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Keep it cultured for £15 return with South West Trains

Explore the south of England and feed your mind as you travel, with these picks of great escapes from London

 (Photo: Mark Horton)
Photo: Mark HortonWatts Gallery The setting is breathtaking – in the heart of rural Surrey – but within the gallery’s walls there are dazzling rooms full of beautiful art. Established in 1904 to display the work of the Victorian artist George Frederic Watts, the gallery has been lovingly restored and continues to be an inspiring art space. Next to the gallery is the extraordinary chapel designed by GF Watts's wife Mary Watts, a fusion of Arts and Crafts, Gothic and Celtic styles. You can also see the work of contemporary creative talents during the Arts Village open studios sessions. The current exhibition ‘Ellen Terry: The Painters’ Actress’ runs until November 9. TRAIN TO Guildford then walk or take a short taxi ride
Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum Set in a stunning clifftop villa in Bournemouth, this gallery and museum was the home of Merton Russell-Cotes and his wife Annie, who filled it with treasures acquired on their travels in Britain and abroad. There is a collection of British art as well as artefacts, furnishings, sculptures and paintings by European artists. Today you can still see much of their collection, and there are also regularly changing visiting exhibitions. TRAIN TO Bournemouth
 (Photo: Dom White                         )
Photo: Dom White Dine in Michelin-star style in the countryside The New Forest is famous for its landscape and its outdoor activities, but it’s a great place to head for fine dining, too. The Terrace restaurant at the country house Montagu Arms Hotel is the deserving owner of a Michelin star for head chef Matthew Tomkinson’s classy seasonal menu, based on top-quality New Forest and Hampshire produce. TRAIN TO Beaulieu
The Lightbox Woking’s stylish modern art gallery and museum The Lightbox presents free exhibitions of new art by established and upcoming names. There are regular arts events, and the gallery also holds the Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art – nearly 500 paintings and sculptures from artists including Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink and Eduardo Paolozzi. TRAIN TO Woking
 (Photo: Philip Perkins)
Photo: Philip PerkinsArt in Salisbury The medieval cathedral in this historic city dominates the landscape, and rightly so. It’s filled with paintings, sculptures and textiles and hosts regular art exhibitions, and visitors can explore the stunning architecture of the cathedral itself, including Britain’s tallest church spire. Nearby, Arundells (pictured) is the elegant former home of Sir Edward Heath and contains his remarkable art collection, including works by LS Lowry, Augustus John and John Singer Sargent. Then, for contrast, you can head to Fisherton Mill – a gallery, café and studios where contemporary artists work and sell their own pieces direct to the public. TRAIN TO Salisbury
King John’s House Part of Romsey Heritage Centre, King John’s House offers a glimpse of everyday life through the centuries. Dating back to the 13th century, the house was originally the main building in a large medieval estate, and early features include original roof timbers, a rare bone floor and even graffiti cut into the medieval plaster. The centre also includes a Tudor cottage with rooms refurbished in the style of the period, and a Victorian museum dedicated to 19th and early 20th century living. TRAIN TO Romsey
 (Photo: Rob Besant)
Photo: Rob BesantLulworth Castle In the 17th century the castle was a magnificent hunting lodge, and today you can still get a rich sense of its history through the years. Climb the tower, explore the-18th century chapel and take a walk in the picturesque surrounding woodland. There’s a playground for younger visitors and a selection of charming cafés nearby for when you get hungry. TRAIN TO Wool then bus
By Time Out in association with South West Trains

New cultural pleasures are just a train ride away, in the villages, towns and cities of southern England. The South West Trains Summer Ticket * can take you on a journey of creativity, from history to art, architecture and cuisine.

* The South West Trains Summer Ticket is permitted on off-peak services from Sat Jul 26 until Fri Aug 22. Travel is valid between any two South West Trains served stations. Exceptions apply to stations west of Salisbury (Tisbury to Exeter St Davids or Warminster to Bristol Temple Meads inclusive). The ticket price excludes cross-Solent travel to/from the Isle of Wight. See the South West Trains website for full terms and conditions.


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