The common land known as The Butts, which is often frequented by travelling circuses and fairs, used to be used to practice archery during medieval and Tudor times. As a legal requirement for all yeomen in England, the practice of the skill of archery took place on a weekly basis in a field called an Archery Butt. Huge mounds of earth acted as the targets and although the name Archery Butts originally referred to the targets themselves, it came to mean the platforms that held the targets as well
Alton used to be linked to Guildford in 1852. Built to serve local businesses, especially agriculture, the line was extended a further 17 miles from Alton to Winchester in 1865 and was called The Mid-Hants Railway (the name it still carries today), although the line no longer runs to Winchester. Did you know travelling from Alton to Medstead along the Mid-Hants Railway requires the negotiation of one of the steepest graded lines on any steam railway?
Alton has held a market for more than 1,000 years, but did you know Altonâ€™s Market was recorded as the most valuable market in the Doomsday book? The market tradition continues with the hosting a variety of markets. The main town market is held every Tuesday, while the Alton Friday Market, held in the Community Centre, is more intimate and is the perfect place for home produce. The town also hosts Farmersâ€™ Markets and Continental Markets.
Chawton, is famous for being the residence of novelist Jane Austen, but did you know it is also home to early English womenâ€™s writing? Chawton House Library has a unique collection of rare books and is set in the home and working estate of Jane Austenâ€™s brother Edward Austen Knight. With its interest in literature dating pre-1830, guided tours can be arranged by appointment. The Library also has a strong relationship with the University of Southampton providing a vital resource.
Altonâ€™s Curtis Museum explores 100 million years of history. Displays include the Battle of Alton 1643 and the legendary tale of Sweet Fanny as well as Saxon burials and prehistoric tools. The Alton Buckle and The Selborne Cup are housed there. Itâ€™s also praised for having one of the southâ€™s most remarkable ceramics collections.
Alton is associated with many famous names and over the years has been the birthplace, residence, vocation and resting place of numerous celebrities. Did you know that English football player James William â€˜Jimmyâ€™ Dickinson, who holds the record number of league appearances for Portsmouth FC, has a pub named after him in Alton? Member of Parliament and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper was educated in Alton? Alan Titchmarsh and Hugh Dennis both live in the local area.