John Arlott lived here

John Arlott was a well known journalist and cricket commentator for the BBC’s Test Match Special. His voice was well-known to most people who listened to accounts of cricket matches: he was a popular commentator partly because of his gift for poetic phraseology, in his descriptions of events. He lived in Alresford for 20 years, from 1961 to 1981, before retiring, when he went to live on Alderney in the Channel Islands, where he died in 1991. The house he lived in was the old Sun Inn, on the corner of Sun Lane and East Street. In fact John was also well known as a wine connoisseur, and he wrote a wine column for the Guardian newspaper. On his retirement his well stocked cellar was auctioned at Sotheby’s. It was somehow appropriate that he should have lived at the Sun Inn, which was said to have had a reputation for being the destination of a lot of smuggled wine, kept in their cellars, many years before.

Actually, writing this I discovered that Arlott was also a football correspondent for the Guardian as well, and at his own request he had planned to travel with the Manchester United team to report on the match between them and Red Star Belgrade, a European Cup match in Yugoslavia. At the last minute their chief soccer correspondent, Donny Davies, pulled rank and decided to go instead. The aircraft bringing back the team, officials and press crashed in what became known as the Munich Air Disaster, and Davies was one of the fatalities.

In Alresford, at a ceremony on 21 June 2009, a plaque commemorating John Arlott’s 20 years of living at the Old Sun was unveiled by his sons Tim and Robert Arlott. The plaque was funded by The Cricket Society and the guest of honour, who cut the ceremonial cake, was his oldest friend, Leo Harrison, (then aged 87). This was followed by an inaugural local village cricket competition, with participating teams from Tichborne, Old Alresford, Ropley and Cheriton, for the (quoted as) annual John Arlott Cup. The plaque can be seen on the side of the Old Sun building. For more info and a photo of John Arlott opening the Cheriton cricket pavilion, see the Cheriton Cricket Club website http://www.cheritoncc.com.

John had been born in Basingstoke, and when working as a Policeman from 1934-46 he worked in Southampton. One account is available about what he thought of Alresford was included in the OXFAM book produced by Sally March in 1984 called “A Taste of Alresford”. John provided an introductory description of Alresford on the back cover:

“Alresford is, even for Hampshire, an unusually hand-some small town, T-shaped, ancient, full of character and antique shops, riddled with wood-worm, surrounded by watercress and patrolled by trout. Its main street is wide enough for a coach and four to turn – as they used to do – and its long history is reflected in its houses, varied, mature, airy and easy to live in. For the visitor it has many smallish, personal and original shops – one with a splendid trove of antiquarian books – and ample refreshment. It used to have eight pubs and a brewery; now it dispenses the adequate hospitality of five, a wine bar, a hotel and a couple of restaurants.

For one who spent the happiest quarter century of his life there, it remains warm in the memory; full of friends and recollections of the houses where we enjoyed the cooking of the generous ladies whose recipes make up this true Alresford book. This is the opportunity to thank them again – cheers!”

For 2012 we have gone down to three pubs and two hotels in the town centre, but at least we do have a brewery again! A later story will discover where the hidden pubs in Alresford are.

Submitted by Nick Denbow, using quotations from Wikipedia and the OXFAM book “A Taste of Alresford” by Sally March.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Len Strong on August 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

    In the 1930-40’s there were about 12 hostleries in Alresford. The Sun and Peaceful Home in East street. The Horse and Groom and George Inn in Broad Street. The Globe down the Soke. The Swan, The Bell, the Volunteers in West Street. The Running Horse on Pound Hill, the Dean Arms in the Dean. The Swan Tap (a seperate bar behind the Swanhotel) in Station Road and the Cricketers at the Jacklyns Lane, Tichborne Down junction.

    Reply

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