Alton is a pleasant and healthy market town, situate on the high road from London to Southampton. It is about a mile in length and consists of one principal street of well built houses, which presents to the eye of the traveller a clean and cheerful if not elegant appearance. It has a plain but neat parish church, 2 meeting houses for dissenters, a free school for 20 boys and an excellent house of industry where a manufactory of calico is carried on. The river Wye rises at the distance of half a mile N.W . of the town which it crosses and falls into the Thames at Weybridge in Surrey. here are two extensive breweries and Alton beer ahs ben in great repute for many years. The growth of hops on the environs has also been pursued with such success that they may now be said to vie in some degree with those of Farnham. The principal manufactuers at present are those of bombazineen, sarsnets and shawls. The population is ccomputed at 2500.

Market Days and Fairs: The market is held on Saturday chiefly for corn; and there are 2 annual fairs viz. the Saturday preceeding May 1st and September 29th.

Post: Letters for London are taken in every day except Saturday till nine o’clock in the evening and delivered at 8 in the morning.

Inns: The Swan for families and the Crown for travellers.

Coaches,Waggons etc. Colliers Alton Coach from the Bell Savage Ludgate Hill, 3 times a week. A Southampton coach passes daily Sundays excepted to and from the same inn;also a Gosport dilligence daily to the White Horse Fetter-lane. Knight’s waggons leaves the New Inn, Old Bailey every Tuesday and Friday morning and arrives at Alton every Thursday and Saturday evening. Falkner and Lamport’s Farnham and Alton waggon leaves the George, Snows-hill every Tuesday and Friday and other waggons pass through the town almost every day.

Gentlemen’s Seats: Chawton (T. Couthard esq) 1 mile; Froyle (Sir T Milller Bart) 3 miles; Marelands (Lord Stawell) 5 miles;Rotherfield Park (B. Newland Esq) 5 miles; Herriard (Col.Jervis) 6 miles and Basing Park ( Rev C. Gore) 7 miles.

Literary Characters etc. The late William Curtis celebrated for his botanical works and John Pitts the famous biographer were born at Alton; Dr Rennell of the Temple,resides at the vicarage during the summer season; and Mr J Graves a famous mathematician and literary character was born at Colmere about 6 miles distant.

About 2 miles from Alton are some small remains of a supposed Roman road called Bonham’s Causeway; and a few vestiges of tumuli are scattered in different directions.

Alton is 8 miles distant from Odham, 9 from Farnham, 10 from Alresford, 11 from Basingstoke, 12 from Petersfield, 17 from Winchester 29 from Southampton and 47 from London.

Text : Crosby’s Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales and Traveller’s Companion etc., (1807) Published by B Crosby and Co, Stationer’s-Court, Ludgate Street, London.

(NOTE : this was the same firm of publishers, owned by Benjamin Crosby, who bought the copyright of Northanger Abbey, then known by the title “Susan”, in 1803 for £10 but never published it. Jane Austen eventually purchased the manuscript back from them . The correspondence between them included her famous letter of April 5, 1809 which she wrote under the pseudonym of Mrs Ashton Dennis thus enabling her to end the letter with the following phrase, I AM GENTLEMEN, MAD.)

Map: Section from Hampshire (1793) by John Cary

Jane Austen References

Francis William Austen, Jane Austen’s brother periodically lived at Alton between 1809 and 1816. Henry Austen, Jane Austen’s brother was a partner of the banking firm of Austen, Gray and Vincent which had premises at 10 High Street, Alton.

The Letters

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 15th June 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated June 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 1st october 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 7th october 1808

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 10th january 1809

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 29th may 1811

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 6th June 1811

Letter Anna Austen dated 31st October 1812

Letter to Martha Lloyd dated 29th November 1812

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 24th January 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 4th February 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 9th February 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 15th September 1813

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 13th June 1814

Letter to Anna Austen dated 29th September 1815

Letter to John Murray dated 11th December 1815

Letter to Caroline Austen dated 21st April 1816

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 4th September 1816

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 8th September 1816

Letter to Caroline Austen dated 23rd January 1817

Letter to Fanny Knight dated 13th March 1817

Letter to Fanny Knight dated 23rd march 1817

Letter to Anne Sharp dated 22nd May 1817

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