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What to do when out and about in Andover

PUBLISHED: 09:51 27 January 2014 | UPDATED: 09:51 27 January 2014

Charlton Lakes by Angus Kirk

Charlton Lakes by Angus Kirk

Archant

The historic market town of Andover is perfectly positioned for those wanting a day out perusing the shops or time exploring the glorious Test Valley

Andover High Street by Angus KirkAndover High Street by Angus Kirk

A potted history

One of the Kings of Wessex built a hunting lodge on the spur of the River Anton in 962, calling it ‘aet Andefers’ – which is said to be where the name Andover most likely came from.

Nearby villages Thruxton and Ibthorpe, once known as ‘Thurkel’s’ and Ibba’s Farm, date back to 994 when Viking Olaf Tryggvasson was persuaded by King Aethelred to stop his raid on ‘Andover’ in return for protection money of £16,000. The agreement was sealed by a ceremony in the church where Olaf was baptised by Bishop Alphege of Winchester. Hostages were exchanged and Olaf returned to Norway to spread the news of Christianity.

Moving on to 1435 a fire burnt through the town, leaving only the church and priory. The oldest place in Andover is said to be the ‘Angel’ pub. Originally called the ‘College Inn’, it was owned by Winchester College but was totally destroyed by the fire and could not be rebuilt until 1582 due to a lack of funds.

You can discover all of the town’s history at The Andover Museum at 6 Church Close.

Food & drink

The White Hart on Bridge Street is a charming hotel and is a great destination for a quick coffee or meal. Its good pub grub with dishes on the menu including a giant home made Yorkshire pudding, traditional battered fish and chips and beef and ale pie. Go online to take a look at www.whitehartandoverpub.co.uk
Or you could try the rather swish Villagio in the Lower Guildhall. Pasta fans will enjoy their penne gorgonzola and, if you can eat a whole one to yourself, their pizzas are great. Try one with a chilli kick, like the pepperoni. Visit www.villagiorestaurants.co.uk
If you’re just after some coffee and cake try Willows on the High Street.

Shop till you drop

The award-winning Chantry Centre in the heart of Andover has over 60 shops and stores on one level. It was first opened in 1970 and underwent refurbishment in 1990. Shoppers can spend their money in New Look, Waterstones, Waitrose, Animal and The Body Shop, to name a few. There are some independent shops too; including home and vintage interiors shop La di da, which is on Bridge Street. Also on Bridge Street is Mooch, which stocks every kind of gift imaginable – from jewellery to candleholders as well as lovely clothing. There’s not so great news for foodies however, as there are no farmers’ markets planned in for 2014.

Out & about

For a Sunday stroll it’s very pleasant to take in the views and wildlife at Rooksbury Mill Nature Reserve. It’s accessed from Barlows Lane and there’s plenty of parking. Just down the road is the Hawk Conservancy. Get up close to some of the most amazing birds of prey and find out about the conservation projects the conservancy is involved in around the world. It’s a great day out for the family, with activities for the kids including ferret racing. Try the Feathers Restaurant too – it opened last year and serves great food. Visit www.hawk-conservancy.org
Also worth a visit is the Andover Museum in Church Close, which tells the story of the town and the surrounding villages. Then for a spot of culture there’s always something good on at The Lights, in January just two events include a wedding fair on the 26th and comedian Omid Djalili on the 29th and 30th. Visit www.thelights.org.uk for tickets.

My weekend in Andover

“I always love being in Andover on the day of the Farmers Market and Retailers Out and About Market,” says The Lights director Heather Whittam. “There’s always a great buzz around the High Street with fabulous live music in the Time Ring and all the local traders are so friendly.

“After grabbing a coffee at the lovely independent café Blue Onion which takes a prime position on the High Street, it is nice to wander just out of the town centre to have a stroll around the beautiful nature reserve at Rooksbury Mill, it is so tranquil and calming and hard to believe it is tucked away close to the centre of our town.

“For a late lunch, my first choice is always a drive down to Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge, a stunning deli, fishmongers and bistro, which in two years has become a real foody destination right in the heart of Test Valley.”

Getting around

The M3 is only 17 miles along the A303 or Salisbury can be reached by going in the opposite direction. The A34 is also close by, linking to the Midlands as well as the Hampshire coast. Andover has its own train station where you can get to Waterloo in just over an hour. There are regular bus services too, going from the bus station to the outlying villages as well as Salisbury.

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