Map of England showing the position of Hampshire county.

Exploring the Past in Hampshire

Hampshire is located more or less at the centre of England’s southern coastline, on the English Channel. Administratively, the county includes the Isle of Wight – we have a separate page for the archaeological and historical attractions on the island. Whether you enjoy exploring history in quiet countryside locations, exploring maritime heritage along the coast, or the stories of successive periods in a city. Hampshire has all three. From the history of English literature at Jane Austen’s Chawton, the remains of the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, to the histories of Winchester and Southampton from Roman times to the present.

Concrete remnants from the construction of Mulberry Harbours at Lepe Beach. Photograph © Clausentum/Wikimedia.

D-Day Sites to Visit in Hampshire

When we think of D-Day, we all have mental images of troops landing on the beaches of Normandy. What about where they left from? D-Day was months in planning and preparations, all of which took place in the United Kingdom including at locations in Hampshire. These concrete remnants are from the construction of Mulberry Harbours, and can be seen at Lepe Beach. Visit D-Day Related Sites in Hampshire.

Explore Maritime and World War II History in Portsmouth

The port city of Portsmouth as a lot of maritime history for visitors to explore – get yourself a Dockyard Explorer Ticket. From the remains of the Tudor ship Mary Rose, to HMS Victory – Lord Nelson’s flagship during the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. To the story of the D-Day Normandy Landings at the D-Day Story attraction.

Archaeology and History Sites in Hampshire

Roman Sites in Hampshire

Roman Silchester – Calleva Atrebatum

The remains of the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near present day Silchester, are still surrounded by what are considered to be the best preserved Roman town walls in England. Originally an Iron Age oppidum, the town was first occupied by Romans in about 45 AD and then abandoned by the 5th century. Outside the polygonal walls a relatively well preserved amphitheatre can be visited.

Medieval Sites in Hampshire

The turf-cut Breamore Mizmaze in Hampshire, England.

Breamore Mizmaze

Breamore Mizmaze, a designated scheduled monument, is one of only eight surviving medieval turf mazes in England. And one of only two mizmazes. Dated to the 12th or 13th century, it is thought to have been made for the Augustinian priory, long since destroyed. Near the maze is an Elizabethan Manor with a Countryside Museum. Read More About Visiting the Breamore Mizmaze.

A view across the river to Mottisfont Abbey, Hampshire.

Mottisfont Abbey

Mottisfont Abbey was founded in 1201 as an Augustinian priory. Along with many other abbeys in England, the abbey was given to Sir William Sandys by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. During World War Two the house was commandeered to serve as a hospital. Besides the historic house museum, visitors come for the National Collection of heritage roses and the beautiful setting of the Abbey. Read More About Visiting Mottisfont Abbey.

The ruins of Netley Abbey, in Hampshire.

Netley Abbey

Netley Abbey is the best preserved Cistercian abbey in the south of England, with remains of the church, cloister buildings, abbot’s house, as well as remnants of the post-Dissolution mansion. The abbey was founded in 1239 and closed by Henry VIII in 1536. The extensive ruins were an inspiration to Romantic writers and poets, and today the site is a popular visitor attraction.

Modern Sites in Hampshire

A view towards Highclere Castle, made world famous by the period drama Downton Abbey.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is widely known having featured in the period drama, Downton Abbey. The Castle was the ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon – it was the 5th Earl who funded Howard Carter’s excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922. A few artefacts are now on display for visitors in the ‘Antiquities Room’, along with a near perfect replica of the mummy and sarcophagus of the boy king. Read More.

Guided Tours and Day Trips to Highclere Castle/Downton Abbey

Museums in Hampshire

Inside one of the hangars of the Army Flying Museum in Hampshire, England.

The Army Flying Museum, Middle Wallop

The Army Flying Museum (formerly the Museum of Army Flying) traces the history of military flying, from the use of observation balloons through to today’s high-tech engineering techniques. A child friendly museum that is perfect for those interested in aviation, engineering and militaria, as well as the history of warfare. Read More About Visiting the Army Flying Museum.

The entrance to Winchester City Museum, next to the Cathedral square in Winchester.

Winchester City Museum

The city of Winchester was not only the capital city of the Anglo-Norman Kingdom, before that it was a regional Roman capital, the fifth largest town in Roman Britain. Before that, during the Iron Age, it was an important trading centre. With a vast collection of archaeological and historical objects the City Museum of Winchester displays the story of this amazing city from earliest prehistoric times to the present. Website.

Monuments and Memorials in Hampshire

The Army Flying War Memorial near Middle Wallop in Hampshire, England.

The Army Flying War Memorial, Middle Wallop

Alongside the A343 between Salisbury and Andover is the Middle Wallop Army Aviation Centre. In a small field next to the Army Flying Museum is the Army Flying War Memorial. Completed in 2017, this is the only memorial dedicated to those who have died in service of British Army flying. With a powerful, contemplative design, the monument is a reminder of the sacrifice many have made over more than a 100 years. Read More.

The Portuguese Fireplace in the New Forest, Hampshire, a World War 1 memorial.

Portuguese Fireplace, New Forest

One of the few reminders of activity in the New Forest from the First World War is the so-called Portuguese Fireplace. A seemingly lone fireplace, in a clearing in the forest. The fireplace was left standing to serve as a memorial to the Portuguese who helped with the allied war effort during World War I. The rest of their camp was dismantled following the war. Read More About this World War I Memorial.

The Rufus Stone park on the A31 in the New Forest, Hampshire.

Rufus Stone

An ironclad stone near the small New Forest village of Minstead is a reminder of William Rufus, the third son of William the Conqueror, who was killed there in a hunting accident, although whether by accident or design is still a matter of much debate today. Conveniently located next to a car park and some stunning forest scenery, it makes a great base for a stroll in the woods while learning more about this infamous Norman ruler. Read More.