Hampshire is a popular place for retirement, blending city, coast and country. The county is home to two National Parks and thriving culture with history and heritage at its heart. There are so many attractions, experiences and festivals on offer, you’ll wonder how you ever had time to work.
Hampshire has been home to some of the country’s greatest historical and literary figures and the Hampshire houses they lived in or visited are open to enjoy. Jane Austen’s house at Chawton gives a glimpse into the author’s life and there’s Gilbert White’s house in the charming village of Selborne. The TV series, Downton Abbey was filmed at Highclere Castle near Newbury. Stratfield Saye House, the Duke of Wellington’s country estate is worth a visit as is Stansted Park, in Rowlands Castle, is set in glorious parkland. National Trust properties in Hampshire include Mottisfont Abbey and Gardens, Uppark with fine Georgian interiors, the formal gardens at Hinton Ampner and The Vyne, a Tudor house near Basingstoke. A visit to Winchester is a must if you are spending your retirement in Hampshire. The wealth of heritage buildings include Winchester Cathedral, The Great Hall – home to King Arthur’s Round Table and Wolvsey Castle, home to medieval Bishops. For a different take on history, the National Motor Museum may be found at Beaulieu. Many of the smaller market towns have plenty to offer – including Bishops Waltham with its medieval High Street and the impressive ruins of the Bishops Palace.
Hampshire’s beautiful countryside is the perfect backdrop for a relaxed, country retirement. Hampshire is known as the home of the New Forest. Once a royal hunting ground for William The Conqueror, it became a national park in 2005 and ponies, deer and cattle roam the unspoilt woodland, heathland and river valleys. The South Downs is another beaufiful National Park, stretching from Winchester and Petersfield in Hampshire to Eastbourne in West Sussex. There are plenty of opportunities to walk or cycle in the Test Valley, famous for its clear chalk streams and fly fishing. If you enjoy coastal walks, South Hampshire borders the Solent Coastline, a 20 mile long stretch of water beginning in Barton on Sea and stretching to the New Forest, Southampton, Gosport and Portsmouth. Walk around the Mill Pond in the pretty village of Emsworth, stroll along the beach at Southsea or perhaps take one of the paths that follow the Basingstoke Canal, the River Hamble or the chalky streams of the River Test. It’s your retirement – the choice is yours.
The shopping facilities in Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester are amongst the best in the country and offer an enticing combination of High Street brand name stores and independent retailers and there’s a host of farmers’ markets selling fresh, local produce. Southampton is home to West Quay with over 100 stores including John Lewis and M & S as well as 50 fashion outlets and 19 places to eat and drink. Gunwharf Quays is a quayside designer outlet – and when you’ve finished shopping – and eating – you’ll be able to take a trip around the harbour. Basingstoke’s Festival Place offers the best modern shopping experience whilst Winchester, with its charming, pedestrian-friendly streets and historic buildings offers a more intimate shopping experience.