Why you should move to Burley

Burley is enchanting, shaped by tales of witches, smugglers and dragons

Burley is enchanting, shaped by tales of witches, smugglers and dragons - Credit: Emma Caulton

Escape the hurly-burly of life – move to Burley in the New Forest suggests Emma Caulton

Burley is surrounded by woodland and heathland - ideal for outdoorsy types keen to cycle, walk, run

Burley is surrounded by woodland and heathland - ideal for outdoorsy types keen to cycle, walk, run and ride - Credit: Emma Caulton

Welcome to Burley, considered one of the prettiest and most sought-after villages in the New Forest.

Burley feels lost in time and fairy tale. Sheltered in the lee of a hill, the village is surrounded by forest and scattered with woodman’s lodges and Hansel and Gretel thatch cottages. Cattle, donkeys, ponies and even pigs (in autumn) roam its high street.

This is a charming village, rich with folklore. A hidden cellar stashed with old bottles, coins and pistols was discovered during refurbishment work at The Queen’s Head, a 16th century inn that was once a haunt for highwaymen and smugglers. In the mid-20th century, white witch Sybil Leek made Burley her home and there’s still a gift shop, Coven of Witches, named after her. There is certainly plenty to enchant the visitor. Homemade fudge is sold in a quaint courtyard of small independents. There are tea rooms and a cider farm making traditionally brewed cider sold from a shop that was once a cow shed and the village dairy.

Yet this is a surprisingly practical place to live. There’s a doctor’s surgery and a post office in a really useful general village store with butcher selling everything from local free range eggs and handmade pies to milk and wine. There’s also a buoyant community life which includes Burley Players, an amateur theatre society presenting musicals, pantomimes and murder supper evenings, and Burley Young Dramatics for six to 14 year-olds.

Burley is a traditional New Forest village that seems untouched by the passing of time

Burley is a traditional New Forest village that seems untouched by the passing of time - Credit: Emma Caulton

Activities include Forest Leisure Cycling, hiring out and selling bicycles from a picturesque weather-boarded hut, a boon for those keen to make the most of more than 100 miles of cycle trails and routes winding through the New Forest. There’s a cricket club, founded in 1875, its pitch frequently cropped by free-ranging ponies. A golf club has spectacular forest views and the occasional hoofmark on the greens. Hacks, lessons and a pony club for eight to 16 year-olds is available at Bagnum Equestrian Centre, just west of Burley. There’s coarse fishing at Beeches Brook Fishery, a privately owned two-acre lake. Otherwise, as Burley is surrounded by the New Forest landscape, footpaths head off in every direction, to wander along, enjoying the wildlife and wide views.

Families will approve of the schooling. Little Deers nursery and Burley Primary are both Good says Ofsted, while Bransgore Primary, in the next village heading southwest, is considered Outstanding. At secondary level, Ringwood School, which covers the Burley area, is Good and independent Ballard School, less than seven miles away at New Milton, is rated Excellent by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) and Outstanding by the ISI in conjunction with Ofsted.

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Deep in the forest, Burley is perhaps unexpectedly accessible for the commuter. It lies equidistant between Bournemouth and Southampton (both about 16 miles away). The A31 is a couple of miles drive and Brockenhurst mainline station is just seven miles – with London Waterloo in 90 minutes or so.

As for property, out of all the New Forest villages Burley probably has a bigger percentage of properties with equestrian facilities – purely because it is surrounded by forest. Strict planning controls also mean that Burley has more than its fair share of traditional chocolate boxy New Forest properties, many hidden down lanes and tracks. These have huge appeal as both family homes and holiday hideaways. However, with limited supply and high demand, such properties tend to sell quickly – some have been known to be snapped up within hours of coming to the market.

This is understandable: after all Burley makes the dream of living a free, foresty life not simply a fantasy.

Agent talk

“The market is phenomenal. Burley has always been popular as it’s one of the jewels of the New Forest; it’s one of the three Bs – Beaulieu, Brockenhurst and Burley. Anything we get just seems to fly out. We’ve even been selling property that isn’t on the books.

“It’s an aspirational village. Those living locally target it as a village they would love to live in one day, while people moving here from outside the area pick up on the fact that it is a little oasis in the middle of the New Forest. There is nowhere else quite like it. It is like an island in the New Forest, while geographically it’s very convenient.

“The market is never going to be diluted here as no infilling or multiple builds are allowed. If you do get permission to knock down a property you can only replace it with another one, you can’t build three in its place. As far as the planners are concerned there’s no village curtilage in Burley, it’s all considered to be forest and falls under the more strict New Forest rules as opposed to local planning laws.

“We also cover Emery Down and Minstead to the east, which are also very popular, and Bransgore to the west. We have people come to us as they’re considering Burley who end up buying in Bransgore and hamlets, such as Waterditch and Neacroft, when they realise they can get more bang for their buck only two or three miles down the road.

“Personally, what I like about Burley is the really strong community spirit with two village halls, village pantos, WI, art exhibitions and classes and activities going on. Now we have a wonderful village shop, Shappen Stores. It has a traditional butcher, post office and there’s almost a farm shop feel to it with the range of local and quality produce. Owners Nigel and Charlotte Blow are a lovely couple, all the locals use it and love it, and it’s going great guns.”

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