About New Milton

 

History of New Milton

Although New Milton celebrated its Centenary in 1996, the land on which it stands has a much older history, It was the arrival of the railway station in 1896 which created a geographical and topographical shift, as the older hamlet of Milton moved gradually and almost imperceptibly north and east to reflect the tide of progress and prosperity.

The Early Years

The area is remarkable in that, within one parish, there has been found evidence of almost every period of pre-history. The Roman army of General Vespasian was certainly in the area around 43AD, and various Roman relics have been found locally. Hunting, fishing and farming were the obvious means of livelihood of the Germanic inhabitants of the area during Milton's first millennium.

Milton and its surrounding villages and manors were listed in the Doomsday Book (1086). The name Milton derives from Middletune, meaning middle farm. The Jutish or Saxon settlement was in the midst of other tuns, namely Barton, Wootton, Chewton and Becton. Milton is one of only a handful of Hampshire villages with a storehouse of mediaeval deeds. For this we must thank John Fromond, owner of a scattered estate centered on Fernhill, which he bequeathed to Winchester College in 1445, along with documents which take local history back to around 1200. A church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene and linked with Christchurch Priory was built at Milton in approximately 1260. Parish records date from 1654, less than a decade after the end of the Civil War, when Milton had been caught between the conflicting loyalties of Royalist Christchurch and Republican Lymington. The compilation of Forest Claims in 1670 was a source of importance for identifying local landlords and farmers. From 1708 there are records of settlement orders concerning the poor, apprenticeship indentures and bastardy orders. Poor Law records date from 1760, with lists of overseers and churchwardens from that time, and giving details of the rates paid by each landowner, and how the money was spent.

A Poor House was built in the 1790s, to be destroyed by fire only a couple of years later. Its replacement was built, apparently a few paces east of the existing George Inn at Milton Green, and the remaining parts of this building were removed as recently as 1984. Children from this Poor House were employed at a cottage in nearby Chewton between 1806 and 1818, making tiny chains for the insides of watches. Many local men undoubtedly tried to eke out a meagre existence by participating in illicit poaching and the landing of smuggled goods. In 1780 the local Customs & Excise Officer, Mr Bursey, was murdered at his Chewton cottage by smugglers. The author Captain Marryat visited the area in 1821, and may have extolled its virtues to his brother who was in the army. The Captain's brother subsequently bought Chewton Glen House, where the author's Children of the New Forest was written. The Chewton Glen is now one of the most prestigious hotels in the country. Smuggling continued to be a menace well into the 1860s, when Coastguard Cottages were built at Barton.

The present Church of St Mary Magdalene, dating (apart from its Stuart tower) from the 1830s, replaced the mediaeval church. In the porch there is a staged effigy of Dorset soldier Thomas White, along with his actual sword. The new brick nave, Gothic windows and chancel cost £2,000, but less than 100 years later the chancel was entirely reformed with a barrel vault. A northern side aisle, incorporating in its windows the rounded shape of the chancel with the Gothic of the rest of the nave, was added in 1959. Although it's likely that the church and various nonconformist Sunday schools existed in the parish before 1800, the first record of day schools is in 1833, when five such schools (presumably dame schools in cottages) were known.

Milton Grows

The population at the first census (1801) was only 522, including possibly 100 living west of Chewton stream, but by 1881, with the Chewton area excluded, the population had grown to 1,489. Roughly 100 years later it has risen to around 23,000. The 1841 census provided much information for local historians, giving names, ages and occupations of everyone living in the parish. In 1843 just over 100 fields were handed over to the newly created parish of Highcliffe. This was the area west of Chewton Bunny as far as Belvedere Mansion (replaced by Wolhayes), which became the Marydale Convent School, demolished in 1970. The area included Chewton Common and land in Walkford.

The railway arrived in 1847 at Christchurch Road (later Holmsley), then the nearest stop to the developing and fashionable town of Bournemouth, but Milton was to wait a further forty years before it joined the railway network. Milton Station was built on the new main line to Bournemouth in 1886, seeing its first train in 1888. 

A new sub Post Office was built just north of the railway bridge, which the Postmistress, Mrs Emma Newhook, named New Milton Post Office. The Civil Parish Council and the postal authorities agreed to the name in 1896, and the railway adopted the name for the station the following year. There had previously been some controversy about the name of the station, as Milton became confused with Wilton, near Salisbury. And there were other Miltons in the country (56 to be exact), whilst calling it Barton would have been worse since there were 84 of them! Other names were tentatively put forward for the district, concluding in 1931 with an attempt to rename the civil parish Milbarton. The station provided a focal point for new business and housing development.

Some highlights or the last 100 years or so

The water tower, designed, like the station, in Tudor style, was built in 1900, the same year that Britain's first reinforced concrete bridge was built at Chewton. Brick kiln works began to flourish in the area as bricks could now be easily conveyed to rapidly growing Bournemouth.

The year 1895 marked the setting up of a Civil Parish Council, which took over many functions previously undertaken by the old Ecclesiastical Parish Council, and from 1926 to 1932 New Milton was an Urban District Council.

For just over a year from 1905, a steam bus plied between New Milton and Lymington stations, via Milford, but it was too heavy for the gravel roads and was withdrawn.

A Scout troop was formed in 1909, and in December 1910, the 14 boys were inspected by Baden-Powell at Lymington, with four being selected to go to London the following year to be inspected by the King. Soon a Guide Company was formed, followed by local football and cricket clubs.

Largely as a result of the efforts of the much-loved rector, Mr Kelsall, the land adjacent to Whitefield Road was preserved as a War memorial recreation ground in April 1920. The ground was bought for £850, the money having been raised by public subscription. Mr Matterson, a Bournemouth chemist who lived in Fernhill, bought the rough ground to the north and handed it over for use as bowling greens and tennis courts.

In 1928 a local institution was born, in the shape of the local newspaper, the New Milton Advertiser. The paper, edited in the early years by Mr Kirby Wynne, was later bought by Mr Charles Curry, who linked it to the Lymington Times to extend its coverage. The paper is still owned and edited by Mr Curry's son Charles.

 

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