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Local Towns

Alresford

(16 miles)

Fire destroyed much of the medieval town but today 'New Alresford' is a delightful Georgian town with a broad market street, an excellent place to browse the shops and take a walk beside the River Arle to see the eel house and watercress beds, after which the Watercress railway line was named. There are regular farmers markets as well as the annual Watercress Festival in May. Alresford regularly features in lists of the best rural towns to live in and visit.

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Alton

(18 miles)

A settlement has been on this site since Roman times, a ford across the River Wey on the road between Silchester and Chichester. Today, this thriving market town offers a mix of historic buildings and modern shops, and there are regular farmers markets and the Curtis Museum of local history. Nearby are Jane Austin's House Museum at Chawton and Gilbert White's House and the Oates Collection at Selborne.

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Basingstoke

(32 miles)

A modern, affluent town, with excellent shopping facilities and a wealth of attractions including the Willis Museum, Basing House, Milestone Museum, Aquadrome and Ifly. It is a good place to play and explore indoors on a rainy day. Stratfield Saye House is nearby and you can take a walk along the Basingstoke canal or even a boat tour (see Watersports).

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Bishop's Waltham

(7 miles)

A Saxon village, given by the King to the Bishop of Winchester in 904 AD, is today a charming market town, a number of independent shops and restaurants housed in 17th and 18th century buildings, and the remains of Bishop's Waltham Palace and museum are fascinating to explore.

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Chichester

(22 miles)

A cathedral city in West Sussex has been an important regional town throughout history. The town layout was established by the Romans who built a significant walled settlement. Today the town is a busy hub of shopping and tourism and is host to the Chichester Festival Theatre and Novium Museum. Nearby are the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, the Weald and Downland Living Museum and Goodwood, as well as Chichester Harbour.

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Emsworth

(21 miles)

On the shore of Chichester Harbour popular with sailors, artists, naturalists and walkers. It has a long history connected with oyster fishing and boat building and still boasts traditional shipwrights and chandleries and is an attractive place for a wander with exceptional harbour views and regular farmers markets. Sailing trips on the 'Terror' can be booked (see Watersports).

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Guildford

(38 miles)

The River Wey carved a gap in the North Downs and Guildford was sited at a crossing point on the 'Harrow Way' between Canterbury and Winchester. An early site of the Royal Mint and the Norman castle keep was built by William the Conqueror. Today the cobbled high street provides excellent shopping. Visit the Castle, Guildford Museum and Guildford House Art Gallery or explore the Wey Navigation canal at Daphne Wharf run by the National Trust where you can take a boat trip or hire a boat upstream in Godalming (see Watersports).

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Midhurst

(22 miles)

Described by English Heritage as a hidden jewel, even today this market town in the heart of the South Downs National Park is dominated by the presence of the Cowdray Estate with the distinctive yellow paintwork of the estate properties throughout the town. You can visit the ruins of the Tudor manor in its Capability Brown park as well as the golf course, polo fields and farm shop.

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Newbury

(40 miles)

Well worth a day trip, there is plenty around this West Berkshire town to attract visitors, not just the famous racecourse. Visit Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey has been filmed, Donnington Castle, Shaw House, Basildon Park and Greenham Common, once the site of the famous women's peace camp, or take a trip on the Kennet & Avon Canal (see Watersports).

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Petersfield

(11 miles)

Formerly an important coaching town on the London to Portsmouth road, the town is home to the Flora Twort Gallery, Physic Garden and Petersfield Museum. In the summer you can enjoy a dip in the heated outdoor lido and there are regular farmers markets. It is also on the main London to Portsmouth train line, and with express trains reaching Waterloo in just over an hour, it is a good way to head to London for a day trip from the cottages.

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Petworth

(28 miles)

A visit to Petworth House (managed by the National Trust) is just one reason to visit this charming town. There are numerous antiques shops to browse and cobbled streets well worth a wander or go for a longer walk in Petworth Park.

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Portsmouth

(13 miles)

A popular waterfront destination with over 800 years of naval history, home to the Historic Dockyard and D-Day Museum, you can also visit the Tudor Southsea Castle, view the port from the top of the Spinnaker Tower, entertain the children at the Clarence Pier fair or enjoy some retail therapy at Gunwharf Quays. There is also a harbour tour and ferries to the Isle of Wight.

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Salisbury

(49 miles)

The gothic Cathedral, home to the Magna Carta, rises above the Wiltshire countryside. There is a thriving market, buzzing arts scene, museums and Mompesson House (managed by the National Trust). Nearby are Longleat, Stourhead Gardens and the World Heritage site of Stonehenge is on Salisbury Plain.

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Southampton

(19 miles)

Still a busy port today, Southampton was the departure point for the Pilgrim Fathers passage to America on the Mayflower, and the ill-fated Titanic. Explore the city's connections with the sea at the SeaCity Museum, walk the old city walls, visit Tudor House or enjoy some retail therapy at West Quay Shopping Centre. The Southampton Boat Show, one of Europe's premier Boat Shows, is held annually in September and you can take a day trip to Cowes on the Isle of Wight on the Red Funnel ferry.

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Stockbridge

(26 miles)

The broad main street was once a route for drovers moving their sheep and cattle to market from Wales, but today it offers a selection of shops, cafes and restaurants. The Drovers House still sports a sign in Welsh. Located on the upper Test River, famed for its trout fishing, the town is home to the Houghton Fishing Club, the oldest fishing club in England. Nearby attractions include Danebury Hill Fort, Houghton Lodge Gardens, Danebury Vineyards at Nether Wallop and the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop. Longstock Water Gardens is well worth a visit when open, (see House and Gardens).

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Wickham

(8 miles)

The village is named after one of its most famous residents, William of Wykeham, who became Bishop of Winchester, twice Lord Chancellor, and founder of Winchester College and New College Oxford. Today independent shops, restaurants and tearooms occupy the medieval and Georgian properties that line the second largest medieval square in England. A fun fair takes over the square during the horse fair which has run annually on 20th May since 1271. Chesapeake Mill, a watermill built with timbers from United States frigate Chesapeake, which was captured by the Royal Navy during the War of 1812, is home to antiques rooms and cafe. The village is one end of the Meon Valley Trail (see Walking). There is also an annual family friendly music festival in early August.

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Winchester

(14 miles)

England's former capital, and seat of Alfred the Great, has something for everyone, with great shopping, award-winning restaurants, regular antiques markets and farmers markets (see Dining Out), the cathedral, museums and a vibrant programme of events. The Christmas Market held the month before Christmas in Cathedral Close is widely recognised as one of the best in Europe. The annual Hat Fair in July, which has absolutely nothing to do with hats, is a fantastic family friendly free festival of street performances that take place throughout the city.

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