Our scenic corner of Berkshire is rich in attractions to discover and activities to enjoy. Here are some of our favourites...
Marlborough is a charming historic market town just 13 miles away across the county border in Wiltshire. Sitting on the River Kennet and boasting one of the widest high streets in England, the town is home to a unique mix of quaint architectural styles, from half-timbered cottages to ornate red-brick mansion houses to the handsome stone churches at each end of the main street. Host to a bustling market every Wednesday and Saturday, the town offers a wealth of stylish boutiques and chic cafes and bistros.
Another historic market town, characterised by handsome Georgian architecture, Hungerford is best known today as a thriving hub for antique shops and fairs. Just four miles from us, it is also home to several authentic country outfitters, and is a good embarkation point for narrowboat trips along the Kennet and Avon Canal.
A loved local landmark whose fame went global with its casting as the titular mansion in TV’s Downton Abbey, the Victorian-era Highclere Castle is set in 1,000 acres of sweeping Hampshire parkland designed by the renowned 18th-century landscape gardener Capability Brown. Exhibitions, charming follies, lakes and many of the grand rooms seen in the TV show are just some of the features of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon’s home, which is open to the public for 60 to 70 days of the year.
Welford Park, known for its Queen Anne house, is also famous for its snowdrops. The Galanthus Nivalis (snowdrop) display at Welford Park is in a beech wood covering approximately 5 acres alongside the River Lambourn. In the formal gardens to the south of the house you can view some of the rarer species from Lord Monstictus, green tips, Lady Elphinstone, John Gray and many more. It is believed that the snowdrops here at Welford Park were planted by the Norman monks to decorate their Church for the feast of Candlemas, and also for medicinal use. Not to be missed if in the area between 1st February to 5th March! (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
Wickham House is an exceptionally beautiful Georgian property, formerly the rectory to St Swithun’s, the historically important church which lies within its grounds. Elaborately ornamented in the late 19C in the style of Victorian Gothic by resident rector, it is set in 52 acres of parkland with stunning views over the neighbouring countryside, and offers myriad possibilities for marquee-based events - both corporate and private.
Wickham is licensed for civil ceremonies, both in the barn and in the walled garden, and they hold a premises license which allows live music until midnight and recorded music until 3am. They only host a maximum of 8 weekend marquee based events per annum, whilst the stunning oak-framed barn is available throughout the year for corporate off-sites.
Avebury Stone Circles
Dating back more than 4,000 years to Neolithic times, three monumental stone circles stand around the Wiltshire village of Avebury. The largest of these – the biggest prehistoric stone circle in the world – partially encloses the village itself, and the nearby Alexander Keiller Museum tells the story of the site’s 20th-century excavations. And unlike at Stonehenge, visitors are welcome to wander among the mysterious sarsen-stone monoliths.
North Wessex Downs
North Wessex Downs are designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. Their 668 square miles of landscape encompass ancient woodlands, gentle, open downlands, chalk streams, pretty villages and historic sites. The area is ideal walking country, with a wide range of routes for all ability levels.