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Milford on Sea

The large village of Milford on Sea is located on the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. With a population of approximately 5,000, Milford has a variety of shops, restaurants and pubs in its high street, which borders the village green.

The village is scenic in location, protected from development by a surrounding "green-belt" of land. From the beach in Milford The Needles of the Isle of Wight are on most days clearly visible.

Slightly further east is Keyhaven, with its boatyard and bird sanctuary. Protruding southwards from Keyhaven is Hurst Spit, approximately two miles of shingle, from the end of which the inhabitants of Hurst Castle used to watch over the Solent. The castle was built by Henry VIII, and is now visitor oriented, with a museum and café. A seasonal ferry makes the trip across the marshes as an alternative to the blustery walk.

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring views from Milford are along the coast to the west on a clear night, when the conurbation of Christchurch, Bournemouth and Poole can clearly be seen, together with the stars reflecting sea.

History and Development

Milford began as a Saxon settlement and 500 years later (Domesday Book, 1086 CE) comprised a small manor with a church, a mill and about 50 inhabitants. Various religious institutions had saltworks there including Christchurch Priory from about 1107 to 1539 but thereafter it had no dominant owner until the 19th century. The salterns were less fortunate. After much expansion in mid-century, they declined rapidly in the 1780s and only a small remnant survived to fade slowly away after 1800. Their reclaimed land is today an area of great natural beauty.

Milford's resources were its agriculture and the seasonal production of salt, although the latter was restricted to Keyhaven by the eastwards movement of Hurst Spit. Trade was supplemented, to a degree, by smuggling and dredging septaria from the bay for cement making. Little change occurred as the railway never came near the village. Mrs Whitby (d.1850) bought up about half the parish with money inherited from Admiral Cornwallis of Newlands House in 1819.

In the late 19th century, her descendants - the Cornwallis-West family - drew up grandiose schemes to create an up-market resort adding "on-Sea" to the village name, starting the popular and still current fashion among locals to refer to their seaside village as "the resort". Though the scheme failed in its major objectives, it did provide Milford with a layout and an ordered development that lasted well into the present century.

With the advent of increasing car ownership, especially after World War II, the village expanded rapidly as a resort and as a place in which to retire. Despite much new building in recent years, Milford still retains its character and unity as a village. It is especially notable for its range of independent food shops.

Events and Festivals

Every year, Milford has the May Day festival on the village green with the traditional Maypole dancing. In late June through to early July there is also the Music and Arts festival. It runs for about three days with local bands and drama from local schools, as well as stalls and craft workshops; It is perhaps, the most memorable event in Milford. In August, there is the Milford Carnival with a voluntary parade with floats and the procession of the Carnival Queen.

Notable Residents

William Morris (Lord Nuffield) (the philanthropist and industrialist owned a house on the clifftop which is now The Westover Hotel.)

David Stanley Peach (Gillingham, Southampton (FA Cup Final 1976), Swindon Town, Orient and England u/23 footballer)

External links


Victoria County History of Hampshire Milford on Sea Historical Record Society Occasional Magazine

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