SOUTHERN ENGLAND

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TOURIST ATTRACTIONS:

THE NATIONAL TRUST
ENGLISH HERITAGE
HISTORIC HOUSES ASSOCIATION
THE WILDLIFE TRUST
THE NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME

HISTORIC SITES/CASTLES/CATHEDRALS

AVON

Roman Baths: Bath is one of the world’s great cities and its listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site includes the famous Roman Baths and the majestic Royal Crescent

DORSET

Corfe Castle – Wareham: One of Britain’s most majestic ruins with breathtaking views

ISLE OF WIGHT

Carisbrooke Castle – Newport: This well-preserved castle was where Charles I was imprisoned

Osbourne House – East Cowes: Built for Queen Victoria, this stunning palace is one of the foremost visitor attractions on the Isle of Wight

WILTSHIRE

Avebury: This World Heritage Site includes the famous stone circle and pretty village

Old Wardour Castle – Tisbury: A stunning 14th century castle sited by a lake in landscaped gardens

Salisbury Cathedral: One of Britain’s finest Medieval cathedrals

Stonehenge – Amesbury: This famous World Heritage Site is a ‘must see’ when visiting this area

Wilton House – near Salisbury: Lived in by generations of the same family, enjoy the gardens, grounds and art collection in this magnificent tudor house

HAMPSHIRE

Winchester Cathedral: This gothic cathedral is one of the largest in England

Mottisfont – Near Romsey: A former medieval priory set in glorious grounds by the River Test

BERKSHIRE

Windsor Castle: The oldest and largest occupied castle in the world and the Official Residence of Her Majesty The Queen

Highclere Castle – Newbury: home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and where Downton Abbey is filmed. One of England’s most beautiful Victorian Castles set in 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland, remodelled by Charles Barry architect of the Houses of Parliament

SUSSEX

Petworth House: Visit the world famous art collection in this 17th century mansion with splendid rooms which also inspired famous authors including Jane Austen

 

GARDENS

DORSET

Athelhampton House and Gardens: One of the finest manor houses in England with its earliest parts dating back to the 15th century

WILTSHIRE

Stourhead House and Gardens – Warminster: A vast and beautiful 18th century landscaped garden

Wilton House: Discover over four hundred years of history at this magnificent house and spectacular gardens

 AVON

Prior Park Landscape Garden – Bath: Beautiful and intimate 18th century landscape garden with magnificent views over the city of Bath

HAMPSHIRE

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens – Romsey: Open all year round! A magnificent collection of over 42,000 plants from temperate regions around the world

Hinton Ampner – Bramdean: A masterpiece of 20th-century design, mixing formal and informal planting, providing all year round interest.

Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway: Spectacular 200 acre woodland garden famous for its rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias

SUSSEX

Fishbourne Roman Palace & Gardens – Chichester: One of the most beautiful and comprehensive archeological experiences in the UK

Borde Hill Garden – Haywards Heath: ‘One of the country’s truly great gardens’ with outstanding views across 200 acres of Grade II listed parkland and woodland

Wakehurst Place Garden – Ardingly: Botanical garden with the world’s largest seed conservation project

Nymans Garden – Haywards Heath: Outstanding 20th Century garden set around a romantic house and ruins

SURREY

Kew Gardens – Richmond upon Thames: Explore glasshouses, landscapes and 250 years of history at the world’s most famous garden – climb to the treetops or delve into rainforest

RHS Garden Wiseley – Woking: Flagship garden of the RHS, with richly planted borders, luscious rose gardens and the state-of-the-art Glasshouse

 

FAMILY ATTRACTIONS

AVON

Jane Austen Centre – Bath: Celebrating Bath’s most famous resident. Tells the story of Jane’s Baths experience and how it had an effect on her and her writing

WILTSHIRE

Longleat Safari Park and Attractions: Home to the UK’s first Safari Park

Studley Grange Butterfly World – Swindon: Walk amongst hundreds of colourful butterflies, flying freely against a backdrop of tropical flowers and waterfalls

DORSET

Brownsea Island – Poole: A tranquil island with woodland, heathland, cliffs and beaches

Monkey World – Wareham: This Rescue Centre is home to over 230 rescued and endangered primates

Bournemouth Oceanarium, Portsmouth Blue Reef Aquarium and Weymouth Sealife Centre: Come face-to-face with marine life from all over the world and inspire a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world

BERKSHIRE

Legoland – Windsor: Over 50 amazing interactive rides, attractions and live shows

The Living Rainforest – Newbury: Explore the rainforest in the UK! Home to 700 species of plants and animals

HAMPSHIRE

Portsmouth Historic Shipyard: Home to the ill-fated Mary Rose and HMS Victory, experience 800 years of naval history

Beaulieu National Motor Museum: Large collection of vehicles and motoring memorabilia housed in a glorious 16th Century house near the River Beaulieu

Paultons Family Theme Park – Romsey: More than 60 rides and attractions including the world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park

SURREY

Chessington World of Adventures: A family fun park with everything from spine tingling rides to crazy entertainers and endangered animals

Thorpe Park – Chertsey: A family fun park with a wide selection of rides for those who want to scream as well as laugh!


 

INFORMATION ABOUT THIS AREA

The diverse beauty of this part Britain makes it a superb area to explore.  Rolling chalk hills and wooded ridges look across windswept heathland and ancient forest.  The region’s prehistoric treasures complement Roman villas. Quiet stone and thatched villages are foils to Georgian opulence.

Let’s start our tour at the mouth of the River Avon, in Bristol, which for centuries saw traders bringing wealth to the city by turning the harbour into Britain’s premier port for wine, tobacco and slaves. Bristol was heavily bombed during World War II and its rebirth has seen the docks transformed featuring the genius engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s iron ship, Great Britain.  His Clifton suspension bridge is a foil to the dramatic Avon gorge that it spans.

We’ll follow in the footsteps of Beau Nash, the 18th century dandy, and his fellow aristocrats to Bath. Famous as a spa since Roman times, the bathing complex is one of Britain’s greatest monuments to that era. After taking the waters we’ll stroll the Royal Crescent, considered by many to be the most majestic street in the country. Then more honey-coloured Georgian gems in The Circus and Queen Square.

Struggle up the much-filmed Gold Hill, in Shaftesbury, and admire its 18th century cottages before wallowing in Thomas Hardy country. To the east of Dorchester are the rolling hills of the Wessex countryside that inspired Hardy’s powerful and vibrant novels and poems.

The stunning Dorset coastline draws us now.  Millennia of carving by the sea have left a sweep of chalk cliffs and geological treasures including Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Corfe Castle, with its grim history, points the way from the so-called Isle of Purbeck to the sands of Studland Bay and into Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world.  On its Brownsea Island, in 1907, Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scout Movement.

Super-history pulls us back inland…to Stonehenge. Built in several stages from around 3,000 BC, it’s Europe’s most famous prehistoric monument. But what is it? Explore and make up your own mind.

From the bleak Salisbury Plain to the lush water meadows of the Avon, Nadder and Bourne.  Back in 1220, where these three rivers meet, Salisbury was born and its founders immediately set to building the great cathedral. It was built in just 38 years and  an inspired afterthought saw the spire – at 404 ft, the tallest in    Britain – added between 1280 and 1310.

We’ll stay on the cathedral trail and visit Winchester, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Wessex. The present cathedral was begun in 1097 and much of the Norman architecture remains. There’s a small Norman castle and an impressive Tudor guildhall in Guildford, Surrey’s county town, but it’s the huge, modern red brick cathedral, completed in 1954, that dominates the skyline. And so to Chichester, a superbly preserved 16th century market town built in the shadow of its cathedral of greenish limestone and Caen stone.  Its graceful spire is said to be the only English cathedral spire visible from the sea.

Not far away is Fishbourne Palace, Britain’s largest Roman villa.

It’s a bit of a misnomer but the New Forest is one of the few primeval oak woods in England. This unique 145 square mile expanse of heath and woodland, bogs and glades was proclaimed a protected royal hunting ground by William the Conqueror.  Four hundred years later Henry VIII redefined the laws and ordered planting schemes to provide timber for shipbuilding. The ‘capital’ of the New Forest is Lyndhurst and within the forest bounds are the delightful villages of Burley, Fordingbridge, Rockbourne and Beaulieu.

Down the magnificent Beaulieu River to The Solent and the Isle of Wight.

Queen Victoria put the Isle of Wight ‘on the map’ when she had Osborne House built as a retreat from public life. The house is still furnished much as Victoria left it.  Fine views can be had from the keep of the island’s other main attraction, Carisbrooke Castle.  And there’s Cowes Week, when the small town hosts one of the world’s iconic sailing events.

Back across The Solent to Portsmouth, affectionately known as ‘Pompey’, the home of the Royal Navy for 500 years.  The city’s historic dockyard has Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory; the ironclad, HMS Warrior; Henry VIII’s flagship, Mary Rose, and the Royal Naval Museum.

Dominating the town is the Spinnaker Tower, standing 557 feet above Gunwharf Quays.  If you’ve a head for heights you can see up to 23 miles from the observation decks.

Perched above the marshes around Arundel are the extraordinary Gothic towers and battlements of its castle – home to the Dukes of Norfolk.  It inspired the fantastical castle in the Gormenghast trilogy and is said to be the second largest in England, after Windsor.

Further inland, despite pressure from London, the region has retained a gentle rural profile.  The green meadows of the Wey Valley are a delight and the Hog’s Back, running along a ridge between Guildford and Farnham, rivals any drive in the south east. Hindhead and Leith Hill stand high with magnificent views.

Research well your visit to this part of the word…it’ll pay dividends.

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