Find out more about the history of the New Forest and delve deeper into the stories behind our area on a visit to one of our museums. Discover some of the special history that the area has including the history of commoning or come along to visit our show-stopping motoring museums and more.
Museums about the New Forest way of life
New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst tells the story of forest life and offers an interactive experience for all the family. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Beaulieu Road Pony Sales and step back in time into the traditional Cob Cottage. Within the heart of the museum is the new ‘Family Fun Tree’ as well as brass rubbing and gigantic creepy crawlies. This is an ideal first stopping-point for your visit to the New Forest as the centre provides a wealth of information about the history and culture of the area.
At nearby Lymington, St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery takes visitors on a journey to discover the people, places and events that have made the New Forest coastline unique with colourful and hands-on displays as well as a calendar of events throughout the year.
Discover the fascinating history of the 12 airfields in the New Forest and the surrounding areas at the Friends of the New Forest Airfields Heritage Centre. With wonderful displays, reference library, interactive screens, videos, artefacts, models and so much more to see and learn from.
The Countryside Museum at Breamore House showcases some of the traditional ways of managing the land before modern-day machinery. It also houses a replica blacksmiths, village shop, school and dairy.
Beaulieu is well-known internationally for the National Motor Museum. In fact, it houses over 250 vehicles from across the decades! Learn about World speed records, Formula 1 and see the World of Top Gear, featuring many of the vehicles from the popular car show. There are many hands-on exhibitions including ‘Driving Change’, where you can meet the Beaulieu crash test dummy and find out how gears, engines and suspension works. There is also the nostalgic 1930s ‘Jack Tucker’s Garage’ packed full of artefacts from this bygone age of motoring. Admission to the National Motor Museum also includes Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. At Beaulieu Abbey, you can learn more about the way of life of the monks who resided here at the Monastic Life Exhibition.
Continuing with the motoring theme, the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, near New Milton is home to a world class collection of restored motorcycles. The museum houses many of Sammy’s own motorcycles which he has raced (and won with) over the past few decades. Take delight in one of the biggest collection of exotic racing bikes in the world as you explore the three large halls that make up this museum. Nearly all of the exhibits are in full working order, so look out for live demonstrations on your visit as well as regular bike meets.
The Maritime Museum at Buckler’s Hard tells the story of this unique shipbuilding village, bringing to life the characters who lived here at the time of Henry Adams, the Master Shipbuilder at Buckler's Hard between 1744 and 1805. In some ways, the whole village can be classed as a museum with historic displays in the Labourer's and Shipwright's cottages showing how the village would have looked in the early 1800s.
Smaller museums which also pack a punch
Within the heart of the riverside town of Fordingbridge you can find the Fordingbridge Museum. This free-to-visit museum is open from Easter until October and features local history including artefacts on the local businesses and trades from times gone by.
So, what’s stopping you? Come and discover more on a visit to the New Forest and learn about the rich wealth of history we have on offer here.
Save money on visiting some of our museums and attractions.
If you want to save money off visiting some of our museums and attractions then don’t forget to purchase the £10 Go New Forest Card. This card can save you money off nearly 400 days out, activities, places to eat and drink and accommodation in and around the New Forest.