Hampshire Treasures

Volume 1 ( Winchester City District)

Page 193 - New Alresford

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New Alresford was one of the Bishop of Winchester's six planned "new towns". In the pre-Conquest period the main London/Winchester road ran along the north boundary of Tichborne Parish. The bishop's newly founded town attracted the road to the north of its previous position. New Alresford was the most valuable of the bishop's plantations. He already had a strong local interest at Bishop's Sutton where he had a residence. King John granted Godfrey de Lucy, the then bishop, a market, fair and river mills circa 1200 thus attracting new settlers to the town. By the early decades of the thirteenth century over forty burgesses were attracted to the town, and the bishop had provided a market hall, and rebuilt the fulling mill. In the later thirteenth century Bishop de Lucy was credited with having turned the Itchen into a navigable canal. Alresford Pond would have provided a head of water for this enterprise as well as a source of power for a number of mills.

In the fourteenth century the town was one of the country's ten greatest wool markets, a collecting centre for the downland east and north east of Winchester. The street layout of the mediaeval town was straightforward and remains, in its ground plan, as it was in the thirteenth century, with the spacious market place, now Broad Street, at right angles to the main road from Winchester.

The town suffered numerous fires in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one of which is said to have been started by Royalist troops retreating from the Battle of Cheriton. The worst fire occurred in 1689 when the church was severely damaged and not many buildings survived the disaster.

Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1855) essayist, novelist and drama tist was born, and lived until she was ten years old, at 37 Broad Street. Her most notable book is Our Village (about Three Mile Cross, Berkshire); she also wrote Recollections of a Literary Life, Rienzi, Belford, and Atherton.

Langton House was the childhood home of Francis R Benson (1866-1939) the actor-manager.

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