10 things to do and facts you might not know about Overton
PUBLISHED: 12:18 13 May 2019
From banknotes to bunnies, good food and drink to ancient stories, this village has it all
Trouble at the mill
All is peaceful now but on November 18 1830 there was serious rioting outside the White Hart pub. Several hundred farm labourers marched through the village demanding better food and higher wages. A settlement was reached but despite this, many quit for manufacturing. Just 16 years later they discovered how precarious manufacturing could be when Overton Silk Mill, which employed a large number of women and children, closed down. "It is the greatest calamity that could befall the poor of this parish," lamented the rector.
Banking on notes
Almost everyone has a little piece of Overton in their pocket or wallet - because the village is where the banknote paper is made by De La Rue, for the Bank of England and 150 other countries. The original company was started in 1724 by a Huguenot refugee who obtained a contract to make banknote paper, and the company moved its business from Laverstoke Mill to Overton in 1922. In 1939 Bank of England staff were evacuated to the parish and housed in temporary buildings at Foxdown.
By the riverside
It rises about a mile east of Overton at Ashe and meanders its way through the parish to Southampton and the sea. Its waters have been diverted to create the mills to produce banknotes and silk. These chalk-bed waters are acknowledged as one off the world's finest places to catch trout and without the River Test, it's tempting to wonder just what Overton would be like now.
Walk this way
And why wouldn't you when you discover that Overton is now accredited as part of the Walkers Are Welcome scheme, which ensures that all those who like a hike will be greeted warmly. Villagers have designed a number of walks, taking you around and away from the village. The walks vary from 1.8 miles to over 10 miles and include ones that are buggy, wheelchair and dog friendly, relaxed landscapes, Little Meadow and the Flashetts.
The smallest food truck in the world
Dolly the 2CV has become a bit of a legend over the last year. Based in Overton, she has been converted into a tiny mobile food truck and mini bar, and tours festivals and events throughout the UK. She even has her own artist in residence!
In Richard Adams' Watership Down the ever-so slightly sinister warren of Efrafa was located near Overton, just north of the railway near Northington Farm. Efrafa was constructed around the crossing point of two bridleways and run with an iron paw, by rabbit General Woundwort.
West of Basingstoke, east of Andover, Overton is a big parish with an even bigger history. How big? Well, the Romans must have been pretty impressed with the place; they built a road here, evidence of which can still be detected in the parish's wonderfully straight northern boundary. Roman pottery shards have been found in Little Meadow and Roman coins have also been found at Foxdown. Before this there is plenty of fascinating evidence of Bronze Age activity on the parish's southern tip at Popham Beacons and remnants of the ancient drover's track, Harrow Way, to the north. The Saxons took a shine to it as well, building weirs and leats and providing enough water to power four mills which fired a prosperity which continues to this day.
Food and drink
Overton has four pubs providing lots of lovely things to eat and drink. Gastropub lovers will want to check out The Red Lion on the High Road whose San Francisco-trained chef is knocking up delectable modern pub grub. The Greyhound in Winchester Street has just launched a new menu, whereas the White Hart is part of the stylish Upham Brewery chain, offering locally-sourced food. The Old House at Home in Station Road, offers a grand selection of Thai and Asian food whereas the Overton Gallery and the Overton Coffee Shop will do you some excellent snacks and cakes.
If the sporting life is your thing you've got it made in Overton. They have more than 30 acres of space for sports including football and rugby clubs, cricket pitches, tennis courts, a nine hole golf course, the Overton Harriers athletics club and the Overton Black Arrows archery club. Those who love music, fun and cars should mark out the weekend of August 23-25 because that's when Car Fest south comes to nearby Laverstoke Park, raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for Children in Need. The Bombay Gin Distillery is close by at Laverstoke Mill and welcomes visitors and if you can wait another year, Overton's popular Sheep Fair returns in 2020.
To the letter
The village was already an important stagecoach post on the western route to London and in October 1805, one of the most important dispatches in history passed through. Lieutenant John Richards Lapenotiere was carrying the fateful letter telling of Lord Nelson's victory and his tragic death at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21. Archives show he stopped in Overton to change horses on his epic ride from Falmouth, which is commemorated in a plaque on the village library just off the High Street.
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