There's no place like Milford-on-Sea
PUBLISHED: 16:42 14 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:09 20 February 2013
Nineteenth-century plans to turn Milford-on-Sea into a fashionable seaside resort ran out of steam, and helped preserve this lovely village as a delightful place to live, says Jill Belcher
Agriculture, sea-salt and a little smuggling on the side had been Milford-on-Seas lifeblood since the Domesday Book, but in 1886 local landowner Colonel Cornwallis-West decided it should become a destination resort.
Pleasure gardens, roads and a hotel were built and then a combination of an outbreak of typhoid and lack of funds halted the scheme. Today the village is an utter delight, with picturesque 18th and 19th century cottage-style homes as well as dignified late Victorian houses and a healthy amount of 20th century development.
Its historic centre is protected by two conservation areas the larger taking in the High Street, the village green and the Danestream valley south of Barnes Lane and Vinegar Green and the smaller the area around All Saints Church. The first timber church was replaced by a stone building in the 12th century, much of which survives today and All Saints is probably the most important building in this village which boasts many gems.
The manor, vicarage and mill buildings still exist, although none of them retain their original function and what remains of the common land is now the pleasant village green, overlooked by Myrtle Cottage and Milford Cottage, both of which were built in the 1780s.
Beside the seaside
Essentially the street pattern has remained unchanged and the centre of the village is a shoppers delight, with individual retailers behind traditional shop fronts, excellent teashops, cafes, restaurants and pubs as well as the convenience of a Co-op and Boots.You can stroll along a network of footpaths in the 14 acres of ancient woodland in the Pleasure Grounds and close by the village is the long shingle beach, with its traditional beach huts. There is even sand at the waters edge at low tide.
Here you can take in an unparalleled vista, of the Isle of Wight and the Needles, the Purbeck Hills, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Harbour, perhaps stopping for refreshment at the newly-refurbished Marine cafe bar and restaurant.
On the outside, Milford-on-Sea looks like a picture-postcard, and it attracts a fair number of holidaymakers, but it is very much a community of the 21st century. Community life is strong and residents take great pride both in their surroundings and in the active life of the village. It may be on the far southern border of the New Forest, but it is definitely not a backwater!
Milford-on-Sea Church of England Primary School has spectacular views over the Solent and is just half a mile from the centre of the village.
Co-educational Durlston Court School at nearby Barton-on-Sea is an independent school for pupils from two to 13 years.
You are less than four miles from Lymington and the A337, while its a 40-minute commute to Bournemouth or about 45 minutes Southampton. Trains from New Milton take less than two hours to London.
Wonderful walking on the Solent Way, which starts its 60-mile route to Emsworth here; Hurst Castle, where King Charles I was imprisoned, is within walking distance on a shingle spit extending into the Solent and Sturt Pond and Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve are on your doorstep.
Strong community life
Excellent for sailing and fishing
Steps away from the countryside
Many period homes
Unique shopping centre
Why I love Milford-on-Sea
Sam Hughes has just returned to the area as general manager and head chef of the newly-refurbished Marine cafe and restaurant on the seafront. For four years he was head chef at the Sir Charles Napier Restaurant in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, where he cooked for celebrities including Tony Blair, Lily Allen and Heston Blumenthal, and he is very much looking forward to living here again.
I lived in Bournemouth from the age of six and many of my family and friends still live in the area, he says. During 2004/2005 I was fortunate enough to work as senior sous chef at Pebble Beach Restaurant, Barton-on-Sea, working under Michelin-starred chef Pierre Chevillard. There is something very special about a restaurant with spectacular views of the sea, which we are also lucky to enjoy at The Marine.
Sam has worked for Raymond Blanc as senior sous chef at Le Petit Blanc in Oxford, where he was voted Employee of the Year, and says: I am very excited to be intimately involved in the launch of a completely new restaurant in Milford. The building is stunning and I intend to ensure that people will have a dining experience to match!
A keen squash and table-tennis player, Sam is currently so busy he says: I have to make do with my Wii-Fit to try and keep healthy! I have just turned thirty and am up for the title of Milfords most eligible bachelor!