Alton Pancras was originally named Awultune, a Saxon name meaning the village at the source of a river. The river in question being the Dorset Piddle. The village church is dedicated to St. Pancras and by the time of the Battle of Agincourt the village had come to be known as Aulton Pancras, hence the modern day Alton Pancras.

All the is left of the original church is the 15th century tower and part of the Norman archway, having been totally rebuilt in the 19th century when it was in a state of near collapse. The roof is of the scissor beam construction and is supported by corbels of the local Ham stone. The floor tiles having been made at Poole pottery. The organ also has an interesting history, having been originally a fairground organ, and thus has a different tone from most church organs.

There is also an unusual manor house at Alton. The five bay East front has the distinctive colour scheme of purple brick with red and yellow dressing.

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