Hooked on Hook

For anyone travelling to north Hampshire, Hook and its surrounding villages have always proved popular places to explore

Over the past decade Hook has had somewhat of a facelift. The village that started life as a traditional hamlet saw over 7,000 residents in 2001, a figure which no doubt has grown magnificently since then. For somewhere that is known to most as a stop off, it certainly has attracted an awful lot of permanent visitors and is now fast becoming a small town. From very early on in its creation, Hook has been a regular stop-off, the growing development of the London to Exeter stage coach route meant that many an ale was swigged as travellers made there way through. The arrival of the railway in the 1830’s provided a vital link to London and Basingstoke and when Hook was awarded its own station in 1883, local residents rejoiced at the prospect of delivering their wares to neighbouring counties. Since then Hook has proved to be the ideal place to settle down, with beautiful countryside on one side and extremely efficient transport routes on the other, it seems that nowadays everybody wants to come and stay.

 Historical Hook facts• Hook’s Evangelical Free Church was paid for by the Burberry family (of clothing fame).• Following the Second World War, Hook was being considered by London County Council as a possible ‘overspill’ New Town. After deliberations they turned their attentions to Basingstoke instead.• Hook is home to the Hook Eagle Morris Men – the strangely dressed, black-faced group of dancers who are well known throughout Hampshire.

Eat localThere are two fantastic farm shops close by to Hook: Wellington Farm Shop (just off the A33), which sells Hereford beef raised in Stratfield Saye Park, as well as freshly-baked breads, hand made sausages and other store cupboard staples. There’s also the award-winning Newlyns Farm Shop, stocking everything from pies to puddings, as well as locally reared meats.Wellington Farm Shop: 0118 9326132Newlyns Farm Shop: 01256 704128

While you’r there…• Visit Odiham Castle, which is less than a mile away. This was one of just three strongholds owned by King John and took seven years to build. • Head to Hartley Wintney to White Lion Antiques. The centre has over 60 dealers on site selling everything from furniture to clocks.• Just five miles away is Stratfield Saye, home of the Dukes of Wellington since 1817. Peruse the fascinating collection of paintings. Visit www.stratfield-saye.co.uk

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