If you’re looking to add a little history and culture to your stay then the cathedral city of Winchester is just over half an hour away. This historic and unspoilt cathedral city is home to classic architecture including Winchester Cathedral and the surviving ruins of Wolvesey Castle and is known as England’s ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great.
Located in Hampshire, at the western end of the South Downs National Park, it’s a wonderful destination full of historic architecture, including Winchester Cathedral, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe. Here you can take a tour of the magnificent library, the exquisite 14th-century oak carved choir stalls, the soaring medieval stained glass windows and the archways of the crypt highlighted by a statue by British sculptor Antony Gormley.
For five weeks over the Christmas period, the inner close of the cathedral is turned into a large open-air ice rink – perfect for a romantic festive break.
Don’t miss the Winchester City Mill, which is the oldest working watermill in the country. It also acts as a tourist information site for the South Downs National Park, so is the perfect place to stop by to pick up maps and brochures of the local area.
Tree lovers should head to Winkworth Arboretum, managed by the National Trust, which is home to more than 1,000 species of trees and shrubs and is a must-see during bluebell season. A little further afield you will find Micheldever Wood, which offers year-round beauty.
Anyone interested in military history should visit Winchester’s military museums — there are six of them, all within yards of each other, at Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Road. These are:
HorsePower, the Regimental Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars
The Royal Hampshire Regiment Museum
The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum
The Rifles Collection
The Gurkha Museum
The Guardroom Museum, the Museum of the Adjutant-General’s Corps
The City Museum and the Bell Fine Art gallery are also great for a culture fix, and there’s plenty of shops, cafes and tea rooms to visit too.