All about Alresford, Hampshire
00:16 08 November 2011
All about Alresford, Hampshire
Looking for a weekend away? Full of charm and Georgian architecture, Alresford was voted Country Lifes Favourite Market Town in the south-east. We sent Charlotte Tomlinson-White there to discover why shopping is not the towns only attraction...
Nestled alongside the River Itchen and the renowned Pilgrims Way, The Bush Inn sits in the idyllic village of Ovington. Retaining its traditional feel as a charming English pub, you can cosy up to a roaring log fire in the winter or dine alfresco in the well tended riverside garden in the summer. Offering a variety of freshly cooked produce, plus traditional English afternoon tea, where better to dine? Begin your culinary adventure with starters like poached pear with chicory salad. Tickle your taste buds with mains such as grilled lemon sole. Satisfy your sweet tooth with puddings like oven baked figs with honey and balsamic vinegar and quench your thirst with traditional Wadworth ales, fine wines and champagne by the glass.
Tel. 01962 732764
Old Alresford Pond was constructed by Bishop de Lucy (the Bishop of Winchester) in the 12th Century as part of his plans to improve trade in Winchester and Alresford by damning the springs. However it is now thought the pond was created to supply the Bishops palace with fish and water to the mills downstream, a theory supported by the fact the pond was fitted with sluices. It used to extend all the way to Bishops Sutton but covers a much smaller area today. The picturesque medieval pond is worth investigating. Look out for the otters and wildfowl who reside there, the recently restored sluices, and also the commemorative plaque for Captain Robert Cogswell who spared Alresford from a potential disaster.
To get there: Old Alresford Pond is close to Soke Gardens which can be found down the lane to the right of the Globe on the Lake pub at the bottom of Broad Street.
The enchanting country house of Hinton Ampner contains stunning collections of Georgian and Regency furniture, Italian pictures and objets dart. However, the jewel in its crown is undoubtedly the magnificent gardens. Designed by Ralph Dutton, they are widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of the 20th Century and a favourite of horticultural celebrity Alan Titchmarsh. Visitors can enjoy fabulous floral colour from roses and dahlias, plus quirky topiary and splendid views that sweep over parkland and woodland. There is also a pretty walled kitchen garden which supplies food to the propertys caf, definitely worth investigating. Both house and garden run events and activities throughout the year (suitable for all ages) including Easter quizzes, Halloween Pumpkin Trails and Christmas pudding workshops. Occasionally services are held in the tiny church in the garden.
Open: 11am to 5pm throughout November
Tel: 01962 771305
Thought to be a contender for the countys most beautiful street is Broad Street, lined with trees and adorned with colour-washed buildings. Expect attractive shops and welcoming hotels. Bishop de Lucy penned Broad Street as a market place in his town plan and as intended, markets have been held there for over 800 years; with a market still held every Thursday and the first Sunday of the month. East Street, with its Georgian architecture, and West Street, with two original coaching inns are also worth visiting.
The Grange at Northington is the foremost example of the Greek revival style in England. Set in a landscaped park, it was built between 1804 and 1809 by William Wilkins who encased an earlier house in Classical facades, most remarkably the eight columns that support its front. Although only viewing of the exterior is permitted, you can find out more about this elegant house and its surrounding parkland by reading the graphic panels located on site. The striking mansion also provides a breathtaking backdrop for opera evenings courtesy of Grange Park Opera. Tel: 01962 737366 for information.
Walk this way
Named after the year it was created in, the mile long Millennium Trail connects a series of footpaths around Alresford with illustrated display boards providing information on the history of the town, its inhabitants, wildlife and countryside location. Highlights include Mill Hill, Ladywell Lane and The River Arle. Why not branch off and venture on the Arle Valley Trail? Taking in the surrounding countryside, discover attractions such as Arlebury Park and Pound Hill, before rejoining the Millennium Trail after one and a half miles. Both walks are supported by a leaflet available from the Station Information Office, the Library and many of the shops in the town. Dont forget to take some bread and feed the ducks!
Colour me happy
Built in 1866, St Marys is an excellent example of a Gothic Revival Church. It was conceived by Henry Conybeare who based his design on the 13th-century Sainte Chapelle in Paris, chapel of French Kings. Tall and imposing, especially as you approach it up the steep path from the road, St Marys in Itchen Stoke, on the outskirts of Alresford, overwhelms the senses with its elegant arched windows and richly painted roof. Inside you will find an inlaid font in varied marble, decorated tiles and a pulpit with five panels filled with scrollwork and foliage in cast iron. Most remarkable however is the stained glass, especially in the west window. Arranged in geometric patterns, it bathes the Church in a kaleidoscope of colour on a sunny day.
To get there: Take the B3047 for 1.5 miles out of Alresford. OS map reference: SU 559 323
Let Battle Commence
The Battle of Cheriton took place on March 1644, at the height of the Civil War. Fighting for control of Central Southern England, Cavaliers and Roundheads clashed in the fierce battle. The area of the battlefield is now fully enclosed but you can access it via a network of footpaths, lanes and minor roads. Follow in the soldiers footsteps with a copy of The Cheriton Battlefield Walk. Available from Winchesters Tourism Centre, the leaflet provides commentary on the route and an insight into the events that may have taken place on that fateful day.
Visit:www.battleofcheriton.co.ukfor information on re-enactments.
Straddling the River Arle, The Eel House is a unique historic building, one of only two in the country specifically constructed for trapping eels. Built in the 1820s and recently restored, it contains three water channels, built to house the iron grills that were used to capture mature eels on their migratory route to spawn. For opening times visit:www.towntrust.org.uk/eel_houseor Tel: 01962 733816.
St Johns Parish Church is worthy of its heritage. Although a church has stood on this site since the 12th Century, the church witnessed today is not the original. A perpendicular church was built in 1400 but the fire of 1689 engulfed all but the western tower and outer walls of the nave. The church was then extensively rebuilt under the direction of Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1898, incorporating the surviving features. This Grade II listed building is what stands now. Look out for the small Saxon Rood over the door and the French soldiers graves dating back to the Napoleonic Wars.
To get there: St John the Baptist Church, West Street, New Alresford, SO24 9AG.