tourism in central southern England
For the purposes of this guide, Central southern England is made up of
the counties lying to the west and southwest of Greater London, between
25 miles and 100 miles from London.
The long mediaeval
nave of Winchester cathedral
For areas to the east, including the southern counties of
and Kent, see southeast England. To discover areas and sites
further away from London towards the west, see the Southwest of England
In addition to two National Parks, the New Forest and part of the South
Downs,central southern England includes a lot of very attractive
countryside and traditional small towns and villages. In the north, it
includes part of the Cotswold hills and most of the Chiltern hills. The
centre of this part of England is an upland area known as Salisbury
Plain, home to what is probably the world's best-known
prehistoric monument, Stonehenge. In the south, visitors can discover
the New forest, and also the old world charm of the Isle of Wight. The
Hampshire and Isle of Wight coasts are particular popular with sailors
Ten of the best historic monuments
and sites in
Ratings out of 5 are relative to other similar attractions or monuments
||Perhaps the finest historic royal
stronghold in Europe.
Windsor castle has been a royal residence since the 11th century. As
such it has been regularly kept up, extended and rebuilt through the
centuries, but the Mediaeval core survives to this day, among the other
parts dating from the Renaissance and later. Windsor and Eton Riversite
station is easily
accessible by train from London Paddington - about an hour.
||UNESCO world heritage site. The most
amazing prehistoric monument in Europe. Visitor centre. See Prehistoric sites.
Access by road only
||One of the oldest cathedrals in England.
Winchester Cathedral has
the longest nave of any mediaeval cathedral in Europe. Parts
the Norman building survive in the transepts and in the crypt. See best cathedrals
access by train from London Waterloo in just over an hour
||Mediaeval cathedral built in just 38 years
between 1220 and 1258 in
the Early English Gothic style. Salisbury Cathedral has the
highest spire in England.See best cathedrals
access by train from London Waterloo in an hour and a half.
||UNESCO world heritage site. The palace was
built for the triumphant
Duke of Marlborough, after his victories in the War of the Spanish
Succession. It is the only "palace" in Britain which is not a royal
palace nor an epispocal palace. One of the largest residences in
Britain. Birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.
||Beautiful 17th century stately home, set in
some 500 hectares of
parkland. The parkland is England's original and biggest
park, famed for its lions and other African wildlife.
||Beautiful seventeenth century English
Palladian country house, with
grounds described as the most beautiful in England. Among the
architects who designed the house are Inigo Jones and James Wyatt. The
interiort is richly decorated, and houses a collection of old master
near Lyndhurst, Hampshire
||A triple attraction, including Beaulieu
Palace house, a historic
country house, the ruins and former refectory of a mediaeval
Cistercian monastery, and Britain's national motor museum, with some
250 historic vehicles from 1880 to today - and more. An eclectic mix
with something for all tastes.
|Portsmouth historic dockyard
||Historic naval dockyard, attached to
today's Royal Navy dockyard. The yard contains three major historic
ships, Nelson's Victory,
that fought at the battle of Trafalgar, the 19th century armoured
frigate Warroir, a steam and sail ship, and the remains of King Henry
VIII's 16th century Mary Rose.
near Henley, Oxfordshire
of England's oldest and most beautiful country manor houses, lived in
by the same family for over 8 centuries. Set in a fold in the Chiltern
Best towns and country
attractions to visit in
central southern England
50 miles west
collection of university
buildings, dating from the Middle Ages onwards. Beautiful gardens; the
Ashmolean museum, one of the best art galleries in England outside
accessible by train from London Paddington. Also
accessible by coach from London.
|New Forest national park Hampshire and
of natural forest and
heathland, the last extensive former royal hunting forest in England.
Attractive woodland with charming small towns such as Lyndhurst and
- the latter much loved by yachtsmen
most famous neoclassical landscaped gardens in Europe, and the
archetypal "English garden" in the sense of parkland. 250
18th century landscaped gardens, dotted with temples and monuments, and
laid out by the greatest landscape architects of the itme. Stowe House,
which can also be visited, is considered to be one of the finest
neoclassical buildings in England
|The Isle of Wight-
ferries from Southampton , Portsmouth or Lymington
||A mile or two
off the English coast, but an
island in the full sense. Lovely coastal footpath all round the island
(65 miles), passing the dramatic Needles
point, the coloured sands of
and Queen Victoria's favourite house at Osborne.
has many small seaside resorts such as Shanklin or Ventnor
- which also
has noted sub-tropical gardens
|South Downs National Park Hampshire and
Sussex (see Southeast England), but the western end of the National
Park is outside Winchester.
|Avebury and Silbury Hill Wiltshire
Stonehenge, the second most famous prehistoric sites in Britain.
Prehistoric stone ring, and prehistoric artificial hill.
|Stourhead Wiltshire, near
||One of the
most famous landscaped gardens in
Britain. An 18th century Palladian house particularly famous for
its gardens and grounds covering 1000 hectares. The grounds
dotted with "follies", a Temple of Appollo, a grotto and King Alfred's
|Lacock Village and Abbey Lacock,
of the prettiest villages in
England, now managed by the National Trust. In the middle of the
picture-postcard village is the "Abbey", a former abbey converted into
a country house, home of the Talbot family. The Abbey is home to the
photography museum, and it was here that Fox Talbot
the first photographic negative in 1835.
|Marlow and Henley Oxfordshire and
small towns on the River Thames.
Quintessentially English. Marlow with its elegant suspension bridge
over the Thames, Henly famed for its rowing and regattas. The Thames
Path hiking trail links the two towns on the south bank of the river.
Cotswold stone town, with a broad main street running down to an
ancient stone bridge over the river Windrush at the foot of the
hill. The Cotswold
Wildlife Park is a top class wildlife centre, famous for
its large rhino enclosure and it reptile collection, the UK's largest.
Other attractions in
central southern England
- Didcot railway museum, south of Oxford. A living
- Broughton castle, north of Oxford, one of the great
castles of central England
- Biscester village: one of Britain's most popular
factory outlet villages, north of Oxford
- Swindon Great Western railway museum, Wiltshire
- Boscombe down Aviation Centre - a hands-on museum of
aviation near Salisbury
- Wadworth Brewery, in Devizes, Wiltshire. A
working brewery and brewery museum.
- Portsmouth, Hampshire : The D-Day museum
- Osborne, Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria's favourite
in Britain at the best rates