Andover in 1833
ANDOVER, a borough and parish in the N.W. part of the county of Hampshire, and on the border of the downs which stretch into Wiltshire. It is on the left bank of the river Anton, (a branch of the Tese, or Test, which falls into Southampton water,) and from its situation, gets the name of Andover, (Saxon, Andeafaran) i.e., ferry, or passage over the river Ande. It is 63 or 64 miles W.S.W. from London.
The three principal streets are well paved, but not lighted; the houses are well built, and the town is well supplied with water. The church is near the north end of it, and is a spacious structure, of very great antiquity, having existed as far back as the time of the Conqueror. At the west end is a fine semicircular, arched doorway, with zigzag mouldings. The living, a vicarage, with the chapelry of Foxcote annexed, is in the patronage of Winchester College. There are meeting-houses for Baptists, Quakers, Independents, and Methodists ; a free grammar school, with a school-house built and kept in repair by the corporation ; and an almshouse for six poor men, erected and endowed by John Pollen, Esq., one of the members for the borough in the time of William III. Another almshouse, for six poor women, was built with funds bequeathed by Catherine Hanson, but not endowed. There is also a school-house erected and endowed by John Pollen, Esq., for educating twenty poor children. This establishment is now incorporated with the National School, supported by additional subscriptions, in which 250 children are educated.
The town-hall is a handsome stone building with a Grecian front, supported by arches ; the under part is used as a market-house. It was erected within these few years. The corporation is said to be as ancient as the time of John ; but the present charter was granted by Queen Elizabeth.
Andover first returned members to Parliament in the time of Edward I.; but the right was lost, or disused, from the first year of Edward II., to the twenty-seventh year of Queen Elizabeth, when they were again sent, and have since been regularly returned. Before the passing of the Reform Bill, the right of election was in the corporation, which was considered to be under the influence of the Earl of Portsmouth. By the Boundary Act connected with the Reform Bill, the tything of Foxcote was added to the Borough, which had previously included the parishes of Andover and Knight's Enham. The population of the whole was, in 1831, 4,966.
The chief business of the town consists in malting, and in the manufacture of silk, which has lately superseded that of shalloon, the former staple. A considerable quantity of timber is forwarded from Harewood forest to Portsmouth, by means of the canal from this town, through Stockbridge, to Southampton water. The market is on Saturday ; and there are three fairs in the year.
About three miles west of the town, at the village of Weyhill, is held one of the largest fairs in England. This fair begins on the 10th of October, and continues for six days. It is thus described in Magna Britannia Hibernia, a survey of Great Britain, published in 1720. This fair is reckoned to be as great an one as any in England, for many commodities, and for sheep, indisputably the biggest, the farmers coming out of the south, north, and east to buy the Dorsetshire ewes here. It is also a great hop and cheese fair, the former being brought out of Sussex and Kent, and the latter out of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Somersetshire. The above account of the chief articles of trade, will apply with little alteration to the present day. The sale of sheep, though the favourite breed may be different, is still great : more than 140,000 have been sold on the first day. The Farnham hops, the choicest of any grown in England, are chiefly sold here, and a place appropriated to their sale, bears the name of Farnham Row. Many horses, particularly cart colts, are also sold.
During this fair, assemblies are held in the town-hall at Andover.
Near Andover, there are the remains of some Roman encampments, especially one on the summit of Bury Hill, a mile or two- south-west of the town ; and some beautiful specimens of Roman pavement have been found in the neighbourhood.