This Town Trail around Ringwood’s old town centre, designated a Conservation area, has been compiled by The Ringwood Society. For more details about the society and how to become a member click here
1. The trail starts from the Gateway building next to the Furlong Car Park.
2. Cross the road to the Furlong Shopping Centre. This attractive development of shops erected in 1991 blends well with the existing buildings. The area now covered by Waitrose supermarket was previously the site of the weekly cattle market. The three-storeyed building, now a restaurant, was formerly Frampton’s corn and seed merchant’s stores.
The bronze sculpture of the Mare and Foal by sporting sculptress Priscilla Hann encapsulates Ringwood’s traditional links with the New Forest and its ponies and provides a delightful focal point to the Centre.
3. Passing the statue, turn left down Star Lane, which brings you to the Market Place. This wide street is the centre of old Ringwood, as can be seen by the number of inns, shops and other old buildings. On Wednesday morning a street market which dates its charter back to 1226 still takes place here. Turn right.
The present Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul was built between 1853-1855, but a church has stood here since Saxon times. An indication of the antiquity of the site is given by the height of the graveyard above street level, as generations of burials have successively raised the ground level.
The Jubilee Lamp, which stands in the middle of the Market Place, was erected by public subscription in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. It was restored at the time of Queen Elizabeth II ’s Silver Jubilee.
4. Continue down West Street, leading from the Market Place towards the A31. Over a hundred years ago the right-hand side of this road consisted almost entirely of thatched cottages, with the notable exception of Monmouth House. This house bears a plaque recording its historical links with the Duke of Monmouth. It was here that Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, was held after his abortive rebellion of 1685 and from where he unsuccessfully wrote to his uncle James II begging for mercy. Next door the Old Cottage Restaurant is an attractive example of the thatched cottages that were once common along Ringwood’s streets.
Cross the pedestrian bridge into Jubilee Gardens and view Ringwood’s bridges. The first small brick bridge spans the narrow Millstream, whereas the second three-arched stone bridge crosses the wide River Avon.
Returning to West Street, cross the road and continue back towards the Market Place. The bus station and row of three shops stand on the site of Carter’s brewery, which produced Ringwood Ales until 1923. No more beer was brewed commercially in the town until 1978, when the present Ringwood Brewery was founded on the southern edge of town. The elegant three-storeyed Bridge House was once the home of the owners of the brewery, the Carter family.
5. Turn right down Strides Lane. The road soon narrows into a footpath past a block of flats and the Scout hut on your right. Further along is a small piece of land created as a Pocket Park, its winding path leading to another view of the Millstream.
The semi-rural piece of open land ahead has for centuries been land with common rights known as the Bickerley. It is now owned by Ringwood Town Council. The Avon Valley footpath leads over the water meadows to Christchurch nine and a half miles away.
6. Continue along Bickerley Road and turn left up Kingsbury Lane, which is the road with the small postbox on the corner and Bickerley Green care home on the right. Off this trail on the other side of Blynkbonnie Car Park are Ringwood Library and Greyfriars Community Centre. Continue up Kingsbury lane till you reach a group of small shops. Pass under the archway.
7. The junction you now see where Christchurch Road, the High Street, Kingsbury Lane and Southampton Road meet, is known as Fridays Cross. The derivation of the name Fridays Cross remains shrouded in the mists of time, for it is many centuries old. Much more recent however is the circular seat which was designed and installed by Hampshire County Council in 1993.
8. Turn left down the High Street where the pavement and road surface have been attractively block paved. This narrow road is lined with various shops, old and new.
9. Back at the Market place the Original White Hart on the right hand side is one of Ringwood’s oldest inns. Local legend says that it gained its name when King Henry VII and his courtiers visited the inn whist deer in the new forest. The building on the other side of the archway, now standing empty, was built as Ringwood’s Town Hall and Corn Exchange in Victorian times. In the 20th century it was converted to a cinema and later a shopping arcade.
10. Take a sharp right turn by the postbox up narrow Meeting House Lane. This takes its name from the old Meeting House which can be seen facing the car park, as the lane opens up onto the Furlong. Built in 1727, the Meeting House is a fine example of a non-conformist chapel complete with galleries and box pews. It is now an exhibition and local history centre open every morning except Sundays.
The trail has now returned you to the car park. We hope that this walk has encouraged you to take a closer look at Ringwood and to discover or yourself the attractions of our old market town.