The Paulets were prominent under the Tudors and continued as supporters of royalty throughout the Civil War. Basing House had been a hunting lodge visited by Elizabeth I but when Parliamentary forces set up a siege camp near what is now Basingstoke it was fortified for a long defence. The resultant ruins and a recent memorial within the site bear witness to a grim period.
One building that remains intact is the great barn, used for a wedding so unfortunately not open on our visit, but nearby is the splendid gate. Both are reasonably accessible but the rest of the site requires some strenuous walking.
From time to time there are commemorative exhibitions. When not available there is a permanent DVD presentation and a model of how the house once appeared at the ticket office. It is difficult to reconcile this with what remains. It was not like that at the time of the Civil War in any case. A more peaceable aspect is the walled garden below the small museum. It is said to mark the spot where many men died.
Inside the museum, as well as the DVD there are fragments from the buildings and a few other artifacts. Above the garden is a reproduction of a garden planter. Entering the once-fortified enclosure visitors find the extensive and once ferociously hot kitchen area, now fragmentary ruins. There is also a reproduction sakar or cannon, facing as it would have towards Basingstoke, now identifiable by its tower blocks on the skyline. The whole site, apart from the telltale brickwork and obviously the sakar could be mistaken for something prehistoric.
It is a place to visit for reflection, given that the country is once more divided, although not in as violent a manner, and requires fine weather and the time to walk around the delightful Basing village as well, or to visit the nearby pub (as we did).