About the Locality


The New Forest District is a unique blend of ancient forest,

downland, small towns and villages and rural and industrial

landscapes, surrounded mostly by coast and rivers

The New Forest is recognised nationally and internationally as

being special. Its .social and economic life is intrinsically bound up

with its history and unique environment. It is distinctly different

in character from the rest of Hampshire. It is an area equivalent

to a national park. Situated between the south coast conurbations

of Southampton and Bournemouth, New Forest District covers

290 square miles. It has 40 miles of coastline and a population of

166,205 (1996 Census - County figures).

A short description of the District is given below.


Originally established between 1066 and 1086 as a Royal Forest and

hunting ground, the New Forest has survived the centuries. Names

that remain today signify the Forest's ancient origins, e.g.

Knighthood Inclosure and King's Garn Gutter Inclosure.

The survival of the New Forest in its present form is largely due

to the historic system of "commoning", with commoners exercising

their rights to graze livestock on the open forest. This has both

shaped the landscape and limited change. The open forest and land

with grazing rights cover almost all of the New Forest District area.

The New Forest has always been distinctive, subject to its own laws

and institutions since Norman times. The Verderers Court (including

the Court of Swainmote) has provided a local instrument of

regulation since the 13th century and still meets today.

Prior to 1974, the New Forest area was governed by three local

authorities in addition to a county council. All were established

in the 19th century. New Forest Rural District (based at Lyndhurst);

the Borough of Lymington; and Ringwood and Fordingbridge

Rural District all had coats of arms which reflected their

relationships with the New Forest . In 1974, these three 19th century

councils were brought together (with minor boundary changes) as

New Forest District Council. A 'natural community' for the purposes

of local government was formed.



New Forest District Council Area

It is the New Forest itself, rather than any settlement, that dominates

and gives cohesion to the District. Of the District's 166,205 residents,

about 30,000 live within the Forest. Lyndhurst (3,164), the 'capital of

the New Forest' and Brockenhurst (3,435) are the largest New Forest

villages. The majority of the District's residents live in the towns and

villages that surround the New Forest. Most are adjacent to the

Forest boundary. Totton, in the north east of the District is the biggest

town with a population of 26,884. The other main , settlements are:


New Milton



Hythe and Dibden




















(1996 census - County figures)