The town of Lymington, on the Lymington River in the Solent, the stretch of water separating the mainland of England from the Isle of Wight, dates from the Iron Age. Between the Middle Ages and the 1800s, the mainstay of the economy in the town was salt, which used to be produced by evaporating sea water in copper pots. The salt was then shipped all over England. However, the industry died a death following the discovery of mineral salt in Cheshire. By then, Lymington had another string to its bow in the form of shipbuilding, helped along by the proximity of the New Forest, which proved a rich source of the timber needed to build the ships. Boat building remains big business in the area to this day. Another activity which was rife in Lymington several centuries ago was smuggling, and the town’s most famous smuggler was Tom Johnstone, who was a fully fledged smuggler by the time he reached 15. This was around the time that France and England were at loggerheads, and Tom Johnstone didn’t seem to mind which side he took, allegely working alternately for both the French and English governments, either as smuggler or revenue man. His life story was a dramatic saga of escapes, spells in prison and mishaps.
Much of the architecture of today’s Lymington is Georgian, and it has some charming cobbled streets. There are a number of attractive pubs, including The Ship, with a terrace overlooking the Marina, and The Angel, which is reputed to be haunted. The original inn to stand on the site of the Angel, called The George, dated from 1250, and there are two ghosts associated with it, one of a shadowy coachman, and the other of a tall figure wearing a naval uniform. Another spooky tale dates from the 60s, when a piano was heard being played loudly at midnight. The possibility of it coming from somebody’s radio was discounted due to the amateurish thumping that the “playing” consisted of. It transpired that the inn’s only piano had been broken up only the previous day.
For a list of events in Lymington and the surrounding area see here.
Map of the area.
photo © 2010 Herry Lawford | more info (via: Wylio)