Image courtesy of the New Forest Exploreres Guide

Burley is a New Forest Village situated approximately midway between the A31 and the A35 roads which cross the Forest in a roughly east-west direction. The ancient Manor of Burley dates from Saxon times: later it found itself on a smugglers route from Lymington to Ringwood and Salisbury.

Over the years the lands surrounding the Manor were taken into private ownership because they comprise an island of fertile soils suitable for agriculture – outside the present limits of the village the soils are generally acid, thin and poor and capable of supporting little more than heather, gorse and very rough grazing.

During the 19th century residential development began to encroach into these agricultural lands, and with the improvement in communications and the coming of the railway and the motor car the change to residential use increased considerably. The population is now some 1400. The village, described these days by estate agents as being “much sought after”, is also a popular tourist destination.

The parish of Burley now divides into four parts – the central part which includes the shopping area and the main concentration of dwellings; Burley Street to the north; Bisterne Close to the east and the Mill Lawn area to the north-east. These four parts cover an area of 2 square miles (1,300 acres/518 hectares); in addition there are also outlying areas such as Holmsley and Burley Lodge. Outside the central area most dwellings are widely scattered among mature deciduous trees and most stand in ample grounds; between these are paddocks and fields.

The central shopping area has some 20 shops, including a post office/newsagent, a butcher/grocer/off-licence, and a petrol/service station. Between them, these businesses can supply most daily needs. The remainder of the shops are oriented towards the tourist trade and there are in addition tea-rooms, public houses, hotels and a cycle hire business. Opportunities for employment in the village are limited in the main to service industries.

There are two halls (the Parish Hall and the Myrtle Hall), a parish church, and a primary school, and a doctors’ surgery. Outdoor recreation is provided for by football, cricket and golf clubs using land close to the centre of the village rented from the Forestry Commission. There is a mainline railway station and a 6th form college at Brockenhurst (7 miles) and secondary schools at Ringwood and Christchurch. Bus services run regularly to Ringwood, Christchurch and Southampton.

There is a large car park in the village centre administered by the District Council and also as a coach park to accommodate the many coaches which come into the village, particularly during the high season. Public toilets may be found near the car park.

Physical Analysis of the Village

The village is characterised by a central low-lying area, nearly surrounded by tree-clad slopes: in this central area are the shops, church, school and other facilities described above.

Outside this central area there are limbs of scattered development – Burley Street, Bisterne Close, The Mill Lawn area, Burley Lodge, Holmsley and Picket Post. In these areas the dwelling are scattered and mostly stand in grounds amidst trees, and many have their own paddocks and fields and have direct access to the Forest.

Except in the centre of the village there is no impression of close-knit, let alone concentrated development. The outer parts of the village are screened from view by mature trees and nowhere does development appear to intrude into the surrounding forest; Burley appears instead as a heavily wooded area in the middle of open heathland with the odd dwelling visible from some angles midst the trees.

Buildings are mostly constructed of brick with a wide range of finishes and most were built in the last 100 to 150 years. There are very few buildings listed as of architectural or historical interest. Generally the design of the buildings has been adequate to the setting. The village is completely surrounded by Crown Forest and no expansion outside the present boundaries is possible.

The whole village is a conservation area within the New Forest National Park.

Please vist the Burley Village Website for details of places to stay, eat, shop and vist within the village.