History & Heritage

Andover is situated alongside the A303 and sits by the River Anton. Historic towns such as Winchester and Salisbury are within a 17 miles radius.

Andover's first mention in history is in 950 when King Edred is recorded as having built a royal hunting lodge there. In 962 King Edgar called a meeting of the Saxon 'parliament' (the Witenagemot) at his hunting lodge near Andover.

Of more importance was the baptism, in 994 of a Viking King named Olaf (allied with Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard). The identity of that man was either Olav Trygvason or Olof Skötkonung. The baptism was part of a deal with King Ethelred II of England ("The Unready") whereby he stopped ravaging England and returned home. Olav Tryggvason became king of Norway in 995 and tried to convert his country to Christianity before his death in the Battle of Svolder in 1000. Olof Skötkonung was already king of Sweden and became its first Christian king and began c. 995 to mint Sweden's first coins with the help of English expertise.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Andover had 107 adult male inhabitants and probably had a total population of about 500. It was a relatively large settlement; most villages had only 100 to 150 people. Andover also had six watermills which ground grain to flour. The town's relative isolation implies a market for grain and flour.

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In 1175 Andover bought a royal charter granting certain townspeople rights and forming a merchant guild which took over local governance; guild members elected two officials (bailiffs) who ran the town. In 1201 King John gave the merchants the right to collect royal taxes in Andover themselves. In 1256 Henry III gave the townspeople the right to hold a court and try criminals for offences committed in Andover. Andover also sent MPs to the parliaments of 1295 and 1302–1307.

During the 18th century, being on the main ExeterSalisbury – London road, the place became a refuelling or overnight stop for stagecoaches and other passing trade. More than 30 coaches passed through the town each day. In 1789 a canal to Southampton was opened, though this was never a commercial success and closed in 1859. In 1836 the Borough established a small police force: for the most part two constables and a gaoler.

During the 19th century the town acquired all the usual additions: a theatre in 1803, gas street lighting in 1838, a fire station and cottage hospital in 1877, a swimming pool opened in 1885 and a recreation ground opened in 1887. A water company was formed in 1875 to provide piped water to the town and a system of sewers and drains was built in 1899–1902. The public library opened in 1897. Despite this burgeoning of the amenities of the town, in 1845-6 a notorious scandal brought to light evidence of beatings, sexual abuse and general mistreatment of workhouse inmates by the overseers. The enquiry and public reaction led indirectly to the Poor Law Act, principally involving segregation of a now-obligatory infirmary for local people from the workhouse for the able-bodied, but also better governance. The town was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835.

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The woollen industry had declined but new industries took its place. Taskers Waterloo Ironworks opened at Anna Valley in 1809 and flourished. Many examples of the machinery produced by Taskers can be seen at the Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

The town's largest employer is the Ministry of Defence. RAF Andover was opened on Andover Airfield, to the south of the town, during the First World War and became the site of the RAF Staff College.

In 1926, the Andover War Memorial Hospital was opened by Field Marshall Allanby. The hospital currently provides inpatient rehabilitation, day hospital services, a minor injury unit and an outpatient unit, and is operated by Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with some services being provided by Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.

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Major industries include Twinings the tea and coffee firm, Ducal Pine Furniture (until they closed in 2003), Thomson International Publishers, who produce the Pitkin Guides to be found in many churches and other notable buildings, financial institutions such as Simplyhealth and Lloyds Banking Group, and the Stannah Group, whose HQ is also in the town. Among the proposals in the council's Borough Local Plan 2006 are plans to develop the former site of RAF Andover to Class B1, B2 and B8 uses. This site has been partially developed and is named Andover Business Park. The business park currently houses a Co-op Food Distribution centre, Rich Foods Factory, Costa Coffee Drive Thru, Pure Gym, Travelodge and the Chalkhill Blue pub.

 

Andover has a purpose-built arts and entertainment venue owned & managed by Test Valley Borough Council called The Lights. This hosts professional artists throughout the year. The venue has a 249 fully raked auditorium, a business suite, a dance studio and a craft studio. The Lights has attracted international artists such as Michael McIntyre.

The War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance, St Mary's Churchyard, Andover is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural Interest: a well-crafted stone memorial by Herbert Cowley; * Historic Interest: unusually, the date reads 1914-1920, reflecting the years in which the town sustained casualties which could be attributed to the war; strong cultural and historical significance, both locally and nationally, and an eloquent witness to the impact of tragic world events on this community.

The memorial was unveiled on 5 May 1920 by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Major-General JEB Seely. It was designed by the architect Herbert Cowley and constructed by Harry Page at the Angel Yard works in Andover. The memorial bears the names of 214 men who fell in the Great War and, unusually, the date reads 1914-1920. This reflects the years in which the town sustained casualties which could be attributed to the war, the last man listed being Captain Frederick Owen Maynard of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) who died of malaria in Egypt on the 12th January 1920.

Initially, in 1919, the Municipal Council proposed to commemorate the Fallen of the First World War in the same manner as those who served in the Boer War – with a memorial tablet inside the Guildhall. Plans for a more public monument emerged soon after, however, and this was paid for by public subscription. The War Memorial was originally located in Andover High Street, outside the courtyard of the Guildhall, and was moved to its present site in St Mary's churchyard in 1956. Flanking walls, with plaques bearing the names of the Fallen from the Second World War, have been erected later, either side of the memorial.

The Town Museum (Andover Museum and Museum of the Iron Age), based in the former John Hanson Free School building, has a Museum of the Iron Age which was added in 1986 and houses the finds from excavations at nearby Danebury hillfort.

A blue heritage plaque is situated on Andover High St marking Reg Presley singer and songwriter of the band The Troggs, marking the building where the band played and rehearsed.