New Alresford

New Alresford

Coordinates: 51°05′27″N 1°09′40″W / 51.0907°N 1.1612°W / 51.0907; -1.1612

New Alresford
Alresford town centre.jpg
Broad Street, New Alresford
New Alresford is located in Hampshire
New Alresford

 New Alresford shown within Hampshire
Population 5,102 [1]
OS grid reference SU 58 32
District Winchester
Shire county Hampshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district SO24
Dialling code 01962
Police Hampshire
Fire Hampshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Winchester
List of places: UK • England • Hampshire

New Alresford or simply Alresford (pronounced Allsford) is a small town and civil parish in the City of Winchester district of Hampshire, England. It is situated some 12 km north-east of the city of Winchester and 20 km south-west of the town of Alton. In the 2001 census, Alresford had a population of 5,102.

New Alresford is linked to Alton by the Mid Hants Watercress Railway, a steam worked heritage railway and served by Alresford railway station.



There is evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age occupation on numerous sites in the Alresford area, with a Roman or Romano-British site on nearby Fobdown and to the south-east of the town in Bramdean. There is evidence of a grant to the Church at Winchester sometime before the 9th century, which became known as the Liberty of Alresford. Alresford was listed in the Domesday Book but this probably refers to what is now Old Alresford as there is no evidence of a settlement south of the river at this time.

New Alresford was founded in the 12th/13th century, the idea originally being that of Henri de Blois, the Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen of England. The design of the T-shaped town (originally named Novum Forum) was followed by de Blois' successor Godfrey de Lucy. Alresford was one of the Bishop's six new towns and was his most profitable plantation—his palace was situated in nearby Bishop Sutton, perhaps less than a mile distant.The medieval stone bridge he built at this time is still in place. This expansion also involved the construction of the Great Weir between New Alresford and Old Alresford, creating Old Alresford Pond. This remarkable period in the town's history even included the construction of one of the oldest canal systems in England, based on the River Itchen.

New Alresford quickly became established as a prosperous market town, focussed on the wool, leather and the other products from sheep and cattle; in the 14th century Alresford was one of the top five sheep market towns of England. Alresford sent two members to parliament until the population was reduced by the Black Death. The town quickly picked up the label as a dangerous place to live due to the uncommonly frequent fires which razed it; much of the medieval town was destroyed by a fire in 1689 that destroyed 117 houses in the town as well as the Church and Market House. Much of the town was rebuilt in the 18th century, with many of the Georgian buildings remaining today.

In the spring of 1644, the Battle of Cheriton took place on Cheriton Down, reaching the outskirts of Alresford. Defeated Royalists set fire to houses in the town as they withdrew.

A turnpike linking London to the Channel ports (now the A31) was built in 1753, passing through the town.

During the late 18th century, Alresford Cricket Club was one of the strongest sides in England.

A plaque on the wall of a public toilets, close to the railway station, commemorates that occasionally secret military documents, obtained by members of the 'Portland Spy Ring' in the early 1960s, were left here for collection.

Famous people

Alresford was the birthplace of artist Graham Ovenden and novelist and dramatist Mary Russell Mitford (1787–1855) who lived at 27 Broad street until the age of ten. The noted actor-manager Francis Robert Benson (1866–1939) spent his childhood in nearby Langton House. The cricket commentator John Arlott resided in Alresford during the 1950s and 60s. Alexa Chung, model and presenter, attended Perins Secondary School, as well as Russell Howard, comedian. Formula One racing driver Derek Warwick is from a local family. David Lloyd George's great great grandson David Lloyd George was the UK's prime minister during the first world war. Kate Walsh, runner up on the 2009 series of The Apprentice and presenter on Live from Studio Five also resides in Alresford.


There are six primary and one secondary school in the Alresford area with a total of 140 staff and over 2,000 pupils – (pupil numbers as of 2004 in brackets)

Perins School (1,140) – secondary. This school is a community sports college and secondary school. The school was granted specialist status for leading the field in the area of sports within Hampshire. This enabled Perins to open and complete a new state of art gym open to the public.


Alresford holds a number of community events throughout the year. Several are organised by or with New Alresford Town Council (NATC). All events which are held in the main streets within the original town (Broad Street, East Street, West Street) require the permission of the New Alresford Town Trust (NATT – a registered charity which preserves the town's traditional rights of access, to fairs and to street markets, preserves old documents and buildings, and runs a community minibus). A fee for street usage is usually payable by organisers, which helps in the Trust's other works, including running the local minibus which serves the elderly and disabled. A number of events are organised by The Alresford Pigs Association, which raises money in the local area for those in need, and by the local Rotary (such as the annual November 5 Fireworks at Arlebury Park), and by the town council.

The Watercress Festival

The town is famed for its production of watercress and, once a year, holds a festival on the third Sunday in May. There is a street market with locally made food on sale and usually cookery demonstrations. From 2006–8, Antony Worrall Thompson was the celebrity chef. Both north-south and east-west main roads are closed to traffic for the event, with diversions and parking clearly signposted. Entry is Free. During the Watercress Festival, the town welcomes visitors and opens a number of attractions and places of interest. The Millennium Trail at the north end of Broad Street offers a walk along a River Itchen tributary from Alresford Pond (a wildlife reserve) to The Eel House (a working migratory eel capturing sluice house restored under the umbrella of New Alresford Town Trust by a specially formed company headed by the late David Goodman.

Alresford Show

This is one of the most important agricultural shows in England which takes place on the first Saturday in September. Animals are shown, flowers and vegetables are judged, there is horsejumping and other entertainment. The Alresford Pigs organise the car parking and entry points. Alresford Rugby Club steward parking. Entry is chargeable.

Alresford fair

A one-day street fair takes place on the 11 October (Old Michaelmas Day) or the first Thursday thereafter. This surprisingly large traditional English funfair, run by Wall & Son, arrives on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning and sets up in Broad Street. The fair lasts from 3pm – 11pm and has to be gone by dawn on Friday. The main north-south road of Alresford (Broad Street) is closed to traffic. Pedestrian entry is Free.

Bonfire night

Organised by the local Rotary Club and usually held on 5 November. Traditionally the firework display is preceded by a torchlit procession starting in Broad Street making its way along West Street and up Pound Hill into Arlebury Park, the venue for the firework display. The display is always well attended with proceeds donated to local, national and international causes. Each year a 'Guy' is burned following tradition, with the Guys made by local schoolchildren.

Arrival of Father Christmas

The arrival of Father Christmas is a joint effort led by the Father Christmas Committee. This takes place in Broad Street near a large Christmas Tree erected annually. A carol service with music provided by Perins Community School's orchestra precedes the arrival. The Alresford Pigs create the secret process by which Father Christmas arrives. He has arrived in World War 2 NAAFI van driven by Wallace and Gromit and in a Thunderbirds, helicopter, fire engine, Open-top bus etc. This is followed by Father Christmas giving presents to children in his grotto. The presents are organised by the Father Christmas Committee. Money donated by the crowd at each year's event goes back in to the pot for the next year.

The Duck Race

The Duck Race is organised by the Alresford Pigs every two years during the summer (it was last held on June 14, 2009). It brings the community out to watch several (decoy)duck races, each race and duck is sponsored by a local family or business. This is the most notable fundraising event organised by The Alresford Pigs.


One charity fundraising group in Alresford is The Alresford Pigs Association. As well as organising a number of events, they also erect and light over 100 Christmas trees on buildings in the three main streets receiving income from the businesses and house occupiers for this service. Over their 30 years of existence they have raised more than £250,000. This is in addition to the work of other local associations including the Rotary Club of Alresford and Women's Institute.

The New Alresford Town Trust was constituted in 1890 and is a direct descendant of the medieval local government system begun by King Edward I in 1302, when he made a grant of pavage (the right to collect tolls for the paving of streets) to a bailiff and "good men" in the town.

Today the Trust maintains the Avenue and the Old Fire Station in Broad Street as well as running a minibus for elderly and disabled residents. In addition to receiving various grants and donations, the Trust owns ancient rights which allow it to collect income from markets and events in Broad Street including the regular Thursday Market.

Rail transport

Alresford is at the southern end of the Watercress Line (officially the Mid-Hants Railway). This heritage railway line runs steam and diesel trains, and gains its name from the fact that it used to be the line that took watercress up to London. The other end of the heritage line is Alton, which is also the end of the current Alton-London Waterloo line, making it possible (if expensive) to take the train from Alresford to London: steam to Alton, and then modern train into London.

Itchen Valley brewery

The Itchen Valley brewery was founded in New Alresford in 1997.[2] The brewery produces a range of cask ales [3] and a selection of beers which until early 2006 were bottle conditioned by Gales Brewery.


External links

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