Lyndhurst locals on what they love most about the village

PUBLISHED: 11:32 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 19 March 2019

Ben Maguire outside The Oak Inn, Bank, with Louis and Keira

Ben Maguire outside The Oak Inn, Bank, with Louis and Keira

HMS Spirits

The gateway to the Forest revealed by those who work and live there; we discover local gin, New Forest inspired tartan and the best Sunday roast

Bikes and Ferraris. Traditional Forest pubs and ultra chic Limewood luxury spa hotel. Touristy gift shops and stylish boutiques. Lyndhurst is an anomaly, a mix of extremes, and all the more interesting for that. This is a village with the vibe of a town. It is also the New Forest’s administrative centre with both the District Council and the Verderers’ Court, which manages the Forest’s all-important commoning rights, based here, at either end of Lyndhurst’s lively High Street.

My personal favourite thing about Lyndhurst is the fresco of the wise and foolish virgins by Frederic Leighton in the imposing St Michael and All Angels church. He offered to paint it for free when staying with a friend in the neighbouring hamlet of Bank, apparently using locals as models. But what do the locals like best about Lyndhurst?

Kate Collison, New Forest Tartan Company

Kate established her Lyndhurst-based company in 2017 with the registration of the official New Forest Tartan. In less than two years the Tartan has gone from strength to strength, winning awards including the New Forest Business Partnership Outstanding Contribution to the New Forest Award from the New Forest National Park Authority.

The Tartan’s colours are inspired by the Forest: greens for evergreen and broadleaf trees, purple for heather and russet red for bracken. It is available in two forms: plant dyed and handwoven by Just Wool Textiles and traditionally woven in a Scottish mill. As well as being available by the metre, the sustainable business plan of using craftspeople to make high quality items from the Tartan has proved popular and successful with everything from blankets to bags, caps to dog collars, and lampshades to teddies.

Kate’s Local Life

• Quirky: “Behind the church at the top of Lyndhurst’s High Street is the grave of Alice Hargreaves who as a little girl was the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.”

• Walk: “Matley Wood. You can view the New Forest ponies as well as some of the Forest’s best scenery and archaeology.”

• Gem: “A shop called Down to the Wood which sells handmade wooden items from sustainably managed local woodland.”

• Pub: “One of the best pubs in Lyndhurst is The Oak Inn at Bank, serving great food in an authentic New Forest setting. Just remember to shut the gate on your way in as the ponies like to explore the pub garden!”

Ben Maguire, HMS Spirits

Ben established HMS Spirits in December 2016 after years of distilling as a hobby. The business is based in a barn on the outskirts of Lyndhurst as Ben grew up in the area and always wanted to have a business close to home. HMS Spirits is so called because Ben’s grandad was in the Navy and instilled in him a passion for swashbuckling tales about life at sea. Ben’s first gin was multi-award-winning Mary Rose Gin (named in memory of his grandad taking him there as a child) which was launched in August 2017, followed by Navy Strength Dreadnought Gin introduced at the end of 2018 and the latest, elderflower blend Elizabeth Gin, launched February 2019.

Ben’s Local Life

• Secret: “For me it is Pages of Lyndhurst. For years I thought it was a gift shop for tourists until they contacted me about stocking my gin. I popped in and saw not only a great range of spirits, but the best range of coffee for miles around.”

• Special: “The small hidden hamlets surrounding Lyndhurst: Bank, Emery Down, Woodlands. They all have walks and country pubs.”

• Pub: “The New Forest Inn in Emery Down is a favourite. It’s still family owned, has a great atmosphere and delicious food.”

• Café: “Spot in the Woods is dog friendly as well as having superb food.”

• Walk: “I spend any spare time walking my dogs, Kiera and Louis. I often park up at The Oak Inn in the cute hamlet of Bank and walk my dogs down Pinkney Lane, heading into the Forest for a couple of hours before returning to the pub for a pint. But I don’t think I’ve ever done the same walk twice.”

• Event: “I am a big fan of the Smoked and Uncut events at Limewood.”

Kate and Seb Castang, Burrow & Hide

Burrow & Hide is an independent lifestyle boutique specialising in the art of hygge and offering a wide range of hand-selected items for the home, interior design, home staging and design consulting services. They’ve been in business for five years, opening their first boutique in Lyndhurst in 2016 after being attracted by its array of independents, sense of community and pull as a holiday hotspot.

Kate and Seb’s Local Life

• Best: “There really is everything you’d need or want here; cosy pubs, cycle tracks, stunning scenery, romantic walks… even Maseratis!”

• Secret: “We cannot wait to welcome the new fudge shop opening next door to us this year!”

• Treat: “Limewood Hotel - we often take our interior design clients there for afternoon tea.”

• Pub: “We absolutely love The Mailmans Arms - incredibly friendly and exceptional food!”

• Cafe: “Lyndhurst Tea House offers brilliant gluten-free homemade cakes and scones. Must for a Sunday fry-up too. Yummy!”

• Restaurant: “Our family has always enjoyed La Pergola for good old Italian cooking! However, the new Forest Thai restaurant is brilliant.”

• Stay: “The Crown Hotel has large, comfortable rooms, its own car park and is within walking distance of everything.”

Lucy Carpenter, Innovation Bathrooms

Innovation Bathrooms was founded in 2015 by Lucy’s brother Joe Carpenter and his business partner Peter Harris. They opened the showroom on Lyndhurst’s High Street in April 2018 after taking the opportunity to take over premises which had been vacant for years, but with restaurant tables still all made up, giving it an eerie appearance. The whole shop has now been completely refurbished and turned into a bathroom sanctuary with LED-lit walk-in showers, tile selections from Ted Baker to rust effect and a faux leather skin bath that has become a talking point.

Lucy’s Local Life

• Cafe: “My favourite place to grab lunch is Tastry Pastries opposite our showroom. The baguettes are freshly made to order and their cakes are delicious. The exterior may not look as appealing as some of the other cafes but it’s by far the yummiest!”

• Walk: “Denny Wood. Drive down the long track through the campsite to find a lovely walk. In autumn it’s really special with its combination of heavy greenery and all the orange tones of the Forest. Also, as it is along gravel tracks, we can take buggies and bikes.”

• Fitness: “I run Buggy Bounce classes in the New Forest, which are dance fitness classes for mums using their buggies. The classes are great fun and mums can get back into fitness without having to worry about childcare. It’s fab to have a boogie with your buggy and meet new mums!” 


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