Day 1: Horsham to Burley via Hinton Ampner and Winchester. South to the A272 – a delightful road on motorbike (I had one once, and 50 mph on a winding but broad road feels great) or in open-top car. One hour and 42 miles later we arrived at Hinton Ampner, a pleasing house and especially gardens, for – after the obligatory 20 minute queuing – a cup of coffee.
There is a sundial at the far end of the above grassy path, but I have other things to show. Drove on to Winchester for lunch and a look around the cathedral. This turned into lunch (at the oldest inn in town – the Royal Oak) and a look at the cathedral. They wanted £8 each for us to look inside. Perhaps we should have pretended to be Christians and gone in free to pray, but we turned out to be travellers and walked around it instead.
This bit of cryptic carving sums it up. Before 1640 there was effectively a public right of way through the cathedral, but the bishop decided to open up an exterior route through the cloisters for travellers, so that only the faithful coming to worship would go into the church. The hand pointing left is for the faithful, and some clever up and down reading tells them: ILL AC PRECATOR or ‘over here to pray’. The hand pointing right (with a big stick) reads: HAC VIATOR AMBULA or ‘by this way traveller walk’. We did that. We found pretty precincts, a bubbling chalk spring and a car park where we left the MG.
The sun was still shining as we entered the New Forest, which as we know is neither new nor that much a forest. We explored some pretty forest routes and found a shop for a bottle of whisky (for after drive nightcaps) before finding Burley and the Burley Inn for a few beers, supper and a few more beers. After a full English we set out for the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu.
Look at that word – 8 letters, 6 of them vowels!
The older vehicles pleased me the most, with two Brighton references worthy of note.
‘The first practical electric road carriage was built by Magnus Volk of Brighton in 1887’ Sadly the model on show is from the US of A. Magnus sold one of his electric cars to Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey, and he went with it to Constantinople to demonstrate it to the Sultan.
The new Isetta Square near Brighton railway station is in commemoration of the works which stood there in the late 50s and early 60s. Three wheeler Isetta bubble cars were assembled in Brighton. It was an Italian design, bought by BMW who were desperate to sell vehicles after the war. In the UK they built a 3 wheel version to attract a lower road tax (as a motor cycle), but in the rest of Europe they had 4 wheels.
I did get to see the remains of Beaulieu Abbey. Completed in 1246 and demolished after dissolution in 1538 – just 292 years. It was a big Abbey church- 110 metres from west end entrance to the east end of the presbytery, plus all the other abbey stuff – including hospital, rooms for visitors and all the religious life functions as well as the farming lay-brothers stuff.
The above plan comes from the Historyfish.net website – thank you guys. Leaving the New Forest after coffee I blundered with the map. Instead of taking us under the A30 into the northern part of the National Park, I got the wrong minor road and we accessed the A30, all the way to Ringwood. It was quick anyway.
Soon back on track for Blandford Forum for lunch. After 12 miles of minor roads WNW from Ringwood we turned SW on the A354 (above) straight into Blandford – a fine Georgian town it tells the visitor. And the main church proves it:
Parking proved a problem, but it was free at the (Georgian) Crown Hotel so long as we ate there – so we did, before continuing direct to Dorchester. We checked into the Wessex Royale Hotel (Georgian as well) before walking the streets for beer and a venue for dinner. There is a brew pub in town called Tom Brown’s which had a couple of excellent beers, and a little way west was Goldie’s offering traditional ales as well. But we did not find anywhere interesting to eat. So it was the hotel restaurant which offered good things – scallops (with a bottle of white) and bacon and chicken salad (with a bottle of red). Preceded by G&T and topped off with whisky in our room a good night’s sleep was guaranteed. After a whole kipper for breakfast we waited a while for the rain to stop before setting out for the Cerne Abbas giant. I would show you a photograph but the weather was so misty it was barely (and I mean barely) visible. His head and club being further up the hillside were invisible, his more famous attribute was standing proud, but on its own hardly worth showing you. We took a rural and high altitude route north and east through low cloud until we descended near Sturminster Newton and made our way across the north side of Blandford Forum and onto the Wimbourne Minster road for Kingston Lacy for culture and coffee.
The beech trees above are part of a 700+ avenue planted along a 2.5 mile private toll road built in 1835 for William John Banks across his Kingston Lacy estate as an income generator. He spent most of his life spending family money on improving and embellishing the Kingston Lacy house – first cladding the brick building in stone.
Part way along the beech avenue this Iron Age structure is seen (hiding behind the tree). It is Badbury Rings, a defensive fort whose site shows evidence of continuous occupation from the earlier Bronze Age through the succeeding Roman occupation (several Roman roads meet here).
This is a view from inside Kingston Lacy house. William John Banks spent a few years abroad in his youth and sent all kinds of antiquities home. In 1841 he was found guilty of sex with a guardsman (such things being illegal then) and escaped jail by going to mainland Europe. From there he sent home plans and commissioned many expensive items to be installed in the house. Banks died in Venice in 1855, the National Trust guide does not record what happened to the guardsman. The NT marks the 50th anniversary of the easing of the law regarding male homosexual sex by flying a Pride flag over the house:
After the obligatory 20 minute coffee queue we headed east, finding a back road route across the River Avon 2 miles north of Ringwood, and entering the New Forest for lunch at the Red Shoot, Linwood. The weather had become murkier but we resisted putting the lid up, relying on air flow of forward movement to lift mist and fine drizzle over our heads. The plan worked fine at 45 mph and above, less well in traffic in Winchester, and when passing under trees on the A272 where falling drops were too big to be swept aside by the airflow.
Above: leaving the New Forest in moister weather. But we got back into Sussex where the rain had been and gone, reaching Graham’s Golf Clubhouse for a pint of recently rarely seen but delicious Belgian orange and coriander witbier Hoegaarden.