Visit Places of Interest
The coastline of the Solent is dotted with the remains of our defence heritage and the industries that this shoreline once supported. It provided a safe anchorage for thousands of years and consequently it displays a rich heritage of commerce and defence. It is the most important site in the country for its military and naval historic features. There are over forty castles, museums, great ships and stately homes which have played a major role in shaping the history of the country. Of particular importance are the Henry VIII castles along the coast, and the ring of Palmerston Sea Forts around Portsmouth and Gosport.
The Solent has many historic towns and villages such as Lymington, Hamble, Warsash, Emsworth, and Buckler's Hard. The Solent and the Hamble River were popular centres for boat building in the last century, as supplies of wood were plentiful. Bucklers Hard in the New Forest has a re-created village, to show life in past times. On the coast, especially west of Lymington, are significant remains of old salterns (salt workings).
On the Isle of Wight there is evidence of settlements dating as far back as 1900 BC. Cowes has a long maritime heritage and is known as the most important site in the World for yachting. Yarmouth is one of the Island's oldest towns and was the seat of the Governor to the island. There is still a castle there which was one of four 'blockhouses' that Henry VIII built as a defence against the French.
Due to its long maritime heritage, for both defence and commerce, the Solent has many important collections of castles, historic ships, museums, stately homes and fortifications. These attractions have all been grouped together under a 'Defence of the Realm' banner to provide a comprehensive guide for visitors wanting to find out about and visit these sites. A list of the heritage attractions found on the Isle of Wight can be viewed at www.islandbreaks.co.uk or telephone 01983 813800.
Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard
Flagship Portsmouth is one of the most popular Defence of the Realm attractions and charts Britain's naval history. Located in the Portsmouth historic dockyard, it hosts a series of magnificent historic ships including HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the Mary Rose as well as the fascinating Mary Rose Museum, Royal Naval Museum and Action Stations, an interactive attraction on the modern-day Navy.
For more information telephone 023 9286 1533 or visit www.historicdockyard.co.uk.
The Solent is of national importance for maritime archaeology. The study of its drowned coastline provides valuable information about historic changes to the coastline and our past maritime heritage. There are 500 known shipwreck sites. A good place to learn about this rich legacy of maritime heritage is at the Sunken History Exhibition, which is housed in the Maritime Heritage Centre, Fort Victoria on the Isle of Wight. The exhibition brings to life ships claimed by the treacherous coast of the Island, the work of maritime archaeologists and the Lost Land of the Solent.
Further information on maritime archaeology is available from the Hants and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology on telephone, 023 8059 3290 or at www.hwtma.org.uk. Information on the Island's archaeology can also be viewed at www.invectis.co.uk/iow/archae.htm.
Other Places of Interest
In addition to the Defence of the Realm sites there are other attractions around the Solent which provide a fascinating look at its history, culture and other important features. Below is a selection of some of the popular attractions.
- Emsworth Museum (Tel: 01243 373780).
- Fishbourne Roman Palace (Tel: 01243 785 859).
- Hovercraft Museum (Tel: 023 9255 2090).
- Natural History Museum, Southsea (Tel: 023 9282 7261).
- Southampton Maritime Museum (Tel: 023 8022 3941).
- Southsea Aquarium (Tel: 01637 878134).
- Totton and Eling Heritage Centre (Tel: 023 8066 6339).
Isle of Wight
- Classic Boat Museum (Tel: 01983 533493).
- Cowes Maritime Museum (Tel: 01983 823433).
- Fort Victoria Marine Aquarium (Tel: 01983 760283).
- Osborne House (Tel: 01983 200022).
- Quarr Abbey (Tel: 01983 882420).
- Museum of Island History (Tel: 01983 823847).
- Shipwreck Centre (Tel: 01983 872223).