Explore the Fascinating Castles and Stately Homes of Hampshire

Hampshire is a county located on the south coast of England. It is home to the cities of Southampton and Winchester, as well as several smaller towns and villages. The county is known for its rich history, with many medieval castles and abbeys, as well as a number of historic country houses.

Hampshire is a popular tourist destination, with a variety of nature attractions including the South Downs National Park and the Isle of Wight. Hampshire is home to several historic castles, stately homes, and country houses. In this post you will find the best castles in Hampshire that you can visit.   

photo: Bas Sijpkes / CC BY 2.0

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is a country house located in the village of Highclere in the southern parts of Hampshire. The stately home has been the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon since 1679, though it is perhaps best known as the film location for the television show Downton Abbey. Highclere Castle was designed by Sir Charles Barry and renovated in the Jacobethan style in the mid-19th century.

The castle is set in over 1,000 acres of parkland and gardens, which include a formal garden, a lake, and a woodland garden. The castle has more than 300 rooms, including a dining room, a drawing room, a library, and a music room. It is also home to a collection of antique furniture, paintings, and other works of art.

Where: Highclere

Style: Jacobethan

Built: 1679/19th century

Visitor information: the castle is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

hurst-castle-best-castles-in-hampshire-visiteuropeancastles
photo: Hurst Castle by PAUL FARMER / CC BY-SA 2.0

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle is a 16th-century castle located on the Hurst Spit in the village of Hurst in Hampshire. The castle was built by King Henry VIII as a defense structure against invasion from France and the Holy Roman Empire. Hurst Castle was used as a prison during the English Civil War and later served as a garrison for soldiers defending the coast from smugglers and privateers.

The castle consists of a moat and three concentric rings of walls, and it was armed with a variety of artillery, including cannons and mortars. The castle is located on a spit of shingle that extends out into the Solent, a stretch of water that separates the mainland of England from the Isle of Wight. The spit is one of the longest in Europe, and it is home to a variety of wildlife, including seabirds and seals.

Where: Hurst

Built: 16th century

Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and it is open to the public.

calshot-castle-tudor-hampshire
photo: Geni / CC BY-SA 3.0

Calshot Castle

Calshot Castle is a 15th century castle built during the reign of Henry VIII as part of its network of coastal defense structures to protect England from invasion. The castle is a quadrilateral fortress with four circular bastions and a moat.

It was armed with artillery, including cannons and mortars, and it was designed to be self-sufficient, with its own water supply and storerooms for provisions. The castle was used as a prison during the English Civil War, and it later served as a coastal defense and a training base for the Royal Navy. It is now owned by the Ministry of Defence and can only be visited from the outside.

portchester-castle-moated-castle-hampshire-england
photo: Julian Colander / CC BY-SA 3.0

Portchester Castle

Portchester Castle is a castle located in the village of Portchester in Hampshire. The castle is one of the best-preserved Roman fortifications in Europe. It was built in the 3rd century AD as a fort called Portus Adurni to defend the Solent, a stretch of water that separates the mainland of England from the Isle of Wight.

The castle was later used as a Norman Castle, a royal castle, a prison, and a military barracks. It has a moat, a keep, and walls that are up to 5 meters thick in places. The castle overlooks the Portsmouth Harbour and from the castle you have a panoramic view of the area.

Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and open to the public. Visit the website for more information.  

winchester-castle-hampshire-england
photo: Johan Bakker / CC BY-SA 3.0

Winchester Castle

Winchester Castle is a castle located in the center of Winchester. The castle was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, and it was the capital of England for much of the Middle Ages. The castle is now home to the Great Hall, which was built in the 13th century and is one of the largest surviving medieval halls in Europe. It is also home to King Arthur’s Round Table, a large circular table that is believed to be the one that King Arthur and his knights used at Camelot. Today, the castle is a museum where you can learn more about the history and the area.

Visitor information: the castle is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.   

Southsea Castle

Southsea Castle, also known as Chaderton Castle, South Castle, and Portsea Castle, is a castle located on Portsea Island in Hampshire, England. It was built in 1544 by King Henry VIII as part of a network of coastal defenses to protect England from invasion by France and the Holy Roman Empire. The castle was an early example of the trace italienne style of fortification, and it was armed with artillery, including cannons and mortars.

It saw brief action at the start of the English Civil War in 1642 when it was stormed by Parliamentary forces. In the 1680s, the castle was expanded by Sir Bernard de Gomme, and it was redesigned again in 1814 during the Napoleonic Wars. It was used as a military prison in the 1840s, and its defenses were upgraded in the 1850s and 1860s. The castle saw service in the Frist and Second World War, and in 1960, it was sold to Portsmouth City Council.

Visitor information: the castle is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

wolvesey-castle-ruins-winchester-hampshire
photo: Mike Peel / CC-BY-SA-4.0

Wolvesey Castle

Wolvesey Castle, also known as the Old Bishop’s Palace, is a ruined castle located in the city of Winchester in Hampshire. It was the residence of the Bishop of Winchester, and it was built in the 12th century on the site of a Roman townhouse.

The castle has a great hall, a chapel, and a cloister, and it is surrounded by a moat. It was badly damaged during the English Civil War, and only the foundations and a few walls remain today. The castle is located in the center of Winchester, and it is surrounded by gardens and parkland.

Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

odiham-castle-ruins-hampshire-england
photo: BabelStone / CC BY-SA 3.0

Ruins of Odiham Castle

Odiham Castle, also known as King John’s Castle, is a ruined castle located in Odiham, Hampshire, England. It was built in the 13th century by King John as part of a network of castles to defend England from invasion by France. The castle has a three-story stone keep, two moated baileys, and a Domus Regis or king’s house.

It was captured by the French in 1216 during the First Barons’ War, and it was renovated and expanded over the following decades. In the 15th century, the castle was used only as a hunting lodge, and it fell into disrepair in the 17th century. The castle has undergone several archaeological excavations, and in 2007, the shell keep was restored.

Visitor information: the castle is owned by English Heritage and it is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

netley-castle-facade-hampshire-england
photo: Nunnethan / CC BY-SA 4.0

Netley Castle

Netley Castle is a former artillery fort located in the village of Netley in Hampshire. It was built in the 16th century with stone from the nearby Netley Abbey by King Henry VIII as part of a network of coastal defences to protect England from invasion by France and the Holy Roman Empire. The castle includes a central, stone keep with two flanking gun platforms and was garrisoned by ten men.

It was decommissioned during the English Civil War and fell into disrepair in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the property was converted into a private house, with Gothic-style extensions, including octagonal towers. Between 1939 and 1998, it was used as a nursing home, and it was later converted into residential flats.

netley-abbey-archway-ruin-hampshire
photo: Tim Firkins / CC BY-SA 4.0

Netley Abbey

Netley Abbey is a ruined abbey located in the village of Netley, near Southampton, Hampshire, England. It was founded in 1239 by the Cistercian order of monks, and it was the first Cistercian abbey to be built in southern England.

It was dissolved in 1536 during the English Reformation, and much of the stone from the abbey was reused to build nearby Netley Castle. In the 19th century, the abbey became a popular tourist destination, and it was celebrated as a romantic ruin by writers and artists, including Jane Austen and John Constable.

Visitor information: the abbey is owned by English Heritage. Visit the website for more information.

titchfield-abbey-hampshire-england
photo: August Schwerdfeger / CC BY 4.0

Titchfield Abbey

Titchfield Abbey is a former abbey located in Hampshire, England that was originally constructed in the 13th century. It was home to a group of Premonstratensian canons, who lived and worked together as a community similar to monks, but also served as priests in the surrounding area.

During the English Reformation and the Suppression of the Monasteries, the abbey was given to Sir Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who converted it into a luxurious Tudor mansion called Place House. One of the most striking features of the abbey today is a grand gatehouse with turrets, which was built across the nave of the church.

Visitor information: the abbey is owned by English Heritage and it is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Broadlands

Broadlands is a country house and gardens in Romsey.  The Palladian manor house was originally owned by Romsey Abbey before being sold to Sir Francis Fleming in 1547 after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Capability Brown and Henry Holland renovated the house and gardens between 1767 and 1780. The property was inherited by William Cowper-Temple, 1st Baron Mount Temple, who banned blood sports on the property.

The house is currently the home of the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma. The country estate is also known for being where Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip spent their honeymoon in 1947 and where Prince Charles and Princess Diana spent the first three days of their honeymoon in 1981.

Where: Romsey

Built: 1767

Style: Palladian

Visitor information: the house is open to the public in the summer months. Visit the website for more information.

mottisfont-abbey-grounds-hampshire

Mottisfont Abbey

Mottisfont Abbey is a historic house and garden located in the village of Mottisfont, near Romsey in Hampshire, England. The house was originally a monastery founded in the 13th century by Augustinian canons. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, the property was converted into a private residence.

In the 1930s, the house was owned by Maud Russell who often entertained artists such as Ian Fleming and Ben Nicholson. During this time the drawing room was painted by Rex Whistler. The house is also home to a 20th-century art collection. The gardens at Mottisfont, which include formal and informal areas, are known for their collection of old-fashioned roses and other flowering plants.

Where: Mottisfont

Built: 18th century

Style: Neoclassical

Visitor information: the house and gardens are owned by the National Trust and they’re open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

houghton-lodge-gardens-cottage-ornée-hampshire-england
photo: Ben Grantham / CC BY 2.0

Houghton Lodge

Houghton Lodge is a country house on the River Test in Hampshire. The house is one of the finest examples of a Cottage Ornée in England.  During this time, it became fashionable for the upper classes to spend time in the countryside for enjoyment. The houses are designed in a picturesque style and appear smaller.

The house is surrounded by 5 acres of parks and lawns with a grotto, a walled kitchen garden, and a topiary garden.

Where: North Houghton

Style: Cottage Ornée

Built: 1790s

Visitor information: the gardens are open to the public from April to September. Visit the website for more information.     

beaulieu-palace-house-gothic-manors-england-visiteuropeancastles
photo: DeFacto

Beaulieu Palace House

Beaulieu Palace House is a 13th-century Gothic-style mansion in Hampshire, UK. It was originally part of Beaulieu Abbey, but was purchased by Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton in 1538. The house is still owned by the Wriothesley family’s descendants, the Barons Montagu of Beaulieu, and is open to the public as part of the Beaulieu visitor attraction, which includes the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu Abbey, and the World of Top Gear. The mansion is known for its alleged hauntings and paranormal activity, including the ghost of the Countess of Beaulieu, Lady Isabella.

Where: Beaulieu

Built: 13th century

Style: Gothic

Visitor information: the house is open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

the-vyne-country-house-best-castles-hampshire-england
photo: Martinvl / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Vyne

The Vyne is a Tudor-style country house in Sherborne St John, Hampshire, England. Built in the early 16th century by William Sandys, it was transformed into a classical mansion in the 17th century but it still retains its Tudor chapel and a classical portico that was added in 1654 by John Webb. In the mid-18th century, the house was owned by John Chaloner Chute, a friend of Horace Walpole, who designed the principal stair hall containing an imperial staircase. The Vyne was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958 by Sir Charles Chute.

Where: Sherborne St John

Built: 1500–1520

Style: Tudor and Classical

Visitor information: the house and grounds are open to the public. Visit the website for more information.

Similar Posts