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Top places to live in Hampshire & IOW Minstead

This chocolate-box village in the heart of the New Forest National Park has 'rural idyll' written all over it - and a surprising number of attractions on its doorstep. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.

Furzey Gardens, Minstead
Furzey Gardens in Minstead


The ultimate ‘get it away from it all’ option, if you’re trading in the rat race for village life, Minstead in the heart of the New Forest tops our list for a truly rural relocation. Just two miles north of Lyndhurst, Minstead is a quintessential British village surrounded by excellent walking and cycling routes (a definite benefit of living within a National Park and a Conservation Area to boot) and is practically beaming with community spirit. You’ll fit right in.  


The Trusty Servant set on the village green is the locals’ haunt – the large garden is ideal for nursing a G&T or tucking into locally-sourced fish and chips while you watch the local wildlife amble by without a care – and there are five B&B rooms for those visiting from out of town. The village green is also home to the local shop and tearoom, where you can pick up home-baked cakes and pies, or you can head out to Acres Down Farm just over a mile away for a cream tea in the sunshine.  


Take the ten-minute drive to the pretty bunting-clad high street at Lyndhurst to nose around the indie boutiques there, such as Shave Green Interiors for an eclectic mix of vintage and modern homewares, Pages of Lyndhurst for local produce and booze, Burrow & Hide for interior accessories and artwork and Sofikas for clothes and accessories. There are also no fewer than three antique centres if you fancy digging out a treasure.  


Furzey Gardens is just a 15-minute walk away, and is the perfect place to while away a sunny Sunday afternoon. It’s no grand botanical garden, but it’s a bijou 10 acres of natural woodland beds with plenty of nooks and crannies for littlies to hide in – the colour is without a doubt best in Spring and early Summer. There’s also a cute little Tearoom and a 16th century cottage to poke about in – not bad for a suggested £8 entry. 

Of course, being in a national park Minstead has plenty of attractions on its doorstep, including New Forest Wildlife ParkBolderwood Deer Sanctuary, and New Forest Golf Club, one of Hampshire’s oldest golf facilities, all around a 15-minute drive away.  


Being such a small village, you’ll want to nab properties here when you can – although prices here are quickly dropping since their peak in 2014, according to Rightmove. These days the average property price is £508,000, with detached properties costing an average of £525k and semi-detached coming in at £457k. Local estate agents include Spencers New Forest and Fells Gulliver.  



Good local state schools include Brockenhurst CofE and St Michael & All Angels CofE, both in Lyndhurst, but you’ll need to travel a little further afield for your independent schools. The fantastic Walhampton School is just a 30-minute drive away – great for younger kids as it includes a co-ed nursery, pre-prep and prep. Leafy co-ed prep school Forres Sandle Manor near Fordingbridge is around 25 minutes away the well-rated Moyles Court and Ballard School are also between a 25 and 30-minute drive away.  


The village is home to a famous resident (sort of). Head to the graveyard at the village’s All Saints Church and you can see the grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  


Minstead is around a 15-minute drive away from Brockenhurst train station, where you can catch a direct service to London Waterloo that takes around 1h40 – which is also roughly how long it takes to drive. Southampton is just over a 20-minute drive away.  

View the full Top 200 Places to Live

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