Minstead Village is set amidst a maze of lanes and is mostly surrounded by forest. The Parish adjoins the Parishes of Lyndhurst, Bartley, Copythorne and Bramshaw.
Minstead is referred to in the Domesday Book as Mintestede (Mint place) because of the mint that grew wild here. There are variations to this name, such as Mintstead and Minesteed.
Oral legend associates Minstead with the history of William Rufus, who, while out hunting, was struck by an arrow and killed. The arrow was said to have been fired by Sir Walter Tyrrell, who, guilty or not, fled by boat to France. North of the A31 is a marker known as the Rufus Stone that commemorates this event.