Most commonly associated as the home of the acclaimed Pride and Prejudice author, Jane Austen, it was also an important centre for brewing and manufacturing paper.
Nowadays the thriving town has craft brewers carrying on the tradition including the Triple fff Brewery whose Alton’s Pride tipple can be found in local pubs.
Alton also has its own heritage attraction the Mid Hants Railway Watercress Line, popular across the generations for its special theme days and nostalgic steam train rides. The town is also well known for the civil war Battle of Alton in 1643, the murder of (sweet) Fanny Adams in 1867 and is home to the Allen Gallery and Curtis Museum.
The station in Alton has trains running every half hour during the week directly to London Waterloo in around 1 hour 15 minutes. Situated on the A31, Alton is convenient for Winchester and Farnham with the nearby M3 and A3 routes connecting Alton with London and the south coast.
There is short stay free parking on the High Street spaces and longer stay pay and display in several well positioned car parks with good accessibility to the shops.
Whether you want to watch the world go by over a cup of coffee, browse for quirky gifts or buy your day-to-day essentials, Alton has shops to cater for all your requirements.
Historically the town was well known for its markets and still holds the regular Tuesday market each week in the main High Street. In addition, the second Saturday of the month offers local produce from Hampshire Farmers’ Markets alongside the local Lions Craft Market held in the Square.
Many shops are in historic buildings, and if you look a bit harder, you can sneak a look behind the brick façades to see the old-world timber-framed buildings.In the Market Square, a visit to Prezzo will allow you to look up into the back part of the old High Street bakery building. Or if you visit Bottega dei Sapori, the Italian coffee shop in the High Street, you can sit in their hidden garden and admire the timber buildings lining the back of Crown Hill.
There are many other hidden gems around the town if you have the time to explore, or you could join the Town Guides who offer an escorted walking tours around Alton.
You’ll find the Curtis Museum and Allen Gallery both have local gifts to buy, along with a number of other lifestyle shops in the town centre. Alton also boasts a wide range of supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencers, Waitrose, Iceland, Tesco Express, Co-op and Aldi – or for those who prefer a more traditional approach to shopping there is a butcher, traditional hardware shop, florist, newsagents and post office.
As well as the brands you would expect to find in the main High Street there is a number of unique boutique shops selling objets d’art, jewellery, rare books, vintage and designer clothes, decorative pieces, crafts and paintings.
With plenty to see and do in and around Alton, the town serves as a convenient base to explore the local area. With so many villages within a few miles of Alton, visitors can take in the breathtaking views of the South Downs National Park and the rich heritage of the region. You can sample the diverse range of locally produced food and drink which is held at the Alton Farmers’ Market every second Saturday of the month in the High Street.
The popular Hanger’s Way walking route from Alton Railway Station to Queen Elizabeth Country Park weaves its way through stunning countryside and charming villages. One of these is Selborne, known as the home of the eighteenth century naturalist Gilbert White. Now his home is a museum which also includes the Oates Collection and attracts visitors keen to explore the beautiful gardens and atmospheric house.
Selborne is also home to a range of interesting shops, a popular pub, a church, primary school and a recreation ground with playground, tennis courts and pavilion.
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