Arts, History & Culture

Discover the many arts, history and culture attractions and places to visit in Hampshire, the South Downs, and further afield.

Performing Arts

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester (26 miles)

Discover world-class productions in either of the two theatres on site; the Festival Theatre and the Minerva Theatre. Productions have transferred to the West End, for more than 50 years.

Grange Park Opera

New Alresford (18 miles)

Built within the ruins of the beautiful orangery at Grange Park this intimate opera house has become a significant feature of the opera calendar. Booking essential.

The Mayflower

Southampton (27 miles)

Presenting touring productions, from West End musicals to dance, opera, drama, ballet and comedy in the largest theatre on the south coast, The Mayflower seats 2,300 people.

New Theatre Royal

Portsmouth (15 miles)

Visit this impressive Victorian theatre which hosts arts, comedy, dance, drama, music and theatre productions.

Olivier Theatre

Steep (12 miles)

Hosting dance, music and drama productions within the grounds of Bedales School, since 1996.

Theatre Royal

Winchester (15 miles)

Visit this intimate Edwardian theatre for drama, music, dance, comedy, children’s theatre and pantomime.

Historic Castles & Museums

Bishop’s Waltham Palace

Bishop’s Waltham (6 miles)

Explore the extensive remains and imagine the many visitors including Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I in the Great Hall. Managed by English Heritage and open to visitors at weekends.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Whitchurch (29 miles)

Visit this working distillery, housed in the stunningly converted Laverstoke Mill, on the banks of the River Test. Join a hosted tour, or book a fun, educational & interactive cocktail masterclass. Pre-booking is essential.

Buckler’s Hard

Beaulieu (36 miles)

Explore the Maritime Museum, step inside a shipright’s cottage, admire the replica 18th Century workshop, or enjoy a relaxing summer river cruise.

Bursledon Brickworks Museum

Swanwick (15 miles)

See steam engines working, explore the industrial history and try your hand at brickmaking in this Victorian steam driven brickworks.

Bursledon Windmill

Bursledon (15 miles)

Step inside Hampshire’s only working windmill, and catch a fascinating glimpse into milling as it was in Hampshire in days gone by.

Butser Ancient Farm

Chalton (8 miles)

Explore this fascinating site with Iron Age building displays, and learn about rare animal breeds and crops from prehistory.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester (26 miles)

Discover the Cathedral exhibits, Norman and Gothic architecture, and the freestanding medieval bell tower. Medieval features sit alongside contemporary artworks including important tapestries.

D-Day Museum

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Visit this fascinating museum and learn about events leading up to D-Day, when the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches of 6 June 1944 ultimately ended World War II.

Fishbourne Roman Palace

Chichester (29 miles)

Excavated in the 1960s, and the largest Roman home in Britain, explore the amazing collection of in-situ mosaics and reconstructed gardens. Open daily from February to December.

Flowerdown Barrows

Winchester (20 miles)

Explore the finest disc barrow in Hampshire, as well as two bowl barrows. These three well-preserved Bronze Age burial mounds were constructed over 4,000 years ago and were once part of a much larger ‘barrow cemetery’.

Fort Brockhurst

Gosport (13 miles)

Built to protect Portsmouth, the parade ground, gun ramps and moated keep have remained largely unaltered since its construction in the 1850s. Open every 2nd Saturday of the month from April to the end of September.

Mary Rose Museum

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Raised from the seabed in 1982, The Mary Rose is the only 16th Century warship on display anywhere in the world. Purchase a ticket to visit only the Mary Rose Museum, or the whole Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, (see Family Days Out).

Medieval Merchant’s House

Southampton (19 miles)

Step inside this medieval merchant’s house which has been faithfully restored with replica furnishings to reflect the life of a prosperous 14th Century merchant. Check website for opening times.

Netley Abbey

Netley (16 miles)

Explore the most complete 13th Century monastery in Southern England. John Constable came to paint here, and it is reported that Jane Austen visited Netley, finding inspiration for her novel Northanger Abbey.

Portchester Castle

Portchester (12 miles)

Visit this historic and fascinating site overlooking Portsmouth harbour and marvel at the well-preserved remains of the Roman fort. Climb to the top of the 30-metre (100 ft) keep to take in breathtaking views over the Solent!

Portsmouth Cathedral

Portsmouth (13 miles)

Explore the Cathedral of the Sea, which dates from the 12th Century, and visit the grave of a member of the Mary Rose crew who is buried in the Navy aisle.

Romsey Abbey

Romsey (27 miles)

Visit this Abbey which was founded in 907. The Normans built the current Abbey in the 12th Century, and the lucrative wool industry funded the town surrounding it.

Titchfield Abbey

Titchfield (10 miles)

Stroll through the ruins of this 13th Century abbey, which was later converted into a Tudor mansion where the church was rebuilt as a grand turreted gatehouse.

Weald and Downland Living Museum

Singleton (28 miles)

Explore buildings dating from 1300 to 1910 which have been saved from destruction and reconstructed in this 50-acre site in the Lavant Valley.

A collection of farm machinery, carts, wagons and agricultural, trade and craft artefacts as well as Shire horses, Sussex cattle, South Down sheep, Tamworth pigs, geese and Light Sussex chickens help bring the rural history to life. Several special events run throughout the year including the Rare Breeds Show and Festival of Steam.

Grounds of the Weald and Downland Museum, Singleton showing medieval buildings within the green rolling countryside of the South Downs. Just one of the arts, history and culture attractions nearby

Visit the beautiful Weald and Downland Museum

Whitchurch Silk Mill

Whitchurch (27 miles)

Discover the arts, history and culture here in  the oldest silk mill in the UK! This Georgian water mill has woven ribbons, serge and silk linings for Burberry, silk for insulating cables during World War II, and linings for academic gowns.

Today, the 19th Century machinery produces silk for sale in the shop, for interior design and fashion. Commissions have been taken for the National Trust, Victoria & Albert Museum and BBC for period dramas. Fabrics include organzine, twills and herringbones in contemporary designs. 

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester (14 miles)

Most of the Cathedral was constructed in the 16th Century, but the site has been a sacred place for over 15 Centuries. Learn about William Walker, the deep-sea diver who worked for 6 years beneath the Cathedral in the early 20th Century to underpin the building, or book a Tower Tour to see Winchester from above! Events for all ages are held inside and around the Cathedral each year, including the popular Christmas Market. 

Winchester City Mill

Winchester (14 miles)

Visit this rare surviving urban corn mill, which is situated on the River Itchen in the heart of the historic city of Winchester. The restored water mill is Grade II listed and regularly grinds flour here and fun demonstrations include baking with the flour. Officially the Gateway to the South Downs National Park, the mill has displays and activities that explain the history and technology of flour milling throughout the ages.

Winchester College

Winchester (14 miles)

Explore one of the world’s oldest, most famous and distinguished schools, located in the historic surrounds of England’s medieval capital. Many of the Grade I and Grade II listed buildings are of national importance, and all are in current use. Take a one hour tour which concentrates on the medieval heart of the school including Chamber Court, Chapel, College Hall, Cloisters and the 17th Century School building.

Winchester Great Hall

Winchester (14 miles)

Discover the Great Hall, the only surviving part of Henry III’s medieval castle located in the heart of Winchester. King Arthur’s Round Table, has hung here for over 700 years, and the reconstruction of a medieval herbarium is named after Queen Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, and her daughter-in-law Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I.

Winchester Military Museums

Winchester (14 miles)

Explore the five separately run museums at this site, just five minutes from the Cathedral: HorsePower, the Regimental Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars; The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum; The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum; The Gurkha Museum; The Guardroom Museum, the museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps.

Wolvesey Castle

Winchester (14 miles)

Take a stroll to this ruinous castle, just five minutes away from Winchester Cathedral. Dating from the 12th Century, this fortified Palace was the residence of the Bishops of Winchester. One of the grandest medieval buildings in England, the Castle was frequently visited by monarchs, and hosted the wedding feast of Philip of Spain and Mary Tudor.

House & Gardens

Avington Park

Winchester (17 miles)

Visit the 16th Century country house in the Itchen Valley near Winchester that hosted Charles II and Nell Gwyn and George IV and Mrs Fitzherbert! It is now a Grade I listed building and several events are held throughout the year such as open-air theatre and art shows.

Broadlands Estate

Romsey (26 miles)

Capability Brown designed the gardens, which are open seasonally. The 60-room mansion is set in 5,000 acres of parkland on the River Test, where Queen Elizabeth II honeymooned, as did the previous Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981. Romsey Agricultural Show venue. 

Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum

Portsmouth (14 miles)

Explore this Regency home where Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812, before joining a guided walk of the area where the Dickens family lived and worked. Walks start at the Victory Gate (entrance to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard) and finish at Portsmouth Museum.

Gilbert White’s House

Selbourne (17 miles)

A curate, Gilbert White is remembered for being one of the first natural history writers. Visit ‘The Wakes’ which was reconstructed following descriptions in White’s letters with the 30 acres of ancient parkland and gardens carefully restored. Also housed here is the Oates Collection which recently celebrated the centenary of Captain Lawrence Oates’ heroic death on Scott’s fated Antarctic expedition.

Goodwood House

Goodwood (21 miles)

Visit the home to the Dukes of Richmond & Lennox for over 300 years which contains impressive art collections including work by Van Dyck and Canaletto. Annual events include Goodwood Revival in September, the Festival of Speed in June and Glorious Goodwood at the end of July. Horseracing first took place here in 1802, the aerodrome was used as a WWII fighter station and the motor circuit was established in 1948.

Hinton Ampner

Hinton Ampner (10 miles)

Visit this elegant country manor lovingly rebuilt by its last owner, Ralph Dutton, following a catastrophic 1960s fire. Enjoy exquisite views of the manicured lawns and undisturbed views of the South Downs. Children love to explore the trail through the topiary and the garden, and a 4 mile estate walk offers wonderful views and lovely woods to play in. At Christmas, the house is beautifully decorated and well worth a visit.

Jane Austen’s House Museum

Chawton (17 miles)

Visit Jane’s 17th century house which was her home for the last eight years of her life. The museum reflects the comfortable family home that the Austen women created while telling the story of their lives and Jane’s work. 

King John’s House

Romsey (24 miles)

Explore the three buildings situated in the centre of Romsey, spanning 750 years of building history. The Heritage Centre includes the medieval King John’s House that contains 14th century graffiti and a rare bone floor.

Longstock Water Gardens

Stockbridge (28 miles)

Spanning six acres of crystal-clear water with islands and woodland valleys in the stunning Hampshire countryside. The water gardens are part of the Leckford Estate and have been named ‘The finest water garden in the world’.


Romsey (25 miles)

Visit this romantic Georgian house set in beautiful riverside gardens which is a feast for the senses year round with spring bulbs, a riverside walk, walled rose garden and rich autumn colours. Enjoy walks and cycle routes through the dog friendly 1,600 acre estate.

Northington Grange

New Alresford (20 miles)

Discover one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in Europe. The original building was transformed in the early 19th Century into a neoclassical house and is a stunning backdrop for the summer opera season run by Grange Park Opera (see Performing Arts).

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

Ampfield (22 miles)

Explore over 180 acres of gardens which provide year-round colour and a schedule of events. Sir Harold’s objective was ‘to create as attractively as possible as great a collection of plants as I was able to add to those already collected by my father and grandfather’.

Stansted Park

Rowlands Castle (13 miles)

Explore this Grade II listed stately home with Victorian walled gardens and farm shop. Enjoy the miniature railway, yew maze, garden centre, tea rooms and estate walks, there’s plenty for a day trip.


South Harting (14 miles)

Commanding a stunning view over the South Downs, this Georgian house offers an insight into life upstairs and downstairs. It is home to a wonderful 17th century dolls house and playing in the gardens is actively encouraged.

West Dean Gardens

Singleton (23 miles)

Take a day trip to West Dean Gardens in the South Downs, and explore the historic features. The 19th Century building is a college renowned for teaching conservation and creative arts. Good accessibility.