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Things to do and see in Milford on Sea

PUBLISHED: 16:42 19 February 2014 | UPDATED: 16:44 19 February 2014

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle

Archant

Milford on Sea boasts seaside charm, fabulous eateries and one of the south’s best loved food festivals

Milford shopsMilford shops

A potted history

Milford on Sea appeared in the Domesday Book of 1086 as a small manor with a church, a mill and about 50 inhabitants. It belonged to Christchurch Priory from 1107 to 1539 and then passed as an investment to courtiers and city merchants. Milford’s main resources were agriculture and the seasonal production of sea-salt, plus some smuggling. The village now has a population of about 4,700. Until late in the 1800’s Milford on Sea was a small hamlet of thatched cottages along the High Street. Little further development took place until the 1880s, when Colonel Cornwallis-West of Newlands Manor planned to convert Milford into a premier seaside resort, adding ‘on-Sea’ to the village name. Unfortunately his plans failed thanks to an outbreak of typhoid and a lack of funds.

The Milford on Sea village green was the site of the reputed Battle of Milford Green between smugglers and the militia in the 18th century. Today the green is a lot more peaceful and is surrounded by shops, restaurants, pubs and tea rooms.

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Shop till you drop

Stroll down Milford on Sea’s High Street and you’ll still find the traditional High Street stores; such as Verveine Fishmongers, DJ Gregory Butchers, grocers Hollands of Milford and New Seasons Florist. Peruse the antique shops before visiting The Old Smithy, a former blacksmiths now selling furniture, gifts and crafts. There are also a couple of good galleries to visit. If you’re looking to spruce up the house and garden this year then a trip to Reclamation and Salvage, also on the High Street, is a must. Or perhaps you’ve taken up a new hobby for 2014 – there’s a great models and hobbies shop in the village too. From car and boat models to soldiers and train sets.

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Food & drink

You’ll find no Costa or Starbucks here, just plenty of independent seaside tea rooms and cafes, from Polly’s Pantry on the High Street to Needles Eye café on the seafront. If you’re looking to book a table somewhere good for dinner, then you’re spoilt for choice. Try the award winning Verveine Fishmarket Restaurant and sample the best fresh fish and local produce created by Michelin trained chef David Wykes. Call 01590 642176 or visit www.verveine.co.uk. If you’re after sea views, then The Marine’s restaurant offers panoramic views, served up alongside some delicious dishes. During the day you can also try the café for light meals like sandwiches and even cream teas. Call 01590 644369 or visit www.themarinemos.co.uk

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Out & about

Come rain or shine, a stroll along the beach is a must. Beach huts line the front and on a clear day you can see the Isle of Wight and the Needles. You could always pop in to The Needles Eye Café for a quick cuppa to warm up too. Also not to be missed is a visit to Hurst Castle, strategically placed at the end of the shingle spit that extends one-and-a-half-miles from Milford. Built by Henry VIII to defend the western approach to the Solent it was completed in 1544. The castle is open weekends until 31 March and entry costs £4.50 for adults and £2.50 for children. Birdspotters are a regular sight at Keyhaven Marshes Nature Resrve, just to the east of Milford’s beach at the start of Hurst Spit. If you’re twitching to see some birds look out for grebes, Canada geese, oystercatchers and curlew.

Don’t forget to visit the village for Food Week too, which this year takes place from 7 to 13 April. Find out all about it at www.milfordonseafoodweek.org

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My weekend in Milford on Sea

“We’re very lucky that the village is a hive of activity, and full of friendly people with time to chat,” says David Long, organiser of Milford on Sea Food Week. “Most weekends we will be dining somewhere in the village, and as we are blessed with a great variety of places to eat, there is never a lack of choice for us. The village itself offers so much. Great beaches, spectacular sea views, glorious sunsets, village life, quaint shops, clifftop strolls, woodland walks, country rambles, bird watching, nature reserves, magical forest, sailing, fishing, kite surfing, tea shops, fish & chips, traditional pubs, bistros, cafes, fine dining and international cuisine restaurants - what more could you want!”

Susan Whitlock is a Trustee of Milford on Sea Community Centre, she says: “Milford on Sea - what’s not to like? With the sea to the south, the Forest to the north, a village green and the main road running across the top there’s no through traffic. The beaches are great, the sea safe, the beach hut ‘culture’ enjoyable. Milford is becoming more and more special - three antique shops, two charity shops, two gift shops, fantastic restaurants and pubs all contribute to Milford’s reputation as somewhere worth visiting. There’s a great deli, butchers and a greengrocer - something for everyone. There’s always something happening in Milford from folk and jazz to comedy, from exercise classes to pantomime; there’s lots of fun to be had here.”

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Getting around

It’s about a 12-miles picturesque drive through the New Forest to reach the A31 which can take you west towards Ringwood or onto the M27 to Southampton. You could also take the coastal route along to Barton on Sea, Highcliffe and then Christchurch. The nearest train stations to the village are New Milton and Lymington, which means London and the major towns along the south coast are in easy reach.

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