Spectacular gardens and a house risen from the ashes

Hinton Ampner really is a triumph over adversity. This country manor near Alresford dates back to Tudor times, but suffered its darkest hour when it caught fire in 1960.

Its owner at the time, Ralph Dutton, the 8th Lord Sherborne, rebuilt it from the ashes, deciding to ignore the Victorian features that had been introduced over the years and restore the house to its Georgian splendour.

The house itself makes for a fascinating little visit but the gardens here are the real stars of the show. Ralph Dutton designed them as a series of “rooms”, each with its own style.

Even the less green-fingered among us will appreciate the meticulous layouts of avenues and pathways, and the spectacular views of the South Downs. There are orchards, a walled garden, a magical little woodland trail, and even a Roman-style temple to sit in and take in the views.

A beautiful church – Hinton Ampner All Saints – still holds weddings and funerals, and Sunday services several times a year, and is the perfect spot for quiet reflection and to light a candle for a loved one.

Access-wise there are a few slopes and steps but the majority of the estate is flat and easy to follow. There is a lovely little shop and a café – this is a National Trust property so you’ll know what to expect! The café can get busy at peak times so if you go (like we did) over a Bank Holiday then prepare to queue.

Alternatively there are plenty of picnic spots including pub-style tables to sit at just outside the main boundary of the estate.

Entry fees are broadly what you’d expect and are good value if you make a day of it. However if you want to enjoy the surroundings and get a glimpse of the house and estate without going in, there is a lovely little walk from the beautiful village of Cheriton here which goes right past the property.