Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.
Lyndhurst is known as the capital of the New Forest since it was established as a royal hunting ground in 1079 by William the Conqueror. Today it remains the administrative heart and a great place from which to hunt out the treasures and secrets that the region has to offer.
Talking of royalty, Queen’s House is still the property of the Crown and provides offices for the Forestry Commission as well as a monthly meeting place for Verderers, who are judicial officers appointed to protect and conserve the common land. The office was first developed in the Medieval times to administer the forest law on behalf of the King, and they regularly meet in the Verderers Hall.
Royalty from the world of literature also has ties here as Alice Pleasance Liddell is buried in the graveyard of St Michael and All Angel’s church. As a girl, she inspired Lewis Carroll to write the children’s classics “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass”. Although she was not born here, when she grew up she married Reginal Hargreaves, who owned the country estate near the village called Cuffnells, hence her connection.
What to do
If you are a fan of the Art and Crafts Movement that was spearheaded by William Morris, don’t miss the chance to go inside the mid-19th-century church as there are the most beautiful stained-glass windows designed by the man himself.
At the lower end of the high street sits a bench that is a popular spot called Bolton’s Bench. From its elevated position, the view of the surrounding landscape is stunning. If you take an apple along too, you may get a visit from a local New Forest pony!
You can see more ponies and deer at the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary where they have a viewing platform. Set in picturesque forest and the National Park, it is a great day out for the family, with free parking, picnic benches and trees to play in.
If you would like more structured wanderings and detailed information about the area, the New Forest Centre in the middle of Lyndhurst is a good place to start. There is an ever-changing gallery and an interactive exhibition, plus a peaceful library if you fancy looking even deeper into the region and its interesting history.
There are several independent shops and souvenir outlets in Lyndhurst for mementos and gifts, plus some local art and craft for sale.
In the summer Lyndhurst has a hop-on, hop-off bus service that connects towns, villages and nearby attractions. One of which is the Forestry Commission’s New Forest Reptile Centre where you can see Britain’s native amphibians and reptiles, including elusive and poisonous adders!
If you prefer to go on foot, there is a fantastic New Forest walk that loops around Lyndhurst and covers nearly 9 miles. You can find maps and details at the New Forest Centre and the walk takes in the village of Emery Down and the tiny hamlet of Gritnam, a place recorded in the Doomsday Book and where you can see some beautiful and historic houses.
If a tour on two wheels is more your calling, bike hire is available for Woods Cyclery who can offer advice on New Forest cycling routes and trails.
To the north of the village lies the New Forest Golf Club, which is open to all and you might find yourself teeing off amongst the wild ponies.
Where to eat and drink
There are a wealth of places to eat and drink from olde-worlde pubs to tearooms, fine restaurants, such as La Pergola, that serves authentic Italian food, and a lovely ice cream parlour, temptingly named "Indulgence".
The Oak Inn is exactly as you would imagine it would be, including bar stools made from milk churns and The Crown and Stirrup pub is dog-friendly with a cosy open fire for winter months.
How to get there
By Car: Travelling from Southampton, London or the east, exit the M27 at Junction 1 which is signposted Cadnam and head southwards to the New Forest.
From the north, take the A338 from Salisbury towards Ringwood or head towards Totton on the A36 from an easterly direction.
From the west use the A31 from Dorset.
By Rail: The nearest train stations within the National Park are Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst and Sway. Please contact National Rail for more details.
By Coach: National Express stops at Lyndhurst. Please contact them for timetables and fares.
Where to stay
Lyndhurst makes a great base for exploration and discovery of the New Forest. We have some great properties in and around Lyndhurst. Have a delve here for some ideas of where to stay and some added inspiration.