AboutBritain.com Logo

Things to do in Basingstoke, Hampshire

Looking from Basing Common towards the town centre of Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Basingstoke Town Centre © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

Basingstoke is a progressive modern-day town in north east Hampshire, 48 miles south west of London. Its many traffic roundabouts have led to its nickname "Roundabout City". Situated in the North Downs, it is the epicentre of routes between Reading, Winchester, and Newbury with easy access to both the M3 and the M4.

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.

Restored tudor garden with ruins of Basing House in the background
Tudor garden, Basing House © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

During the English Civil War Basingstoke hosted many Parliamentarians including Oliver Cromwell.

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.

The ruins of Basing House, with English flag in foreground
Basing House Ruins © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

Basingstoke's railway station is the highest station above sea level between London and Southampton. The station was bombed by the IRA in 1993.

Stratfield Saye near Basingstoke, Hampshire
Stratfield Saye © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

In recent years the town has become a financial hub with headquarters of Fortune 500 companies such as Sun Life Financial, Motorola, Automobile Association (AA) and De La Rue, among others.


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.

A cannon pointing from the ruins of Basing House in Old Basing, Basingstoke in Hampshire
Basing House, Old Basing © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

Austere exterior of Pamber Priory near Basingstoke - now a parish church
Pamber Priory © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

The Skyline Plaza was christened the "liquorice allsorts building", and is the tallest building between London and New York. A Spanish-style apartment complex is known as "Costa del Basingstoke" and the town is also known as "Dallas, Hampshire" due to all its glass high-rise office buildings.

Very ornate brick built offices for the former Daneshill Brick and Tile company in Basingstoke, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens
Lutyens designed office for the former Daneshill Brick and Tile Company © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

The long history of Basingstoke can be appreciated in Old Basing, just outside the modern town. The ruins of Basing House date back to Tudor times.

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.

Large commemorative column to 1st Duke of Wellington at Stratfield Saye House
Commemorative column for the first Duke of Wellington © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

Looking along the Loddon River as it goes under a large railway bridge
The Loddon River, Old Basing © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

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.

Large bronze statue of a horse trampling a dragon which is in the gardens of Stratfield Saye House
Horse and Dragon Statue, Stratfield Saye © Shutterstock / BasPhoto

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.

Share this page

Self Catering

more self catering near Basingstoke...

Copyright © 1999-2023 Excelsior Information Systems Ltd. All rights reserved.
About Us  Press Room  Terms of Use  Privacy  Link to Us  Index  Site Map  Contact Us

Made with Responsive Grid System by Graham Miller