15 Facts About Hampshire’s Top Attractions You Probably Didn’t Know

October 15, 2019

You may think there is little left to discover about some of your favourite Hampshire’s Top Attractions, but you’d be wrong! With histories that date back hundreds of years, acres of land, and hidden treasures, you’ll be amazed at what’s still to discover at your favourite attractions in Hampshire. We’ve put together 15 facts about Hampshire’s Top Attractions you probably didn’t know…

  1. Whilst known for many popular lands including Peppa Pig World and Lost Kingdom, Paultons Park originally opened as a country park and bird garden in 1983 and is in fact home to over 100 species of birds and animals! Spanning over 140 acres, the Paultons estate has a proud history with the original gardens being laid out by Capability Brown, many features of which can still be seen today!
  2. Thought the Mary Rose sank on its maiden voyage? Henry VIII’s ship was actually at sea for 34 years before sinking outside Portsmouth harbour! Recovered in 1982, the Mary Rose is now on display in a n award-winning purpose-built museum in the heart of Portsmouth’s historic waterfront!

    The Mary Rose
    The Mary Rose
  3. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is home to over 600 champion trees – the tallest, widest, oldest of their species. This is one of the largest collections of champion trees in the British Isles. Making it a great place to see autumn colour! Plus, Sir Harold Hillier Gardens is enormous at 180 acres is size which is the equivalent of 180 football pitches.
  4. Did you know that there has been a Mill on site in Laverstoke since at least 903 AD and that the first official records show Laverstoke Mill as a corn mill marked in the Domesday Book of 1086? Find out more on a tour of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery.
  5. Did you know over 50 naval ships were built at Buckler’s Hard? During the 18th century this picturesque village bustled with activity as workers built warships for Nelson’s Navy, including three vessels that took part in the Battle of Trafalgar. Discover the remarkable story in the maritime museum at Buckler’s Hard.

    Bucklers Hard - Euryalus launch
    Bucklers Hard – Euryalus launch
  6. Theatre Royal Winchester started out as The Market Hotel in 1850 – a convenient stop-over for farmers on their way to sell cattle at the Corn Exchange (now the Winchester Discovery Centre). In 1914 it was converted in to a cine-variety venue, where audiences were able to watch live acts, interspersed with screenings of silent films and newsreels. During the Second World War residents found comfort in the auditorium, watching news from the front line.
  7. The Spinnaker Tower takes its elegant design and name from a sail of an ocean-going yacht – a spinnaker. The site has a total footprint of only 1500m² – the size of 5¾ tennis courts. The 1200 tonnes of structural steel used to form the tower’s distinctive steel bows is the equivalent weight of 12 blue whales. The amount of concrete used to build the tower would fill 5½ Olympic-sized swimming pools. If the 201.2km of steel used to reinforce the building was stretched out, it would reach twice around the Isle of Wight.
  8. Did you know that Longdown Activity Farm is one of the few tourist attractions in Hampshire to offer a Changing Places facility? Their facility contains specialist equipment which includes an adult-sized, height-adjustable changing bed, lifting hoist, and adapted toilet. This means that visitors to the Farm who have additional physical needs can enjoy the freedom, dignity and privacy that most people take for granted during a family day out. There’s a wonderful family day at the farm for everyone to enjoy at Longdown Activity Farm.

    Longdown Activity Farm Changing Places facility
    Longdown Activity Farm Changing Places facility
  9. Did you know that Birdworld have not 1, but 2 colonies of penguins?! The park is home to both Humboldt Penguins and African Penguins and neither species derive from snowy habitats! Until the end of October half term, you can watch these mischievous creatures being fed twice a day!
  10. Medstead and Four Marks station at the Watercress Line is the highest in Southern England at around 650ft above sea level.
  11. Marwell Zoo is home to hundreds of exotic and endangered animals, from graceful gibbons to inquisitive tigers, there’s a whole world to explore. Did you know that by visiting the zoo, you’re contributing to their important conservation work across the world and helping to save these incredible species? 
  12. The Hawk Conservancy Trust was originally a farm. Their founder Reg Smith appeared on Blue Peter with an albino badger that bit one of the presenters. That weekend hundreds of people arrived at the farm to visit and this marked the beginning of the Weyhill Wildlife Park which later became the Hawk Conservancy Trust.
  13. It takes three days for a silk worm to spin a cocoon in a figure of eight made up of one mile of liquid silk covered in Sericin from openings in its head – these solidify on contact with the air. It takes 96 silk cocoons to produce enough thread to wind onto a bobbin. Find out more at Whitchurch Silk Mill

    Whitchurch Silk Mill
    Whitchurch Silk Mill
  14. Did you know, Winchester Cathedral has the longest Nave and the greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe? With over 1,000 years of history to explore, this ancient place of worship is a great day out for all the family with free entry for under 16s. 
  15. Butser Ancient Farm is considered by many to be the birthplace of Experimental Archaeology, a pioneering location to test theories about the past through constructing ancient buildings and technologies. Set up in 1972 by Dr Peter Reynolds the farm is world famous for its key role in developing ideas about what life in the ancient past would have been like.