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Things to do on a day out in Brockenhurst

PUBLISHED: 15:54 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:54 25 April 2014

New Forest ponies ©  Jean Brooks

New Forest ponies © Jean Brooks

Jean Brooks

This pretty New Forest village is as popular with visitors as it is with the ponies, head there now for afternoon teas and hidden boutiques

Senspa at Careys ManorSenspa at Careys Manor

There’s so much to see and do in and around Brockenhurst it’s hard to know what to begin with. A stroll along Lyndhurst Road in the village will take you past the windows of many lovely shops selling everything from New Forest souvenirs to flowers. Pineapple Retro is also on this road and is well worth a browse. How about a Mighty Mouse Annual? Or maybe a 1970s vintage radio? It’s like stepping into the past and it’s hard to resist a purchase or two. If you’re out for the day then you may want to hire a bike, or maybe yours needs some spares. Either way take a peek in at Cyclexperience on Brookley Road. They even have electric bikes you can take for a test drive. If you have keen riders in the family you could visit Ford Farm Stables on the Burley Road and see the forest on horseback. Or if all that sounds much too exhausting book yourselves in for a treatment at SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel (01590 624467). Food wise, there is an abundance of choice from the delightful Something’s Brewing at Watersplash coffee shop and tea garden to The Pig Hotel on Beaulieu Road, where you will find local produce garnishing every plate - the dishes change with the seasons so take a look at their 25-mile menu online at www.thepighotel.com or book a table on 01590 622354. If you fancy some good old pub grub there are many watering holes to try. From the historical Snakecatcher (01590 622348) to the Rose & Crown (01590 622225) and The Foresters Arms (01590 623397).

Showtime

Don’t forget the New Forest and Hampshire County Show, just outside Brockenhurst at New Park, which takes place this year from 29th to 31st July. With show jumping, family fun, trade exhibitions, flower show, discovery zones and a huge selection of food and drink it’s a three day event that the whole family will enjoy. Tickets cost £17.55 per adult and £5.40 per child if brought in advance online at www.newforestshow.co.uk. Family tickets and senior citizen tickets are also available.

The New Forest and Hampshire County ShowThe New Forest and Hampshire County Show

A potted history

We can trace the first signs of human habitation in Brockenhurst back 4,000 years to the Bronze Age due to the plethora of burial mounds dotted around locally. For the next 3,000 years, there are fewer signs of habitation, the events of 1066 bringing the end of the Saxon period.

In the 18th century, not far down the road, Lymington was thriving thanks to its port and the manufacture of salt from sea water. By the end of the century the Lymington road had become a turnpike and a route often used for mail coaches from Lyndhurst and the north. It was due to this that Brockenhurst began to grow in size, with houses and inns springing up along the main road.

In 1745, local man Henry Thurston, who left to make his fortune in London, died, leaving a bequest to set up a school in Brockenhurst. After being held in a number of houses the school became a permanent feature in a cottage on the corner of what is now Mill Lane and the A337.

By the 19th century rail had come to the forest and a station was built in the village – this meant an increase in visitors as well as the local population.

The New Forest, and Brockenhurst in particular, featured prominently in the First World War. The village played host to the Lady Hardinge Hospital for Wounded Indian Soldiers and the name Meerut Road recalls the Indian troops of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions who fought on the Western Front in the war. In the Second World War, The Balmer Lawn Hotel was often used as a Divisional HQ and was the location of many of the meetings between Generals Montgomery and Eisenhower’s, away from their headquarters in Southsea, as they planned the D-Day Landings.

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