1. Jane Austen’s House
An ideal start to a literary tour of Hampshire, Jane Austen’s House tells the personal story of one of England’s finest authors. The celebrated writer spent the final eight years of her life in this 17th-century house, creating some of her most popular dramas. Austen wrote “Persuasion” while living here, and revised “Sense and Sensibility” and “Northanger Abbey.” Today, the modest red-brick house serves as a museum, known for its collection of Austen’s music books complete with notes in her own hand. The museum’s reference library holds different editions of Austen’s novels, as well as a collection of translations.
2. Beaulieu Abbey-Palace House
Known as one of the most haunted buildings in England, Beaulieu Abbey-Palace House sits on the site of a 13th-century Cistercian monastery. Add the estate to your Hampshire itinerary to explore some of the rooms in the main house, originally designed in the Gothic style but now decorated in full Victorian splendor. The ancestral home of Lord and Lady Montagu, who graciously keep their home and gardens open to the public, the former abbey occupies a scenic location near the Beaulieu River. Take a moment to listen for the eerie sounds of chanting Gregorian monks, supposedly haunting the grand palace.
3. Winchester Cathedral
Include Winchester Cathedral on your Hampshire trip planner to see one of the largest religious structures in England. Known for boasting one of Europe’s longest naves, the cathedral features a blend of both Norman and Gothic architectural elements and brings together more than a thousand years of English history. Established in the 11th century, the cathedral now holds one of the country’s finest illuminated manuscripts, medieval carvings, 12th-century wall paintings, and contemporary art. Take tours of the ground floor, crypt, and tower, or explore the free children’s trail to learn about the structure’s rich history in a fun and informative way.
4. Buckler’s Hard
A tiny shipbuilding village seemingly untouched by the passage of centuries, Buckler’s Hard allows visitors to discover what it was like to live and work in an 18th-century riverfront settlement. Originally intended as a free port of trade with the West Indies, the small village became the birthplace of several ships constructed to serve Nelson’s triumphant fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. In the 20th century, the former shipyards played a key role in the secret preparations for the D-Day landings. Today, the little hamlet is a popular tourist destination, drawing visitors with its maritime museum and modern yachting marina.
5. The Vyne
If you’re looking for some things to do in Hampshire that combine history, art, and nature, head to The Vyne. This Tudor-era country estate initially served as the private residence of Lord Sandys, one of Henry VIII’s top court officers. The mansion now houses Majolica tiles and Renaissance stained glass, as well as a huge collection of period furniture, tapestries, paintings, silk wall hangings, and wood carvings. You can walk through history-infused rooms where Anne Boleyn and Horace Walpole once dined, or explore some of the estate’s 5 hectares (13 acres) of landscaped and wild gardens. The estate also features a long stretch of natural woodlands, with walking trails leading past centenarian trees and medieval fishponds.
Austen’s Inspirational Home
For Jane Austen, Hampshire represented more than just a pleasant place for living and writing. The rural landscapes and medieval manors of southern England provided her with an infinite source of inspiration, encouraging her to create some of the world’s most beloved novels. Experience the energy of Hampshire’s big cities, but don’t forget to explore the county’s secluded corners of tranquility, preserving the old-world charm so unique to this part of England.