Everything you need to know about Odiham

Fancy a pub lunch? The George offers some great homecooked dishes

Fancy a pub lunch? The George offers some great homecooked dishes - Credit: Archant

With a castle once fit for a king and a picturesque High Street lined with Georgian houses and independent shops, Odiham has long been a popular place to live and visit.

A potted history

As always, the first ever written record of Odiham’s existence appeared in the Domesday Book (1086). Odiham has been spelt very differently throughout history, such as Wudiham and Odiam. One of the most significant historical sites in Odiham is the castle which King John added to his collection in 1214. It cost him over £1,000 to build, but meant he had a stronghold halfway between Windsor and Winchester. During the 14th century Parliament sat at the castle and King David II of Scotland was also imprisoned there for 11 years. From the 15th century its only use was as a hunting lodge.

The Pest House in the village once housed local people and travellers who suffered from the plague and other diseases. It was an ‘isolation hospital’ and is one of just five surviving examples. It was the Odiham Society who restored the building in 1981 to form a Heritage Centre.

It was also in Odiham that the Royal Veterinary Society was formed, thanks to the Odiham Agricultural Society. It’s fair to say that the foundation led to the birth of the veterinary profession in Britain.

Shop till you drop

Like so many of Hampshire’s towns, Odiham has its fair share of small, independent shops. Taking a stroll down the picturesque High Street will take you past Originals Jewellery, Katherine Jane and Caviste, to name just a few. Also dotted around are a selection of traditional shops – Swirleeze sweet shop and Lloyds Pharmacy plus there’s the award-winning farm shop, Newlyn’s, on the outskirts – a great place to pick up some beautifully fresh produce and bits and bobs for over the festive season.

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Food & drink

Italian restaurant El Castello (01256 704281) is on the High Street which promises to ‘deliver culinary delight to even the most discerning of palates’. On its menu you will find traditional favourites such as spaghetti bolognese and a delicious sounding list of pizzas. If Italian isn’t your thing try The Grapevine Bistro Restaurant (01256 701122) which is also on the High Street. The family-owned restaurant serves seasonal food made from fresh, locally sourced produce on their A la Carte menu. Try the roasted rack of English lamb or whole lemon sole. There are also a couple of good pubs in Odiham, including The Bell in the Bury and The George Hotel and Restaurant. Plus don’t forget if it’s just a cuppa and piece of cake you’re after visit The Snug, a small but perfectly formed coffee shop on the High Street.

Out & about

Once you’ve window shopped and scoffed some tea and cake on the High Street take a trip to Odiham Castle – one of the three strongholds built by King John, to add to the 90 he had already. The footpath has recently been restored and a there have been lots of new trees planted that show you the way into the ruins. It’s open every day and admission is free.

It may be a little too chilly to take to the canal on a boat at the moment, but come March the whole family could get onboard at Galleon marine which is based in Odiham. You can hire anything from a narrowboat to row boats and canoes to explore the canal.

A Site of Special Scientific interest, Odiham Common is well worth a visit. In the summer it’s great for picnics and it’s just as picturesque on frosty winter mornings when you might just spot some local wildlife.

Getting around

Great links to London north on the M3 has made Odiham a popular place for commuters to call home. Being in the north of Hampshire also means neighbouring counties Surrey and Berkshire are about a 15-minute drive away. The nearest train station is in Hook, about eight minutes away, with services to London Waterloo and Basingstoke (among others). There are regular bus services too, going from the High Street to Hook, Crookham, Fleet, Farnborough and Frimley.

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