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One of the places I remember visiting as a child in the New Forest is the magical Burley witch village!
A quaint place that is famous for its Coven of Witches gift shop and the famous Burley ‘White’ witch.
As well as witchy goings-on, there are also stories of smugglers and dragons which makes Burley an interesting place to visit on a day out in the New Forest.
You’ll find fudge shops, ice-creams, ponies, shopping, tearooms plus much more. Here is a complete guide for the Burley witch village and the top things to do in Burley New Forest!
Burley history & legends – Dragons, Smuggling & Witches!
Although Burley is famous for its witches today, Burley has actually had a long history that is steeped in myth and legends.
Indeed, there is local tale that says a dragon made its den in Burley Beacon in the New Forest. Every morning, the dragon would leave its lair and fly to Bisterne. He would terrorise the village until it would be fed milk and mutton by the villagers.
One day, a valiant knight decided to take down the dragon by setting up a trap. He waited in a small hide with two dogs.
When the dragon made its usual landing in Bisterne for its milk, the knight set the dogs on the dragon and caught him by surprise thus being able to strike and take him down!
Later, Burley became synonymous with smuggling or ‘free trade’. Smuggling became a huge part of the economy during the 18th – 19th-centuries when taxation of imported goods was at an all-time high to pay for wars in Europe.
Only the very wealthy could afford imported goods with the huge tax levies and this sometimes included basic necessities such as salt for fishermen. So, smuggling took place along the coast, and shipwrecking became commonplace.
Smugglers would steal imported goods like brandy, tobacco, lace, and tea and hide them away from the excisemen. Then, they would sell the goods at cheaper rates.
The Queen’s Head pub in Burley was a New Forest smugglers hideout along the ‘smugglers road’. A hidden cellar was discovered beneath the floor where they used to smuggle goods to avoid arrest!
Who is the Burley Witch & Why is it called Burley Witch village?
Many people ask ‘Why is Burley famous for witches?’ and why is it called the Burley witch village?
Well, it all started with a famous White Witch called Sybil Leek who lived in Burley in the 1950s.
Sybil would often be seen walking around the village, wearing her long black coat and having her pet jackdaw on her shoulder.
She established a New Forest coven called the “Horsa” coven, which is still in existence today. They practiced healing with herbs and used the sun and moon as their guides.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t a very popular resident due to her appearance. After the witchcraft act was repealed in 1951, Sybil revealed herself as a witch and it caused a stir. It escalated and when her life and home were threatened, she decided to move away.
So, she moved to America where she was welcomed and wrote books on astrology, the occult, and a “Diary of a Witch”. She’s now one of Britain’s most famous witches.
Before she left for America, she named a shop ‘A Coven of Witches’ in Burley and they still honour her here. You can find her portrait above the Georgian fireplace in the shop on your visit.
Witchy things to do in Burley
So, if you are here to follow in the footsteps of the Burley witch, what witchy things are there to do in Burley?
Well, the main thing would be to visit the famous shop that Sybil Leek named A Coven of Witches!
Visit a Coven of Witches shop
The original Burley witch shop is A Coven of Witches and it was named by the famous White White Sybil Leek before she left for America. You can learn all about her story and see her portrait above the fireplace on your visit.
A Coven of Witches is filled with amazing witchy merchandise. You’ll find incense, herbs, sage, altar items, beeswax candles, crystals, tarot cards and jewellery.
There are also mugs, keyrings, Harry Potter and New Forest souvenirs to browse as well. I bought a Coven of Witches mug which I adore!
As well as selling gifts, the shop does have tarot reading services and reiki sessions that take place here throughout the year.
Have a look in Witchcraft Gift Shop
There are plenty of other magical shops placed around Burley, aside from the Coven of Witches. If you head a little further around the corner you’ll find the small gift shop called Witchcraft.
If you pop inside, you’ll find all sorts of fantasy statues and trinkets like faeries, black cats, and even gnomes.
Visit Burley for Halloween!
If there is one time of the year when it’s best to visit Burley, it has to be Halloween, Samhain, or All Hallows Eve! When the veil between worlds is the thinnest.
Of course, Burley truly lives up to their reputation as a witch village and they have lots of events going on at the Coven of Witches.
There will be fancy dress competitions, apple-bobbing, pumpkin carving, tarot readings, ‘Spot the Witch’ games and the village is abuzz with spooky goings-on!
Non-Witchy things to do in Burley
Besides being famous for witches, Burley village in the New Forest is a great place to visit all year as there’s lots going on.
As a kid, I always remember visiting this village in summer and gorging on ice cream. I’d say hello to all the New Forest Ponies you can find milling about. Such happy memories.
Here are all the fun things to do in Burley village New Forest on your visit!
1. Taste some Burley Fudge
Just behind the car park as you enter the village, you’ll come across the famous Burley Fudge Shop in The Mall shopping area.
Chris & Jenny have been making homemade Burley Fudge for over 20 years and it comes in a variety of flavours!
They have unicorn fudge, rhubarb and custard, Oreo, Ginger, and many more to try. They even have a fudge subscription box which sounded too tempting.
2. Have a coffee in Noohn
If you were looking for a good coffee in Burley, then make sure to visit Noohn which is directly opposite The Coven of Witches shop.
As soon as I walked in I knew I was going to love it as it had a Boho vibe, great atmosphere, relaxing music and lots of cushions placed about. It reminded me so much of travelling around India!
They serve up some incredible coffees inside as well as breakfast and lunch options if you fancied a light bite while in the village. All with friendly service from the staff too, I would highly recommend them.
Noohn also runs a premium New Forest picnic service that you can book which sounds a dream.
3. Buy some fruit wine in the Burley Coach House
Burley Coach House opened its doors in 1968 and has continued to sell some of the best country wines found in the New Forest.
You’ll find all sorts of fruit wines here including Sloe, Damsen, Strawberry, and more. They also sell jams, preserves, pickled onions and chutneys! You can sample some with their free tastings.
If you didn’t know, Burley has its own cider farm so you can find plenty of scrumpy to purchase by the gallon too.
4. Have lunch at the Burley Inn
If you were looking for a pub to grab some lunch in Burley then I would recommend popping into the Burley Inn Freehouse.
It’s a cosy pub with a log fire for when it’s chilly in winter or you can dine out on their patio if the weather is fine overlooking the village.
They have a great range of local ales, beers, and wines on offer. As well as a tasty menu of dishes!
5. Grab a Burley ice-cream
Is it even a summer holiday if you don’t have ice cream melting and running down your sleeve in the UK?
Burley is a great place to grab an ice-cream cone if the weather is warm and they even have some ‘spooky specials’ to live up to their witchy reputation.
A popular ice cream we have in the UK is a ‘Witches Hat’ that includes putting an ice-lolly inside a whippy ice cream. Then, you turn it over and it looks like a witch’s hat!
6. See the New Forest ponies
You can’t really escape the New Forest ponies while you’re here! In fact, there are thought to be around 5,000 of them in this area.
If you didn’t know, many of the ponies found in the New Forest are wild and roam-free. But, they are owned by New Forest Commoners who have the right to graze their ponies and cattle on the open forest throughout the year.
Burley is no different and you’ll often find plenty of them roaming about the village and grazing nearby.
You can even ride some ponies in Burley and there are Burley Wagon Rides that take place throughout the summer.
7. Hire a bike to explore the New Forest
One of the best ways to explore the New Forest is by bicycle with the numerous scenic cycling routes that take you through the forest.
So, if you fancied ditching your car and opting for some fresh air, you can find a Burley Bike Hire in the village to start your adventure!
Forest Leisure Cycling has bicycles and e-bikes to rent out at £20 for the day. The price also includes a helmet, backpack, pump, lock, toolkit, and a mobile mechanic backup.
No need to pre-book, simply pop in and see what’s available. But, advanced booking is advised in peak season and weekends!
How to visit Burley in the New Forest
If you wanted to visit the Burley witch village for yourself then you only need to visit the New Forest in Hampshire, England.
The easiest way to access the village is to drive as it’s quite a remote area. It’s on the western edge of the New Forest just southeast of Ringwood.
You can access the village from the A31 roads and A35. The village is well signposted and the tourist signs will direct you to the parking area.
Burley village postcode is BH24 4AB for your SatNav
If you don’t drive, you can get a train to Sway station, Hinton Admiral station or New Milton station.
Regular train services run from Bournemouth, Southampton, or Winchester and then you can get a bus service to Burley from any of those stations.
Burley village is a relatively small one and in summer it can get overwhelmed with visitors. It’s always important to park in the designated visitor car parks.
Burley has a huge visitor car park behind The Mall. It’s only a minute walk away from the main high street.
This car park takes cash only at the meter but you can use the RingGo App to pay on your phone. There is a free public toilet facility in the car park too!
Are you looking for more places to visit in the New Forest?
After your visit to Burley Witch Village, there is plenty more to do in the New Forest on a day trip.
I would highly recommend heading over to Beaulieu to see the magnificent historic abbey and motor museum.
Or, why not visit the historic maritime village of Buckler’s Hard where they built ships for Nelson’s fleet?
I loved the quaint village of Brockenhurst and paid a stop at the fabulous North Lodge Gatehouse while I was here.
And a visit to the New Forest is not complete without seeing some of the New Forest ponies or deer found here. You can head to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary for a good chance of seeing both!