There is this narrow strip of relatively fertile land, squeezed between the New Forest and the Solent shore. Between the early 1700s and mid 1800s wealthy industrialists laid out their estates, and these became known as the “Coastal Estatelands”. Each one would be between 80-120 acres, and consist of a grand house - Warborne House is now called “Wereburne Manor”, set slightly away from the well built farmhouse and model farm buildings, which I guess were considered too noisy and smelly! The name “Warborne” derives from “where the water is born”; there is a spring in the Park and if you say “Water Born” enough times, in a Hampshire accent, and if you’ve drunk a bit too much cider, it ends up sounding a bit like “Warborne”! Anyway that’s how the story goes!
The Lymington River, which flows just to our west, has always loomed large for me. Further down is where we sail, and fish, paddle, swim and set off – and hopefully return from, great adventures. It’s where the world’s greatest Olympic sailors grew up and honed their skills, as did some of the most infamous pirates – both of which we lay claim to!
Back up to the river alongside us, and what we value now is the abundance and diversity of flora and fauna within the Lymington Reedbeds – it is an internationally protected wetland zone because it is such a unique and precious habitat. Recently we kept finding French naval officer’s buttons (from the late 1700s) in one of the fields near the river, and this was a mystery to us: were the officers prisoners or guests? And what were all their jacket buttons doing on the ground? Anyway it turns out that this was where the French Royalist fleet amassed before setting off for the Invasion of France, where they aimed to bring an end to the French Revolution and restore the French Monarchy. Unfortunately for them they were all massacred at the Battle of Quiberon in 1795.
Going back even further the only history we have in our hands, so to speak, is a recently found pot full of Roman coins – now called the “Boldre Hoard”. It consists of 1608 coins spanning several Roman Emperors (260-274 AD) and again this find asked more questions than it answered; why was a Roman burying so much money in the middle of a field? I guess they didn’t have banks in those days, and maybe he actually lived there, as if his house was built from wood, clay and mud there may be no trace of it now. The coins have been wrestled from the British Museum and are all now on display at the St Barbe Museum in Lymington.
Before our Roman friend buried his (or her) hoard we don’t know much, though there is an Iron Age hillfort at Buckland Rings, about 2 miles south west. Underneath our deep sandy loam topsoil however, is beautiful sand and gravel, evidence that we were once beneath the sea.