Beautiful clifftop town home to more older people than anywhere else in the UK

The village of Barton-on-Sea was this week revealed to have more older people than anywhere in Britain and it is a bustling, thriving and beautiful place, according to locals.

Residents of the Hampshire coastal village have a median average age of 65, which is the highest in England among all built up areas outside London, data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

Part of the civil parish of New Milton, Barton-on-Sea boasts “superb” coastal walks, “magnificent” cliffs, “sweeping” coastal scenery, “pretty” water meadows and is perfect for outdoor explorers, according to the Visit Hampshire website.

A row of Coast Guard Cottages in Barton Lane is one of the village’s most distinctive features. They were built at the end of the 19th century by the Government as homes for armed guards trying to stop the smuggling which was rife in the area at the time.

The smugglers have gone now, but as New Milton Residents Association chairman Sue Larking explains, Barton-on-Sea is now a great place for retirees.

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Mrs Larking, who has lived in Barton-on-Sea since 1991, told “From a geographical point of view, you’re near the sea and New Forest and near some very lovely places to visit. It makes it a really nice, central place to do lots in your spare time.

“It’s a nice place to retire… It’s relatively quiet down here. It’s a hidden area because roads tend to go across the north of the New Forest. It’s a bit quieter because there’s no through traffic.

“But there’s lots to do. We have a wonderful, active community from an historical society, to the WI, to a bridge club. Locally, we have lots to do. I think that’s why people like it.”

Retired herself, Mrs Larking said the population has changed since she moved into the village with her young family more than 30 years ago.

She explained that back in the 90s, the population was much older than it is now with the village boasting a few tea shops and a pub, but now the older generation is actually younger and its members want to enjoy live music and take part in pub quizzes.

But Barton-on-Sea, which according to the last census has a population of 6,756, is still home to centegenarians and nonagenarians, as Mrs Larking said: “They’re a fit bunch down here, and live long.”

Barton-on-Sea’s position between Bournemouth and Southampton also make it an ideal place to live for people who want to travel overseas from nearby Bournemouth Airport or to take a cruise from Southampton’s docks, which is less than an hour’s drive away.

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But with residents of the capital moving to the area, house prices are relatively high, meaning it can be hard for younger people to get a toehold on the property ladder, an issue affecting many rural communities in southern England.

Properties in Barton-on-Sea tend to hold their price, according to local estate and lettings agent Michael Ellis.

Mr Ellis, franchise holder of Martin & Co in New Milton, told “Barton has always held its price. People from the Home Counties come down and buy in the area. The market is dipping as it is anywhere, but maybe not so much in Barton.”

Simon Barnes, owner of Winkworth Estate Agents’ offices in Mudeford and Highcliffe, told mid-market properties have seen some falls in Barton-on-Sea, but the top end is still running very well.

On the village’s appeal, he said: “You’re minutes away from the New Forest. You’re right on Christchuch Bay with views of The Needles on one side and of Old Harry Rocks on the other. The place is extremely well-connected.”

Mr Barnes, who also lives in Barton-on-Sea, said the area is served by good schools, including independent day school Durlston Court.

While popular with retirees, he added families are also drawn to the area because of how easy it is to enjoy the great outdoors and its transport connections.

According to Rightmove, properties in Barton-On-Sea have seen an overall average price of £619,648 over the last year with the majority of sales being detached properties selling for an average £772,382. Properties can, however, fetch over a million pounds.

Bungalows make up much of Barton-on-Sea’s homes while New Milton has more of a mix with the coastal village affectionately dubbed “bungalow land” by one local.

A popular destination for retirees and summer visitors, Barton-on-Sea is a relatively new village, having grown up from 1885 with the arrival of the railway.

Private farmland was also snapped up when it was put up for sale in the 1930s and 50s, much of it by people from London who wanted a place in the country.

In the First World War, Barton Court Hotel was used as a convalescent home for Indian soldiers. An obelisk in Barton-on-Sea marks this and still stands to this day.

Nearby New Milton during the Second World War also took in evacuees and was a transit station for soldiers who were heading to the battlefields.

Mrs Larking said of her hometown: “It’s a fascinating place with lots of history to it.”

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