Pictures of Alton
An historic market town which in recent times derived its prosperity from hop fields and the brewing industry, previously it had been a centre for wool and cloth.
In its gracious streets you can see many fine examples of Georgian architecture with the dominant feature of the town being the historic church dedicated to St.Lawrence. The earliest parts of the church date from 1070, and over the centuries it has been enlarged many times. The style is mainly Perpendicular with a fine Norman tower. In St.Lawrence's, you will see many treasures, at the centre of these is a magnificent Henry Speechley organ, built in 1866. It is one of three finest organs in the South of England and it is therefore unsurprising to find the church runs a series of organ recitals during the winter months, at which organists of national and international acclaim perform. The bullet holes in the west door remain as evidence of Civil War skirmishes during which men where shot in the church pulpit.
Noted citizens in the town have been the poet Edmund Spenser whose 16th-century cottage in Amery Street is now a museum with a fine collection of pre-historic tools and roman pottery. Of special interest is the Roman Cup and the Anglo-Saxon Alton Buckle. The museum covers thousands of years of local history, it tells of hops and brewing, has childhood memorabilia, tells the riotous story of Sweet Fanny Adams and of the Battle of Alton in 1643. The town was also the home of Cardinal Newman who lived here between 1816 - 1819. A grammar school in Alton was first founded in 1641.
Alton is the setting for the wonderful Watercress Heritage Line which runs between here and Alresford, taking visitors on a lovely atmospheric trip in beautifully restored coaches pulled by a real steam engine. The journey passes superb Hampshire scenery where the chalk streams and rivers provide the ideal conditions for salmon, trout and watercress, an emerald green delicacy grown in the region for centuries.
This fine town has a lovely atmosphere, it offers pleasant shops, galleries, restaurants, pubs and inns, has a wide choice of accommodation for those wishing to extend there stay in order to see more. Alton is within easy reach of the historic home of Jane Austen at Chawton.
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