The Methodist Church at Milford on Sea has only been in existence since 1961 but its origins date back to 1909 and the Church building back to 1911.
In 1909, a small group of members under the leadership of Mr. T. Hames and Mr. C. Spreadbury broke away from the Milford on Sea Baptist Church to form the Milford on Sea Free Church. Their initial meetings were held behind 22 High Street, Milford on Sea but in 1911 they moved to the current Church building at 108 High Street, Milford on Sea when it opened. The building comprised a Church with a Schoolroom behind it and a vestry, kitchen and toilet.
The deed of the Milford on Sea Free Church property was transferred to a group of six Trustees on 25 June 1914.
The membership of the Free Church gradually declined over the years and by 1961 the membership were finding it increasing difficult to meet the Minister’s stipend and the costs of maintaining the building. In March 1961, the Minister, Rev. H. Dale, acting on behalf of the members, invited the Superintendent Minister of the New Forest Methodist Mission Circuit to take charge of the Free Church for a trial period of pastoral oversight.
Before the end of 1961, 23 members of the Milford Free Church, at their own request, were received as members of the Methodist Church and Milford on Sea appeared for the first time on the New Forest Mission Circuit Plan as a preaching place, meeting for worship in the building formerly known as the Free Church and owned by a private Trust.
By 1965 the number of members had shrunk to nine with only two of them being aged under 70 and it looked as if the Church would be closed and its members transferred to other local Churches. However, Alderman Mrs O. Troke, argued strongly that the Church should remain open, it was agreed that Milford on Sea’s Methodist Church could continue within the New Forest Circuit although it was stipulated that it was on the condition that it held one rather than two services each Sunday.
By September 1966 the local Circuits were reorganised and Milford on Sea formed part of the newly created Christchurch & Lymington Circuit although its numbers were still small and the threat of closure remained a possibility.
However in February 1967 Mr & Mrs H. Andrews became members at Milford on Sea. The Andrews brought with them a vitality and new way of thinking to the Church based upon the idea that they would attempt to provide a social life to every section of the community in which the Church was placed. If, the people who enjoyed and shared in the social life also chose to join for worship then that they were very welcome but there was no pressure put upon them to do so.
Although there were only five members of the Church when the Andrews arrived there was a healthy Women’s meeting. In March 1969 a Friendship Club was opened which was a social club that met in the Schoolroom. With the large proportion of elderly people living in Milford on Sea this was an attempt to deal with the loneliness and boredom that many suffered from and to give friendship to them.
By 1971 the Friendship Club was so successful that it was now too large to be housed in the Schoolroom and plans were put forward to extend the building. The necessary money was raised and by October 1974 the building work was completed which comprised a new porch with entrance lobby, vestry and cloakrooms; rebuilding and enlarging the kitchen; rewiring the building; new toilet accommodation at the back of the building and the laying out of a car park.
The kitchen was to be used for the reception and distribution of “Meals on Wheels” run by the Royal Women’s Voluntary Service. Additional meals were also provided so that a Lunch Club could meet on the Church premises for the active elderly in the village.
By April 1978 the membership of the Church had risen to 39 largely through the leadership, devotion and drive of the Andrews family members.
In 1988 a survey reported that there were substantial repairs needed to the walls and the roof of the building and the funds for this work were raised through the generosity of the 38 members along with funds received from other local Churches, local councils and charitable trusts. The work was completed in late 1989.
Numbers fluctuated during the 1990’s and into the 21st century but as older members died so new ones joined often when people transferred their membership from other Churches having moved to Milford on Sea at the time of retirement or later. The Lunch Club and the Friendship Club continued to meet the needs for which they had been set up until 2010 and 2011 respectively.
In November 2011, the Lunch Club was reformed and now provides a lunch twice a month to those who live alone in the area providing them with a good meal and some social interaction and has a regular attendance of 25-30.
The Revd Ros Hollingsworth was appointed as the Minister at Milford from 1st September 2015 along with her other responsibilities as Minister at Barton on Sea, Lymington and Brockenhurst.
With effect from 1st January 2016 the former Lymington society merged with Milford on Sea and there is now a combined membership of 53.