Newest Review: ... playing with balls, kites and skittles. With the sun shining brightly it all seemed rather idyllic. After parking by a hedge we had around... more
A 'vyne' afternoon
The Vyne (Basingstoke)
Member Name: MarieHHH
The Vyne (Basingstoke)
Advantages: beautiful location, interesting house
Disadvantages: gardens not very interesting, information sheets too short
My parents had decided to pay us a visit and my husband, keen to avoid several hours of small-talk, reached for the National Trust handbook and stated that since we had given them National Trust membership for Christmas we may as well help them make use of it. Flicking to the map pages he decided we'd take them to The Vyne, a 16th century house and estate near Basingstoke.
Getting to The Vyne was easy by car as it was well-signposted from the main road. However, it was in a slightly rural location so I think reaching it by pubic transport may have been problematic. Away from the main road we swung into a field that doubled as the overflow carpark and also the picnic area. There were some new-looking wooden picnic tables scattered around and several families enjoying lunch on blankets, with an assortment of children of different ages playing with balls, kites and skittles. With the sun shining brightly it all seemed rather idyllic. After parking by a hedge we had around a 500m walk to the 'ticket office' (a shed-like building) and after showing our membership cards we were in. If we had not been members, it would have cost £9 per adult, £4.50 per child or £22 for a family.
You approach the house from the side, and enter via a side entrance, which I found slightly disorientating. Slippers were available for those sporting unsuitable footwear (i.e. muddy shoes or stiletto heels) and laminated information sheets were handed out by an engaging and friendly volunteer. Free quizzes for children were also offered. You were then free to wander through a series of rooms that were open to the public at your own pace, with a guide in each room to answer any questions you might have. This was useful as the information sheets only gave a line or two about each room, and unlike other NT properties I've visited there were not cards offering more information to be read in individual rooms. I'd describe the style of the house as smart late 18th/early 19th century in its décor, but I'm no expert and so may be wrong. All the rooms appeared as they could be 'lived in' and you were treated to a range of the formal rooms, ranging from a dining room to library to oak-paneled 'long gallery' for ladies to exercise in during wet weather. No parts of the 'below stairs' aspect of the house were accessible, which I was a little disappointed by as I like being able to see grand homes from the servants viewpoint too. I found the main entrance hall (which, having entered from the side, you meet about halfway through the rooms) particularly grand and enthralling.
The gardens at The Vyne were not very impressive - basically they were just lawns, plus some woodland walks if you wanted a longer stroll. I would not recommend visiting it if it is gardens you are interested in.
Restaurant, Gift Shop, Toilets
We had a very tasty lunch from the restaurant - generous portions of home made goats cheese and watercress tart with vegetables, fairly reasonably priced at £6.25 and served by a cheerful staff. There were also 2 other main course options and a good selection of sandwiches and cakes.
The gift shop was very typical, selling a variety of NT products and a few toys and books. It wasn't very big and probably bordered on being expensive.
The toilets were clean and... well, toilets really.
Not the most beautiful or interesting of the NT properties I have visited and I'm not sure it would be worth the admission price if you were paying, but if you're already a member it is a pleasant enough location to spend a couple of hours looking around.
Summary: Pleasant enough, but not the best NT property I've visited
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