A NEW history of Alresford,has just been published by the local Historical and Literary Society.

It was launched at a meeting of the society in St John’s church on Wednesday evening, March 16, when the editor, Professor Brian Tippett, spoke about ‘Taking a Fresh Look at Alresford’s History’, after which many of the 90 members and guests present bought their first copies and had them signed.

Alresford through Time: A New History takes the reader from the town’s foundation in 1200 through many changes to the present day.

It describes key events with fresh insights, including the creation of the great Pond, the Battle of Cheriton, the devastating fire of 1689, the billeting of hundreds of French prisoners in Alresford during the Napoleonic wars, the agricultural riots of 1830, the coming of the railway, how Alresford fared in two world wars, the development of the Watercress Line and the town’s growing tourist appeal.

Hampshire Chronicle: The launch at St John's church in Alresford

In his opening remarks the editor illustrated the ways in which, although much has already been written about Alresford, there are new and sometimes surprising discoveries to be made. Henry Perin, the founder of the local school, turns out to be much more than an obscure country doctor but a man of considerable substance with a large house and business interests in Portsmouth. Sir Christopher Wren had a part in the rebuilding of Alresford by releasing building materials from Winchester’s unfinished royal palace after the great fire which destroyed almost all of the town. And it was thought at the time that the fire was started by saboteurs. Forgotten documents help bring to life events of the more recent past. A letter from one of the former American GIs billeted in Alresford while preparing for D-Day tells of sleeping on bunk beds in rooms over the local chemist’s shop and of chatting with the locals in one of Alresford’s many pubs where whisky was severely rationed even though the soldiers’ cookhouse in the Dean kept them well fed.

READ MORE: Double lung transplant patient to walk 100 miles to raise money for charity

The book, a substantial volume of 430 pages, is handsomely illustrated, recalls many interesting local figures, including the poet George Wither, who celebrated the beauty of the great Pond; Colonel Norton, Cromwell’s friend who fought at the Battle of Cheriton; Peter Heylyn, the Royalist Rector ejected from his parish; Admiral Rodney, Mary Russell Mitford, John Arlott and the Tichborne Claimant.

Hampshire Chronicle: Book cover

Prof Tippett, the book’s editor, was until his retirement a senior member of staff at King Alfred’s College where he helped lay the foundations for the conversion of the college into the University of Winchester.

Although he wrote much of the book himself, he was assisted by other contributors, including other members of the society and two former colleagues. The first chapter was written by the University’s Professor Barbara Yorke, renowned for her writings on Anglo-Saxon England, and the second by Edward Roberts who is well-known for his important research on ancient buildings in Hampshire.

Full sales details are given on the society’s website www.alresfordhistandlit.co.uk. The book is also available from local booksellers, Laurence Oxley and the Long Barn.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this story. We really appreciate your support.

Please help us to continue bringing you all the trusted news from your area by sharing this story or by following our Facebook page.

Kimberley Barber