Basing House was home to the illustrious Paulet family throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. William Paulet began building Basing House in 1535. The house was built on the remains of a Norman castle built by the de Ports, who later anglicised their name to St John. William Paulet became the Marquiss of Winchester and also the Lord Treasurer, serving all the Tudor monarchs in his long and successful career. The house is believed to have been incredibly impressive and became the largest private house in the country after being further extended in 1560.
Shortly after its completion, Henry VIII visited, followed over the years by all the other Tudor monarchs and James I. Elizabeth I visited the house four times, bringing massive entourages with her and these lavish visits nearly bankrupted the Paulet family.
The Paulets were Catholics and staunch Royalists and the 5th Marquiss, John Paulet, declared Basing House a Royalist garrison when Civil War began. Soldiers arrived to defend the house and improvements were made to the defences under the advice of Inigo Jones, the King’s Architect. Under siege three times during the Civil War, Basing House eventually fell to Cromwell in 1645. After the final siege John Paulet was sent to the Tower of London, and under Cromwell’s command the house was burnt and then dismantled, with much of the material being used by the residents of Old Basing to rebuild homes that had been destroyed during the fighting.
The house was given back to the Paulet family after the monarchy was restored, and a Hunting Lodge was built next to the Grange Farm Complex. The site of the original house was used as an aesthetically pleasing aspect of the lodge’s pleasure gardens.
Today, the ruins of Basing House are extensive, with rare half-moon earthworks and evidence on much of the remaining buildings of the fierce fighting that took place in the Civil War. The site has been excavated over a period of 100 years, but there is still much to discover and Community Archaeology Excavations run every year to add to the archaeological record.
The car park is a 5 minute walk from Basing House and the path runs alongside the River Loddon. You will be met in the car park and escorted to site, but children must be properly supervised during this walk. To get from Basing Grange to the Basing House ruins, pupils will need to cross a road; groups will be escorted but school staff must ensure that the road crossing is used correctly.
Basing House is mainly an outdoor site with uneven ground so it is essential that everyone has appropriate footwear; trainers or walking boots are ideal, or wellingtons in wet weather. The site is also exposed, so wet weather gear or hats and sun cream should be brought, as appropriate.
There are toilets available on both sites, at the Learning & Community Centre and at the Garrison Gate, both of which include an accessible toilet. There is an additional accessible toilet below the museum.
We would be very grateful if you could complete and return the evaluation form that will be provided after your visit. We value your feedback and will use it to continue developing and improving our sessions at Basing House.
Most importantly of all, enjoy your visit to Basing House!