Hampshire is a large county on the South coast of England, with plenty of beautiful countryside and several significant towns and cities.
The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, one of the oldest towns in the country. Winchester, which has a superb cathedral, was the capital of England before London.
Portsmouth is Britain’s major naval city, and the only British city to be built on an island. The dockyard contains many historic vessels, and ships and hovercraft leave here for the short trip to Gosport and to the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and France.
Southampton, a walled city dating back to Saxon times, has a unique tidal system that made it the leading passenger port for the great transatlantic Cunard liners.
Other interesting towns include Basingstoke, an important modern commercial centre; Emsworth, a former smuggling village where P. G. Wodehouse lived; Gosport, with its submarine museum; Havant, the former centre for parchment making; Lymington, from where ferries have plied to the Isle of Wight since 1200; and Petersfield, a fine old town with a lively market.
Within the boundaries of Hampshire is the New Forest, created by William the Conqueror as a hunting forest and designated a National Park in 2004. The small towns of Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst and the much-visited Beaulieu Abbey are in the New Forest.