New Milton

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New Milton is a market town in south west Hampshire, England. The town has a high street and holds a market every Wednesday. Situated on the edge of the New Forest, the town is about 6 miles (10 km) west of Lymington town centre and 12 miles (19 km) east of Bournemouth town centre.

New Milton dates back to Anglo-Saxon times, and encompasses Old Milton, Barton on Sea, Ashley, Bashley, and Wootton. It is recorded as having a population of approximately 23,000 in 2001.

The manor of Milton (“Mildeltune”) is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 and literally means “Middle farm.” It was part of the lands belonging to Hugh de Port, and the estate was held from him by William Chernet. The Chernet family maintained possession of Milton into the 13th century, although lesser families were managing the estate on their behalf. The most important of these were the Chaucombe (or Chalcombe) family, who were probably the first people to build a church in Milton in the mid 13th century. In 1303 Thomas de Chaucombe was given permission to hold a weekly market on Tuesdays at Milton, as well as an annual fair on the feast day of Mary Magdalene, but this attempt to create a market town seems to have failed. From 1365 to 1565, the manor was in the possession of the Tyrrell family. The manor passed through various hands in subsequent centuries. The last significant owners were the Bursey family in the 19th century, and in the 1890s the remaining lands of the estate were subdivided and sold. In close proximity to Milton was the manor of Fernhill. In the Domesday book, it was held by Nigel from Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. In the 15th century, John Fromond, the owner of this scattered estate, willed the lands to Winchester College, in whose hands the estate remained down to the 19th century. Another estate called “Gore” appeared by the 15th century, and still survives (partially) as a farm to the west of the town.

The traditional village centre of Milton was just south of the church. Up to the 1960s, moated earthworks were still visible next to the road known as Moat Lane. Excavations of these earthworks in 1956 revealed a series of peasant enclosures and hut remains dating from the 9th to the 12th century, but no evidence of a manorial farmstead was found. The parish church of Milton is dedicated to Mary Magdalene and consists of a chancel with vestry, a nave and a western tower. The medieval church was pulled down and replaced around 1830, although the tower is of an earlier 17th century date. In 1835 a Church of England National School was founded on an island of land near the village green, where children were taught until just after World War I.[6] In 1881, the population of the entire Milton parish was only 1489 people, and Milton was still a small village. The location of the village on the main Christchurch to Lymington road (now the A337) meant that there were two coaching inns – The Wheatsheaf and The George – the former of which is still operating.

In March 1888 New Milton railway station was opened, which is still in operation today. A new town developed, which expanded rapidly with the coming of the railway and the name New Milton was used for the first time and can originally be traced back to the Post Office that stood opposite the train station. In 1895, the owner of the Post Office, Emma Newhook, commissioned a sign, which read – “New Milton Sub Post Office” to differentiate it from the post office in Old Milton. This was officially accepted in 1896, and so the name New Milton caught on. Much of the local farmland has been developed, first in the 1960s for commuter housing and again in the 1970s for small industrial/trade units. There is a mix of housing from cottages on the outskirts to more modern, urban housing in the central area. Milton village subsequently became known as Old Milton, and lies between New Milton and Barton on Sea.

There are a few notable architectural points of interest in the local area. However, a distinctive row of Coast Guard Cottages are to be found in Barton Lane, Barton on Sea, which were built at the end of the nineteen century by the Government of the day to house armed guards to try to stop the smuggling that was rife at the time. The Barton on Sea and Mudeford coastline was renowned for smuggling with many of the offshore seaways and routes to shore being named after well known local smuggling families. It was in this context that Frederick Marryat, author of The Children of the New Forest, was sent on patrol here as a young naval lieutenant in 1821, to watch over the Christchurch Bay area. Britain’s first reinforced concrete bridge was built in 1901 just outside New Milton at Chewton. There was an earlier experiment in building with this material in its unreinforced form at Sway (Sway Tower). Also built in 1900 was the Tudor style water tower, which can be found in Osborne Road. It has a staircase and is constructed with a turret, slit windows and battlements. It is a striking orange-red colour, was built from locally manufactured bricks.

On 23 August 1940, 8 August 1942 and 22 January 1943 bombing raids were carried out upon New Milton by the German Luftwaffe. The town’s water tower was suggested as the target. During the Second World War, New Milton homed evacuees and was a transit station for soldiers going to the battlefields. It also had an army hospital. It was a favourite for the American airmen who were based at the nearby airfields at Lymington and Holmsley.

The Memorial Centre in Whitefield Road commemorates those who died in the raids, as well as townspeople who have died more recently. Bricks can be purchased for inscription and insertion into the wall of the Memorial Room, which stands to the left of the front door and contains mementos saved from the original building, which was destroyed by fire in the 1970s.

The coastal village of Barton-on-Sea is nowadays included as a suburb of New Milton. In the First World War Barton was the site of a convalescent home for Indian service men and this is commemorated by an obelisk in the village.

To the east of New Milton is the village of Ashley, which also has a history dating back to the Domesday Book. Today Ashley is effectively a suburb of New Milton, albeit with its own shops, churches, and primary schools.

Tourist attractions include the Sammy Miller Motorcycle museum, situated on the corner of Stem Lane, which is regarded as the leading collection of motorcycles and accompanying memorabilia in the country. The Forest Arts Centre (formerly known as the New Milton Drama Centre) is situated at the end of Old Milton Road. It comprises several exhibition/activity rooms, a bar area and the main 150 seat studio theatre. The Memorial Centre also hosts various activities, including painting, dancing, indoor bowls, yoga, model car racing, and the Decorative and Fine Arts Society.

The town also increasingly attracts shoppers from throughout the surrounding area. Although the high street is not long, it caters for the mixed local population of retirees and young families, and includes young children’s clothes shops, toy shops, electrical stores, shoe shops, young adult clothing, ladies clothing, gentleman’s outfitters, and a large traditional department store, Bradbeers, as well as the supermarkets, convenience stores and eateries.

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