New Forest

The Top Historic Sites in Hampshire

One of the most historically rich counties in the UK, Hampshire has history and heritage at its heart. First settled by humans some 14,000 years ago, it has the footsteps and handiwork of man woven into its very fabric. So irrevocably intertwined, the county still bears the marks of its colourful past, peppered with ancient sites and historical buildings that have withstood the test of time.

 

If you would like to discover some of these fascinating spots, here are some of the best historic sites in Hampshire to visit during a luxury holiday in the county. 

Winchester Castle

The Great Hall is all that remains of Winchester Castle, yet this stunning aisled hall is reason enough to visit. The finest of its kind to have survived, this 13th Century hall, framed by soaring marble columns and stunning stained glass windows, is home to King Arthur’s iconic Round Table. Head over to learn all about the battles planned, secrets uncovered, and trials and treason all carried out here.

Winchester Cathedral

The 1,000-year-old Winchester Cathedral is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in Northern Europe. The longest Medieval cathedral in the world, it’s a place that has attracted admirers and worshippers for centuries. If you go, consider taking part in one of the cathedral’s many guided tours, including tours of the cathedral itself, tower tours and crypt tours.

Jane Austen’s House

Hampshire is a mecca for Jane Austen fans, being both her birthplace and the inspiration behind many of her works. Though you can find many connections to the author all around the county, a particular highlight is her former home in Chawton. Here, you can discover the rooms where she wrote many of her novels and retrace her steps around the picturesque cottage garden.

Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson in Boarhunt invites you to step back in time and discover 600 years of artillery history. Containing the Royal Armouries’ national collection, this restored Victorian fort with original fortifications proffers a great day out for history lovers of all ages. And, with over 700 pieces out on display including a 15th Century Turkish cannon and 200-tonne howitzer, there’s plenty to keep you captivated.

Beaulieu Palace House

Set within the beautiful New Forest, Beaulieu Palace House is a Victorian country house, home to all kinds of activities and attractions. Inside the house itself, each room is adorned with portraits, family heirlooms and memorabilia, while outside the extensive grounds feature Victorian gardens, a glassy millpond, the ruins of an 800-year-old abbey and much, much more.

Tudor House and Gardens

Tudor House in Southampton is considered the most important historic building in the city. Located in the heart of Southampton’s Old Town, its attractive timber-framed structure dates from the 15th Century, while nearby the ruins of King John’s Palace date back to the 12th Century. Making it accessible to all generations, it features interactive and family-friendly activities and displays.

Portchester Castle

Built upon a Roman fort and later a Saxon settlement, the Norman Portchester Castle has played an important role in protecting Hampshire’s coast for over a thousand years. A defensive outpost and a former prisoner-of-war camp, the castle now provides a striking setting for a coastal stroll – with its castle courtyard and grounds affording beautiful views over the Solent.  

Mary Rose Museum 

Built in 1510, the Mary Rose was the flagship of Henry VIII. She served for 34 years in the king’s navy before she was wrecked during the Battle of the Solent in 1545. Over 400 years later in 1982, her remains were raised from the deep and brought back to land. These incredible remains, along with thousands of original objects recovered from the ship, can be seen in the Mary Rose Museum today.

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle was built under the command of Henry VIII to protect the Needles Passage – an important waterway leading to the Solent, the port of Southampton and Portsmouth’s naval base. It was also used a prison, most infamously holding Charles I captive in 1648. Playing an active military role until 1956, it today is a great place to explore and take in views of the Hampshire coast.

Wolvesey Castle

Wolvesey Castle was once of the most opulent Medieval buildings in England – home of the wealthy and powerful bishops of Winchester. Though little remains of the building now, it’s easy to imagine its former grandeur, with its skeletal walls still standing proud. One of the best things about visiting this historic site in Hampshire is that it is also dog-friendly, meaning all the family can enjoy. 

Danebury Iron Age Hillfort

Danebury near Stockbridge is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and one of the most famous Iron Age hillforts in Europe. Constructed around 2,500 years ago, it was occupied for nearly 500 years by rural farming communities. If you go there today, you can still see the faint circular outline of ramparts, as well as a small peak in the middle, a focal point once used for meetings and religious gatherings.

Highclere Castle

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, then you’ll definitely want to visit Highclere Castle. The location of the original Downton series, this Grade I listed country house was originally built in 1679, though its 5,000-acre estate actually dates all the way back to 749. Brimming with history and boasting beautiful gardens designed by Capability Brown, Highclere Castle is a must-visit historic site in Hampshire. 

Feeling inspired? Peruse our collection of luxury cottages in Hampshire here.

Ssshhh... don't tell anyone

We can let you know about our newest retreats, exclusive offers, featured luxury properties and what's on. Just let us know your email address and we’ll keep you in the loop.