Basingstoke is an expanding modern commercial and industrial urbanisation. Half a century ago it was just a simple country town but it has developed dramatically with skyscrapers, tower blocks, vast housing estates and a modern shopping centre.

Basingstoke Canal
Basingstoke Canal Aqueduct © Colin Smith (CC2)

Although not a greatly attractive town, Basingstoke does have some impressive modern architecture. Sadly only few of its heritage buildings have survived. One excellent exception is the 19th-c classical-style Town Hall, located in the historic heart of town. It houses the Willis Museum, dedicated to local history and archaeology. Founded by local man George W. Willis in 1877, it has a fine collection of his clocks on display ranging from the 16th-c to present day.

Just behind the new shopping precinct stands the 16th-c parish church of St Michael. The south wall of the church still bears the scars of Civil War musket fire. Opposite the church is a half-timbered Tudor Cottage that has been used as vicarage and tithe barn.

After decades of neglect parts of the Basingstoke Canal have now been restored to full navigation. Completed in 1794, the canal begins at the River Wey, near Woodham and originally ran into the centre of town. It now terminates at Penny Bridge, near Odiham.

Other Places of Interest to Visit in and Around Basingstoke

The Viables Craft Centre

Located in Harrow Way, The Viables is an arts and crafts outlet in a rural setting, often with demonstrations by local craftsmen.

Milestones Museum

On Churchill Way, the Milestones is an open-air museum of living history, covering the Victorian era to the 1930s.

Basing House

Located three miles east is Old Basing, a small village of narrow streets and old cottages. The village grew up around Basing House, a ruined Tudor palace built by Henry VIII. Once an important stronghold for the Royalists, it was mostly destroyed during the Civil War. All that remains are banks, ditches, cellars and broken walls, and a fine 16th-c gatehouse and tithe barn. The walled garden has been lovingly restored and provides a place for relaxation and also a source of medicinal plants.

Map of Basingstoke

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