CAPITAL OF THE NEW FOREST
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.