Alton,  Hampshire

Alton has a very pleasant Georgian feel to it, having retained many of its attractive 18th century houses. Many of them also have associations with Jane Austen since Alton is the nearest town to the village of Chawton, Jane Austen's final home. She frequently visited Alton and the associations have been well researched and documented by Jane Hurst. Her booklet gives much more detail than is given here, see bottom of page.

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The Butts, an open area of land at the southern edge of Alton which Jane Austen would pass on the way into town from Chawton. In her time the only house was Butts House, the right-most red house in the picture, and in close-up in the next picture. Built 1730. Modern porch.

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'Baverstocks', 106-112 High Street, was a single property in Jane Austen's time. It was owned by the Baverstock family and let by her Royal Navy brother Frank Austen for two years. Modern shop fronts but mid-18th century doorcase.

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'Swathmore', 59 High Street, was also owned by the Baverstock family and probably built for them around 1769. They brought a law suit together with John Knight Hinton against Jane's brother Edward Knight (Austen) for his Hampshire property which failed.
The house is also associated with Cardinal Newman; a plaque on the wall reads "John Henry Newman, later cardinal, lived here with his parents 1816-1819" 

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'Lansdowne House', 74 High Street, was owned by Mr. Newnham, apothecary and surgeon, when visited by Jane Austen and her friend Miss Beckford.  C18, five bays with a pedimented three-bay projection. The pediment is nicely decorated. Doorway with Tuscan columns and pediment. (Pevsner)

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31 Lenten Street consists of Rose Cottage and The Old House which have been occupied as both one and two properties. Rose Cottage on the left is an early 19th century extension to the larger 17/18th century property. The mullioned windows are 19th century.
In 1808-10 the family of Frank Austen, Jane's brother, lived in Rose Cottage (consisting of both buildings) while he was abroad. His son Francis was born here in 1809.

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'Weybourne House', 23 Lenten Street, is 18th century but with a 19th century addition on the right. It was rented in 1809-11 by Henry Digweed and family and was visited by Jane Austen.

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25 Lenten Street is the birthplace of the botanist William Curtis, see plaque. The house dates from 17/18th century with 19th century extension to the left.

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'Hill House', 1 High Street, belonged to the Terry family, old acquaintances of Jane Austen, and she was a visitor here. A handsome, elegant house dating from the 17th century. Rendered front, brick sidewalls and tile hung gables. Late 18th century porch. Sash windows with glazing bars, including the 'Georgian Gothic' window at the side.

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4 High Street, 18th century. This was the residence of William Curtis, surgeon, who attended Jane Austen in her last illness before she went to Winchester.

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6 High Street was owned by the Coulthards, acquaintances of Jane Austen.
No. 6 is quite stately and must be early C18. Three storeys, segment-headed windows. The Venetian windows on the ground floor must be a later alteration. (

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10 High Street. Jane Austen's brother Henry had the Alton branch of his bank here in 1806-12. It then moved to number 34 which has since been pulled down and rebuilt.

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The Swan Hotel in the High Street. 18th century. In Jane Austen's day Collyer's Coach left from The Swan for London and Southampton and in her letters she makes reference to sending parcels 'by Collier'.

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89 High Street. 18th century, stuccoed with slate roof. Eaves cornice of Gothic arches. Altered in early 19th century and later. The windows are strikingly similar to those of 31 Lenten Street above. In the 19th century the house belonged to the Dyers, builders who did much work in the area, including Chawton Church. An earlier generation did work on Chawton Cottage in Jane Austen's time.

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Town Hall in the Market Square. Erected by public subscription in 1813, so Jane Austen would have known it. Enlarged 1840 and subsequently.

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'Bawpins', No. 7 Cross & Pillory Lane. 17th century, with front altered in 18th century. Timber-framed, stuccoed plinth, colour washed brick. Central door flanked by single bay windows rising through 2 storeys. Stone stringcourse at first floor level. Central small stone mullioned casement window with leaded lights. (From Hampshire Treasures).

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Almshouses in Church Street, founded in 1653 by Thomas Geale, a captain in Cromwell's army.

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16th century building off the High Street by the Northern River Wey (whose source is at Alton). It was part of the lodging ranges of the George Inn and the timber in it has been dated to 1501. At that time it was owned Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Ormonde. In Jane Austen's time the inn was owned by her brother Edward Knight (Austen).

St Lawrence Church


Jane Austen and Alton, the booklet by Jane Hurst, is available at 2.50 + 50p p&p from the author at this address:
Mrs J Hurst, 82 The Butts, Alton, Hants, GU34 1RD.

Jane Austen's homes - the Astoft gallery, with links to other key websites on Jane Austen

Hampshire Treasures is a valuable source of information on the buildings of Hampshire and is the source of some of the building details above.


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All photographic images on this website are Copyright the Website owner 2001 or later unless otherwise stated. Email contact above. Full resolution originals are available for approved purposes.