Town councillors have voted to begin the process of commemorating 850 years of business booming in Andover.

Andover Town Council voted to set up a working group to look into way to celebrate the milestone of Andover receiving a charter in 2025, a step that allowed merchants of the town to form a guild, as well as giving them “freedom from toll, passage and custom” on their wares.

This could include establishing a charter stone or celebration of some kind.

The plans were passed unanimously by the council’s planning committee.

Andover was, for many years since its original foundation, in the direct ownership of the King, passing from the Saxons to the Normans at the time of the latter’s conquest. In 1141, the town was burned during a civil war between Empress Matilda and King Stephen in a period known as the anarchy.

Following this, the town was rebuilt, and the renewed mercantile power of Andover was recognised in 1175 when King Henry II, Matilda’s son, granted the town a charter. Charters allowed for freedoms such as setting taxes and more local government than would otherwise have been possible.

At the time, the town had to pay around £6.67 per year to the King for this privilege – the equivalent of around £14,000 today – and this was increased by later monarchs, who also granted additional rights such as the right to hold fairs and hold a court for offences committed in Andover.

Following discussions around commemorations being brought to the committee by Cllr Barbara Long in March, she was tasked with putting together terms of reference for a working group to look into the matter. She brought these terms to a planning meeting on April 19.

Under the proposals, the group will “investigate the potential of marking the 850th Anniversary of Andover being granted a charter in 1175.”

It will deliver a report or set of reports on commemorating the occasion, considering the possibility of setting up a permanent monument like Romsey’s charter stone, or a one-off celebration to mark the occasion. It will also investigate how these could be funded.

Cllr Long said: “I’ve left it fairly open so the working group can come up with suggestions so it can be investigating how we can mark it rather than being quite specific. We just need other councillors to come on board.”

The terms of reference were then proposed by her, and seconded by Cllr Ecclestone. They passed with a unanimous vote of the committee.

Councillors will now be asked to join the group, with Cllr Luigi Gregori putting himself forward, and they will report back to the planning committee in due course.