Hampshire will celebrate the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”in special style this year, when it marks the bicentenary of Keats’ Ode To Autumn– said to have been inspired by the scenery the poet saw on a daily basis during a stay in Winchester, in 1819.
Winchester still offers its visitors an ideal base for autumnal walks directly from the city centre into the South Downs National Park. Visitors can also follow in the footsteps of John Keats, by following a walk in his honour outlined on the VisitHampshire website: https://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/things-to-do/keats-walk-p1116801.
The 200th anniversary of Keats’ Ode is the perfect time for visitors to experience for themselves the same landscape and autumn colours he saw – and to take full advantage of some of the anniversary events and activities that have been planned. These include poetry trails, exhibitions, workshops and competitions for all aspiring and professional poets. Further details are at https://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/keats200/.
In 2016, Winchester Poetry Festival commemorated the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare with an all-day reading of his sonnets. Now, in 2019, the 200th anniversary of Keats’ Ode, the annual Festival will stage a two-hour reading of a selection of his poems and letters as part of Heritage Open Days on Saturday, September 14. The event will be held in the café area of the Winchester Discovery Centre and will be free to take part in and to attend. Further details are available at https://www.winchesterpoetryfestival.org
The Keats celebrations will also help to introduce visitors to Hampshire to its best-known author, Jane Austen whose grave can be found inside Winchester Cathedral – one of the many venues in Hampshire which marked the 200thanniversary of her death in 2017.
From Winchester, it’s a short drive to Chawton, and a chance to see Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House.
Gilbert White’s House in nearby Selborne, is yet another strong autumnal attraction – and will this year be gearing up for the 300thanniversary of the man regarded as the world’s first ecologist in 2020. It contains the story of the pioneering naturalist who shaped the modern attitude of respect for nature.
Hampshire can also offer plenty of seasonal food-and-drink options: from its vineyards, to its cider making at the likes of Upper Neatham Mill.
Autumn is the time, for example, when Hampshire celebrates its local food and drink at events such as Winchester Harvest Weekend on October 5 and 6. Wine Festival Winchester,meanwhile, takes place on November 29-30 this year.
Autumnal breaks in Hampshire can be enjoyed throughout the county, and Visit Hampshire has a full listing at http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/where-to-stay.
Examples of where to stay include:
Lainston House Hotel, Winchester
A 17th century country house situated in Winchester. The property boasts a wide variety of rooms and suites, an award-winning 3 AA Rosette restaurant.From £185 (B&B, based on double occupancy)https://www.exclusive.co.uk/lainston-house/.
Seasons Cookery School is located within the grounds of Lainston House Hotel. They offer a variety of courses including “seasonal”, “meat & fish”, “baking and sweet things”, “kids, parent, student” https://www.exclusive.co.uk/lainston-house/
Upper Neatham Mill, Alton
Stay here in a converted 17th-century barn on the bank of the River Wey. This relaxing B&B is the perfect location for an autumnal break in Hampshire. From around £80 per room, per night B&B http://upperneatham.co.uk/index.php.
The accommodation also runs a popular two-day cider making course during the autumn months https://www.upperneatham.co.uk/cider-making-hampshire.php).
All tourist information for Hampshire can be found at http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk.