This pleasant old market town dates back to before the Bronze Age, and grew prosperous during the 13th-c from ale brewing and woolen cloth production. The town developed along the route of the ancient Pilgrims' Way, which now forms the town's long high street. There are an number of very attractive Georgian buildings in the centre and in Amery Street (near to the market-place), is a Tudor cottage in which the poet Edmund Spenser lived (circa 1590).
During the Civil War, the town was the scene of a mortal struggle between the Roundheads and Royalists. The ensuing battle ended around the parish church of St Lawrence, where Charles' supporters finally fell. Musket balls marks are still visible in the surrounding stonework of the main church doorway.
An interesting collection of local historical artifacts and agricultural tools are on display, including a collection of Prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon archeological finds, which includes the "Alton buckle", one of finest pieces of Anglo-Saxon craftsmanship discovered in Hampshire. There is also section covering the Battle of Alton, fought during the English Civil War in 1643.
The "Jane Austen Trail", on the the first floor, describes life in Alton (and nearby Chawton) during the early 1800s, when the novelist Jane Austen and her family lived in the area. See also Jane Austen House and Museum.
Opening times: Tue - Sat, 10am to 5pm - Free Entry
Location: High Street Alton, Hampshire, GU34 1BA - Tel: 0845 603 5635 - Website
Facilities: parking (50 metres away)
The gallery exhibits an outstanding collection of ceramics and antique silver - set in an idyllic walled garden. Regular art, crafts and photography exhibitions.
Opening times: Tue - Sat, 10.30am - 4.30pm - Free Entry
Location: Church Street, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 2BW - Tel: 0845 603 5635 - Website
Facilities: parking (35 metres away)
Beaulieu National Motor Museum | Breamore House | Bishop's Waltham Palace | Highclere Castle | Mottisfont Abbey | New Forest Centre | Portchester Castle | Royal Armouries | Sandham Memorial Chapel | West Green House | Marwell Wildlife Park | The Vyne