Posts Tagged ‘history’

Hampshire County Council is delighted to announce that following the award of a new grant of £630,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund it is now able to embark on Phase 2 of its development and conservation project.   This new project will continue to build on the original master plan to ensure that Basing House is developed to support the ambitions for conserving the historic buildings for future generations and encouraging more people to visit or get involved with researching or looking after the  site.

This blog will keep you up to date with the works as they progress over the next few months.

The main aims of the Phase 2 Project  

Aim 1

The ‘Cow Byre’ building in the Basing GrangeThe Cow Byre complex of former farm buildings (around the  Great Barn)  received structural repairs in Phase 1  to prevent further weakening. It will now be refurbished to complete the transformation of Basing Grange as a key part of the visitor and learning experience and as a home for community activities.  

The Cow Byre will be fitted out to support practical and hands-on activities related to the ongoing research into Basing House’s history and archaeology, and the nurturing and development of skills – past, present and future – that both created Basing House and will be required to support the ongoing investigation and conservation of the site. 

The byre will be available for use by community groups, for example by the Friends of Basing House or the Basingstoke Archaeology & History Society, using it as a base for their activities on the site. Groups would be encouraged to create their own exhibitions and provide workshops to support public understanding of the site, its history and conservation.  

Basing House will also facilitate the use of this space by partners (like Basingtoke Technology College and the Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust) to support the development and teaching of heritage and conservation skills.

 Aim 2

To improve the understanding of the complex remains of Basing House by both restoring access to the cellars of the William Paulet’s Tudor house and installing a high-level viewing platform which will provide a birds-eye view of the remains of the Norman castle, the Tudor house, the Civil War defensive earthworks, and Basingstoke Common (site of the Oliver Cromwell’s main siege camp) and Old Basing village. Basing House is a key site in the county council’s ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ programme and this platform will become an important part of the experience for schools visiting the site as well as the general public.

Viewing platform (illustration)

Viewing platform (illustration)

Click here to see the  Viewing Platform location on a site plan.

Aim 3

To undertake a comprehensive conservation programme on the brickwork remains in order to prevent further loss of the important Tudor architectural features of the first Basing House in the ‘Citadel’ area of the site, and also ensure safe public access.

The brickwork remains are always vulnerable to severe weather conditons, as was proved in January 2010 when many consecutive nights of very hard frost and heavy snowfall caused the worst damage in living memory. Further damage occurred in the November that year. The proposed repair and conservation programme will be comprehensive and designed to provide long-term protection

January 2010

January 2010

Frost damage

An example of frost damage


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Apologies to all our readers that it’s been so long since the last update. With only 7 weeks to go before Basing House re-opens for “Preview fortnight” on 14th August this is an incredibly busy time for the team. The good news is that although there are a thousand and one things still do the project remains on track.  

New Operations Manager joins the staff

The big news is that Basing House now has its new Operations Manager! We welcome Claire Capel into her new post and wish her every success. We look forward to working with her. Claire will do her best to meet as many local residents as she can in the coming weeks.   

Construction and Conservation

On the construction side highlights of the past few months have been the completion of the new tile roof on the Little Barn and all of the ‘first fit’ electrical work, the laying of limecrete floors in the Learning and & Community Centre, the completion of the toilets at Garrison Gate and the museum, and the start of work on the new museum space. Villagers will have noticed too that our new tourist road signs have been installed.   

New roofs…

...and new floors…


From next week and for several weeks there is likely to be some disruption to traffic on The Street and Basing Road while a new broadband service for the village is installed, and also the new road crossing at Garrison Gate and water supply for Basing Grange. The County Council will do it all it can to minimise disruption but ask residents to be patient while this essential work is carried out, or find alternative routes.   


An introductory meeting for prospective volunteers was held on Saturday 8th May, which was attended by 21 people including some existing Friends of Basing House.  

If you wish to find out more about sort of activities that you might become involved in as a volunteer and the training that we can offer please send in your details via the form on the ‘Future Plans’ page of our website.  There will be another introductory meeting at Basing House on 10th July.  Induction for new volunteers will start at the beginning of August.   


Behind the scenes the main emphasis now is on putting the marketing plan into action. Look out for changes to our website very soon. There will be lots of new information on display, for example about our new opening times, admission prices, and forthcoming events.   

A new tourist sign

Interpretation & Exhibition

Exhibition consultants PLB Projects are putting the final touches to all the graphics for the site information points and these will go into production very soon. Also progressing well is preparation of the sound track for the Great Barn audio-visual presentation and of the site models. Meanwhile the Museum Service’s own exhibition team is forging ahead with putting together the new museum display.   

August Bank Holiday – a date for your diary!

The centrepiece of the celebrations to mark our re-opening will happen on August Bank Holiday weekend, when there will be whole series of exciting things going on both on-site at Basing House and on Basingstoke Common next door.  Highlights will be two magnificent (and fierce!) Civil War battle re-enactments performed by The Sealed Knot telling the story of the long sieges and final dramatic downfall of Basing House to Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary army on the fateful morning of 13 October 1645.   

The Sealed Knot in action!

The Sealed Knot in action!

Look out for more information coming on our website shortly.

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New Events Programme and Learning Sessions at Basing House

Basing House is such a fascinating site and there are many topics that can be covered in education sessions that can be offered to schools, families, adult lifelong learning groups and local interest societies that it’s hard to know where to begin telling you our plans!

School Education Sessions

We are working hard to redesign the schools education programme that will be on offer at Basing House from September 2010. This involves consulting with schools to make sure that we are offering the best service possible to our local schools. New sessions for Primary and Secondary schools will look at topics such as:

• The differences between lives for the rich and poor in Tudor times at Basing House.
• The visits to William Paulet at his home Basing House by Queen Elizabeth I.
• The events during the siege of Basing House during the Civil War.
• Archaeological investigations at Basing House and the huge variety of objects that have been found here.

If you are a teacher and would like to contact us to discuss the new Key Stage 2 or Key Stage 3 offers at Basing House, please visit our website where you will find more information about the planned sessions and contact details: www.hants.gov.uk/museum/basing-house/basing-house-news/basing-house-schools.htm

Provisional Events Programme

From the end of Summer 2010 there are going to be some great new family events being offered:

• There are going to be some archaeology pits that children can ‘excavate’ with finds and features to discover under the sand.
• Basing House is home to many bats and we have a resident barn owl; there will be an opportunity later this year to come and find out all about our shy wildlife.
• In October 2010 we will be inviting families for a spooky dusk walk around our historical site. Who knows what you will find walking around the grounds of Basing House!

The Basing House team will also be offering some great weekend events such as geo-caching and treasure hunts, as well as providing a varied programme of talks, lectures and tours throughout the year. Civil War re-enactment groups will continue to visit Basing House and re-enactment days will be offered. The community archaeology excavation will be taking place again this year, and the newly refurbished Basing House Museum will be showcasing the results of these excavations.

    Look out for some national events as well!

The Big Draw will be visiting Basing House in October 2010 and we will be supporting National Science and Engineering Week in March 2011 and, as always, site tours will be available as part of the nation-wide Heritage Open Days in September 2011.

Full details of all our events will be published in our What’s On leaflets and on our website.

Of course, you don’t have to come along to one of our events to enjoy Basing House. The site is going to be the perfect venue to have a family picnic, explore the ruins, or to just sit and soak up the atmosphere.

For now let us finish with two images:

This great photo appeared in the Basingstoke Gazette following a visit to Basing House by more than 80 Year 3 pupils from St Mary’s Junior School in Old Basing. Pupils learned how to collect and identify insects as part of National Insect Week:

National Insect Week at Basing House

The second photo was taken during the community archaeology excavations in May last year (2009). You can read more about the excavations on the Basing House website, under ‘Basing House Excavations’, www.hants.gov.uk/basing-house :

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So what’s next at Basing House?

With less than a year to go before we open next summer the team are already feeling the pressure and are busy working on a number of things that need sorting out soon.

For example interior designs, catering, events planning, finalising the scripts for information panels and audio guides, designing the new museum, tourist road signs, teaching resources, recruiting new staff and volunteers, and yet more fundraising.

Watch out for our next update!

Just for fun:

In the meantime, here are some images of just a few of the fascinating objects found at Basing House:

Charles I Sixpence

Charles I Sixpence

Tudor Rose Floor Tile

Tudor Rose Floor Tile

Stoneware Bottle

Stoneware Bottle

Carved Stone Head

Carved Stone Head

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A new chapter begins at Basing House

It sometimes feels like it has taken for ever to get the project off the ground.

There were, inevitably, a number of hoops to jump through – feasibility studies, surveys, consultation, planning permission and scheduled monument consent, fundraising, commissioning special skills, and more.

Path laying outside the Great Barn

Path laying outside the Great Barn

The numbers of specialists involved has grown too. They include architects, exhibition designers, project managers, quantity surveyors, engineers, ecologists, archaeologists, archivists and marketing experts.

It was with some relief then, and a real sense of achievement that after about three years of  hard work, with funding and all the necessary permissions in place, the contractors at last began work on site on 1st September!


Happily we have so far been blessed with good weather too, so progress on groundworks (paths, drains, conserving brick remains, etc.) has been good.

Barns and Stables

Work on converting barns and stables is scheduled to take place in the spring to so avoid disturbing the many bats hibernating in them over the winter.

Museum Refit

Staff and volunteers have also been busy stripping out the old museum exhibition:

Work begins on stripping out the museum
Work begins on stripping out the museum.



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Hello and welcome to the new Basing House project blog!

In future posts we will bring you news of the project as it develops between now and the big relaunch next summer – plus some stuff we hope you will find interesting about this fascinating historic site, and some of the challenges we’ve faced and how we’ve decided to tackle them.

Elizabeth I visiting Basing House in 1601

A bit of background…

Recognising the great importance of Basing House and the vulnerability of some of its remains Hampshire County Council bought the site in the 1980’s to preserve it and to allow it to be enjoyed and studied by all.

Although parts of the site have been open to the public for many years (during the summer months only) we have lacked resources to provide the first class facilities that Basing House and its visitors deserve,  from basics like on-site refreshments and good toilets to a range of aids that will help schoolchildren and families – indeed people of all ages and backgrounds – to learn about the tremendous history of the site.

Achieving these long-held ambitions has now been made possible by generous grants from the County Council itself, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Basingtoke & Deane Borough Council, Renaissance South East and the Friends of Basing House.

Our Ambition

We feel sure that anyone who is already familiar with Basing House and its stories will, like us, love its natural beauty, treasure its historic remains and be enthralled by its great stories. Our aim is to share this gem with more people – encouraging them to visit, helping them to learn in new ways about the people who lived there and the dramatic events that happened, and providing them with the facilities and services that will make them want to come again  – and tell their families and friends and about it too!

For more information about the history of Basing House and future plans visit our website: www.basinghouse.org.uk.

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