Hampshire Treasures

Volume 1 ( Winchester City District)

Page 217 - Old Alresford

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In early times the estate known as Alresford covered a large tract of land before the Liberty of Alresford was formed. When the Bishop of Winchester planned his new town at Alresford in the Middle Ages, Old Alresford declined in importance as New Alresford became popular as a market town and a halting-place along the main road from Winchester to London. A chapel which had been built by Bishop Henry de Blois and granted to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in about 1170 was later converted into a dwel ling, and other early buildings may also have decayed as Old Alresford declined.

During the Commonwealth period Colonel Richard ("idle Dick") Norton lived at Old Alresford House and entertained Oliver Cromwell on several occasions. George Wither (1588Ñ1667) poet and Puritan military commander referred to Alresford Pond in his poem "Fair Virtue". There is a window to his memory in Old Alresford Church.

In the eighteenth century Old Alresford House was rebuilt (about 1752) by Admiral George Brydges Rodney, who was created Lord Rodney in 1793. The Church of St. Mary was built in 1753 on the site of an earlier church, and the tower dates from 1769.1t occupies a commanding site and was enlarged and altered to the Gothic style in 1862. A striking monument to the Rodney family is in the Rococo style of the mid-eighteenth century.

For thirty years during the last century the Rev. George Sumner was the Rector of the parish, and his wife Mary founded the Mothers' Union in 1875. The women's movement quickly caught the imagination of mothers throughout the country, and a national headquarters was later establ ished in London. Southdowns Children's Home, a branch of the National Children's Home and Orphanage is situated in the village.

Please use "Next page" to see Hampshire Treasures entries for Old Alresford.

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