You may have missed free entry to Buckler's Hard as part of Heritage Open Days, but that doesn't mean you can't still enjoy the visual spectacle steeped in history.

It was going to become a port to rival that of Southampton and Lymington - an 18th-century dream that never became a reality.

Today, Buckler's Hard is a picturesque village with two rows of red brick cottages. These dwellings line the broad street that descends down to the Beaulieu River and are surrounded by grass verges, slopes and the general majesty of the New Forest

During the early part of the 18th century, John the Second Duke of Montagu had a vision to transform Buckler's Hard into a town he called Montagu Town. This area was part of the Beaulieu estate and he wanted to develop it for his own purpose.

For nearly a century, England and France had been in dispute over St Vincent and St Lucia, two West Indian islands. John Montagu was appointed as governor of these lands.

Bournemouth Echo: Duckworth's Action off San Domingo, 6 February 1806 by Nicholas Pocock. HMS Agamemnon is visible in

In 1724, an expedition of seven ships was dispatched by him with the purpose to colonise and reap the benefits of his islands. To welcome the goods produced from this mission, Montagu Town began to be built.

However, the quest was unsuccessful due to the French getting there first.

Ultimately, the Duke abandoned his plans to construct a port and village along the River Beaulieu, but not before a single street had been constructed and hards built on the waterfront.

Bournemouth Echo: Buckler's Hard in an old picture.

Starting off with humble beginnings, a shipyard was created and eventually developed into a national treasure under the expertise of Henry Adams - a master ship-builder and one of the most talented artisans of his era.

For four decades, the site was a hub of naval and merchant shipbuilding activity under the direction of Adams. In that time, he constructed 27 naval vessels in addition to a vast array of merchant ships.

A plethora of esteemed ships were launched from the shipyard, including HMS Illustrious and the fabled HMS Agamemnon favoured by Lord Nelson.

Bournemouth Echo: Bucklers Hard from the air. April 6, 1976.

Nelson commanded the ship during the assault on Calvi, Corsica when he lost his right eye.

Following the death of Adams, his two sons Balthazar and Edward stepped up to carry on the family tradition. They successfully maintained control of the shipyard for more than 100 years.

Once the use of wood in shipbuilding became obsolete, Buckler’s Hard found itself without a purpose.

Bournemouth Echo: Bucklers Hard village festival - July 1978.

Despite the fact that no new battleships were coming off the production line there, a legacy of naval construction endured.

The Mulberry Harbour was an essential element in the success of the Normandy landing, and Buckler's Hard played a major part in its construction. Built as part of the Second World War effort, these structures are remembered for being an integral part of Allied victory.

In order to quickly unload Allied cargo, a number of temporary harbours were constructed that could be floated across from England to France.

Bournemouth Echo: Mulberry Harbours being built.

Gathered in a picturesque village, Buckler's Hard is home to cottages that have stood for almost 300 years and which help provide a slice of English domestic history maintained exactly as it would have been in the 1700s.

Some families of the 21st century have chosen to make their home in the quaint museum village, although this comes with its own set of regulations. Living in such a location requires one to be mindful and respectful of the rules that govern it.

It is strictly forbidden for anyone living in this village to have any type of television antenna or satellite dish on their roof, nor can they drive cars or bicycles around. In addition, all residences are grade II listed buildings and cannot be modified in any way.

Because several of the cottages are open to the public as museums and others are residential, those living there often find tourists walking through their doors - despite having ‘private’ signs.