Hampshire Cultural Trust

Welcome to Hampshire

This map pinpoints some of the most exciting cultural venues in Hampshire.

We will showcase, connect and empower its creative economy


Jack Poole - OUR Local Hero!

Jack Poole has been a volunteer at SEARCH - a hands-on centre for history and natural sciences - in Gosport for many years, helping with family events and inspiring younger museum visitors. 

Jack was a huge hit at SEARCH’s recent Museums at Night event where he posed for over two hours as a museum mannequin, standing still then giving visitors a fright by suddenly moving. Not an easy task for a 90 year old! 

Last year,SEARCH manager Wendy Redman nominated Jack for the Local Hero category of the Churchill Awards, a special awards scheme which honours the work and achievements of the over 65s in all areas of society in the UK. The Local Hero award was voted for by listeners to Wave FM, and Jack was their winner.

On Tuesday 14 March, Jack and Wendy attended a celebratory lunch at The Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park, where they rubbed shoulders with other award winners. These included Dame Barbara Windsor, Julian Lloyd Webber, Angela Rippon, Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Barry Cryer, amongst others.

Many congratulations to Jack for winning this incredible award and a big thank you from everyone at Hampshire Culutral Trust for your years of dedication and commitment to volunteering.

Healthwatch Week

Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Better Life Chances team have been working in partnership with Healthwatch Hampshire to capture the stories of people with dementia and their carers around their experience of local health care services. Over 50 people took part in poetry making sessions, at three adult day care centres run by Age Concern Hampshire.  These stories were brought together as poems by Portsmouth based poet, Maggie Sawkins and have been published into an anthology.

During Healthwatch Week, which takes place between 20 and 24 March, you will be able to enjoy a selection of these poems as we share them through a short film within some of our venues across the county. The film will be shown at Ashcroft Arts Centre, Eastleigh Museum, Forest Arts Centre, Red House Museum, West End Centre and Andover Museum throughout the week. There will also be a limited number of anthologies available to take away for a small donation.



Young crime-fighters have the chance to stop a fiendish plot to steal the Crown Jewels at a brand new, all-action exhibition at Milestones Museum.

Around the World Brick Adventure, which opened at the Basingstoke museum earlier this month, is a fantastic, live-action LEGO® challenge, where The Tiger Club – an international crime-fighting club just for children – has discovered a plot to steal the Crown Jewels.

100 incredible LEGO models have been built by Bright Bricks, the UK-based professional LEGO building company, including scale models of world-famous landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and Sydney Opera House, as well as exotic animals and fabulous treasures. There are also fantastic life-size models of a pouncing tiger, a kangaroo family, and king of the sands, Tutankhamun.

Hidden in amongst the models is a trail of clues left behind by the Tiger Club, which globetrotters can use along with their very own Around the World Brick Adventure map to stop the thieves and save the Crown Jewels. Historic objects from the collections cared for by Hampshire Cultural Trust will be displayed alongside the LEGO models to complement the exhibition theme.

As well as being able to solve the main, live-action plot, there are many other LEGO brick activities to enjoy. Visitors are invited to come along to Milestones on Sundays in February and March, as well as Hampshire half term, 20-24 February, to live-build a 5 metre model of Big Ben. There are also LEGO play tables with a world map, a free play area, a LEGO graffiti wall, a LEGO Minifigure™ make-and-take, a LEGO mosaic activity at weekends and during school holidays, plus a fabulous Tiger Club LEGO badge to make and take home.

Janet Owen, CEO of Hampshire Cultural Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to be welcoming a LEGO exhibition back to Milestones, this year with another exciting adventure challenge for LEGO fans of all ages to enjoy. Around the World Brick Adventure follows on the huge success of Quest for the Brick Kingdom in 2016, which saw us breaking visitor records at Milestones, and I have no doubt that this year’s LEGO spectacular will be just as big a success.’

Around the World Brick Adventure runs until 23 April. Entry is included in the normal admission price, and there is a 20% discount when tickets are pre-booked online. Full details and opening times can be found at www.hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk.

Mayor’s Choice

Mayor of Winchester Cllr Jane Rutter hosted a private view at City Space in Winchester Discovery Centre on 9 February to celebrate Mayor’s Choice, her personal selection from the collections at Hampshire Cultural Trust. The Mayor toured the stores with Sam Butcher, Ross Turle and Helen Rees from the collections team to select works of art and interesting artefacts, and then Sam curated the exhibition and worked with Mark Barden, City Space exhibition co-ordinator and the venue team to install the exhibition.


Mayor’s Choice is an annual exhibition which puts the collections on display for the public to see and enjoy. The exhibition continues until 26 February. There are fascinating watercolours showing local landscapes and buildings as they appeared before the age of photography, and lots of family-friendly activities for half term visitors.


Uncover the secrets of the dodo at the Natural History Museum at Tring

Discover the dodo’s story and how the view of them as fat, clumsy, and rather stupid is being overturned. These new findings are revealed in the new exhibition, Dodos: Old bird, new tricks opening Friday 10 February.

This free, family exhibition explores how scientists searched for the truth behind the legend, and how a single marsh on a tropical island became the key to our understanding of this mysterious bird.

‘It’s been so much fun creating this exhibition,’ says exhibition curator Alice Adams, ‘The rare and historic specimens are incredible but I’m just as excited about the games - I can’t wait to see families digging for dodo bones, trying out their skull identification skills and exploring the very latest development in dodo science with the 3D digital dodo.’

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • One of the very few composite (made by assembling bones from different dodos) dodo skeletons in existence.
  • A 400-year old book with the first published illustration of the dodo – an account of Jacob Van Neck’s second Dutch expedition to Indonesia.
  • A selection of some of the best preserved dodo bones in the world – on loan from Hampshire Cultural Trust.


© The Trustees of the NHM, London

Explorers discovered the dodos’ home, Mauritius, in the late 1500s. In just 90 years dodos were extinct. They died out so quickly that hardly any evidence has been left behind: we may never know what they really looked like or how they lived.

‘Amazingly, we know more about about the population, nesting behaviour, eggs and young of dinosaurs, than about a bird that disappeared in very recent historical times due to human interference’, explains Museum avian palaeontologist and artist Julian Pender Hume.

‘When people first went looking for more dodos and couldn’t find any, there was consternation. No-one had thought before that a whole species could cease to exist.’

A handful of brief eyewitness accounts, illustrations of variable accuracy and head and foot fragments of museum specimens were all that remained. Then in 1885, George Clark, a schoolmaster in Mauritius, discovered a source of hundreds of dodo bones - preserved in the bottom of a marsh.

Natural History Museum founder Richard Owen used these bones to scientifically describe the bird and construct a whole dodo skeleton. Our understanding of dodos had advanced little since then, but recent research has led us to reassess them. We now know that they were slimmer and more agile than thought and probably just as intelligent as related birds, such as pigeons. New discoveries are being made at the original excavation site in Mauritius and by re-examining specimens in collections around the world.

The exhibition will be displaying a selection of preserved bones sent by George Clark to his friend William Curtis, on loan from Hampshire Cultural Trust. The exceptional quality of these bones has only recently been recognised and they are now being used for scientific research.

© The Trustees of the NHM, London

For more on the lost world of the dodo, visit the NHM website

The exhibition runs from 10 February to 25 June 2017.

Poetry that 'Speaks Out' to the Community


The Speak Out Poetry project’s public showcase event took place on Friday 13 January at Ashcroft Arts Centre. People came along to hear a collection of poems written and read by Maggie Sawkins; a Portsmouth based poet who won the  2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work. These works were created over three months in the latter part of 2016 with over 50 people during poetry making sessions at three adult day care centres run by Age Concern Hampshire.




The project was kindly funded by Healthwatch Hampshire through a Community Cash Fund and managed by Laura Bullivant, Cultural Engagement Manager – Older People within the Better Life Chances team. Maggie was also joined by Southampton poet Chris Bennett who worked closely with Maggie to support the poetry making sessions she devised for the purposes of creating this collection of work. To find out more about the Better Life Chances and their work in the community, please visit the website.



The Mysterious Miss Austen

The Mysterious Miss Austen

13 May – 24 July 2017, The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre







2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of the universally admired author Jane Austen – and Hampshire Cultural Trust is coordinating a yearlong series of events to celebrate her creativity and talent.

The centrepiece of the celebrations is the exhibition The Mysterious Miss Austen, which opens on 13 May 2017 (until 24 July) at The Gallery in Winchester Discovery Centre.

Presented in partnership with Jane Austen’s House Museum, this landmark exhibition will explore Jane’s life, work and her relationship to Hampshire. The county was not only Jane Austen’s birthplace (and where you can visit her grave today), but its people, landscape and the society in which she moved provided inspiration for her novels, classics such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility.

The exhibition will include around 80 items, including paintings, watercolours, prints, illustrations, manuscripts, letters, clothing and other objects – all generously loaned from private and public collections in the UK and abroad.

The centrepiece of The Mysterious Miss Austen will be five portraits of Jane together under one roof for the very first time. The pencil and watercolour sketch of Jane (featured above) by her sister Cassandra Austen (circa 1810) and the hollow cut silhouette by an unknown artist from circa 1810-15 will be familiar to many from their usual home in the National Portrait Gallery, London. However the three other portraits, all from private collections, will probably not be known to visitors: one has not been seen in public for more than 40 years; another is the 1869 James Andrews watercolour over pencil portrait of the author, made famous after her nephew’s biography of his aunt, published in 1870.

Among other treasures on show in The Mysterious Miss Austen will be the manuscript of an alternative ending to her final novel Persuasion in her own hand, on loan from the British Library. Persuasion, which deals with love lost and second chances, was written in 1815/16 when Austen’s health was failing (it was published posthumously in 1818). The two chapters which will be on display in Hampshire are unique as the only surviving manuscript pages of a novel Jane Austen planned and completed for publication. She subsequently became dissatisfied with this first ending and rewrote the chapters in the published form we have them today. But this first ending offers visitors a chance to glimpse in intimate detail the novelist at work.

Another manuscript on loan from The British Library is a volume of teenage writings, entitled by Austen Volume the Second and written when she was just 16 years old. Among the items in Volume the Second is the spoof History of England, a comic account of England from Henry IV to Charles I as told by ‘a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant historian.’ This parody of published history books includes coloured illustrations by Jane’s sister Cassandra.

There are only a handful of items that survive today which actually belonged to Jane and can be traced directly back to her – and Hampshire Cultural Trust is fortunate to have three in the collections it cares for. The exhibition will feature her silk pelisse coat – a twill weave with a small repeated pattern of oak leaves in a golden straw colour on a warm brown background (the design dates it circa 1813-15). The Mysterious Miss Austen will also include her purse and her case for sewing materials.

Other fascinating loans include a rare, photo-illustrated copy of American writer Oscar Fay Adams Story of Jane Austen from 1897 which is travelling to Winchester from Goucher College, Baltimore along with other items from its Jane Austen Memorabilia Collection. A Friendship Book belonging to Rev. James Stanier Clarke, the Librarian of the Prince Regent (later King George IV), and an acquaintance of Jane’s contains an 1815 portrait some believe to be of the author (the firth portrait in the exhibition). First editions of her works and fascinating personal letters, early illustrations for her works and images of Winchester in the early 19th century, plus items of the kind Jane would have experienced in her day to day life will all complete this fascinating survey of the renowned writer.

Bringing a contemporary view, Grayson Perry’s Jane Austen in E17 ceramic vase (2009, Manchester City Art Gallery) is evidence of her lasting legacy and influence on the arts.

The Mysterious Miss Austen is jointly curated by Louise West, former curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum and chair of the Jane Austen 200 working group, and Professor Kathryn Sutherland from Oxford University, a leading Austen scholar.

Louise West says “The bringing together for the first time of 5 portraits of Jane Austen will, we hope, provoke reaction and excite argument, about the mysterious Miss Austen. This is a new way of exploring Austen’s identity and we are thrilled to be sharing this opportunity with the public.”

Professor Kathryn Sutherland says “If you think you know Jane Austen, think again! Jane Austen is our most intimate writer – the writer we each feel speaks to and for us – and yet we know so little about her. What we do know is built upon ambiguities, contradictions and paradox: even how she looked is something of a mystery. ‘The Mysterious Miss Austen’ will celebrate and challenge the reputation of our best-known, unknowable writer.”

During 2017 there will also be smaller scale, sister exhibitions on the life and works of Jane Austen in Hampshire at the Gallery at Gosport Discovery Centre and the Sainsbury Gallery at Basingstoke’s Willis Museum.

Jane Austen in Basingstoke. Retail and Romance: Jane goes to the Ball

29 July - 7 October, The Sainsbury Gallery at the Willis Museum, Basingstoke

Visitors to this exhibition may be surprised to learn that Jane Austen knew the town of Basingstoke well and attended dances in its Assembly Rooms. Austen wrote about the world she knew, and that most definitely included how one behaved at a ball, what one wore and what one ate – the gentry, the gowns and the gossip will all be explored in this exhibition. She was an avid consumer herself, and her letters evoke the period with descriptions of what she wore and when.

The Navy at the Time of Jane Austen: Fighting, Flirting and Fortune

15 July – 20 September, The Gallery at Gosport Discovery Centre

In her later novels, Jane Austen describes a new type of hero, one who has made his own fortune through hard work and intelligence. The inspiration for the naval officers in Mansfield Park and Persuasion undoubtedly came from her brothers, Francis and Charles. Both already making names for themselves in their chosen careers, her brothers were on active service in this golden era of the British Navy - the victorious Battle of Trafalgar had been fought just a few short years before. The Navy at the Time of Jane Austen - fittingly on display at the port of Gosport - will look at the danger and the drama as well as the entertaining and social life aboard ship, through her novels, her letters and contemporary accounts.

Janet Owen, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, says “Jane Austen has been a much loved figure worldwide for more than two centuries, so we are pulling out all the stops to celebrate her life and works here in Hampshire. Whether you are a Jane Austen scholar or have just enjoyed one of the many TV or film adaptations of her works, these exhibitions are an ideal way to explore and celebrate her legacy.”

These exhibitions are just a small handful of the events taking place in Hampshire for Jane Austen 200, for the latest news and information visit www.janeausten200.co.uk

Jane Austen sculpture design unveiled in Basingstoke

A life-size bronze of Jane Austen is to be placed in the Market Square in Basingstoke to mark 200 years since the Hampshire author’s death.

Basingstoke sculptor Adam Roud has been commissioned to create the sculpture, which he hopes will represent Jane not only as a writer, but also as a strong-willed and independent character in her own right.

Jane was born in 1775 in Steventon, just a few miles outside Basingstoke, where she lived for more than half her life. The places, people and landscapes of the borough had an enormous influence on her novels, and she created the first draft of Pride and Prejudice whilst living at Steventon, where her father was vicar of St Nicholas Church. Jane Austen knew Basingstoke well: she attended social gatherings at the Assembly Rooms in Market Square, near the current-day Lloyds Bank, and regularly visited family friends at the Vyne, Oakley Hall and Ashe House, amongst others.

A maquette of the sculpture was unveiled on Thursday 19 January by MP Maria Miller, who has been working with Hampshire Cultural Trust to bring the project to fruition.

“Jane Austen is a writer of worldwide repute,” commented Maria Miller. “Born in the borough, she is a woman who broke the mould in her generation. I am delighted that she is to be recognized in a sculpture by Adam Roud. It is a fitting tribute to her status not just as a local writer, but as one of the finest and most-loved authors the world has known.”

Janet Owen, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, commented:

“We are proud to be involved with this project in this, the 200th anniversary year of Jane Austen’s death. There will be many events across the county celebrating not only the writings of this extraordinary woman, but her life in her home county of Hampshire.”

To help raise funds to celebrate Jane’s links with Basingstoke with this  life sized sculpture please donate here.


The Red House Museum and Gardens held its second annual Christmas Market last weekend, attracting over 1300 visitors. With more than 30 different stalls, children’s activities, music, the museum’s café and, of course, Santa’s Grotto for visitors to enjoy, this year the market was extended to two days, resulting in record takings. Museum staff and volunteers worked closely with VA Productions, who organise speciality markets across Dorset and the New Forest, to prepare the museum for the market, with all three floors of the museum as well as the gardens packed with stalls and attractions.


Jenny Stevens, Curator of the Willis Museum looking through the glass

An acclaimed exhibition about Alice in Wonderland which opened in Basingstoke earlier this month uniquely features a very special object – Alice’s real-life looking glass.

Alice in Wonderland opened at the Sainsbury Gallery in Basingstoke’s Willis Museum, operated by Hampshire Cultural Trust, on 12 November. The exhibition follows a chronological path from the first time that Lewis Carroll told his story to Alice Liddell and her sisters during a boat trip on the Thames in 1862, through to the different ways in which generations of illustrators, artists, musicians, filmmakers and designers have interpreted the story and its characters in the 150 years since it was first written.

A touring exhibition from the British Library, Alice in Wonderland draws together an astonishing array of material from the original manuscript to computer games. However the undoubted star of the show is the mirror itself. On loan from the New Forest Centre in Lymington, Alice Liddell’s mirror – or looking glass – was a cherished possession when she live at Cuffnells House in Lyndhurst. Carroll, or Charles Ludwidge Dodgson as he was actually called, was a family friend of the Liddell family. A lecturer in mathematics at Oxford, he invented the story to entertain the daughters of his friend and colleague, Henry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church Oxford.

A key highlight of the exhibition is a first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by John Tenniel. Carroll’s own pen and ink illustrations for the original manuscript were influenced by the work of his friend, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and, in turn, these clearly informed Tenniel’s illustrations. The original printers’ woodblocks for this first edition are also on show, and these have a strong local connection. Macmillan Publishers, who have a long association with Basingstoke, were the original publishers of Alice in Wonderland and the woodblocks, which were used to create the electrotypes from which the Tenniel illustrations were printed, were held for many years by the company. In 1985, they were "rediscovered" in the vault of Macmillan’s bank, and a unique printing was made from them before they were deposited at the British Library in 1991 so that they could be conserved and made available to exhibit.  

Also on display are a silent film from 1903 by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow which was the very first film adaption of the book, early Alice memorabilia including wooden figurines, tea tins and a postage stamp case, plus two new computer game concepts created by winners of the 2015 Alice in Wonderland-themed Off the Map competition run by the British Library and GameCity.

Janet Owen, Chief Executive of Hampshire Cultural Trust, says “The story of Alice has fascinated successive generations and we are delighted to host this touring British Library exhibition, which is part of national and international celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the publication of this iconic book. We are also delighted that we are able to give visitors the unique chance to see the very looking glass that inspired a classic. We hope that visitors to Alice in Wonderland will find new enjoyment and inspiration from the collections on show.”

The Sainsbury Gallery at the Willis Museum is the only venue in the south to host the show, which runs until 14 January of next year. Admission is free.


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