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Places to visit in the South

Red Funnel's guide to places worth visiting in the South of England

Historic Buildings

Titchfield Abbey

Southampton is one of Britain's historic ports and has some of the finest medieval city walls in the country. The Bargate is also one of the country's best surviving medieval town gates. The Tudor House Museum and Garden in Bugle Street and the Medieval Merchants Hall in French Street are also well worth a visit. Slightly further afield, there are a wealth of historic and ancient buildings within a short drive. Beaulieu Abbey, Mottisfont Abbey, Broadlands and Stansted Park are just a few that make a great day out.

Further afield you also find exquisite and intriguing historic houses from the Indian-style architecture of Brighton Pavilion in East Sussex to the grace of 17th century Cliveden in Berkshire. Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, built in the late 1800's by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild is home to an exceptional collection of French 18th century decorative arts and English portraits.

Goodwood House in West Sussex has a race course, motor racing circuit and a large private art collection. Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was famous as a WWII code-breaking centre and now houses a superb museum, while the gigantic baroque pile of Blenheim Palace is one of the most architecturally elaborate historic houses in England. Other historic houses in the South East include Polesden Lacey in Surrey, Bateman’s in East Sussex, Basildon Park in Berkshire and Chartwell in Kent.

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Exbury Gardens

The South East is home to some stunning gardens that are open to the public. Close to Southampton is Exbury Gardens in the New Forest and Sir Harold Hillier Gardens at Ampfield near Romsey. In Surrey, RHS Wisley encompasses 240 acres of gardening perfection. Claremont Landscape Garden, also in Surrey, was architecturally landscaped in 1700 and is exquisitely maintained to this day.

In East Sussex, Sheffield Park Garden was designed by Capability Brown and is full of colour all year round, with waterfalls, cascades and four large lakes. Kent’s 13th-century Hever Castle and childhood home of Anne Boleyn is set in 30 acres of landscaped gardens with Italian sculptures, a 35-acre lake and a rose garden with over 3,000 plants.

Other gardens well worth a visit include The Savill Garden in Berkshire, University of Oxford Botanic Garden in Oxfordshire, Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, Great Dixter House and Garden in East Sussex and Goodnestone Park and Garden in Kent.

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Solent Sky, Southampton Hall of Aviation

The South East is home to some fantastic museums. Close to home is Solent Sky, the Museum of Aviation charting the story of the Spitfire, designed and built in Southampton. You can learn about our maritime history at Southampton's Maritime Museum and visit Portsmouth Dockyard to find out what life was like for sailors onboard some of the most famous war ships in British Naval history. The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent is also well worth a visit.

Car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the world-famous National Motor Museum at Beaulieu It features 250 cars of every age, including land speed record-breakers Golden Arrow and Bluebird. Many of Britain’s best loved authors lived in the region. You can explore the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire and learn about the life and works of Charles Dickens at The Guildhall Museum in Rochester and The Dickens House Museum.

Other museums include the Ashmolean Museum and the River & Rowing Museum, both in Oxfordshire, Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey, The Roald Dahl Museum & Story Centre in Buckinghamshire and The Look Out Discovery Centre in Berkshire.

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Family Attractions

Go Ape logo

One of the best theme parks in England for younger children is Legoland Windsor in Berkshire, with its incredible Lego creations and great rides, while Thorpe Park in Surrey is the second most popular theme park in England, attracting over 1.5 million visitors.

Other theme parks in the South East include Paultons Park in Hampshire, Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey and Gulliver's Land in Buckinghamshire. One of the most quirky is Diggerland in Kent. It is perfect for boys of all ages as you can drive real diggers, watch dancing diggers and even get a ride in the scoop of a digger.

Wildlife fans will love Marwell Wildlife near Southampton featuring animals from all corners of the world including rainforest wildlife. In Surrey, reptiles, fish, Canadian beavers, rabbits and chipmunks can all be seen at Beaver Zoological Gardens and in Kent, Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks are specifically designed to protect and breed endangered species with the aim of returning them to their natural habitats.

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Southampton <> West Cowes, Isle of Wight

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