This Town Trail around Ringwood’s old town centre, designated a Conservation area, has been compiled by The Ringwood Society. For more details about the society and how to become a member click here
1. The trail begins at the Ringwood Gateway building next to the Furlong Car Park.
2. Cross the road by the bus-stops to the old chapel immediately in front of you. Built in 1727, the Meeting House is a fine example of a non-conformist chapel complete with galleries and box pews. It is now an exhibition and local history centre open every morning except Sundays. Entry is free. You might like to pop in for a look of the history of Ringwood displayed in the galleries.
3. Walk past the front of the Inn on the Furlong Pub, and down the narrow one-way Meeting House Lane which brings you to the Market Place. On Wednesday morning a street market which dates its charter back to 1226 still takes place here.
The Original White Hart on the right hand side of the Market Place is probably Ringwood’s oldest inn. Local legend says that it gained its name when King Henry VII and his courtiers visited the inn whilst hunting deer in the New Forest. The building on the other side of the archway was built as Ringwood’s Town Hall and Corn Exchange in Victorian times. In the 20th century it was converted to a cinema and later a shopping arcade.
4. Turn and head down the narrow High Street pausing to look at the shop on the corner of Lynes Lane. This is a Victorian rebuild of the old Market House which once stood in the middle of the Market Place until 1867 (see image below). If you look carefully at the side facing on to Lynes Lane you will see the reuse of the ornamental facade of its ground floor arches, stone dressings and pediment.
5. Continue along the High Street to the junction where Christchurch Road, High Street, Kingsbury Lane and Southampton Road meet, known as Fridays Cross. The derivation of the name Fridays Cross remains shrouded in the mists of time, for it is many centuries old. The circular iron seat here features cut-out images reflecting aspects of the town crest; leaping stags and oak leaves symbolise Ringwood’s links to the New Forest and salmon and water represent the River Avon. Turn right beneath the arch down Kingsbury Lane.
7. Walk past the attractive Bickerley Terrace and through a pocket park with a path that winds by the Millstream. Continue up Strides Lane. The footpath widens to a road and you can begin to glimpse the Parish church rising above the roofs ahead.
8. Turn left along West Street. Over a hundred years ago the right-hand side of this road consisted almost entirely of thatched cottages, with the notable exception of Monmouth House.
The plaque on this house records that it was here that the Duke of Monmouth was held after his abortive rebellion in 1685, and from where he unsuccessfully wrote to his uncle King James II begging for mercy. Next door the Old Cottage is an attractive example of the timber framed cottages that were once common along Ringwood’s streets.
Cross the pedestrian bridge into Jubilee Gardens and view Ringwood’s bridges. The first small brick bridge spans the narrow Millstream, whereas the second three-arched stone bridge crosses the wide River Avon on its journey down to the sea at Christchurch.
Returning to West Street, cross the road and continue back towards the Market Place. The bus depot and row of three shops stand on the site of Carter’s brewery, which produced Ringwood Ales until 1923. No more beer was brewed commercially in the town until 1978, when the present Ringwood Brewery was founded on the southern edge of town. The elegant three-storeyed Bridge House was once the home of the owners of the brewery, the Carter family.
9. Continue back to the Market Place and the Jubilee Lamp which was erected by public subscription in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. At ground level nearby is a human sundial, refurbished in 2021. If it’s a sunny day, try telling the time by this ancient method!
The Parish Church was built between 1853-1855, but earlier churches have stood here since Saxon times. An indication of the site is given by the height of the graveyard above street level, as generations of burials have successively raised the ground. Note the iron box set in the old church wall. Originally this would have been kept inside the church to safeguard parish registers and other important documents.
10. Back at the Market Place, turn left by the Star Inn up Star Lane which brings you into the Furlong Shopping Centre. This attractive development of shops blends well with the existing buildings. The bronze sculpture of the Mare and Foal by sporting sculptress Priscilla Hann encapsulates Ringwood’s traditional links with the New Forest and its ponies and provides a delightful focal point to the Centre.
The area now occupied by Waitrose supermarket was previously the site of the weekly cattle market. The three-storey building, now a restaurant, was formerly Frampton’s corn and seed merchant’s stores.
We hope that this walk has encouraged you to take a closer look at Ringwood and to discover for yourself the attractions of our historic market town