Alton is mentioned in the Domesday Book as far back as 1086. It is a traditional market town and over past decades has been associated with a variety of industries from hop growing and beer making to barrel making and tanning in the production of leather goods.
Surrounded by open country and farmland, Alton occupies an excellent location between Farnham (9 miles) to the northeast and Winchester (16 miles) to the southwest. London is 52 miles. Alton’s train station has a regular fast train service into London Waterloo.
Alton and the surrounding villages attract many visitors. A short walk from the town leads to the small pretty village of Chawton, where the 17th Century home of Jane Austen can be found, now a museum dedicated to Jane’s eight years living here, www.janeaustens.house. Opposite is the traditional village pub, The Greyfriar and the tea room, Cassandra’s Cup, named after Jane’s sister who is buried in the village church’s graveyard and village shop. You can walk to ‘the great house’, Chawton House Library, where Jane’s brother Edward Austen Knight lived and Jane regularly visited.
Alton has a busy community with a newly built sports centre, lots of green spaces and parks. The town has a selection of independent shops, a good choice of supermarkets within walking distance including, Sainsburys, M&S Foodhall and Waitrose and the market square and high street regularly host local events, weekly and monthly farmers’ markets.
Amateur dramatics is a big part of Alton life with performances from local theatre groups staged at the town’s historic Assembly Rooms and Holybourne Theatre. The Maltings is another popular community meeting place and entertainment venue used by locals.
Alton offers an excellent choice of primary, secondary and independent schools in and outside the town. This makes it a particularly popular choice for families looking to enjoy living in such a well-connected town, surrounded by pretty Hampshire countryside with everything you could need on your doorstep.
Five historical facts about Alton, Hampshire GU34
- The Alton Buckle – a fine piece of Anglo Saxon craftsmanship, was discovered in Alton’s Mount Pleasant cemetery going back to the 7th century cemetery. The precious buckle made of silver-gilt, studded with garnets and glass was found in a warrior’s grave during building works. The object is displayed at the Curtis Museum in Alton.
- Eight year old local girl, ‘Fanny Adams’ was cruelly murdered by a solicitor’s clerk, Frederick Baker in a hop garden near her home in August 1867. She is buried in Alton cemetery. The expression ‘sweet Fanny Adams’ lives on today. In 1869, new rations of tinned mutton were distributed to the navy. The sailors said this was the butchered remains of ‘sweet Fanny Adams.’
- Alton’s first market was recorded in the Domesday Book in 1232 and weekly and farmer’s markets continue trading today.
- The Bubonic plague (the Covid of its day) hit Alton in 1665, but the town survived!
- The Butts comprising two acres of common land to the south of the town centre was used in medieval and Tudor times for local men’s weekly archery practice which was a legal requirement. Since then up unto the present day, circuses and fairs continue to make annual visits and set up at The Butts.