Historic Castles & Museums
With almost 1000 years of history, the castle, which is the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk, and set in 40 acres of grounds, is a unique chance to see paintings, furniture, tapestries, heraldry, armour and much more in stunning room settings. It provides a wonderful backdrop for some fascinating re-enactment events throughout the season (1 April to 2 November) from Normans and the Civil War to smugglers and Pirates.
Little remains of the Tudor house, the largest private house in the country at the time of its construction, as it was largely destroyed by Cromwell himself during the Civil War. However, the earthworks of the earlier Norman castle keep can still be seen and the great barn, which survived the destruction, is an impressive example of a Tudor barn.
Set in over 100 acres of Hampshire woodland, there's something for most age groups including paintball, airsoft and lasertag.
Bishop's Waltham Palace
The Palace, much of which was created by William of Wykeham, was destroyed by order of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. It is now managed by English Heritage and open to visitors at weekends. Explore the extensive remains and imagine the many visitors including Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I in the Great Hall.
Bombay Sapphire Distillery
Opened in 2014, you can visit this working distillery, housed in the stunningly converted Laverstoke Mill on the banks of the River Test. The Mill is over 1,000 years old, and the current building was previously a paper mill that produced watermarked bank notes for the Bank of England, as well as the entire British Empire. Today you can join a hosted tour, enjoy a self-guided exploration of the site or even book a fun, educational & interactive cocktail masterclass. English heritage meets cutting edge English Design in the Thomas Heatherwick designed glasshouses, along with a superbly crafted gin & tonic. Pre-booking is essential.
Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum
A Victorian steam driven brickworks where you can not only see the steam engines working, explore our industrial history and see over 100 chimney pots, but you can also get your hands dirty and try your hand at making a brick.
There are only 15 working windmills remaining in Britain, and it is thanks to a lottery grant that Bursledon has recently been restored to celebrate its 200th anniversary in 2014. The windmill is open to visitors on Sunday to try their hand at milling flour and there are various places in the county that you can buy the flour. Dogs are welcome.
Butser Ancient Farm
An ancient farm displays ongoing constructions of Iron Age buildings based on real sites, crops from prehistory and rare breeds of animals. There is a full programme of workshops, special events and festivals from coracle building to cave painting.
The artillery fort that was built by Henry VIII, which guards the entrance to Southampton Water, is managed by English Heritage and is open daily April to September.
Founded in 1075 when the seat of the bishop moved from Selsey to Chichester, the Cathedral exhibits both Norman and Gothic architecture and has a unique freestanding medieval bell tower. Medieval features sit alongside contemporary artworks including tapestries by John Piper and a Marc Chagall window.
D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery
A fascinating record of events, from the dark days of 1940 to the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, the Overlord Embroidery was commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford and stitched by the Royal School of Needlework.
Fishbourne Roman Palace
The largest Roman home in Britain, which was first excavated in the 1960s, has a footprint larger than Buckingham Palace. There is an amazing collection of in-situ mosaics and reconstructed gardens and is open daily February to mid-December.
3 well-preserved Bronze Age burial mounds constructed 4,000 years ago.
Built to protect Portsmouth, the parade ground, gun ramps and moated keep have remained largely unaltered since its construction in the 1850s. Today the fort is managed by English Heritage and is open every 2nd Saturday of the month from April to the end of September.
Located in the heart of Winchester, the Great Hall that is the only surviving part of Henry III's medieval castle, is home to King Arthur's Round Table, which has hung here for over 700 years. There is also a reconstruction of Queen Eleanor's enclosed medieval garden.
At the end of the 1.5 mile shingle spit which extends from Milford-on-Sea, the castle, built by Henry VIII as part of the chain of coastal fortresses, is only three-quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight. Today it is managed by English Heritage and is open daily from Easter until end of October. You can even approach the castle by ferry from Keyhaven.
Mary Rose Museum
Housed in a stunning new building beside HMS Victory, the Tudor ship raised from the seabed in 1982 is the only sixteenth century warship on display anywhere in the world. The museum reunites her with many of her 19,000 artefacts. You can purchase a ticket to visit just the Mary Rose Museum or as part of the Historic Dockyards, (see Family).
Medieval Merchant's House
The prosperous life of a medieval merchant is brought to life in this house, which has been faithfully restored to its 14th century glory, with replica furnishings, by English Heritage. Check their website for limited opening times.
The ruins of the 13th century monastery (the most complete surviving in Southern England) were converted for use as a house by William Paulet following the Dissolution of the Monasteries but were abandoned in 1704. The overgrown and abandoned abbey was a source of inspiration to many in the 'Romantic Movement'. John Constable came to paint here, and it is reported that Jane Austen visited Netley, finding inspiration for her novel Northanger Abbey published 1817. Today it is managed by English Heritage and is open daily throughout the summer and weekends during winter months.
Rising impressively from Salisbury Plain, this Iron Age Hillfort first created about 400BC, is managed by English Heritage. Within the two earth banks are the remains of a royal castle built around 1070 by William the Conqueror and also the footprint of the first Salisbury Cathedral which was was later demolished and the stone reused to construct the current cathedral in Salisbury. Open year-round and dogs welcome.
Since Roman times this has been an important site protecting the Solent. It was the rallying point of Henry V's expedition to Agincourt and the ruined palace of King Richard II. Today this grand castle is managed by English Heritage and is open daily.
Little remains of the medieval building of the Maritime Cathedral founded in the 12th Century, but following the 1927 split from the Winchester Diocese, plans to extend the building to a size that would dignify cathedral status were put in place and the current building was finally consecrated in 1991. A member of the crew of the Mary Rose is buried in the Navy aisle. Enter through the impressive bronze west doors to enjoy the open Byzantine style space designed by Sir Charles Nicholson in the 20th century.
Dedicated to St Mary and St Ethelflda, an Abbess of Romsey at the time of the first millennium, the Abbey was founded in 907. The current Abbey was built by the Normans in the early 12th century, and it was saved from demolition during the Dissolution of the Monasteries because part of the building was the parish church and it remains the largest parish church in Hampshire. The lucrative wool industry funded the growth of the town that grew up around the Abbey.
St. Agatha's Church
This is a grand red brick Italianate catholic basilica with a unique ecclesiastical interior. The nave apse contains a magnificent sgraffito plaster mural, the work of Heywood Sumner, a friend and disciple of William Morris. Fine furnishings and shrines, many rescued from redundant churches, contribute towards a unique ecclesiastical interior.
Sandham Memorial Chapel
A modest red brick building houses an unexpected treasure, an epic series of large-scale murals by the acclaimed war artist Sir Stanley Spencer. The murals, honouring the 'forgotten dead' of the First World War, were inspired by his own experiences as a medical orderly and soldier on the Salonika front. It is considered by some to be Britain's answer to the Sistine Chapel. Managed by the National Trust, entry is by pre-booked timed ticket only.
It is estimated that construction took place around 3100 BC, and that it took about three million man-hours to build. There are three types of stone: Bluestone; Sarsen and Welsh Sandstone, and to this day it is not known exactly why it was constructed but was probably for solar and lunar worship. Managed today by English Heritage advance booking is now required as entrance will be through timed tickets.
Ruins of a 13th century Premonstratensian abbey, later converted into a Tudor mansion where the church was rebuilt as a grand turreted gatehouse. Managed by English Heritage and open daily.
Weald and Downland Living Museum
More than 50 buildings, from 1300 to 1910, have been saved from destruction and lovingly reconstructed in a 50-acre site in the Lavant Valley. Many buildings are furnished and a collection of farm machinery, carts, wagons and agricultural, trade and craft artefacts as well as Shire horses, Sussex cattle, South Down sheep, Tamworth pigs, geese and Light Sussex chickens help bring the rural history to life. There are several special event days throughout the year including the Rare Breeds Show and Festival of Steam.
Whitchurch Silk Mill
The oldest silk mill in the UK, this gem of industrial heritage, a Georgian water mill has woven ribbons, serge, silk linings in 22 colours for Burberry, silk for insulating cables during World War II and linings for legal and academic gowns. Today the 19th century machinery produces silk for sale in the shop, for interior design and fashion, as well as commissions for the National Trust, Victoria and Albert Museum and BBC for period dramas. Open Tuesday to Sunday year-round.
A sacred place for over 15 centuries, much of the Cathedral we see today was constructed by the early 16th century. Many famous people are associated with the Cathedral including St Swithun, Jane Austen and William Walker, the deep-sea diver who worked for 6 years beneath the Cathedral in the early 20th century to underpin the building. Today the Cathedral welcomes over 300,000 visitors and worshipers a year and there is an active programme of events for all ages both inside and around the Cathedral including the very popular Christmas Market. You can also book a Tower Tour to see Winchester from above.
Winchester City Mill
Managed by the National Trust, the mill, a rare surviving urban corn mill, sits astride the River Itchen in the centre heart of the historic city of Winchester. It is still regularly used to grind flour and is full of informative interactive displays including baking with the flour. Now the official Gateway to the South Downs National Park, the mill has working models, displays and activities that explain the history and technology of flour milling, as well as regular milling and baking demonstrations. Check the website for details.
Winchester Military Museum
Five separately run museums are located on the same site, just five minutes from the Cathedral: Horse Power, the Regimental Museum of The King's Royal Hussars; The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum; The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum; The Gurkha Museum and The Guardroom Museum, the museum of the Adjutant-General's Corps.
Not far from Winchester Cathedral are the 12th century remains of this fortified Palace that was the residence of the Bishops of Winchester. One of the greatest medieval buildings in England, Wolvesey Castle was frequently visited by medieval and Tudor monarchs, and hosted the wedding feast of Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor in 1554. The site is managed by English Heritage. Check website for opening dates and times.