Living in Ringwood
What is life like in Ringwood
Ringwood is a town that epitomises quiet and pleasant semi-rural living. While it might not be action-packed, it more than makes up for this by being a relaxing and peaceful location that is well suited to everyone from families to young professionals and the elderly.
It is a pretty market town with its own brewery, which means there is always a tasty local beverage on offer in many of its traditional pubs and inns. Indeed, the Ringwood Brewery actually runs five of the pubs in the town.
Perhaps Ringwood's biggest selling point is its location as residents have the New Forest National Park literally on the doorstep whilst some of the UK's finest beaches, situated in Bournemouth and Poole, are less than half an hour’s drive to the west.
This means there is never a shortage of things to do at the weekend, as even if the quaint surroundings of Ringwood itself are not enough, locals can take to the road in order to indulge in a country walk, horse riding or simply a spot of sunbathing.
Ringwood dates back to at least the 10th Century, as it was recorded in a charter completed in 961 AD. Its name was originally written as Runcwuda and Rimucwuda, with 'wuda' meaning a wood and 'rimuc' said to be derived from words meaning a border.
A mill in Ringwood is mentioned in the Domesday Book, and in 1226 King Henry III gave permission for a weekly market in the town, which made it a trade destination.
The town hall, one of the most important landmarks in Ringwood, was built in 1868, with the project overseen by John Morant. The town later grew to become famous for its Ringwood woollen gloves, while there was also significant industry in the region thanks to the presence of a large linen collar and cuff factory.
On the outskirts of Ringwood, in an area called Poulner, there is a quarry lake that was previously the site of a Royal Air Force base during World War II as well as having seen action as a motor racing circuit.
Although originally from London, Only Fools and Horses star Buster Merryfield – known for playing Uncle Albert in the long-running comedy – lived in the area in his later years and was buried in Verwood Cemetery after his death in 1999.
Entertainment, sport and days out
Approaching Ringwood from the east on the A31, the road runs through the ancient forest that was created by King William the Conqueror in 1079 and used as his personal hunting grounds.
The New Forest received National Park status in 2005 and is a genuine walker's and cyclists’ paradise as it is criss-crossed with many well laid out trails. There are miles of safe traffic free off-road tracks that allow you to explore the variety of forest landscapes, its geology and wildlife. The wild New Forest ponies are a real attraction and can be seen wandering the forest and, if lucky, you may well spot herds of deer that roam the area.
Parents should certainly prioritise a trip to Moors Valley Country Park and Forest as they will benefit from many child-friendly attractions such as an adventure play trail, a giant ants' nest, a steam railway and a golf course.
A popular past time for many is to head south towards the beaches of Hampshire and Dorset, parts of which form the Jurassic Coast (a World Heritage Site). With golden sands, crystal clear waters and dramatic coastlines, this is an area that has something for everyone.
Ringwood is a sporty town, with several local teams and clubs. Ringwood Town FC is the resident football side and they are well supported by locals. There are a number of lakes around Ringwood, namely Hightown and Poulner whilst Blashford Lake offers sailing activities. There are regular banger racing meets at Matchams Park and, for the more adventurous, there is an outdoor skiing centre also located in Matchams.For those who prefer to get involved rather than watch, Ringwood Health and Leisure Centre is the premier fitness facility in the town. It offers a swimming pool, gym, sauna, weights room, badminton courts and more.
Eating, drinking & shopping
Taking in the atmosphere at one of the pubs run by the Ringwood Brewery should be a priority for those that live in the town. These hostelries include the Inn on the Furlong, where a locally produced cask ale will go down a treat, while the London Tavern is another shrewd choice.
Several restaurants help to make Ringwood a great place for a meal with friends or family, including Amarone, a popular Italian eatery in the town whilst The Cider Pantry, Finns at Ringwood and V&G's Ristorante are other venues certainly worth trying.
The Furlong Shopping Centre is the best retail environment on offer in the town, with a number of the country's biggest high street names based there. The surrounding streets also offer more stores, including a good range of independent outlets.
A highlight of Ringwood's retail market is the market that is held every Wednesday, allowing residents to purchase local produce and other useful goods.
Ringwood is served by several schools that allow children of all ages to be educated close to home. Poulner Junior is one institution that is said to be doing a good job and even has some 'outstanding' features, according to Ofsted.
Other schools to win the highest marks from the body include Ringwood Junior and Ringwood School, while nearby Ferndown Upper and The Grange in Christchurch are rated as 'good'.
St Leonards Hospital is the main medical facility in the town and will aim to treat all locals who require assistance with an injury or illness. Ringwood Private Hospital is another option for those who are prepared to pay for their medical procedures.
Ringwood does not have its own train station, however residents can make their way to Bournemouth, Christchurch or Southampton for direct services to London or for local routes to destinations elsewhere in Dorset and Hampshire.
The A31 passes the town and is the major transport link for the region, allowing drivers to reach all points west and east, as well as connecting routes to the north.