Best things about living in Alresford
PUBLISHED: 10:12 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 10:12 11 January 2016
Is Alresford the perfect place to live? Emma Caulton visits this lovely old market town
It is easy to fall in love with Alresford. Or New Alresford to give this charming market town its full name - although it is not new, simply newer than the neighbouring village of Old Alresford.
First there is the sheer loveliness of the location. On the edge of the South Downs, New Alresford is bordered by the River Arle on one side and the beginnings of the Itchen on another. It is criss-crossed by footpaths (among them the Wayfarers’ Walk, Oxdrove Way and St Swithun’s Way) wandering off into the surrounding countryside of fields, meadows, vineyards and watercress beds.
Then there are the colour-washed Georgian townhouses, cottages and inns in a rainbow of duck egg, salmon pink, sherbet lemon, forest green, and even deep purple. They sit prettily along West Street, East Street and leafy Broad Street – the latter surely one of the most handsome in Hampshire.
Next there’s the shopping. There are glamorous fashion boutiques - including Moda Rosa for designer names, Roxtons for country wear, Hetre for shoes, Franchetti Bond for luxe leather bags, and No42 and Delilah for individual, affordable, not-on-the-High-Street style. The very latest addition is Fitique - aiming to make sportswear stylish. There’s a selection of home interiors stores that are equally browse-worthy, such as Alresford Linen Company, Interior Style, More By Design, Susie Watson Design (and there always seems to be something tempting to buy whether it’s a Shetland wool throw or an armchair in herringbone tweed).
Essentials are provided by two traditional butchers, fishmonger, greengrocer, deli and wine merchant (a middle England, middle class essential admittedly), plus useful Co-op and Tesco Extra. There’s even a little library – long may it last. And there’s still a weekly market. Wouldn’t anyone want this lively, lovely centre on their doorstep?
There’s a delicious array of inns and tea shops (not forgetting a very good cafe at Long Barn on the road out of town towards Bishops Sutton). Actually the local eating out scene is getting really strong, with tapas bar Pulpo Negro putting Alresford into The Good Food Guide.
This leads onto mention of what seems to the onlooker like a very community-led town with a strong events calendar. Alongside the Watercress Line’s busy diary, there is also the Watercress Festival in May, Alresford Music Festival (community festival held in Arlebury Park in June), Alresford Agricultural Show (founded over a century ago and held in Tichborne Park in September) and Michaelmas Fair (a traditional street fun fair in October).
Overall Alresford has a great family-friendly ambience. Parents take children for riverside strolls beside the Arle, past the fulling mill and eel house. The local schools perform well: Sun Hill Infants is rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted while both Sun Hill Junior and Perins School (sports college and secondary school with academy status) are rated ‘good’. Impressive local independents include Princes Mead (co-educational prep school) and St Swithun’s (one of the country’s leading schools for girls), both on the edge of Winchester.
In terms of property: New Alresford is elegant with Georgian townhouses and quaint, timber-framed cottages. However, south of the town are quiet and established closes and crescents of modern development - bungalows and family detacheds in clusters from every decade from the 1960s onwards. Surrounding villages are appealing, too, with period houses, thatched cottages and converted barns in the likes of picturesque Cheriton, Itchen Stoke (which includes a recently tarted up farm shop, and an auction house in a barn), and historic Tichborne.
Upside: it’s thriving. Downside: It used to be so much quieter. There’s a lot of traffic passing through including some hefty trucks. Overall: Community, good looks, fab shopping and decent schools...Ticks a lot of boxes.
Agent talk - Gordon Thoday at Hellards
“People move to the Alresford area searching for a certain quality of life. As well as its shallow chalk streams teaming with trout and lovely country walks, Alresford is known for its eclectic mix of independent shops and small businesses.
Being located on the edge of the South Downs National Park, we are surrounded by beautiful countryside.
Buyers are drawn by the excellent schools and the proximity to Winchester, which is only a short distance away - and there are excellent road and rail links enabling an easy commute to London and beyond.
There is something for all tastes here and properties in the area range from oak-beamed village properties with thatched roofs to more modern family houses on neat estates.
For me, weekends usually include a lengthy walk with our Jack Russell and two teenage boys. This is important family time, and the walk invariably finishes at one of the charming country pubs for which the area is so blessed.”
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