One of my favourite things about living in England is the beautiful pubs! They have so much character and charm – and beer, of course. Since I’ve been living in Hampshire recently, I took the opportunity to do some exploring. Here is the result of all of my “hard” work: a list of the oldest and most charming country pubs in Hampshire!
Old country pubs are definitely my favourites. Many of them still function as the “community living room”, with a slew of regulars who have been drinking the same beer since 1985.
So, this list is all about country pubs – there are other great ones in towns like Winchester and Portsmouth, but that’s for another time!
Nope, for this list the pubs need to be two things: country, and charming. I think we found some absolutely amazing places that easily fit both. I think you’ll also soon find out I have a mild (that’s putting it lightly) obsession with thatched roof pubs.
Without further ado, here’s the oldest and most charming country pubs in Hampshire. According to yours truly (with aid of some historical records).
The oldest country pubs in Hampshire
I love old pubs and had a great time gallivanting around Cornwall in search of Cornwall’s oldest pubs. So, you bet I was going to do the same thing in my newly adopted home of Hampshire!
The Red Lion, Waterlooville, Chalton
The problem with really, really old pubs is narrowing down exactly how old they actually are. Despite my research into The Red Lion in Waterlooville, I can only give you a date rage.
Most sources say it was built in the 12th century, and became a pub some time in the 1400s. The problem is, folks weren’t quite as obsessive about record keeping back in the day.
One thing is pretty clear though: the Red Lion is super freaking old. In fact, it could well be the oldest pub in Hampshire (although there’s a couple of other pubs with their hat in the ring).
It’s also a very nice pub. It’s a Fuller’s (chain) pub, but they have done a nice job of keeping some uniqueness.
The ceilings are low and the beers are hand pulled, which is always a good start. The interior has been decorated recently, but there are still plenty of characterful touches like antique pieces around.
The Old Bell and Crown, Hatherden, Andover
The adorable 16th century Old Bell and Crown is pretty much your quintessential country pub in Hampshire. Thatched roof, fireplace, meat raffle… yep, they do it all.
With home cooked meals and a good selection of ales, it’s no wonder that this pub is popular with locals from the picturesque village of Hatherden. It even manages to attract a few from the larger town of Andover.
Inside, you’ve got those gorgeous low ceilings. Things are a little more on the rustic side than the ‘Pinterest perfect’ style, and that’s why I love it. Especially the open fire place. Even your dog is welcome to curl up next to it!
If the fireplace is off (yes, summer does happen in England), then they also have a great beer garden that you can enjoy a drink in.
Fleur de Lys, Pilley near Lymington
I’m kind of obsessed with the New Forest. All of it, but especially the ponies. However, I reckon the pubs are a pretty close second.
Now, I said earlier that the Red Lion may be the oldest pub in Hampshire… well, the Fleur de Lys would have a bit of an issue with this.
Apparently, the first pint was served here was back in 1096, and there’s records showing it was a pub by 1498. Still, that puts them neck and neck!
The Fleur de Lys is a great pick if you’re looking for a more formal meal. They have a beautiful restaurant that serves great (but more pricey) meals. Or, you could just enjoy a drink out in the beer garden or in the “snug”.
Also, you’re in the NEW FOREST, which is basically the magical forest of your dreams. So there’s that.
The Hatchet Inn, Andover
THIS. PUB.! Seriously.
I mean, really. Look at it. I could just cry looking back at my photos – The Hatchet Inn is completely what English country pub dreams are made of.
It’s a gorgeous 13th century pub, kind of in the middle of nowhere (just like a good country pub should be!)
And then it has a kind of metal name, which I also appreciate.
I was already besotted when arrived, and then a little dog ran out to greet us. Alright, so he was a bit stand-offish at first… but we’d soon made firm friends throwing a ball a few times.
We then got chatting with the bartender, before enjoying a pint out in the sun-drenched front garden. So, this is pretty much as close to perfect as a pub gets in my eyes.
The Crown Inn, Somborne
Rounding out our list of the oldest country pubs in Hampshire is the Crown Inn in Somborne.
Oh, look! It’s another thatched roof pub! Yes… It seems I have a “type”.
This pub dates from the 16th century, and has all the amazing charm you’d expect from such an old pub. There’s low ceilings, an open fireplace and a gorgeous garden if the weather is good.
The location of this pub is lovely, with a lot of walks around if you like to do some exercise before tucking into a pint and a meal. Or, you can just pull up a seat and enjoy what’s on offer!
Like all the best British pubs, there’s the usual calendar of pub events including a quiz & curry night on Tuesdays.
Other charming country pubs in Hampshire
Honestly, there are lots of charming country pubs in Hampshire – but these are some of my favourites. Whether it’s exteriors to make you swoon or interesting backstories, these are great places to eat, drink and be merry.
The Old Forge, Otterbourne
A good backstory is essential to a great country pub in Hampshire, as far as I’m concerned. And I certainly love what’s on offer at the Old Forge in Otterbourne!
The building (as the name implies) was originally built in the 18th century as a blacksmiths. That’s pretty charming in itself, but I especially love that it was home to one of the first female blacksmiths in Hampshire.
Today, the pub is well-respected for its great food and drinks. Kind of surprisingly for a country pub, they can even put together a mean cocktail!
If you’re keeping things more responsible, there are some great walks that start and end at the pub. Hey, if you’re anything like me then the promise of a pint at the end certainly adds to a walk!
Although it’s tucked away in the cute village of Otterbourne, it’s also pretty close to Winchester if you’re looking for some more things to do in the area.
The Hawkley Inn, Hawkley
The Hawkley Inn has a special place in my heart as it was one of the first “real country pubs” I visited in Hampshire. You should have heard me screeching at the sight of all those gorgeous pub dogs!
To me, the Hawkley Inn has all the necessary ingredients for a gorgeous country pub. It’s unpretentious and friendly, with slightly-claustrophobic decor (I say that with love).
Then there’s the big fire, which is perfect for those bitterly cold eves that England’s so famous for. Of course, if the sun is shining down then there’s also a pretty lovely beer garden as well.
Best of all, the Hawkley offers a great wine menu… including some local South Australian wines. That’s always a winner to me!
The Noah’s Ark, Lurgashall
This is another one that’s near and dear to me since it was here I discovered the beauty of a beer garden in England. Fellow Aussies, don’t be fooled: summer does arrive in England, and it’s magic.
The Noah’s Ark is quite the local’s pub, situated in one of the cutest villages I’ve ever seen. Set around a huge village green (that is, of course, used as a cricket pitch), Lugarshall is seriously adorable.
From the Noah’s Ark, you’ll have the best view out over the green and the village. If you’re lucky, you might even get a spontaneous visit from a neighbouring dog — it seems everyone is friendly in Lurgashall.
Aside from the friendly dog and cute views, the Noah’s Ark also does excellent food (as in, they’re recommended in the Michelin Guide). That said, I’m all about the booze and there’s a good selection of beer and wine too.
What more do you need, really?
Plus, it’s a 16th century building… so it could almost make it onto our oldest country pubs in Hampshire list too!
The George at Vernham Dean
As well as thatched roof pubs, I also love higgledy-piggledy rooved pubs – with serious bonus points for flowers and plants on the exterior.
The George in Vernham Dean matches up to this description, so is more than alright in my book. It’s another of Hampshire’s most charming country pubs.
It’s a really beautiful pub on the inside and out. Inside, it’s been tastefully decorated, bringing it into the 21st century but without sacrificing the charm.
On the menu you’ll find all the classic British pub classics. They do some pretty good specials if you’re on a budget – on Thursday nights you can get pizza and a glass of wine for £10.
Not bad in a country that once charged me £13 for a vodka and red bull (don’t worry, folks, I stopped drinking them before my heart stopped.)
The Bush Inn, Ovington
Yet another of my favourite country pubs in Hampshire is the Bush Inn. Located in the small village of Ovington, you’ll probably think you’re driving in the wrong direction before it suddenly pops up!
It’s totally worth looking for, however, because it’s absolutely gorgeous. I mean, just look at those hanging flower pots! It was all I could do not to steal one (just kidding, there is a special place in hell for people who steal flowers.)
Really, if it wasn’t for the large “Bush Inn” sign you could be forgiven for thinking you were just chilling in your garden. If you were very rich, and lived in Hampshire.
Anyway, things are better at the Bush Inn because you don’t have to wash your own dishes. Just enjoy a delicious pint or a tasty British pub classic, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
The best country pubs in Hampshire (with beer gardens)
Don’t believe the hype, people. The sun DOES shine in Hampshire and it is freaking glorious. Granted, it’s not always warm. But I can guarantee you one thing… if the temperature is in double digits, the Brits are in a beer garden. And if you’re looking for a great one, give these a go!
The Mayfly, Chilbolton
I’m starting strong with this one, but I’m just absolutely smitten. If you only want to pick one beer garden on the list, this would be my choice.
The actual Mayfly pub is okay – it’s a newer built pub and it looks nice. Also, you have to pull up to a fairly uninspiring car park to get in.
However, the real beauty here is ALL ABOUT THE BEER GARDEN. You sit and watch the lake whoosh by, complete with ducks and swans a-swimming.
As a person who really, really loves ducks (I don’t know why, but I just do, okay?), this is kind of my idea of heaven.
They have a good selection of alcoholic drinks so you could enjoy a pint or a rose out in the beer garden when the weather is warm. However, they also do a pretty good coffee — and “pretty good” is high praise coming from an Australian (it’s not heaps good, but it’ll do.)
There’s also a food menu. By the time we visited we only had appetite for a sausage roll, which was pretty tasty and very affordable. It’s a Fuller’s pub, so you can expect the usual pub classics if you’re peckish.
Highly recommend if you’re looking for somewhere to spend a lazy few hours. There are also a number of walks nearby
The Shoe Inn, Exton
If you like a beer garden by the water (and why wouldn’t you?!) then the Shoe Inn in Exton is a great pick.
It’s also near “the Meons”, two of the cutest villages in all of Hampshire – so you can expect a picturesque drive.
What I really like about the Shoe Inn is that you can pick your drink up and carry it across to the green space across the road. This is not something that occurs in Australia, ever, so you bet I was giggling like a kid trying a vodka cruiser. (Do you get the sense that I don’t get out much?)
Anyway, back to the pub. There’s a good choice of drinks and really nice food as well. This really is such a nice place to sit and enjoy an afternoon meal with friends and family.
The babbling brook nearby makes it even better. We even saw a “water vole” (yes that’s a real thing) while we were there. So it’s an educational experience, too!
The Deer’s Hut, Liphook
For a pub that just screams BRITTANIA!, I recommend checking out the Deers’ Hut freehouse.
For those unawares (like me, three months ago), a freehouse is a pub that is not tied to a particularly brewery. As a result, they usually have more choice in the beverage department.
The Deer’s Hut is an old hunting lodge that was built in the 1600s. I’m no hunting fan, but it’s all about food and drink nowadays. And that’s something I can get behind!
This pub really feels like its nestled away in the countryside, so if you want the real British rural experience I really recommend it.
Inside, it’s quite modern yet charming, but the gorgeous space outdoors is really where it’s at. There’s really something to be said for a beer garden that makes you feel like you’re hidden away in the middle of nowhere.
The Fighting Cocks, Fordingbridge
Okay, first things first – cock fighting = very, very bad. This pub however? Definitely one of the most charming country pubs in Hampshire.
How could it not be when it’s tucked away in the New Forest and frequently visited by donkeys and ponies?
So, the Fighting Cocks might not have the biggest or most spectacular beer garden I’ve ever seen. But, let me repeat: THERE ARE PONIES AND DONKEYS. That alone is enough to catapult it up my rankings.
They have a menu of homemade large and small plates, which look pretty good. They also have an excellent wine list which is surprisingly affordable for Hampshire pubs – so you can bet I was all about this.
All in all, if you are looking for a quirky outdoor space for a drink – this certainly fits the bill.
The Hinton Arms, Cheriton
You can’t be sad on trampolines or while surrounded by colourful flowers in a beer garden. This is a universal truth, I promise.
That’s certainly what’s on offer at the Hinton Arms in Cheriton (the flowers, not the trampolines, unfortunately). All around the beer garden, bunches of colourful flowers cascading out of baskets. I love it!
As well as the flowers, there’s also a great restaurant with an impressive menu. There’s even four vegan options! Four! In a country pub! Not bad at all.
Then there’s the beer (and wine), of course. So, if you’re looking for a gorgeous summer spot to enjoy a drink and admire the gorgeous flowers, I’d definitely check this one out.
Map of the most charming country pubs in Hampshire
One thing I learnt researching this article is that Hampshire is really, really big. These are probably “one and done” places to drink at, but you could always pick a couple and make a day out of it.