CAP­I­TAL OF THE NEW FOR­EST

Landscape (UK) - - Land Scape -

Lyn­d­hurst, an old English name mean­ing wooded hill with lime trees, is the cap­i­tal of the New For­est and dates back to at least 1086, given that it is men­tioned in the Domes­day Book. It is the largest vil­lage in the New For­est. The New For­est Her­itage Cen­tre in Lyn­d­hurst’s main car park pro­vides an in­ter­est­ing and com­pre­hen­sive look into the for­est’s his­tory and her­itage, and has re­cently be­come free to en­ter. On the first floor is the Christo­pher Tower Ref­er­ence Li­brary, which holds a tremen­dous amount of rare and unique re­search doc­u­ments for those wish­ing to delve more deeply. The most in­ter­est­ing build­ings in Lyn­d­hurst can be found at the top of the High Street. First, there is the Gothic par­ish church of St Michael and All An­gels, its spire tow­er­ing above ev­ery­thing else and vis­i­ble for miles across the for­est. Al­though it looks older, the church was ac­tu­ally only built in the mid 19th cen­tury. How­ever, far older churches were pre­vi­ously con­structed on the same site. In­side, of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est are the beau­ti­ful pre-Raphaelite win­dows de­signed by Wil­liam Mor­ris and a fresco by Lord Fred­er­ick Leighton, which is said to be based on lo­cal peo­ple. Out­side is the grave of Alice Plea­sance Lid­dell, the girl who in­spired Lewis Car­roll’s Alice’s Ad­ven­tures in Won­der­land’ and Through the Look­ing Glass and What Alice Found There. Her link with the New For­est be­gan in 1880 af­ter she mar­ried Regi­nald Har­g­reaves, who in­her­ited the nearby Cuffnells coun­try es­tate. The busy Lyn­d­hurst High Street is home to a va­ri­ety of in­de­pen­dent shops and cafés, in­clud­ing a spe­cial­ist tea shop called Tea To­tal, run by Kelly and Ian Tif­fen. Af­ter spend­ing sev­eral years trav­el­ling the world, the cou­ple de­cided to set­tle in Lyn­d­hurst, open­ing the tea lounge in 2012. “Al­though it’s a busy town through­out the year, we love the for­est in au­tumn and win­ter, with its chang­ing colours and the quiet trail walks on of­fer,” says Kelly. Lyn­d­hurst also has ex­cel­lent con­nec­tions to towns such as Lyming­ton and Ring­wood and is only a few min­utes from Brock­en­hurst sta­tion if trav­el­ling fur­ther afield. “As keen walk­ers and cy­clists, the area has so much to of­fer,” adds Ian. “We en­joy the small town feel and its prox­im­ity to the for­est, and love noth­ing more than walk­ing to Bolton’s Bench and be­yond, with its net­work of trails, af­ter a day at work.” Bolton’s Bench can be found at the lower end of Lyn­d­hurst’s High Street. This yew-capped hillock is one of the New For­est’s best-known land­marks. A wooden bench en­cir­cling the trunk af­fords good views of the vil­lage be­low and the sur­round­ing coun­try­side. The name refers to an 18th cen­tury Duke of Bolton, Lord War­den of the New For­est, whose fam­ily were Mas­ter Keep­ers of the Bur­ley Baili­wick. Af­ter a day in the for­est, Kelly and Ian are on hand to re­fresh even the wea­ri­est ex­plor­ers, both at Tea To­tal and their new ad­di­tion, Tip, Leaf & Bean, which is sit­u­ated in­side the New For­est Her­itage Cen­tre.

Bolton’s Bench can be found at the edge of Lyn­d­hurst and of­fers qui­etude and a place to rest.

Lyn­d­hurst is a largely in­de­pen­dent town, with an ar­ray of shops and eater­ies in its tall pitched-roofed build­ings.

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