Hampshire Cultural Attractions, Arts & History

Discover the many Hampshire cultural attractions for days out in the local area. There’s so much to see and do nearby!

Performing Arts

Anvil Arts

Basingstoke (34 miles)

Anvil Arts operates three fantastic cultural venues in Basingstoke. Visit The Anvil, The Haymarket and The Forge for music, dance and family entertainment.

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester (26 miles)

The two theatres on site, the Festival Theatre and the Minerva Theatre, present world-class productions which frequently transfer to the West End.

The Corn Exchange

Newbury (40 miles)

The Corn Exchange Trust manages three spaces providing a multi-art form venue with an auditorium, and produces the best UK and International theatre.

Farnham Maltings

Farnham (28 miles)

A collection of buildings in the heart of Farnham which is home to six theatre and dance companies as well as a large number of creative arts companies. Also offering a varied programme of theatre, cinema, craft, music as well as workshops.

Glyndbourne Opera House

Glyndbourne (68 miles)

No ordinary opera house, Glyndbourne is one of the most celebrated opera houses in the world. Specifically, it’s a Grade II Listed English country house and has been the venue for the annual Glyndbourne Festival since 1934. Visit the Festival between May and August each year.

Grange Park Opera

New Alresford (18 miles)

Since the first season in 1998, the Grange has become a significant feature of the opera calendar. An intimate opera house was built in 2002. The best of Hampshire cultural attractions includes Grange Park Opera. Therefore, booking is essential.

The Mayflower

Southampton (27 miles)

Visit the biggest theatre on the south coast which presents touring productions from West End musicals to dance, opera, drama, ballet as well as comedy.

New Theatre Royal

Portsmouth (13 miles)

This impressive Victorian theatre has been part of Hampshire cultural attractions since the mid 19th Century. Hosts comedy, dance, music and theatre.

Olivier Theatre

Steep (12 miles)

Part of Bedales School, the theatre hosts a full programme of school productions coupled with lively touring theatre companies.

Theatre Royal

Winchester (15 miles)

An intimate 400-seat Edwardian theatre that presents over 200 productions a year including drama, music, dance, comedy, children’s theatre as well as pantomime.

The Watermill Theatre

Newbury (40 miles)

This 200 seat theatre in a converted watermill is recognised as a major producing theatre for national and international touring productions.

Yvonne Arnaud

Guildford (38 miles)

Visit this busy theatre which has studio space as well as a main stage offering theatre productions including an eclectic mix of classical and contemporary work.

Historic Castles & Museums

Arundel Castle

Arundel (37 miles)

With almost 1,000 years of history, Arundel Castle is the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk. Set in 40 acres of grounds, it offers a unique chance to see paintings, furniture, tapestries, heraldry, armour in stunning room settings. Furthermore the castle provides a wonderful backdrop for some fascinating re-enactment events throughout the season (April to November) from Normans and the Civil War to smugglers and Pirates.

Basing House

Basingstoke (32 miles)

Discover the amazing stories of Basing House, which once rivalled Hampton Court Palace in its size and opulence. In fact, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I visited many times. Today only parts of the lower ground floor, plus the foundations and earthworks, remain. See the earthworks of the earlier Norman castle keep as well as the great barn, which survived the destruction, and is an impressive example of a Tudor barn.

Bishop’s Waltham Palace

Bishop’s Waltham (6 miles)

Visit this moated Bishop’s Palace ruin in nearby Bishop’s Waltham which was destroyed by order of Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. Explore the extensive remains and imagine the many visitors including Henry VIII, Richard the Lionheart as well as Queen Elizabeth I. Equally important are other artefacts date from prehistoric times. At the present time English Heritage manage the site which is open year-round.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Whitchurch/Laverstoke (32 miles)

Visit this working distillery, housed in the stunningly converted Laverstoke Mill, on the banks of the River Test. The Mill is over 1,000 years old, and the current building was previously a paper mill that produced watermarked bank notes for the Bank of England, as well as the entire British Empire. Join a hosted tour, or book a fun and interactive cocktail masterclass. Pre-booking is essential.

Buckler’s Hard

Beaulieu (36 miles)

Visit this 18th Century shipbuilding village on the Beaulieu River in the New Forest and explore several Hampshire cultural attractions. Discover the Maritime Museum, step inside a shipright’s cottage, admire the replica 18th century workshop, see the hidden smugglers’ cellar, or relax on a summer river cruise. Enjoy a great day out with something for everyone.

Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum

Swanwick (15 miles)

A Victorian steam driven brickworks where you can not only see the steam engines working, explore our industrial history and see over 100 chimney pots, but you can also get your hands dirty and try your hand at making a brick. The Brickworks still has all it’s working machinery and is steamed up as a working exhibit once a month.

Bursledon Windmill

Bursledon (15 miles)

Discover Hampshire’s only working windmill, which is a pleasure to visit. Be sure to join a guided tour for a fascinating glimpse into Hampshire’s milling history. Tours run every half hour and booking is advised.

Butser Ancient Farm

Chalton (8 miles)

Explore this ancient farm which displays ongoing constructions of Iron Age buildings, crops from prehistory and rare breeds of animals. Additionally, sign up for a fun workshop ranging from coracle building to cave painting!

Calshot Castle

Calshot (33 miles)

Visit this fascinating artillery fort built by Henry VIII, which guards the entrance to Southampton Water. Explore the cylindrical central keep at this Hampshire cultural attraction. See the website for opening times.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester (26 miles)

The Cathedral exhibits both Norman and Gothic architecture and has a unique freestanding medieval bell tower. Discover the medieval features alongside contemporary artworks including tapestries by John Piper and a Marc Chagall window. In addition, enjoy one of the vibrant events running throughout the year.

D-Day Museum and Overlord Embroidery

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Discover this fascinating record of events, from the dark days of 1940 to the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944. Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, the Overlord Embroidery was stitched by the Royal School of Needlework.

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Chicester (29 miles)

Visit the largest Roman home in Britain, which was first excavated in the 1960s. Surprisingly, it has a footprint larger than Buckingham Palace and is one of the oldest of Hampshire’s cultural attractions. Above all, admire the amazing collection of in-situ mosaics and reconstructed gardens. Opens daily from February to December.

Hurst Castle

Keyhaven (41 miles)

Visit this castle, which was built by Henry VIII as part of the chain of coastal fortresses, and is only three-quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight. Equally, you can approach the castle by ferry from Keyhaven. English Heritage manages the site and opens it daily from Easter until October.

Mary Rose Museum

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Discover this finest of Hampshire cultural attractions. Housed in a stunning building beside HMS Victory, learn how this Tudor ship was raised from the seabed in 1982, and it is the only 16th Century warship on display anywhere. Purchase a ticket to visit just the Mary Rose Museum, or as part of the Historic Dockyard (see Family).

Medieval Merchant’s House

Southampton (19 miles)

Visit this late-13th Century building in Southampton, which was built in about 1290 has been faithfully restored with replica furnishings. Consequently the prosperous life of a medieval merchant is brought to life. Managed by English Heritage, check their website for opening times. 

Netley Abbey

Netley (16 miles)

The ruins of this 13th century monastery are the most complete surviving in Southern England. A source of inspiration to many in the ‘Romantic Movement’. Evidently John Constable came to paint here, and Jane Austen visited, finding inspiration for her novel Northanger Abbey. Today it is managed by English Heritage and is open daily throughout the summer, and weekends during winter months.

Old Sarum

Salisbury (49 miles)

Rising impressively from Salisbury Plain, this Iron Age Hillfort first created about 400BC, is managed by English Heritage. Within the two earth banks are the remains of a royal castle built around 1070 by William the Conqueror and also the footprint of the first Salisbury Cathedral, which was was later demolished and the stone reused to construct the current Cathedral in Salisbury. Open year-round and dogs welcome.

Portchester Castle

Porchester (12 miles)

Climb to the top of the keep to take in the stunning views over the Solent. Since Roman times this has been an important site protecting the Solent. Specifically, it was the rallying point of Henry V’s expedition to Agincourt and the ruined palace of King Richard II. Even more, it was a prisoner of war camp in Napoleonic times. Today this grand castle is managed by English Heritage and is open daily.

Portsmouth Cathedral

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Little remains of the medieval building of the 12th Century Maritime Cathedral, but following the 1927 split from the Winchester Diocese, plans to extend the building to a size that would dignify Cathedral status were put in place and the current building was finally consecrated in 1991. A member of the crew of the Mary Rose is buried in the Navy aisle. Enter through the impressive bronze west doors to enjoy the open Byzantine style space designed by Sir Charles Nicholson.

Romsey Abbey

Romsey (33 miles)

Dedicated to St Mary and St Ethelflda, an Abbess of Romsey at the time of the first millennium, the Abbey was founded in 907. The current Abbey was built by the Normans in the early 12th century, and it was saved from demolition during the Dissolution of the Monasteries because part of the building was the parish church and it remains the largest parish church in Hampshire. The lucrative wool industry funded the growth of the town that grew up around the Abbey.

St. Agatha’s Church

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Explore this grand red brick Italianate catholic basilica in Portsmouth. The nave apse contains a magnificent sgraffito plaster mural, the work of Heywood Sumner, a friend and disciple of William Morris. The spacious interior is enriched with polished granite, marble, alabaster, carved stone and coloured glass. What’s more, fine furnishings and shrines, many rescued from redundant churches, contribute towards a unique ecclesiastical interior. 

Sandham Memorial Chapel

Newbury (35 miles)

A modest red brick building houses an unexpected treasure, an epic series of large-scale murals by the acclaimed war artist, Sir Stanley Spencer. The murals, honouring the ‘forgotten dead’ of the First World War, were inspired by his own experiences as a medical orderly and soldier on the Salonika front. It is considered by some to be Britain’s answer to the Sistine Chapel. Entry is by pre-booked timed ticket only.

Stonehenge

Salisbury Plain (49 miles)

Explore this intriguing and historic prehistoric monument comprising three types of stone; Bluestone, Sarsen. and Welsh Sandstone. In fact it is estimated that construction took place around 3100 BC, and took about three million man-hours to build. Although this may be true, it is not known exactly why it was constructed but is thought to be for solar and lunar worship. Managed today by English Heritage, and booking is essential.

Titchfield Abbey

Titchfield (10 miles)

Wander the ruins of this 13th Century, and later Tudor mansion located in the village of Titchfield near Fareham. Significantly, it was the home of a community of Premonstratensian canons who lived communally, like monks, preached and served as priests in the local community. At the present time, the Abbey is one of many Hampshire cultural attractions managed by English Heritage, and opens daily throughout the year.

Weald and Downland Living Museum

Singleton (28 miles)

Explore more than 50 reconstructed buildings from 1300 to 1910 and visit the barn where ‘The Repair Shop’ is filmed. Discover the collection of farm machinery, as well as agricultural and craft artefacts. Additionally you’ll find farm animals including Shire horses, Sussex cattle, South Down sheep, Tamworth pigs, geese and Light Sussex chickens helping to bring rural history to life. Several special events run throughout the year including the Rare Breeds Show and Festival of Steam.

Whitchurch Silk Mill

Whitchurch (27 miles)

Discover one of the best Hampshire cultural attractions and the oldest silk mill in the UK. Significantly, this Georgian water mill wove silk for insulating cables during World War II, and linings for legal and academic gowns! Today, the 19th century machinery produces silk for sale in the shop, for interior design and fashion, as well as commissions for the National Trust, Victoria & Albert Museum and for BBC period dramas. Opens from Tuesday to Sunday year-round.

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester (14 miles)

Visit this Cathedral which has been a sacred place for over 15 centuries. People associated with the Cathedral include St Swithun, Jane Austen and William Walker, the deep-sea diver who worked for 6 years beneath the Cathedral in the early 20th century to underpin the building. Today, the Cathedral holds an active programme of events for all ages both inside and around the Cathedral including the very popular Christmas Market. Book a Tower Tour to see Winchester from above!

Winchester City Mill

Winchester (14 miles)

Visit this rare surviving urban corn mill, which sits astride the River Itchen in the centre heart of Winchester. Also, discover the working models and activities that explain the history and technology of flour milling, as well as regular milling and baking demonstrations. Managed by the National Trust and opens Wednesdays to Sundays, year round.

Winchester College

Winchester (14 miles)

One of the world’s most distinguished schools, located in the historic surrounds of England’s medieval capital. Winchester College maintains eighteen Grade I, and over seventy Grade II listed buildings. Also, many of these are of national importance, and all are in current use. Visit the museum, Treasury, and take a guided tour which run throughout the year.

Winchester Military Museum

Winchester (14 miles)

Five separately run museums located on the same site, just five minutes from the Cathedral: Horse Power, the Regimental Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars; The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum; The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum; The Gurkha Museum as well as The Guardroom Museum, the museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps.

Wolvesey Castle

Winchester (13 miles)

Don’t miss this gem of Hampshire’s cultural attractions which is just an 8 minute walk from Winchester Cathedral. Explore the 12th century remains of this fortified Palace that was the residence of the Bishops of Winchester. One of the greatest medieval buildings in England, Wolvesey Castle was frequently visited by medieval and Tudor monarchs. The site is now managed by English Heritage.

House & Gardens

Broadlands Estate

Romsey (33 miles)

Visit the house and Capability Brown-designed gardens, which are open seasonally. Explore the 60-room Palladian mansion set in 5,000 acres of parkland on the River Test. Notably, Queen Elizabeth II honeymooned here, as did the previous Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. Owned by the Mountbatten family, and the venue for the annual Romsey Agricultural Show, the estate is open to the public Mondays to Wednesdays, June to September.

Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum

Portsmouth (13 miles)

This comfortable Regency home is where Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812. After exploring the home in which he grew up, join a guided walk of the area where the Dickens family lived and worked. These walks are led by Portsmouth Tourist Guides, which start at the Victory Gate (the entrance to the Historic Dockyard) and finish at the Portsmouth Museum, Museum Road. Open Fridays to Sundays, from April to September.

Exbury Gardens

New Forest (42 miles)

Explore this 200-acre collection of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, rare trees and shrubs which provide a riot of colour in the Spring. It’s a great place for kicking through piles of autumn leaves too! The estate, on the banks of the Beaulieu River, is still owned by the Rothschild family. Ride the miniature railway takes a 20 minute journey round a self-contained part of the garden. Open daily from mid-March to early November. Dogs are welcome.

Gilbert White’s House

Selbourne (19 miles)

Curate Gilbert White is remembered for being one of the first natural history writers. The rooms at ‘The Wakes’, and the 30 acres of ancient parkland and gardens, have been reconstructed following descriptions in White’s letters. Also housed here is the Oates Collection which commemorates the lives of two remarkable explorers of the natural world; Lawrence and Frank Oates. Open year round. Dogs on leads are permitted in the garden.

Goodwood House

Goodwood (20 miles)

 Various events are held in the parklands throughout the year including Goodwood Revival in September, the Festival of Speed in June, and Glorious Goodwood at the end of July. Furthermore, horseracing, golf, flying, and motor racing all take place here. Goodwood House contains some impressive art collections by Van Dyck, Reynolds, Stubs and Canaletto, and can be visited from March to October.

Highclere Castle

Newbury (35 miles)

Visit this beautiful Victorian castle and home to the Carnarvon family since 1679. Admire the state rooms, well known as the filming location for Downton Abbey, and explore Egyptian Exhibition, celebrating the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The house and Capability Brown-designed gardens are open in the Summer however, be sure to book early for events running throughout the year.

Hinton Ampner

Hinton Ampner (9 miles)

Discover this elegant country manor and admire exquisite views of the manicured lawns with undisturbed views of the South Downs. Dogs on leads are welcome on the estate, whereas at Christmas the house is beautifully decorated. Open year-round.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Chawton (17 miles)

Visit this most intriguing of Hampshire’s cultural attractions, and Jane’s home for the last years of her life. The museum today reflects the comfortable family home that the Austen Women created while telling the story of their lives and Jane’s work. Open throughout the year.

King John’s House

Romsey (26 miles)

In the centre of Romsey, three buildings spanning 750 years of building history form the Heritage Centre that includes the medieval King John’s House. Additionally you’ll find amazing 14th century graffiti and a rare bone floor. Open from Monday to Saturday.

Longstock Water Gardens

Stockbridge (26 miles)

Owned and managed by the John Lewis Partnership, the water gardens were created by John Spedan Lewis. Open to the public on the first and third Sundays of the month from May to September whereas Longstock Park Nursery and Farm shop are open throughout the year.

Mompesson House

Salisbury (49 miles)

Visit this Queen Anne house located in the Cathedral Close in Salisbury which was used as a filming location for ‘Sense and Sensibility’. Managed by the National Trust and open from March to October, however it is closed on Thursdays and Fridays.

Mottisfont

Romsey (36 miles)

Without a doubt one of the gems of Hampshire’s cultural attractions due to the romantic house as well as the beautiful walled rose garden. Discover the 1,600 acre estate, together with the super café. Open year-round and what’s more, dogs are welcome on the estate.

Northington Grange

New Alresford (18 miles)

Discover this mansion which is the foremost example of 19th Century Greek-Revival in England. Today, the remains are under the guardianship of English Heritage and provide a stunning backdrop for a summer opera season run by Grange Park Opera (see Performing Arts). Access to the exterior is free year-round.

Petworth House and Park

Petworth (28 miles)

Visit this 17th century mansion, set in a beautiful deer park landscaped by Capability Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings. Admire the art collection including work by Holbein, Gainsborough, Rembrandt as well as Turner. Managed by the National Trust and open year-round, dogs and bicycles are welcome in the park.

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Ampfield (20 miles)

Explore this arboretum spanning over 180 acres and providing year-round colour. You’ll find a busy schedule of events from workshops, exhibitions and tours to concerts, dining events and seasonal activities. Open year-round. However, dogs are not permitted in the gardens.

Stansted Park

Rowlands Castle (16 miles)

Visit this beautiful Grade II listed stately home for a lovely day out at one of Hampshire’s cultural attractions. As well as the house, explore the Victorian walled gardens, garden centre and farm shop. Above all, don’t forget to ride the miniature railway and enjoy a cream tea in the tearoom! Please check website for opening times.

Stratfield Saye House & Estate

Stratfield Saye (39 miles)

Discover this large stately home at Stratfield Saye in the north-east of the English county of Hampshire which has been the home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817. Additionally, explore the estate and Capability Brown-designed country park. Check the website for opening times as booking is essential.

Uppark

South Harting (17 miles)

Find out about life upstairs and downstairs and the wonderful 17th century dolls house. In particular, explore the beautiful gardens, where dogs are not permitted. Please note Uppark house and gardens are temporarily closed for maintenance until Summer 2025.

The Vyne

Basingstoke (35 miles)

Henry VIII visited this house on several occasions with Anne Boleyn and as a result of its royal beginnings in Tudor times, this gem of Hampshire cultural attractions was mentioned in the BBC drama ‘Wolf Hall’. Not only was it the inspirational setting for Jane Austen’s novels, but also Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. Visit the house which is set in beautiful gardens, woodlands and wetlands presently maintained by the National Trust. Open year-round and what’s more dogs are welcome in the gardens.

West Dean House and Gardens

Singleton (26 miles)

Visit this 19th century Grade II listed house and former home of Edward James, patron to the Surrealists. However, it is now an internationally renowned Higher Education College teaching conservation and creative arts. To that end, over 700 short art and craft courses are offered each year. The house is open to the public once a year whereas the garden are open year-round. Dogs are welcome in the gardens and whats more there is good accessibility.

Wilton House

Salisbury (50 miles)

Discover this English country house at Wilton near Salisbury in Wiltshire, which has been the country seat of the Earls of Pembroke for over 400 years. In fact it was built on the site of the medieval Wilton Abbey. It has been the location for films including ‘Mrs Brown’ and ‘The Young Victoria’. The house and gardens are open to the public from Sundays to Thursdays, from April to September, as well as many special events. Assistance dogs only are permitted.