You are here: Brief history
There is evidence on the downs north of Old Alresford for Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age occupation of the area. There is a Roman or Roman-British site at Fobdown.
In the sixth century King Cynegils gave land in the area to the church in Winchester. Two hundred years later there is evidence of the ‘Liberty of Alresford’ covering New and Old Alresford and Medstead.
By the Domesday Book in 1086 entries under ‘Alresford’ covered the three parishes. The Liberty of Alresford last until the middle of the nineteenth century when the three independent parishes were set up. The building of the Great Weir provided access to the main road from Winchester to London which ran through Old Alresford. As the Bishop of Winchester planned his new town of Novum Forum in the Middle Ages Old Alresford declined in importance with New Alresford becoming 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 dwelling; other early buildings may also have decayed as Old Alresford declined.
During the Commonwealth Colonel Richard Norton (‘Idle Dick’) lived at old Alresford House and entertained Oliver Cromwell on several occasions. George Wither (1588-1667), poet and Commonwealth military commander referred to Old Alresford Pond in his poem ‘Fair Virtue’. There is a window to his memory in the church.
The Rev Peter Heylyn, a distinguished theologian and historian was Rector in 1633. As a Royalist he was removed when the Commonwealth began after the execution of Charles I. He was restored after the Restoration in 1661.
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. It 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.
From 1851 to 1886 the Rev George Sumner (later Bishop of Guildford) was Rector of the parish and his wife Mary founded the Mothers Union in Old Alresford in 1875.
In the 1881 census some two thirds of householders listed were engaged in work connected with agriculture. Two clergymen are listed, a shopkeeper, a postman, two farmers, several farm bailiffs, six persons ‘living on their own means’ and the master of the orphanage in charge of 47 children.
The Village had a large number of thatched cottages until the 1960s by which time a number of ‘parish cottages’ had been condemned and rebuilt. Only three thatched cottages remain.
The Parish extends from The Globe public house in the south almost to Wield in the north. The main village is surrounded by farm land. The school closed in 1985, the village shop shortly afterwards.
As well as the central and most inhabited part of the Parish near the Village Green there are also settlements at Fobdown, Nettlebeds, Armsworth, Pinglestone and Upper and Lower Lanham.
The only industry within the parish is the operation at The Nythe on the Bighton road where watercress and salads are harvested and packed for the supermarkets. Watercress is also grown at Manor Farm by TWC and along the Little Weir. At Fobdown Vitacress has a similar operation harvesting watercress. There are four farm operations in the Parish (based at Fobdown, Upton, Upper Lanham and Lower Lanham).