Basingstoke is a gem of a town often kept off the radar. But we’re here to show you why this Hampshire hot spot should be at the top of your list.
Follow in the footsteps of literary hero Jane Austen and Tudor royalty, King Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. Discover ancient castles, wander through luscious gardens and let your kid’s imaginations run wild as they face a Civil War!
Whether you’re seeking adventure, want to find out more about fascinating history, or simply want to experience new things, here are 7 reasons why you need to visit Basingstoke:
You can immerse yourself in the past
Milestones is Hampshire’s award-winning museum of living history. You can wander down authentic Victorian cobbled streets lined with shops from back in the day and discover how people used to live.
Step into the gramophone store and soak in the tunes from the past decades. Have a go at the classic penny arcade, pop into the 1940s-style sweet shop, and buy yourself a ration of sweets. Then, stroll along the enchanting Milestones pier before settling down for a pick-me-up at the working pub, The Baverstock Arms.
From sitting in the Victorian school room (complete with a chalkboard and teacher’s desk!) to seeing a printing press in action, there is plenty to see at this wonderful museum.
Check out Milestones’ diverse program throughout the year, so you don’t miss out on upcoming events! Highlights include, History Saves the World workshop and activities, Cobbles and Cogs Steampunk Weekend, and the brilliant Halloween and Christmas events!
Test your senses
Are you ready to don your detective cap, overcome challenges and put all your senses to the test? Exciting Escapes welcomes you to be transported back to the past in an hour-long adventure like no other!
Take down a fiendish financier in the early WWII thriller Banking on Trouble. Go even further back to 1896 and unravel a mysterious disappearance in The Disappearing Duchess. Or try your hand at Exciting Escape’s most challenging game, the 1920s-based Dark Deeds and Groceries.
With seven authentic and unique games to choose from, you must try Basingstoke’s top-rated escape room for yourself! Do you think you can beat the room and make your escape?
Hunt down the “one ring”
If you’re interested in the Tudor age, The Vyne is well worth a visit. Once a cluster of medieval buildings, The Vyne was transformed into a Tudor palace between 1500 and 1520 for William Sandys. He later became King Henry VIIIs Lord Chamberlain.
Over the years, this remarkable home has hosted the likes of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I and later Jane Austen, the Speaker for the House of Commons and WWII evacuees.
Walking around the grounds and through the impressive home, you will discover all the hidden secrets of this fascinating place, including the almost fateful impact of the English Civil War, a medieval fishpond and ancient atmospheric woodland.
As you wander around the home, make sure you take your time to spot the beautiful 4th-century Roman ring, the Ring of Silvanus. Apparently, it’s the ring that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s celebrated masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings!
Discover ancient palaces
Nestled in the quaint village of Old Basing, you’ll discover one of Tudor England’s grandest palaces, Basing House.
Originally built for William Paulet, the visionary treasurer to Tudor heavyweights Edward VI, Queen Mary I, and Elizabeth I, the house has seen countless visitors stroll through its halls over the centuries.
Like The Vyne, Basing House also nearly fell to ruin during the English Civil War. Simply step into the incredible Great Barn, and you can see the scars of war embedded into its walls.
To give you insight into life over the centuries, make sure you stop by the state-of-the-art exhibition. Kids will adore the Basing Mouse activity trail and the whole host of fun activities held throughout the year!
Connect with Jane Austen!
Jane Austen has left a lasting impact on the world of literature. The reason? She wrote about ordinary people in their everyday lives and transformed how women were depicted in 19th-century literature and beyond!
Not only did Austen live in Basingstoke for a time, but she regularly attended the dance hall where the fabulous Willis Museum in Old Town is now situated. And in recognition of her outstanding works, the museum unveiled a bronze statue in 2017 to mark 200 years after her death.
On your visit, you’ll be delighted at the peculiar, curious, and bizarre items on display in the museum. Keep an eye out for the hair from the 1st Duke of Wellington’s horse Copenhagen from the Battle of Waterloo and a well-preserved slice of Victorian wedding cake! Afterward, head over to the Sainsbury Gallery and peruse the fantastic exhibitions.
Award-winning green spaces
Step off the train and head over to Eastrop Park. Bring a picnic, lounge by the tranquil pond, and take in all the sights and sounds of the Green Flag award-winning park. If you’re extra lucky, you might see the electric blue flash of a kingfisher darting along the River Lodden as you enjoy a stroll.
Take to the water in a pedal boat and get an exceptional view of your surroundings before popping into the Boathouse Cafe for s delicious treat.
While you’re getting your nature fix, head on over to Basingstoke’s other Green Flag award winner, War Memorial Park. There you can follow a brilliant tree trail that explores the Georgian estate’s roots and get involved in all the fun events that the park hosts throughout the year.
Outstanding live performances
The Anvil is the beating heart of Basingstoke’s live performance scene. Over the past three decades, this iconic venue has showcased world-class comedians, symphony orchestras, live music, and more.
To get the most out of this excellent venue, make sure you check out all their upcoming shows. Highlights include comedy from Jon Richardson and Nish Kumar, a journey through space with Tim Peake, and music from The Illegal Eagles and Tavares.
Basingstoke is an oasis of fun days out! Whether you’re interested in history, exploring new places, or finding a decent family day out, there is something for everyone in this spectacular town!