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Hampshire has a proud military history and, with its significant role in multiple wars, is home to a long list of iconic buildings.
Coastal walks and vast countryside are accompanied by cathedrals, towers and an array of wartime architecture.
The likes of Winchester Cathedral and the Spinnaker Tower are both huge tourist attractions in the county, but there are other buildings that have achieved iconic status for reasons you may not know about.
We have compiled a list of Hampshire’s historic buildings and detail why they are celebrated within the wider community.
It is likely that you have visited some of these buildings, but for those you are yet to see, it is a chance to get to know why they should be the next to tick off your list.
The Close, Winchester, SO23 9LS
Perhaps the most first iconic building that comes to mind when thinking of Hampshire, Winchester Cathedral has roots as far back as the seventh century.
It still hosts more than 1,500 services every year and more than 100 singers perform as part of four choirs.
More than 80 full-time staff and 700 volunteers are employed by the cathedral to help with day to day running for the thousands of visitors to the historic site each week.
The cathedral is the centrepiece of the widely popular annual Christmas market, with an array of stools, food vans and mulled wine sellers basing themselves in its grounds. The cathedral claims the market attracts around 350,000 visitors.
The Alexander Observatory
Queen’s Avenue, Aldershot, GU11 2ES
The listed, red-bricked building, completed with a hemispherical dome, stands at the heart of the army garrison in Queens Avenue.
Originally built in 1891, the building’s roof rotates to allow a clear view of the sky through its huge telescope. Inside the building is an eight-inch cell refractor telescope mounted on an equatorial pillar with a counterweight clockwork drive.
The observatory, and the telescope itself, were a gift from Patrick Young Alexander to the British Army in 1906. It is believed that it may have been used in the training of officers in astro-navigation or for monitoring experimental flights.
St Michael’s Abbey
Farnborough Rd, Farnborough, GU14 7NQ
The large monastery was constructed in 1880 as a mausoleum under the ownership of Empress Eugenie, who had been mourning the loss of her husband, Napolean III, and her son.
Gregorian chants take place at the Abbey every day, while its small community of monks are also known for their liturgical publishing.
Guided tours of the Abbey are available to the public every weekend, while a range of recitals and mass take place regularly, too.
Jane Austen’s House
Winchester Rd, Chawton, Alton, GU34 1SD
Jane Austen’s House in the rural village of Chawton, around 10 miles south of Farnham, is the only house where Jane Austen lived and wrote that is open to the public.
According to the museum which her house has become, it is the site of where she wrote the famous Pride and Prejudice novel.
As well as the house itself, visitors are welcome to picnic on the lawns and benches among an “extensive range of plants and wild flowers”
Portsdown Hill Road, Portchester, Fareham, PO17 6AN
Based near Fareham, on top of Portsdown Hill, Fort Nelson is around 19 acres of fortifications including secret underground tunnels and ammunition bunkers.
It was one of five defencive forts built on the summit to overlook the vital naval bases in Portsmouth. Dug into a deep ditch, above each of the fort’s caponiers is a 13-inch mortar.
The fort was originally built in the 1860s to protect from French land attacks on the dockyard, but was disarmed in 1907 and used for accommodation. However, it was again converted into an anti-aircraft ammunition store for the Second World War before being abandoned in the 1950s.
It was restored by Hampshire County Council and reopened in the 1990s. It is now a popular tourist attraction providing superb views of the coast and Portsmouth.
Farnborough Wind Tunnels
Hall Road, Farnborough, GU14 7EP
Located in the middle of Farnborough Business Park are three listed buildings that were pivotal in the development of British aviation, according to the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST).
The buildings, the first of which was built in 1907, contain five wind tunnels that have been used in the research of aerodynamics – particularly the effects of air moving past solid objects. The other two tunnels were constructed in 1917.
Guided tours are available for two of the wind tunnels between March and October.
The Street, Old Basing, Basingstoke, RG24 7BH
Basing House sits among the ruins of the largest private house in Tudor England.
It is a collection of banks, ditches, cellars and broken walls, with few structures left in tact, including the Great Barn, Hampshire Cultural Trust say. The castle was built in the 1100s by the de Port family, who arrived in England during the Norman invasion of 1066, before a new house was built on its remains in 1535.
When constructed, it was the 360-room property was the largest house in the country and was often visited by royalty.
The house’s grounds were at the centre of multiple attacks during the English Civil War. The house, owned by the king supporting John Paulet fifth Marquess of Winchester, was attacked by Parliamentary troops between 1642 and 1645. When the walls of the house were finally breached, the site was left in ruins.
Only the foundations remain at the site now, along with the Great Barn, but the grounds are full of history.
Emirates Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, PO1 3TT
The 170-metre construction towers over Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth.
A relatively modern building, opened in October 2005, the tower offers has three floors each offering spectacular views of the south coast. The first floor also includes a glass floor that visitors can walk over, allowing them to see 100 metres directly down to the floor, if they so choose.
The tower’s website claims that visitors can see for up to 23 miles while enjoying hot drinks and food from the open aired Sky Garden.
It is also regularly illuminated at night to highlight historic events and campaigns.
Mottisfont Lane, Romsey, SO51 0LP
The historical priory, now a Grade I listed building, was founded in 1201 and is visited by hundreds of thousands every year.
Following the Black Death, the Mottisfont estate was gifted to Lord Sandys, Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain. It was he who turned it into a country home, but did not demolish the existing priory. Instead, it was turned into the main body of the mansion with the addition of wings on either side, according to the National Trust.
Among its many purposes through the centuries, Mottisfont Abbey became an 80-bed hospital during the Second World War. Its ground includes vast green space and the River Test for visitors to walk along.
Bishop’s Waltham Palace
Station Rd, Bishop’s Waltham, Southampton, SO32 1DH
The palace was built by Henry of Blois in the 12 century, before being remodelled and extended in the 14th and 15th centuries, according to English Heritage.
The palace was another of Hampshire’s iconic buildings to be significantly damaged in the English Civil War and was subsequently abandoned. That was until Admiral Sir Andrew Browne Cunnigham, a distinguished naval commander, moved into the palace after the Second World War.
The grounds are open daily throughout the summer and during the weekend through the winter. Visitors can explore the vast ruins, as well as a museum that is part of its ground floor.
Church Lane, Portchester, Fareham, PO16 9QW
The castle was built in the late third century by the Romans as a fort, before being turned into a Saxon settlement during the fifth century.
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, it became a Norman castle. Throughout history, its use and residents have changed, but it was seen as an important point for crossing the Channel.
The castle served as a prisoner of war camp from 1665, housing up to 8,000 prisoners during th French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars between 1793 and 1815, Heritage England says.
It is one of the best-preserved forts in Northern Europe and has altered little since it was first constructed.
Exhibitions regularly take place to bring out the history of the castle, while family picnics and audio tours are also on offer to visitors.
College Walk, Winchester, SO23 9NF
A short distance from Winchester Cathedral, Wolvesey Castle was home to the Bishops of Winchester, advisers of the king.
The remains of the castle, originally built 1141, are Grade I listed. It is still possible to make out the ruins, despite the castle being largely destroyed as Winchester changed hands between Parliamentary and the King’s forces during the English Civil War.
It was restored afterwards, but became neglected by the 18 century.
Mill Lane, Titchfield, Catisfield, PO15 5RA
Built in the 13 century, Titchfield Abbey was home to a community of Premonstratensian canons, a group of Roman Catholics.
They lived as monks and served as priests in the local community until the Suppression of the Monasteries, when Henry VIII gave the building to Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton.
He transformed the building into a Tudor mansion called Place House.
The remains of abbey is open daily to the public and has hosted open-air theatre shows and music gigs..
Clarence Esplanade, Portsmouth, PO5 3PA
Another fort to have been built along the Portsmouth coast, Southsea Castle was built in 1554 amid fears of a French attack on the city.
Those fears were realised when the castle was completed shortly before a French invasion fleet arrived in 1545.
It was an active military base for 400 years, despite being damaged by a fire, an accidental explosion and general dilapidation. It was renovated, though, in 1814 to make space for extra guns and a larger garrison. Not until 1960 was it withdrawn from active service, according to its website.
The castle is now a tourist attraction, with its cannons still on display and guided tours on offer.
York Ave, East Cowes, PO32 6JX
Queen Victoria’s Isle of Wight holiday home, Osborne House is now open to the public to allow a look into royal family life.
Its terraces provide stunning views out to the Solent, while its furnishings, artworks and grandiose rooms entertained various heads of state and fellow royalty.
The house, bought by Victoria and Albert in 1845, is one of the most popular tourist attractions on the island. The royal couple used the property for more than 50 years up until Victoria died in one of the bedrooms in 1901.
St Cross Hospital
St Cross Back St, Winchester, SO23 9SD
Close to the River Itchen and St Catherine’s Hill, the ancient hospital continues to be used as an almhouse.
The hospital contains private apartments used by around 25 men, known as “brothers”, who wear gowns and a trencher hat for daily church and other occasions, according to its website.
Despite its privacy, the hospital is open to the public and hosts traditional weddings, baptisms and memorial services.
The Grade I listed building was founded in 1136 and was developed through the centuries into the giant almshouse it has become.
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