Reopening: Basing House, Basingstoke, August 14 2010
The castle and palace as it looked under siege in the 17th century
The ruins of the English Tudor palace at Basing House have had a turbulent past. Built as a majestic castle for William Paulet, King Edward VI’s treasurer in 1531, they came under siege during the English Civil War of the 1640s, surviving a barrage of onslaughts before eventually being breached by Oliver Cromwell in 1645.
The masterplan begins in 2006
More than 300 years later, in the 1980s, the County Council bought the property with the aim of turning it into a heritage attraction, and the most dramatic development in the site’s story started three years ago, when planners finally secured £2.3 million to bring their plans to life.
Contractors move onto the site in September 2009
Contractors finally got their diggers into the ancient barns in September 2009, aided by a dedicated clearing team from the Basingstoke Archaeological Society and a determined programme of community digs.
Builders use tents to work on the walls of the House
The result is a picturesque country history centre with a museum, sound and light shows recreating the stories of all those brutal assaults and a visitor centre with learning facilities.
Local enthusiasts survey the surrounding countryside
“The investment into Basing House has been fantastic,” says Councillor Margaret Snaith-Tempia, looking ahead to a Bank Holiday weekend featuring 1,000 Roundheads and Cavaliers camping on Basingstoke Common before locking helmets in one of the most ambitious Civil War re-enactments of the year.
Excavations revealed numerous artefacts around the site
“It has meant that a site overflowing with history has been preserved and upgraded to make it a wonderful place to visit, not only for local residents but school children and tourists from around the UK.”
The garden of the House
Reopens on Saturday (August 14 2010). The Battle of Basing weekend takes place August 28-30, visit the House online for tickets and more details.
Visit the project blog for more on the building work.