And a very nice town it turned out to be. I mostly stayed in the High Street which is hilly but not so precipitous as some I know (Redruth, anybody?) It has all the usual shops and some interesting smaller shops, including a shop with some cards I hadn't seen before, so I stocked up for people's birthdays. St Lawrence's Church is on a slight hill and the rare central tower seems to add to the elevation. Nearby is the Quaker Meeting House which I'd half-remembered from a conversation was near the church, but hadn't realised it was basically just across the road. I was walking up to get another view of the church, turned round, and found myself opposite the meeting house sign!
The main place I visited in Alton was The Allen Gallery which has a really stunning amount of ceramics in a small but nicely laid out museum. Although the cabinets were full of pieces it was still possibly to get a good view of everything. On the ground floor they also have drawers underneath the displays which contain tiles, including some lovely Art Nouveau ones. Upstairs, as well as hundreds of tea cups, there were some studio pottery pieces including some by Bernard Leach. There were also pictures by W H Allen, a 19th/20th century artist who I'd never heard of but who produced some wonderful rural landscapes that I liked on first viewing. An exhibition about the Tichborne Claimant was also tucked into a spare corner. It wasn't possible to take everything in during one visit, so I will definitely think about going again. They also do a very reasonably priced coffee and cake at £2.
At the Curtis Museum, they have everything laid out in date order, and a good balance of explanation and displays. An interesting exhibit was the one about Sweet Fanny Adams who was from Alton.
When I came back to Winchester, I popped into the Guildhall Gallery to see the embroidery that Alice Kettle is currently working on. Although more abstract than I would generally like, it does have recognisable features that I think will tie it together into an impressive display when it's finished. The actual construction is fascinating to view, and also the workspace which is at one end of the gallery. She's scheduled to be there for another month, so I'll try to visit again to see how it's prorgressing, although the bulk of it is done now, and it's more of the finer work that has to be finished.