4th May 2019Hinton Ampner
Hinton Ampner, near Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 0LA
Adult £15.50 Child £7.75 Under 5s Free
Almost like acting my age I paid an afternoon visit to this interesting NT property - trying to make the most of my NT membership for another year - on a day when the weather didn't want to make up its mind what to do and therefore somewhere with indoor and outdoor interest was required.
Go here for the full history from the NT.
It got rebuilt again in the early 1960s after Ralph unwisely left an open fire burning in the grate in the library while he went for a post-lunch walk in the woods and came home to find the house he'd spent 15 years rebuilding in his preferred Regency style well and truly ablaze.
Wouldn't get away with that nowadays I shouldn't think, the powers that be would insist on restoration to previous state even if that meant it didn't get done at all.
For reasons of preventing damage by UV light the interior of the house like most NT properties is kept in a state of semi-gloom and I didn't actually take any photos inside. I can tell you it's very nice if you like Regency/Georgian interiors and that Ralph liked stone ornaments, particularly porphyry, and intricate stone-topped tables. There's an Adam ceiling in the dining room of course, as every good Georgian house should have. And a lot of china and "paintings, classical, for country houses".
I got an ice-cream from the young, posh* girl in the converted horse trailer between the house and church and found a seat in the garden on which to enjoy it. At which point the 10% chance of rain became 100%.
(* posh enough to mention to the previous customer that she likes to ride her horse on the estate tracks.)
Plenty of free seats this time though. Decent cuppa too and they give you a pot of hot water to top up the teapot ✔
Checking my watch instead showed I had about an hour and a half left before closing time, plenty of time to follow one of the way-marked walks through the countryside of the surrounding estate.
I decided a couple of easy miles would do and picked the Stewkeley walk which according to the NT leaflet and map would allow me to "Enjoy a short stroll around our estate and see how well Hinton Ampner fits into the surrounding landscape". And the showers looked like they were done for now.
They weren't taking any chances of you losing the path across the pasture certainly.
If the worst happened the red markers gave an emergency phone number to call and a location number so that they could come and find you.
As promised you could see how the house fitted into the surrounding landscape, especially from the top of the hill opposite (only a gentle ascent).
Where the walk emerges onto a metalled country lane you could either turn left to follow the route or right to detour to explore the village of Kilmeston. I took the short detour.
I retraced my steps and followed the way-marked route along the lane with one ear open for speeding Range Rovers as the lane is narrow with few refuge spots. As it happens the only traffic I encountered was, unsurprisingly, a solitary MAMIL.
There's a bluebell wood to the right of the path shortly after where it leaves the road and this is the right time of year for Bluebells. There were some other walkers here who were quite excited about it. There again I'm spoilt by having a bluebell wood outside my back garden gate ☺
And back to Hinton Ampner, exiting through the gift shop (there's no other way out) without even the merest hint of temptation to buy anything and taking the shortest and most scenic route home avoiding any major roads or motorways. I remembered the way without the use of sat-nav, not bad since it's a couple of years at least since I last drove it.
I recommend Hinton Ampner for a pleasant afternoon, at least if the weather is on your side.
Lots more photographs in this Flickr Album.