Hampshire, abbreviated to “Hants” is a county on the southern coast of England, with Winchester as its county town. Hampshire is an extremely important county militarily speaking, as it houses the birthplace of three of the armed forces, namely the Royal Navy, The Royal Army, and the Royal Air Force.
Important figures in its history include writers Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, as well as engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Winchester is an hour from London by train, with the average bus journey needing around 2.5 hours.
Towns in Hampshire
Once known as the county of Wessex, Hampshire has a variety of towns and villages with Southampton being its largest.
Southampton has been inhabited since at least the Stone Age, and is a port town of importance, with imports including French wine, and exports of wool and cloth.
Home to art galleries, theatres, and museums, Southampton has a strong cultural flavor, and is also a tourist town, pulling in hundreds of thousands of visitors yearly to see its heritage sites and variety of architecture.
Portsmouth is a port town on the coast of Hampshire and is home to the world[‘s oldest dry dock. Portsmouth Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Portsmouth, the original chapel as which it started life being built in 1180, and a site of extreme tourist interest.
Things to see in Portsmouth include the world-renowned sculpture – The Spinnaker Tower, the D-Day Museum, the Mary Rose Museum and of course Portsmouth Harbour.
Winchester was originally formed in the Iron Age and is the county town of Hampshire. It is the site of many historic buildings including Winchester Cathedral, Wolves Castle and Palace, Winchester Castle and the Hospital of Saint Cross.
Winchester is also the home of the Ghurkha Museum, Hursley House, and Lainston House and boasts excellent dining with over 140 restaurants to choose from.
Parks and Gardens
There are a large number of parks and gardens registered with British Heritage in Hampshire, with beautiful old country estates and sprawling gardens dating back hundreds of years.
Elvetham Hotel rests in thirty-five acres of beautifully preserved gardens, with a formal garden that was created in around 1860, an immaculate croquet lawn, ornamental trees, a kitchen garden and wide variety of beautiful colored plants.
With wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and emerald green lawns, the grand old gentleman that is Elvetham Hall is a spectacular treat for lovers of gardens everywhere. View more about Elvetham Hotel: Elvetham Hotel
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is a wonderful treat for all the family, with a wonderful variety of things to see and do. Himalayan Valley is a spectacular example of the utilization of steep areas to exhibit azaleas, Rhododendrons, Hydrangeas, and Pieris.
The National Collection Glade is the quiet and peaceful walk up to the varied collection of gardens that await, each one filled with absolutely beautiful collections of flowers, trees, and plants. There is also a children’s education garden, famous for its stainless steel sculptures. Visit the website here: Harold Hillier Gardens
Built in the 18th Century, Houghton Lodge is a member of the Historic Houses Association and is set in stunning, extensive grounds with well-manicured lawns sweeping their way down to the River Test. Originally a “Cottage Orne”, or nobleman’s fishing retreat, Houghton Lodge is quite simply one of the most beautiful houses in Hampshire, and was once a finalist in the “Britain’s favourite Country House” contest in the Country Life magazine.
The gardens have many fine features including an orchid house and stunning shrubberies and ornamental flower arrangements. View the website: Houghton Lodge
Attractions and Places to See
Hampshire is a busy and vibrant county and offers wonderful days out for people of all ages and bends.
Lyndhurst – The New Forest
The world famous New Forest is a nature reserve in Hampshire and boasts gardens, forest, museums and leisure activities as well as a wildlife park, farm and much more. Activities in Lyndhurst include walking, cycling and sightseeing and the village itself has always been known as the capital of the New Forest.
There are old English tea rooms , old world pubs and fine restaurants. Take a look at the website here: Lyndhurst – The New Forest
Royal Armouries – Fort Nelson, Fareham
Fort Nelson displays its significance and importance in military history with its comprehensively rebuilt armoury, constructed to the same standard as when it was first built in 1890.
A Victorian Fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbour and Meon Valley, Fort Nelson now proudly displays its national collection of artillery also known as “The Big Guns”. View the website here: Fort Nelson – Fareham
HMS Victory – Portsmouth
The world’s most famous warship, the HMS Victory was Nelson’s flagship, and now stands proudly at dry dock in Portsmouth Harbour, a reminder of Britain’s dominance of the high seas in centuries gone.
Walk around this famous old lady and see her engine room, gun mounts and cannons ad visit the gift shop to take away a special souvenir of your day. Visit the website: HMS Victory
Things to Do
Hampshire is a tourist favourite in England, with its comparatively sunny climate, military history and wide open green areas.
Paulton’s Park is a theme park for all the family to enjoy with a wide range of rides and attractions to try. It is also the home of Peppa Pig World and has over 40 rides and attractions to try out, including the Magma drop ride, the Edge Roller Coaster Mexican Hat Hybrid and the Cobra roller coaster.
Peppa Pig world is a theme park in its own right, excellent for toddlers and young children. View the website: Paulton’s Park
Royal Ascot Racecourse
Royal Ascot is a day out for those wishing to experience the glamorous world of upper class horse racing. Full packages can be booked including upgrades to the Furlong Club with its elegant seating, decked terrace and complementary race cards.
Ladies Day is world renowned and is a chance for ladies from all over the world to gather to drink champagne, eat strawberries and show off their latest high class outfits. View the website: Royal Ascot
Blue Reef Aquarium – Portsmouth
With marine wildlife ranging from Cuttlefish to Stingrays and from Sharks to Piranhas there is a real feast on offer here for lovers of marine life.
Blue Reef offers one of the most comprehensive collections of amphibians, reptiles and coral reefs in Britain, and even has a rare Zebra Shark and a family of beautiful Otters. View the website: Blue Reef Aquarium
Afternoon Tea Ideas in Hampshire
Hampshire, with its history steeped in military and artistic traditions is a British favourite when it comes to afternoon tea.
Montagu Arms Hotel – Beaulieu
A wonderful hotel with a stately feel to it, Montagu Arms offers relaxing sofas and roaring fires in the chill of winter, but throws open its windows in the warm summer to offer refreshing tea (of which there is a fine selection) and scones with clotted cream to the world.
A full afternoon tea will comprise sandwiches, cakes and tea or a cafetiere of coffee. Visit the website: Montagu Arms Hotel
Tylney Hall, Hook
A grade 2 listed mansion, Tylney Hall near Hook is a wonderfully preserved and maintained building with beautiful gardens and utterly fantastic views of the Hampshire countryside.
On their menu is a wide selection of pastries, and a very good selection of sandwiches, as well as scones served with clotted cream and preserves. The website can be seen here: Tylney Hall
Langrish House in Petersfield
Langrish House is a warm and friendly listed building and serves as a hotel and home to the Talbot-Ponsonby family, as it has for over 6 generations. The menu offers tea and cakes that are as exquisite as the gardens that surround this wonderful old mansion.
Fruit and plain scones are available with finger sandwiches and jams to die for. Langrish House has its website here: Langrish House
Wedding Venues in Hampshire
Hampshire is a very popular wedding destination in Britain, with elegant period houses and mansions dotting its beautiful, green countryside.
Rhinefield House makes its visitors stop and say “Wow” as they gaze along its stunning water approach to the beautiful main mansion building. Weddings here can be everything from intimate to a full society affair, with the property able to tailor any package to your needs.
The gardens and grounds surrounding the building are simply spectacular and can be viewed online here: Rhinefield House
The Crown Manor House Hotel
The Crown manor House Hotel prides itself on excellent standards and is able to offer this historic hotel replete with beautiful and ornate four poster beds, with fifty bedrooms for exclusive use. The Wedding Garden is a wonderful place to hold the ceremony and with its lovely surroundings and tranquil atmosphere,
The Crown Manor House Hotel is a fantastic choice for a wedding. View the website here: The Crown Manor House Hotel
Campsites / Caravans:
Hampshire has some beautiful places to visit, including but not limited to the New Forest and its surrounding areas.
Caravan Club Sites
• Black Knowl Caravan Club Site, Aldridge Hill, Brockenhurst, Hampshire
• Morn Hill, Alresford Road, Winchester, Hampshire
• Arden, Occupation Lane, Fareham, Hampshire
• Penn Farm, Bramshaw, New Forest, Lyndhurst
• Gambledown farm (tents only), Gambledown Lane, Sherfield English, Romsey, Hampshire
• Hollands Wood, Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire