Alresford (pronounced "ALLS-ford") is a country market town on the River Arle in Hampshire.
Although the overall look of Alresford is that of a Georgian market town, the area is believed to have been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The settlement of the locality began with the village of Old Alresford, mentioned in the Domesday Book. In the late 12th century, a "Great Weir" was constructed to create Old Alresford Pond, and at this point a (comparatively) new settlement sprang up alongside: this second town isknown as "New Alresford", although it is over 800 years old. Locals refer to it as simply "Alresford", only adding the prefix in the case of Old Alresford, which remains a sleepy but picturesque little village.
Today, in many ways Alresford is the quintessential English small country town, with the friendly atmosphere and English traditions maintained throughout the ages. This "vibe" is owed in part to the fact that it is sufficiently inconvenient for commuters to London that the demographic of the town is mostly families and retirees, many of whom have lived there for generations. Young people who grow up in the town frequently move away for their career, then return to start a family. As a result, there is a strong sense of community, and a warmth towards visitors and locals.
The oldest and most picturesque part of the town is where Broad Street meets East Street and West Street. These three streets are lined with beautiful Georgian townhouses and shops.
The 64 (Winchester to Alton) runs though Alresford twice an hour and the 67 (Winchester to Petersfield) runs through Alresford every two hours.
Timetables are available on the Stagecoach Bus website.
Winchester has bus, rail and National Express links to all over the country. Alton has rail and bus links.
By steam train
One of Alresford's main attractions is the Watercress Line, a preserved railway which runs from Alresford to Alton, and has a number of special events throughout the year. Alton has direct trains to London Waterloo running at least hourly, half-hourly during most of the day. There are also bus links to Guildford (65) and Basingstoke (28/X28).
Alresford is a small town, and its attractions are concentrated into a fairly small area. As a result, walking is the easiest mode of transport. If you have a car, it's best to park at Station Yard, Perins School, Broad Street (except Thursday, which is Market Day), West Street, or Arlebury Park.
- 1 Brandy Mount House. National Plant Collection of snowdrops.
- The Fulling Mill. Half-timbered mill.
- 2 The Grange, Northington. View the exterior of this 19th century Greek revival country house. free.
- Watercress Line (Mid Hants Railway) (5 miles east of Winchester on the A31. Accessible by road or by Stagecoach bus 64 (buses run twice per hour M-Sa and every two hours on Su; see Get around above for bus company details; alight at the Swan Hotel,), ☎ . Operates on Sa and Su from Apr-Oct, and some weekdays May-Sep. Steam-train running 10 miles (16 km) from New Alresford to Alton. The stations and trains are carefully restored to bring back the atmosphere of a Southern Railway journey in the first decades of the 20th century. £10 (adults); £9 (seniors); £5 (children)..
- Alresford Show. 1 Sept 2018: 9AM–6PM. Agricultural show.
- Watercress Festival. third Sun in May. Alresford was a major centre for watercress growing in Victorian times. The festival has market stalls, musical performances and a watercress eating competition.
Alresford has several boutiques along its three main streets, and a number of small specialist shops selling items such as antiques, china, pictures and food.
Souvenirs of the town, including tea trays, mugs and calendars, can be bought at the Alresford Gift Shop, and antique photographs of the town can be purchased from Alresford Heritage, through Oakleaf Stationary Shop, 56 West Street, Alresford.