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  • Browse our collection of Hampshire B&Bs and specialist hotels.
  • Choices vary from small independent hotels to guest houses where you will be personally looked after by the owner.
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Hampshire Visitor information

An Introduction to Hampshire

Hampshire is a county that balances the history of places such as Winchester; the nature of the New Forest National Park and the South Downs; the modern tourist areas on the coast near Portsmouth and Southampton; and the numerous market towns such as Alton, Andover, Bishop's Waltham, Lymington, Petersfield, Ringwood, Romsey, and Whitchurch. The calm seas have made the coastal areas famous for sailing as they were historically whilst inland the hills and valleys hide picturesque towns and parish churches.

Places to visit in Hampshire

Hampshire's county town, Winchester, was the original capital of England before the Norman Conquest and is unsurprisingly steeped in history and has a large cathedral. The maritime history of the county is based in the most part in Portsmouth. With many attractive towns and churches throughout the county and in particular the New Forest and the South Downs. Visit the Spinnaker Tower, or Fort Nelson's Royal Armouries and the Historic docks at Portsmouth.

Other attractions to visit include -

Explosion! Museum of Naval Firepower - An award winning museum of naval warfare created within 18th century buildings at the Royal Navy's former armaments depot of Priddy's Hard, in Gosport, Hampshire.

Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway - one of the finest Rhododendron gardens in the world with a steam railway running through it, located in the New Forest.

Getting to Hampshire

By Air

Southampton is home to two airports, the small business aviation airport in North Hampshire that is TAG Farnborough Airport and Southampton airport. However you can also visit the county via Bournemouth, Heathrow or Gatwick airports and get a train, coach or drive to Hampshire.

By Rail

You can get to any of Hampshire's train stations through a large network of trains and different train companies, National Rail, South West trains, Southern trains. It is situated an hour from London

By Car

The main roads in Hampshire are the M27 and M3. It is an hour and half drive from London.

By Coach and Bus

To travel to Hampshire by coach it is recommended to use Nationall Express. Once in the county there are many public buses, run by many operators, for example First or Countryliner. 

History of Hampshire

Bronze Age farmers lived at Quarley, and numerous Iron Age hill forts adorn the chalk uplands. In the Roman invasion of Britain, Hampshire was one of the first areas to fall to the invading forces. After this the county was occupied by Jutish tribes until Saxon times.

One of the major landings of the West Saxons was in Hampshire when they invaded in the late 5th century. Winchester became the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and later of England, until the Normans moved the administration to London. The area was subject to many raids by the Danes during the Saxon period.

After the Norman Conquest the county was favoured by Norman kings who established the New Forest as a hunting forest. Over several centuries a series of castles and forts were constructed along the coast of the Solent to defend the harbours at Southampton and Portsmouth. These include the Norman Portchester Castle and a series of forts built by Henry VIII including Hurst Castle, Calshot Castle and Netley Castle.

With no coal or iron ore to be worked, the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries was over-shadowed here by the modernisation of agriculture.

Southampton has been host to many famous ships, including the Mayflower and the Titanic, the latter being staffed largely by Hampshire natives.
In World War II, Gosport, Portsmouth and Southampton all suffered heavy bombing raids due to the Navy Harbour at Portsmouth. Gosport was one of the major departure points for the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. Supermarine, the designers of the Spitfire and other military aircraft, were based in Southampton, which led to severe bombing of the city. Aldershot remains one of the British Army's main permanent camps.

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