A bit of history:
Buckler's Hard is in the beautiful New Forest National Park in Hampshire. It is a tiny hamlet on the banks of the Beaulieu River and is a part of the Beaulieu Estate. The village of Beaulieu itself is two and a half miles away and can be reached by foot along a tranquil riverside footpath.
The hamlet, originally known as Montagu Town, is perhaps best known for being a historical spot for shipbuilding from the early 18th Century onwards. Wood from the Forest was used to construct the ships and the nature of the river banks made them ideal for launching the ships. 43 Royal Navy ships were built at Buckler's Hard, all of which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. With the decline of shipbuilding in the nineteenth century, the hamlet instead played a part in the construction of motor torpedo boats during the Second World War.
Today the hamlet is a busy tourist attraction and is bustling with its modern yachting marina and small maritime museum. You can also visit the shipwright's cottage and workshop, do living history tours, enjoy a boat ride up the Beaulieu River, relax at the Master Builder's hotel and bar and see Gipsy Moth IV, the yacht in which Sir Francis Chichester single-handedly sailed around the globe.
A gem hidden in Buckler's Hard though is the tiny chapel of St Mary's. From the outside it looks like an ordinary house except for the plaque, bell and small statue. Originally built as a dwelling for shipyard workers, it possibly also served as a cobbler's shop. In 1846 it began to be used as a chapel and infants' school. The school later moved to larger premises in Beaulieu village and in 1886 the chapel started using a real altar instead of a teacher's desk! The chapel was given the name St Mary's as she is regarded as a protector of all who sail.
St Mary's, though very small with only five short rows of pews, is active and holds a Holy Communion service at 8am on Sundays and evening prayers at 5:30pm on Fridays. With consent of the building's owner, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, christenings and weddings may be conducted here, but the latter also require a licence from Lambeth Palace in London due to the chapel's private status.
The chapel is open for visitors on a daily basis and people are warmly invited to have a look around or sit peacefully and pray or meditate within the sanctuary of the church.
Visiting the chapel:
Parking for Buckler's Hard is provided in the waypoints below. There is a large car park available for the hamlet and admission to the attraction (including the chapel) is £6.90. Tickets can be bought at Buckler's Hard or online (see link to the official website at the top of the page). I recommend combining this cache with the very old multi cache "The Full Nelson" (GCPEJP) which is not far away.
Logging your find:
You must come and visit the chapel in person to log this cache and send me the answers to the following questions (click "message this owner" at the top of the listing or contact me through my profile). Logs that include the answers in them or contain spoiler pictures will be deleted without warning. You do not need to wait for confirmation that your answers are right before you log, but if they need correcting, I may get back to you and possibly delete your find if there is no evidence you have visited.
1. Take a photo of yourself and/or GPS device (faces appreciated but not essential) standing underneath or next to the bell by the front door.
2. [OPTIONAL] [Ensure you can present your ticket before entering the church.] At the front of the church to the left of the altar (if facing it), there is a wooden statue of a man holding a book open. Email me what is written on the small plaque underneath, including the date. (Eight "words" total).
Thank you to Groundspeak for giving me the gift of a virtual to "hide", all my previous finders who have given me favourite points and The Happy Panda for recommending this spot for a church micro. I fell in love straight away!
Virtual Reward - 2017/2018
This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between 24 August 2017 and 24 August 2018. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards on the Geocaching Blog.
For full information on how you can expand the Church Micro series by sadexploration please read the Place your own Church Micro page before you contact him at churchmicro.co.uk
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