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A brief guide to the towns and villages of the South East of England

South East


Alverstoke
Village located at the head of Haslar Creek. Within easy reach of Gosport.

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Arundel
Picturesque, historic town on the River Arun, dominated by Arundel Castle, home of the Dukes of Norfolk. There are many 18th century houses, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre and Museum and Heritage Centre.

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Ashford
Once a market centre, the town has a number of Tudor and Georgian houses and a museum. Eurostar trains stop at Ashford International station.

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Banbury
Famous for its cattle market, cakes, nursery rhyme and Cross. Founded in Saxon times, it has some fine houses and interesting old inns. A good centre for touring Warwickshire and the Cotswolds.

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Barton On Sea
Seaside village with views of the Isle of Wight. Within easy driving distance of the New Forest.

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Battle
The Abbey at Battle was built on the site of the Battle of Hastings, when William defeated Harold II and so became the Conqueror in 1066. The museum has a fine collection relating to the Sussex iron industry, and there is a social history museum – Buckleys Yesterday World.

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Beaulieu
Beautifully situated among woods and hills on the Beaulieu river, the village is both charming and unspoilt. The 13th century ruined Cistercian abbey and 14th century Palace House stand close to the National Motor Museum. There is a maritime museum at Bucklers Hard.

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Bembridge
Village with harbour and bay below Bembridge Down – the most easterly village on the island. Bembridge Sailing Club is one of the most important in southern England.

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Bicester
Market town with a large army depot and well-known hunting centre with hunt established in the late 18th century. The ancient parish church displays works of many periods. Nearby is the Jacobean mansion of Rousham House with gardens landscaped by William Kent.

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Boldre
An attractive village with pretty views of the village from the bridge. The white plastered church sits on top of a hill.

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Brighstone
Excellent centre for visitors who want somewhere quiet. Calbourne, nearby, is ideal for picnics, and the sea at Chilton Chie has safe bathing at high tide.

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Brighton & Hove
Brighton's attractions include the Royal Pavilion, Volks Electric Railway, Sea Life Centre, Marina Village, Conference Centre. The Lanes and several theatres.

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Broadstairs
Popular seaside resort with numerous sandy bays. Charles Dickens spent his summers at Bleak House where he wrote parts of "David Copperfield". The Dickens Festival is held in June, when many people where Dickensian costume.

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Canterbury
Place of pilgrimage, since the martyrdom of Becket in 1170, and the site of Canterbury Cathedral. Visit St Augustine's Abbey, St Martin's (the oldest church in England), Royal Museum and Art Gallery and the Canterbury Tales. Nearby is Howletts Wild Animal Park. Good shopping centre.

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Carisbrooke
Situated at the heart of the Isle of Wight and an ideal base for touring. Boasts a Norman church, formerly a monastic church, and a castle built on the site of a Roman fortress.

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Chichester
The county town of West Sussex with a beautiful Norman cathedral. Noted for its Georgian architecture but also has modern buildings like the Festival Theatre. Surrounded by places of interest, including Fishbourne Roman Palace, Weald and Downland Open-Air Museum and West Dean Gardens.

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Chilham
Extremely pretty village of mostly Tudor and Jacobean houses. The village rises to the spacious square with the castle and the 15th century church.

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Christchurch
Tranquil town lying between the Avon and Stour just before they converge and flow into Christchurch Harbour. A fine 11th century church and the remains of a Norman castle and house can be seen.

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Corfe Castle
One of the most spectacular ruined castles in Britain. Norman in origin, the castle was a Royalist stronghold during the Civil War and held out until 1645. The village had a considerable marble-carving industry in the Middle Ages.

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Dorking
Ancient market town and a good centre for walking, delightfully set between Box Hill and the Downs. Denbies Wine Estate – England's largest wine vineyard – is situated here.

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Dymchurch
For centuries the headquarters of the Lords of the Level, the local government of this area. Probably best known today because of the fame of its fictional parson, the notorious Dr Syn, who has inspired a regular festival.

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Epsom
Horse races have been held on the slopes of Epsom Downs for centuries. The racecourse is the home of the world-famous Derby. Many famous old homes are here, among them the 17th century Waterloo House.

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Farnham
Town noted for its Georgian houses. Willmer House (now a museum) has a façade of cut and moulded brick with fine carving and panelling in the interior. The 12th century castle has been occupied by Bishops of both Winchester and Guildford.

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Faversham
Historic town, once a port, dating back to prehistoric times. Abbey Street has more than 50 listed buildings. Roman and Anglo-Saxon finds and other exhibits can be seen in a museum in the Maison Dieu at Ospringe. Fleur de Lys Heritage Centre.

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Finstock
This charming village on the edge of the Wychwood Forest was the home of John Wesley.

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Folkstone
Popular resort. The town has a fine promenade, the Leas, from where orchestral concerts and other entertainments are presented. Horse-racing at Westenhanger Racecourse nearby.

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Fordingbridge
On the north-west edge of the New Forest. A medieval bridge crosses the Avon at this point and gave the town its name. A good centre for walking, exploring and fishing.

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Freshwater
This part of the island is associated with Tennyson, who lived in the village for 30 years. A monument on Tennyson's Down commemorates the poet.

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Gillingham
A good shopping centre for tourists in the dairy vale of Dorset on the River Stour. Acclaimed as a beauty spot by the painter John Constable.

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Gosport
From a tiny fishing hamlet, Gosport has grown into an important centre with many naval establishments, including HMS Dolphin, the submarine base, with the Naval Submarine Museum which preserves HMS Alliance and Holland I.

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Goudhurst
Village on a hill surmounted by a square-towered church with fine views of orchards and hop fields. Achieved prosperity through weaving in the Middle Ages. Finchcocks houses a living museum of historic, early keyboard instruments.

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Great Milton
One of Oxfordshire's most famous villages situated in the Chiltern foothills. Thought to once be the home of John Milton who it is suggested wrote Paradise Lost while living here.

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Guildford
Bustling town with Lewis Carroll connections and many historic monuments, one of which is the Guildhall clock jutting out over the old High Street. The modern cathedral occupies a commanding position on Stag Hill.

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Hastings
Ancient town which became famous as the base from which William the Conqueror set out to fight the Battle of Hastings. The later became one of the Cinque Ports, and is now a leading resort. Castle, Hastings Embroidery, inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, and Sea Life Centre.

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Henfield
Ancient village with many old houses and good shopping facilities, on a ridge of high ground overlooking the Adur Valley. Views to the South Downs.

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Langton
18th century Purbeck-stone village surrounded by National Trust downland, about a mile from the sea and 350 feet above sea level. Excellent walking.

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Lee on the Solent
Resort and residential area with fine views across the Solent to Cowes and Calshot.

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Lewes
Historic county town with Norman castle. The steep High Street has mainly Georgian buildings. There is a folk museum at Anne of Cleves House, and the archaeological museum is in Barbican House.

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Lower Beeding
Close to St Leonard's Forest, once a royal hunting ground. The area is also well known for its hammer ponds, used when the iron was smelted here. Leonardslee Gardens are especially beautiful in spring and autumn.

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Lyme Regis
Pretty, historic fishing town and resort set against the fossil-rich cliffs of Lyme Bay. In medieval times it was an important port and cloth centre. The Cobb, a massive stone breakwater, shelters the ancient harbour which is still lively with boats.

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Lymington
Small, pleasant town with bright cottages and attractive Georgian houses, lying on the edge of the New Forest with a ferry service to the Isle of Wight. A sheltered harbour makes it a busy yachting centre.

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Lyndhurst
The "capital" of the New Forest, surrounded by attractive woodland scenery and delightful villages. The town is dominated by the Victorian Gothic-style church where the original Alice in Wonderland is buried.

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Maidstone
Busy county town of Kent on the River Medway which has many interesting features and is an excellent centre for excursions. Museum of Carriages, Museum and Art Gallery, Mote Park.

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Milford-On-Sea
Victorian seaside resort with shingle beach and good bathing, set in pleasant countryside and looking out over the Isle of Wight. Nearby is Hurst Castle, built by Henry VIII.

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Milton Abbas
Sloping village street of thatched houses. A boys' school lies in Capability Brown's landscaped gardens amid hills and woods where the town once stood. The school chapel, former abbey church, can be visited.

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Milton Keynes
Designated a New Town in 1967, Milton Keynes offers a wide range of housing, and is abundantly planted with trees. It has excellent shopping facilities and 3 centres for leisure and sporting activities. The Open University is based here.

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Newbury
Ancient town surrounded by the Downs, on the Kennet and Avon Canal. It has many buildings of interest, including the 17th century Cloth Hall, which is now a museum. The famous racecourse is nearby.

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Nutley
Richard II had a hunting lodge at Nutley, which he used when hunting in the Ashdown Forest. To the north of the village is Nutley Mill, built in 1690.

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Oxford
Beautiful university town with many ancient colleges, some dating from the 13th century, and numerous buildings of historic and architectural interest. The Ashmolean Museum has outstanding collections. Lovely gardens and meadows with punting on the Cherwell.

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Pangbourne
A pretty stretch of river where the Pang joins the Thames with views of the lock, weir and toll bridge. Once the home of Kenneth Grahame, author of "Wind in the Willows".

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Plaxtol
Village standing high above the Kent Weald, with a 17th century church in the centre and a rare medieval domestic house.

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Poole
A tremendous natural harbour makes Poole a superb boating centre. The harbour area is crowded with historic buildings including the 15th century Town Cellars housing a maritime museum.

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Portland
Joined by a narrow isthmus to the coast, a stony promontory sloping from the lofty landward side to a lighthouse on Portland Bill at its southern tip. Villages are built of the white limestone for which the "isle" is famous.

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Portsmouth & Southsea
There have been connections with the Navy since early times, and the first dock was built in 1194. HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship, is here and Charles Dickens' former home is open to the public. Neighbouring Southsea has a promenade with magnificent views of Spithead.

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Rochester
Ancient cathedral city on the River Medway which has many places of interest connected with Charles Dickens (who lived nearby) including the fascinating Dickens Centre. There is also a massive castle overlooking the river and Guildhall Museum.

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Romsey
Town which grew up around the important abbey and which lies on the banks of the River Test, famous for trout and salmon. Broadlands House, home of the late Lord Mountbatten, is open to the public.

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Royal Tunbridge Wells
This "Royal" town became famous as a spa in the 17th century and much of its charm is retained, as in the Pantiles, a shaded walk lined with elegant shops. Heritage attraction "A Day at the Wells". Excellent shopping centre.

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Ryde
The island's chief entry port, connected to Portsmouth by ferries and hovercraft. Seven miles of sandy beaches with a half-mile pier, esplanade and gardens.

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Rye
Cobbled, hilly streets and fine old buildings make Rye, once a Cinque Port, a most picturesque town. Noted for its church with ancient clock, potteries and antique shops. Town Model Sound and Light Show gives a good introduction to the town.

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Seaford
The town was a bustling port until 1579 when the course of the River Ouse was diverted. The downlands around the town make good walking country, with fine views of the Seven Sisters cliffs.

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Shaftesbury
Hilltop town with a long history. The ancient and cobbled Gold Hill is one of the most attractive in Dorset. There is an excellent small museum containing a collection of buttons, for which the town is famous.

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Sherborne
Dorset's "Cathedral City" of medieval streets, golden hamstone buildings and great abbey church, resting place of Saxon kings. Formidable 12th century castle ruins and Sir Walter Raleigh's splendid Tudor mansion and deer park. Street markets, leisure centre, many cultural activities.

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Southampton
One of Britain's leading seaports with a long history, now a major container port. In the 18th century it became a fashionable resort with the assembly rooms and theatre. The old Guildhall and the Wool House are now museums. Sections of the medieval wall can still be seen.

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Standlake
13th century church with an octagonal tower and spire standing beside the Windrush. The interior of the church is rich in woodwork.

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Studland
On a beautiful stretch of coast and good for walking, with a National Nature Reserve to the north. The Norman church is the finest in the country, with superb rounded arches and vaulting. Brownsea Island, where the first scout camp was held, lies in Poole Harbour.

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Swanage
Began life as an Anglo-Saxon port, then a quarrying centre of Purbeck marble. The safe, sandy beach is set in a sweeping bay flanked by downs, making it an ideal resort and good walking country.

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Sway
Small village on the south-western edge of the New Forest. It is noted for its 220 foot tower, Peterson's Folly, built in the 1870s by a retired Indian judge to demonstrate the value of concrete and as a building material.

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Tenterden
Most attractive market town with a broad main street full of 16th century houses and shops. The tower of the 15th century parish church is the finest in Kent. Fine antiques centre.

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Thame
Historic market town on the River Thames. The wide, unspoilt High Street has many styles of architecture with medieval timber-framed cottages, Georgian houses and some famous inns.

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Totland Bay
On the Freshwater Peninsula. It is possible to walk from here around to Alum Bay.

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Walton-on-Thames
Busy town beside the Thames, retaining a distinctive atmosphere despite being only 12 miles from central London. Close to Hampton Court Palace, Sandown Park racecourse and Claremont Landscape Garden (National Trust), Esher.

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Whitstable
Seaside resort and yachting centre on Kent's north shore. The beach is shingle, and there are the usual seaside amenities and entertainments and also a museum.

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Whitwell
West of Ventnor, with interesting church, thatched inn and youth hostel. Good walking area.

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Winchester
King Alfred the Great made Winchester the capital of Saxon England. A magnificent Norman cathedral, with one of the longest naves in Europe, dominates the city. Home of Winchester College, founded in 1382.

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Windsor
Town dominated by the spectacular castle, home of the Royal Family for over 900 years. Parts are open to the public. There are many attractions including the Great Park, Eton and trips on the river.

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Worthing
Town in the West Sussex countryside and by the south coast, with excellent shopping and many pavement cafes and restaurants. Attractions include the award-winning Museum and Art Gallery, beautiful gardens, pier, elegant town houses, Cissbury Ring hill fort and the South Downs.

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