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Andover (St. Mary)

ANDOVER (St. Mary), a borough, market-town, and parish, having exclusive jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Andover, Andover and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 26 miles (N. by W.) from Southampton, and 64 (W. S. W.) from London; comprising the hamlets of Charlton, Hatherden, King's Enham, Little London, Smannell, Wildhern, and Woodhouse, and the chapelry of Foxcote; and containing 5013 inhabitants. Andover, or, according to the charter, seal, and official documents, Andever, is a corruption of the Saxon Andeafara, which signifies the passage of the Ande, denoting the proximity of the town to the small river Ande or Anton. In the church at this place, Anlaf, King of Norway, in 994 received the sacrament of confirmation, under the sponsorship of King Ethelred, promising that he would never more come in a hostile manner to England, which engagement he religiously observed.

The town, which is situated on the border of the Wiltshire downs, and near the edge of an extensive woodland tract forming the north-west portion of the county, is neat, airy, and well built; it consists principally of three long streets, is well paved under an act obtained in 1815, lighted with gas supplied by a company lately formed among the inhabitants, and plentifully supplied with water. The manufacture of silk has, of late, entirely superseded that of shalloons, which was formerly carried on to a great extent; and the construction of a canal from the town, through Stockbridge, to Southampton Water, has materially improved its trade, particularly in corn, malt, and timber, of which last a vast quantity is forwarded from Harewood Forest, for the supply of Portsmouth dockyard. In 1846 an act was passed for the construction of a railway from Basingstoke, by Andover, to Salisbury. The principal market is on Saturday, and there is a smaller one on Wednesday: the fairs are on Mid-Lent Saturday and Old May-day, for horses, cattle, cheese, and leather; on the 16th of November for sheep; and on the following day for horses, hops, cheese, &c. Three miles west of Andover, and within the out-hundred belonging to the town, is Weyhill, where an annual fair is held, which, originating in a revel anciently kept on the Sunday before Michaelmas-day, has gradually become the largest and best attended fair in England. It takes place on October 10th and six following days, by charter of Queen Elizabeth, confirmed by Charles II. The first day is noted for the sale of sheep, of which the number sold has frequently exceeded 170,000; on the second the farmers hire their servants; after which, hops, cheese, horses (particularly cart colts), cloth, &c., are exposed for sale. An additional fair, principally for sheep, was instituted in 1829, and is held on the 1st of August.

The inhabitants appear to have received charters of incorporation from Henry II. and Richard I., but the oldest now in their possession is one bestowed in the 6th of King John's reign: several others were subsequently granted, and that under which the borough was until recently governed, is dated in the 41st of Elizabeth. By the act of the 5th and 6th of Wm. IV. c. 76, the government is now vested in a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, assisted by a recorder, townclerk, and other officers: the municipal boundaries are co-extensive with those of the parish, which is about twenty-two miles in circumference, and include the parish of Knights-Enham, locally in Andover parish. The borough sent representatives to all the parliaments of Edward I., but made no return after the first of Edward II. till the 27th of Elizabeth, since which period it has continued to send two members: the right of election was formerly vested in the bailiff and corporation, in number about twenty-four, but was extended by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, to the £10 householders; the mayor is the returning officer. Courts of session are held quarterly; courts leet occur at Easter and Michaelmas; and the county magistrates hold a petty-session every Monday for the neighbouring district. The powers of the county debt-court of Andover extend over the registration-districts of Andover and Whitchurch. The town-hall was erected in 1825, at an expense of £7000, towards defraying which each of the then members for the borough, Sir J. W. Pollen, Bart., and T. A. Smith, Esq., presented £1000: it is a handsome and spacious building of stone, surmounted by a cupola; on the ground-floor is the market-house, over which are a council-room for transacting the business of the corporation, and a hall for holding the quartersessions.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £17. 4. 3½.; net income, £350; patrons and impropriators, the Warden and Fellows of Winchester College. The late church was an ancient building with a Norman doorway at the west end: it having become dilapidated, a new edifice was erected by the late Dr. Goddard, presenting a splendid example of the early English style; the interior is finished in a most chaste and beautiful manner, and the windows of the chancel are filled with coloured glass. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans. A grammar school was founded and endowed in 1569, by John Hanson, whose benefaction was subsequently increased by Richard Kemys. In 1719, John Pollen, Esq., one of the representatives of the borough, erected a school-house, and endowed it with £10 per annum, for twenty children; in 1725, James Sambourne bequeathed £1000 for the instruction of twenty-four children of Hatherden. An hospital for eight poor men was founded by John Pollen, Esq.; and six unendowed almshouses for women were built with funds bequeathed by Catherine Hanson, who also gave an acre of ground planted with trees, to be appropriated as a walk for the recreation of the inhabitants. The union of Andover comprises 28 parishes or places in the county of Hants, and 4 in that of Wilts, and contains a population of 16,990. The Roman road from Winchester to Cirencester passed near Andover, and is yet visible in Harewood coppice; and, besides two or three small encampments near the town, there is a large one, about a mile to the south-west, on the summit of Bury hill. Some beautiful specimens of Roman pavement have recently been discovered in the neighbourhood. Andover gives the inferior title of Viscount to the Earl of Suffolk.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.