Day 2. Old Basing and Milestones Museum, Basingstoke

After a good night’s sleep we started the day with a delicious cooked breakfast at the lovely Barton’s Mill on the outskirts of Basingstoke.  It was a bright, sunny morning as we set out on foot to explore the picturesque village of Old Basing.

Breakfast at Bartons Mill, Old Basing
Breakfast at Barton’s Mill, Old Basing

From Barton’s Mill we followed a short section of the Basing Trail, a seven mile circular walking route.  Just beyond the viaduct we reached a footbridge leading into the main entrance of Basing House (standard adult admission £9.00).

Great Barn, Basing House, Basingstoke
The Great Barn at Basing House

After collecting our tickets from the booking kiosk we strolled across the courtyard to view the Great Barn that dates back to 1535.  Battle scarred artillery damage is still visible on the walls of its vast interior as the barn was the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the Civil War of 1643.  Whilst we were visiting, the interior was being prepared for an upcoming wedding celebration.

Interior of the Great Barn, Basing House, Basingstoke
The interior of the Great Barn

Leaving there, our tour continued a little further along the road to the gates of the ruined Manor House (also included in the ticket).  There’s a small exhibition centre by the entrance to the ruins of this once largest private house in Tudor England and the home of William Paulette, Marquess of Winchester.

Gates to the ruined Basing House, Basingstoke
Gates to the ruined Basing House

Boasting approximately 360 rooms, it once rivalled Hampton Court Palace in London for size.  The Tudor palace and castle was frequently visited by royalty with Queen Mary I spending her honeymoon there following her marriage ceremony in nearby Winchester.

The ruins of Basing House, Basingstoke
Exploring the ruins of Basing House

Basing House today is a collection of earthworks, stone ruins and ditches with the Great Barn being its only surviving building.  As we toured the site, we paused to read information boards documenting the story of the house and the events that led to its destruction.

Ruins of Basing House
Exploring the earthworks at Basing House

We climbed to the top of the viewing platform for views overlooking the ruins and of the village beyond and then wandered down to the Jacobean walled garden.  The reconstructed walled garden reflects on how Basing House was a grand Jacobean residence during the early 1600’s.

The Jacobean Walled Garden, Basing House, Old Basing
The Jacobean Walled Garden

As no illustrations or description of the original garden survived, garden historians were invited to design the formal gardens as a place for relaxation with an area for herbs and medicinal plants to one side.

Thatched cottage in Old Basing, Basingstoke
One of the picturesque thatched cottages in Old Basing

After leaving Basing House we continued on foot through the village of Old Basing.  It’s an absolute delight with its rows of thatched and characterful cottages.

Pretty cottage in Old Basing, Basingstoke
Another of the pretty cottages in Old Basing

The village dates from Saxon times however the appearance of the houses was influenced by the destruction of Basing House as much of the stone and bricks used in their construction was taken from its ruins in the 17th century.

St. Mary's Church, Old Basing, Basingstoke
St. Mary’s Church, Old Basing

We walked as far as St. Mary’s, the pretty Tudor village church then retraced our steps back to Barton’s Mill to collect our car.

Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Milestones Museum, Basingstoke

On our way again, it was just a few minutes drive to the Milestones Museum, a living history museum.  Also operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, standard adult admission is £16.50 which includes unlimited return visits within one year (closed Monday’s).  The museum is located on one corner of a leisure park just off Churchill Way in Basingstoke.  It seemed quite strange to find a heritage attraction in this sort of location but I’m so pleased we decided to visit as it’s a splendid museum.

Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Street scene at the Milestones Museum, Basingstoke

The vast building has been transformed into a century old town centre complete with cobblestone streets, shops, a petrol station, heritage vehicles, a school room and Milestones very own working pub.  The pub, known as The Baverstock Arms is only open at lunchtimes otherwise we would have called in for a drink.  It’s named after James Baverstock who was one of the first people to use scientific experiments to improve the quality of ale.

Sweet Shop at Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
The Sweet Shop at Milestones Museum

Although the pub was closed we were able to go inside each of the shops which are laid out as they would have been.  The 1940’s sweet shop was operating with an assistant dressed in an authentic costume weighing out sherbet lemons and pear drops from tall glass jars for a taste of yesteryear.

Thornycroft cars in Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Thornycroft vehicles in the Milestones Museum

Part of the museum is dedicated to historic vehicles including vintage trams, buses and even a steam train.  There’s a particular focus on vehicles made by the Thornycroft Steam Wagon Company which opened a factory in Basingstoke at the end of the 19th century, employing thousands of people at its peak.

Railway Station at Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Restored Station at Milestones Museum

There’s lots of fun for the entire family with iSpy trail sheets available to keep children entertained as well as a reproduction of a Victorian pier with vintage working arcade games to play on (change for old pennies available).

Teddy Bear Museum, Milestones Museum, Basingstoke
Mr Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum

Along one of the street scenes we discovered Mr. Simpson’s Teddy Bear Museum.  Going inside, we learnt about the fascinating story of Mr. Simpson and his wonderful collection of more than 260 teddy bears.  William Simpson’s first teddy was called ‘Rupert’ which was bought for his second Christmas in 1917.  After his death in 2013 he bequeathed the majority of his collection to Hampshire County Museums along with a legacy for their care and display in the Teddy Bear Museum.

Teddy Bears on display at Milestones Museum
Teddy bears on display in the Toy Museum section of Milestones.

With a large free car park and easy accessibility, Milestones Museum is a lovely place to visit.  It brings the past to life with its many objects that were either made or used in Hampshire and is a wonderful lasting record of the county’s social, industrial and transport history and well worth a visit.

The Vyne, Basingstoke
The Vyne, Basingstoke

Leaving there, there was just one more place we wished to visit in the area and that was to The Vyne, a 16th century house that was built for Lord Sandys, Lord Chancellor to King Henry VIII.  The house and gardens are managed by the National Trust and located in beautiful countryside four miles north of Basingstoke in the village of Sherborne St. John.  (Standard adult admission £13 and free for National Trust members).

Walled Garden, The Vyne, Basingstoke
The walled garden at The Vyne

From the car park, the entrance was through a garden lined with sunflowers and colourful herbaceous borders.  The house is surrounded by extensive grounds with a lake to the front of the building making it a delightful spot to enjoy a picnic.

Bird Hide, The Vyne, Basingstoke
The bird hide in the grounds of The Vyne

There’s a 1.3 mile circular woodland path but we were only able to follow part of it due to restorative building works of a dam across the reservoir.  We did get as far as the bird hide though where we paused for a few minutes to take in the scenic beauty of the estate.

The lavish interior of The Vyne, Basingstoke
The Vyne’s lavish interior

We took a self guided tour of the house and with volunteers on hand in most of the rooms to answer questions, this worked well.  The Vyne’s history spans over five hundred years and is where Lords, Ladies and a Speaker from the House of Commons once lived and where Tudor Kings visited.

Dining Room, The Vyne, Basingstoke
The elaborate dining room

The house is filled with treasures and antiques including exquisite Venetian plates which are amongst the most important European Grand Tour objects housed in Britain.  To one end of the house lies the Tudor chapel with its 16th century recently restored stained glass windows gleaming in the sunlight.

Tudor chapel, The Vyne, Basingstoke
The Tudor chapel of The Vyne

After completing our tour of the house we called into the Brewhouse Tea Room for some light refreshments before setting off home after a delightful couple of days exploring Basingstoke.  Who knew that there was so many lovely things to see and do in this part of North Hampshire!

During our stay we were guests of Hampshire Cultural Trust and Barton’s Mill.  As always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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30 thoughts on “Day 2. Old Basing and Milestones Museum, Basingstoke

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    What a lovely, history-themed weekend! Love the cottages on Old Basing, I snapped a few myself last time I walked the dog through that way. Milestones looks great, I’m stashing that idea away for the upcoming half term holidays

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It must be quite special to have your wedding day in a 1535 old barn. I like the thatched cottage – that’s something we also often see in our own country. You’re right Marion, the Milestone Mueseum looks like a lovely place to visit – love the photo of the street scene and what a grand tour through The Vyne … it’s always fascinating to go back in time when visiting such old places. Thank you for introducing Basingstoke – a place I will probably never see.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Distressing to see yet another historical building allowed to rot. I think St Mary’s Church needs a little outside care too. Let’s hope the same thing doesn’t happen there. Those old buildings are treasures that need to be respected and maintained.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What a tranquil visit! The thatched cottages are so quaint and lovely, and the Teddy Bear Museum is so adorable! As I love teddy bears, I’ll have to make a stop here to gush over the cute bears on display. Thanks for sharing your time here!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The Basing Trail sounds like such an interesting walking route. It’s neat that it passes by some historic buildings and structures. I am in love with the thatched cottages. The Vyne looks very lavish. I’m sure it was fun to get a sneak peak into what it would have been like to live here through the tour of the house.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a steady stream of magnificent old buildings Marion, one after another. I do love the name Old Basing and these buildings are just stunning. The Great Barn is just… wow, inside and out. Surely that has popped up in a movie or two over the year. The Teddy Bear Museum is very charming, did they have a few replicas for sale?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Basingstoke is a pleasantly surprising place with its mix of old and new. Old Basing is an absolute delight and the Great Barn spectacular. I don’t think there are any replica teddy bears on sale in the museum shop but it’s certainly a good idea. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. That is an amazing old barn. I can see why it would be popular for weddings and events. The cottages in Basing look so pretty and well kept and I would love to wander through that museum. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

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