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 five 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 Thai 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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RSPB local branch
With autumn here, the RSPB local group is back indoors. Meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month at the Community Centre, starting at 7.30pm. Admission is £2.00 for members and £3.50 for non-members. (Visitors and new members always welcome.) The next meeting is on Wednesday, 12th October, when Keith Betton will be talking about The State of the Nation's Birds. Keith is County Recorder for Hampshire and a board member of the British Trust for Ornithology.
Animal Emergency Hotlines reminder
If there is a road traffic accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep, dog or deer you should phone the police on 999 (emergency) or 0845 045 4545 (non-emergency). If you need to report a sick, injured or distressed pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep, then you should call the Verderers' Office on 023 8028 2052 during office hours (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). Outside of these hours, call the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4600 (24 hrs).
If you need to report dangerous dogs - chasing or attacking people, wildlife or livestock, for example - you should call the police on 999 (emergency) or 101 (non-emergency). Contact the dog warden at New Forest District Council to report lost, stray or out of control dogs. The numbers to ring for the warden are 023 8028 5411 (office hours) and 023 8028 5202 (out of office hours). Additional information can be found on the National Park website.
Free wallet-sized cards with these details can be picked up from the Community Centre reception and other locations around the area, along with free 'I go slow for ponies' car stickers.
New Forest Knowledge Conference
The New Forest is a unique landscape, but how is it changing and how might it change in the future, given current concerns about climate change? If you are interested in answers to these questions you might want to come to a conference about 'Ecology and Management of the New Forest in an Era of Climate Change' - Lyndhurst Community Centre, Tuesday 25th October, 9.30am to 5.00pm - which will explore the issues through presentations and informal open discussion.
Tickets are £15 (includes lunch), must be booked by 12th October, and can be obtained from newforestknowledge-conference-2016.eventbrite.com All enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A big thank-you to new volunteer Gay, who is now delivering copies of the Community Centre What's On to the Chapel Lane and Goose Green areas of the village. There are still areas not covered, though - please call the Community Centre office on 023 8028 2267 if you think you can help.