Although Jane Austen died in Winchester and is buried in the Cathedral, she lived for much of her life in the small village of Chawton, 17 miles northeast of Winchester near Alton. The house where she wrote and revised six novels—including Emma and Sense and Sensibility—is now a museum with memorabilia, letters and bags of atmosphere, and is well worth the trip.
Double back to just outside Winchester and reward your literary efforts with lunch at the nearby Chestnut Horse at Easton, with roaring fires in two of the five bars in winter.
Heading out east again you come to Alresford. It's a pretty Georgian town, built around the central, appropriately named, Broad Street and is the center of the rather surprising but highly-profitable industry of watercress farming. There's a pretty walk along the riverside as well as a walk to the water beds (pick up the Winchester Watercress Tour leaflet from the Tourist Office).
Alresford has good gift and food shopping, the old Georgian coaching inn, The Bell, and the local Mid Hants Railway, which used to carry strawberries, and later, watercress, up to London's Covent Garden market. It now takes tourists on the ten-mile trip to Alton in carriages pulled by a steam train.
We recommend that you stay the night at Lainston House Hotel, just a ten-minute drive from Winchester at Sparsholt, which combines old-fashioned charm with modern amenities. This converted 17th-century house offers both romantic gardens, complete with ruins, and a fully equipped gym, tennis courts and croquet on the lawns. The hotel's restaurant, The Avenue, is supplied by local farmers and their own kitchen garden and in summer you can eat on the delightful terrace, overlooking the grand sweep of the lawns into the distance.
Continue to Day 3
GREAT BRITAIN INFORMATION