Things to do in Basingstoke, Hampshire
Basingstoke was a royal manor from pre-Domesday times and an old market town until the late 1950s. It has a Roman road from AD50, the 13th century Holy Ghost ruins and a row of almshouses from 1608. Since 1960 it has rapidly expanded as part of London's overspill and has absorbed many small villages.
Brewing and textiles were important during the 18th century and May's Brewery has survived from 1750 when it was established in Brook Street. In the 1880s there were violent clashes between the Salvation Army and those employed by the breweries.
Thomas Burberry started his manufacture of raincoats in 1856 and it remains a well-recognized designer brand today. In 1905 Sir Edward Lutyens opened a brick factory to provide high quality bricks from local clay for his fine buildings.
Basingstoke's railway station is the highest station above sea level between London and Southampton. The station was bombed by the IRA in 1993.
Present Day Basingstoke
Basingstoke has a population of 80,000 people, although it is hard to say where it ends and the suburbs of London begin. It is the butt of endless jokes about its architecture and its spy camera culture.
Basingstoke has had many famous residents. Novelist Jane Austen was born in the town, model Liz Hurley hails from Basingstoke and poet-laureate Thomas Wharton grew up there. It was also the home of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in England.
Things to do in Basingstoke
Basingstoke is famous for its shopping malls including Festival Place which is the 8th largest shopping centre in Britain. Basingstoke remains an excellent shopping centre with most national chain stores represented in the town along with smaller retail outlets.
The Basingstoke Canal provides a quiet natural waterway for wildlife and walks along the towpath. It connected Basingstoke with London and when it was opened it had the longest canal tunnel in the world which is now home to a colony of bats.
The town has several attractions including the recreated Victorian street at the Milestones Museum and the Willis Museum which has a collection of historic artifacts and modern artworks.