Ringwood stands on the western edge of the New Forest at a crossing point of the River Avon. It has for centuries been the New Forest’s main market town. Its market charter dates back to 1226.
Ringwood had a part to play in this short lived conflict between the Duke of Monmouth and King James II in 1685. The Duke of Monmouth lost the battle of Sedgemoor and fled towards Ringwood. He was arrested in the village of Horton just outside Ringwood.
He was held in a house in Ringwood, now named Monmouth House, on West Street. There he wrote to King James II begging for pardon. This was not granted and he was taken to the Tower of London, tried, and executed.
Alice Lisle from Moyles Court, just north of Ringwood was also caught up in the aftermath of the Monmouth Rebellion. She sheltered two wanted men who were escaping. Alice Lisle was arrested with them and was tried in Winchester by the infamous Judge Jefferys. She was found guilty and sentenced to be burnt at the stake but this sentence was commuted to beheading.
Industry in Ringwood
Because of ready access to water from the River Avon, two mills were built in Ringwood. One of them is recorded in the Doomsday Book. There is also a record of a fulling mill in Ringwood used for making woollen cloth.
Ringwood had a long history of a thriving hand-knitting industry until the turn of the eighteenth century.
The Corkscrew Railway improved trade connections from 1847. In the 1850s trade picked up again and Ringwood became famous for its “Ringwood” woollen gloves. These were knitted in either cotton or wool 4-ply, and on fairly thick needles. Ringwood gloves were knitted commercially until the after the Second World War, a rare example of a cottage industry surviving into the 20th century. There was also a large linen collar and cuff factory in Ringwood.
Today Ringwood is a bustling market town with a growing population.