Shortly after visiting a veritable charity shop haven (Harborne, in Birmingham), we found ourselves in an equally (or probably even more) well-to-do locale, but rather the opposite end of the charity shop quota spectrum. Alresford is a little place, little known to the outside world, but absolutely the sort of place my family has taken visitors pretty much forever.
It’s actually a fairly sizable town for the countryside, about 5000 or so, and is split into Old Alresford and New Alresford. The latter is something of a misnomer, like its counterpart New Towns in Edinburgh or Prague, having been founded about 700 years ago, and it’s here where the bulk of the action lies in the modern day, on the old road between Old and New Alresford, Broad Street. The recommended way to mooch is as follows (at least in my experience): park beyond the warehouses on The Dean and walk up beside the river to Mill Hill. The River Itchen winds and divides around you with its various navigations, and you’ll come out opposite the old fire station, at the bend in Broad Street. Should you wish to eat, the Globe is recommended (left) and the shops are on your right. You can then go up Broad Street, turn right along West Street, and back down The Dean.
Guided tour done. The shops. There is just one charity shop, I have to disclose this. As nice as the town is, there is just one charity shop, and that is hardly a bargain hunter’s paradise, being a jumble of expensive crockery/tat, bizarre rich people’s clothes and an array of cookbooks and history books, under the auspices of Age UK. To be fair, we could have bought the whole six-book series of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower; but we didn’t, too expensive.
It’s still a nice place to window shop though (my inner woman making a resurgence): there are fabulous looking delis and butchers, crafty places, showrooms, tea shops (with extreme chintz levels – watch out if you have a Laura Ashley allergy) and plenty more places to be parted from your money. The highlight is undoubtedly the excellent Laurence Oxley, a dangerous and winding secondhand bookshop. I recommend Alresford generally, though hardly for the solitary charity shop.
Find: Alresford @ Google Maps
Consume with: If you can’t handle the chintz of the Alresford tea-shop circuit, I’d recommend a lunch at the Globe.
Visit: Watercress is Alresford’s big export – if you can’t visit some actual beds, take a trip on the steam train by them.
Overall rating: three floral curtains