The distant past is perhaps more tangible in Hampshire and Wiltshire than in any other part of England. Predominantly rural, these counties overlap substantially with the ancient kingdom of Wessex, whose most famous ruler, Alfred, repulsed the Danes in the ninth century and came close to establishing the first unified state in England. And even before Wessex came into being, many earlier civilisations had left their stamp on the region. The chalky uplands of Wiltshire boast several of Europe’s greatest Neolithic sites, including Stonehenge and Avebury.
The countryside is consistently seductive and the towns are also generally modest and slow-paced. The two great cathedral cities in these parts, Salisbury and Winchester are worth a day each, but you don’t have to wander far off the beaten track to encounter medieval churches, manor houses and unspoilt country inns.
- Explore the historic city of Salisbury with its magnificent cathedral and lovely old buildings
- Visit Wilton House, home of the Earl of Pembroke, and his collection of classic cars
- See Stonehenge and discover all about this mysterious and ancient site
- Visit the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop
- Explore the New Forest (created in the 11th century)
- Stroll around Exbury Gardens, famed for azaleas and rhododendrons
- Visit Beaulieu with the excellent National Motor Museum and Palace House
- Discover the yachting town of Lymington
- See the Rockbourne Roman Villa
- Enjoy the National Collection of Old Fashioned Roses at Mottisfont Abbey
- Explore the beautiful and ancient city of Winchester, the amazing cathedral and historic centre