Things to see and do in Hartley Wintney
- Credit: Archant
It’s been consistently voted as Britain’s best place to live, and it’s not hard to see why
A potted history
Village green? Tick. Duckpond? Tick. Consistently voted Britain’s best place to live in the annual quality of life survey? Tick and tick again.
Hartley Wintney sits in Hart district,and if you reckon its name is just a little hard to pronounce, spare a thought for those back in the 13th century who had to tackle the mouthful that is ‘Hertleye Wynteneye’. But the village goes back further than that even – dinosaurs once roamed here and the settlement moved into the ownership of King William the Conquereror after 1066 and thrived on its reputation as a place to hunt deer for more than 600 years. Indeed, its very name is said to refer to ‘deer in a clearing’.
The village sits astride what is now the A30, a former London stagecoach route and popular place for highwaymen to ply their trade.
The highwaymen may have gone but there’s plenty left, including the beautiful Trafalgar Oaks. Planted as acorns in 1805 by patriotic Lady Mildmay, to help ensure the nation would always have enough timber for fighting ships, they are understood to be the only surviving plantation of their type from that time.
And, like many places, Hartley Wintney had its dark times, too. The 1881 census recorded 84 inmates, many of them tragically described as ‘imbecile’, in the local workhouse, which has now been converted to housing.
- 1 Win a holiday for two on the Isles of Scilly
- 2 12 of the best places to eat al fresco in Yorkshire
- 3 Sussex pubs with beer gardens to visit this summer
- 4 Great pubs with pretty beer gardens in Kent
- 5 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 6 21 of the best places to eat al fresco in Hampshire
- 7 Win a short break in London at The Dilly on Piccadilly
- 8 16 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 9 10 National Garden Scheme open gardens to visit in Cheshire this summer
- 10 19 great places to eat outdoors in Cheshire after lockdown
General Henry ‘Hangman; Hawley, famous for his brutality to the Scots after the Battle of Culloden lived at nearby West Green House, which itself was the target of an IRA bomb in 1990.
Modern Hartley Wintney bears little sign of this sadness. After a flurry of activity during World War II, when troops were billeted in the village, it has taken on a new guise as a destination. Lifestyle stores and restaurants undoubtedly help – as does the weekly market. And, with the Hartley Wintney Preservation Society – 210 family subscriptions and counting – keeping an eye on the local character and appearance, there’s no reason to believe this thriving village won’t continue to top the best place to live league for decades to come.
Travelling by car, leave the M3 at Junction 5, taking the A287 north towards Hook. When you reach the A30 turn right and follow the road through Hook into the village. The nearest station, Winchfield, will take you to London Waterloo and Portsmouth to the south. The village is served by the Parish Council’s Community Bus which links to the station, as well as Camberley and Hook, and Stagecoach runs a service between Aldershot, Fleet and Phoenix Geen.
What's going on
Lovers of beautiful gardens, elegant shops, antiques and walks - are in luck. And thanks to the efforts of the parish council and others, so are artists, allotment holders, mums and tots, quilters, Scouts and Guides – there are groups looking after all these interests and more.
Lovers of antiques should mark September 18 2018, when Elsie’s Vintage Fair takes place at the WI Hall. And if sport’s your thing - Hartley Wintney cricket club is believed to be one of the oldest in Britain, and the football club was founded in 1897.
A bite to eat
For that quick lunch or girlie catch-up – plus the chance to sit outside in sheltered, sunny surroundings - head to the Courtyard Café on the High Street. It serves the kind of food you always hope to find, including breakfast honey and raisin granola with yogurt and fruit compote, or a sharing baked camembert with garlic, thyme and blossom honey with rustic bread and plum chutney. Prefer the pub atmos? Then pop into Hampshire Life Food & Drink Award winning The Phoenix Inn on London Road for dishes including River Test smoked trout, roasted rump of Botley lamb with crushed potatoes and courgete provencale, and Bakewell Tart with clotted cream.
If you’re looking to take food home – especially of the yummy cake variety, rock up to the Country Market which runs every Friday at the WI Hut in Green Lane.
Florist Julie Allen runs Moutan Flowers on Hartley Wintney High Street. Originally trained at art school she decided to re-train as a florist because: “I spent so much time wandering into flower shops looking for flowers to paint and just fell in love with the craft.”
Her first shop opened in Odiham in 2002 and five years later she learned that Hedi, the florist in Hartley Wintney, was retiring. “She’d been here 30 years and because I knew Hartley Wintney was such a beautiful village, it seemed the perfect move,” says Julie.
She and husband Jason, a freelance photographer, moved into the village in 2008. “When we moved here things were a bit quieter but shortly afterwards there seemed to be a flurry of really nice shops opening,” she says. “It’s just got busier and more vibrant, people were either improving their stores or opening up new ones, and now we seem to have become a real destination for people to visit.”
One thing she’s always noticed is the friendliness. “One of the girls who works for us has moved out of London to Hartley Wintney and found it really strange at first that she’d be walking along and people would say hello,” says Julie. “I had to explain to her that this is typical of village life!”
Julie and Jason have moved again but Julie still works in her shop, which is convenient for picking up her son after school. “You can just walk there and chat to the other mums,” she says.
Jason also coaches the Hartley Wintney Under 9 football team. “The football and cricket are excellent here if you like sport,” she says.
One of the things she enjoys is watching the world go by on the High Street while she works. “Once you’ve been a florist I don’t think you can do anything else, it’s a really special job, about people as well as flowers,” she says.
"Our customers are lovely people and you get to know them and about their lives. You can tell they love living here too because Hartley Wintney’s got everything a village could want.”
Did you know?
After losing his legs in an air accident in 1931, World War II flying ace Sir Douglas Bader spent much time convalescing at The Grange in Hartley Wintney, home of fellow RAF pilot and legendary England rugby player, Sir Adrian Stoop. Despite falling over on The Grange’s lawns while he learned to walk again, Bader learned how to play golf, eventually playing at Hartley Wintney golf course.