Totton & Eling
Totton and Eling - Hampshire
Totton and Eling is right on the Eastern edge of the New Forest and part of the urban area of Southampton.
Although only a small area of the town is actually part of the New Forest National Park the locals still graze their animals there and feel very much integrated into its traditions.
Totton used to call itself ‘England’s largest village’ but it was named as a town over 30 years ago.
Because of its mudflats, some locals refer to it as Totton by the Mud but the picturesque areas around the Testwood Lakes Centre make that description seem very harsh!
Totton was originally separated from the old village of Eling by the railway line –
Eling village itself though is a delightful area with a Norman parish church, St Mary’s, built on Saxon foundations with registers dating back to 1537.
There are many interesting features inside the church, notably a painting by the Venetian contemporary of Michelangelo, Marziale, of ‘The Last Supper’, which hangs over the altar.
There are also some fascinating headstones brought in from the churchyard to preserve them from the salt spray blowing from the Solent.
Much of the area’s past was inevitably linked with ship building and the timber trade and Eling harbour is well worth visiting. There is a local pub here that enjoys a very privileged position, set right on the water’s edge, and has a garden for customers to sit in and admire the views, especially overlooking the toll bridge.
The toll bridge is the only survivor of its type in Hampshire and has been in existence since either 1385 or 1418 – depending on which historical source you are reading! To avoid payment, you either have to take a two mile detour or be visiting the church or the graveyard!
One of Eling’s major attractions is its tide mill, at one end of the harbour. There has been a tide mill in Eling for centuries (one was mentioned in the Domesday Book) which harnesses the power of the tide to grind wheat into wholemeal flour.
The current building is over 230 years old, is the only regularly working tide mill in the world and one of only four which are open for public viewing in the United Kingdom.
The full story of the tide mill and the rest of the area is explored in the nearby Heritage Centre, which also has a small café for refreshments.
The local area has some fantastic walking available for keen hikers. For example, there is the 44 mile long Test Way, starting in Inkpen in Berkshire and finishing at Eling Wharf.
More accessible for most of us is a delightful 7 mile walk around the outside of Totton and Eling or the 2 miles stroll around Eling itself taking you past the tide mill, Eling Great Marsh, Goatee Beach, Eling Church, Barley Reach and ending at the Heritage Centre.
There are maps for all of these walks, and more, at Eling Civic Centre.
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