Visit Havant’s Shoreline for History and Fun

History buffs have no shortage of rich treasures to find in the area of London, but for those looking to connect to ancient times, the town of Havant is a must-see. Located on England’s south coast and with a deep historical connection in easy proximity to major metropolitan areas, Havant combines all the tradition and modernity that makes up modern England.

This seaside town is perfect for travellers with families, as it offers a range of activities for people of all ages and activity levels.

The ancient past

Havant Town Centre is a historical conservation site, and was a hub for Roman activity in the early days of the common era. This area was the centre intersection of the major Roman travel routes, starting in Arundel on the south coast and passing all the way through to London.

As with many parts of the England landscape, Havant’s natural resources made it attractive to these travellers. The Homewell Spring provided a rich source of natural water, and the moderate climate meant that the region avoided freezing temperatures. This allowed settlers to stay in place during colder months, as opposed to searching for warmers land.

The early days

Havant plays a part in the continued settlement throughout England. A survey made in the year 1086 cited both mills and salterns as present in the area, and estimated the local population to be around 100 people. The main church in the town’s centre, St. Faith, is believed to have been built around 1150, and it contains additions from the 13th century, the 15th century, and the 19th century. This has made it a fascinating source of study for those interested in architectural history, particularly related to religious structures.

A market was established in the early 13th century under King John, and a large fair was held in the area from around 1450 until the 19th century, when it was terminated in 1871.

A large portion of the village was destroyed after a fire in 1760, but some cottages and the St. Faith church still remain today.

Modern times

Industry has always been strong in the region of Havant because of its natural splendour, starting as a trade centre and through to its time as one of the major parchment-making facilities; in fact, Havant parchment was used for the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. While these facilities closed in the early 20th century, the area retains a strong historical significance related to the growth of industry in England.

These days, Havant continues to thrive as a market town, drawing on its large history as a centre for trade.

What visitors can see now

The historical site of Havant contains remnants from all of these past civilizations and settlements. In 1926 parts of a villa dating to the Romans was found, and in the Town Centre, the church of St. Faiths is built on top of foundations dating to the Roman times.

Several years ago a Roman well dating to around 250 AD was discovered, containing a number of artefacts like coins, jewellery, and dog skeletons.

In 1760 a large fire damaged a large part of the area, but there are some remains from buildings that still stand. Visitors can still witness the beauty of many Georgian buildings from the era.

Narrow walking paths, or “Twittens,” circle around many of these buildings, that nowadays include small boutiques and major retailers. To connect with Havant’s vibrant history as a trade centre, visitors can take in a street market twice a week, easy to access via walkways in the town centre.

The Natural Beauty of Havant

As with the ancient people who were attracted to the area, so can visitors now see the natural resources that has made this area continuously thrive throughout England’s history.

There are a number of parks in the area, which can provide a connection to the area’s landscape. Staunton County Park – easily accessible by train or road – is another attraction that celebrates the area’s natural beauty. Children can get an introduction to the agricultural history of the area by visiting the farm, and there are numerous options for cycling, fishing, and just relaxing among the plants. During the holiday season, Staunton Park becomes home to a number of Christmas events for both visitors and the local community.

For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the coastal area surrounding Havant is full of walking and cycling trails, allowing visitors to take in the beauty of the environment first-hand. A 13-mile path called the Staunton Way leads to the Queen Elizabeth County Park, which is excellent for those who walk or jog.

Nearby Hayling Island has some of England’s most beautiful beaches and many of the amenities that seaside resorts offer. Plus, it is home to Funland Amusement Park, which is great for travellers with children who may need a break from the historical and cultural activities in the area. For travellers looking for water sports in the warmer months, the Island is home to plenty of options for windsurfing, sailing, and kitesurfing.

Bird watching is a big activity in the coastal region as there are many unique species in the area. Both Chichester Harbour and Langstone Harbour are areas of conservation where visitors can take in some of the local bird and aquatic wildlife. In Langstone, visitors can see the unique artificial lagoon created in the mid-90s, once home to the area’s attempts at oyster farming but now a breeding ground for some native types of bird.

Transport in and around Havant

Havant is easily accessed from Portsmouth, Brighton, and London by train. It takes about 70 minutes to reach Havant from London when travelling by rail. Similarly, diving along the A3 can get travellers from London to Havant in about an hour and a half.

Train lines also run from both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, both about 90 minutes away from Havant. For even easier travel directly to the area, Havant can be reached by the M27 from Southampton Airport – only 25 minutes driving distance away.

Car rental is a good option. A friend of mine used a cheap car hire Bristol Airport service a while back as he arrived into Bristol Airport and Havant is just a two hour drive away. There will always be a better choice of cars to choose from when you go with an airport pickup.

A bus station also makes it easy to quickly see many of the surrounding areas on England’s coast, or to access Havant from any of England’s metropolitan areas.

Places to eat, see, and stay in Havant

Visitors won’t have a problem finding things to do in the Havant area, but the town also has a number of dining and cultural centres for activity. The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre provides a wide array of artistic performances and exhibitions, perfect for entertainment after a long day of exploring. Rotating exhibits offer some exciting opportunities to engage with artwork that is fun for the whole family.

The area is also home to a wide range of eating options, from quiet cafes serving modern fare, to offerings like The Old House at Home, one of the original 16th century cottages from the area that gives visitors a taste of some home cooked local favourites. Along the shore, visitors can take in some traditional fish and chips in a bag, and there are a number of options for outdoor dining amongst the natural environment, particularly in the warmer months.

For accommodations, there are both established hotel chains and local bed and breakfasts in the area, ensuring that there is a choice for every traveller’s needs.  Those looking for more historical trips will enjoy staying in one of the area’s older buildings, while those who prefer modern comforts have plenty of options full of conveniences.

Those looking for leisure activities like golf will find several courses in the immediate area. For a truly unique experience, riding horses on the beaches of Hayling Island can be a memorable sight.