Lyndhurst is often thought of as the Capital of the New Forest - it enjoys a broadly central location, is surrounded by relatively fertile land, and stands at a junction of historic routes.
Lyndhurst had its own Royal manor house, and was - and still is - home of the Verderers’ Hall, the meeting place of the ancient Verderers’ Court whose history stretches back to at least the 13th century.
Lyndhurst race ground was, until the late-19th century, a popular attraction; and Lyndhurst used to be the home of the New Forest pony sales.
Lyndhurst: Capital of the New Forest? Absolutely!
Lyndhurst: the name in its earlier form, Lindhyrst, dates back to at least Anglo-Saxon times, and means ‘lime wood’, although Lyndhurst now, in common with much of Britain, has few lime trees.
Lyndhurst was well-described in the mid-19th century by John Wise, who remarked: ‘The people of Lyndhurst ought, I always think, to be the happiest and most contented in England, for they possess a wider park and nobler trees than even Royalty. You cannot leave the place in any direction without going through the Forest.
And today, John Wise's comments still apply - woodlands lap against the outskirts of Lyndhurst, inviting exploration by walkers and cyclists along many miles of gravel tracks and countless lesser used paths.
But the area around Lyndhurst comprises heathlands, too, heathlands that in spring are yellow with gorse, and in summer richly purple with heather blooms. These are places that hold abundant wildlife, including many species that are not often encountered elsewhere.
Lyndhurst is a great place for families to enjoy fresh air and wide, open spaces, for around Bolton's Bench, within walking distance of Lyndhurst village centre, are extensive grasslands with turf kept short by commoners' stock - the ponies, donkeys and cattle that can be seen throughout the area.
Here, there is ample room to play football, cricket and other ball games; to fly kites, watch the cricket or just relax with book or newspaper.
As befits the Capital of the New Forest, the local Forestry Commission headquarters are located in Lyndhurst - in Queen’s House, at the very top of Lyndhurst High Street; whilst close by is Lyndhurst's splendidly Gothic, Victorian parish church of St. Michael and All Angels with its impressive 49 metre (160 foot) spire.
Lyndhurst also hosts the New Forest Centre. Situated in Lyndhurst's main car park, it is a purpose-built red brick building housing the New Forest Museum, Gift Shop, Reference Library and New Forest Tourist Information Office.
Opened in 1988 by the Duke of Edinburgh, the museum has displays illustrative of New Forest life in days gone-by, and is a ‘must-visit’ for anybody with an interest in the New Forest and its history. The Christopher Tower New Forest Reference Library on the upper floor also has a wide range of local interest books and other documents.
At the opposite end of Lyndhurst car park, Lyndhurst Community Centre offers refreshments on Saturday mornings, and is the year-round venue for a wide range of events and activities - antique auctions, craft and gift fairs, book fairs, farmers' markets and more.
Lyndhurst today is well-served by shops, tea rooms, pubs and restaurants. There are six pubs, for example, all of which serve food; whilst the nearby hamlets of Bank, Emery Down and Swan Green boast another three pubs that also have well-respected kitchens.
Those seeking out a restaurant in which to eat will not be disappointed, either - Lyndhurst has Italian, Indian and Chinese restaurants, and others associated with the local hotels - a veritable gourmet's delight.
And those wanting accommodation in Lyndhurst can choose from a number of hotels, guesthouses, and bed and breakfast establishments; whilst nearby Pondhead Farm offers its own camping facilities.
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New Forest History and Archaeology Group
The group will be returning to the Community Centre for meetings in the autumn. Meanwhile, they have a programme of site visits planned for the summer. For more details, visit the group's website at www. nfhistoryandarchaeology.hampshire.org.uk
The next lunch meeting will be on Friday 17th July and tickets will be on sale from the beginning of the month, as usual. On 3rd August the Club will be going on a mystery tour, ending up at Stewarts for one of their wonderful afternoon teas. The outing is free to Community Club members, though you will need to book your place in advance. A small number of places will be available to non-members after 17th July at a cost of £7.00 per person. Tickets will be available from the Community Centre office and are non-refundable.
Are you involved in a charity or community group? Does your group need funding? If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then you will probably be interested in a workshop being held at the Community Centre on Wednesday 8th July by Community First New Forest.
This half-day session will give you ideas on where to look for sources of funding and what makes a good application. The cost is £40 for CFNF members, £45 for non-members. For more information or a booking form, please call Debbie Grace on 01425 482773 or e-mail her at email@example.com
New Forest Advice Network
Need Advice? Don't know who to ask? The New Forest Advice Network is here to help! Life has a way of throwing up challenges when we least expect them. When this happens it's not always easy to know who can answer our questions and give us the quality advice we need. In response to this, five advice services have come together to create the New Forest Advice Network, to improve access to appropriate, timely advice, wherever you might live.
The services involved are: The Citizens' Advice Bureau (New Forest), It's Your Choice, Age Concern New Forest, Community First New Forest and The New Forest Disability Information Service. Between them, they have offices or outreach services across the New Forest and have developed a cross referral system which means by contacting any of these organisations, the public have access to all five services and their enquiry can be answered by the organisation most appropriate to respond.
If you would like leaflets or wallet cards or if you are a part of a group and would like to host a talk or hold a drop-in advice session, please contact Geraldine or Mel on 01425 628750, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.newforestadvice.org.uk
(NB. The New Forest Disability Information Service has monthly drop-in sessions at Lyndhurst Library.)