Ha­vant

Hampshire Life - - Inside -

Spend a sur­pris­ing 24 hours in the town

Ha­vant a clue where to go or what to do? Here are some point­ers to parks, paths and per­for­mances – cho­sen by EMMA CAULTON

MORN­ING

If there was one word to de­scribe Ha­vant it would be ‘friendly’. It may not be the pret­ti­est of mar­ket towns (although its old cen­tre around St Faith’s Church should be cher­ished), but it surely can’t be beaten for a warm wel­come. Noth­ing seems to be too much trou­ble for the lo­cals.

Ha­vant also makes a good base with coun­try­side to the north, coast to the south and parks and paths on the doorstep. Start by get­ting to know the town by fol­low­ing the Her­itage Trail (pick up a map from The Spring Arts & Her­itage Cen­tre on West Street). Points of in­ter­est in­clude malt­houses, a se­cret Gazebo Gar­den which was re­fur­bished and re­opened at the end of last year, Homewell Spring, after which Ha­vant is prob­a­bly named (from Ha­man Funta or Hama’s Spring) and the neigh­bour­ing Parch­ment Fac­tory. Over the cen­turies Ha­vant’s clear spring wa­ters have sup­ported a num­ber of in­dus­tries in­clud­ing brew­ing, high-qual­ity parch­ment (the Treaty of Ver­sailles was writ­ten on Ha­vant parch­ment)and glove­mak­ing; the old Glove Fac­tory is also on the Trail.

If you would rather stroll un­der a canopy of trees to the coast, take the Hayling Billy Trail. What was the old rail­way line is now a path that’s pop­u­lar with dog walk­ers, run­ners and cy­clists, and me­an­ders from Ha­vant to Hayling Is­land via pic­ture post­card per­fect Lang­stone Har­bour.

LUNCH

Hav­ing worked up an ap­petite walk­ing to Lang­stone Har­bour, you can eat at one of two water­side pubs, The Ship and The Royal Oak, both with su­perb views. Oth­er­wise, if you’ve stopped in Ha­vant, seek out one of the town’s cafes.

Step back in time at 19Fourteas tea rooms which cel­e­brates a by­gone age with dark wood fur­ni­ture, vin­tage ra­dios and old pho­to­graphs. Tea comes in proper pots topped with knit­ted tea cosies and mats are old news­pa­pers that have been lam­i­nated. The tea room was recre­ated from a beauty par­lour by owner Jac­qui Unal and the menu in­cludes old-fash­ioned favourites such as beans on toast, tea­cakes and tray­bakes. In the back gar­den there’s even an An­der­son shel­ter where vis­it­ing lo­cal school­child­ren ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing “evac­u­ated”.

Then there’s Laven­der Tea Rooms which has an el­e­gant vin­tage style of flo­ral china and bunting while the menu in­cludes jacket po­ta­toes with coro­na­tion chicken, high tea and the likes of gin and tonic cup­cakes.

Or what about Bowlers Tea­room in a char­ac­ter­ful Vic­to­rian build­ing within Ha­vant Park? There’s great ser­vice and an ex­cit­ing menu that in­cludes del­ish break­fasts (like bub­ble and squeak with melted cheese, crispy ba­con and poached egg), tasty lunches such as home­made pasties and lo­cal (Hayling Is­land) North­ney Ice Cream. A new ven­ture for Bowlers’ Tea­room is open­ing in the evening for a spe­cial mid-month themed din­ner – Oc­to­ber’s will be curry night with dishes from Asia to In­dia. Look out, too, for Bowlers’ fun Hal­lowe’en af­ter­noon teas.

AF­TER­NOON

Ha­vant ex­cels at park life with not one, but two parks north of the town: Staunton Coun­try Park and Stansted Park. Staunton Coun­try Park comes in two parts. There’s the vis­i­tors’ cen­tre with or­na­men­tal farm, where kid­dies can feed al­pacas and goats, play area, walled gar­dens, splen­did Vic­to­rian glasshouses and the like. Then there’s the coun­try park it­self – about 1,000 acres of wood­land, lawns and lakes with three walk­ing trails, two cy­cling trails and ori­en­teer­ing cour­ses. In ad­di­tion, two long dis­tance foot­paths pass through the park: Staunton Way, run­ning to Queen El­iz­a­beth Coun­try

Park, and Ship­wright’s Way, start­ing from Alice Holt For­est and pass­ing through Ha­vant be­fore con­tin­u­ing to Portsmouth’s His­toric Dock­yard.

North of Staunton Coun­try

Park is Ha­vant Thicket, criss­crossed by nu­mer­ous paths.

East of this is Stansted Park: an im­pres­sive es­tate of 1800 acres of park­land and for­est with a

17th cen­tury coun­try house, fur­nished as if the 10th Earl of Bess­bor­ough were still at home, as its cen­tre­piece. The house and its chapel (said to have in­spired Keats when he was writ­ing The Eve of St Agnes) are only open un­til the end of Septem­ber (re­open­ing next Easter) while Stansted Maze (a cir­cu­lar maze of yew hedg­ing) is open week­ends and school hol­i­days un­til the end of Oc­to­ber. How­ever, there are plenty of other de­lights through­out the year in­clud­ing walled gar­dens, Bess­bor­ough Ar­bore­tum, Gar­den Cen­tre, Pav­il­ion Tea­room, Park Farm Shop (closed Mon­days), and Stansted Park Light Rail­way (open week­ends, Wed­nes­days and Bank Hol­i­days).

Don’t miss Hal­lowe’en at Stansted Park with the maze dressed as a spooky labyrinth and the house trans­formed into a Beauty and The Beast set­ting com­plete with fire jug­gling and scary spe­cial ef­fects (not for those of a ner­vous dis­po­si­tion)!

EVENING: EAT­ING

There’s a good choice of pubs.

For ex­am­ple, The Wheel­wright’s Arms, part of the Upham

Group (Hamp­shire-based pub and brew­ery com­pany) has an in­di­vid­ual, quirky style. Check out the chic suit­case wall­pa­per, ex­posed brick walls, chester­fields round the fire, steel and hewn plank bar and low in­dus­trial style lamps. There are plenty of cosy cor­ners and a shel­tered court­yard gar­den. Events in­clude a not-toose­ri­ous quiz night (set by cheery man­ager Dave Liv­ing­stone) that started with a cou­ple of ta­bles and now takes over half the pub. Tempt­ing menus in­clude a gluten­free menu (in­clud­ing scrummy gluten-free fish and chips) and a brand new ve­gan menu.

Old House at Home is an­other lo­cal favourite. This pub, in a quaint 17th cen­tury, tim­ber­framed build­ing, serves rus­tic home-cook­ing and fea­tures lo­cal sup­pli­ers such as Ow­ton’s sausage shar­ing plat­ters and Chal­croft Farm beef burg­ers. Or there’s The Robin Hood, an old tra­di­tional pub serv­ing hearty pub food.

Oth­er­wise Red Chilli is an authen­tic Bangladeshi restau­rant be­hind the orig­i­nal façade of the Per­se­ver­ance pub and Chilli & Lime (North Street) serves Bangladeshi and In­dian cui­sine with a twist.

EN­TER­TAIN­MENT

Aptly named The Spring is a much-loved venue and com­mu­nity hub with a fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing ex­pe­ri­ences that en­rich. The am­bi­tion is to be the UK’s lead­ing small-scale arts and her­itage cen­tre (ten years ago next year, the the­atre merged with the mu­seum).

Based in what was once the Town Hall, the the­atre pro­gramme is in­no­va­tive and en­gag­ing with an ad­ven­tur­ous mix of the­atre that’s not afraid to ex­plore new medi­ums (such as vir­tual re­al­ity) and hot top­ics (a whole day given over to dis­cussing gen­der roles) as well as com­edy, mu­sic and talks. Mean­while the Mu­seum con­tin­ues to de­velop. The lat­est is a Na­tional Lot­tery fund­ing award to record and cel­e­brate the his­tory of the town’s Kenwood Fac­tory which re­lo­cated here in the 1960s. The iconic Kenwood Chef was re­designed in Ha­vant and helped trans­form do­mes­tic drudgery post-war and pre-Bake Off.

SLEEP­ING

Rec­om­men­da­tions in­clude The Brook­field on Ha­vant Road. This com­fort­able ho­tel is known for its friendly ser­vice and is part of the De­li­cious Din­ing group – hence per­haps its rep­u­ta­tion for good food in­clud­ing tasty break­fasts, af­ter­noon teas and Sun­day roasts. Or try The Lang­stone, just over the bridge on Hayling Is­land – a mod­ern ho­tel with top notch fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing swim­ming pool, beauty treat­ments and fit­ness classes.

ABOVE:Stansted House - spec­tac­u­lar 17th cen­tury stately pile in 1800 acres of park­land

TOP: Ha­vant Park is a tra­di­tional Vic­to­rian town cen­tre park with cricket pitch and pav­il­ion and play areaABOVE: Star stud­ded blue ceil­ing in the Chapel of St Paul, Stansted Park

ABOVE: Foodie treat: Stansted Park Farm Shop sources lo­cal pro­duce in­clud­ing wild veni­son from the es­tate and game from neigh­bour­ing farms

BE­LOW: The Wheel­wright’s Arms has cosy cor­ners, quirky charm and pop­u­lar quiz nights that take over half the pub

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