ALTON is a handsome little market town whose square still fills with stalls every Tuesday. The station building is painted in the old Southern Railway livery of green and cream. The community of 17,000 is essentially a rural one, though it has drawn commuters with the lovely countryside that surrounds it and occasionally been highlighted by agents for its fast growing property prices. You might find a mid-terraced Grade Two listed house with two bedrooms, beams and an inglenook fireplace dating from 1800, for around £195,000. Newer three-storey town houses with three bedrooms start at £360,000. A new development on the fringe of the town has five-bedroom houses from £415,000.
Period five-bedroom thatched houses in the lanes will cost from around £600,000 up to £650,000. One of the most sought-after villages is Chawton, a mile away, though the stone-and-thatch cottages only rarely come up for sale. Chawton’s main claim to fame is that Jane Austen lived in a small cottage with her parents and wrote most of her novels here. Her nephew, Edward Knight, lived in the manor house. The cottage is now open to the public.