Southampton is a vibrant university city in southern Hampshire. Its mild climate, proximity to the coast and wealth of natural attractions makes Southampton one of the most appealing places in the UK to live and work.
Southampton is a vibrant, modern city with a rich archaeological, architectural and maritime heritage. The city has Roman and Saxon origins, and in the medieval period became one of England's most important seaports. The 14th-century Bargate and city walls are some of the most impressive in the country, and the fortifications on the Solent bear witness to the continuing significance of the city in the era of Henry VIII. Nearby at Netley, the remnants of the Cistercian Abbey and the Victorian Royal Military Hospital are reminders of the historical importance of the area. The city played an important role in the heyday of the ocean-going liners as shown by the architecture of the dock areas; other important twentieth century historical associations include the Spitfire which was designed and built here and the RMS Titanic, whose home port was Southampton. For many decades Southampton was England's 'gateway to the empire' and it remains a thriving and fascinating city.
Heritage Walking Tours There are free, guided heritage tours every Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. The 90-minute tours of the old Norman Town start from the historic Bargate and include the gates, walls and unique medieval vaults. Alternatively, you can follow the Walk the Walls sign posts and panels and give yourself a guided tour of Medieval Southampton.
The New Forest, just a short drive away, provides excellent walking, cycling, horse riding and camping. The south’s magnificent coastline provides walking and safe bathing along with water sports such as windsurfing, sailing and powerboat racing. The Southampton International Boat Show and Cowes Week are just two of the many attractions for sailors.
Royal Victoria Country Park The Royal Victoria Country Park comprises some 200 acres of mature woods and grassy parkland overlooking Southampton Water. This popular park provides ideal facilities for children and peace of mind for parents to enjoy a safe environment. The park has a heritage centre, miniature railway, tearooms, large barbecues for hire, plus trails and woodland walks throughout the site.
Queen Elizabeth Country Park QECP is Hampshire's biggest country park with 20 miles of trails for walkers, cyclists and horse ridersset in 1,400 acres of open access woodland and downland within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Manor Farm Country Park A working farm of a bygone age set in a scenic landscape of farmland and ancient woodland on the banks of the River Hamble. The park entrance is 1/2 mile from junction 8 of the M27 between Portsmouth and Southampton.
Lakeside Country Park Lakeside Country Park covers 60 acres of lakes, meadow and young woodland situated between Eastleigh and Southampton. These restored gravel workings provide opportunities for a wide range of outdoor activities including watersports and fishing.
Lepe Country Park Lepe is a coastal Country Park in the New Forest. There are stunning views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. With over a mile of beach, pine fringed cliffs, historic D-Day remains and wild flower meadows, the park is popular for walking, swimming, fishing, windsurfing and bird or boat watching. There is a childrens play area, picnic areas, barbecues for hire, toilets, ample parking and a cafe.
A City of Culture
Southampton has five art galleries and the City Art Gallery is recognised as one of the best in the country. There are two theatres in the city: The Mayflower stages top West End shows, musicals and ballet and The Nuffield Theatre often previews plays destined for London’s West End. Southampton Guildhall is the South's largest multipurpose entertainment venue combining comedy, classical music, family entertainment and rock/pop. The most popular events still remain in rock & pop, with sell out shows from some of the biggest names in the industry.
Museums and Art Galleries
John Hansard Gallery Southampton University, Southampton, SO17 1BJ (0)23 8059 2158 The Hansard Gallery is a leader in contemporary art, showcasing photography, sculpture, painting, and crafts. Lectures and seminars accompany their exhibitions.
Maritime Museum Wool House, Bugle St, Town Quay, Southampton, SO14 2AR (0)23 8063 2493 Housed in a 14th century wool warehouse, this museum tells the story of Southampton's docks and the ocean liners that sailed from the city. A special display showcases artefacts from the Titanic voyage. You may notice names carved on overhead beams - French prisoners kept here during the Napoleonic Wars etched them into the wood.
Medieval Merchants House 58 French St, Southampton, (0)23 8022 1503 Built in the 13th century as the home and shop of a local merchant, this house went through a number of uses before being restored as a medieval museum. Its stone and timber-framed exterior is authentic for the period and an audio tour lets you experience life in the Middle Ages.
Millais Gallery East Park Terrace, Southampton Institute, Southampton, SO14 OYN (0)23 8031 9916 Located on the Southampton Institute campus, the Millais Gallery focuses on contemporary art that is significant to the local community. It highlights work by students and young artists and encourages multimedia, installations, and thematic shows.
Museum of Archaeology Winkle St, God's House Tower, Southampton, SO14 3AW (0)23 8063 2493 Set in God's House Tower, a building constructed in the 15th century this museum details Southampton's history from Roman times to the medieval era. The museum was the former site of a gun storehouse and a jail, and it was adapted to its current use following World War II.
Southampton City Art Gallery Civic Centre, Commercial Rd, Southampton, SO14 7LP (0)23 8083 2769 This striking museum has a wide collection of landscapes, portraits, ceramics, sculpture, and European works from the 17th to 19th centuries. It is particularly well known for its 20th century British paintings and for the Perseus Series by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
Southampton Hall of Aviation Albert Rd South, Southampton, SO14 3FR (0)23 8063 5830 Based in an impressive metal hangar, this museum is filled with a variety of planes, and follows the history of aviation and Southampton's role in the development of aircraft operations. Displays on the R.J. Mitchell-designed Spitfire and tours of the Sandringham Flying Boat are particularly popular.
Tudor House Museum Bugle St, St. Michael's Square, Southampton, SO14 2AD (0)23 8033 2513 Built in the 15th century, this stately gabled home sparkles with leaded glass windows. First restored more than a century ago, it is currently undergoing additional renovations. It has a magnificent staircase and Elizabethan rooms in the front with a Victorian kitchen and Georgian interiors to the rear.
National Motor Museum at Beaulieu Few car museums can match the unique collection of the world-renowned National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. The Collection now comprises some 250 vehicles including cars, motorbikes, commercial vehicles, motoring eccentricities and memorabilia. Displays include everything from early examples of motoring to legendary World Record Breakers like Bluebird and Golden Arrow.
A Mecca for Sports
For sports fans, the 32,000 seat St Mary’s Football Stadium is home to “The Saints”, and The Rose Bowl (Hampshire Cricket Club’s new ground) is located on the edge of the city. Southampton and the surrounding area provide excellent golf courses and the city’s public golf course has been voted one of the top five in the UK.
Travel and Tourism
There are numerous ferries from Portsmouth to France and Spain, plus cruises including the QE2 and QM2 from Southampton which is now the UK’s premier cruise port. Southampton airport is the main hub for FlyBe with flights to many holiday destinations including Malaga, Palma, Faro and La Rochelle. For more exotic destinations, Heathrow and Gatwick airports are both around an hour away. For those who like shopping, Southampton’s Westquay is one of the largest city-centre shopping complexes in Europe.
Marwell Zoo is a zoological park set in 100 acres of delightful Hampshire countryside, six miles south-east of Winchester. The park was founded in 1972 by John Knowles, a conservationist who recognised the need to save animals from extinction. One of the zoo’s main purposes is the conservation of endangered species. There are animals from almost every continent at Marwell - white rhinos, Amur tigers, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, tamarins, macaques, gibbons, and leopards to name a few of the 200 species at the zoo.
Paultons Family Theme Park in Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest, offers a great family day out with over 50 different attractions and rides included in the price. The park includes thrilling and gentle rides, dinosaurs, museums, animated shows, play areas, exotic birds and other fun activities for all ages in a garden setting.
There is housing to suit every requirement nearby, including rural villages and small towns, such as Romsey as well as larger conurbations such as Chandlers Ford and Southampton. Nearby Chilworth village is probably the most prestigious area within the greater Southampton region. There are many excellent schools and colleges including Winchester College, Barton Peveril, Thornden School, King Edward VI School, and Peter Symonds College.
The Southampton area offers an exceptional quality of life for people of all ages and interests.
For more information see www.visit-southampton.co.uk