History of Alton, Southampton, England

In writing this sketch of Alton, William Curtis intended to trace Alton's history as far as possible from the earliest ages to the present time.

The town of Alton stands in the north-eastern portion of Southampton County, and was later placed in the Eastern, or Petersfield, Parliamentary Division. It was situated in a purely agricultural district, 47 miles distant from London, 12 from Aldershot, 9 from Farnham, 18 from Winchester, 30 from Southampton and Portsmouth, 12 from Petersfield, 11 from Basingstoke, and 8 from Odiham.

Taking the origin of the name itself, there have been two opinions with regard to it. The older and more commonly received derivation is from the Anglo-Saxon, eald, old, and tun, a town; or simply old town.

But in Lewis' Topographical Dictionary it states that "A " in Alton, or Aulton in Hants, is not, as has been assumed, the old town, but the town on the "Awel," the name of the river, or as Kemble says, "of the head springs of a river."

In Memorials of a Quiet Life, by Augustus Hare, it says, Saxon, ea-wal-ton, "the place of beautiful springs," corrupted to Awltoun (Domesday Book), hence Alton.

It was formerly spelt in a variety of ways: Aulton, Aultone, Altone, Aweltone, and Eweltune.

In early days it was no doubt a very small place, and of minor importance to Neatham in King Alfred's time, as Alton was in the Hundred of Neatham.

Table of Contents:

Alton Origin of the Name
Polling Districts
Ancient History
Hundred of Neatham
Alton governed by Bailiffs and Burgesses
District of Alton the resort of Robbers
Tenure of Land
Translations of Documents connected with Alton
Royalty at Alton
Canterbury Pilgrims
Land bought by Winchester College
The Civil War
Preface to History of Church
The Parish Church of St. Lawrence
The Vicars of Alton
Parish Registers
The Church and Parochial Customs from 1600
Ecclesiastical History
All Saints' Church
The Order of St. Paul
Alton Town Lands and Charities
Charitable Donations to the Poor of Alton
The Cemetery
The Old Map of Alton, etc.
Alton in the Seventeenth Century
Stocks and Turnpike Gates
Macadamized Roads
French Prisoners
General Description of the Town
Grammar School
National Schools
British Schools
The Friends
The Congregationalists
The Wesleyans
The Baptists
The Brethren
The Salvation Army
Town Hall
Philanthropic Hall
Assembly Rooms
Mechanics' Institution
The Queen's Coronation
The Prince and Princess of Wales' Wedding
The Railway
The Volunteers
The Alton Volunteer Rifle Corps
Volunteer Fire Brigade
Paper Mills
Police Station
Gas Works
Post Office
Building Firm
Cottage Hospital
Nursing Societies
Urban District Council
Infectious Hospital
Recreation Ground
Messrs. Vaus and Crampton's Works
Friendly Societies
Constitutional Club
Local Celebrities
A Tempest
Geology of Alton
Local Birds
Local Quadrupeds
Flora of Alton

List Of Illustrations

Plate to face page
I. Alton from Windmill Hill, 1896
II. The Hundreds of Hantshire, 1600
III. St. Lawrence Church, 1830
IV. St. Lawrence Church, 1896
V. St. Lawrence Church. " Under the Belfry "
VI. Interior of St. Lawrence looking East, 1867
VII. Fresco Paintings, XIV Century
VIII. Jacobean Pulpit and Lectern
IX. Interior of St. Lawrence Church looking West, 1867
X. Plan of Church Sittings, 1815
XL All Saints' Church, 1896
XII. Old Map of Alton, 1666
XIII. Old Swan Inn, 1845
XIV. Tanhouse Lane, 1844
XV. Vicarage Hill
XVI. The Alton Machine, 1750
XVII. High Street, Alton, 1896
XVIII. The Public Buildings, 1896
XIX. Eggar's Grammar School, about 1820
XX. William Curtis, Founder of Mechanics' Institution and Museum
XXI. William Curtis, the Botanist, 1800

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Source: Curtis, William. A short history and description of the town of Alton in the county of Southampton; published 1896, Winchester: Warren & Son; London, Simpkin & Co., Limited.

Alton was divided into five Manors :

The Manor of Alton Eastbrook.
The Manor of Alton Westbrook.
The Manor of Chauntsingers.
The Manor of Truncheaunts.
The Manor of Anstey.