It was early afternoon on a warm day late in September, and we had decided to visit Hinton Ampner, a National Trust property and gardens near Alresford in Hampshire (England UK).
We had brought a packed lunch and there was a small area near the parking with a few picnic tables dotted around. If you intend to take a picnic, it might be advisable to also bring some chairs or a blanket to use. Without doubt there should have been more tables, but it was a good opportunity to join others, to swap views of National Trust properties and we enjoyed a pleasant twenty minutes chatting to a retired couple.
As you would expect a National Trust shop was both the entrance and exit, and I somehow managed to avoid buying a reprint of Alfred Wainwright’s walks book, chocolate bars and I definitely tried not to focus on the jars of jams, chutneys and mustards!
If the day you intend to visit could bring rain, then you should definitely reschedule, as Hinton Ampner’s grounds are the main attraction. The sun was out, but we were unsure for how long, so we strolled into a small walled garden area, which ‘tranquil’, best describes the rows of plants, fruit and vegetables, accompanied by green houses. I could of stayed within that walled area, chatted, sat and taken it in for longer, but more awaited, so at a leisurely pace we strolled to an impressive row of well-maintained hedgerows.
With a stunning view of trees, enjoyed in quietness, a board told us of a major English civil war battle that happened nearby, which was hard to imagine, but a reminder all the same of England’s turbulent past.
What struck me about Hinton Ampner upon entering the main grounds, was that it isn’t an imposing property, set on a grand scale, but it offers a beautiful setting, to take life at a slower pace, to relax and is best enjoyed in good company. If you happen to know someone who walks at a fast pace, it is best they slow down, as your visit might be over faster than preferred, and you probably won’t be able to adequately absorb the experience.
The small church was our next destination, which was stunning both outside and inside to view. Upon leaving it was lovely to see a young couple sat on the grass, with their toddler running between them, and both parents and child laughing, and enjoying their day. The happiness was infectious as we slowly headed towards the rear of the manor house.
We were presented with a small pond, with beautiful carp and a misbehaving child being dragged away by a parent who looked resigned to the situation. Once the area was cleared of said child, it was back to relaxing, sitting and taking in the peace and quiet.
Further round we were pleasantly surprised by a beautiful setting of well-maintained flowerbeds and a gorgeous landscape, that brought further warmth to the day. An elderly couple chatted to us, families strolled by, and children played hide and seek amongst the paths. Again showing that a National Trust property can be enjoyed by all ages.
Finally we decided to enter the old house, which unfortunately was badly damaged by a fire in 1960. On hand, such as you would expect from a National Trust property, were wonderful volunteers on hand to give guidance, and to chat about the history.
I could easily imagine putting my feet up by the fire on a cold day, with a book borrowed from the shelves! Else waking up in a cosy bedroom and having a relaxing bath! I wish, and like everyone else I respected the red rope and didn’t touch the items. The property isn’t a labyrinth of walkways and rooms, so within ten minutes you probably will find yourself outdoors again.
As the weather took on a chill, it was time to queue up for a pot of tea. We didn’t feel like any food due to an overgenerous packed lunch, but there was plenty to choose from if I had been hungry, and there were quite a few seats available both in a courtyard area, and around the side of a building.
Then afterwards it was time to leave, and alas we couldn’t resist the shop’s goods this time! Once dragged out of the shop, it was time to venture to our next destination, with pleasant and warm memories of an afternoon well spent.
Below is a small gallery of photos of Hinton Ampner: