Alton’s Allen Gallery is an intimate setting for one of the nation’s most outstanding collections of ceramics. Supported by initial funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are thrilled to be embarking on the first phase of an exciting project to rediscover the Allen Gallery for the community and town of Alton. 

Launched in autumn of 2022, this ambitious, two-stage redevelopment project has community engagement at its heart. Its aim is to reimagine the collection of nationally and internationally important ceramics, releasing their potential and enabling everyone from specialists to novices to enjoy them. The gallery will become a thriving heritage and cultural hub for the community of Alton and the surrounding area, while our programme of events, exhibitions and activities will be developed to be more responsive to the needs of everyone in the community. 

During the first phase of the project, which runs until December 2023, we will be rediscovering the collections at the Allen Gallery, revealing their untold stories. We will be building on our current relationships with community groups and partners, as well as forging new ones, developing more volunteering opportunities, expanding our programme of events and activities and establishing a clearer link between the gallery and our beautiful gardens. Crucially, we will be initiating an appeal to raise funds to realise the second phase of the project: a refurbishment of the Allen Gallery which will showcase the ceramics collection, create a dedicated community space and make a significant contribution to the culture, economy and life of Alton. 


The Allen Gallery is home to a nationally and internationally significant collection of ceramics, with an impressive and varied selection of pottery, porcelain and tiles dating from 1250 to the present day. The ceramics on display at the Allen Gallery form part of a much larger collection cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust, stored in Winchester.  

During the first phase of the project, the collections work will focus on the following: 

  • Rediscovering the full extent of the collection and its significance 

  • Researching and discovering the untold stories behind the collections 

  • Recruiting collections volunteers in both Alton and Winchester to work on documentation, audit and research, diversifying our volunteer base to recruit and engage students 

  • Undertaking a volunteer research programme to identify social history stories and themes and previously underrepresented histories 

  • Building relationships with ceramic specialists and groups 

If you would like to be involved, please contact our Curatorial Assistant, Sam Butcher


The Allen Gallery is set to undergo its most significant capital project since the building and its collection were opened to the public over 70 years ago. It has played a key role in Alton for more than half a century and houses one of the largest and most important ceramics collections in the UK outside London.  

We are delighted to have received development funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the first phase of the project, Rediscovering the Allen Gallery, which will help to make it more relevant and sustainable and enable research into some of the 8,500 items in our ceramics collection. However, we require further funding to realise our ambitious plans for the redevelopment of the gallery, which will include a new community space and also ensure our rediscovered collections are accessible to everyone.  

In November 2023, we will submit a second application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the next phase of the project, in addition to seeking support from other identified funding sources. However, this funding is not guaranteed, and we need as much support as possible to ensure that our long-term ambitions for an Allen Gallery which is open and accessible to everyone are realised.  

If you would like to support this project, here are a few ways you can help: 

  • Via the donate panel

  • By downloading a donation form  

  • At the Allen Gallery  

  • You can also contact the Fundraising Team via email or by phone on 01962 398734 

Ceramic leaf fundraising appeal

We're raising funds to help realise our ambitions of redeveloping the Allen Gallery. To show your support, you can donate a unique handmade ceramic leaf to our painted tree in our exhibition space. 

Every leaf has been carefully crafted by a local ceramicist, with unique designs made by each maker and an 'Allen Gallery 2023' stamp. There is also space for you to write your name and/or message of support on the back. 

Once the appeal finishes at the end of October 2023, you're welcome to take your leaf home as a keepsake. 

We're asking for a suggested minimum donation of £30 per leaf, which we invite you to hang on our growing tree. 

You can donate your leaf by visiting our online shop or at the Allen Gallery and speaking to a member of our team who will be happy to help you. 

Here are the Terms and Conditions for the ceramic leaf fundraising appeal.

Person hagning a ceramic leaf onto a hook that is placed on a painted tree

Object of the month

Every month throughout the life of the Rediscovering the Allen Gallery project, we will be shining a light on an object from the collections. 

This month we take a look at a salt-glazed creamware jug by Walter Keeler. This month's object is part of collaboration with Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, as we celebrate Farnham Craft Month. Click here for more information, or visit the Allen Gallery.

In September we looked at an earthenware figure of Charity, produced by Herculaneum Pottery in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century. Click here for more information, or visit the Allen Gallery.

In August we looked at the Maling Pottery Marmalade Jar. Click here for more information, or visit the Allen Gallery. 

In July we looked at a white vase by famous potter, Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie which forms part of the gallery's ceramic collection. Click here for more information, or visit the Allen Gallery. 

At the Allen Gallery

The Allen Gallery hosts a wide variety of temporary exhibitions, frequently featuring the works of WH Allen, for whom the gallery was named, as well as a regular programme of events, activities, talks and workshops. During the development phase of the project, we will be continuing and expanding this programme to meet the needs of our community. 

  • Our programme for families will continue during the school holidays, with hands-on activities for children aged five and upwards 

  • We will be introducing a new, Saturday morning art club for young people aged 13 and over 

  • We will be expanding our evening programme, with talks for local interest groups in the pipeline

  • In a new initiative, we will be holding film nights as part of our evening programme 

  • There will be new, regular collections tours as well self-led spotlight on collections 

  • In fairer weather, there will be a programme of events in the garden, including yoga and for wellbeing 

Discover events at the Allen Gallery 

In the community

We are proud to enjoy strong partnerships with communities and groups in and around Alton, and during the first phase of the project, we will be strengthening these links as well as making new partnerships.  

  • In partnership with South Downs National Park, we will be beginning a new programme for young people in the summer of 2023, focusing on heritage, craft and careers 

  • Working with Dementia-Friendly Alton, an eight-week programme began in February 2023 and we will also be introducing a friendship café craft club on Sundays

If you would like to get involved, please contact our Community Programmes Coordinator, Nancy Peskett 

Volunteer with us

Volunteer with us 

Our team at the Allen Gallery is built around our incredible volunteers. Whether you are looking to learn new skills, share existing ones or to pursue a passion, there are opportunities for you. This can be a few hours each week or a couple of days as a one-off – our volunteer roles offer flexibility, enjoyment and a chance to develop both yourself and others.  

We are currently looking for volunteers for the following roles: 

  • Community volunteers 
  • Collections audit volunteers 
  • Collections documentation volunteers 
  • Collections photography volunteers 
  • Collections research volunteers 

To find out more about each role, please email us.


What are the plans for the Allen Gallery? 

Hampshire Cultural Trust are planning an ambitious project to redesign and reinterpret the Allen Gallery’s collections, create multi-use community spaces and create a clearer visible link between the gallery and the garden. As part of the project, Hampshire Cultural Trust will also develop a new engagement programme aimed at attracting under-served community groups and create a thriving heritage hub for the community in Alton and the surrounding area. 

Who is funding the project?  

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) is funding the first (developmental) phase of the project. The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports projects that connect communities to the national, regional and local heritage of the UK. It is the largest dedicated grant funder of the UK’s heritage. Funding for the second phase will consist of an National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, fundraised income and Hampshire Cultural Trust self-investment.  

How much has been granted? 

The initial grant for the first phase of development is for £285,591 with a potential delivery grant of £1,000,000 to be awarded in 2024.  

Who is involved in the project?  

Hampshire Cultural Trust will be partnering with a number of local organisations to carry out this project. At the very heart of the project is the Alton community and those from surrounding areas. We will be working closely with our communities to ensure that the Allen Gallery is relevant, suits the needs of our community and is accessible.

What is the project’s time scale? 

The first (development) phase has now launched and will run until December 2023. If successful, the delivery phase will start in the following year with the venue re-opening in 2025.  

How can I keep up to date with the project? 

We will be updating the Allen's webpage where possible, but please do pop in and say hello to our team at the Allen Gallery, they will be excited to welcome you and tell you have the project is progressing. 

What will happen to the gallery’s name? Will it stay the same? 

It is likely that the name will stay the same, however, this is one area that will be reviewed with the community, partners and stakeholders throughout the project. 

Will the gallery close during the project? 

The gallery will remain fully open during the initial development phase, activity will not stop, in fact, we anticipate that the gallery will be busier as a result of the community engagement activity. #


National Lottery Heritage Fund logo

Sign up to our newsletter to hear about our upcoming exhibitions, events and newsSign up