Hampshire Treasures

Volume 5 ( New Forest)

Page 229 - Milford on Sea

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Milford began as a Saxon settlement and 500 years later (Domesday Book 1086) comprised a small manor with a church, a mill and about 50 inhabitants. It belonged to Christchurch Priory from circa 1107 to 1539 and then passed variously into the hands of courtiers and city merchants, mainly as a distant investment.

Milford's resources were its agriculture and the seasonal production of sea-salt, later supplemented, in fair degree, by smuggling. Development progressed slowly in accordance with the times until, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, wealthy newcomers moved in to buy up farms and build fine houses. Their advent materially changed the character, outlook and social structure of the village. Their Georgian houses serve today as a reminder of that turning point.

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.

Little further development took place until the 1880s, when the local landowner planned to convert Milford into a premier seaside resort, adding "on-sea" to the village name. The scheme failed in its major objectives, but it gave Milford a layout and ordered development that lasted well into the present century.

Despite much new building in recent years, Milford still retains its character and unity as a village.

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