The south of England has long been a region associated with wealth and prosperity.
Offering warmer climes throughout the year, it should comes as no surprise that monarchs and similarly prosperous individuals throughout British history have often scouted land in the south to build their homes. Indeed, there are some counties that have proved to be so attractive to wealthy individuals throughout the centuries that you could almost say that the countryside has become cluttered with stately homes and grand manors. Hampshire is certainly one of these counties, however it also happens to be a big enough place that the land doesn’t necessarily crowded with buildings.
Of course, the rich men and women who commissioned many of these homes would not have worried about not having enough room in their day. Those who had the money to construct these impressive homes would not have wanted for storage for a long time. With that being said, there are stories of aristocratic hoarders existing to this day, who are often forced to call on the services of a professional organiser in Hampshire in order to put their homes in order once more.
The following properties have been kept in good condition and are currently open to the public. They all make for a fantastic day out, especially for history buffs:
The Grange at Northington
This 17th century building owes a huge debt to the English architect William Wilkins who gave it a new lease of life in the early 19th century. The mansion was transformed at this time into its current glorious incarnation, a wonderfully striking example of Greek Revival architecture that is free view throughout the year, albeit only from the outside. The grand columns, arches and fine detailing make this building a real sight to behold, so it’s no surprise that there was a public outcry when it was scheduled for demolition in the 70s. Thankfully the building was saved and it now serves as an occasional opera house.
There aren’t many country manors that can match Hinton Ampner for tranquil beauty and striking modern design. Originally build in 1790, this Grade II listed building is owned by the National Trust who have retained the charm and idiosyncrasies introduced by its last owner, Ralph Dutton. The building has undergone some pretty serious changes over the years including Neo-Georgian style remodelling in the 20th century and a restoration 20 years or so later, after a fire badly damaged the house. Today you can visit the manor as Ralph Dutton left it to the National Trust, a bold marriage of 18th century and 20th century design principles.
At the heart of this 18th-century home is a medieval priory which has been the pilgrimage site for artists for decades since notable owner Maud Russell made the place her home. Russell invited artists from all over the country to stay at Mottisfont and draw on the inspiration that this ancient site offers. This tradition has been continued by the National Trust who house a 20th-century art collection on the top-floor gallery, along with major exhibitions from new artists.