It's very much the sort of village you would expect to see on a calendar - a village green with spreading chestnut tree, a circular bench and the old stocks - not fenced like the ones in Gretton, but open for use as a photo-opportunity for kids. The tea-shop-cum village store and the Trusty Servant pub are both next to the green and outdoor tables are busy on a fine sunny morning. A group of girls with outsize backpacks arrive and sprawl on the grass for a while. A young woman leads her small daughter on a pony and pauses by the tree. A white-haired man in shirt-sleeves calls in for his newspaper. A loud group at the next table discuss acting. We sit and watch the world turn.
We know Conan Doyle is buried in Minstead, and we've parked near the church.
It's one of the oddest-looking churches I've seen - a brick-built hotch-potch of a place, in an idyllic English countryside setting.
The inside is fascinating too - there's a private pew with a fireplace on the north side, a triple decker pulpit and two galleries. The lower one, seen in the picture was built in the late sixteenth century for the musicians who accompanied the hymns. An upper one was added in the eighteenth century for the estate workers and their children.
The third notice reads -
ON - FIRST-JANUARY 2000
THIS CONGREGATION UNDERTAKES
on BEHALF of ITSELF
&THOSE WHO FOLLOW
TO CARRY OUT ONE THOUSAND ACTS
FOR THE BENEFIT of OTHERS
THIS PROMISE MADE TODAY
LASTS UNTIL IT IS FULFILLED
Arthur Conan Doyle was originally buried as a non-Christian believer in spiritualism, in Crowborough, Suffolk, where he died. He was reputedly buried in an upright position in the garden of the large house he owned. He was reinterred at Minstead later - at the edge of the churchyard.
More information about Conan Doyle and his New Forest connection, the church and Minstead in general can be found on Minstead shop's website.