You’re not in Wiltshire now…or are you?
The Wiltshire New Forest, by Rebecca Davies BSc (Hons)
See more from Rebecca here: https://swindonian.me/category/guest-bloggers/rebecca-davies/
In many ways this article about the Wiltshire New Forest is going to be a little harder to write than my other ones. I want to write on the Wiltshire section of the New Forest without being too generic – yet I have to talk a little about the New Forest as a complete unit.
We tend to see Wiltshire as being of open downland. Yet there are several areas are of extensive forests, such as Grovelly, Savernake and West Woods.
Though several Royal forests have retained their original features to a greater or lesser extent, surely the New Forest is the place where the system I described in my article on Braydon Forest survives best?
The land is, for the most part, unenclosed and livestock wanders freely. The inhabitants retain their ancient grazing rights. The land is, for the most part, unenclosed and livestock wanders freely and the inhabitants retain their ancient grazing rights.
The Wiltshire forest is enclosed but right over the Hampshire border its donkeys on the loose, cattle and ponies:
Exploring the New Forest by road is not for the faint of heart or the impatient! Nor, let me say, the foolhardy driver! It is nerve wracking!
Formed in 1079, the Nova Foresta (The name, though mundane, is poetic) was William the Conqueror’s special hunting ground. Certain authorities claim that he removed no less than thirty-six communities to empark this land. But it is a claim not backed up by archaeology. Indeed this infertile territory is not known for its archaeological remains. That said, there are many Iron Age barrows so the Ancient Britons may well have used the area for livestock, as we do today. 2005 saw it instated as a National Park.
This is what much of Medieval England must have looked like once upon a time.
Land and nature
The geology is mostly sandstone and its attendant soils. So, again not typical for Wiltshire where the soil is of an acidic nature. Thus the lime loving plants we take for granted are absent, in their place are things like:
It is not only trees; the forest consists of open heath, grassy lawns and marshy bottoms.
Wildlife – deer and other animals
The forest is famed for its deer. Several species of deer make this land their abode. Fallow deer are the most common but there are also Red Deer, Roe Deer, Sika Deer and Muntjac.
The area is also know for its reptiles, and birds. Sadly the Red Squirrel is extinct here, though experts think it survived until the 1970s. But they are still present on the Isle of Wight and Brownsea Island, in Poole Harbour.
The hamlet of Lover
Up until recently the hamlet had a post office. This was most popular in February, as loving couples could get their Valentine’s cards franked `LOVER`.
Now imagine answering the phone in this establishment? ‘Hello, Lover Garage, here.’ You might find it hard to keep a straight face. Oh, and the jokes! They must hear them all thrice in a week.
The Landford Parish includes the hamlets of Landford Wood and Nomansland. The Nomansland name is derived from the fact it was once an extra parochial squatter’s community. It is chiefly noted for the French Restaurant, Les Mirabelles, said to offer the finest selection of wines in the forest.
Part of the village of Redlynch is in the New Forest area. Though there is little of interest to see.
Buildings in the New Forest seem to be picturesque rather than architectural – see the Landford mission hall above. It definitely looks more Hampshire than Wiltshire. Few of them are pre Victorian, and so we see a lot of somewhat whimsical examples of neo gothic and the like. Landford church is interesting and though it is in the environs, it is a smidge over the border of the designated New Forest.
There are several interesting big houses in the Wiltshire New Forest, but none are open to the public.
Hamptworth Lodge is a modern house, built in 1912, by Sir Guy Dawber for H. C Moffat. It is on the site of a Jacobean building and designed after Elizabethan/Tudor ideas. Sadly not open to the public.
This Arts-and-Crafts house grew as a haven for all varieties of collectors as well as being a lovingly created family home.
Newhouse – the oldest stately home in the area. Built around 1619 and expanded in the 18th century.
In 1609, William Stockman built Newhouse and sold it to Sir Edward Gorge. It’s a Jacobean manor house on the border of Wiltshire and Hampshire. Stockman designed the house in an unusual Y plan, to symbolize the Christian Trinity. Newhouse is thought to be only one of two such ‘trinity houses in the country.
Of a similar age to Newhouse, Landford Manor stands by Landford Church. According to Wikipedia: Landford Manor, situated in Stock Lane in Landford, Wiltshire, is Grade II* listed. It dates from around 1600, the south wing from 1680 with further additions in 1885 and 1929. In the first instance built for the Stanter family, the Davenant family added the south wing and heightened front around 1680.
The Eyres altered the front in 1717 and, in the nineteenth century it came into the ownership of the Nelson family of Trafalgar fame.
Find a history of Landford here.
The New Forest is well-known for its interesting old pubs. Some are situated in the Wiltshire section of the NF.
The Shoe Inn, at Plaitford is a smidge over the county border. The Lamb inn, you’ll find in Nomansland. Landford Poacher, is, guess what? – Landford! Alas the rather attractive pub The Cuckoo, in Hamptworth seems to be always closed.
This is a corner of Wiltshire that is very different in character to the rest of the county. It is well worth exploring. There are several campsites so you could use the area as a base to explore Salisbury or venture further south into the Hampshire New Forest.
You have never seen Wiltshire like this, I imagine.
The Lamb Inn. The Lamb Inn (thelambsinn.co.uk) (accessed 14th March 2022).
The Landford poacher Home | landfordpoacher (thelandfordpoacherpub.com) (accessed 14th March 2022).
Les Mirabelles, Les Mirabelles – French Restaurant in Nomansland (accessed 14th March 2022).
New Forest National Park Authority. Home Page – New Forest National Park Authority (newforestnpa.gov.uk) (accessed 14th March 2022).
The New Forest National park; The New Forest National Park – VisitWiltshire.co.uk (accessed 14th March 2022).
The Shoe Inn. The Shoe Inn | Romsey | Home (theshoe-inn.co.uk) (accessed 14th March 2022).