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Easter Escape: The Nave, Lymington

In the second part of our New Forest special, Johanna Payton stays in The Nave, a converted methodist church in the centre of lovely Lymington – consider this fabulous residence if you’re looking at holiday cottages in the New Forest.

Our pre-Easter escape to the New Forest was picture perfect. As we arrived in Lymington, a Georgian market town on the south coast, the sun was setting over the pretty quay. The cobbled streets sparkled as we made our way to The Nave, a brand new holiday cottage just a few minutes walk from the centre of town.

We were only the second set of holidaymakers to stay in this beautifully restored building. Sleeping seven, it is modern, slick and minimal in terms of decor, but with many of the church’s features preserved and amplified, it is bursting with character. The generous bedrooms upstairs are so comfortable I had to be dragged out of bed and the brand-spanking new appliances in the kitchen – including double oven and coffee machine – were begging me to stay for a whole week of luxury. The owners couldn’t have been friendlier and, after meeting them, I saw exactly how much passion, care and attention they have lavished on a church that they purchased in 2008 when it stood deserted and unloved, and restored to a glorious, luxurious holiday-let for visitors to worship.

The Nave at sunset

As well as being a beautiful place to stay, The Nave is also ideally located for a short break or holiday in Lymington. In less than five minutes, on foot, you’ll be in the town centre.

Turn left, down the cobbles, and you can enjoy a cosy pint in the olde worlde Kings Head Inn, complete with log fire. Wine lovers should pop into The Cellar, a tasting house and wine merchant. Or for a pub with a great view of the quay and a nice mix of traditional furnishings and modern touches, head to The Ship Inn and watch the boats bob in the marina.

Turn right and amble up the main street, a busy hub peppered with antique stores, nautique boutiques, tea rooms and charity shops. I was particularly keen on Willow at the top of the high street, a swish interior design shop and studio with its own cafe.

Walk straight on and in around 15 minutes you’ll reach the Lymington Yacht Haven. Here, you’ll find The Haven Cafe, Bar & Restaurant, a great spot for dinner with a chi-chi clientelle, a great view out to the Solent, a hugely friendly co-owner called Rob and a celeb-tastic pedigree (Rob’s business partner is broadcaster and TV presenter Chris Evans – the famous TFI Friday desk hangs proudly outside the kitchen). It’s all about the seafood here and we devoured a salmon sharing plate, mussels with chips and a delicious mussel, chervil and saffron linguine with a cream and shellfish stock.

And of course, Lymington’s main selling point is its proximity to the well-tended wilds of the New Forest. A short drive out of town and you’ll be up close and personal with the ponies, exploring pretty villages with rich histories and perfectly placed for visually stunning walks and cycle rides.

The Nave is now open for business and I can recommend it – and the sweet little town it lives in – wholeheartedly.

Outside front door - the Nave Lymington

Modern-yet-historic, and very elegant, you’ll feel privileged to step through this grand entrance to The Nave

The Nave - living room

This light, bright living room is really cosy at night

The Nave, Lymington - holiday cottage - kitchen with island

I wish I’d had time to cook in this lovely kitchen!

The Nave - kitchen with chandelier

You’d definitely want to spend some quality time in this kitchen diner if you were staying at The Nave for a week

The master bedroom with en suite bathroom

The master bedroom with en suite bathroom

Bedroom at sunset - the nave - lymington, hampshire, new forest

As we arrived, the sun was setting casting a glorious light into the master bedroom through the original church window

purple bathroom at the Nave

The sensor light in the en suite bathroom is a clever design idea

The Nave, holiday cottage Lymington - second bedroom

The second bedroom has a double and a single bed, so it’s great for families

The Nave - original church windows

These beautiful windows have been preserved and make a splendid feature in the main bathroom

Prayer book stand for guest comments at the Nave

It’s very fitting that the guest book lives on a hymn book stand

Kings Head Inn Lymington

A few minutes walk from The Nave, pop into the cosy Kings Head Inn for a traditional pint or a pub meal

Cobbled street in Lymington

There are a few quirky shopping opportunities in Lymington

Lymington Quay

Lymington Quay is a pretty, busy marina

The Cellar Lymington

The Cellar tasting house and wine merchants is a good place to stop by if you love a glass of vino

New Forest ice cream logo - Lymington

The New Forest Ice Cream Parlour is dangerously close to the holiday cottage

the nave - lymington - holiday rental

You’ll certainly be sad to say goodbye to The Nave


How to get to Lymington without flying:

To drive to Lymington head towards Southampton on the M3 and then take the M27. From the West, take the A303 and the A36.

There are two train stations in Lymington (Lymington Town and Lymington Pier). Trains run regularly towards Brockenhurst where you can pick up a connection to the West Country, Southampton, Clapham Junction or London Waterloo.

To book The Nave visit


Images: Johanna Payton/New Forest Living

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