Bradwell’s Eclectica Hampshire features a plethora of facts and information about the people and events that have helped to make the county so interesting. The title brings together dialect, humour, recipes, murder stories, local names, walks and maps, ghost stories, local customs, local sports, local history and famous locals in one 80 page softback publication.
Unspoilt scenery, rivers and coasts, beautiful country houses, attractive villages and interesting market towns. Despite a large number of populated towns and cities, a huge 45 per cent of Hampshire is taken up with two National Parks – the South Downs and the unique New Forest. And then there’s the Isle of Wight; although no longer administratively part of Hampshire, it’s only half an hour by ferry from the mainland, and people still associate it with the county. It’s only 23 miles by 13 miles but boasts the world-famous Round the Island Boat Race, the family home of Queen Victoria, and the renowned Isle of Wight Music Festival, all of which attract thousands of visitors each year.
Hampshire is the birthplace of all three of the British Forces: the Army still resides in Aldershot; the RAF
began life in Farnborough, my home town and one which still plays an important part in UK aviation; and the coastal towns of Portsmouth and Southampton have strong links with the Royal Navy.
Hampshire’s county town, Winchester, was historically the capital of England, and is still home to the
largest medieval cathedral in Europe. Southampton and Portsmouth are both large, bustling and vibrant port cities, steeped in nautical history and awash (pardon the pun!) with commercial progress and cultural heritage. Southampton handles a large proportion of the UK’s national container freight while Portsmouth is home to a huge Royal Navy base. Inland, Basingstoke, often mistaken for a new town, is in fact an old market town expanded in the 1960s in order to accommodate part of the London ‘overspill’. Basingstoke market was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086; it still has a regular market, but is now a large and important economic business centre.
Hampshire has more than its fair share of famous authors – Dickens, Austen, and Conan Doyle to name a few; it has nautical cities with old-age naval war ships, sail-shaped towers and resurrected Tudor merchant vessels; it’s a county that never fails to inspire. From historic docks and modern marinas on the Solent coast, to the leafy New Forest National Park packed full of lovely wild ponies, donkeys, and even pigs, the variety is endless. It’s the home of English cricket, hosts one of the world’s largest international air shows, and you’ll find the National Motor Museum and the largest UK watercress growing region in the south, the latter of which inspired the quintessentially British steam train route – the Watercress Line. And Hampshire also represents the end of the line for the Napoleon dynasty! The county’s museums are packed with armour, military paraphernalia and submarines. You can discover the Round Table of Arthurian legend, or buy a yacht at the UK’s biggest boat show!
However, if what you’re looking for is little bit of factual information interspersed with a light-hearted overview of some of Hampshire’s peculiarities, then this is the book for you. You can read about some of its notorious murders and chilling ghost stories, or try your hand at some of its tasty – and unusual – recipes. Or, if you’re after silly jokes or local customs, or want to know about its famous people, then you can do that here, too.
With a county so large, so rich in heritage, and with such a variety of landscapes, towns, and villages, I can do no more with a book of this size than simply scratch the surface of Hampshire’s character. However, I hope that in so doing, I’ve given you enough to whet your appetite to find out more for yourselves. I’ve lived in or near to the county for several decades, and its people and places never fail to rouse my curiosity; there’s always another surprise just around the corner!
Released: September 2014
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 160 x 160mm
Author: Linda Fernley