The New Forest is an area of southern England that covers south-west Hampshire and also extends into south-east Wiltshire and towards east Dorset. The forest is the largest remaining area of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the south of England. The New Forest was designated a national park in 2005 to give the area the highest level of protection and to preserve it for the nation for generations to come. Must see places include: Beaulieu, Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.
See My Travel Page for more information.
Winchester is a cathedral city in central southern England and was historically referred to as Winton or Wintonceastre. Winchester was also the ancient capital of Wessex and England. The city is the county town of Hampshire and is located at the western end of the South Downs, along the course of the River Itchen.
Winchester is the burial place of many of England’s Kings, Queens, Saints, and famous people such as Jane Austen, Izaac Walton and Keats. Here the rule of Common Law was established, the Domesday Book compiled, and the Winchester Bible written.
Lyndhurst is often referred to as the Capital of the New Forest; the village is in a broadly central location surrounded by the land, and stands at a junction of historic routes. Lyndhurst is also the largest village within the New Forest and is a popular tourist location with many independent shops, art galleries, cafés, restaurants, pubs and hotels.
Mottisfont abbey was a former medieval priory and converted into a mansion later on. You can visit a limited part of the house where there are some nice rooms, especially the Whistler Room, an unusual drawing room with trompe-l'oeil murals decorated by Rex Whistler. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside.
There is a walled garden that contains the national collection of old fashioned roses. There are over 300 varieties. The best time to visit the garden is in the last 2 weeks of June when the roses are in bloom. It's great to wander around the garden with its pergolas, arches and the scents from the roses. There are also other beautiful flowers that give the garden a pallet of intense colours. Have a look at my travelogue for more pictures of the walled garden.
Near the walled garden there is a gift shop and a cafe.
Admission fee: 7 GBP (8 GBP in June).
I may live in Hampshire, but I'm minutes away from Aldermaston Wharf in Berkshire.
On a sunny afternoon, pay a visit to Aldermaston Wharf and the Butt Inn country pub. It has a car park and serves good food either indoors our outdoors. Afterwards take a short stroll towards the Canal (you can't miss it - 200yds away) and walk off lunch along the Kennet & Avon Canal. This is a key spot for canal barges and you'll come across working locks in either direction.
If you're not into pubs, there's a small visitor center nearby where you can puchase ice-creams / tea & coffee instead.....
The nearby pretty village of Aldermaston also has a lovely pub/restaurant with enclosed play area out the back called the Hinds Head
Near The New Forest is an area which has been named the South’s Family Leisure Park. It is near the M27 on your way towards Totton near Southampton. There’s ample parking & is a great place to visit given that that the weather stays fine.
There’s a mini log flume for children. The cars are shaped like seals; there’s a long queue during the summer. The park itself is in 140 acres of parkland with a large notice at the entrance. There’s a lake in the shape of a horseshoe & lots of quiet walks which are secluded, part of which passes through Dinosaur Wood. There’s a countryside museum with displays of Romany Life as the Gypsies experienced it , caravans can be seen, and you can look through the doors at how we lived.
Trundle carts or ‘stroll-a-saureses’ can be hired, which you pay for, but I think it is refundable. The pirate ship is not a ride for the faint hearted & go kart racing will amuse the boys in the family, althrough there's an extra charge of £2 for this. There is a maze to get lost in, its has tall green bushes, so you can’t look over the top. There's cheats holes and a clock in the centre, a platform overlookes the maze.
A little train takes you all round the grounds, it stopes by a cafe. Many animals can be viewed including Meercats, Owls and wildfowl. There's many pretty gradens including a stream & a waterfall by a pond with huge fish in.
A list of rides include The Flying Frog which is a mini rollar coaster for children, Pirate Ride, The Wave Runner where you go down a chute of water in a dinghy and many more.
The New Forest Visitor Centre is a must to see. It shows you in moving pictures, of how the forest is season by season.
There is a large interactive map intended to allow the tourist to discover some of the major basics of the Forest's account from beginning to end of its natural features. Two touch-screen PC interactives allow people to discover the past of the New Forest at their freedom & in an exhilarating means.
The rest of the ground floor is dedicated to the accepted life of the New Forest by revealing the various environments within the Forest and showing what kinds of plant life & animals occupy each. Here another well-designed touch-screen computer lets explorations into the Forest's wildlife & habitats through numerous choices. This is instructive but at the same time inspiring & pleasurable. Admission to the first floor displays are by an eye-catching staircase. Here the famous New Forest Embroidery is on show plus quite a few paintings & little displays of artefacts. This area also contains varying small exhibitions keeping the whole museum alive with activity.
Portsmouth may be today a significant port, but by modern standards the city is relatively new. Whilst there were a scattering of homes from Roman times (the main settlement was Portchester - Portus Adorni - across the bay), it wasn't until the end of the 12th century that Portsmouth began to develop as a town/city in its own right. Its location for a naval yard was the prime reason - the invasion of France the goal. Henry VIII bestowed Portsmouth as the home of the Royal Navy he himself established - but this wasn't before the French fleet had consistently attacked the town, leading to a number of fortifications being built around the city and immediate environs.
The First Fleet, bound for Australia with a 'cargo' of prisoners, departed from Portsmouth in 1787.
Heavily bombed during WWII, Portsmouth is a city of approximately 200,000 people. It's not a glamourous destination, but has a number of attractions - most notably the Historic Dockyard, which holds the remains of Henry VIII's 'Mary Rose', Nelson's 'HMS Victory' as well as the 'HMS Warrior' - Britain's first iron-clad warship. A number of the coastal fortifications are aimed at tourists and the development of Gunwharf Quays linking the dockyards with Old Portsmouth has breathed new life into the area - Spinaker Tower at 552 feet is the 5th tallest building in the UK and offers 3 different viewing levels.
Winchester is the former capital of the Kingdom of Wessex and, for approximately 200 years in the 10/11th centuries, capital of England. And this small city oozes history.
The cathedral is an obvious draw: it has the longest Nave in a Gothic cathedral in Europe, although something of a stump for a tower. The extensive ruins of the former Bishop's Palace, Wolvesey, are a few minutes from the cathedral, as is The Great Hall and King Arthur's 'roundtable'.
It's an attractive city - its location and transport links with the rest of the country has made Winchester one of the most expensive places to live in England.
Just as with the nearby Titchfield Abbey (see previous tip), Netley Abbey was founded by the Bishop of Winchester, Peter des Roches in the 13th century, sold off to a private estate following Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries, converted to a private residence and then abandoned and partially demolished to create a 'romantic ruin' in the 18th century.
And, like Titchfield, the ruins are now managed by English Heritage who provide free, year-round access.
Founded in 1239 for the Cistercian order, des Roches died before completion - the loss of the main benefactor of the Abbey meaning that it financially struggled until taken under the patronage of King Henry III in the mid 1240s. It never excelled as a centre of excellence and was sold off in 1536 to Sir William Paulet, Henry VIII's Lord Treasurer and later Marquise of Winchester.
He immediately set about creating a palace fit for one of the most powerful politicians in the kingdom - an 'example' likely followed by the Earl of Southampton only a few miles away at Titchfield (Paulet had a two year advantage).
As early as 1700, demolition was planned of the by-now unfashionable house, but that was abandoned. But it was allowed to decay and by the mid 1800s had become a popular tourist attraction - among others Jane Austen. Artists of the romantic movement flocked - it even has its own opera. 'Netley Abbey, an Operatic Farce' by William Pearce premiered in 1794 at Covent Garden.
It passed into the hands of the state in 1922 and is now managed by English Heritage.
Access is free, open 7 days per week April-September (10am-6pm): Saturday/Sunday only, October-March (10am-3pm)
A beautiful ruin near the town of Fareham on the Hampshire coast, Titchfield Abbey is now managed by English Heritage.
Built in 1222 by the then Bishop of Winchester, Peter des Roches (who also founded the nearby Netley Abbey - see separate tip - and Halesowen Abbey in Worcestershire), Titchfield was home to canons (as opposed to monks) of the Premonstratensian order (also known as 'white canons' due the colour of their robes).. Austere, the canons not only included a life of study and prayer but also a pastoral mission, serving as parish priests.
Whilst not overly important from a political perspective, the Abbey, with extensive lands endowed by des Roches, was relatively wealthy. It wasn't a particularly large Abbey, but money was spent on the buildings, evidenced by the polychrome floor tiles from the 14th century that still dot the site today.
Its proximity to the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth also saw a number of important visitors, including King Richard II (1393), Henry V (1415) and Henry VI married Margaret of Anjou in 1445 at the Abbey.
Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537 saw the end of Titchfield Abbey, with the Earl of Southampton, Thomas Wriothesley, purchasing the property. It his renovations and changes that we see today, providing something of a false impression of the size of Titchfield Abbey.
The stunning castellated gatehouse that is the centre-piece of the ruin was built by Southampton and was actually forced through the middle of the Nave of the Abbey church! Many of the remainder of the Abbey buildings were either demolished or converted into luxury living quarters for the Earl and his family. The new Abbey became known as simply Place House and was regarded as extremely luxurious. It continued to attract royal visitors until 1781 when it was abandoned as a home and much of it deliberately demolished to create a 'romantic ruin', vogue at the time.
And so we see today the 'romantic ruin' - and as a result of the demolition we also see a great deal of the original Abbey and outbuildings (at least their foundation stones).
Free entry from 10am - 5pm (summer), 10am-4pm (winter), 7 days per week (closed October).
Milestones is an undercover museum of history about the rae ranging from the factories to the people who made and let it breath. Bassically it's an open-air museum inside a massive modern building (bit like a hanger)… with streets with shops, a village green and even a pub... dating from Victorian times and the 1930s serving up real alcohol. There's plenty of parking at the site and I think there's a bus that comes to the museum from the city center.
Prices are: Adult £7.25, Concession £6.50, Child £4.25
Family (2 adults & 2 children): £21, under 5s free.
You can hire wheelchairs and there's a lift down to all levels. The resturant is at the top and can take bookings in advance. The gift shop is equally interesting with many things from the 1930's upwards, bound to stir a memory or two.
The first building you come to is a saw mill, you can hire speaking phones which will explain the history. The Co-Op is very interesting and shows what shopping was like before the arrival of the supermarket in the sixties. There's also a hardware store, greengrocers, Romany caravans, firestation, trams, railway station, old garage with old cars, bike shop, buses & many other items of interest. The old oven's are fascinating, my grandmother had one and burnt the back out! The cobbled streets are uneven, and there's a tripping hazrd with the pavements. There are events going on out the day like Eating Creepy Crawlies. An exhibition which delves into the consumption of bugs and mini-beasts, some of which make your skin crawl!
Some of collections to be seen are:
Tens of thousands of people were employed at the huge Thornycroft factory in Basingstoke. Some of the vehicles they made can be seen in a building that has machinery from the original works. http://www3.hants.gov.uk/thornycroft for more information.
Everything from tin openers to cookers and fridges can be found in Collections Corner. Fasinating for anyone looking for a historic view of the things used in the past. It is also regularly featured on national TV.
Listen to music from the past from real 78s played on real gramophones from the 1930s. Do you have a favourite tune? The knowledgeable shopkeeper will do her best to find it for you in her wide-ranging collection, she found one for my mother which even I'd never heard of!Children can also dress up in period clothes and buy real sweets in the sweet shop. There's also an anderson shelter by the old tractors.
Note: There are tempory pictures, until i put my own on.
We came to Beaulieu for the motor museum. I was glad to find out that the entrance to the motor museum also included the Beaulieu castle and abbey. Only the entrance fee (16 GBP) was rather high in my opinion.
Opening hours: 10 am to 5 pm (winter) / 6 pm (summer).
This national motor museum contains about 250 cars and motorbikes and is a real must for motor freaks. You can easily spend an hour looking at all those beauties.
One of the most important buildings in Winchester is the cathedral. This 178 m-long cathedral is the largest of England. The oldest part is from the 11th century.
It is an impressive and interesting church to visit. There are many commemorative plates and graves of important people.
Entrance fee: 4 GBP
More pics can be found in my travelogue.
The New Forest lies south of Winchester and east of Bournemouth. It was formed in 1079 by William the Conqueror as hunting grounds. There are still wild horses running around the area. It's a great area to drive through on your way to the Isle of Wight.
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