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Charles Dickens Birthplace

Charles Dickens Birthplace

Portsmouth

Museums

If you haven’t been to a museum in years for fear of drab venues and broken pots in glass cases, you may be interested to hear that museums in England have been transported into the 21st century. Prepare yourself for a surprise as the South East has some of the most dynamic museums in England, with more hundreds across the region.

In place of stuffy rooms and wardens shushing for quiet, you’ll find inspirational and interactive spaces with engaging and accessible exhibits from retro cars to animatronics. Whether you’re into heritage, maritime, wildlife, or sport, you’re bound to find a museum that’s right up your street.

The South East is home to two brilliant Dockyards: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in Hampshire and The Historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent. Discover maritime history onboard some of the most famous war ships in British Naval history and find out what life was like for sailors in years gone by.

Car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the world-famous National Motor Museum at Beaulieu in Hampshire’s New Forest. See one of the largest car collections held by any of the museums in England, with 250 cars of every age including land speed record-breakers Golden Arrow and Bluebird.

Many of Britain’s best-loved authors lived in the South East and found the region inspirational for their work. Explore the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire, the  house where Jane Austen wrote some of her famous novels, and visit the many locations in Kent that tell of the life and works of Charles Dickens, such as the Guildhall Museum in Rochester and the Dickens House Museum.

Other museums in the South East that will help expand your curiosity include the Ashmolean Museum and the River & Rowing Museum, both in Oxfordshire; Mercedes-Benz World in Surrey; Dinosaur Isle on the Isle of Wight; The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Buckinghamshire; and The Look Out Discovery Centre in Berkshire.

In this section

Attractions

Willesborough Windmill

Willesborough Windmill

Built in 1869 and now restored as a working smock mill where visitors can see the miller's cottage and displays in the barn. There is also an...

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  1. Willesborough Windmill

    Add Willesborough Windmill to your Itinerary

    Willesborough Windmill

    Type

    Heritage / Visitor Centre

    Location

    Ashford

    135 year old Smock Mill, in course of restoration. Miller's cottage, restored Hornsby 14hp gas oil engine which drives one pair of stones.

  2. Add Dinosaur Isle to your Itinerary

    Dinosaur Isle

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    Sandown

    In a spectacular pterosaur shaped building on Sandown’s blue flag beach walk back through fossilised time and meet life sized replica dinosaurs

  3. Add Southsea Castle to your Itinerary

    Southsea Castle

    Type

    Castle / Fort

    Location

    Southsea, Portsmouth

    Built in 1544, the Castle was part of a series of fortifications constructed by Henry VIII around England's coasts to protect the country from invaders. FREE ENTRY.

  4. Add Gilbert White's House & Garden and The Oates Collection to your Itinerary

    Gilbert White's House & Garden and The Oates Collection

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    Alton

    Historic house and garden, home of Gilbert White, author of 'The Natural History of Selborne'. Exhibition on Frank Oates, explorer and Capt Lawrence Oates of Antarctic fame.

  5. Add Jane Austen's House Museum to your Itinerary

    Jane Austen's House Museum

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    Alton

    The novelist Jane Austen is known worldwide for her popular novels describing the society of pre-industrial England.

  6. Add Bexhill Museum to your Itinerary

    Bexhill Museum

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    BEXHILL-ON-SEA

    A friendly, local museum with a surprising variety of displays spread over three galleries, lillustrating the geology, natural and local history and archaeology of the area.

  7. Add Towner to your Itinerary

    Towner

    Type

    Gallery

    Location

    Eastbourne

    Towner, the contemporary art museum, is Eastbourne's new art gallery and centre for the visual arts in the South East.

  8. Add The 1642 Living History Village to your Itinerary

    The 1642 Living History Village

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    Rowner, Gosport

    A representational Hampshire village set in the year 1642. Timber and thatched buildings, occupants dressed and speak in 17thC style.

  9. Add Museum of Oxford to your Itinerary

    Museum of Oxford

    Type

    Museum

    Location

    Oxford

    History of the city and university. Discover the cities earliest residents, medieval crafts, civil war stories, famous literary connections and the growth of a modern city.

  10. Add Royal Armouries  - Fort Nelson to your Itinerary

    Royal Armouries - Fort Nelson

    Type

    Historic Site

    Location

    Fareham

    Fort Nelson is a superbly restored Victorian fort overlooking Portsmouth Harbour. It is home to the Royal Armouries national artillery collection with over 350 historic guns on display.