Buckler’s Hard is probably my favourite spot in Hampshire. It’s a beautiful old shipbuilding village on the Beaulieu River and became so due to its protected location, tidal access to the Solent and the ready supply of timber from the Beaulieu Estate and surrounding New Forest.
A number of famous ships were built here. Notably, HMS Agamemnon, captained by Horatio Nelson for around 3 years. She is known for being his ‘favourite ship’ and saw service at Trafalgar as part of his weather column.
Among many other ships, built at Bucklers Hard were the Surprise and the Euryalus, which (albeit for a very brief time) became the flagship, under Cuthbert Collingwood, after Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805.
At the bottom of the two rows of houses are what remains of the launches, used for shipbuilding.
It’s a beautiful open space, with a museum about the heritage of the village, which isn’t very expensive either!
Prices (March 1st 2019)
Adult – £7.50
Senior – £7.00
Child – £5.20
Family – 1 adult + 4 children or 2 adults + 3 children – £21
There is also a great pub in what used to be the Master Builder Henry Adams’ house. There’s a marina if you want to sail up, a car park if you’re driving and a stunning foot/cycle path along the river to/from Beaulieu if you want to walk or ride. You can even head out on a boat trip up the river if you so wish.
The museum at Buckler’s Hard is of a reasonable size, with a number of model ships and artefacts from the vessels built there, as well as traditional shipbuilding instruments.
It covers the entire time period and even brings us into the 20th century, when the Beaulieu River was used as part of the preparations for D-Day.
As well as this, there’s a small section on Sir Francis Chichester, famous for being the first person to sail single handed around the world (after having left from Buckler’s Hard) by the clipper route as well as being the fastest circumnavigator, in nine months and one day overall in 1966–67.
All in all, this is a fantastic little museum and beauty spot. I can’t recommend it enough and, even if you’re not a huge fan of naval history, there really is something for everyone!