Place:Alton, Hampshire, England


Alt namesAultonesource: Domesday Book (1985) p 122
Coordinates51.151°N 0.976°W
Located inHampshire, England
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Alton is a market town and civil parish in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. It has a population of 17,816 according to the 2011 census and is administered by the East Hampshire district council (EHDC). It is located on the south west source of the River Wey and is the highest town in Hampshire. The town is famous for its connection with Sweet Fanny Adams.

Alton began as a Roman settlement known as Vindomis. The town was recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086 under the name Aoltone and was notable for having the most valuable market recorded therein. The town contains three secondary schools and its own railway station. Alton is twinned with Pertuis in France, and Montecchio Maggiore in Italy.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history

A Roman road ran from Chichester to Silchester and there is evidence of a Roman posting station at Neatham near Alton, probably called Vindomis, and a ford across the River Wey. Centuries later, an Anglo-Saxon settlement was established in the area and a large 7th century cemetery has been discovered during building excavations. It contained a selection of grave goods which included the Alton Buckle which is on display in the Curtis Museum, and is considered to be the finest piece of Anglo Saxon craftsmanship found in Hampshire. The buckle was found in the grave of a warrior, and has a silver-gilt body, set with garnets and glass.

The River Wey has a source in the town, and the name Alton comes from an Anglo-Saxon word "aewielltun" meaning "farmstead at the source of the river".

In 1001 Danish forces invaded England during the First Battle of Alton. When they reached Alton, the forces of Wessex came together and fought against them. About 81 Englishman were killed, including Ethelwerd the King's high-steward, Leofric of Whitchurch, Leofwin the King's high-steward, Wulfhere a bishop's thane, and Godwin of Worthy, Bishop Elfsy's son. Danish casualties were higher, however the Danes won the battle and fleeing Englishmen took refuge in Winchester.

Alton is listed as having the most valuable recorded market in the Domesday Book under the name Aoltone in the 'Odingeton Hundred — Hantescire'.[1][1][2]

The Treaty of Alton was an agreement signed in 1101 between William the Conqueror's eldest son Robert, Duke of Normandy and his brother Henry I of England. Henry had seized the throne while his elder brother was away on the first crusade. Robert returned to claim the throne, landing in Portsmouth. The two brothers met in Alton and agreed terms which formed the Treaty of Alton. Part of the main street through Alton is called Normandy Street, probably reflecting this event.

Middle Ages

The first recorded market in Alton was in 1232, although the market at Neatham first recorded in the Domesday Book may also have been in the town. Blome wrote in 1673 of a 'market on Saturdays, which is very great for provisions, where also are sold good store of living cattle'. The Saturday market is also featured on Kitchin's map of Hampshire (1751) which marks the town as Alton Mt. Sat.

1307 was, in fact, the first year of Edward II’s reign but Edmund of Woodstock was not lord of the manor then. According to the Victoria County History (written after Curtis’ book):-

‘In 1273 Edward I granted the manor [of Alton Westbrook] to his mother, Queen Eleanor, who died in 1291, when it reverted to the Crown and was granted in 1299 as dower to his second wife, Margaret of France. On the death of Queen Margaret in 1317, it again came to the Crown, and Edward II gave it in 1319 to his brother Edmund of Woodstock, Earl of Kent.’

As can be seen, Queen Margaret held the manor until 1317 and so the fair could not have been granted to Edmund of Woodstock in 1307.

The correct date for the grant seems to be 22 November 1320 (according to the Charter Rolls, 14 Edward II, no.15). The grant was for a 9-day fair - the vigil [eve] and feast of Whitsuntide and seven days after.

The two main manors in Alton - Alton Eastbrook and Alton Westbrook - had a fair each. That of Alton Eastbrook has no extant charter, and may never have had one. It was originally held on St Lawrence’s Day and so its origin was, presumably, the patronal festival. The religious aspect would have ceased when the country was no longer Roman Catholic. This fair seems to have been held on Crown Close (which is in the manor of Alton Eastbrook) in the early 19th century. When this land was built upon, the fair moved and was held where ever the Westbrook fair was - the Market Place, various meadows and the Butts.

The date of the Eastbrook fair was changed to Michaelmas in the mid-18th century as it came during harvest time and the farmers were not satisfied. Some accounts for this fair in the early 18th century do survive and show that there was a cheese fair as well the usual mix of travelling and local people with stalls and stands - people selling lace, gloves, books, gingerbread, bodices, sugar plums, toys [small items - not for children], soap and knives, to name but a few. By the late 19th century, this fair was said to be mainly for horses, sheep and, occasionally, hops.

Alton still has an annual fair, but it now takes the form of a carnival.[3]

Eggar's School was founded in 1640 by John Eggar of Moungomeries as the Free Grammar School. It later became known as Eggar's Grammar School. It occupied a site in Anstey Road until it moved to a new site in Holybourne in 1969.

A battle was fought in Alton during the English Civil War. A small Royalist force was quartered in the town when on 13 December 1643 they were surprised by a Parliamentary army of around 5,000 men. The Royalist cavalry fled, leaving Sir Richard Bolle (or Boles) and his infantry to fight. Outnumbered, the Royalists were forced into the Church of St Lawrence, where Bolle was killed along with many of his men. Over 700 Royalist soldiers were captured and bullet holes from the battle are still visible in the church today.

In 1665, Alton suffered an outbreak of bubonic plague, but soon recovered.

Victorian era

The Victorian era also left its mark on Saturday, 24 August 1867, when an eight-year old girl, Fanny Adams, was murdered. Her assailant, Frederick Baker, a local solicitor's clerk, was one of the last criminals to be executed in Winchester and one of the original public notices advertising his forthcoming execution hangs in the Crown Public House. Fanny Adams' grave can still be seen in Alton cemetery. The brutal murder, so the story goes, coincided with the introduction of tinned meat in the Royal Navy, and the sailors who did not like the new food said the tins contained the remains of "Sweet Fanny Adams" or "Sweet F A", hence the expression which for over a century has meant "sweet nothing".

Recent developments

Here are a few events in the past two hundred years:[4]

  • 1813 — New Town Hall was built
  • 1844 — Alton gained a gas supply
  • 1852 — Rail connection to London
  • 1856 — Curtis Museum was founded
  • 1862 — Sewage works were built
  • 1865 — Rail connection to Winchester
  • 1876 — Waterworks were built
  • 1874 — All Saints' Church was consecrated
  • 1880 — Assembly Rooms were built
  • 1901 — Basingstoke and Alton Light Railway opened
  • 1908 — Lord Mayor Treloar Hospital was built
  • 1927 — Alton gained electricity
  • 1938 — Alton Convent School opened
  • 1966 — St Mary's Roman Catholic Church was built
  • 1968 — Alton by-pass was built
  • 1972 — Alton Sports Centre opened
  • 1974 — Alton Health Centre opened
  • 1975 — Alton Community Centre opened
  • 1978 — Alton College opened
  • 1978 — Alton Magistrates Court opened
  • 1985 — Preserved portion of the former railway line to Winchester (Mid-Hants Railway) reopened to Alton.
  • 1992 — Alton gains its own local radio station, Wey Valley Radio (later known as Delta Radio and Kestrel FM, now known as The Breeze).
  • 2005 — Alton Maltings Centre, a renovated malthouse, opened
  • 2012 — Waitrose opens a Supermarket on 30 August
  • 2014 — Wickes DIY opened in July
  • 2014 — Aldi opened in August

Research Tips

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