Days Out In Hampshire

The county of Hampshire does, literally, have it all. Whether you’re into the countryside, a city slicker or crave the coast you’ll find somewhere to suit in Hampshire, and plenty to see and do.

There are national parks, history and heritage, beautiful beaches, stately homes and gardens, museums and many more attractions to enjoy on a day out in Hampshire.

We’ve put together a list of suggestions for fun places to visit from both English Heritage and the National Trust.

National Trust Properties in Hampshire

Hinton Ampner

This elegant country house at Alresford contains a magnificent collection of furniture, paintings and objets d’art, and boasts a five hectare garden that is regarded as a masterpiece of 20th century design.

You can explore the house and then move on to the grounds with its special features like a dell, sunken garden with a fine sculptured topiary, and restored walled garden. The ancient trees in the parkland have tales to tell, and there are dog-friendly walks through the estate, affording spectacular views across the south downs of the Hampshire countryside.

How to get to Hinton Ampner

Hinton Ampner is about eight miles east of Winchester on the A272. Use the postcode SO24 0NH for the satnav, which will take you to the Hinton Arms public house, almost at the main entrance gates to Hinton Ampner. There is free parking available.

Opening hours and entry fees

The garden and estate is open daily all year round from 10am to 5pm (or dusk, whichever is earlier). The house usually opens daily from 11am to 4.30pm between February and the end of November.

Admission prices are as follows (free to National Trust members):

House and Garden

Adult – £15.50
Child – £7.75
Family – £38.75

Garden only

Adult – £11.00
Child – £5.50
Family – £27.50

Group rates and Gift Aid rates are available.

Good to know

There’s a café serving light lunches, cakes and drinks, and a shop selling souvenirs, locally sourced products and plants. Dogs are welcome in the grounds on a short lead (except for the walled garden). Children under five go for free. Much of the garden is wheelchair accessible, as is the ground floor of the house.

For more information see the Hinton Ampner website.

The Vyne

Steeped in history The Vyne is a Tudor mansion, built in the 1500s for Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, Lord Sandys. Set in 1500 acres of gardens, woodlands and wetlands in the Hampshire countryside near Basingstoke The Vyne estate was in the care of the Chute family for around 300 years, and was remodelled in the mid-17th Century.

Today the National Trust invites you to marvel at this house with its exquisite wood carvings in the chapel, 500-year old Majolica tiles, oak gallery, Renaissance stained glass and treasures like rare furnishings, tapestries, paintings, Murano glass and silk wall hangings.

Outside you can enjoy invigorating walks and explore some adventurous trails – particularly popular with youngsters who can try out den building, orienteering and geocaching. Seek out the 600-year-old oak tree which once shaded the likes of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Jane Austen on their visits to this famous house.

How to get to The Vyne

To reach the main entrance and car park take the Morgaston Road off of Vyne Road north of Basingstoke and Sherborne St John and south of Bramley. The Satnav postcode is RG24 9HL but this will not take you to the Vyne car park. Follow the brown National Trust signs.

Opening hours and entry fees

The Vyne is open daily year round from 10am to 4pm. Access to the house is by timed ticket between 12pm and 3pm (11am at weekends). Tickets are issued at Visitor Reception. There are guided tours of the house at 11am and 11.30am. The tea-room and shop are open concurrently with the gardens, from 10am to 4pm.

Standard admission prices for The Vyne estate are currently:

Adult – £13.00
Child – £6.50
Family – £32.50

Gift aid and group rates are available. National Trust members enter for free.

Good to Know

The free carpark is a short walk from visitor reception, then there is a walk of about 500m through the gardens to the house. Popular picnic spots are the north lawn and benches dotted around the gardens. Dogs are permitted on leads on walking trails. The Brewhouse tea room is self-service and offers cakes and light lunches. There’s a toddlers play area off the Lime Avenue, and den building activities are encouraged in Morgaston woods. See Visitor Reception for family trails and activities.

For more information visit The Vyne website

Winchester City Mill

In the heart of the historic city of Winchester – once the Saxon capital of Wessex – stands the oldest working corn watermill in the UK, dating back about 1000 years (though it was rebuilt in 1744).

The mill, straddling the River Itchen, has been in the care of the National Trust since the 1920s and was restored into working order in 2004. Now visitors can get hands-on with a variety of activities and audio-visual displays, flour milling demonstrations and baking sessions. The mill is also home to a variety of wildlife and you may well spot kingfishers, grey wagtails, wild trout and water voles from the garden, and watch otters from a live camera feed.

Don’t forget to take home a bag of freshly milled stoneground flour!

How to get to Winchester City Mill

If approaching Winchester from the north, exit the M3 at junction 9 and follow signs for the city centre. From the south leave the M3 at Junction 10. The nearest parking to The Mill is Chesil multi-storey car park, or you can use the Park and Ride at St Catherine’s or Barfield. The postcode for The Mill, which is in Bridge Street, is SO23 9BH but Satnavs will not take you to any on site parking. It is best to consult the Winchester City Council webpages for parking information.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

The Winchester City Mill is open daily from 10am to 5pm, closing at 4pm in November and December. When planning a visit check the opening hours on the National Trust website.

Admission prices (free entry for National Trust members) are as follows:

Adults – £5.00
Child – £2.50
Family – £12.50

Gift aid rates are available.

Good to Know

There are no toilets on site, but you’ll find public toilets in Abbey Gardens, about 200 metres away. There’s a shop selling National Trust gifts and local produce. Dogs (except assistance dogs) are not permitted inside the mill. Flour milling demonstrations are held at weekends all year, and Wednesdays as well between April and October. Wheelchair access is limited because of steps and stairs.

 

For more information visit the National Trust page

Mottisfont

This romantic 18th Century house – actually a converted medieval priory – is set in beautiful riverside gardens close to Romsey in Hampshire. Maud Russell, patron of modern art, made it her home in the 1930s and filled it with famous guests – artists, writers and designers of the time – and extraordinary features, like the trompe l’oeil drawing room painted by Rex Whistler. The house now contains a permanent collection of 20th century art, as well as a host of surprises and stories left by Maud Russell.

The magnificent gardens are a feast for the senses all year round, and seasonal events are held frequently, including free daily guided walks and talks. There are hundreds of acres of the wider estate to explore across Stockbridge Down and Marsh and Curbridge Nature Reserve and wild play areas to enjoy.

How to get to Mottisfont

Head for Romsey (junction 2 or 3 off the M27) then follow signs to Stockbridge A3057). A few miles down the A3057 turn left following the brown tourist information signs to Mottisfont. From the M3 exit on junction 8 for the A303 towards Andover, then follow signs to Stockbridge and Romsey on the A3057. A few miles from Stockbridge you will come across a brown tourist information sign for Mottisfont. Parking is free. Satnav postcode is SO51 0LN.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

During spring, summer and autumn Mottisfont is open from 10am to 5pm. In winter opening hours are 10am to 4pm, with the house and gallery opening at 11am. For more precise opening information check the National Trust website before you visit.

Admission prices (free for National Trust Members)

Standard price:
Adult – £16.50
Child – £8.25
Family – £41.25
Adult Group – £12.70

Peak Price (applicable for June rose season and bank holidays):
Adult – £17.50
Child – £8.75
Family – £43.75
Adult Group – £12.70

Under 5s enter free. Gift aid rates are available.

Good to know

The top floor art gallery hosts four major exhibitions a year. Outdoors there is seasonal planting in the gardens with free daily guided walks and talks. Free parking adjacent to the welcome centre. Toilets at the welcome centre, stables, house and kitchen garden. Old Kitchen in the house serves hot meals, and the Coach House Café offers lighter lunches. Picnics welcome. Dogs welcome on short leads outdoors in most areas. There are designated children’s wild play areas.

For more information visit the National Trust page

National Trust Properties in Hampshire

The Grange at Northington

Ancient Greece comes to Hampshire! In 1809 architect William Wilkins set out to transform a modest brick building into a classic Greek temple, wrapping the house in cement and adding eight huge Doric columns. Today the mansion, near Alresford, is regarded as a leading example in England of Greek Revival architecture, and is used as an opera venue. The Grange is set in a landscaped park which is open daily throughout the year, while the house itself is only open on special Heritage days.

Visitors can admire the exterior of the mansion and stroll the grounds.

How to get to The Grange

The Grange is situated four miles north of New Alresford (which is on the A31 out of Winchester) accessed by a farm track off of the B3046. Satnav SO24 9TZ.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

The grounds are open for exterior viewing only between 10am and 4pm most days of the year, except when events (and the annual opera festival) are taking place. It is best to check the English Heritage website for opening times when you are planning a visit. Admission to the grounds is free.

Good to Know

The Grange plays host to an extraordinary summer festival of opera each year, based in the mansion’s elegant indoor theatre which was converted from the original conservatory.

For more information visit the The Grange website

Wolvesey Castle (Old Bishop’s Palace)

When you’re exploring historic Winchester don’t overlook Wolvesey Castle, close to the famous Winchester Cathedral. The castle ruins are a peaceful haven that belie its busy past as the principal residence of the Bishops of Winchester in medieval times. More of a palatial residence than a castle, the once sumptuous quarters of the Bishop saw its heyday during the Bishopric of Henry Blois in the mid-12th century. Great feasts, events and conflicts took place here.

Explore the site with the help of an audio tour you can download in advance and enjoy a picnic.

How to get to Wolvesey Castle

The Castle is located in College Street, Wolvesey, Winchester, SO23 9NB. It is just south east of Winchester Cathedral in this great Hampshire City, next to the Bishop’s Palace. There is no car park specifically for the site, but plenty of public car parks can be found nearby in Winchester. The closest one is Colebrook Street, a few minutes’ walk from the site.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

Wolvesey Castle is usually open during every day during daylight hours. There is no charge for entry. Guided tours are offered on Sundays at 2pm, with a charge.

Good to Know

Dogs on leads are welcome. The ground is uneven in places and can be muddy in wet weather.

For more information visit the Wolvesey Castle website

Medieval Merchant’s House

Built in the late 13th Century, the home and business premises of merchant John Fortin in Southampton has been restored to its original appearance with replica period furnishings as a family friendly attraction close to the city centre. The house stands close to the medieval town wall.

How to get to the Merchant’s House

The Merchant’s House is at 58 French Street, just off Castle Way (between High Street and Bugle Street) in central Southampton. Satnav SO14 2AT. There is street parking (with parking meters) in the area. The nearest car park is at Town Quay, a short walk away.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

The house is open during the summer months on Sundays from 10am to 4pm. Entry is free for English Heritage members. Non-members pay.

Adults – £4.50
Child (5-17) – £2.70
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) – £11.70
Concessions (students & pensioners) – £4.10

Good to Know

There is a small back garden where herbs grow, with a wooden seat. There are steep steps to the first floor.

For more information visit the Merchant’s House website

Calshot Castle

Calshot is a pretty coastal village in greater Southampton, Hampshire, providing a relaxing day out with the added interest of its artillery fort, built by Henry VIII to defend the sea passage to Southampton. The Calshot Castle as it is known was used as a Navy and RAF base in latter years.

Calshot Castle has a basement, first floor barracks room, and second floor gun room to explore, with the roof affording fantastic views across The Solent.

How to get to Calshot Castle

The Castle is located on the Calshot Spit, two miles south-east of Fawley, off of the B3053. Satnav is SO45 1BR. There is ample parking in the vicinity, not run by English Heritage so local charges apply.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

The Castle is open to visitors from April to September. Opening hours vary so when planning a visit check on the English Heritage website.

Entry is free for English Heritage members. Non-members pay:

Adult £4.00
Child (5-17) £2.80
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £10.80
Concessions for students and pensioners £3.00

Good to Know

There is plenty of parking in the area. If you’re hungry or thirsty the café at the Calshot Activities Centre in the Sunderland Hangar (not run by English Heritage) is recommended. Picnickers are welcome but no dogs – except for assistance dogs.

For more information visit the Calshot Castle website

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle on the waterside within Portsmouth harbour in Hampshire provides for a fascinating and fun day out, with its rich history dating back to the late third century AD when the Romans built a fort on this strategic waterside spot.

Later it became a Saxon settlement, then after the conquest of 1066 it became a Norman castle and an important place for medieval kings to embark on channel crossings. It’s also been a prisoner-of-war camp – some of the French prisoners set up a theatre in the 19th Century.

The best way to bring the story of the castle to life is to make use of the free audio tour, and view the displays of archaeological finds that have been discovered on the site.

How to get to Portchester Castle

Find Portchester Castle by exiting the M27 at Junction 11. The castle is on the south side of Portchester off of the A27. Satnav is PO16 9QW. There is free parking just outside the castle, managed by Fareham Borough Council.

Opening Hours and Entry Fees

The Castle is generally open daily between 10am and 6pm from April to September, and daily from 10am to 5pm in October and on weekends in the winter months.

If you’re planning to visit confirm opening hours on the English Heritage website.

Entry is free for English Heritage members. Non-members pay:

Adults £7.20
Child (5-17) £4.30
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £18.70
Concessions for students and pensioners £6.50

Gift Aid prices are available.

Good to Know

Snacks are available with hot and cold drinks; there is also a tea room at the nearby Church. There are picnic benches and grass areas for picnicking, and a gift shop sells guide books and souvenirs. There are stunning views of the harbour and coastline. Audio tours are included in the ticket price.

For more information visit the Portchester Castle Website. Check the website too for other interesting sites to visit in and around Portsmouth such as Fort Brockhurst and King James’ Landport Gates.

For more information visit the Portchester Castle website