Top places to live in Hampshire & IOW Alresford
All aboard! Catch the Watercress Line to this picture-perfect Georgian town near Winchester to enjoy the foodie scene and smart boutiques. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
This bijou Georgian town on the edge of the South Downs National Park is known for its postcard-pretty pastel houses, riverside walks and, er, being the UK’s watercress capital. The more you know! For a town this size, Alresford boasts a surprising number of indie shops and excellent eateries, which makes it a good option for those wanting countryside vibes while still having enough to do.
Foodies have more than enough to tickle their tastebuds here. Pulpo Negro on Broad Street is renowned for its Bib Gourmand-recommended tapas, while Caracoli down the street is a must-do for fantastic coffee and brunch. There are more pubs than you can shake a bunch of watercress at, but our top picks are The Bell Inn and The Woolpack. Special mention also to The Chestnut Horse in Easton, a 13-minute drive away (bagsy not designated driver).
For designer fashion, keep your eyes peeled for the chic teal storefront of Moda Rosa on West Street, or Delilah Boutique across the road. Bookworms will love Laurence Oxley, a second-hand bookshop also selling art and supplies, while Morgan Hardware Merchant on Broad Street is a treasure trove for interiors. Another local speciality in abundance is lavender, which you can pick up (along with home and garden gems) at The Long Barn.
You can’t visit Alresford without hopping on the steam railway – the Watercress Line (yes, really) is a 10-mile track that takes you through the Hants countryside via Ropley, Medstead and Alton. The nearest National Trust property is Hinton Ampner, an elegant country house with landscaped gardens for rambling, views for miles and a lovely café for the obligatory tea and cake.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Properties in Alresford come in at an average price of £460,106, with detached properties selling for an average price of £587,074. Terraced properties sold for an average of £379,694, with flats fetching £322,500. Local estate agents include Charters and Hellards.
The state schools here hold their own, and unlike nearby Winchester, aren’t over-subscribed. Sun Hill Infants is ‘outstanding’, Sun Hill Junior is ‘good’, Cheriton primary is ‘outstanding’. For independents, Prince’s Mead is an excellent co-ed Prep school just outside of Winchester and is just a 13-minute drive away, as is St Swithun’s School, an independent day, weekly and full-boarding school for girls. Alton School, a great co-ed through school from nursery to sixth form, is 20 minutes’ away.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Ditch your champagne and swap it out for a bottle or two from Hattingley Valley, an eco-friendly winery just 20 minutes’ away from the centre of town. Try one of their award-winning sips on a tour and tasting.
Winchester is only 15 minutes away by car if you can nab a seat on the regular service into London Waterloo, which takes just over an hour. Alton is also an option – it may take longer but is generally less busy.