The Costal Place Where You Shoud Be – New Forest, Lymington

From Vikings, via a rich smuggling past, to another historical era and the town’s St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery is about to reopen at the end of July following an extensive refurbishment with an exhibition of a major archaeological discovery.

St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery

St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery

The Boldre Hoard – more than 1,600 coins dating back to the third century – was discovered by people using metal detectors on fields near Warborne Farm in Lymington three years ago. It’s believed the oldest of the coins was possibly from as early as AD 249 under the Roman emperor Trebonianus Gallus.

The coins were taken to the British Museum in London where they were officially declared treasure. At the time, historian Dan Snow said: ‘This hoard is one of the most exciting archaeological discoveries in the New Forest in recent history. It belongs here, for us to enjoy and admire, and is part of our local story.’

The venue’s other opening exhibition is a partnership between internationally- acclaimed sculptor Geoffrey Dashwood and TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham called Birds of the New Forest.

It will feature Dashwood’s bronze sculptures of birds which currently live in the New Forest, used to live there and may return in the future and will be curated by Packham who is a friend and long-time admirer of the sculptor telling us: These sculptures defy the need for anatomical or ornithological justification – they are quite simply ravishing.’

Culture vultures can also whet their appetite in the Coastal Gallery a new contemporary art gallery owned and managed by Stewart Mechem, contemporary abstract artist, and Bev Saunders, designer and photographer.

Stewart, who has lived in Lymington for more than 20 years having moved down from London, said: ‘There is a real buzz about Lymington – it’s very much a ‘hot spot’ and combines the very best of country life with coastal living. We have some of the best hotels, restaurants and independent retailers to be found outside of London.’

They also have a unique family attraction. In Victorian times this historic market town was a fashionable spa for sea water bathing and the outdoor Lymington Sea Water Baths, dating back to 1833, the oldest such baths in the UK, are still a popular. Nowadays, the 120 x 50m baths are not just for swimming – for the more adventurous thrillseeker, why not tiy zorbing (rolling in what looks like a giant hamster wheel for humans), kayaking, the 120-metre inflatable obstacle course or aqua jousting?

With two marinas and sailing clubs, Lymington’s proud nautical heritage is still very much in evidence, never more so than summer Thursday evenings where 100 boats a week register to race at the Royal Lymington Yacht Club event.

“There is a real buzz about Lymington”

For those wanting to test out their sea legs without leaving the marina, the yacht Amana, owned by local resident Jason Ludlow, co-founder of Beds on Board – run along the same principle as Airbnb – provides the perfect setting for a glass of something spariding overlooking the Solent to the Isle of Wight in the distance. (Regular ferries run from the ferryport to Yarmouth on the island).

For land-lovers, Lymington-ICeyhaven Nature Reserve covers nearly 500 acres, made up of coastal marshes, reed beds, mud flats and former salterns; it plays a vital role in nourishing a number of endangered plants like Foxtail Stonewortand rare species of birds including the breeding populations of Little Terns. It also has historical and archaeological importance as home to The finest preserved examples of medieval and salt workings in the south of England’.

Woodside Parle offers something for all the family with its skate park, play area, rose gardens and fairy doors on the trees. And then thereare its traditional football pitches where youngsters – and the still young-at-heart – aspire to make it big at Wembley and hear a rousing rendition of the Cup Final ‘anthem’, Abide With Me, penned by hymn-writer Henry Lyte (1793-1847) while he was curate at the Church of St Thomas in Lymington.

Communications and IT specialist, Wood Communications, Paul Wood, who moved to the town from London, said: ‘My favourite place is the sea wall, which is easy walking, and gives a different experience every time you go down there depending on the state of the tide and weather.

‘I couldn’t contemplate living anywhere else now. Out of season Lymington is relatively uncrowded and quiet, with life lived at a slower speed than the capital, and people are rather more friendly.

‘The advantage of being a holiday destination is that there are always a lot of public events during the summer.

‘There are trade-offs. It’s not a party town, but if you like country and sea walks or life afloat, then you will find more than enough to feed your soul.’

LYMINGTON FACTS

  • The average house price in Lymington last year, according to property specialists Rightmove, was £405,315,4 per cent down on the year before
  • A train to London takes just over two hours and a season ticket costs £6,012

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