Monday, 7 March 2016

Old Basing

Oliver's Battery

This week's one sunny day - so out for a quick local walk in Old Basing, starting at the recreation ground. Off to the left is Oliver's Battery, where siege guns were set up during the Parliamentarian assault on Basing House, of which more below. Originally, it was the site of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle.

Turning left along The Street you soon reach the 15th century brick-built St Mary's church, with an nave and two aisles of seemingly identical proportions.

Inside, I very much admired the dramatic Angel of Peace by John Hayward, 1971.

Not far away is the entrance to the ruins of Basing House. It was built on the site of another Norman castle by Sir William Paulet, later the 1st Marquess of Winchester. Paulet was appointed Lord Treasurer in 1550 and his house was said to be as large and magnificent as Hampton Court Palace. As there is next to nothing left of Basing House, here is a picture of Hampton Court, to give an idea.

Basing House was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War and was under siege from the Parliamentarians from 1643 until its fall in 1645. It was afterwards ravaged by fire and looted and it seems that bricks were taken to be reused in other buildings in the neighbourhood..

You enter through the 16th century Garrison Gate ...

... and very soon cross a bridge. Looking down, you might think this was a moat, but in fact it was a section of the 18th Basingstoke Canal, which by chance I walked along recently near Dogmersfield.

Over to the right is the large Walled Garden, seemingly an 18th century recreation of a 16th century garden.

The site of the house is a circular mound with a ditch round it and a viewing platform at the back. This is the view and it gives some sense of a number of buildings tightly packed inside a high brick wall.

I did a full circumnavigation and then left by the Garrison gate, continuing along the road to the Great Barn, one of whose adjoining buildings now houses the Visitor Centre and ticket office for Basing House.

This is the second fine barn I have seen in Recent weeks, and although it is not as impressive as Great Coxwell, it is still an imposing structure.

The route now goes along the bank of the infant River Loddon, which rises somewhere nearby, and under an imposing railway viaduct. 

After the Millstone pub, the route continues across an area of common to reach The Street and the start of the walk.

Conditions: a lovely sunny day, quite fresh.

Distance: 3 miles plus the exploration of Basing House.

From: Walks into History: Hampshire by Robert Wood (Countryside Books)

Map: Explorer 144 (Basingstoke, Alton and Whitchurch)

Rating: four stars. Full of interest.

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