from Alton to Winchester, as such no longer exists, but holiday times sees, the stations at Alton, Roply and Alsresford, run by volunteers who man these beautiful steam engines. The theme Thomas and his pals. People flock for miles to spend a day out with the steam engines and characters from Thomas

The Abbey of Our Lady & St John

The Abbey is home to a community of Anglican Benedictine monks, on the outskirts of Alton, in Beech. The Abbey was designed by Charles Nicholson. Visitors are welcome, but by arrangement with the Guestmaster.

Saint Leonard's Church. Hartley Mauditt

Excerpt from Nicolas Andry’s book ’Orthopaedia’ dated 1743. ’In a word the same method must be used in this case, for recovering the shape of the leg as is used for making straight the crooked trunk of a young tree.’

The tree upon which the badge of the Orthopaedic Associations of the World is based.

Lord Mayor Treloar Hospital.

Two views of the old hospital 

Wards 1 - 5

Wards 6- 10

The hospital was originally called the Princess Louise Hospital, or The Absent Minded Beggers Hospital, by local people.

It was commissioned for soldiers returning from the Boar War, but sat idle for approximately 4 years, before it was taken over by Sir William Treloar in 1907. 

His aim was to set the hospital up, to help children with tuberculosis disease of the bones and to train, crippled boys, from the ages of 14—18 years of age, with a skilled handicraft, to help them earn a living

 

The hospital had been built in the shape of a horse shoe, with large verandas. Part of the treatment the children received was fresh air. They were wheeled out on to the verandas every day, no matter what the weather was like. The hospital  had a varied existence since then, as an orthopaedic hospital, as a general hospital and finally to become a renowned Orthopaedic centre. Sadly Wessex Regional Health Authority decided to transfer Orthopaedics surgery to Basingstoke, Winchester, Southampton and Portsmouth and the hospital closed. People of Alton  continued to campaign to have the Hospital reopened, especially as some people have to wait 2 years for their joint replacements, generally these people are already in the later years of their lives.

The beautiful hospital no longer exist. 2004 saw the rising of Treloar Heights. A housing estate. At least they had the decency to dedicate the names, of the wards and nurses homes , as streets.

 

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