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 club lunch is on Friday 18th September 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.
Community Centre News
You might not want to think about this just yet but - would you believe it - the very early appearance of (plastic) Christmas holly has already been spotted in a local garden centre last week. Before that we have the autumn term coming up and there will be lots of activities to join in with at the Community Centre.
A new t'ai chi course for beginners will be starting on Wednesday 9th September - this is a very gentle form of exercise suitable for all ages which has many health benefits. For more information about this, contact teacher Lucy Fredericks on 01590 682149.
The U3A will be back after their summer break with their monthly meeting on Wednesday 9th August. These meetings are not their only activity, as members get together to run smaller groups with interests such as genealogy and French conversation, to name just two. Come along and find out more.
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.
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 email@example.com or visit www.newforestadvice.org.uk
(NB. The New Forest Disability Information Service has monthly drop-in sessions at Lyndhurst Library.)