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There are many reasons for visiting the beautiful county of Hampshire: the uniquely beautiful countryside of the New Forest and South Downs, the charming city of Winchester, and high quality attractions such as the Beaulieu National Motor Museum.

As an area of such strong architectural and cultural heritage, it will be no surprise to learn that Hampshire is also home to a number of Britain’s finest country houses. We spoke to Tourism South East – a not-for-profit organisation promoting the region as an ideal holiday destination – about their top recommendations for visitors looking to enjoy a day discovering the very best of what the county has to offer:

Mottisfont Abbey Garden, House and Estate

‘This is a romantic house and gallery set in beautiful riverside gardens. Carpets of spring bulbs, a stunning walled rose garden, rich autumn leaves and a colourful winter garden make Mottisfont a feast for the senses all year round.’

Address/Contact Details

Nr Romsey
SO51 0LP
Tel: 01794 340757

Jane Austen's House Museum

‘The house in which Jane Austen lived is now a museum to her life. The Museum tells the story of Jane and her family and has on display Austen family portraits and memorabilia, original manuscripts and first editions of her novels. Visitors can stand behind the modest occasional table at which Austen wrote, or spend time in the pretty garden the Austen women so enjoyed. The recreated historical kitchen and bakehouse are also open to visitors.’

Address/Contact Details

Winchester Road
GU34 1SD
Tel: 01420 83262

Hinton Ampner House and Garden

‘Best known for its fine garden, Hinton Ampner is an elegant country house with an outstanding collection of furniture, paintings and objets d'art. After a fire in 1960, the house was remodelled by the owner, Ralph Dutton, the eighth and last Lord Sherborne, who was also responsible for the design of the gardens.’

Address/Contact Details

Hinton Ampner
SO24 0LA
Tel: 01962 771305

Avington Park

‘William Cobbett wrote of Avington that it was “one of the prettiest places in the County” and indeed it is still true today. Charles II stayed at various times, as did George IV. It is still a family home and stands in beautiful grounds close to the River Itchen. Guided tours of the staterooms are available.’

Address/Contact Details

SO21 1DB
Tel: 01962 779260

The Vyne

'The Vyne is a warm red-bricked Tudor mansion built in the 16th century for Lord Sandy, Henry VIII's Lord Chamberlain, which later passed into the Chute family who cared for the house and estate for 300 years.

It was remodelled to its present shape in the mid-17th century with the addition of a classical portico and summerhouse, the first of their kind in England.’

Address/Contact Details

Vyne Road
Sherborne St John
RG24 9HL
Tel: 01256 883858

Stansted Park

Stansted Park stands in 1,800 acres of parkland and ancient forest within the South Downs National Park. In 1983 the 10th Earl of Bessborough gave Stansted Park, the Arboretum, his family home and its beautiful contents to the public. The state rooms are furnished as though the 10th Earl was still at home, giving the visitor a real sense of a bygone era. The extensive servants’ quarters below stairs are filled with historic artefacts that are brought to life by the very knowledgeable and friendly stewards who will guide you through the vibrant history of Stansted Park.’

Address/Contact Details

Rowlands Castle
Tel: 02392 412265

As you can see from the above, there are plenty of options should you wish to explore the county’s built heritage in detail when you next stay at one of the many fine cottages for hire in Hampshire – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Why not take a few minutes to find out more about the following houses as well?

ΓÇó Breamore House
ΓÇó Stratfield Saye House
ΓÇó Highclere Castle
ΓÇó Broadlands
ΓÇó Houghton Lodge Gardens

Image Credits: Feathering the Nest, Charles D P Miller, Henry Burrows, Herry Lawford, Barry Skeates.