Picket Post is the name of a Forestry Commission car park with spectacular views of the New Forest reaching out across Ringwood towards Bournemouth, Christchurch and on a clear day even the Isle of Wight and the Purbecks. You will see the car park after taking the Burley turn off from the A31. As you cross the cattle grid in to the New Forest the car park is immediately on your right.
It is also the name of the services on the adjacent A31 dual carriageway. There are Shell service station garages on both sides of the A31 carriageway. At night sometimes only one garage is open. There is also a McDonald’s fast food drive through restaurant situated on the east bound carriage way at Picket Post.
McDonald’s Opening Times: 05:00 – 23:00
Ellingham Cricket Club and it’s beautiful cricket pitch is located on the east side of the carriageway also.
The original origin of the name Picket Post is not known. It was probably derived from a ‘picket’, a pointed stake post which marked the spot on this important turnpike road. The road led to Poole, Bournemouth, then known as Bourne Heath and also Christchurch. All were important landing places for the ‘free-trade’ that covertly moved through these parts. However as this was once a very strategic position on the infamous smuggler’s road, the name Picket Post may have originated from a picket of soldiers stationed there. The views from this vantage point made it a great position for a look out for the New Forest smugglers. The soldier’s stationed there might have even got a flash of Lovey Warne’s bright red cloak as she walked on nearby Vereley Hill. If they did see her scarlet coat, then so would have the smugglers. They would then know their illicit contraband was at risk as the revenue men were near…
A colourful history of Picket Post
- It was encroached from the New Forest in the last quarter of the 18th century
- It was outside the jurisdiction of the parish churches, and consequently illegitimate babies were taken in and cared for there.
- In 1890 an inn at Picket Post was closed down after its licence was revoked.
- Two vicars used to live at the large house at Picket Post which was called ‘Dilamgerbendi Insula’. One was the Reverand John Kershaw Craig who was born in 1801, and was the vicar in Burley from 1839 to 1886, he died in 1889.
- On Boxing Day 1960 the Picket Post Hotel was burnt down. Allegedly arson by the ailing landlord. Crews from Fordingbridge fire station attended the significant blaze.
- The Copper Kettle tea rooms were run by Forest agister Jesse Taylor a tenant of Lord Lucas. In 1967 the tearooms closed down before being demolished when the A31 was turned into a dual carriageway.
- The Poulner Hill to Picket Post section of the A31 was made into a dual carriageway from spring 1967 to March 1968 at a cost of £96000.
- The Little Chef restaurant here closed in 2011.
- On Wednesday 9th April 2014, a McDonald’s fast food restaurant and drive through opens to the public. The first McDonalds in the Forest.