Expanding your mind this summer
May 15, 2008
From country houses to museums and art galleries, thankfully there is something for every type of culture vulture out there. Wander around the country’s oldest silk mill, or take a peek at one of Jane Austen’s original manuscripts.
Discover one of Hampshire’s best known residents at Jane Austen’s House, near Alton.
This late 17th century house in Chawton was where the author spent the last eight years of her life with her mother and sister from 1808 to 1817. It was here she revised her novels Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and wrote Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. Adult £6, child £2, www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk
Continuing our literary theme, take a visit to Gilbert White’s House, the founding father of modern scientific recording and author of Natural History of Selborne.
You can take a look around the 18th century house in Selborne, go for a walk in the beautiful grounds or take tea in the parlour. On the same site is the Oates Museum, which commemorates the famous family and their exploits.
This includes Capt Lawrence Oates, who accompanied Capt Robert Scott to the South Pole in 1911and his uncle Frank Oates, a remarkable Victorian explorer who travelled all over America and Africa. Adult £6.50, child free, www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk
Fun and history lessons don’t normally go together well, apart from at Milestones Living History Museum in Basingstoke.
Built undercover – so an excellent option if it’s raining – this museum houses a network of old-fashioned streets and houses, a village green and even a pub that date from the Victorian era to the 1930s.
For 2008 there is a new exhibition called You Must Remember This charting life at home from the 1930s to the 1970s using room sets. Adult £7.50, child £4.55, www.milestones-museum.com
The Farnborough Air Sciences Museum on Farnborough Road is a fascinating look back at the history of flying. The most interesting exhibits are the three gigantic wind tunnels buildings.
In the past they have been used to test the durability of Formula 1 racing cars, Post Office telegraph wires, vertical take-off planes, cars, parachutes and even a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square. There is a café and small museum space. The Secret Factory, which is dedicated to the history of the site. Free, 01252 375050.
It’s all aboard at the Watercress Line, the preserved steam railway that runs from Alresford to Alton.
If you park your car at the line’s beautiful (and historically accurate) station in Alresford you can jump on the steam engine and take the 30-minute journey to Alton. You’ll be just in time for shopping and a pub lunch before travelling back through some beautiful countryside.
Stop off at Ropley on the way back and meet Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends. Adult £12, child £6, family (2 adults, 2 children) £30, www.watercressonline.co.uk
Whitchurch Silk Mill is the oldest working silk museum in Britain.
The mill used to jptroduce silk for Burberry raincoats and legal gowns, but now it makes high quality silks, many of which are used in theatrical costume and historic houses. Look inside and see how the silk is made, then pop into the shop to buy some of its pashminas or scarves.
You can have a go at weaving on hand looms and see the introductory video and commentary. Adult £3.50, child £1.75, www.whitchurchsilkmill.org.uk
Discover the history of the British Army at the Aldershot Military Museum in Queens Avenue, Aldershot.
You can see how soldiers used to live and there are hundreds of objects to keep young minds entertained including puzzle cubes, a training tunnel and ‘feely’ boxes. Adult £2, child £1, 01252 314598.
The Pride of the Valley Sculpture Park is full of surprises. Dotted around its twisting pathways are more than 250 unique sculptures.
Exhibits include a soaring eagle made of cork and four horsemen made of plastic dolls. Adjoining Frensham Country Park, it has lawns, low-lying bog, woodland and valleys. Adult £6, child £3, www.thesculpturepark.com