Hurst Castle is situated at the seaward end of the shingle spit that extends 1.5 miles from Milford-On-Sea. The end of the spit, only three-quarters of a mile from the Isle of Wight, and the views from the top of the centre keep are spectacular.
Hurst Castle was the perfect location to defend the western approach to the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII as one of a chain of coastal fortresses and was completed in 1544.
Charles I was imprisoned here in 1648 before being taken to London to his trial and execution.
During World War II, Hurst was manned with coastal gun batteries and searchlights.
Highcliffe Castle has been described as arguably the most important surviving house of the Romantic and Picturesque style of architecture, which flourished at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Its significance is recognised nationally by its Grade 1 status on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural and Historical Interest.
There is an international importance, too. For a large amount of medieval French masonry, shipped across the Channel, was used in its construction. It is this Norman and Renaissance carved stone, along with the Castle’s Gothic revival features and ancient stained glass, that make it appear older than it is.
Built mainly between 1831 and 1836, the Castle is the realisation of one man’s fantasy. He was Lord Stuart de Rothesay, a distinguished diplomat who had known and loved the cliff-top site overlooking Christchurch Bay since he was a boy.
This large area of salt marsh and mudflats lies either side of Lymington River and is of international importance for the large numbers of breeding, feeding and roosting birds that it supports.
Although there is no access into the coastal marshes themselves, gravel paths maintained by Hampshire County Council (who own the inland marshes) allow visitors to walk along the sea wall and admire the stunning vistas across the Solent to Hurst Castle and the Isle of Wight.
The fish in the waters make this a haven for numerous birds including Sandwich and Little Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Cormorants, Redshank and Oystercatcher. In winter you can admire the mass gathering of Brent Geese, and watch roosting Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover in the sheltered marshes.
Wild horses won’t be able to drag you away from the New Forest once you’ve experienced its peace and fallen in love with the forest’s idyllic glades, ancient woodland, open moors, heathland and cliff top walks.
Escape to a world a million miles from your everyday life where ponies, cattle, donkeys and deer roam free. . .
There is a wealth of places to visit and explore in the New Forest from award winning gardens, museums, leisure and wildlife parks plus much, more. Each season provides a change of scene from the rich deep colours of spring and summer to the seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness.