If you’re looking for somewhere with obvious royal influence, Hampshire is a prime destination. There are royal names everywhere – from villages such as King’s Somborne and King’s Worthy to the schools, at least two of which are called Kings’. There are so many things to do in Hampshire, if you’re a royal enthusiast – so where to start on a tour of the royalty sights?
Winchester – ancient capital of Wessex – would be a good place to begin. The Great King Alfred towers over the Broadway (or at least his statue does) and his name features throughout the city. There’s a King Alfred pub, in the middle of a maze of street with historical connections – Arthur Rd, Egbert Rd, Danes Rd – and the pub itself is over 100 years old. Alfred himself is buried just around the corner, near the old Hyde Abbey site. The Abbey was built in 1110 although it quickly suffered some damage as the warring factions of Stephen and Matilda caused Winchester to burn. It suffered again during the dissolution of the monasteries, but remarkably, a bit of it is still standing today!
Winchester Cathedral also has a lot of royal connections – Mary I married Philip there and they celebrated their wedding breakfast at the nearby Wolvesey Castle, now a ruin. There are numerous Anglo-Saxon Kings buried there, as well as William Rufus who died mysteriously in the New Forest. Winchester was also the birthplace of Henry III (known as “Henry of Winchester” ) and a candidate for King Arthur’s legendary “Camelot”. So, it’s a bit of a royal hotspot! Another great place to visit is the Great Hall, which contains Arthur’s Round Table. It’s also the place where Henry VIII entertained his friend-rival Charles, the Holy Roman Emperor.
But Winchester isn’t the only place in Hampshire with royal connections. Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, was often visited by royalty. And then there’s Portchester Castle, an impressive ancient monument that has a host of royal connections. It was owned by Henry II after his ascent to the throne in 1154 and stayed under royal control until Charles I sold it in 1632. During that time, it saw plenty of monarchs staying there, from King John to Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Elizabeth I held court there after some restoration work, and it was designated as a fort when Spanish invasion was looking likely. But the castle’s most notable moment came 1415, when three men were arrested there after their plot to overthrow Henry V was uncovered. It even features in Shakespeare’s version of events.
While you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit to Portsmouth itself, which has also been visited by numerous monarchs. The town was established by Richard I, who granted a Royal Charter to the area and built his fleet there. King John, Henry I and Edward III all used the city as a military base as well. Henry VIII had his flagship – the Mary Rose – at Portsmouth and he also built Southsea Castle. Both the Mary Rose and Southsea Castle can still be visited today.
Hampshire is full of royalty and history – a must for any royal enthusiast!