Brockenhurst village centre
|New Forest East|
Brockenhurst is a village and parish in the New Forest, Hampshire. It is the largest village by population in the New Forest. The nearest city is Southampton some 13 miles to the north-east, while Bournemouth is also nearby, 15 miles south-west. Surrounding towns and villages include Beaulieu, Lymington, Lyndhurst, and Sway.
The earliest signs of habitation in Brockenhurst date back 4,000 years to the Bronze Age: the area is dotted with burial mounds – called tumuli. Beyond that, few signs remain of other habitation during the next 3,000 years, when the Saxon period was brought to an end by the events of 1066.
William the Conqueror created his Nova Foresta traditionally in 1079, a vast hunting area lying south and west of his capital at Winchester; it stretched south to the coast at Barton on Sea and west to what is now Bournemouth. In 1086, the Domesday Book recorded that there were four small Saxon manors in the Brockenhurst area, Mapleham, Hincelveslei, Brochelie and Broceste. Mapleham no longer exists, probably being subsumed within Brookley; the name Hincelveslei has become Hinchelsea which lies to the west of Brockenhurst. The third manor, Brochelie, gives the modern name, Brookley, which was granted a regular weekly market and an annual fair, lasting several days, in the 1347. Brochelie had forest rights to graze sheep on the open forest, but only between Wilverley and what is now Rhinefield Road, this right is usually associated with religious houses and was probably attached to the mediæval estate which Christchurch Priory held at Brookley.
The manor house of Brochelie was situated on the plot now occupied by the Watersplash Hotel. Its manor itself extended over the lands on the western side of the A337 Lyndhurst-Lymington Road.
The fourth Saxon manor of the area was Broceste which gives the village its name. It was the most important manor, being a grand-serjeanty held by providing accommodation for the King when hunting in the area.
St Nicholas' Church, at that time, was no more than an outlying chapel linked to Twynham – later Christchurch Priory. William Rufus visited Brockenhurst, possibly worshiping in St Nicholas' church, as at least two writs were issued by him from here.
By the 18th century, nearby Lymington was a thriving town, due to its port and the manufacture of salt from sea water. By the end of the 18th century, the Lymington road had become a turnpike and a regular route for the mail coaches from Lyndhurst and the north. During this time, Brockenhurst grew in size, with dwellings and inns strung along the main road.
In 1745, Henry Thurston, a local man who left to make his fortune in London, died, leaving a bequest to set up a school in the village. After being held in a number of houses it became fixed in a cottage on the corner of what is now Mill Lane and the A337.
In 1770, Edward Morant, using some of the vast wealth that flowed from the family estates in Jamaica, purchased Brockenhurst House – a late Stuart farmhouse – for £6,400. He rebuilt it as a large Georgian mansion, while he and his heirs laid out avenues in the grounds and acquired adjacent land, eventually peaking at some 3,000 acres.
In the 19th century the railway station was introduced to Brockenhurst, increasing a large number of holiday visitors and the local population.
In the First World War, Brockenhurst hosted the Lady Hardinge Hospital for Wounded Indian Soldiers. The name Meerut Road recalls the Indian troops of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions who fought on the Western Front in the war and were patients at Brockenhurst. Specialist sections were also established in the Balmer Lawn and Forest Park Hotels. It was later taken over by the No.1 New Zealand General Hospital and continued in use until 1919. Auckland Avenue and Auckland Place commemorate the stay of the New Zealanders.
In the Second World War, what is now The Balmer Lawn Hotel was often used as a Divisional HQ and was the location of many of Generals Montgomery and Eisenhower's meetings, away from their headquarters in Southsea, as they planned the D-Day Landings.
Ancient oak trees in Brockenhurst hid military vehicles in 1944, as they gathered to do battle in Normandy. The 50th 'Northumbrian' Infantry Division, the core of Assault Force 'G', tasked with storming Gold Beach on D-Day, had its HQ at the Carey's Manor Hotel.
The western part of the village greatly expanded in the 1970s and, in the early 1990s, Berkeley Homes built Ober Park, which is now known as The Coppice, this despite having been known as Clerks (or variations thereof) from the 13th to 19th centuries. More construction of the village still continues today by Penny Farthing & Son.
Sport and leisure
Brockenhurst has a Non-League football club Brockenhurst F.C., which plays at Grigg Lane.
The station is the junction where the branch line to Lymington connects to the mainline. The "Lymington Flyer" services connect with the ferry to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. The branch line is a Heritage line and its self-contained nature permitted the use of slam-door rolling stock, until this was discontinued in 2010. In 1967 it was the last standard-gauge branch line in the south of England to cease using steam haulage.
- Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III, vol.7, p.530
- Calendar of Close Rolls, Henry III, Vol.7, pp.332–3
- The National Archives | Access to Archives
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