Hampshire Cultural Trust

Secondary School Visits to Basing House

Civil War: History Makers at Basing House

A great day out that supports classroom learning on the topic of The Civil War, or can be used as a Humanities linked trip during Activities Week. Basing House was the last Royalist stronghold in the South East and a key site in the battle between King and Parliament – come and discover what the Civil War meant to people living in Hampshire at the time.


£5 per child, with up to 8 accompanying adults free of charge. We can accommodate up to 120 children for a full day’s programme and require an adult:child ratio of 1:15


Using a wide range of resources including costumed interpreters, museum displays, archive materials, replica and real objects, audio-visual installations, the ruins of Basing House itself, and the Learning and Community Centre resources, this day-long event enables pupils to explore key themes linked to the events of the Civil War at Basing House.


Children must be arranged into a maximum of 8 groups of 10-15 before arrival (the exact number depending on how many people are attending) and each group must ideally have an allocated member of staff who will stay with that group throughout the day.

Some activities will be fully led by Basing House staff and some will be self-led, supported by clear instructions and information cards. School staff will be asked to oversee but not lead these sessions.


There are limited toilets available at Basing House and they are located in the Learning and Community Centre and at the Garrison Gate. Fully accessible toilets are available at both these locations and also below the Museum. If required, children can also visit the shop to buy small souvenirs, soft drinks and snacks. There is no café open on site during the week. Free coach parking is available (use RG24 8AE for SatNav) and the coach park is a 5 minute walk from Basing House.


Lunch can be eaten anywhere on the site and we suggest using the Walled Garden if the weather is good, or the covered barn at Basing Grange if it is not. Packed lunches can be left at Basing Grange or in the ticket kiosk near the Walled Garden while activities take place. Large groups may prefer to split their lunch break over both sites.


For further information and to make bookings, please contact Linda Owen, tel 01256 403905, email linda.owen@hants.gov.uk



Working in teams, students will have the opportunity to explore the Basing House site and investigate objects and stories that will help them build up a picture of life in England in the early 17th century and the role that Basing House played during the Civil War.

Suggested Timetable

  • 10am - 10.30am Arrival on site. You will be met in the car park and escorted to site, where there will be a general introduction and a briefing about how the day will run
  • 10.30am - 12.15pm Groups complete morning session (see below for details)
  • 12.15pm - 12.45pm Lunch
  • 12.45pm - 14.15pm Groups complete afternoon session (see below for details)
  • 14.15pm - 14.30pm Groups walk from site to coach park – Departure from site

Four groups will do the morning session at Basing Grange while the other four groups do the GPS activity, which is carried out around the ruins of Basing House. After lunch the groups will swap over and will do the session they have not yet done.

Basing Grange Session

Each activity will last approximately 20 minutes, with each group moving from one activity to the next in turn.

Digging Up the Past (fully led)

The chance to handle archaeological evidence, examining 16th and 17th century objects that have been recovered from the site. What can we learn about Basing House from the material that was left behind?

For King or Parliament? (self led)

Listen to a short audio presentation in the Great Barn about a specific incident during the Civil War and then discuss a few key questions. What would you have done and can you put yourselves into the minds of a Royalist or Parliamentarian supporter?

Recreating the Past (self led)

Examine replica equipment that might have been carried by a soldier during the Civil War. Can you work out what the objects are and who they would have been used by? What does this tell us about the life of fighting men during this period?

Talking to the Past (fully led)

Meet a character who was living at Basing House during the Civil War and find out what life was really like for ordinary people at the time. What did they eat, how did they cope with life under siege and what did they think of the events taking place around them?

GPS Session

This will take place around the ruins of Basing House and the surrounding site. Four groups will take part in this activity at the same time, working in small teams of 4-5. They will be fully briefed by Basing House staff, who will also be on hand to help out and answer questions as the activity progresses. As the site is so large, we ask teachers to patrol the site during the course of the activity to make sure that no-one gets into any difficulties.

Each team of 4-5 students will be given a pre-programmed GPS device, full instructions on how to use it and a quiz sheet relating to specific points around the site. They have to find each point using the GPS device and answer a question at each, so that they build up a picture of what happened here during the three sieges of the Civil War. The teams will have about 45 minutes to complete the course before the answers are given out and the scores added up!

Virtual Learning Environment

Before and after your visit, you can use the virtual learning environment module Civil War: History Makers at Basing House, where you will find useful resources relating to Basing House and the Civil War. You can arrange access to this module when you book a session at Basing House.


Introduction to Basing House

Basing House was home to the illustrious Paulet family throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. William Paulet began building Basing House in 1535. The house was built on the remains of a Norman castle built by the de Ports, who later anglicised their name to St John. William Paulet became the Marquiss of Winchester and also the Lord Treasurer, serving all the Tudor monarchs in his long and successful career. The house is believed to have been incredibly impressive and became the largest private house in the country after being further extended in 1560.

Shortly after its completion, Henry VIII visited, followed over the years by all the other Tudor monarchs and James I. Elizabeth I visited the house four times, bringing massive entourages with her and these lavish visits nearly bankrupted the Paulet family.

The Paulets were Catholics and staunch Royalists and the 5th Marquiss, John Paulet, declared Basing House a Royalist garrison when Civil War began. Soldiers arrived to defend the house and improvements were made to the defences under the advice of Inigo Jones, the King’s Architect. Under siege three times during the Civil War, Basing House eventually fell to Cromwell in 1645. After the final siege John Paulet was sent to the Tower of London, and under Cromwell’s command the house was burnt and then dismantled, with much of the material being used by the residents of Old Basing to rebuild homes that had been destroyed during the fighting.

The house was given back to the Paulet family after the monarchy was restored, and a Hunting Lodge was built next to the Grange Farm Complex. The site of the original house was used as an aesthetically pleasing aspect of the lodge’s pleasure gardens.

Today, the ruins of Basing House are extensive, with rare half-moon earthworks and evidence on much of the remaining buildings of the fierce fighting that took place in the Civil War. The site has been excavated over a period of 100 years, but there is still much to discover and Community Archaeology Excavations run every year to add to the archaeological record.

Useful information

The car park is a 5 minute walk from Basing House and the path runs alongside the River Loddon. You will be met in the car park and escorted to site, but children must be properly supervised during this walk. To get from Basing Grange to the Basing House ruins, pupils will need to cross a road; groups will be escorted but school staff must ensure that the road crossing is used correctly.

Basing House is mainly an outdoor site with uneven ground so it is essential that everyone has appropriate footwear; trainers or walking boots are ideal, or wellingtons in wet weather. The site is also exposed, so wet weather gear or hats and sun cream should be brought, as appropriate.

There are toilets available on both sites, at the Learning & Community Centre and at the Garrison Gate, both of which include an accessible toilet. There is an additional accessible toilet below the museum.


We would be very grateful if you could complete and return the evaluation form that will be provided after your visit. We value your feedback and will use it to continue developing and improving our sessions at Basing House.

Most importantly of all, enjoy your visit to Basing House!