Category Archives: News

January Talk Update

Sadly, we will not be holding the talk about the history of falconry on Friday 7th January at the church hall.

The reason for this is that an increasing number of our membership have indicated that they have concerns attending a live event in a public hall during the current surge in covid cases.

I have taken the decision to postpone the talk until the 14th of October 2022 when hopefully we will be in a healthier and happier position to hold the talk with a larger audience.

Instead, on Friday 7th January at 7.00pmwe are offering a Zoom only talk given by retired Detective Paul Stickler, on the 1947 Gay Gibson ‘Porthole murder’. Gibson was an actress travelling on a cruise ship from South Africa to Southampton. She went missing from her cabin en route. When the ship docked at Southampton, Hampshire Constabulary investigated. A suspect was arrested and put on trial at Winchester Crown Court. Paul will present the evidence to the audience who will then be asked to decide if the suspect is guilty or not. Paul will then reveal what verdict the Jury arrived at and what happened after the trial.

MHS Members will be e mailed the Zoom link. Non-members are welcome to attend the talk for a £5.00 fee. Please use the website contact page to ask for details on how to access obtain your invitation and pay the visitors fee.

We are still intending to run the next live Milton Heritage Society talk on ‘The Many Lives of Hurst Castle’ presented by the chairman of the friends of Hurst Caste, Mr Roger Walker. That will take place on the 11th of February at 7.00pm at the Church Hall.

The last talk of this season will be held on the 11th of March. It will be given by MHS committee member Steve West who is talking to us about ‘The Golden Age of Smuggling in the Local Area’. Steve poses the question were the smugglers, heroes or villains?

Nick Saunders
Milton Heritage Society

Historic tour of Christchurch Priory monastic grounds.

The next external tour of Christchurch Priory and monastic grounds will take place on Thursday 14 October at 2.30pm. This is the last tour of the season, so if you are interested in finding out more about this ancient Priory, its history, architecture and lovely setting, then this is for you.

The tour lasts approximately 1 ¼ hours, taking visitors to areas that the public does not normally have access to, as well as including the new gargoyles. Tickets are £6, and can be booked via the Priory gift shop (01202 485804). Please book in advance; payment can be made on the day.

2021-2022 Programme of Talks

The Milton Heritage Society are pleased to announce that the above talks will be given on behalf of the society for the 2021 to 2022 season.

MHS members will be e mailed with details of how to join the Zoom talk. Non-members who wish to see the talk either in the church hall or via Zoom should contact the MHS Secretary, Steve West via There will be a £5.00 charge for visitors.

Update to Milton Heritage Society Membership re the History Talk on Friday 16th of October 2020

Dear MHS member

On Friday 16th of October 2020 we had planned to present to you a talk on the history of Exbury Gardens. Sadly the speaker and head gardener, Tom Clarke is no longer able to give the talk owing to health issues. He has said that he will come to give us the talk next season.

Instead we are very fortunate to have MHS committee member Philip Benstead step in as a last minute replacement.

His talk is on;

Building The Direct Line to Bournemouth – 1883 to 1888.

A tale of self-interest, optimism, naivety, fraud, bankruptcy, incompetence, arrogance, violent deaths, royalty & religion with congratulations to the non-participants & ignorance of the achievers. 

Before the so called, ‘Direct Line’, just ten miles long, was built the chief engineer of the LSWR declared that, “No substantive difficulties would be encountered”. 

The line opened two years late after bankrupting the contractors and was later described by the LSWR as “the most difficult of lines”. 

The talk opens with an overview of the socio-economic conditions in the 1800s and the existing rail network followed by how the politics of planning a line through the New Forest and land owned by powerful men was managed. A visual tour of the line, stopping along the way for a raft of anecdotes and stories, that paint pictures from outrage to tragedy & triumph. 

If only one of the main participants had been a gardener?

Philip is a lifelong railway enthusiast and has been involved in designing and implementing major capital projects around the world. 

After reading Jude James book on the ‘Direct Line’ he was intrigued by the story and during lock down, as his daily exercise, cycled to every part of the line to examine it at first hand.

The talk is starting at 7.00pm on Friday 16th of October 2020 at the Memorial centre and via Zoom. We have been allowed 40 persons in the hall. That is now fully booked. We are able to take more bookings for Zoom attendance to the talk. Please contact the secretary, Steve West for booking details via

Nick Saunders

Milton Heritage Society.

Building skills courses for residents

Dear MHS members, 

Theresa Elliot at the Town Hall has made me aware of the following training course that are available from New Forest National Park. They may be of interest to you especially if you own an older property, such as a Cob Cottage. if you are interested see the below for details and apply to NFNP direct. 


Nick Saunders
Milton Heritage Society.   

The New Forest National Park Authority and local buildings expert Kevin Stubbs are delivering a series of evening talks for homeowners in the New Forest.

The talks are part of the Building Skills project, one of 21 projects being delivered through the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme. The project is informing local people of the importance of traditional buildings to the area’s character whilst providing knowledge of specialist repair techniques. This information is helping conserve and enhance the local distinctiveness of the settlements within the Forest as they raise awareness and encourage sensitive repair and management.

The series of evening talks begins in November on Wednesday evenings in Brockenhurst Village Hall. The subjects that will be covered are as follows:

Local heritage of New Forest homes 
Wednesday 6 November, 7pm – 9.30pm.

New Forest cob, thatch, flint and stone 
Wednesday 20 November, 7pm – 9.30pm.

New Forest brick, mortar, plasters and renders 
Wednesday 4 December, 7pm – 9.30pm.

New Forest timber framed buildings and timber roof structure 
Wednesday 15 January, 7pm – 9.30pm.

New Forest tile, slate and lead roof coverings 
Wednesday 29 January, 7pm – 9.30pm.

New Forest building details and finishes 
Wednesday 12 February, 7pm – 9.30pm.

If you would like to attend one or more of these evenings, please visit our training webpage to book your place: . The cost of a ticket is £5 per person, and you can buy a ticket for all six evenings for £25. If you would like more information, please contact Richard Austin ( or 01590 664661)

Hi All,

The New Forest National Park Authority and local buildings expert Kevin Stubbs are delivering a series of evening talks for homeowners in the New Forest.

The talks are part of the Building Skills project, one of 21 projects being delivered through the Our Past, Our Future Landscape Partnership Scheme. The project is informing local people of the importance of traditional buildings to the area’s character whilst providing knowledge of specialist repair techniques.

If there is any chance of you adding this in an article in your newsletters or monthly magazines it would be much appreciated.

Best wishes
Suzi Shilling

New Forest Heritage Centre event

Dear MHS members

The below conference may be of interest to you. The subject of this conference is how buildings and structures have shaped, and themselves been shaped by, the Forest.

If you would like to attend on the 1st of November please make contact with New Forest Heritage Cerntre using the contact details below. 

Nick Saunders
Milton Heritage Society

New Forest Folklore

Dear MHS members.
We have been contacted by Mr Brice Stratford of Lyndhurst who is compiling a book of New Forest folklore. He is appealing for help and is very keen to obtain information from locals with regard to this topic. He is hoping to publish his book at the end of 2019. If after reading his request you feel that you have something that you can contribute please note he needs the information by the end of February.
Nick Saunders
Milton Heritage Society

2018 – 2019 Milton Heritage Society talks

2017 – 2018 Milton Heritage Society talks

These talks will take place at The New Milton Memorial Hall commencing at 7 p.m. on the dates below:

14th September. Lyndsay Stride, a New Forest Commoner from a traditional commoning family, is a Trustee of the Foundation for Common Land who is also working in education & interpretation and currently co-ordinating a project called Commoning Voices.

Lyndsay is working on the details of her presentation which will include history of the New Forest and its commoning heritage

At this meeting there will also be a short AGM of the Milton Heritage Society.

12th October. Honouring the Memory of Lt. Cmdr. David Balme DSC

The life of David Balme. The quiet naval hero.

David Balme was the 20-year-old sub-lieutenant who, in 1941, boarded a German U-boat in mid-Atlantic and captured an Enigma machine and a treasure trove of intelligence material – one of the greatest secrets of the Second World War.

Although best known for this ‘secret capture’, Balme also had an active naval career in WW2 – on convoy escort duty in the Battle of the Atlantic, flying Albacores over the Western Desert at El Alamain, and becoming senior Fighter Direction Officer with the Eastern Fleet to secure victory over the Japanese.

This talk by Ray Mayes will follow the life of Lt. Cmdr. David Balme DSC until his death in January 2016 and consider his role in history – should he have been recognised with a higher honour?


9th November. Nick Saunders. 1918. How the final year of the Great War affected our community.

This talk will review how WW1 and the events in 1918 played a major impact on our district. 1918 saw the highest number of casualties in a single year for the whole war for our town. It will also look at the bigger picture of world events in the last months of the war, some of which have shaped the world we live in today.


There will be no speaker in December.


11th January. John Lay-Flurrie. Family Stories

John researched and wrote about the origin of his family name for many years and began talking to groups about family history. This led to him to become aware of our interest and concern in ancestors to the extent that we neglect our own stories and those of our families.

Are we relying too much on digital media? What will our great-great grandchildren know about us . . . ?


8th of February. Friends of New Forest Airfields. The New Forest airfields during WW2.

8th of February Dr Henry Goodall, Chairman FONFA.   The New Forest Airfields during World War II

The New Forest today is a haven of peace and tranquillity for many, both residents and visitors. This presentation is an overview of the twelve New Forest Airfields in WWII, including their purpose, genesis, locations, types of airfield, squadrons and aircraft stationed hereabouts and their uses, with particular emphasis on the D-Day period in June 1944. The PowerPoint presentation will be accompanied by a commentary and personal stories of the servicemen and women who took part in this remarkable period of local activity.


Dr Henry Goodall is a retired Consultant Occupational Physician, with a lifetime interest in aviation, who became interested in the New Forest Airfields, on moving from Southampton to the New Forest in 1995.

He is Chairman of Trustees of the Friends of the New Forest Airfields (FONFA), who opened a new Museum to the public at Bransgore, in May 2016.

He served briefly in 10th Btn (TA) of the Parachute Regiment in the early 1960s, and is a member of Pathfinder UK, with whom he has carried out six commemorative static line parachute drops from World War II veteran Dakota and other aircraft, in France and the Netherlands, in addition to five training jumps, over the past four years.



8th March. Andy Varney. Policing in Milton Parish.

A Policeman’s lot is . . . . ?      Memories of policing in the 1960’s … and beyond.

A factual and occasionally amusing look at Policing in a bygone generation.  Initially in the Borough of Christchurch, and latterly in other county towns of Hampshire.

Police cars from the past – burglars who ‘catch themselves’ – ‘False phone callers’.   These and other stories will be highlighted by our speaker.

An illustrated talk by Andrew Varney – former community Police officer in New Milton.


If you have an interesting subject for, or are able to give a presentation on local history or heritage in the Parish of Milton and district, then please contact the Milton Heritage Society Speaker & Events Secretary, Clive Rigden via e-mail: or telephone: 07 860 526 679.