The market town of Basingstoke is less than 50 miles south-west of London, which places it in ideal striking distance for anyone who would like to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital for a weekend away. But is this town really worth your time? In this post, we intend to show you that Basingstoke has grown into a much more worthwhile destination than it once was. We’ll also offer some insight into what you can expect to see, do and enjoy whilst visiting this city.
Basingstoke’s reputation as a thriving market town dates to medieval times. The first mention of this settlement in any historic records occurred in the Domesday Book of 1086. It’s also interesting to note that the weekly Wednesday market that convenes in Basingstoke has been doing so since 1214.
Basingstoke expanded significantly in the 1960s in order to accommodate the so-called ‘London Overspill’. At this point, a ring road and large housing estates were built, along with extended shopping infrastructure. Several stages of redevelopment have followed, and the city today looks considerably different than it did even a few decades ago.
It must be acknowledged that Basingstoke has endured something of an image problem in recent history. And whilst this city is certainly not a leading tourist destination, it has made more than a few subtle advances in the past 10-15 years. That’s why we thought we would take a moment to highlight some of the sights and attractions you can enjoy here. But first, let’s have a look at the transportation offerings.
Transportation in Basingstoke
As we mentioned above, it’s easy to reach Basingstoke from London. The town lies along the main rail line from London to Southampton and has its own station. It takes a mere 40 minutes to reach Basingstoke station from London Waterloo. Best of all, the local train station is situated on the outer fringes of the town centre, which means you can easily get around on foot once you arrive.
Of course, when you first pull into Basingstoke, you’ll probably prefer to organise a Basingstoke taxi so that you can easily transport any luggage that you may have to your place of accommodation. Taxis are available here, but they may not be as easy to hail from the kerb as they are in larger cities. Fortunately, there are plenty of reliable taxi firms available. All you have to do is look online for contact details and call them directly. You can probably even arrange to have a car ready to meet you when you disembark at the train station.
Noteworthy Attractions in Basingstoke
Many people fail to realise just how many notable attractions are found here in Basingstoke. This may not be one of the UK’s must-see cities, but it still has plenty to offer visitors who would like to spend two or three days here away from the worries of city life. Please note that, whilst there is a compact city centre to explore and enjoy, many of the most impressive attractions are found on the outskirts of Basingstoke. With that in mind, you’ll want to find a taxi service you can trust so that you can call upon them for rides to and from the attractions.
Here are some of the leading sightseeing attractions in Basingstoke:
- Milestones Museum of Living History
One of the most delightful attractions in Basingstoke, Milestones Museum features a network of streets that have been recreated to resemble those that were found in Victorian-era Hampshire. This historic streets offer a window into a bygone age and are great fun for visitors. In particular, it’s an excellent place for families with children to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
- The Vyne
This 16th century country home is actually located a short distance outside of Basingstoke near Sherborne St John. Grand architecture representative of several different eras can be appreciated here on the grounds. Fans of the Lord of the Rings series will be interested to know that J.R.R. Tolkien was consulted in 1930 to comment on an inscribed, golden ring that dates to Roman times and is kept in the house. The ring was apparently stolen from its original owner before it was lost for centuries – only to be rediscovered in a nearby field. A related lead tablet placing a curse on the person who stole it was also found. Shortly after this consultation, Tolkien began writing his masterpiece. The ring has been on display here since 2013.
- Silchester Roman Town
Just five miles north of Basingstoke, this ancient stronghold was abandoned after the Romans left, so much of its original architecture still remains. The grounds are often deserted, making this an excellent place to visit for some fresh air. Notable on-site attractions include the city walls, an amphitheatre and a small medieval church.
- Basing House
Once a formidable Tudor palace, Basing House rivalled Hampton Court back in its heyday. However, much of the architecture was destroyed during a siege in the civil war. Today, all that is left are ruins, but these are impressive in their own right. The grounds are open every day from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.
Finishing the Day at Basingstoke
After a day of touring the local sites and attractions, there’s still more to enjoy around the city centre. You’ll find a collection of charming restaurants and pubs here, some of which feature live music at weekends. The Millstone Pub, Sanctuary Live and Bounty Inn are all popular.
There are also several hotels within the city limits, including well-known international chains and a few local offerings. Here are a few of the best-known hotels in Basingstoke:
- Holiday Inn
- Apollo Hotel
- The Hampshire Court Hotel
- The Red Lion Hotel
- Hilton Hotel Basingstoke
- Audley’s Wood Hotel
Best of all, Basingstoke taxi drivers know the area well, and they should have no problem finding your hotel. All you have to do is let them know where you’re staying, and they can arrange to pick you up.