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Andovers Attractions - A Residents View

Iíve found over the years that many people have heard of Andover, but few have actually visited. They just go whizzing by on the A303 heading for the more obvious tourist spots. While Andover cannot compete with the likes of London or Somerset, it does hold some hidden gems. The next time you come this way, why not break your journey and spend a couple of hours discovering what we have to offer.
Andover appeals to a wide variety of interests, from young families to avid bargain hunters and heritage enthusiasts. There are three car parks just minutes from the town centre and excellent rail links for those using public transport. If you are tempted to extend your stay, accommodation choices range from guesthouses to modern hotels such as Premier Inn.
Like many small towns, Andover has had what is at first glance an unremarkable history. However, we do have our own modest claims to fame. There was a Roman village and major crossroads just to the east of the current town. It wasnít until the 10th century, though, that Andover arrived on the national stage. In 994AD the Viking marauder Olaf Trygvasson met up with Ethelred the Unready in the town. He was converted to Christianity and baptised at St Maryís Church. Throughout the Middle Ages Andover acted as a market town for the surrounding countryside. During the reign of Queen Mary a religious dissenter by the name of John Body was executed here. There were several skirmishes in the area during the Civil War. Andover hosted both Charles I and James I in the 17th century. The large numbers of inns that can still be seen are a result of the transport advances of the 18th century, with both a canal and turnpike roads passing through the town. The local ironworks, Taskerís, was attacked by rioting agricultural labourers in 1830. This disturbance was so serious that the army was called in to restore order. There was a national scandal in 1846 when the terrible conditions at Andover workhouse came to light. More recently, the airfield played a role in both World Wars. To bring our story up to date, there was great excitement when the Olympic torch came through the town in 2012.
The Time Ring in the High Street celebrates this past. It contains ten mosaic panels illustrating significant events. There is also much to admire in the surrounding buildings. The centrepiece is the Guildhall built in 1825. Look out for the plaque commemorating the passage through the town of news of the victory at Trafalgar on 5th November 1805. On either side of the street are several surviving coaching inns. Next to the river you will find the Town Mills pub. Medieval Andover had six mills; this is the only survivor, and contains a restored water wheel. The most historical area of the town can be found at the top of the hill. The Angel Inn is one of the oldest buildings in Andover, dating to just after the fire of 1435. St Maryís Church is Victorian, but it is built on the site of the Saxo- Norman one, whose arch is the only surviving remnant. All this history can be explored at Andover Museum, housed in a former grammar school founded in 1624. Here you will also find the Museum of the Iron Age. This explores the results of archaeological investigations at Danebury hillfort 9 miles southwest of Andover. A visit to the site itself is recommended.
Children will enjoy letting off steam at Danebury. There are several other attractions to keep them busy in the area. Prominent among these is Finkley Down Farm Park. This family run attraction is something of a local institution. It houses various farm animals and pets to keep youngsters entertained. There are lots of other things to do, such as an indoor play barn and pony rides at weekends. If the weather turns against you then Jungle Jungle is just down the road. This is an indoor adventure playground complete with bouncy castle. For older children, Andover has a leisure centre with all the usual activities available. And donít forget that the museum can be a magical place for children of any age.
Those visitors who just want a chance to stretch their legs have several options. Close to the town centre is Vigo Road Recreation Ground. You may be lucky enough to be here when one of our special events is being held. The River Anton flows through the town. With a little care it can be followed from Anton Lakes to Rooksbury Mill Park. Both these areas are local nature reserves. Keep your eyes open for the poetry plaques in the pavement and the Viking long ship sculpture in Bridge Street. For good views, take a stroll along Ladies Walk on the southern edge of the town. It can be hard to find, but is worth the effort. The summer sunshine glowing on the church is a beautiful sight.
The less energetic visitor may appreciate a little retail therapy. A number of well known chains have a presence here. Bookworms are served by Waterstones, clothes horses by Marks & Spencer and New Look. There are more quirky businesses too. For vintage gifts try Old Traditions or La Di Da. Tucked away above the Globe Inn is the antiques shop Globe Galleries- a good place for a rummage. Andover has many charity shops. This makes it a good place to come for a bargain. You never know what you might find! On Thursdays and Saturdays a large market is held in the High Street. There has been a market here since 1205, and it really brings the town to life.
After all that shopping some refreshment is in order. The pubs around the town serve food, and we have a variety of coffee shops. If you want to avoid the major chains then go to the Blue Onion. For a light lunch, the paninis at Delicioís takeaway come recommended. My favourite place to eat is Jennyís cafť. Itís the ideal place for good quality food at reasonable prices. There are two traditional tearooms, The Copper Kettle (with lovely milkshakes) and Willows. More adventurous taste buds can also be provided for, with a profusion of Italian, Chinese, Indian and Thai restaurants in the town.
Well, these are some of the things Andover has to offer. I hope I have inspired you to come and take a look for yourselves. I look forward to welcoming you to my home town soon.
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