Holmsley Revisited


Prompted by questions from Geoff Le Pard, that great storyteller at 

We found it close to

Holmsley Bog

Holmsley Bog.

Unbeknown to us I had photographed this area and the house on 17th October.

It lies beyond a stream spanned by a small road bridge. As we arrived, an egret stood in the shallow, but fast-moving water. By the time I had it in focus, the bird flapped smoothly and elegantly away.

As I walked towards the modern building, a small car with three female occupants approached me at a speed slow enough for me to wave it to a halt. I thanked the group for stopping and asked if they belonged to the house. The driver was the owner. I explained my project and asked her if this building had replaced Geoff’s old derelict. It had indeed. She told me she had bought the modern one and added an extension and a small garden. The address is 11, Holmsley Gate house. This amenable woman was quite happy for me to photograph as I wished. She continued her journey and left me to it. I thought this was rather a generous response. I focussed on the house in its setting;


including the public track running alongside. Further study of an Ordnance Survey map (by Jackie) reveals that this way is the old railway line. The website geograph.org.uk confirms:

“Level crossing on disused Brockenhurst to Ringwood railway.


The wide yellow track is the former railway line. Crossing this at ground level is a tarmac minor road running from the A35 through Holmsley Inclosure towards Burley. The modern house, I speculate, was only permitted because there was a crossing keeper’s hut there before. For a better view of the house see SU2201 : Modern house near Holmsley Bog.”

one of the side walls with its log pile, and reflective windows revealing views of the landscape behind.

The roof of the extension had weathered attractively, its windows offering similar effects.

Oranges and avocado

Although the garden enjoyed the protection of high wire netting, three fresh oranges and an avocado had been tastefully placed on the stones outside, no doubt for the delectation of hungry ponies. Mostly they are only given carrots and apples. This was clearly an up-market establishment.

Intending to lunch at Holmsley Old Station Tea Rooms, we continued along Holmsley Passage. Today the weather was as dull and overcast as on our last visit, but the lane was attractive enough for us to determine to return on a better lit day.

Holmsley Station no longer serves a railway line. I have referred to Dr Beeching’s axe on several occasions in this blog. It is perhaps time to explain this, so I quote thus from Wikipedia: “The Beeching cuts (also Beeching Axe) were a reduction of route network and restructuring of the railways in Great Britain, according to a plan outlined in two reports, The Reshaping of British Railways (1963) and The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes (1965), written by Dr Richard Beeching and published by the British Railways Board.

The first report identified 2,363 stations and 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of railway line for closure, 55% of stations and 30% of route miles, with an objective of stemming the large losses being incurred during a period of increasing competition from road transport and reducing the rail subsidies necessary to keep the network running; the second identified a small number of major routes for significant investment. The 1963 report also recommended some less well publicised changes, including a switch to containerisation for rail freight.

Protests resulted in the saving of some stations and lines, but the majority were closed as planned and Beeching’s name remains associated with the mass closure of railways and the loss of many local services in the period that followed. A few of these routes have since reopened, some short sections have been preserved as Heritage Railways, while others been incorporated into the National Cycle Network or used for road schemes; others now are lost to construction, simply reverted to farm land, or remain derelict.”

That is perhaps an early example of how the profit motive has overridden the concept of service in our modern world.

The Tea Rooms have put to good use a sad reminder of a wonderfully meandering transport system that, in less frenetic days, we once enjoyed. The buildings have been preserved and refurbished; familiar signs are featured; and, both inside and out, railway paraphernalia are displayed.

The food and service are excellent, too.

Meringue confections

We carried away this evening’s dessert, in the form of delicious meringue confections that we couldn’t manage to consume with our lunch. Only when we laid these on the table did we realise that the green fruit were Kiwis. Now there is only one item of food with which I experience discomfort. Yes. It’s Kiwi fruit. It burns the roof of my mouth, which is more than any chili can achieve.  Jackie fished them out of my helping, and stuffed them into hers. She blew me a compensatory raspberry.

Before pud we enjoyed Jackie’s pasta arabbiata with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the pinot noir.


  1. Thank you Derrick, and Jackie of course. Lovely to hear a good use has been put to the plot of the derelict hosue. Would have been a waste to lose the views. And Holmsley station holds happy memories. When we first arrived in the Forest in 1969 the road from the station towards Brokenhurst along the old railway bed had only been open a while. Being the only straight piece of road between Brockenhurst and Burley it was like a grand prix sometimes as people tried to overtake. It was the only place I managed to get up enough speed on my Puch maxi moped to do a sort of wheelie (reckless youth). And the tea rooms were the last place we ate out with mum, for her birthday in October 09 with the whole family present before she died the follwoing Jan. Ah me.

  2. Wow – so cool of the home owner to be so kind as to stop, chat, and leave you to photograph at will. I think more people should be so lovely. And she feeds the ponies special treats! I think I love her!

  3. I’ve heard of that response to the taste of kiwis before Derrick. I wonder if your gustatory response is caused by an enzyme or chemical reaction the same way some folk, like me, have a strong response to the taste and even the smell of coriander. I chortled at the fact you swapped them out for Jackie’s raspberry though 🙂

  4. This was an extra lovely post today, Derrick. The house was a treat since it obviously has antiques and interesting items, as seen through the glass in windows. I think you, or someone else, just mentioned on my post the other day that most people won’t tend to “shoo” or yell at photographers. 🙂
    The ponies are lucky to get oranges and an avocado!
    I liked the Holmsley Tea Rooms and the nice railway memorabilia, posted throughout the décor and featured in your photos. The meringues with the fruit are yummy looking!
    My favorite photos are of the trees and the bend in the road on Holmsley Passage. 🙂

    1. Many thanks for your comprehensive comments – as always, Robin. I have certainly mentioned somewhere that most people are happy to be photographed. Your favourites are mine, too. Considering the poor light, the autumn colours still come through.

  5. What a fantastic house! See, modern can be beautiful…and what a location. Lucky lady. Great post, Derrick, it makes me want to jump in the car and head for the New Forest?

  6. Fascinating post. Here in Canada, preserving the past it is a bit of a quandary . Ironically we are by human history a young country that has a sense of living on an ancient land. Even with growing urbanization, Mother Earth is near to many of us. We have a sense of ancient rock on which we dwell, but often fail to have sense of a passage of more recent history. It is a struggle to convince others that old building that everyone takes for granted is worth maintaining.

  7. Reblogged this on HarsH ReaLiTy and commented:
    I mean honestly… look how well laid out his posts are! I should spend more than one minute on layout! Great photos Derrick! -OM
    Note: Comments disabled here. Please visit their blog.

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