What’s on offer in the village of Minstead
- Credit: Archant
Claire Pitcher finds that Minstead is the quintessential New Forest village, with its quaint green, chocolate box cottages, country pub and a strong sense of community spirit
Minstead is just a couple of miles off the A31 before it turns into the M27. Continue along Seaman’s Lane to reach the village centre. There’s no public transport direct to Minstead but there is from nearby Cadnam and Lyndhurst. Community First operates a ‘Call and Go’ weekly bus service from Lyndhurst to New Milton every Thursday. Given sufficient warning it will be able to collect people from Minstead, but you need to book in advance on 0845 602 4326. Ashurst station is on the Waterloo line and goes to Brockenhurst, Poole, Bournemouth and Southampton.
You can easily walk to the wonderful Furzey Gardens from the village. This lovely attraction may not be on a grand scale, but there are 10 acres of woodland gardens to explore with winding paths leading to hidden surprises. The planting means that the gardens are glorious all year round. There’s a gallery, a café, a 16th century cottage to discover, plus events and workshops to attend.
As the gardens are owned by a Trust, entry is by charitable donation. Adults are asked to donate £8, children 4-16 £4.50 and children under four go free. A family ticket is £24. Visit minsteadtrust.org.uk for more details.
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Grabbing a bite
The Trusty Servant pub overlooking the Village Green has the quintessential summer pub garden (below). Sit outside with a glass of something cold and tuck into classic pub dishes such as a burger or beer battered catch of the day. There’s an extensive menu and they try to source their ingredients locally. Book a table on 023 80812137. The village shop and tearoom on the Village Green also champions Hampshire producers, with their menu serving everything from locally made pie and mash to cinnamon buns. Take a look online at minsteadvillageshop.com.
Did you know?
Looking out over the village green, the ‘Trusty Servant’ pub unfortunately hasn’t retained its original sign, which is in Winchester College. There is another public House, the Sir Walter Tyrell, not far from the Rufus Stone in Canterton. There used to be an inn at Stoney Cross too, The Compton Arms, but what was once a smart hotel and stables is now a Little Chef.
Novellist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is buried under a large tree in All Saints churchyard. The creator of Sherlock Holmes was originally buried in Crowborough and reinterred in the village by the family of his deceased first wife. Minstead actually featured in one of Doyle’s novels, The White Company.
“It’s the community here and the friends we have made that we like so much about Minstead,” says Heidi Simpson, owner of the Village Shop and Tearooms. “Minstead Village Shop is a family run business. I take the lead, my husband Andy looks after the finances, our five year old, Wilson, eats the ice-cream and our two year old Bella pulls everything off the shelves,” she laughs.
Built in 1768, the house began life as an old bakery: “Loaves were baked in the front room and passed out of the window to locals on the village green. Over the centuries the village shop and its shopkeepers have been at the very heart of the village.”
The Simpson’s have been running the village shop for just 11 months, but the business will be celebrating its 250th birthday next year. Heidi explains how much she enjoys using local produce for her menu in the tearooms: “Our menu is sourced from the New Forest and neighbouring counties. We adore doing business with the farmers and producers on our doorstep - they produce and deliver themselves directly to the shop. It’s an idyllic way to do business. We’re also proud to be members of the New Forest Marque.”
Living in the village with the forest just steps away from home, Heidi most enjoys spending time with her family and friends enjoying what it has to offer: “There’s everything you could want; camping, walking, cycling, it’s the best place to live.”