Historic Houses & Gardens
The estate originally belonged to Winchester Cathedral until Henry VIII granted it to Edmund Clerke. The house, that played host to Charles II and Nell Gwyn and George IV and Mrs Fitzherbert, is still in private ownership. The house and park are open to the public May to September, on Sundays and bank holidays, and there are several events throughout the year such as open-air theatre and art shows.
Brandy Mount House Gardens
An excellent Spring garden with snowdrops, dwarf narcissi and anemones, daphnes and alpines. The garden, located close to the High Street in New Alresford, is open by appointment only.
Once owned by the late Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the house and Capability Brown-designed gardens, open seasonally, is the venue for the annual Romsey Agricultural Show. The 60-room Palladian mansion is set in 5,000 acres of parkland on the River Test is where both the Queen honeymooned, as did the Prince of Wales in 1981. Only open to the public Monday to Wednesday from June to September.
Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum
This comfortable Regency home is where Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812. After exploring the home in which he grew up, it is possible to join a guided walk of the area where the Dickens family lived and worked. These walks are led by Portsmouth Tourist Guides, which start at the Victory Gate (the entrance to the Historic Dockyard) and finish at the Portsmouth' £Museum, Museum Road. Open Friday to Sunday from April to September.
The 200-acre collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and rare trees and shrubs, a riot of colour in the spring and great place for kicking through piles of autumn leaves, was the vision of Lionel de Rothschild who bought the estate in 1919. The estate, on the banks of the Beaulieu River, is still owned by the Rothschild family who rebuilt the house in 1922 and opened the gardens to the public as early as 1955. There is a miniature railway which takes a 20 minute journey round a self-contained part of the garden. Open daily from mid-March to early November and dogs welcome.
Gilbert White's House
A curate, Gilbert White is remembered for being one of the first natural history writers. The rooms at 'The Wakes' have been reconstructed following descriptions in White's letters and the 30 acres of ancient parkland and gardens have been carefully restored. Also housed here is the Oates Collection which recently celebrated the centenary of Captain Lawrence Oates' heroic death on Scott's fated Antarctic expedition. He famously left the tent in a blizzard never to return saying 'I am just going outside and may be some time'. Open throughout the year but check website for details. Dogs on leads permitted in the garden.
Home to the Dukes of Richmond & Lennox for over 300 years, the house can be visited March to October (check website for details). It contains some impressive collections including art by Van Dyck, Reynolds, Stubs and Canaletto who was commissioned to paint the stunning views of Whitehall and the Thames from the 2nd Duke's London home. Many visitors come to the numerous and varied events that take place in the parklands throughout the year including Goodwood Revival in September, the Festival of Speed in June and Glorious Goodwood at the end of July. There is an event for everyone: horseracing, which first took place in 1802; golf, on a 100 year old course; flying, from the aerodrome used as a WWII fighter station; and motor racing, on the motor circuit established in 1948.
A beautiful Victorian castle, home to the Carnarvon family since 1679, it is built on the foundations of a medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years, and has been the location for the filming of Downton Abbey. The house and Capability Brown-designed gardens are open Sunday to Thursday mid-June to mid-September and for special events, such as the Egyptian exhibition about the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter. Events are very popular so book in advance to avoid disappointment.
An elegant country manor lovingly rebuilt by its last owner, Ralph Dutton, following a catastrophic 1960s fire is now managed by the National Trust. The windows frame exquisite views of the manicured lawns and beyond undisturbed views of the South Downs, a children's trail explores the topiary throughout the garden and a 4 mile estate walk offers wonderful views and lovely woods to play in. At Christmas, the house is beautifully decorated. Open year-round, dogs on leads welcome on the estate walk.
Jane Austen's House Museum
This 17th century house was Jane's home for the last eight years of her life and she is buried at Winchester Cathedral. The museum today reflects the comfortable family home that the Austen women created while telling the story of their lives and Jane's work. Open throughout the year but check website for details.
King John's House
In the centre of Romsey, three buildings spanning 750 years of building history form the Heritage Centre that includes the medieval King John's House that contains 14th century graffiti and a rare bone floor. Open Monday to Saturday.
Longstock Water Gardens
Part of the Leckford Estate, owned and managed by the John Lewis Partnership, the water gardens were created by John Spedan Lewis. They are open to the public on the first and third Sundays of the month from May to September. Longstock Park Nursery and Farm shop are open throughout the year.
This National Trust property is a perfectly proportioned Queen Anne house located in Cathedral Close in the centre of Salisbury. It was used as a location for the filming of 'Sense and Sensibility'. Open mid-March to end of October, closed Thursday and Friday.
The remains of a medieval priory form part of the ground floor of the Georgian house we see today which is managed by the National Trust. With its carpet of spring bulbs, riverside walk, walled rose garden and rich autumn colours, the garden, largely laid out by socialite Maud Russell, is a feast for the senses throughout the year. There are exhibitions and events throughout the year as well as a super café in the old kitchens. There is also access to the 1,600 acres estate with marked walks and cycle routes. Dogs are welcome to explore the gardens and estate. Open year-round.
The foremost example of the Greek-Revival style in England, William Wilkins encased an earlier house in Classical facades in the early 19th century. Today, the remains, which after the threat of demolition were taken into the guardianship of English Heritage, provide a stunning backdrop for a summer opera season run by Grange Park Opera (see Performing Arts). Access to the exterior is free year-round.
Petworth House and Park
A family home for more than 800 years, the 17th century mansion we see today, managed by the National Trust, is set in a beautiful Capability Brown landscaped deer park immortalised in Turner's paintings. The art collection includes paintings by Holbein, Reynolds, Gainsborough and Rembrandt as well as Turner. Still home to Lord and Lady Egremont, the house was used recently as a location for filming 'Mr Turner'. Open year-round, dogs and bicycles are welcome in the park.
Sir Harold Hillier Gardens
Over 180 acres of gardens which provide year-round colour offers a busy schedule of events for visitors of all ages from workshops, exhibitions and tours to concerts, dining events and seasonal activities. Sir Harold's objective, in his own words, was 'to create as attractively as possible as great a collection of plants as I was able to add to those already collected by my father and grandfather'. Open year-round. Dogs are not permitted in the gardens.
The current house was rebuilt in 1901 following a calamitous fire, but stands on the footprint of the 1688 house, which in turn stands where a hunting lodge was sited over 800 years ago. Royal visitors are recorded from Henry II to the present generation and has been the family home of the Ponsonbys, Earls of Bessborough, since 1924. With a miniature railway, yew maze, walled gardens, garden centre and tea rooms and estate walks there's plenty for a day trip. Please check website for opening times.
Stratfield Saye House & Estate
Home to the Duke of Wellington since it was acquired following the battle of Waterloo in 1871, the main part of the house and stable blocks were built around 1630 by Sir William Pitt, Comptroller of the Household to James I. Access to the house is by guided tour only so pre-book to avoid disappointment. The estate and Capability Brown-designed country park can be visited during high season, please check website for opening times.
Perched on the South Downs with a commanding view, the Georgian house, which offers an insight into life upstairs and downstairs, has been meticulously restored by the National Trust following a devastating fire in 1989. It is home to a wonderful 17th century dolls house and playing in the gardens is actively encouraged, it's a super place to fly a kite on a windy day and is now open 363 day of the year. Dogs are not permitted in the gardens.
From its royal beginnings in Tudor times, to the inspirational setting for Jane Austen's novels and possibly Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, the house and garden at The Vyne are now maintained by the National Trust. Henry VIII visited on several occasions and brought Anne Boleyn here and was mentioned in the BBC drama 'Wolf Hall' which has seen a surge in Tudor Tourism. Currently undergoing a roof project to save it from disrepair, you can be part of history and personalise a tile. Open year-round, dogs are welcome in the gardens.
West Dean House and gardens
The 19th century Grade II* listed building is the former home of Edward James, patron to the Surrealists, and is now an internationally renowned Higher Education College teaching conservation and creative arts, as well as over 700 short art and craft courses each year. The house is open to the public once a year. West Dean Gardens are open to the public from February to December, dogs are welcome in the gardens and there is good accessibility. Special events throughout the year include the Design and Craft Fair in June and the award-winning Chilli Fiesta in August.
Home to the Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House has been a family home since it was gifted to Sir William Herbert by Henry VIII. It has been the location for films including 'Mrs Brown' and 'The Young Victoria'. The house and gardens are open to the public Sundays to Thursdays, April to September, as well as many special events including an Antiques Fair, horse trial and the Wessex Country Fair. Dogs are not permitted.