Unlike many New Forest churches, which tend to be a bit eccentric, St John the Baptist, Boldre is almost the archetypical country church. The only oddity is that it is a mile (1.5 km) from the village it is meant to serve.
The fact that the church is so far from its village, is on top of a small hillock and there are three sarsen stones in the early foundations of the church, has led to speculation that the site was once a henge and served as a place of worship as long ago as 2000 BC.
The oldest parts of the current building date back to just after the afforestation of the New Forest by William I in 1079. For centuries St Johnʼs was the Mother Church of the southern New Forest and the parish originally included Lymington, Brockenhurst, Sway, East Boldre and South Baddesley.
The church was enlarged and refashioned in the 13th and 14th centuries, and there have been numerous other alterations and additions since then.
The windows are particularly good. The the wonderful East Window, also known as the De Mowbray Window, was designed by Alan Younger. It depicts Christ in Glory, and was installed in 1967.
The engraved Millennium Window by Tracey Sheppard FOE was dedicated by the Bishop of Southampton, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, on Sunday, 25th June 2000
At the western end of the north chapel is the a collection of memorabilia and a book of remembrance that make up a memorial to HMS Hood, a battle cruiser sunk by the German battleship Bismarck on 24th May 1941 with the loss of one thousand, four hundred and fifteen men. Only three survived.
Among those who died was Vice Admiral Lancelot E Holland CB who, with his wife and family, had been a regular worshipper at Boldre for many years.
Although no longer official, a service is held at St Johnʼs every year on a Sunday towards the end of May in memory of the shipʼs company.