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Ferny Crofts History

The History of Ferny Crofts

The Estate of Ferny Crofts first appears in Land Use Records in the year 1317, and has been a Scout Campsite since 1976. This means there is a long and varied history to the area that Hampshire Scouting now calls home. ​

Below is a brief outline of how Ferny Crofts has been used throughout the years.

2017: Ferny crofts is 40!

Throughout 2016 and early 2017, Ferny Crofts celebrated 40 years since the first Hampshire Scout Camp took place here in May 1976.

We held our 40th Birthday Party on the 13th May 2017, following a year of celebrations which included the creation of a new 9 hole Crazy Golf course designed by Hampshire Scout Groups, and a 40th anniversary badge.

If you have memories from your time at Ferny Crofts throughout its history as the home of Hampshire Scouting, we want to hear about them! Please give us a call or send a letter or email. Our contact details are at the bottom of this page.  

Ferny Crofts 40 Years

Ferny crofts 40th Birthday

Ferny Crofts Badges

On the 13th May 2017, 250 young people and adults came to Ferny Crofts to help us celebrate 40 years of Scouting and Outdoor Adventure on our site. 

The event ran in partnership with the Hampshire County Scout Council Link Camp 2017, an event designed to help young people transition between each section of Scouting. 

During the day, young people enjoyed taking part in a range of our onsite activities, joined us to form a giant '40' on the main camping field (see above!) and sang Happy Birthday to Ferny Crofts around the campfire circle. 

We were also delighted to welcome Lord Mountbatten's grandson, The Hon Timothy Knatchbull, who re-opened the newly refurbished Mountbatten Lodge as part of our celebrations. 

Backwoods Cooking
Adventure Course

the history of ferny crofts 

Outlined below is what we know of the history of Ferny Crofts, which dates back to the year 1317. There are still several gaps in our knowledge about how Ferny Crofts has been used, but as you will see the site has a long and varied history. 

December 1317

Ferny Crofts (together with other lands in total 223 acres) was rented to Beaulieu Abbey at 4d per acre. It was described as La Ferme Croft (The Farm Croft).



Following the destruction of Beaulieu Abbey during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538, Henry VIII granted the Beaulieu lands, which it is believed included Ferny Crofts, to Thomas Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton.


10th April 1810

Ferny Crofts wood is shown on the first Ordnance Survey Map of the area.

16th May 1899

Ferny Crofts was sold by Right Honourable Henry John Montagu-Douglas-Scott, 1st Baron Montagu of Beaulieu to Wilfrid Scawen Blunt for £1,000.

Ferny Crofts Map



Wilfrid Scawen Blunt purchased 31 acres 23 square perches of woodland and erected a cottage made of corrugated iron.



Reference is made in a book ‘The Hardley Guns 1939-1945 by Stephen Abbott’ that the Beaulieu Heath’s Battery HQ was often at Ferny Crofts. Evidence of some sort of gun pit can be seen on the east side of the access track from the main road.


1959 – 1971

Numerous planning applications were made by another potential owner in an attempt to establish a caravan park on the site. All refused including appeals.


June 1959

Mains electricity was installed.


Summer 1971

In the summer of 1971, the Hampshire Scouting County Commissioner, John Mitchener, wanted to push forward the ‘Development of Scouting’ in the County, with particular emphasis on a County Training/Activity Centre.


December 1971

A report submitted to the County Executive Committee by John Bedford, advised that ‘Ferny Croft’ a site near the Beaulieu Road Station had come on to the market. Acreage of 33 acres.


17th Feb 1972

Planning Permission obtained for use of existing dwelling at Ferny Crofts to be used as training headquarters and an outdoor centre for Scouts.



Mains Water pipe was installed.


14th Nov 1975

Ferny Crofts was purchased by Hampshire County Scout Council.


The Main House including the warden’s flat, west wing and 2 main rooms (now the Croft Main Hall) were habitable, but the east wing had been used for animals.

The open ground was divided into barbed wire pens for animals and the pond was described as a ‘stink hole’.

A Tin hut (which eventually became a Pack Holiday Centre for 12 boys using camp beds, and 2 rooms for leaders and a kitchen) housed animals. The cesspit, behind the tin hut, was broken and overflowing.

Animals left on premises included a bull, two geese, a sheep, the usual New Forest ponies and an overgrown orchard.


7th December 1975

First Ferny Crofts Open Day.



Mountbatten Lodge conceived by Mollie Cobham, ACC Cubs in the Cubs’ Jubilee year. The Cubs raised £6000 to start the building fund.


Jan 1976

First Event at Ferny Crofts - Training Team Dinner.


1st March 1976

The Management Committee advertised for a full-time Warden for Ferny Crofts.


8th March 1976

A planning application was approved to convert The Croft Centre to a training hostel, The Bungalow (now demolished) to a workshop, installation of 3 septic tanks with filter bed, construction of a toilet block and construction of a car park.


Spring Bank Holiday 1976

The first camp took place at Ferny Crofts.


December 1981

A Portacabin was installed, to be used as the Hampshire Scouting County Office.


18th May 1982

Planning application was approved for the construction of a Cub Scout Pack activity centre incorporating dormitories, toilet accommodation, kitchen, main hall and storage area. (Existing Pack Holiday Centre, the Bungalow, to be demolished. Overall cost was £45,000.


23rd April 1983

Lord Romsey laid the foundation stone for Mountbatten Lodge.



Indoor accommodation is available in the Hostel (now called the Croft) and in Mountbatten Lodge, which opened in the Spring:

  • The Hostel, all on ground floor and fully centrally heated is let on a Full Catering Basis.

  • The Hostel has sleeping accommodation for 36, with bathrooms, showers, wash basins, and toilets

  • The “Lodge” provides accommodation on ground level, is centrally heated, but let on a Self-Catering basis. Sleeping 32 in two x 12 bed dormitories and two leaders rooms each sleeping 4 in bunk beds.


17th June 1986

Countess Mountbatten of Burma officially opened Mountbatten Lodge


October 1986

The Hampshire Scouts County Office moved into the top floor of Mountbatten Lodge.

19th October 1991

Opening Ceremony of the ‘Colmer Wing’ at Ferny Crofts, performed by Mrs. Joyce Colmer.


30th April 1998

Planning application was approved for a 12m high climbing tower (The Mega Tower).


6th September 2002

Planning application was approved for a two-storey extension to accommodate a ground floor flat for the deputy warden and two first floor bed sitting rooms, with shared kitchen and bathroom for two full time adult support leaders at the east end of the Croft Centre.


March 2007

Work commenced on refurbishing the Warden’s Flat. A living room, 2 bedrooms and kitchen were converted into rooms suitable for relocation of the County Office. 


May 2008

Work commenced on refurbishing the High Ropes Course. Over the past two years some of the beech trees used to anchor some of the wire cables had been identified as no longer fit for purpose and it was decided to replace them with treated softwood poles.

17th September 2008

Planning application was granted for the development of a one storey extension to The Croft Centre to provide further communal space, the Conservatory, and an extension to the staff facilities in the Croft Centre.


January 2009

Work commenced on construction of the Inca Suite, and was completed by September 2009.


The Chief Scout, Bear Grylls flies in to meet the campers

13th May 2017

We celebrated 40 years of fun and adventure! Lord Mountbatten's grandson Hon Timothy Knatchbull re-opened the newly refurbished Mountbatten Lodge. 

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