We joined the National Trust and the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society on 29 June in marking the restoration by the trust of an important seat on Hightown Common in the New Forest. We toasted the society’s founder, Lord Eversley, in whose memory the 40-acre common was acquired in 1929, the year after his death. In 1931 it was passed to the National Trust, together with the seat, designed by the notable architect, Elisabeth Scott.
For some years the bench had been in disrepair, and the National Trust arranged for local craftsmen to restore it, with donations from the Open Spaces Society and the Ringwood and Fordingbridge Footpath Society.
Says Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society: ‘This is a fitting memorial to our founder, the great Lord Eversley. He was an early champion for common land, and courageously fought for countless commons which were, from the mid nineteenth century, threatened with development. Lord Eversley showed great foresight in claiming these commons as open spaces for public enjoyment and recreation.
‘Hightown Common was itself under threat from building, and it is excellent that it was purchased, for £1,300, in memory of Lord Eversley and thus saved from development. It is fortunate that it is in the safe hands of the National Trust and is much enjoyed for quiet recreation. We are most grateful to the trust for taking so much trouble to restore the seat, using local craftsmen to keep this memorial to Lord Eversley alive.’
Also present were members of the families who were involved in the original purchase of the land, including William Ziegler and Bridget Amos, and Elisabeth Scott’s niece, Georgina Burrows.