Historic Houses around the South Coast

The New Forest, and surrounding area, is dotted by a number of historic buildings that are well worth a day-trip or visit during your escape!

Ranging from sea forts, to palaces- they are steeped in history and many are as impressive today as when they were first built! Do delve-in below to discover our round-up of the best sites to see whilst planning your stay…

National Trust Properties

The National Trust looks after a number of gorgeous properties around the South Coast- all within easy reach of the New Forest, and ideal for summer stroll arounds & rainy-day excursions! Our top three include:

Mottisfont House and Gardens 

Maud Russell made Mottisfont her home in the 1930s, bringing artists here to relax and create works inspired by Mottisfont’s past. This includes an extraordinary drawing-room painted by Rex Whistler in the trompe l’oeil style. The artistic traditions continue today, with a permanent 20th-century art collection and major exhibitions in the top-floor gallery.

Outside, 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. They also have a world-famous collection of old-fashioned roses which flower once a year in June. Winding paths meander through stately trees and along a river which is a lovely countryside walk.

Kingston Lacy 

Explore the vast 8,500 acres of estate, featuring Iron Age hill forts, colourful heathland, water meadows and the world’s oldest pedigree herd of Red Ruby Devon cattle.

Kingston Lacy has a dynamic history. Over centuries the Bankes family built, altered, embellished and rebuilt their house. Their wealth came from extensive estates and profitable marriages, including inherited wealth from Caribbean plantations supported by the Atlantic slave trade.

The Needles Old Battery and New Battery

A Victorian fort built in 1862 for a war that never took place, it became known as one of ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ after the politician that commissioned it, but was called into action during both World Wars.

Follow the underground tunnel as it twists and turns deep into the chalky cliffs and you’ll find a searchlight emplacement with views high above the Needles rocks and as far as Dorset on a clear day.

We’ve created a map with all our favourite Historic Properties nearby to make it even easier to decide where to explore next!

Historic Houses

Whats not to love about a historic house? Find out all the stories of past and present owners and why the houses were first built; Explore the local land and all the gorgeous walks on each estate to see the houses in all their glory; and discover a new area of the South Coast at the same time!

The Palace House, Beaulieu 

Overlooking the picturesque Beaulieu River millpond, Palace House was remodelled and extended during the 1800s and is now a fine example of a Victorian country house. Inside, its ecclesiastical heritage sets the grand gothic tone for a home bristling with character and adorned with family treasures, portraits, and memorabilia. Plus the Beaulieu Motor Museum and Beaulieu Abbey are all intertwined so that there is enough to fill the whole day!

Osbourne House, Cowes – Isle of Wight

Osborne House reflects Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s passions, tastes and style. Ornate furnishings and artefacts from The Royal Collection fill rooms and corridors where Victoria entertained heads of state, inventors, princess and princesses and ruled the vast British Empire. The views of the Solent are pretty spectacular- we can see why Queen Victoria decided to set up base here!

Broadlands, Romsey

The house is a fine example of mid-Georgian English architecture, standing serenely in picturesque parkland.  Its owners and many of its important visitors have helped to shape the course of history. Today it is a working estate and the family home of the Mountbatten family. House tours are available from April so make sure to book in advance!

 

Castles

This stretch of coast used to be one of the most fortified in the UK and there’s still a heavy naval presence up the coast elsewhere in Hampshire. Southampton and Portsmouth both have deep water ports, with the latter acting as the UK’s Navy HQ. At Buckler’s Hard, there is a full-scale village restored from the times when Nelson had a fleet of ships made for the Battle of Trafalgar (the vessels made from New Forest trees). Some forts are situated out in the deep waters of the Solent and the English Channel and can be clearly seen from the shore. Why not explore…

Highcliffe Castle

Highcliffe Castle is more of a 19th century Gothic-style stately home than a castle, located on the outskirts of Christchurch in Dorset. It now has a Grade I listed status, after being bought by the local council and restored in the 1990s, after two fires in the 1970s rendered it derelict. What makes this such a special place is the woodland walk down to the beach, so you can pretend for the day that you are Lord and Lady of the castle, off for a stroll and picnic on your very own beach!

Calshot Castle

Calshot Castle is a circular sea battlement that has been employed through several wars since it was built in the 1500s. This impressive fort was built for Henry VIII to protect the mouth of Southampton Water from enemies. It is part of the former RAF and Navy base at Calshot, where TE Lawrence once served.

Located on the corner of Southampton Water which flows into the Solent, its in the perfect spot to watch the boats and ships pass by- providing hours of entertainment for maritime lovers.

 

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle is a must-see if you like nature reserves and a decent walk. The castle stands at the end of a gravel peninsula that extends out into the mouth of the Solent. On the land side, there’s an expansive bird reserve and on the other are the deep Solent waters. The Isle of Wight is at its closest to the mainland here and you can marvel at the iconic Needles.

The castle itself is steeped in history having been built in 1544 for Henry VIII as part of a row of sea defences. Famously, Charles I was imprisoned here before his grisly execution. More recently, it was used in WWII by soldiers protecting the coastline from any enemy advances!

 

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