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Thursday, 16 July 2015

Almshouses Emery Down receive Royal seal of approval

Boultbee Cottages Almshouses Emery Down
Boultbee cottages almshouses Emery Down.
Photo by: David Balfour
Work to transform historic almshouses in Emery Down near Lyndhurst has received a Royal seal of approval.

The 140-year-old Victorian Boultbee Cottages have been given a prestigious award by the Prince of Wales after undergoing a £600,000 restoration programme.

The Trustees of the Grade II listed almshouses worked closely with planners and building conservation experts at the New Forest National Park Authority to ensure the buildings were brought up to modern standards but maintained the traditional character of the buildings.

Almshouses provide affordable housing for the vulnerable or needy and are run by local charitable trusts. The Emery Down Almshouses Trust has spent over five years raising the funds to restore and extend the five cottages which had become uninhabitable.

Jan Smart, Chairman of the trustees, said: ‘This is an unexpected honour and marks the completion of a long and frequently-daunting project. Emery Down is a very small village and without local support the plan to restore and extend the Almshouses would never have been attempted. The renovated cottages are a source of pride and the homes they provide are a joy to their tenants.

‘The intense interest shown in this scheme has emphasised the severe shortage of affordable housing to locals within the National Park. We are delighted to have been able to make a small contribution and at the same time to enhance the appearance of our picturesque village.’

Prince Charles is the patron of the Almshouses Association and gave his Patron’s Award to the Emery Down scheme, one of only two awarded this year. The awards celebrate excellence in architectural and living standards and recognise outstanding projects and developments.

Commenting on the scheme HRH the Prince of Wales said: ‘I hope the Award scheme will encourage all trustees who are considering building or altering the almshouses of which they are custodians to strive for the highest standards and thus to leave a legacy of which we can be justly proud.’

Pat Wyeth, Chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority Planning Committee, said: ‘The Grade II Boultbee cottages are an important part of the National Park’s heritage. Our planning and building design teams have been working with the trustees and architects since they first approached us in 2010 to ensure the restoration scheme of these Grade II properties was the best for the Forest and for future tenants. Advice included looking at traditional materials and keeping the modest scale of the buildings so they still look like traditional almshouses but at the same time bringing them up to modern standards. We’re delighted to see the finished scheme and that it has won such a prestigious and well-deserved award.’

The trustees are hoping the Prince will visit the Grade II listed cottages to present the plaque personally.

Much of the restoration cash came from the Almshouses Association, the Homes and Communities Agency and local donations. The Trust has had to take out a £240,000 mortgage to cover the rest of the cost and the trustees are appealing for donations. They can be sent to: Clerk to the Trustees Roger Riley, Home Farm, Emery Down, Lyndhurst, SO43 7FH.

Today there are around 1,800 almshouse charities. They provide 31,000 almshouses in the United Kingdom accommodating around 36,000 people.

Boultbee Cottages facts

  • The cottages are named after Emery Down’s main benefactor Admiral Frederick Boultbee
  • He moved to the village in 1856 and built the church in 1864, with the school and almshouses constructed in 1871
  • The almshouses cost £120 to build
  • The architect of the cottages was William Butterfield of the Oxford Movement and they are Gothic revival in character
  • Admiral Boultbee died in November 23rd 1876 and is buried in Christ Church, Emery Down.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Celebrate loved ones with NFNPA Family Tree Planting Scheme

Gruber family at Family Tree Planting event.
Sian, Rosie, Nik and Owen Gruber at a tree planting event.
Families are invited to celebrate a birth, marriage or life of a relative this year with the planting of a community woodland in the New Forest.

Anybody looking to celebrate a family member or life event can take part in the Family Trees scheme, run by the New Forest National Park Authority.

Registration is free and open to all, with the tree planting event taking place in Sway in the New Forest on 28 November. Anyone who registers will receive a free personalised certificate as a memento, even if they cannot attend the tree planting day.

Trees and woodlands are a key feature of the natural beauty of the New Forest and they also make an important contribution to the appearance of towns and villages within the area. As the Family Trees woodland grows and matures it will provide a legacy for future generations and provide a lasting memory of a loved-one.

Barry Rickman, Sway Parish Councillor and New Forest National Park Authority member said: ‘Planting a tree is a wonderful way to mark an important life event, celebrate a birth or remember a loved-one, as it keeps the memory of a family member alive for generations.

‘Sway is the perfect location for the first Family Trees community woodland in the New Forest as it’s a village with a population of all ages, from young families to senior citizens. I hope everyone who attends the tree planting event in November will enjoy visiting us and being part of creating a new woodland.’

The Family Trees project is supported by Sway Parish Council and Wessex Tree Surgeons.

To reserve your place for free visit

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Beach Bus 'Route 99' returns with free ice cream for passengers

Beach Bus 'Route 99' at Lepe Beach
Beach Bus at Lepe Country Park
The Beach Bus will return to the New Forest a week earlier this summer – renumbered ‘Route 99’ to highlight its free ice cream offer.

Passengers can claim their ice cream at Lepe beach on the summer service from Hythe to Lymington, which will now run every day from 19 July to 31 August.

Last year nearly 8,000 passengers hopped on board the Beach Bus which is run by operator morebus in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, as part of a campaign to encourage more car-free travel in and around the National Park.

Passengers can again buy good value day tickets and enjoy 20% discounts at many attractions on route including Exbury Gardens, Buckler’s Hard, the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and a new stop at Lymington’s Sea Water Baths.

There’s also free travel on the Hythe Ferry from Southampton, when passengers buy their Beach Bus ticket in Southampton at the Red Jet terminal.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, Chairman of the National Park Authority, said: ‘The Beach Bus makes it easy to access places like Lepe beach and Buckler’s Hard, which for many people could previously only be reached by car. We’re so pleased nearly 8,000 people chose to ride the Beach Bus last year, and I’m sure thousands more will do so this year, helping take cars off local roads, reduce pollution and the pressure on the National Park’s unique habitats.’

Ed Wills, operations director at morebus, said: ‘The Beach Bus only launched in 2013, but it has quickly become a popular service. More and more passengers are buying day tickets, hopping on and off at several places and making a real day of it. The free ice creams at Lepe have been particularly popular, to such an extent that we’ve changed the bus service number to “Route 99”.’

The Beach Bus is supported by New Forest Ice Cream, ExxonMobil at Fawley and My Journey Hampshire. For timetables and full details of offers visit

Monday, 13 July 2015

Architectural Nominations for Building Design Awards

Beaulieu Abbey Church
Beaulieu Abbey Church
From traditional thatched cottages to historic houses and more contemporary designs, the New Forest is renowned for the character of its buildings.

Now the New Forest National Park Authority has launched a Building Design Awards scheme to recognise the best new architecture and is asking people to nominate their favourite new buildings.

The Authority hopes that by celebrating the highest quality designs, the Awards will help to raise standards in new developments planned in the future.

Around 1,000 planning applications are submitted in the National Park each year – 88% of which are approved - and the awards scheme is another way to highlight the importance of good design in the National Park.

Pat Wyeth, New Forest National Park Authority Planning Committee Chairman, said: ‘When people think of the New Forest, it’s not just the breathtaking landscape and the ponies we enjoy but also the unique buildings which make the National Park so special.

‘As the planning authority for the Park, we place a strong emphasis on maintaining and improving the local character of the area through our policies; through working with communities to define what makes their area special so we can protect it; and by providing detailed guidance to people before submitting planning applications.’

Nominations can be made by anyone living or visiting the New Forest National Park and for a really good design that has been completed in the last three years.

People are welcome to nominate their own buildings and awards will be given in the following categories:

  • individual buildings
  • extensions
  • larger developments.

Nominations are open until 30 October 2015 and will be considered by a panel of National Park Authority members and staff, before the annual awards are announced in December 2015

Details of how to submit your nomination can be found at:

Monday, 6 July 2015

NFNPA Free Family History Event this July

Last years Stall Holders and Visitors at NFNPA History Event.
Stall holders and visitors at the 2014 New Forest Heritage Day.
Pilot an underwater vehicle, handle historical artefacts and discover high-tech archaeological gadgets at a free family history event this summer.

Run by the New Forest National Park Authority, the New Forest Heritage Weekend celebrates the rich history and heritage of the area. Expert archaeologists and historians will run events throughout the weekend of 18 and 19 July, including World War Two guided walks and interactive archaeological activities.

A variety of local organisations will have stands and give talks:

Learn how to survey and record archaeological sites being lost to nature with the CITiZAN team
An interactive computer touch table will help people learn about archaeology in the New Forest
RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust will offer an insight into work to restore the WWII control tower at the former RAF Ibsley, near Ringwood National Park archaeologists will be looking at archaeological surveys, historic maps and laser mapping as well as the Forest’s role during World War I and World War II.

The Heritage Weekend will take place on the coast at Lepe Country Park near Exbury. The event is part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology - a national festival of more than 1,000 events between 11 and 26 July 2015.

New Forest National Park Authority Member John Pemberton said: ‘This event is a chance for people of all ages to find out more about the rich history of the New Forest by exploring a range of activities.

‘People will be able to get hands on, as well as learning from experts about how events in the Forest’s past have shaped the National Park into the special place it is today.’

The New Forest Heritage Weekend runs between 10.30am and 4pm on 18 and 19 July and is a drop in event with no booking required. For more information visit