Once a residence and then the village school, this quiet chapel seats only 40 people but has a surprising history…
Half-hidden in the middle of the west terrace, only a bell, sign and statue provide clues to what lies behind the door of number 82.
Now a place of quiet contemplation, the building was originally set up as an infant school in 1846 and was occasionally used to hold services. When the school closed in the 1880s a proper altar was installed and the room dedicated to St Mary.
Peer through the viewing window next to the altar to see where excavations revealed a hidden cellar believed to have been used by 18th century smugglers.
Look carefully at the altar frontal. Designed and worked by Belinda, Lady Montagu, the centre cloth features the Tree of Life, which also represents the wood used to build the ships at Buckler’s Hard.
St Mary’s remains a private chapel owned by the Montagu family but is still regularly used for services of worship. It welcomes thousands every year.
The village is tiny and unique. Restored buildings set up to give a real picture of times gone by... A great end to a New Forest day. Beautiful.