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Hampshire, England

[Monday - 10/31/94] Our last day in the van, and over 1200 miles later, we took a brief detour 13 miles north-west of Winchester on our way to London. This was a special treat for Susan as this was the birthplace of her SCA persona: Andover!

Andover began as a Saxon village but its name comes from 2 Celtic words, An meaning spring and dwr meaning water. Andover first appears in history in 950 when the king built a royal hunting lodge there. In the year 962 another king called a meeting of the Saxon 'parliament' the Witanegemot, at his lodge in Andover. Andover had its own church and it was here that a Viking called Olaf Trygvason was confirmed as a Christian. He later became king of Norway and helped to convert his country to Christianity.

At the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Andover had 107 male inhabitants and probably had a total population of about 500. It was quite a large settlement by the standards of the time. (Most villages had only 100 to 150 people). Andover also had 6 watermills.

Later in the Middle Ages Andover grew larger. By the 14th century it probably had a population of about 1,200. Andover was a small market town. The main industy in Andover in the Middle Ages was making wool. First the wool was woven then it thickened and cleaned. This was done by pounding the wool in a mixture of water and clay. The wool was pounded by wooden hammers worked by watermills. This was called fulling. Sheepskins were made into parchment in Andover and there was also had a leather industry. Andover also had a lime burning industry. Another reason for Andovers prosperity was its situation on a main road between east and west.

In 1175 Andover was given a charter, a document granting the townspeople certain rights. The merchants of Andover were given the same rights as the merchants of Winchester. They were also allowed to organise themselves into a guild. The merchants guild took over the government of the town. The members elected 2 officials called baliffs who ran the town day to day. In 1201 King John gave the merchants the right to collect royal taxes in Andover themselves, rather than having a royal official do it. In 1256 the townsmen were given the right to hold a court and try criminals for offences committed in Andover. Furthermore Andover sent 2 MPs to parliament in 1295 and in the years 1302-07. But because of the expense no more MP's were sent until Elizabethan times.

Andover suffered 2 severe fires in the Middle Ages. Fire was a constant danger when most of the buildings in the town were of wood with thatched roofs. On the other hand when they burned they could easily be replaced. The first fire occurred in 1141 when England was in the grip of civil war. During a fight between the two sides at Andover a house was set on fire. The fire spread and engulfed the town. Another fire, this one accidental, Andover in 1435. Afterwards a new market place was built and a new guildhall was erected at the bottom of the hill. The guildhall stood on wooden pillars. Under it was a covered market.

As well as a weekly market the townspeople were allowed to hold an annual fair. A fair was like a market but was held only once a year for 4 days and people would come from all over the country to buy and sell at it. In Andover there was a priory (a small monastery) and a 'hospital'. In the Middle Ages the only hospitals were run by the church. The hospital of St John the Baptist was run by monks who tended the sick and also provided hospitality for poor travelers. There was also a lepers hostel dedicated to St Mary Magdalene.

In 1538 Henry VIII closed the priory and the Hospital of St John the Baptist. In 1571 a free school for the boys of Andover was established. In 16th century Andover there were many leather workers such as shoemakers, glovers, tanners and saddlemakers. Other trades included haberdashers milliners, hatmaker drapers, weavers, fullers (who cleaned and thickened wool) and tailors. By the 16th century there was a silk making industry in Andover.

In 1599 Andover was given a new charter. The merchants guild was made a corporation. It was run by a bailliff. The number of annual fairs was increased from 1 to 3. By the end of the 16th century the population of Andover may have reached about 2,000. Like other towns Andover suffered from outbreaks of plague. There were outbreaks in 1603-5, 1625-6 and 1636. In 1647 there was another fire which destroyed 80 houses.

In 1634 a new town called Andover was founded in Massachusetts, USA.

In the 18th century Andover was still a quiet market town with a population of a few thousand. However during this century Andover became a major stopping point on stagecoach routes. Eventually more than 30 stagecoaches passed through the town every day. The guildhall was rebuilt in 1725. In 1757 a pest house was built. This was an isolation hospital for people suffering from infectious diseases. In 1785 the town the council laid out a recreational walk called the Ladies Walk. In 1789 a canal to Southampton opened.

The first theatre in Andover opened in Newbury Street in 1803. In 1815 an act of parliament was passed which formed a body of men with powers to pave, light and clean the streets. Andover gained gas street lighting in 1838. In 1825 the town hall was rebuilt again. The canal closed in 1859. By 1861 the population of Andover had risen to 5,221. Growth spread along Weyhill Road, Millway Road and Salisbury Road. A fire station opened in 1877. The same year a cottage hospital opened. A swimming pool opened in Adelaide Road in 1885. A recreation ground opened by Common Acre in 1887. Andover water company was formed in 1875 to provide piped water to the town. A system of sewers and drains was built in 1899-1902. A public library opened in 1897.

During the 18th century the wool industry declined and in the 19th century it ceased altogether. The silk weaving industry also petered out. On the other hand brewing was an important industry in the town. In 1813 Takers iron foundry was founded.

Andover gained its first cinema in 1911. By 1936 there were 3 in the town. A war memorial hospital was built in the Market Place in 1920. In 1956 it was moved to a churchyard. Also in 1920 a centre for disabled ex servicemen opened at Enham. In 1926 the war memorial hospital opened in Charlton Road. Andover gained its first electricity supply in 1927.

In 1932 Andover gained a new industry when the printers for Kellys street directories moved to the town. In 1935 the municipal office in Bridge Street opened. In 1936 an open-air swimming pool opened.

In 1960 Andover was still a small town of about 17,000 people. But in that year it was decided that Andover should become an overspill town for London . In 1961 a plan was drawn up to greatly expand the town. It was planned that the population should rise to 47,000 by 1982 and about 9,000 new houses would be built. About 20,000 of the extra population, it was decided, would be 'immigrants' from London. The first new council houses were built in Floral Way and were ready by 1964. By 1968 4,000 'immigrants' had arrived from London. By 1968 the council had built over 1,000 houses and 5 new schools. Council houses were built north of the town at Cricketers Way, River Way and Admiral Way. About 500 new private houses were built in Andover by 1968. By 1981 the population had risen to 51,000. A new spine road was built in 1965. Andover by pass opened in 1969. The railway from Andover to Southampton closed in 1964.

In the late 1960s a the town centre was redeveloped and some industries there were relocated to the edge of the town. A new shopping centre, Chantry Way shopping precinct was built in the late 1960s. It was extended in 1989. The council also tried to diversify industry in Andover. In the 1960s Walworth industrial estate was built. The first factory there began operating in November 1964. Another industrial estate, Portway was also built. By 1969 24 new factories had been built in Andover. In 1966 Twinings the tea and coffee firm moved to the town. Another industry was engineering.

A cultural and recreation centre opened in Cricklade in 1975. Vigo Road was rebuilt in the early 1980s. In 1986 an Iron Age Museum opened in Andover. Today the population of Andover is 38,000. For us, it was a welcome diversion on our way to the "Big City" and our final hotel, (my personal fave) the Vanderbilt.

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