History of Ringwood

Ringwood is a market town in south-west Hampshire, England, on the River Avon close to the New Forest. Ringwood has a long rich history with continuous involvement with English nobility who continued to pass the manor house down through many years.

It was founded by the Anglo-Saxons and first recorded under King Edgar in 961 as ‘Rimecuda’, meaning border-wood to signify its proximity to the forest and border of Hampshire . When the Domesday Book was being recorded, it was named ‘Rincvede’ and held a value of £10. The name continued to change through many different iterations to Regne-Wood in 1607 which by 1868 had become what we know it has today Ringwood.

If you have had the opportunity to visit Ringwood, you may know about their Wednesday market. What you may not know is that this market was established almost 800 years ago. In 1226, Henry III granted the 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Richard Marsh and the Lord of the Manor the right to hold a weekly market in the town on Wednesdays. This permission was only temporary and was exploited until 1553 when during the reign of Edward VI, this right was confirmed and allowed the market to establish itself as the main centre of trade in the Avon Valley.

In 1685, Ringwood played a part in the Monmouth rebellion, a failed attempt by James Scott, an illegitimate son of Charles II, to seize the throne from Catholic James II. Setting out from Lyme Regis with his untrained army, James Scott ( 1st Duke of Monmouth) marched across Dorset having only 2 or 3 real fights with those loyal to the real king. On the 6th July 1685, he met the king’s army at Sedgemoor and to say the least, things did not go well for Monmouth. Around 1500 of his men were killed, compared to the small of total of 27 suffered by the king’s forces. James himself had managed to flee from the battleground, where it is rumoured he hid beneath an ash tree in Ringwood. He was later discovered and held captive in Ringwood until his execution, ending the Monmouth rebellion.

Ringwood once was home to a railway line much like those in Verwood and West Moors. The station opened for service in 1847 and was used along the Southampton to Dorchester line. Later, a new line was added connected Ringwood to Christchurch in 1862, then Bournemouth in 1870. This line would continue to operate until 1935 when the last passenger train set out from Bournemouth to Ringwood. The station would close alongside many in Dorset when the Southampton to Dorchester line closed in 1964.

Today Ringwood is home to approximately 14,000 people and has been a town since the establishment of the Town council in 1974. Ringwood is an amazing place to visit with easy access to the vast walk and cycle routes offered by the New Forest, and let’s not forget about the Wednesday Market dating back 800 years.