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Hampshire Area Guide

Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire Image courtesy of Flickr user amandabhslater

The most populous non-metropolitan county in the country, Hampshire includes the birthplaces of the Royal Navy, the British Army and the Royal Air Force, and the county continues to have a strong military presence. Spitfire designers Supermarine were based in Southampton. Aldershot is one of the British Army's main camps, and Farnborough still has a strong association with the aviation industry.

Hampshire has many seaside resorts, national parks at New Forest and the South Downs, and two of the country's largest ports, Portsmouth and Southampton. Those two cities are unitary authorities, so they are not governed by the Hampshire council.

The districts of Hampshire are Basingstoke and Deane, the City of Winchester, East Hampshire, Eastleigh, Fareham, Gosport, Hart, Havant, New Forest, Rushmoor and Test Valley. Basingstoke and Deane includes the town of Basingstoke, and the City of Winchester is the county town of Hampshire. Petersfield is where the government of East Hampshire sit. The Borough of Eastleigh, the Borough of Fareham and Gosport all share names with the towns in them. Hart District is one of the wealthiest areas in the UK. Rushmoor includes the towns of Aldershot and Farnborough. The Test Valley is shaped by the River Test, a chalk stream known for its beauty and plentiful fishing.

Demographics

Hampshire has a population of 1,317,800 people. Since 2001, the population has grown older: the population of those aged 45 and over has grown by 21%, whilst the population of those aged 5 to 44 has fallen. There has been a small increase in the number of children aged 4 and younger.

The county is doing very well economically, with an unemployment rate of 1.9% (much lower than the national rate). In terms of ethnic diversity, Hampshire is less diverse than England and Wales as a whole: 91.8% of the population described themselves as white British, compared to 80.5% in England and Wales.

Education

Hampshire has a large number of schools rated good or better by Ofsted. The many outstanding primary schools include St Faith's Church of England Primary School in Winchester, Preston Candover Church of England Primary School near Basingstoke and Langrish Primary School in Petersfield.

There are fewer outstanding secondary schools, but there are still plenty of good options. The outstanding secondary schools include Testbourne Community School at Whitchurch and the Henry Beaufort School in Winchester.

Five of the 14 colleges are rated outstanding by Ofsted. These are Alton College, Farnborough Sixth Form College, Peter Symonds College, Queen Mary's College and South Downs College. There are four universities in the county: the University of Southampton, Southampton Solent University, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Winchester. 

Transport

Cutting through the county from the southwest to the northeast, the M3 goes from Hampshire to Surrey via London. The M27 links the largest built-up areas in the county, and it also winds along more rural areas along the southern coast. Other major roads include the A3, the A31 and the A36, and even the country roads are known for their relatively heavy traffic. There are about 240 bus services, connecting the 11 main bus stations and the almost 8,500 stops throughout the county.

There are three main train lines in Hampshire: the South Western Main Line, the Wessex Main Line and the Portsmouth Direct Line. The South Western Main Line runs from London Waterloo to Weymouth, stopping in Basingstoke, Winchester and Eastleigh, amongst other Hampshire stations. The Wessex Main Line stops at stations including Mottisfont & Dunbridge and Romsey in its routes between Bristol and Southampton. The Portsmouth Direct Line connects the Portsmouth Harbour station with London Waterloo, stopping in stations including Havant and Petersfield.

Southampton Airport, in Eastleigh, has services to destinations throughout the UK and Europe, including Verona, Avignon and Barcelona. There are also ferry services linking the county with the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and the continent.

Amenities and Shopping

Because of its space, proximity to major urban areas and comparatively wealthy residents, Hampshire has a great many amenities and shopping opportunities.

Museums and galleries

Hampshire has a selection of living history museums. Milestones in Basingstoke shows visitors what life was like in Victorian times. The Eastleigh Museum explores life in the town in the 1930s.

Many museums commemorate the extensive literary impact of Hampshire. Emsworth Museum has collections of the works of P.G. Wodehouse and Sir Peter Blake. Jane Austin's House Museum, located in the country house where many of the author's best works were written, is near Alton.

The Sainsbury Gallery hosts exhibitions from the best galleries and museums in the world, and the associated Willis Museum has a permanent collection of historical artefacts relating to Basingstoke. The Koru Arts Gallery in Alton has a collection of contemporary art and items.

Theatres and venues

The Theatre Royal in Winchester stages contemporary theatrical performances. Hog the Limelight is the rural touring arts scheme, run by the Hampshire council. Chesil Theatre in Winchester is home to the Winchester Dramatic Society. The Point Eastleigh has a varied programme of dance, theatre, comedy and more.

The West End Centre in Aldershot has gigs by some of the world's best blues, rock and dance music, as well as theatrical performances, stand up, exhibitions and more. The Turner Sims Concert Hall hosts over 60 concerts a year, most of which are classical, jazz, and world music. The Anvil in Basingstoke is a prestigious concert hall with a programme that largely consists of classical music but also has some jazz, country and folk music.

Festivals

Hampshire has quite a few famous festivals. The Farnborough Air Show is held every two years and features stunts, antique planes and a classic carousel. Every summer, the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens near Romsey host Art in the Garden, where affordable pieces of art are displayed throughout the gardens. Cowes Week, the world's largest regatta, is held in the Solent every August.

There are also a great many food festivals in the area. The Festival of Food in Southsea, the Watercress Festival in Alresford, the Alton Winter Beer Festival and The Hampshire Food Festival in Winchester are just some of the many culinary celebrations throughout Hampshire.

Sport

The Hampshire County Cricket Club plays in the County Championship competition, and Southampton F.C. plays in the Premier League. Other footballs teams include the League Two team Aldershot Town F.C.

Thruxton Circuit is the main motor racing circuit in Hampshire.

There are many outdoor activities to do, including walking, cycling, horse riding, fishing, golf and water sports. In fact, the waters around the county have encouraged the formation of a large number of yacht clubs, and windsurfing was invented on nearby Hayling Island.

Shopping

The compact layout of Winchester's centre makes it easy to visit the many independent boutiques, shops and galleries, with top high street brands thrown into the mix. Winchester is also home to an extensive farmer's market. Stockbridge has a Georgian high street that is lined with shops.

Basingstoke has the Festival Place shopping centre, with 165 shops including Debenhams and TK Maxx. In Romsey and New Milton are branches of Bradbeers, the Hampshire department store that has been family owned for over 170 years. The Chantry Centre in Andover has over 60 shops, including Waterstones, New Look and Boots.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.