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Population – At the time of the 2011 YouGov census, the population of Alton was 18,261.
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Anyone moving to Alton might not on first inspection think the town hid such a turbulent and brutal past, but picturesque Alton has been at the centre of some remarkable and even grizzly events.
The first settlement was Anglo-Saxon in origin and the name Alton stems from the Anglo-Saxon tongue meaning ‘the village near a spring’. In 1995 two local metal detectorists searching nearby farmland uncovered the ‘Alton Hoard’, 256 gold slaters dating back to the Iron Age and depicting the head of Tincomarus (the name translates as ‘the big fish’), an early chieftain. At the time the hoard was valued at over £250,000.
In 1001 the first Battle of Alton occurred when a great Viking army was met by the forces of Wessex. The larger Danish force won despite suffering more casualties and the men of Wessex fled to their stronghold at Winchester.
60 years later, with Viking dominance on the wane, the Normans (who were themselves descended from Viking settlers) claimed the English throne and in 1086 Alton was important enough to appear in William the Conqueror’s record of England, the Domesday Book.
After William’s son William Rufus died, (the hugely unpopular William was shot in the back by an arrow in a hunting ‘accident’ in the New Forest), his brother Henry who was with him raced to Winchester and declared himself King. A third brother, Robert Duke of Normandy wasn’t happy. Robert had been fighting a crusade in the Holy Land but was considered by many as the next in line to the throne. When he returned to England Henry had already cemented his place as King and had the support of the nobles. The two men met at Alton and signed a treaty, Henry would give his brother his lands in Normandy and 3,000 marks a year. But just a year later Henry invaded Normandy, defeated his brother and threw him in prison where he died. Not the finest example of ‘brotherly love’.
By the 13th century, Alton was a bustling market town and in 1307 was granted a charter to hold a fair. This annual trade event made it an important settlement bringing wealthy merchants to the town. Trading sheep, brewing beer, weaving, all brought prosperity and peace over the next 3 centuries, until once again things kicked off.
On the 13th of December 1643, during the English Civil War, Royalist troops under the command of Lord Crawford were occupying Alton. Crawford’s men watched the main roads for signs of the enemy but a Parliamentary force of 5,000 men led by William Waller had the temerity (and wits) to travel on smaller roads and attacked the town. Crawford and his cavalry fled leaving Sir Richard Bolle and over 700 infantrymen trapped in St Lawrence’s Church, surrounded and besieged. Despite putting up a fight, Sir Richard’s men were forced to surrender, the church still bears scars and bullet holes from the battle. Two decades later the town was struck by the Plague and a number of the population, which had reached over 1,000, perished.
By 1851 the population had recovered and surpassed 3,500, it would reach 5,000 by 1900. Alton had built a reputation for making paper, an industry that required large amounts of water, fed from the river. In 1865 the railway arrived, bringing goods and passengers passing on their way between London and Southampton.
Worth mentioning are two notable residents who became famous for very different reasons. The first was Jane Austen who wrote a number of her novels while living in the town. Her house is now a visitor centre. The second was 8-year-old Fanny Adams. Adams was brutally murdered in 1867 by local clerk Frederick Baker. The sensationalist daily newspapers reported (in grizzly detail) how her body was found dismembered. By coincidence the navy (never ones to shun a dark joke) weren’t happy about the invention of new tinned rations containing meat of dubious provenance. The sailors soon took to referring to the meat, or lack of it, as ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’. Her grave lies in Alton Cemetery.
Alton Removals Company
Whether you are moving to or from Alton, or beyond, we pride ourselves on making the experience as hassle-free and streamlined as possible. With over 160 years of experience as a leading UK removal company, our personable, expert removals team will take the stress out of moving home or office.
The benefits of hiring a local removals firm in Alton.
Secure Household Storage in Alton
Are you a homeowner requiring long or short term household storage for furniture and personal effects for which you no longer have room? Do you need secure flexible household storage at short notice, with the minimum of fuss?
With our multiple, large, secure purpose-built Hampshire storage facilities located in Aldershot, Farnborough and Petersfield, we can cater for all your storage needs. We can also arrange to collect and storage your belongings on your behalf. Please visit our Storage Service for further details.
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Of course, it’s not just the calibre of our personnel that matters. We are also proud of our modern fleet of specialised removal vehicles, lifting equipment, packaging and dedicated storage facilities to help us best cater to all your storage requirements.