Brockenhurst ("Badgers Wood") is set in the best open woodlands in Europe, and we are at the very centre of the New Forest National Park.
In Brockenhurst the New Forest is all around you; woodlands, heathlands, and grasslands with ponies, deer, cattle, sheep, even pigs.
The history of the area goes back 4000 years to the bronze age; there are burial mounds all around the village. But the event which changed this area the most was William the Conqueror's success at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when he created his New Forest hunting grounds to the south of Winchester, which was the capital of England at the time. People suffered badly under Forest Law, as the deer were given top priority, and a lot of local tradition has grown from the gradual reversal of this situation, with the establishment of Commoners Rights of Pasture (cattle and sheep), Estover (fuelwood), Mast (pigs), Turbary (turves) and Marl (clay); these rights still exist today.
Modern Brockenhurst developed after the arrival of the railways. Brockenhurst station was opened on 1 June 1847 as part of the Southampton and Dorchester Railway (nicknamed Castleman's Corkscrew) with services running to Southampton in one direction and Dorchester in the other. The branch line to Lymington followed soon afterwards, and later the main line to Bournemouth; all of which made Brockenhurst a key railway junction. By the end of the 19th Century all this improved access, and tourism, had increased Brockenhurst's population, and of course its prosperity.
Brockenhurst was involved in the two world wars. In World War One, Brockenhurst was a convalescent centre for wounded troops, Indian and New Zealand troops in particular, and in the Second World War, the Balmer Lawn Hotel was the location of many of General Montgomery and General Eisenhower meetings as they planned the D Day landings.
Today, Brockenhurst has a thriving village feel as city-based workers are attracted here by the 1950's retro looks and its peaceful mood, and local tourism helps with much needed open forest access and outdoor activities for people looking to get away from it all.
All of this makes Brockenhurst so much more than just a beautiful village, it has a deep-rooted relaxed feel and a nice calm understated character.
The web is full of information about Brockenhurst, the New Forest, and their facilities; here are a few good websites to set you on your way:
If you are driving, the most obvious route is to go to Jn1 of the M27 and come to Brockenhurst through Lyndhurst using the A337. But be careful, at busy times over the summer weekends the lights in Lyndhurst cause a queue to form backing up towards the M27, which can take some time to get through. The easy way to avoid this queue altogether is to come off the M27 at Jn2 and use the A326 to bypass Totton, and then join the A35 heading out of Southampton straight into Lyndhurst. The A35 joins the Lyndhurst one-way system at the bottom of the high street and misses the lights altogether.
Head for postcode SO42 7SG. When you get into Brockenhurst you'll see that most Sat Navs seem to only get you halfway down Sway Road, so you’ll need the following to make it the last ½ mile: Keep going south down Sway Road till you pass the Golf Course entrance on your right, then go a further 100 yards and turn first left into a gravel layby. In the layby, keep parallel to the road and go over the cattle grid in front of you. Ours is the big yellow house immediately on the left.
If you use the what3words app, the gravel layby location is "cabinets.leaned.collected".