Forestry Commission Guide


Reprinted 1952



are the work of Mr. lan T. Morisoll, D.A.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS. Thanks are due to the following photographers:

The Central Office of Information for the pictures on pages 7, 19, 29 (lower)and 76 ; Messrs. Fox Photos for those oil pages 47 and 50; Mr. B. S. Hodge forthat on page 35; Mr. E. H. Leutscher for that on page 83; Mr. M. Nimmo for thaton page 39; Mr. T. M. Oldham for those on pages 29 (top),. 32, 49, 59, 67 and79; Picture Post Library for that on page 10; Messrs. Southern Newspapers forthose on pages 15, 16, 51 and 56; The Sport and General Press Agency for thaton page 71; Mr. E. W. Tattersall for that on page 23; The Times Publishing Co.for those on pages 1, 4, 44 and 72 ; and Mr. C. F. Walker for those on pages 3and 65.

THE MAP is based on the Ordnance Siirvey, by permission of the

Director General.

'rHE EDITORIAL WORK has been carried out by Mr. H. L. Edlin,

Publications Officer, Forestry Commission.




Chairman qf the Forestry Commission

HAVING been associated for very many years with the administration of the NewForest, I find it a pleasure to commend this guide book, which appears at theopening of a new chapter in the annals of this ancient Royal Forest. Muchthought has been given to the intricate problem of adjusting the Forest tomodern requirements while paying due regard to existing rights and interests.An able report by a Committee presided over by the Rt. Hon. H. T. Bakerprepared the way for the New Forest Act, 1949, which takes full cognizance ofthe varied uses of the Forest, namely for grazing by Commoners' animals, fortimber production by the Forestry Commission, and for the enjoyment of thepublic.

For the fullest appreciation of the Forest, which is freely accessible to all,it is necessary to acquire more than a superficial acquaintance with itstopography, its wild life, and its long human history. The editor of thisguide has been fortunate in bringing together a group of contributors who knowthe Forest intimately and from long experience. Its history, geology, floraand fauna are each described by an expert, and the chapters on the woodlandsare written by a former Deputy Surveyor of the Forest, Mr. D. W. Young, who hadcharge of them for many years.

During the recent war, as in 1914-18, great quantities of timber had to befelled to meet urgent national requirements. Wherever possible, clearanceswere restricted to those sites where they would do least harm to the sceneryand amenities generally. Since 1945 there has been much natural seeding, andreplanting, so that the scars should soon be covered up.

In conclusion, I would remind visitors that the Forest is peculiarly vulnerableto damage by fire, and ask for their co-operation in ensuring that its tallwoods and open heaths suffer no harm through some chance act of carelessness.

Forestry Commission

November, 1950




DAVIS, St. Hilda's College, Oxford

ANTIQUITIES by H. L. EDLIN, B.SC., District Of ,ficer,

Forestry Commission




A former Deputy Surveyor, New ],-crest










Old Beeches beside the Highland Water

Old Cottages at Swan Green, near Lyndhurst

Forest Ponies and Cattle Grazing beside Bolton's Bench, Lyndhurst

The Rufus Stone

The Rufus Stone, near Minstead

Bucklers Hard, where Nelson's warship Agamemnon was built of

New Forest Oak, and launched into the tidal estuary

of the Beaulieu River

Cloister Ruins, Beaulieu Abbey

An Aerial View of Lyndhurst, with the King's House seen to the left

of the church, and Northerwood House in the top right hand corner

Beaulieu seen from the Air, looking across the Beaulieu River to the

Palace House and the Abbey ruins

Scots Pines, Heather, and Bracken beside a Forest Pond

Bog Gentian, Gladiolus, Cotton Grass, and Bog Asphodel

Old Oak and beech in Puckpits Inclosure

Water Crowfoot in a Forest Stream

The Knightwood Oak

Timber Hauling

Corsican Pine beside the Bournemouth Road at Knightwood; aged about

eighty-five years in 1950

Douglas Firs, 130 feet tall, in Bolderwood Grounds

Groups of Oak Natural Regeneration in Salisbury Trench Inclosure,

near Cadnam

Trimming and Peeling Pit Props from Thinnings in the Scots Pine

Plantations of Wilverley Inclosure

Felling a Scots Pine in Perry Wood Inclosure

Old Pollard Oaks in Puckpits Inclosure

Carting Pit Props from New Copse Inclosure

Trimming Scots Pine Telegraph Poles

The Fire Look-out Tower on Lyndburst Hill, near Emery Down; seventy-five feethigh

The Eastward View from the Look-out Tower on Lyndhurst Hill

Douglas Firs beside the Ride through Shave Green Inclosure, near Cadnam


THE New Forest, one of the largest areas of unenclosed land remaining in thesouth of Britain, has been aptly described as "a miraculous survival ofpre-Norman England". It lies in the south-west of Hampshire, touching theshores of the Solent and Southampton Water, and of the total area of 144 squaremiles within the perambulation, or legal forest boundary, no less than 100square miles remain under public ownership; nearly all this Crown land, as itis called, is available for the access and enjoyment of the public. By thegradual processes of history, what was once the strictly preserved huntingground of a despotic foreign conqueror has become the free heritage of everyEnglishman, and the purpose of this guide is to make its attractions betterknown to all.

The Forestry Commission, which administers this unique area, is the directsuccessor of the Lord Wardens appointed by the mediaeval kings to preservetheir personal domain; and its principal officer in the Forest is still knownby the ancient title of Deputy Surveyor. But it is timber production, ratherthan the hunting of the deer, that is now the main concern of the Crown,although its activities extend to the protection of wild life and thesafeguarding of public amenities. The New Forest Commoners, descendants of menwho pastured cattle and ponies on the Forest in Saxon times, still exercisetheir grazing rights; and disputes affecting these rights are still decided bythe ancient Verderers' Court of Swainmote and Attachment, almost the solesurvivor of the many powerful courts of forest law that once held sway overmuch of England, with powers of life and death over those who stole the kings'deer.

Yet although the value of the Forest land for timber growing and stock raisinghas remained, and has even been increased by modern methods of forestry andagriculture, it has also acquired a new importance as an area for recreation.

Only two hours from London by rail, and lying almost at the doors of the greatseaport of Southampton and the populous seaside resort of Bournemouth, the NewForest still maintains much of its ancient detachment and freedom from thechanges of present day civilization. The broad high roads by which themotorist or cyclist may reach it so easily from any part of the country, carryconstant streams of traffic across it. But if one leaves their unfenced edgesto turn aside into the wilderness of wood and moor, where oaks and beeches thatnumber their years by centuries stand beside heaths that the plough has neverbroken, one returns almost at once to a primeval England. There are glades,moors, and marshes, deep within the Forest, that have scarcely changed sinceWilliam the Conqueror decreed, in 1087 A.D., that this region should henceforthbe his royal domain, so giving rise to the name of "New Forest" which it hasheld ever since.

The character of some of the original Forest, however, has changed during thesucceeding 850 years. The Manors of Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and Burley, whichwere in private hands when the Forest was made, and Beaulieu which was grantedto the Church in 1204, have, with the relaxation of the old Forest Laws, beenenclosed and partially built over; and other small areas have been lost byencroachment. Indeed, here and there the curious outline of some Foresthomestead, jutting out into the surrounding waste land, suggests that it wasoriginally an "encroachment", built on land taken illegally from the openforest. But today, when the Forest is more jealously guarded, we can almostrank such losses as gains. For the villages and farmsteads are the strongholdsof the Commoners, whose cattle, ponies, and geese add a picturesque element tothe scene; By their grazing over the years, they have

moulded the forest landscape, keeping its green lawns free from encroachingtrees. Nor has the Forest been harmed by the later enclosures for timbergrowin,-,, most of which were made in the nineteenth century, though some arefar older. For this is now a long-established forest, in which trees of manydifferent kinds and ages occupy relatively small stretches of ground, and wheremuch of the regeneration of felled crops is achieved by the natural seeding ofselected "mother trees". Although the Forest yielded no less than eightmillion cubic feet of timber during the 1914/18 war, and a furthertwelve-and-a-half million cubic feet during the 1939/45 war, these fellingswere made with so careful an eye to the appearance of the woods, and regrowthsince then has been so rapid, that the sylvan beauty of the plantations seemsalmost unimpaired.

Thus it is that the New Forest holds attractions for everyone, the historiansearching for evidence of prehistoric or Roman occupation or wishing tovisualise the land as the Normans knew it, the naturalist on the look out forthose rare birds, animals, or insects in which the Forest still abounds, theforester who wishes to study either natural or long-established plantedwoodlands, or the host of holiday makers who only seek some great expanse ofpleasant open country over which they may wander at will. In the shortchapters of this guide the authors, though each an expert on his subject andfor long familiar with the ground, can only point the way to the fullestenjoyment of these pleasures. If you would learn more, the way lies open foryou to delve more deeply into the Forest lore and to make your own explorationsinto this, the greatest and finest forest in all England.




A FOREST, it has been well said, is history. "There are forests in Englandwhere leafy noises may be shaped into Agincourt and the names of thebattlefields of the Roses", wrote A. S. Smith in his Dreamthorpe, "oaksthat dropped their acorns in the year that Henry VIII held his Field of theCloth of Gold, and beeches that gave shelter to the deer when Shakespeare was aboy". And the last of the great English forests, so strangely now calledNew, is second to none in its power to quicken the imagination andconjure up the sense of the past. Since remotest antiquity its history hasbeen linked to men's own. Ytene, the furzy waste, was inhabited longbefore the arrival of the Norman king. Here dwelt the dark Iberians ofNeolithic times, that mysterious non-Aryan people who occupied France and Spainas well as the British Isles. After them came the tall fair Goidels of theBronze Age, who probably built Stonehenge and Sarum, and who brought theearlier inhabitants of this island into contact with the ancient civilisationsof the Mediterranean world. Their circular burial mounds, still in many casesunexplored, are scattered through the heaths of the Forest. Then as the BronzeAge faded into the Iron Age (it is a saddening thought that man records hishistory through his weapons), there came to the Forest that other Celticpeople, the Britons, who have left their name to these islands, and whosecivilisation continued to flourish in the Forest even after the Romanoccupation.

Though the names of the towns like Winchester (Veiita andSilchester (Calleva Atrebatum) bear testimony to the coming of theRomans to Hampshire, and although they had a town called Clausentum asnear as Bitterne on Southampton Water, they penetrated but little into theForest, whose waste spaces could hold but little interest for them. But tracesof a Roman village have been found on the forest fringes close to Nursling onthe river Test, and just west of this, at Bossington, there was once uneartheda pig of lead weighing 156 pounds, inscribed as the property of the EmperorNero, consul and pontifex maximiis. The Romans may also haveoccupied the camp of Buckland Rings, just north of Lymington, where coins ofthe Emperor Claudius have been found.

The most interesting traces of this period in the Forest are, however, Celticrather than Roman, and consist of the remains of a flourishing pottery industrywhich have been discovered at various points in the north and west of theForest. Large mounds in this area were found to contain kilns and the remainsof pottery of two kinds, a slate-coloured ware patterned with roughrepresentations of leaves and grasses, and flat plates and dishes patterned inred and brown on a whitish ground, beautiful in themselves and particularlyinteresting as being amongst the few examples which have come down to us ofBritish art in this period.

The main body of Teutonic settlers in the New Forest appears, fromarchaeological evidence, to have been the Jutes, who also settled in Kent, theIsle of Wight, and the Hamble district of Hampshire. But according to theAinglo-Saxon Chronicle the district was also the scene of the maininvasion of the West Saxons, who landed in 495 A.D. at a place called "Cerdicesora", which has been variously identified as Hamble, Calshot, or Totton. Undertheir leaders Cerdic and Cynric, they defeated the British at "Natanleay"(possibly Nctley Marsh) and advanced to "Cerdices ford", the modern Charford.They and their successors extended their conquests to form the kingdom ofWessex, with its capital at Winchester, which under Alfred the Great assumedthe leadership of all England.

It was not however until about the year 635 that Christianity came toHampshire, and the place names of the forest country show interesting traces ofOld English heathenism-so Wheely Farm, a compound of the Old English weoh"heathen temple", and leah, the Old English suffix meaning "aclearing in the wood". Or further to the north Froyle, from the Old EnglishFreohyll, "the hill of the goddess Frig".

But it is with the Normans that most of us associate the Forest. And first andforemost with the policy of the Conqueror who, we once learned in childhood,laid waste a whole flourishing district of Hampshire to make himself a royalhunting ground, sacking villages, ruining homesteads and destroying churcheswith unexampled ruthlessness. And though in youth the gangster in us all mayhave tingled to this tale of spoliation, later judgment compelled us, sadlyperhaps, to write the Conqueror on our list of "Bad Kings". Happily, suchcondemnation llas been proved unnecessary. More recent scholarship has provedthat the graver charges cannot be substantiated. The very nature of the furzywaste makes it (as Cobbett saw) impossible that the forest country could everhave been a populous agricultural district. Moreover, the evidence ofDomesday is conclusive. Here the account of holdings in William'sreign, and in that of his predecessor Edward the Confessor, shows that althougha certain amount of private property was requisitioned the district was by nomeans devastated; woodland and heath remained as before, sparsely interspersedwith farms and homesteads.

Whence then the story? There seems little doubt that it represents an earlyand by no means unsuccessful piece of political propaganda; it is noteworthythat the policy of ruthless devastation is only attributed to King William muchlater than his own lifetime, when the misrule of his successors had made itvery much to the interests of powerful persons and parties to discredit theruling house. It is true, too, that there was in fact a serious grievancequite sufficient to vent itself in tales of ruthless spoliation; a grievancewhich sprang from the placing by William of the whole district under the hatedforest law, with all that that involved of curtailment of liberty, and drasticpunishment meted out for any infringement of its decrees, which were hurtfulalike to every resident in the forest, were he farmer or hunter. The idea of aforest specially preserved for royal hunting was not in itself new. Canute hadimposed heavy fines on those who hunted in his forests, and Edward theConfessor had employed forest wardens, but never before had it been decreedthat a man should be subject to maiming and death for the breaking of theforest laws. Thus it came about that when the Conqueror's son, Red William,was killed in Canterton glen, there were many to see in his untimely end aretribution for his father's efforts to subjugate the Forest. Twice alreadythe Forest had taken toll of the Conqueror's family. One of his younger sons,Richard, had been gored to death by a stag. There is a record in DomesdayBook of confiscated lands restored by William to their rightful owner as anoffering for Richard's soul. A little later another Richard, illegitimate sonof Duke Robert and nephew of William, had been killed when his horse dashed himagainst a tree.

Over the death of William Rufus there hangs a thick curtain of mystery. Everyschoolchild learns or used to learn that the king was killed by an arrow shotby Sir Walter Tyrell, which glanced off an oak and struck him to the heart.But debate still rages as to whether it was murder or merely death bymisadventure:

"I know not who the bow string drew,

I know not how the arrow fled,

Who bore the bow, the King who slew,

I know not but t'was soothly said

That Tyrell drew and the King lay dead."

On August 1 st, 1100, William Rufus had lain at Malwood Keep with atrain of lords attendant. That night the King had bad dreams and saw bloodgushing in a mighty river from a wound in his own breast. That night too therecame a vision to a stranger monk in which he saw the King enter a church andtear down the Holy Rood, only to be felled to the ground while flames and smokeissued from his mouth, putting out the light of the stars. All were agreedthat such portents boded ill and they seem to have had effect upon the King,for contrary to his usual practice he stayed indoors for most of that day. Buttowards evening, after carousing with his friends, the spell of thesupernatural seems to have lost its hold, and the King, despite the entreatiesof his lords, set out on the hunting expedition that was to end in his death.Did he, as some suggest, stumble and fall on the arrow's point? Was he, or wasTyrell, blinded by the shafts of the setting sun? Did the arrow glance off theoak, or was there in fact devil's business afoot in the woodland that evening?William had plenty of enemies: the English whom he had oppressed, the churchmenwhom he had robbed and insulted, the nobles whose allegiance he had exploited.And it is curious that many of these seem to have been expecting his untimelyend. The details we shall probably never know. But for the forester the RedKing still rides in the haunted glades. Ocknell Pond still runs red whereTyrell the regicide stooped to wash his hands as he started off on his longjourney to Normandy. The story is still told of the smithy where Tyrell pausedto have his horse re-shod, and which was sentenced for this to pay a fine inperpetuity to the Crown. Nor is Purkess the charcoal burner forgotten, whofound the King's abandoned body and carried it on his cart to Winchester where"no bell was tolled, no prayer was said . . . . for the one baptised andanointed ruler whose eternal damnation was taken for granted by all men."

But the history of the Forest is not all as sinister and doom-laden asthe story of Red William. The Cistercian abbey of Beaulieu. founded in 1204,was as -racious a flowering of human life as could be imagined. Yet if legendis to be believed, the roots of these good things go back to fear and greed andsuperstition. The storv runs that King John, outraged by the hostility of theCistercians, ordered certain of their abbots to be trampled to death by horses.His soldiers refused to carry out his behest and the abbots fled. Then theKing in a dream saw himself hauled up before St. Peter for judgment and handedover to the abbots for a flogging, and woke up aching so much that to makeamends he gave to the Order the magnificent site of Beaulieu. The Saxons longsince had called it beo-lea, the bee meadow; the Normans called itbeau lieu, the beautiful place. The buildings in their full splendourmust have matched the site in beauty. The abbey church rose slowly and to itwere added the magnificent farm buildings, and the busy harbour served by shipsfrom France and Spain and the Hanseatic towns. It was in this splendid settingthat the monks of Beaulieu solved the problem of life by daily prayer to heavenand labour on earth. The monastery was dissolved in 1537, and passed into thehands of the Montagu family. But the ruined buildings still exist andsomething too of the ancient calm, something of a sanity which has gone fromthe world.

In the days of its prime the great abbey was often at the forefront ofcontemporary affairs. Pope Innocent III gave Beaulieu sanctuary rights, and soit came about that it was here that the unhappy Countess of Warwick fled whenher husband Warwick "the Kingrnaker" was slain at the Battle of Barnet in 1471.To Beaulieu, too, Perkin Warbeck the iniposter fled when his troops haddeserted him at Taunton. He left the shelter of Beaulieu only to become aprisoner at the Tower of London, and finally to pay at Tyburn the supremepenalty for his vaunting ambition.

And so through all the splendours and miseries of history the Forest played itspart. So on November 13th, 1647, Charles I, outwitted and betrayed, fledthrough the Forest port of Lepe to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, toawait the final act of the tragedy. So Monmouth in flight after Sedgemoorwrote his petition for rnerey at Ringwood and, intending, to seek refuge in theForest until such time as he could take ship at Lymington for exile, wasapprehended a few rniles away from Ringwood at Woodlands Farm, crouching in aditch overgrown with bramble by the tree which was henceforward known asMonmouth's Ash. Other fugitives of his rebellion sought shelter in the Forest,and it was for harbouring them that the gracious Dame Alice Lisle of Moyle'sCourt was sentenced to death by Judge Jeffreys in 1685.

While many probably know that the New Forest for long provided the bulk of thetirnber for our navy, it is perhaps less generally realised that in theeighteenth century the Forest possessed its own flourishing shipbu'lding yards,and that the sleepy village of Buckler's Hard saw the construction of sloops,frigates and battleships, including ships as famous as Nelson's Agamemnon,which took part in his victories at Copenhagen and Trafalgar.

These days are past. Gone too are the hard forest laws of an earlier period.But still the forest country has its own distinctive character, still itfulfils its traditional role of sanctuary, no longer perhaps for the politicalfu-itive but for all who seek rest from the contemporary world with "its sickhurrv, its divided aims," and who seek the bird-haunted quiet of its woodlands."Regum penetralia, et eorum maximae deliciae. - The secret retreat of kings, and chief of their delights."




IT cannot be said that the New Forest itself is rich in relies of thepast, for settlers of bygone days avoided its sterile heaths and chose insteadthe fertile valleys and plains that surround it. Yet within a few miles of itsbord,-rs lie several of the finest mediaeval buildings in the south of England,while the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey (illus trated above) show that finearchitecture was once practised within the Forest itself.


Round barrows constructed by the prehistoric peoples of Britain aresufficiently numerous in the New Forest to add a characteristic touch to themoorland scene. Most of them stand upon slight eminences amongst the heaths,and a few are crowned by clumps of trees; Bolton's Bench, beside theSouthampton road where itenters Lyndhurst village, is a familiar example.Excavations into these tumuli have proved them to be burial mounds; most ofthose explored contained charcoal, funeral urns, and the remains ofhuman bones, suggesting cremation of the dead, probably in Bronze Age times.No circles of standing stones have been discovered in the Forest, althoughStonehenge, otir finest example of such prehistoric structures, lies onlyfifteen miles to the north, at the heart of a region rich in remains of ancientoccupation.

There are several defensive earthworks within the Forest which were probablyfirst thrown up in prehistoric times. Several are known as "castles", butthere is no clear. evidence of mediaeval stone castles having been built in theForest, though some of the mounds may have served as sites for wooden towers or"peles". The most conspicuous of these earthworks are Castle Hill on the westside of Godshill Inclosure (which commands a magnificent view across the AvonValley to the Wiltshire Downs), another Castle Hill at Burley Street, and along dyke which runs south-east from Bolton's Bench, Lyndhurst, and then swingssouth-west into Denny and Parkhill Inclosures. There are smaller mounds inIslands Thorns Inclosure (Studley Castle), Roe Wood, Sloden Inclosure,Churchplace Inclosure, and at Castle Malwood. The Bishop's Dyke, south ofBeaulieu Road Station, is probably of prehistoric origin, though as it nowencloses an impassable bog its original purpose is obscure. There is anamusing but ill-founded story that some jesting monarch gave the land itencloses to a certain Bishop of Winchester, who was allowed all the Forestground he could crawl round-on his bellv-in one day. Although no sensiblebishop would have taken such a tortuous course or chosen such swampy soil, itis nevertheless true that the land within the ditch did belong to the churchauthorities, and only reverted to Crown ownership a few years ago.


In Roman times the New Forest was the centre of a thriving pottery industry,and numerous kilns have been discovered and excavated; several have beendescribed and illustrated by the late Mr. Heywood Summer, F.S.A., in hisExcavations in New, Forest Roman Pottery Sites. The main pottery centrelies in and around what is Pow Slodens Inclosure; sites occur in Pitts Wood,Ashley Rails, Islands Thorns, and amongst enclosed fields north of Linwood, allin the north-east of the Forest. There is another group of kilns furthersouth, in Anderwood and Oakley Inclosures to the east of Burley village. Atypical kiln was about twelve feet in diameter and was constructed of puddledclay; it consisted ot a combustion chamber, where wood or charcoal was burnedwith the aid of suitably arranged flues, and an upper dome wherein was arrangedthe pottery that was to be "fired". Many fragments of the actual pottery havebeen recovered, showing that this included a wide range of bowls, platters,flagons and mortars, decorated with incised or stamped designs. Coins foundnear the kilns suggest that they were worked until about 380 A.D.

There are two Roman roads in the Forest, but the connecting link between themhas not been traced. The best known comes from Winchester; it follows the lineof the present high road as far as Chandler's Ford, and then strikes acrosscountry through Chilworth to cross the Test by a Roman village site atNursling, continuing through Copythorne to cross the present Forest boundary atCadnam. From Cadnam to Stoney Cross its path coincides with the modern road toRingwood, A.31. Beyond Stoney Cross it has been traced for a short distancenorth-east and south-west, suggestina, a link-up with the two groups of potterysites. The second Roman road lies in the extreme south-east of the Forest, andhas been traced from Dibden Purlieu down to Lepe, a possible crossing place forthe Isle of Wight. It is curious that few traces of Roman forts, villages, orvillas have been discovered in the New Forest; but the Romans probably occupiedthe camp of Buckland Rings, near Lymington, and only a few miles away they hadsettlements at Bitterne (Clausentum), Winchester (Venta Belgarum), OldSarum (Sorbiodunum) and Woodyates (Vindogladia).

Relics of Saxon days are too slight to call for mention, although theplace-names of the Forest are, almost without exception, of Anglo-Saxon origin.The records of Domesday Book show that much of the land was uninhabitedforest and moorland, and after the coming of the Normans the retention of somuch land as a royal hunting ground effectively prevented closer settlement.The few post-Norman buildings of interest to students ot the past lie on theforest fringes, or else within its four enclaves of cultivated ground -Burley, Lyndhurst with Minstead, Brockenhurst, and Beaulieu. Nearly allare churches, for domestic buildings in the New Forest were built, until fairlyrecent times, of "cob", a form of puddled clay bound together with layers ofheather; cob walls last well if kept thatched and dry, but most of these oldbuildings are now demolished and have left little trace; modern building isalmost entirely in brick.


For its size, the New Forest contains few parish churches of early date orgreat architectural interest. The reasons for this are the scarcity of goodbuilding scone, the sparse population and the fact that much of the forestserves as grazing grounds for parishes whose churches stand some distancebeyond its boundaries, particularly on the north and west.

Although the tall, white spire of Lyndhurst church is an effective landmarkthat may be seen from far and wide across the Forest, the building itself is amodern one of little interest to the antiquary; it contains, however, a wallpainting by Lord Leighton, showing "The Ten Virgins". The little church atEmery Down is also a modern structure.

Minstead Church, some three miles north-west of Lyndhurst, has a stone chanceland nave erected in the thirteenth century, although the brick to",er suggestsa building of much later date. Peculiar interior features are a three-deckerpulpit, a gallery, and two large private pews.

Brockenhurst Church is so old that it is mentioned in Domesday Book,and its dedication is unknown; most of the present building dates from thethirteenth century. Boldre Church includes work of twelfth century origin.though most of its structure is of somewhat later erection. The littlechurches at Dibden, Bramshaw, Fawley and Eling are also of early date, havingbeen built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Those at Burley,Marchwood, Exbury and East Boldre are modern.


Beaulieu Abbey is without doubt the finest mediaeval building within the Forestbounds, though only a fragment of its early splendour remains, and much of thatis in ruins. It stands close to Beaulieu village, within a stone's throw ofthe peaceful tidal river Exe, or Beaulieu River, and the ecclesiasticalbuildings are open to visitors. The best preserved portion, still used is theparish church, was originally the monk's frater, one of the severaloutbuildings surrounding the central cloisters, the ruins of which are still tobe seen. The original abbey church was a vastly greater structlire, but ofthat only fragments remain. The Abbey was founded by King John in 1205 A.D.and was built of stone transported by water from Binstead in the Isle of Wight,Purbeek in Dorset, and Caen in Normandy, whilst the roofing slates were broughtfrom Cornwall. It was a Cistercian foundation, and the monks farmed extensivelands reaching down to the Solent, which are still a fertile enclave within theNew Forest heaths. They are said to have kept cattle at Beaufre, sheep atBergerie, and fish in Sowley Pond; and they liad a chapel and a grange at St.Lconards.

Not far beyond the Forest bounds lie Romsey Abbey and Christchurch Priory,magnificent churches rich in Norman work which procla;ms their earlvfoundation. Going a little further afield, one may reach Winchester Cathedral,the fine old Minster church of Wimborne, or Salisbury Cathedral with itssplendid soaring spire. All these lie near enough to the Forest to have playedtheir part in its history, and they may remind the visitor that, although theNew Forest itself is poor in great churches, it lies at the hub of one of therichest and most early developed districts of England.


As we have seen, the New Forest has always been a thinlypeopled area, poor inbuilding stone, and these facts, ogether with the Crown ownership of so much ofthe land, effectively hindered the development of great castles or manor houseswithin its bounds. Many of the large country houses were built in Victoriandays, when the Forest became fashionable as a residential area. At Lymington,however, the maritime trade of the eighteenth century led to the building of atleast one fine street of Georgian houses, with an attractive church inRestoration style to match. Hythe, too, on Southampton Water, has about it anatmosphere of sailing ship days. At Buckler's Hard, near Beaulieu, one may seethe slipway whence wooden men-of-war were launched into the Exe, with thehouses of the old carpenters still standing on either side.

At Lyndhurst the most notable building is the King's House, standing beside thechurch at the top of the High Street, which was once a royal hunting box andfor long the official residence of the Lord Wardens or Deputy Surveyors of theForest, though it is now in private occupation. An old record exists of thesale of 250 loads of timbe. in 1635 "at the highest profit for buildinglodgings for the king's use and service adjoining the old house of Lyndhurstwith outhouses and a stable for forty horses". The present building appears tohave been erected in the seventeenth century, bu, has been much altered,repaired, and restored at subsequent times.

The Verderer's Hall, now a part of the King's House, is in origin a muchearlier building. The first records of it go back to 1388, and the lower wallsand porch are probably of Tudor date, since Henry VIII ordered its restoration,but the superstructure is modern. The Hall still serves as the meeting placeof the Verderers Courts of Swainmote and Attachment, and is open to the public.It contains a curious old wooden prisoner's dock, old tables and chairs, anda stirrup which, it is said, was used for measuring dogs to see if theywere large enough to hunt deer; any do,,, too large to wriggle through thestirrup had to have its claws cut. On the walls hang the antlers andheads of deer killed in the Forest,, and the hatchment of the Royal Arms whichwas displayed at the last forest Court of Eyre to be held in Britain in 1669.





MUCH of Southern England consists of broad shallow basins, such as the LondonBasin and the Hampshire Basin, which are filled with gravels, sands and claysand are surrounded by low chalk downlands, such as the Chiltern Hills, theNorth Downs, and the Hampshire Downs. The New Forest lies in one of theseshallow basins-the Hampshire Basin-,ind the form of the surface features, thenature of the soils, and the type of vegetation result to a marked extent fromthis fact.

We shall discover, as we beain to explore the Forest, that there are three maintypes of surface form: infertile flat-topped gravel plateaux or sandy plains;rich, well-drained clays and loams where somewhat older geological series areexposed; and broad areas of low-lying, ill-drained marshland. Closelyassociated with these land forms are three distinct types of naturalvegetation:

Heathland-barren areas, with a few self-sown Scots pine and

birch, gorse, heath, and various hardy grasses.

Woodland-either beech or oak, with yew, holly and thorn.

Marshland-with alder thickets, willows, heath, bracken, sedge,

bog-moss and cotton grass.

First of all we shall notice many wide expanses of exposed, flat-toppedplateaux or level plains. They have the appearance of infertile barrenheathlands, more like the Scottish moors than "forest", and they occur inwidely separated parts of the New Forest. From Telegraph Post, along theDownton-Cadnam Road, where the plateaux reach their highest point-419 feet-theland slopes gently southward, and also south-westward towards the River Avon.This most northerly part of the Forest, lying between the DowntonCadnam Roadand the Ringwood-Cadnam Road, consists of a series of flat-topped, parallelridges--Deadman Hill, Hampton Ridge, lbsley Common and Hasley Inclosure, BroomyWalk, and Handy Cross. Each ridge is capped by about twelve to fourteen feetof broken water-worn chalk flints, interspersed with sand and small pebbles.Streams have cut deep valleys through the gravel cappings, and not only washedaway much of the gravel that once formed a continuous spread over the wholearea, but also exposed different and older strata as they have cut more deeplyinto the land surface. On Beaulieu Heath we shall come across a similar typeof landscape, but here the plains are lower and wider; the texture of thesurface soil is that of a sandy-gravel; and the rivers have not cut out deepvalleys. These flat gravelly plateaux and plains, usually treeless and coveredwith gorse and heather, can be noted in many other parts of the Forest and forma striking contrast to the more wooded areas.

The second feature is the somewhat scattered distribution of thick naturalwoodlands, usually of beech or oak, and containing much thorn, holly and yew.These woodland areas usually cover the long, gentle slopes that separate theflat-topped plateaux. In these areas, the soil consists of clay or sandy loam,with occasional beds of quartz and rounded pebbles. The clays are sometimesdark and greenish in colour; and in places there are bands or "beds" of yellowsand with layers of white pipe clay. If we are fortunate, we may find in theseseams the remains of a few sub-tropical plants and marine fossils; such ascorals, Solenastrea granulata Duncan, Lobopsammia cariosaGoldfuss, and other species; and many shells.

In Roman times pottery was made from these clays, and a number of Roman kilnshave been discovered at Crook Hill, Panshard Hill, Sloden, Anderwood and OakleyInclosures, Island Thorns and other places. At Beaulieu, bricks are still madefrom the clays, and at Brockenhurst there were formerly kilns for makingpottery, tiles, drain pipes, etc., as well as bricks.

The third characteristic feature is the abundance of broad, low-lying areas ofill-drained marshland, with a vegetation cover of alder thickets, heath,bracken, sedge, bog-moss and cotton grass. These areas occur, for the mostpart, in the lower parts of the Forest, and especially along the borders of thelower courses of the rivers where a greenish loam is deposited along the riverbottoms in flood time. In several places, as at Wilverley Walk and Matley Bog,conditions are found favouring the formation of peat. Waterlogging, however,is not confined to the lower areas, and, surprisingly, much bog occurs onthe plateau sections.


It is interesting to trace the development of these various changes in thelandscape, and to find out why the Forest should lie in a comparatively low,shallow basin, surrounded by chalk downland; why extensive gravel-spreads covermuch of the land-surface; what gave rise to the beds of fertile dark greenishclays; and why so much of the Forest is waterlogged and marshy.

At one time-during what geologists call the Cretaceous (Chalk) Period-the landwhere the New Forest now stands was covered to a great depth by an ocean whichextended over much of Northern Europe. On the floor of this ocean the shellsof microscopic marine creatures (Foraminifera) accumulated, and graduallybecame pressed together into a hard mass of chalk. In course of time the seafloor was raised very slowly and irregularly until part of the chalk beds wasexposed above sea-level to encircle broad shallow troughs, many of whichremained submerged betieath shallow seas. Soon large rivers began to drain theexposed land surfaces and to carry eroded material down to the shallow seas,where layers of earthy matter and pebbles and bits of dead vegetationaccumulated. The deposits suggest that the Forest area may have been occupiedby a large river estuary or shallow sea that extended across Western Europe asfear as the Ardennes in Belgium. As soon as the rivers entered the sea, theirspeed was checked and the heaviest part of their load, such as pebbles, wasdropped; farther out, the sands were deposited; and the clays and ooze werecarried furthest from the shore.

Subsequently, earth movements raised these shallow basins above sea level,exposing the more recent-Eocene or Tertiary-deposits which had accumulated inthem. Upon this surface the present form of the land surface began to takeshape; a broad shallow basin-the Hampshire Basin-filled with Tertiary clays andsands and surrounded by a low rim of chalk downlands. The northern downlandrim can be traced from Cranborne Chase through the Wiltshire and HampshireDowns to the west, north and east of the Forest. The southern downland rim isrepresented by Ballard Down in the Isle of Purbeek and the central chalk ridgeof the Isle of Wight, but much of it has been eroded away and lies below sealevel. Erosive agencies started immediately to wear away these various exposedland surfaces, and to break down much of the flints of the chalk downlands intoangular fragments.

It appears that the whole area was altected once more by some drift agency,possibly associated with the closing phases of the Glacial Period, whichcarried these gravels and other sandy material over the central parts of thebasin to form the gravel spreads (Plateau Gravel and Valley Gravel) that covermuch of the clays and sands (Tertiary) that had been previously deposited. Asriver action began to wear through these gravel cappings the older, moreregular beds of clays and sands were exposed. For instance, in the areabetween the Downton-Cadnam Road and the Ringwood-Cadnam Road, theplateau-gravel ridges are separated by deeply cut valleys where streams havewashed awav much of the gravel cappings and exposed the older geologicalformations on which the gravels rest; in the north, Millersford Bottom andDitchend Brook expose the Bagshot Sands; in the centre, Latchmore Bottom andDocken Water, expose, for the most part, the Bracklesham Beds; and in thesotith is Linford Water, along whose flanks the Barton Beds outcrop. A mostinteresting correlation of soil type and natural vegetation may be made bywalking from one Plateau Gravel capping, across a valley, and tip to theplateau on the other side. Two distinct types of landscape have developed as aresult of these conditions; the barren, gravel-capped plateaux, and the morefertile, wooded slopes.

It now remains to explain the waterlogging that characterises much of theForest. As a general rule, the surface water percolates through the gravelsand sands and is held up by the clay beds, which then direct the flow andusually determine where the springs appear at the surface. In some places thedrainage is impeded before it reaches the clay; soluble minerals are washeddown and accumulate to form a hard-pan or impermeable layer, at a depth of fromone to three feet from the surface. Consequently, the surface soil becomesboth impoverished and waterlogged; and this accounts for the poverty of many ofthe Forest soils; and also for the bog and marsh which occur even in thoseareas where sands or gravels form the surface cover. In some cases, where thedrainage is particularly held up, shallow ponds are caused to form, such asOcknell Pond and Janesmoor in the north, and Whitten in the south. The largerponds in the Forest are few in number and of artificial origin. A rusty redcan be detected colouring most of the gravels, and the presence of iron andother minerals in the streams flowing through the gravels is supposed to havebeneficial effects e.g. Iron's Well or Leper's Well in Eyeworth Walk.





ANYONE entering the New Forest from the Salisbury direction cannot failto be struck by the contrast between the vegetation of the chalk downs ofWiltshire, and that of the gravels, sands and clays of Southern Hampshire. Forthere is no chalk in the Forest; and although the Oligocene beds betweenLyndhurst and Beaulieu Heath yield a certain amount of calcareous rnarl, it istoo small in quantity and too local in distribution to have any marked effecton plant life.

Roughly the Forest may be divided into two areas, very unequal in size. andstrikingly different in vegetation. (1) The area of Plateau Gravel, on thewestern and southern bolindaries; and (2) the area of sands and clays in thecentre and cast. A general idea of the character of these can be obtained bytaking, first, the road from Cadnam to Ringwood by way of Stoney Cross andPicket Post; and secondly the road frorn Cadnam to Lyndhurst, and thence oneither to Brockenhurst, or to Christchurch. The former passes mainly overheathland; while the latter is beautifully wooded, with some broad grassyglades, and occasional bogs.


The Plateau Gravel lies as a thin veneer on the remnants of a once extensiveplateau, wbich slopes down from over 400 feet above the sea at Bramble HillWalk, to 300 feet at Picket Post. Thence it turns eastwards, and runs, withsome interruptions, to Setley Plain and Beaulieu Heath; and even here, thoughit sinks to only 140 feet, it still stands conspicuously above the sand andclay areas which border it. This plateau is now dissected by innumerable smallvalleys, which drain it so thoroughly that it will usually support few forms ofvegetation. Here and there, it is true, it is overlain by a bed of brick earthwhich affords a good enough soil for cultivated crops; but for the most part itis heath-land, beautiful in summer with its carpet of purple flowers, but verybleak and bare for the rest of the year. And even the heaths, it seems, wouldnot survive, were it not that their tissues are penetrated through and throughby a flingus-the two plants benefiting, in a rather obscure way, from thisassociation. But this is by no means an isolated case, for Dr. Rayner, awell-known research worker, has shown that there is the same intimate and vitalrelationship between our forest trees and the

"freaked fawn-coloured flaky crew Of toadstools"

which spring up at their feet in the autumn.

The two heaths which cover most of the plateau are the bell heather (Ericacinerea) with spikes of rich purple blossoms, and the ling (Callunavitlgaris) with smaller and paler flowers. The former is the first to comeout, but often remains in flower after the ling has withered. Besides thesethere is a sprinkling of the cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix), whichindicates a moister soil, and is consequently more fully developed in the boggyland which we shall deal with presently.

In addition to these heaths there is, in places, a good deal of the dwarf gorse(Ulex nanus), much softer in its spines than the corrmon gorse (Ulexeuropaeus), and flowering later. A third species (Ulex gallii),also occurs, which is more or less intermediate between the other two ' Yetanother plant suited to this and soil is a wiry grass, the heath bent-grass(Agrostis setacea) which is rare further north, but abundant here and inthe Bournemouth district.

It must not be inferred from this brief description that the Plateau Gravel hasa monopoly of the heaths; large patches of them occur on sandy soil in theother area as well; but this may be regarded as their headquarters.


The strata of this area, being soft, have been more deeply eroded than thehighly resistant Plateau Gravels, and so. on the whole, they lie at lowerlevels. They consist of several members of the Eocene series, and one ofOligocene (Headon); but the former are so intricately mixed up together that nodescription can give a clear accoll.nt of their distribution: most of theOligocene, however, would be included in a triangle with Lyndhurst,Brockenhurst, and Beaulieu at its corners. The Eocene beds usually afford verypoor soils but the OligDcene loams and marls are more fertile.

The number of different soils, of different de-rees of fertility, naturallyleads to far greater variations in the flora than we met with on the PlateauGravels; and it is here that we find the extensive woods of deciduous trees,whose autumn tints are so much admired by all lovers of the Forest.

In these woods, where the shade is not too dense, a number of flowers appear inspring and summer, among which may be mentioned the daffodil (Narcissuspseudo-narcissits), which, however, is by no means common; the bluebell(Scilla non-scripta); the wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella); andthe wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa). More rarely we come acrossthe columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris), the rich blue lungwort(Pulmonaria longifolia), and the handsome, but curiously-named bastardbalm (Melittis melissophyllum). Another charming little plant, which isoccasionally found in damp woods, is the ivy-leafed bell-flower(Wahlenbergia hederacea); while in the Lyndhurst area the wildgladiolus (Gladiolus illyricus) still survives. But one wondershow long it will be allowed to remain; for in plants, as in women, beauty isapt to be a "fatal gift", and there are alwavs plentv of vandals ready to digup and carry away any attractive plant. Among orchids the white flowers of thebutterfly orchis (Platanthera bijolia) can frequently be seen in th,-spring, and the less conspicuous broad-leaved helleborine (Epipactishelleborine) in the summer. Much more uncommon is the bird's nest oi-chis(Neottia nidus-avis.

In the open grass glades which intersect the woods, we may occasionally findthe autumn gentian (Gentiana amarella), which, however, is very local;and also, not unfrequentlv, the autumn lady's tresses (Spiranthes spiralis).The much rarer summer lady's tresses (S. aestivalis) only grows inbogs; and it is these bogs. which provide the happiest hunting grounds forbotanists.


The smaller streamlets of the Forest, besides silting up, often become sochoked with herbage as to cause the water to spread ,out over fairly wideareas; and this herbage, as it dies, has produced in the course of timeextensive beds of peat in many places. This peat, though gathered in the past,is of little use for fuel, but it has undoubtedly encouraged the growth of manyplants, which would not have been there without it. There are several of thesewaterlogged areas, among the largest, and most important botanically, beingDenny and Matley Bogs, near Beaulieu Road Station, Wilverley Bog near HolmsleyStation, and Hincheslea Bog, southwest of Brockenhurst.

Bushes of sweet gale (Myrica gale), with its pleasant scent, areabundant in most of these swamps, as is also the white-headed cotton grass(Eriophorum angustifolium); but the nearly allied slender cotton-grass(E. gracile), is extremely rare. Very conspicuous too is thebog-asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum), with its spikes of bright yellowflowers in the summer, replaced in autumn by red seed-vessels. Among morehumble, low growing, plants are the bog pimpernel (Anagallis tenella),with rose-pink flowers delicately veined, and the two common sundews, theround-leaved (Drosera rotundifolia), and the long-leaved (D.longifolia), both of which have sticky leaves which catch the insects onwhich the plant feeds carnivorously; there is a third and larger species (D.anglica), but it is very rare. Of all these marsh plants the mostbeautiful is the rich blue bog gentian, or Calathian violet (Gentianapneumonanthe), but although locally plentiful, it is found in very few ofthese bogs. Closely allied to it, growing on damp sand, is the littleCicendia filiformis (it has no English name), whose yellow flowersunfortunately seldom open fully. Coming next to some of the rarer plants, aform of bedstraw (Galium (debile) which has only recently beenidentified, grows in fair quantity in some ditches in the Lyndburst area; butwe are lucky if we meet anywhere with the western butterwort (Pinguicula 1sitanica), or the bog orchis (Malaxis paludosa), and for thelatter we may have to wade deeply in wet sphagnum moss.

In the neighbourhood of Beaulieu Road Station careful hunting should reveal theknotgrass (Illecebrum verticillatum) which strews the damp soilwith its delicate trails of minute white flowers, suggestive of fairy necklacesof tiny seed-pearls. In the same region are a few plants of the large yellowbalsam (Impatietis noli-tangere) which owes its Latin name"touch-me-not" to the explosive nature of the seed capsules. Not very faraway, in such boggy ground that its leaves are often floating, is the greatestrarity in the Forest, Ludwigia palustris; but although it is such aprize for botanists, its tinygreen flowers offer little attraction to any butexperts.

Besides the many plants growing in these peaty bogs, there are, of course, manyothers which live with their roots under water. The bog St. John's wort(Hypericum elodes), with yellow flowers, is abundant in every shallowpool, and in many ponds the bog bean (Menyanthes trifoliata) opens itsdelicately fringed petals in the spring. The great spearwort (Ranunculuslingua) is rare in the Forest, except in Sowley Pond. In most ditches andstreams the graceful water plantain (Alisma plantago) is abundant, andits smaller relative (Baldiellia ranunculoides) often accompanies it, asalso do the two common bur-reeds (Sparganium erectum and S. simplex);but the small floating form (S. minimum) is very uncommon. In manyplaces too, the water persicaria (Polygonum amphibium) coversconsiderable areas with its floating leaves, through which spikes of pinkflowers push their way. Totally under water, except for their floweringstalks, are two of the water milfoils (Myriophyllum alterniflorum and M.spicatum) with delicately divided leaves, and the three bladderworts(Utricularia vulgaris, U. intermedia and U. minor), interestingon account of their carnivorous habits; for their submerged stems are coveredwith little bladders, which catch and imprison minute animals, and when thelatter die, the plants feed on the decaying organic matter.

Nothing has yet been said about the sedges or grasses, which, althoughattractive to botanists, are not showy enough, and are too difficult ofidentification for the general public. More than thirty species of sedge(Carex) are listed in Townsend's Flora of Hampshire as growing inthe New Forest, but here only three rare ones need be mentioned, Carexfiliformis, C. limosa and C. montana.

All the commoner ferns are present, but the maidenhair spleenwort (Aspleniumtrichomanes) and the scaly spleenwort (Ceterach officinarum),though plentiful in some southern counties, are not often seen here. Amongrarer forms may be mentioned the mountain fern (Thelypteris montaiia),and the marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris); and to these must now beadded the royal fern (Osmunda regalis), which was formerly widespreadbut has suffered severely at the hands of "collectors", who dig up and carryaway quantities of every plant that attracts them. All over the country thesepests are at work, and unless we can soon get laws to protect our wild plants,botanists may before long find all their choicest species destroyed. All wildplants in the New Forest are, of course, protected by the local bye-laws.


Unfortunately there is no up-to-date list of New Forest plants. A list whichwas good at the time it was made can be found in Wise's The New Forest(1995); and much can still be learnt from Townsend's Flora qf Hampshire(2nd Edition, 1904). Some chapters in A Natural History ql'Bournemouthand District (1914) are also useful.




As will be seen from the statement of areas on page 84 the total area ofwoodland belonging to the Crown in the Forest is 25,512 acres. In this chapterwe want to talk about these woods. They .surely, more than any other part ofit, give the Forest its unique character. Open heaths it is true have a beautyof their own, particularly in the late summer when heather is in bloom. They,however, form part of a much larger area which stretches in an ever narrowingtongue through the partially built up area north of Bournemouth and Poole toWareham and ten or fifteen miles beyond, including the "Egdon Heath" country,which Hardy made famous. On those bright limpid days which come to us inspring or in the late summer when the heaths and heather are in bloom, you cantramp across them with an amazing sense of joy and freedom, but in those almostmore frequent days when the sun never pierces the clouds, there is nothing inthe vegetation to relieve the drabness of the scenery. Even the distant viewsare lost in mist or haze and there creeps over you a depression, that sense ofpessimism which places the beauty of nearly all Hardy's books in the minorkey.

How different is the New Forest. It may be raining hard on a day in earlyNovember. The Forest heaths share all the drabness of those in Dorset. Theponies and cattle stand in misery with their backs to the wind. A steamy mistcuts off the distant view. Suddenly you come to a place where the woods reachdown to the road, and straight ahead there is a path or rather a tunnel of goldfor you ; a fairyland of browns and yellows. Or it may be winter when theleaves have fallen from the trees and gather in hollows in the ground below,making a patchwork of browns, greys and greens, while overhead the branches ofthe trees interweave in a delicate tracery against the sky, picked out by thegreys, greens and yellow of the lichens. Or again, it may be early spring whenthe bursting birch and larch buds blot out some of that tracery in a gentlehaze of yellow and emerald green.

In high summer, when the trees are in full leaf of a darker hue, the woods takeon a more sombre aspect, but where, as often happens, there is a break in thecanopy and a shaft of sunlight streams through on to a lichen-stained stem ofan old gnarled beech, you are confronted with a beauty of more dramaticcharacter which takes your breath away. It is just that kaleidoscopicchangeableness of the woods-the fact that they are never quite the same for twodays or even two hours together-which makes thei-n the joy that they are.Quite apart from their own intrinsic beauty the woods have another interest inthat they are the home of the deer, the badgers and squirrels, and many of thebirds reptiles and insects. You will not see much of them if you visit thewoods in large chattering parties. Walking by yourself or with a friend whodoes not need to chatter, you will realise that the woods are not so devoid ofanimal life as you thought; the sight of a small herd of deer or a single buckor stag at the end of a ride is sufficient to make the whole day's excursionmemorable.

All this being so, is it not a little tragic that it is the woods and theenclosures that have been the most frequent source of controversy between theCommoners and the Crown in the past? It is not proposed to discuss thesecontroversies here in detail, indeed, it would be improper to attempt to do so,but something needs to be said about some of them to understand thesub-division of the woods, and the limitations attached to the management ofthose which are described in the New Forest Act of 1877 as "Ancient andOrnamental".

We are so used to looking on our forests as a source of timber that we find ithard to realise that in William the Conqueror's day that was quite a secondaryconsideration, if considered at all. The paramount care of those who lookedafter the Forest was the protection of the deer and everything that the deerneeded. This last included vert great and small, or in other words, timber andunderwood. These were not protected for their own sake but as shelter for thedeer. So long as that shelter was not seriously interfered with, it is notsupposed that the powers-that-be worried very much. It is quite certain thatas the centuries passed and the population grew, the demand for material forhouses grew apace. First for simple hovels of wattle and daub for whichunderwood was required, and later for more elaborate structures in which timberwas used to a very considerable extent.

Whether legal or not, this led to cutting in the Royal Forests on aconsiderable scale, and the discovery that once it was cut the deer and theCommoners' animals never allowed the underwood to shoot again or the seedlingbeech and oak to grow, led to the first silvicultural enactment in the countrybeing passed in 1483.

It was not a very recondite measure. In a Royal Forest, enclosure of any kindwas illegal-it interfered with the deer. The Act of 1483 made it legal, wherethe coppice had been cut on an area, for a ditch to be dug and a bank thrown uparound that area and planted with thorns. In other words to enclose it with aquick hedge and leave it so enclosed for seven years or until such time thatthe coppice and seedlings were safe from grazing animals.

Considerable advantage was taken of that Act, so much so that in QueenElizabeth's day, when a census was taken of these encoppicements as they werecalled, a total of 5,800 acres was found, and there is evidence that this didnot take into account a large number which had been thrown open and lost sightof.

This census is important because when the Act of 1698 in the reign of WilliamIII was passed, with a view to making good some of the depredations which hadbeen allowed to happen to the Forest in the reigns of Charles I and 11, thefigure of 6,000 acres was borne in mind. The Act provided for the immediateplanting of 2,000 acres and of a further 200 acres per annum for twenty years,making 6,000 acres in all. It also, for the first time, gave statutoryrecognition of Common Rights in the Forest. It provided a golden opportunityof putting the Forest in order, but it met with violent opposition. Only 1,022acres were planted in the first fifteen years, a further 230 acres in 1750, and2,044 acres in 1776. This last year was one of feverish activity in theForest; this is interesting because it was in July of that year that theAmerican colonies declared their independence. Britain was building up herIndian Empire too. Perhaps, with the need for an ever-growing navy, people sawthe red light of decreasing growing stocks of oak in the country's woodlands.One development of this year was of particular interest. Scots pine wasintroduced into the Forest in 1776. The planting was confined to two smallplots, one in Ocknell and the other in Bolderwood, but it was destined to bringa great change to the Forest and the surrounding country. Before that date noconifers had been introduced into the Forest or its environs. Within less thanseventy years the pine was to show itself the species most at home in theForest, regenerating itself naturally everywhere. Since then a number of otherspecies of conifers have been introduced, at first merely as specimen trees,but later on a bigger scale, and some at least promise to be equally at home asthe pine. We sliall have to discuss the implications later on.

There was one other important feature about this statute of 1698 which has animportant bearing on the subsequent development of the Forest. This was thatit provided the Crown with what later came to be known as the "rolling power"of afforestation. It provided that when the Crown had planted the 6,000 acres,and the plants thereon had grown to a size at which they would be safe fromgrazing animals, these areas could be thrown open and a further like areaenclosed and planted.

Britain's world-wide commitments were then steadily expanding, and with themthe need for an ever larger and stronger navy. This need drew attention to thedevastated condition of most of the English woods, the source of oak from whichour warships were built at that time. Not unnaturally this was a matter ofgreat concern. One wise and important step taken by the Government was theappointment of a Royal Commission:-

"to enquire into the state and condition of the woods. forests and landrevenues of the Crown."

This Commission issued its first report in 1787, and its fifth, which dealtwith the New Forest, in 1789. This report contained certain valuablerecommendations, but the Government apparently postponed action upon them untilthe Commission's investigations were complete, and that was not until they hadissued their last and seventeenth report in 1793. Recommendations included thereorganisation of the government of the Forest and a continuation of the workunder the rolling powers provided for in the Act of 1693. There was some doubtabout the legal position then, and a Bill extending the Crown's powers ofenclosure was passed by the House of Commons, but thrown out by the Lords.Finally the provisions of the Act of 1693 were re-enacted in 1808. Theplanting programme was vigorously carried out and by 1848 some 7,000 acres hadbeen planted and were reported mainly in very good condition. The object, ofcourse, was oak for the Navy; some of the early plantings were of pure oak but,later on, considerable areas were planted with Scots pine nurses. The oaks andpines were set four feet apart in alternate rows the same distance apart. Mostof the pines in these early plantations were removed quite young and sold forthe most part as pit props. Very few were allowed to grow to maturity and mostthat were so allowed were left as belts around the outside of the plantations.Godshill, which was planted in 1810, is an example; and the old pines standingalong the edge of that Inclosure are nearly 140 years old now. As will beseen, this practice was not so rigorously followed in later plantations, butbefore we deal with the very extensive plantations made between 1850 and 1865we must deal with another matter.

As has already been made clear, the whole object of a Royal Forest was toprovide sport for the king in the hunting of deer. All sovereigns up toCharles I appear to have taken advantage of these facilities. Charles I hadother anxieties and Charles 11 other interests, and later sovereigns appear inthe main to have left the Officers of the Crown to do the hunting, and in theend to look merely on the forests as a source of venison. It is not surprisingin these circumstances that the head of deer in the Forest became very large,and complaints by the Commoners became increasingly vocal during the first halfof the nineteenth century.

The matter came to a head in the Report of the Select Committee of 1848.Negotiations were entered into with a group of Cornmoners who were believed torepresent the whole of them. As a result of these negotiations an Act, knownas the Deer Removal Act, was passed in 1851 under which the deer were orderedto be destroyed, and in compensation the Crown was authorised to enclose 10,000acres more for timber production. This increased the area which the Crowncould keep enclosed at any one time to 16,000 acres; but the Crown claimed theright to the "rolling powers" which have already been referred to, and that aswill be seen sowed seeds for trouble in the future. Mr. Cumberbatch, theDeputy Surveyor of that day, then a young man of twenty-five or twenty-sixyears, tackled the task with vigour, and he had 4,000 acres cleared, fenced,and planted within the first ten years or so. Prolests, however, grew infrequency and volume as the work proceeded. These protests came from twoclasses of people, who, when they got together, made afairly formidable front.On the one hand there were the Commoners who foresaw that if the "rollingpowers" were carried to an extreme their rights would become valueless; therewas some justification for this fear, as a letter from Mr. Cumberbatch, theDeputy Surveyor of 1853, had been published with a Report made by a SelectCommittee of 1868, in which he recommended that the "rolling powers" should beexercised to the full.

The other class of protestants were the people who had come to live in theForest because of its beauty. They hated to see large areas being cleared ofthe old pollard oaks and beeches. Pollards, it must be understood, are treeswhich have had their tops cut out at some time, six feet to ten feet from theground, and allowed to shoot again. The most easily recognised examples ofpollards are the willows which often line the streams through certain ruralareas, or some of the poplars in London's surburban streets. The willows arepollarded to provide stakes for hurdle making and the London poplars to preventthe crowns of the trees from growing too large for the streets. Beech and oakin the Forest were pollarded for quite a different reason; it was to providefood for the deer in the winter. The branches cut were left lying on theground and the deer nibbled off the bark. In the old days one of theperquisites of the keepers was to have the branchwood after the deer had hadthe bark. Here was a clear temptation to pollard more trees than werenecessary for the deer, and thus prevent many oaks from growing to Navy timbersize. Further pollarding was made illegal in the Act of 1698, so the pollardswe see today must be of considerable age-270 years at least. At this age theyare not so easily recognised as pollards as are the willows. Five, six or evenmore branches spring out from where the top was cutoutandhavegenerally grown tothe size of trees themselves. Examples may be seen in nearly all the woods ofthe open Forest; Mark Ash, Ridley and Denny Wood are notable examples. Theseold pollards are lovely old things, just the type that Rackham used to love topaint and draw in his fairy books. They are, however, of little value astimber, and trees which have not been pollarded but allowed to grow to theirfull stature have an awesome beauty of their own. Small patches of these maybe seen in the old woods. Younger examples are growing up in some of theInclosures-for instance in the eastern end of Shave Green.

At the time when the Deer Removal Act was passed, ironclads were rapidlyreplacing the old wooden ships and the need for Navy timber was not so urgent.Apart from that, it was realised that these much larger areas would take someof the woodlands on to inferior soil unfit for hardwoods. It was thereforeexpressly provided in the Act that other species than oak could be planted. Asa result not only was oak planted with Scots pine nurses, but some Inclosureswere planted with pure pine. This was the time of the biggest incursion ofconifers in the Forest. It is not very clear whether with intention or fromneglect-probably the latter-a different method of treatment was given the areasof oak with pine nurses to that given at the beginning of the century. Thenthe pine nurses were cut out at a very early age, but in these laterplantations they were allowed to stand much longer. Indeed in some cases theywere not cut out at all. As a result, particularly on those sites where thesoil was less suited to the oak, the nurses overlaid the baby. Many of thepure stands of pine today owe their origin to this fact. The old pine standsin Busketts Inclosure are a case in point. On the other hand, at the easternend of Shave Green already referred to there is an example of a case where thesoil was good and the oak able to keep pace with the pine. Many of the pineswere left as late as 1932. Indeed in Shave Green you will find examples ofboth. As you walk westwards along the Douglas fir avenue the quality of thesoil falls off, and about the middle of the Inclosure you come upon pure standsof pine where the pines have suppressed the oak.

The controversy over the plantings under the Deer Removal Act grew in intensityand bitterness as the years went by. These early plantings could not have beenvery pretty. They were scarcely distinguishable from pure conifer plantationson afforestation areas. The trees had to be planted in straight rows tofacilitate weeding. There was, at the time, growing apprehension about thebeauty of the Forest, and feeling on this matter intensified the opposition tothe work. In 1868 a Select Committee was appointed to go into the matter.They heard many witnesses and reported that never could There be peace betweenCrown and Commoners under the existing arrangements, and recommended that likeso many other Commons and Forests the New Forest should be enclosed. Thisarrangement, though it would have destroyed the Forest as we know it, wouldhave secured a much larger area for afforestation. A Bill carrying out theCommittee's recommendations was submitted to Parliament, but met with so muchopposition that it was dropped before the second reading. The Comrnoners alsodrafted a Bill on much the same lines but that was never introduced toParliament. In 1871 a resolution was passed by the House of Commons that thereshould be no more cutting of old trees or making new enclosures in the NewForest pending a settlement of the whole question, and in 1875 another SelectCommittee was appointed. This Committee suggested an entirely differentsolution and the New Forest Act of 1877 gave effect to its recommendations.Under this Act the Crown gave up its rolling powers and no more land could beenclosed beyond what had been enclosed in the reign of William III andsubsequently up to the passing of this Act. The area still allowed to beenclosed at any one time was 16,000 acres.

The legal position of the woods of the Forest as determined by the Act of 1877may now be considered. The total area of woodlands on Crown lands in theForest is approximately 28,586 acres. Of this area, 1, I I I acres are Crownfreehold, and 27,475 acres stand on non-freehold Forest land. Of the woods onnon-freehold land, 17,672 acres are enclosable woods (of which 15,745 acreswere enclosed in 1949), with 9,803 acres of Ancient and Ornamental woods whichwere not enclosable.

While this guide was being prepared a Bill was being discussed in Parliamentwhich was finally enacted on 24th November, 1949. This, the New Forest Act,1949, has brought about some very important changes. The most important ofthese have to do with the Verderers, with whom we are more particularlyconcerned in a later chapter, but for the sake of completeness it will beperhaps as well to mention them briefly here.

Under the Act of 1877, the Verderers as re-constituted by that Act were sevenin number, one official Verderer appointed by the King and six who were electedbv the Parliamentary Electorate together with the Commoners. For this purposea Commoner was defined as the owner of lands from which Common Rights werederived; anyone to be eligible as a Verderer must own at least seventy-fiveacres of these lands.

Under the new Act there are now ten Verderers, five being appointed and fiveelected. The Official Verderer is appointed by the King and one verderer eachis appointed by the Forestry Commissioners, the Minister of Agriculture, thelocal planning authority, and the Council for the Preservation of RuralEngland. The remaining five Verderers are elected by the Commoners. For thispurpose a Commoner is defined as an occupier (not necessarily the owner) of notless than one acre of land to which common rights are attached. Of the totalnumber of ten Verderers, only the Official Verderer, and four others nominatedby the Lord Chancellor, can sit and ad . udicate in the Court of Swainmote.All other matters are considered and decided upon by all the Verderers, exceptthat in any division upon the question of allowing the Forestry Comniissionersor the Minister of Agriculture to enclose lands in the Open Forest for purposesdefined by the Act, the appointee of the authority concerned is not allowed tovote.

The only effective source of revenue which the Verderers had under the 1877 Actwas what are called marking fees, i.e., the charge made when an animal isturned out in the Forest. This was fixed by the Act at a maximum of 2s. 6d.per head per annum and provided funds quite inadequate for the Verderers'needs. Under the new Act no maximum is fixed, and, subject to the approval ofQuarter Sessions, and of the Minister of Agriculture, the Verderers can fix themarking fees to meet their needs. In addition, if they so desire they areauthorised to permit the Forestry Commissioners to enclose and afforest areasnot exceeding a total of 5,000 acres. For this they can charge by way ofcompensation a yearly rent. It is hoped by this means to keep the marking feesat as low a level as possible.

There is one other provision which ought to be mentioned because it has adirect bearing on the woodlands of the Forest. The area ot what has beendescribed as "Ancient and Ornamental woods" was assessed in 1949 at 6,729acres. Under the 1877 Act the Forestry Commissioners and their predecessorsthe Commissioners of Woods and Forests, had no power to do anything in thesewoods. This was rather tragic because nearly every winter a heavy snowstorm orgale brings a number of the ancient monarchs crashing to the ground. Cattleand ponies, on the other hand, keep any natural regeneration closely grazedback. This means that the area of completely stocked woods has dwindled yearby year. To allow these woods to disappear would constitute an irreparableloss. Under the new Act, subject to the approval of the Verderers, theForestry Commissioners may enclose an area not exceeding twenty acres in anyone place and reafforest it. Special care for amenities will be taken in thiswork. and plantations will be kept enclosed until the risk of damage by animalshas ceased.

Between 1877 and 1949 there have been important physical developments in theForest, including heavy fellings in two world wars to which we shall have torefer later, but first of all let us get an idea of the present condition ofthe Forest, and of the forester's work therein.




WE have had a good deal to sav about the beauty of the woods and their interestas the home of the fauna of the Forest, but the interest should not end there.Human beings are a very important element affecting the fauna of the forest,and what man does is surely of interest. Nearly every body has an elementaryknowledge of farming. They are well acquainted with the processes of seed timeand harvest, ploughing, hoeing, sowing, cutting the hay and corn and liftingthe roots and potatoes. For some reason they do not take the same interest inforestry work. Forestry has its processes just like agriculture, and theinterest of a walk through the woods would be many times multiplied if youunderstood a little of what was going on there. Most wood sin these dayscontain a variety of species of trees. It would give you a sense ofachievement if you could identify them. In the New Forest woods you have anopportunity to learn how to do this. In Bolderwood Inclosure and along theOrnamental Drive a large number of trees have been labelled. Then again thereare some six nurseries in the Forest, situated in Shave Green, Deerleap,Stockley and Rhinefield Inclosures, adjoining Burley Outer Rails Inclosure nearBurley and beside Bolton's Bench at Lyndhurst. The process of sowing the seedsand raising the seedlings to a size fit to be planted out is full of interest.Anyone can go into these nurseries and see the work in progress, provided theydo not interfere with what is being done. Thousands of cleft oak fencing pilesare sent from the Forest every year to farmers and others who want to put upnew fences or renew old ones. When you see the piles it is quite evident howthey are made. It looks quite simple, but halt a moment and see the men atwork, and you will realise it is a very skilled handicraft.

The work going on in the New Forest is of infinite variety and of aboundinginterest. There are scores of questions which prompt themselves to theenquiring mind. For example, you will note that the Inclosures have a type offence you will not see elsewhere. The fencing piles are the same but besideswire most of them have two or three strands of strap iron, which is unlisual.Why is this? No doubt it is due to the fact that the forest is a huntingcountry and the strap iron is more readily visible than wire. In any case ifwire is cut or broken it loosens the tension over a very long length, whereasthe breaking of one strap of hoop iron can easily be remedied by thereplacement of a new bit without affecting the rest of the fence.

The great difference between agriculture and forestry lies in the fact thatagricultural crops reach maturity in a year, whereas trees have to stand sixtyto one hundred and fifty years before they produce timber of size suitable forthe saw bench. The corn is mature when it is ripe, with timber it is not somuch a question of ripeness as when it reaches tlie size demanded. Size is notthe only consideration however. Thetimber must be straight and clean. Byclean we mean free from blemishes and knots. Knots are caused by branches;blemishes more often than not are caused by wounds. The method by which weseek to get this good timber is fairly simple. In old woodland areas there isno question of cultivating the soil, as is an essential part of agriculture.You have to drain, of course, bait you leave the old stumps in the soil,and the natural herbage. A mature crop of timber would have sixty to onehundred trees per acre, but in order to secure a good selection of trees, andthat competition which makes the trees grow straight and clean, free fromknots, you plant many more trees than this. A common planting figure is 2,000per acre. In order to protect the trees in the early stages, the plantationhas to be weeded for two or three years. Forest weeding consists merely ofcutting the herbage between the lines of trees, not uprooting the weeds as hasto be done in agriculture. After that, the plantation is left more or lessuntouched for several years, though a later "cleaning" may be necessary beforethe plantation is quite safe from weeds. At from fifteen to twenty years webegin thinning. That means cutting out some of the trees and letting the besthave more space for development. Even at the first thinning, which is littlemore than a cleaning process, some of the trees cut out have a marketablevalue. Trees removed in Winnings are used as rustic poles and fence stakes andat later stages as pitprops, wireless masts, scaffold and ladder poles, and, asthe trees reach maturity, as telegraph and transmission poles. These Winningsare repeated every five years or so, and you can see, dotted over the forest,conifers, beech and oak under treatment in this way, and in various stages ofdevelopment. The importance of getting the timber free of knots has alreadybeen mentioned. Close planting is one step in that direction, but somebranches are apt to remain, and pruning these branches from the first ten tothirty feet of stem is a practice which is growing.

We have spoken of planting, and of course on afforestation areas and areaswhere we wish to change the species, no other course is open to us. Where,however, a forest like the New Forest is already established, and there is noquestion of changing the species, natural regeneration is to be preferred on anumber of counts. It is cheaper; it makes for sounder plantations, and it isinfinitely preferable on amenity grounds. There is no question of getting theplants into regimented lines. The method of doing it is apparently simple.instead of taking all the trees when felling, ten to twenty are left as "mothertrees" well distributed over every acre. Alternatively, in a matureplantation, a strip about twenty yards wide is completely cleared of trees, andthe seed comes blowing in from the trees of the adjoining unfelled area.

During the 1939/45 war, most of the fellings were done on these lines, andexamples of natural regeneration of pine can be seen all over the Forest,notably in Busketts, Shave Green and Knightwood Inclosures. Regeneration ofDouglas fir may be seen in Busketts and Bolderwood, with an interestingillustration of the effects of a bomb in stirring up the soil to be seen in thelatter. An excellent example of oak regeneration can be seen in SalisburyTrench, and small patches of beech regeneration can be seen in many inclosures.This species grows particularly well when it appears as an undercrop in pineplantations now reaching maturity. The subsequent treatment of the naturalregeneration will be much the same as that of plantations; the big differenceis that whereas a plantation startswithtwothousand plants or less per acre, anatural regeneration area may have five to six thousand, or even more.

An interesting additional point is that amongst pine natural regeneration, youoften find patches of regeneration of other species such as Douglas fir, oak,beech or birch. This should give rise to mixed rather than pure woods, andthis is important for two reasons. The first has to do with the nutriment ofthe trees. The farmer has to manure his crop because when he harvests his hay,corn or roots he takes away all the nutriment his plants have used from thesoil. In trees nearly all the nutriment goes into the leaves and fruit whichfall back into the soil. There is very little nutriment in the actual timber.Indeed, without any manuring, the soil of a well managed wood improves year byyear. Roots of the trees bring nitrogen, phosphates and potash from the deeperlayers of the soil and deposit them in leaves on the surface. If the soil isin good heart the leaves rot down, and the nutrients are made available for thetrees again. This process of breaking down the leaves goes on more surelywhere leaves of broadleaved trees and needles of conifers are mixed. Some ofthe toadstools and other fungi, which you may regard as purely incidental, areactually playing an important part in the nutrition of the trees.

The second reason will be more obvious-namely the eftct on the amenities. Amixed wood is less sombre and dark than a pure conifer stand, and its profileshows some of the soft rounded character of a broad-leaved wood.

We are back again at the conifer versus broadleaves controversy. Let us sayone last word about it. As has already been shown, a mixture of conifer andhardwood is beneficial to the Forest. Beech grows freely and regeneratesreadily, but cattle and ponies love to cat it in the spring, whereas they willtouch very few of the conifers. There are many places where oak will not growto advantage, but beech will. The lnclosures are all carefully fenced, but ifgates are left open fences are of no avail. The public can help in thisrespect. The gates should be self-closing, and most of them are, but it is notaskino, a great deal that the public should take care that the gates areactually closed after they go through them. Apart from this, it is fair to saythat no young plantation, whether hardwood or conifer, is very beautiful; butin the course of years the "ugly duckling" grows into a swan. Those whoquestion this should drop down west of the ride through Bolderwood and see thetall Douglas firs whose lower branches have been removed. It is really a verylovely sight, as is also the mixed stand of conifers in Puckpits in thenorth-east corner of Highland Water Inclosure, some of which also have beenpruned.

We do well to pay so much attention to the beauty of the woods,

but we must not lose sight of their other function. Commercial

considerations have to give place to questions of amenities in the

Forest, but there is a national consideration which can give place

to no other. In times of national emergency we must have a good

stock of timber. The aim of management in the New Forest is to

build up as big a stock as possible. In the old days it was a question

of providing Navy timber. Ships are now built of other material,

but the building up of these stocks of timber is still a Naval concern.The Navywas hard put to it to protect the convoys bringing us food and munitions of warduring the last two wars. If they had had to bring timber as well, it wouldhave added greatly to the burden.

During the 1914/18 War the New Forest provided eight million cubic feet oftimber, thus saving nearly 300,000 tons of shipping space. In the 1939/45 Warit provided twelve and a half million cubic feet more than 400,000 tons ofshipping space. It is very easy to talk in millions. Mere words convey littleof what they mean. Let us try to understand by making a very madsupposition.

Suppose we wanted to build a bridge from Southampton to New York, then thetwelve and a half million cubic feet provided from the New Forest would providea decking for that bridge one inch thick and nine feet wide.

The New Forest is of exceptional value as a training ground for foresters,particularly at the present time when the nation is embarking upon a greatexpansion of its woodland area; for few forests are so extensive, or can show abetter range of tree crops of various ages, kinds of trees, and methods ofmanagement. In 1945, Major Herbert Aris generously presented to the ForestryCommission the large mansion known as Northerwood House, which stands on ahilltopjust outside Lyndhurst, for the express purpose of furthering thedevelopment of forestry in Great Britain. This provided a favourableopportunity for establishing a training centre in the New Forest. NortherwoodHouse now serves as a hostel for the accommodation of University students,members of the Commission technical staff, and others-such as land agents andtimber merchants, who are professionally interested in forestry, and who visitthe New Forest from time to time to extend or refresh their knowledge.

We have had a long chat about the woods. It is to be hoped that it willmaterially add to your interest in walking through them ' In closing, may I saya word about fires. There are times when the fire danger in the Forest isalmost as great as in an explosives factory. The white grass you see over muchof the Forest in the spring and again in the later summer is as inflammableasguncotton. There are men watching in towers and on patrol, and every steppossible is taken to put out fires as soon as they occur, but you can help. Noone but a fool would smoke and throw lighted matches and cigarette ends aboutin a wood in this condition, but still it is done repeatedly every year,causing i-nonetary loss and disfigurement in surely one of the most beautifulparts of this lovely country of ours. Need more be said?




IF you are thinking of taking a ramble through the Forest in search of wildthings, you will be in distinguished company, from William the Norman and hisson looking for their deer, to William Cobbett scornfully complaining of thepoverty of the soil, and the multitude of deer; or in more recent times SirEdward Grey-later Viscount Grey, and President Thcodore Roosevelt walkingthrough the Forest, observing the birds and comparing their notes with those ofthe song birds of the United States.

You may walk or ride, but in either case do not hurry, and make as little noiseas possible. It is as easy to keep on the grass, or soft ground, as to clatterover gravel and brittle sticks. The deer and birds are not unaccustomed to thesound of ponies hooves, and the tread and axe strokes of the woodman. If notstartled, the deer tend to look up and stare before moving off, quietly, intothe deep covert. Many small birds do not resent being watched, indeed, manyfrequent by preference the neighbourhood of houses and gardens,. though al)birds are unwilling to give awav the position of their nests.

Field glasses and a pocket bird book are of great help. Serious ornithologistsrecommend carrying pencil and notebook to jot down details that might escapethe memory. The interest in ornithology is now very widespread, while eggcollecting is justly frowned upon, with its series of "clutches" (whole nestsof eggs), for the enjoyment of a selfish collector and his friends alone. Thetrue lover of nature wishes to see the rarer birds increase and return, not togloat upon skins and drawers full of eggs.

The evening time, "wherein all the beasts of the forest do move", is a lovelyone, and full of bird song in spring, but any hour may bring its thrill to eyeand ear, the one sense helps to confirm the observation of the other. And nowfor a more detailed description of the creatures of the Forest.


There are four kinds of deer in the forest; three of these are native toBritain, and one was introduced about 1900, when it escaped from estates inDorset and spread eastwards. The red deer are not numerous and are foundmostly in the north of the forest. The red deer needs no description as his isthe typical "stag's head", with branching antlers. The fallow deer are themost numerous and occur in all parts of the Forest. The roe deer, though nodoubt an aboriginal inhabitant of the Forest, was reintroduced into Dorsetabout 1860, and has spread over the south of England even as far as Surrey.These three British deer are tawny in their summer dress but dull brown inwinter. The fallow deer are dappled in summer and their horns are "palmate"(spreading like the palm of the hand). Occasionally white fawns are dropped.Archibald Thorburn says-"In many of the New Forest bucks the form of antlerdiffers from that of the ordinary fallow deer in park,,". The antlers of theroebuck are short, with three points on each when fullv adult. The females ofall these are hornless except for an occasional rare antlered roe doe. Thefourth species is the recently introduced Japanese deer -large and spotted,with distinctly larger antlers than the roebuck, easily to be distinguished.The antlers of three species are cast in spring, and when the young horns aregrowing in summer they are covered with a hairy skin-the "velvet". But theantlers of the roebuck are cast in November and are fully grown again bythe following April. When "in velvet" the deer lie up in the deep coverts forquiet, and to escape the irritation of flies as much as possible, as the youngantlers are very sensitive. They are fully formed towards the end of thesummer. The "velvet" shrivels and strips off, and the deer help this sheddingprocess by rubbing their antlers against the trees.

This does a good deal of damage, particularly when young conifers are used forthe purpose. In late autumn the stags and bucks are ready to fight for thepossession of the hinds and does, and their challenging notes mav be heard.The red deer's is a definite roar while that of the smaller species issuggestive of a cough.

The New Forest will always be a fox stronghold, though no doubt many werekilled during the war years. Otters occur in the Forest and live on the lowerreaches of the little rivers, though the otter is a great traveller and wandersfar up the streams in search of food. He often may be heard whistling at nightas he searches the gutters and ponds for frogs and eels.

The New Forest has many badgers which have their "setts" or earths in the heartof the woods. These setts are well known to the keepers. The walker will notinfrequently catch a glimpse of a fox, but only on very rare occasions is heprivileged to meet "Brock" returning late to his home or going out at dusk.The keen naturalist may perhaps sit in hiding to watch the badgers emerge fromtheir earth in the dusk.

The red squirrel used to be very plentiful in the Forest, but since the comingof the grey American squirrel, it is very much scarcer. The grey is seen muchtoo frequently nowadays, and though the red is not a forester's friend, thegrey is much more destructive of trees and of the eggs and fledgelings of thesmaller birds. Once the grey appears on an area, the red is soon in retreat.The Keepers' returns of vermin shot in recent years show a very marked increasein the number of grey squirrels,which were never seen in the forest until1940.

The late Dr. F. H. Haines, writing in 1929, comments on the scarcity of molesand of stoats and weasels, but only recently the writer saw a stoat in acottage garden, evidently killed by a cat. Another was killed in the samevillage. Evidently they have their enemies.

The dormouse, really more akin to the squirrel, is very scarce. The Keepers Ihave asked could not report having seen them, and it is certain that thisspecies suffered considerable losses during the cold winters of 1940 and1946.

The forest is rich in different species of bats, among them the rareBechstein's bat. Dr. Haines says that this bat is almost peculiar to theForest.

The brown hare is present in the Forest but not in large numbers, though thebeagles seem to find sufficient for their hunting. Rabbits have to be strictlycontrolled on any area devoted to timber growing, and so in the New Forest youwill find few or none in the woodlands, and only a few here and there on theopen spaces or gorse brakes. They are much more plentiful on the surroundingprivate properties.

Residents have reason to know of the presence of the long-tailed field mousefrom his ravages in their gardens; the orange-necked mouse has been trapped atLyndhurst. Dr. Haines records all three species of shrews occuring in theForest, and also the bank, field and water voles.


Probably a good proportion of the birds on the "British List" have been seen atvarious times in the area of the Forest. The following is a very brief surveyof those most frequently met with.

There are several pairs of common buzzards resident and nesting in the forestevery year, but it seems to the writer that they make themselves less evidentthan the buzzards of the open moors of the west country. However, the visitorstands a good chance of seeing a pair ot' buzzards in their lovely soaring,circling flight, high up in the summer sky-a joy to the nature lover. Thehoney buzzard has nested in the Forest in the past, for there is a stuffedspecimen in the Deputy Surveyor's office, collected in the bad old days whenornithology and collecting were synonymous terms. Quite possibly therough-legged buzzard has visited the Forest too, but he is only a wintervisitor to England.

Their smaller cousins the sparrow-hawk and kestrel are both fairly common. Thesparrow-hawk may be seen hunting the hedgerows, silent, swift and "fell". Onewas killed some years ago, ',stooping" on a blackbird on a window sill wherethe latter was being fed. The hawk collided with the glass and broke itsneck.

The kestrel is a lover of the open plains and may be seen quartering the groundand "standing" at times on quick short wing-beats while he watches themovements of a mouse, lizard, or even a beetle in the heather below, and as hestoops or turns away he shows his handsome chestnut back. He is a frequentvisitor to any plain in the Forest.

All the British harriers, the Montagu harrier and the hen-harrier, (and on oneoccasion at least the marsh-harrier), have been seen in the forest. TheMontaou harrier frequents Beaulieu Heath and other places, and the hen-harrierhas been reported by a good observer near the Ringwood Road. The heron, thoughnow nesting at one place only in the Forest, may often be seen passing over orfishing in the water-ways.

The mute swan is common enough, and a party of whooper swans was seen in winteron Eyeworth Pond a few years ago. The pheasant and partridge breed in theForest, but the blackcock is no longer seen, though at one time it figuredfreely in the bags of shooting licensees. Attempts to re-establish thisspecies so far have not been successful. This is a great loss.

The woodcock is to be found in the forest all the year round, and in thespring, bird watchers may see it in its "roding" or nuptial flight in someglade or driftway in the evenings. During the winter months the ditches andmarshy ground hold many snipe, which also breed in the Forest and round itsedges.

The common curlew breeds sparsely in the Forest on the open plain, but oftenenough for his lovely trilling spring song to be heard. The writer has onceseen a party of stone curlew or Norfolk plover, which are numerous on theWiltshire Downs, passing over the Forest. The redshank occurs in the Forestponds and marshes, and is plentiful on the coast. In the spring the northwardmigration parties of golden plover have been seen on Stoney Cross and Longerossplains. The estuaries and ponds are the haunt of mallard and teal, and widgeonhave., been found near Milkham Inclosure.

Of the corvines, the carrion crow is very common, and there are plenty of rooksand jackdaws, while the jay and magpie, the arch nest-robbers, require theForest Keepers' attention.

The green woodpecker, with his laughing cry and dipping flight, is one of themost characteristic sights and sounds of the Forest. His smaller cousins thegreat-spotted and lesser-spotted woodpeckers are seen in the Inclosures andgardens. The latter has nested in Brarnshaw Wood. The great-spotted isrelatively common.

The nightjar's pleasant summer "song" is also one of the typical forest sounds,but it lasts for all too short a time-an appropriate sound for a hot summernight. One of the old residents tells the writer that they are not nearly soplentiful as formerly. Blackbirds are very numerous, more so than thrushes,though there are plenty of these too. In the windy days of February and March,the missel thrusli or storm cock's wild, sweet, though limited song is heardfrom the top of some high tree. Redwings and fieldfares visit us in winter inflocks.

The warblers are well represented in the Forest. The New Forest is a Dartfordwarbler haunt, though the severe winter of 1946 dealt hardly with them. Thechiff-chatt, willow-warbler, blackcap, garden warbler and whitethroat arefrequent on the Inclosure edges and in the cultivated ground. Nightingales areperhaps more frequent in the surrounding woods than in the true Forest country,though in most summers you do not have to go far to find them. In the north ofthe Forest, where this is written, they were present in 1948 in the Coppice ofLinwood after an absence of three or four years, and also at Eyeworth, which isnot a usual haunt. Just outside the northern boundary of the Forest theyoccurred too in the vicarage garden at Bramshaw.

The pied, grey and yellow wagtails all occur, and in winter the white wagtailoccasionally pays a brief visit. The cricket pitches near the villages areloved by the pied wagtails and the grey is not uncommon. The yellow is mostlyfound near water. How many people know the pied wagtail's little song in thespring, on the ground, on the wing, or from a perch?

On the open plains in spring and summer the handsome wheatear flits ahead ofthe walker. He, too, has a pleasant little song though not frequently heard.There are plenty of larks and meadow pipits on the open heaths, and the NewForest is a stronghold of the woodlark, which sings on the wing or from somesingle pine at the meeting of wood and plain. In the whin brakes are thestonechat and whinchat-"the fuzz topper" of the native. The redstart andnuthatch nest in holes and crannies in tree trunks, and are to be found innearly all broad-leaved stands in the Forest. The wryneek visits the Forest,but has been less plentiful all over England in recent years. There is a finevariety of finches in the Forest-many chaffinches of course aselsewhere, but a good sprinkling of goldfinches, bullfinches, yellowhammers andgreenfinches, and soi-netimes a siskin. Crossbills have been seen in OakleyInclosure near Burley and in the Grove near Minstead, and no doubt nest in theForest.

Three of the wild pigeons nest here. The "cushat" or ringdove is one of thecommonest sights, and the stockdove is fairly plentiful. In summer comes thelovely turtle dove of bronze plumage. The three different coos may be learntand compared, for the Inclosures resound with pigeon notes in summer.

Needless to say, the cuckoo is everywhere in his visiting months, by wood,plain and village. The cry of the brown owl too 'Is one of the common eveningsounds, particularly in the autumn and winter months, and they must be verynumerous. The barn owl also occurs, but in fewer numbers. The little owllikes the more open country, and his cry is often heard by day in theneighbourhood of the villages.

The naturalist will be struck by the comparative silence of the deep woodlands.The flapping exit of a wood-pigeon, the cry of the green woodpecker, the littlesong of the robin and, of course, the brown owls at night are all that arelikely to be heard, but as he approaches the edges of the Inclosures theblackbird, thrushes, warblers and others join the chorus.

The tree-creeper runs mouselike up the tree trunks and nests in the intersticesof rough bark. There are plenty of tits-the great tit or "bellman of spring"tells us that the sap is beginning to stir. Blue-tits and long-tailed titshave their own songs, and nowadays the B.B.C. has made many niore listenersfamiliar with them. Lapwings nest on the plains and after the nesting seasongather in flocks. These flocks diminish in the hard weather, but some may beseen all the year round-perhaps visitors from further northwhile our home-bredbirds have crossed over to the continent in their southward winter movement.

Linnets are plentiful on the plains and in the gardens. These are some of thecommon visitors and residents, but there is always the chance of seeing areally uncommon visitor and what a red letter day if one does!

As an instance, in the autumn of 1947 a roller visited the neighbourhood ofLongcross Plain and Crowsnest Bottom and most accommodatingly stayed for abouta week. It was well observed by most of the local ornithologists and recordedin the well-known journal of ornithology, British Birds. One wasreported by a single observer in 1948, but unfortunately appears to have onlystayed one day.

The hoopoe has certainly been seen from time to time, and is believed to havenested in the Forest. The golden oriole has surely passed through the Forest,but it has not been recorded as breeding here.

On the estuaries and marshes between the Forest and the sea, such as Keyhaven,Stanpit or the Beaulieu Estuary, there is a fine variety of shore birds andwaders to be seen, and, of course, always the chance of sorne rare visitor. Asan instance-the bittern has been picked up near Keyhaven; the spoonbill wasseen in 1948 in the same region, and a specimen of the pomatorrhine skua founddead near Mudeford.

With the increase of interest in preservation, there is no reason why speciesformerly resident in this forest should not return. Why should the raven notcome back, or even the kite? This latter was once seen here by no less anauthority than Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald, and a new-comer feels sure she saw it in1948, being familiar with it in India.

Of the animals the pine marten might return!-a beautiful and interesting, butperhaps doubtfully welcome wanderer-for he is terribly destructive. But toreturn to the birds. The Keepers are the birds' protectors, and as there is noartificial preservation of game there is no need for extinction of interestingbirds of prey. Only the grey squirrels, jays and magpies, deer and rabbits,generally speaking, need to be kept down in numbers.

Some of the Keepers are keen ornithologists. The Verderers attitude towardbird preservation is benevolent. The birds have their own Advisory Committeeappointed by the Deputy Surveyor. What finer preserve for wild life could befound than the New Forest?


The New Forest is one of the few districts in which all the six reptiles nativeto Britain may be observed in their wild state. The commonest and mostconspicuous is our only poisonous snake, the viper or adder (Vipera berus),which may often be found sunning itself on dry heathy banks. It canreadily be recognised by the distinct V shape of the black markings on itshead, and by the strong zig-zag pattern of the black line that runs down itsback; the ground colour varies, but grey and brown specimens are the mostcommon. The smooth snake (Coronella laevis) is somewhat similar inappearance, but is less distinctly marked and has no V sign on its head; it isquite harmless, and in view of its rarity it should not be molested. The grasssnake (Tropidonotus natrix) is not very common in the Forest, where itsfavourite haunt is grassy or marshy ground close to water. Its body colour maybe grey, brown, or green, and it has no peculiar markings except for a band ofa paler shade near its neck; it is harmless and non-poisonous. All threesnakes feed on frogs, lizards, insects, eggs and the young of small mammals andbird-,.

The lizard most often seen is the common lizard (Lacerta vivipara), asmall brown creature which frequents sunny and sandy banks. The rarersand-lizard (Lacerta agilis) is a larger, more active and more handsomeanimal, its grey body-colour being tinged with green. The sixth reptile, theslow worm (Anguis fragilis) is actually a lizard which has lost its legsand assumed the outward appearance of a snake. It frequents the undergrowth,feeding on slugs and similar small creatures, and i-nay readily be recognisedby the smooth glassy texture of its greyish-brown skin.





THE Commoners' animals certainly provide one of the amenities of the forest.They have also been described, not altogether unreasonably, as the architectsof its scenery. It is they, more than anything else who, by their grazing,keep open the glades which are such a characteristic feature of New Forestscenery. Visitors often ask whether the animals are really wild and whetherthey belong to anyone. Their presence in the Forest dates back to the days ofthe Conqueror and possibly even before that. Up till quite recent years theponies were the most important element of the animals turned out to graze onthe Forest. Before the 1914/18 War the number of horned cattle was only afraction of the total. They were practically confined to a few cows with theircalves, turned out by Commoners who produced their own milk, and by a few menwho had milk rounds. During the 1939,'45 War, however, with ,the growingdemand for milk, interest in the forest as a place for raising heifers grew,and the number of horned cattle turned out is now about four thousand, four orfive times as many as the ponies. This is just one of those evolutionarychanges of which the whole history of the Forest is made up. The French saying"the more things change, the more they are just the same" is particularly trueof the Forest. This, for instance, is not a revolutionary change but a changeof emphasis. The ponies are still there though not perhaps quite in the samenumbers as of old. The numbers of horned cattle are just increasing to meet anational need. Let us see how it all began.

In Saxon days farming used to be carried out on what has come to be known asthe open field system, which was a communal form of farming. Under the openfield system the land of the manor was divided into big fields, one for thehay, another for corn and so on. In each of these fields each inhabitant hadone or more strips which he cultivated, and on which he raised the appropriatecrops which belonged to him. In order that he should not hinder his neighbourshe was given times in which these operations should be carried out. Inaddition to the arable land and meadows there were commons often dedicated todifferent kinds of animals. The inhabitants turned their animals out on theseby right. In those early days the manors often stood in a matrix of virgin andunreclaimed land, and those who thought they could get better feed that wayturned out their animals there too, but it was never done by right. Some claimthat the Commoners' Rights in the Forest started that way, but it is verydoubtful whether any right could be so established. Indeed, with the Forestthe haunt of outlaws and other undesirable characters, few would take the riskof turning animals out without protection.

After the Forest had been proclaimed a Royal Forest, the position wasdiffbrent. Under the forest laws, enclosures in a Royal Forest were illegalbecause they interfered with the free run of the deer. It would ]cave beenmanifestly unfair if the king, while forbidding enclosures, took exception topeople's cattle roaming on his demesne lands. Out of this fact the commonrights grew. Even if they did not arise from it, they were confirmed by thedeclaration of tl-ie area as a Royal Forest. It should be understood, however,that these common rights did not extend to the whole year round. There weretwo periods when the Coiiimoners had to keep their animals on their own ground,either by tethering or by keeping them in the byres or cow-houses. Theseperiods were known respectively as the Winter Heyning and the Fence Month. TheWinter Heyning extended from 22nd November to 4th May, a period of nearly sixmonths, when the natural feed on the Forest was poor and the Commoners' animalswould be grazing in competition with the deer. The Fence or Defence Monthextended from the 20th June to 20th July. This was the period when the doeswere dropping their fawns, and it was desirable to leave them undisturbed. Itwill be seen from this that the grazing rights only extended to five months inthe year. It was obviously not a very fair arrangement, because the Commoners,not being allowed to enclose their land, could not store up hay to feed theanimals during these prohibited periods. Probably it is true to say that therules about these periods were more often honoured in the breach than in theobservance. To meet this difficulty the New Forest Act of 1877 includes,amongst other things, the provision that the Verderers, by making a nominalpayment to the Crown of [sterling]1 each year, secure to the Commoners theright to turn out their animals all the year round.

There was another Act of Parliament which closely affected the Commoners, andthat was the Deer Removal Act of 1851. This, besides doing away with theking's right to keep deer on the Forest, provided for the preparation of aregister of all who had common rights in the Forest. This removed the sourceof much controversy and many bitter quarrels. Perhaps it would be well to makeone point with regard to these common rights clear. They were attached to landand not to people; by that is meant that the Commoner exercises his right notas a personal right, but because he owns or leases land to which common rightsare attached. A word too needs to be said as to the extent of thesecommon rights. They cover all land not temporarily enclosed for forestry oragricultural purposes. This includes all the roads in the Forest. TheCommoners' animals have a prior right over any car or other vehicle in the useof the road. This explains why the ponies and cattle are allowed to roam atlarge through villages like Lyndhurst, Burley and Brockenhurst, when they feelso inclined. In agricultural districts where no common rights exist, it is theliability of farmers to see that their animals are properly fenced in and donot roam in this way. In the New Forest, on the other hand, the Commoners'animals have the right to be on the open forest land, and it is up to anyonewho wants to keep them off their land, to fence them out. Not all animals arecommonable on the Forest. Goats, for instance, are not. Horned cattle, poniesand donkeys are, and a few farms have the unusual right to turn out sheep,though it is one which is seldom exercised. Pigs can be turned out during thepannage season, that is from the 25th September to the 22nd November; a periodwhen acorns, beech or other mast is lying on the ground. With regard to pigs apractice has grown up, which is exercised as a privilege rather than a right,to allow breeding sows on the Forest all the year round.

It will be clear from what has been said that the animals turned out are theindividual property of Commoners. How they identify their cattle is the nextquestion which presents itself. Most Commoners know them by sight, but thatwould not be sufficient in the case of any dispute. Each of the Commoners hasa private brand. Cows are generally taken into the cow-houses to have theircalves and there is no difficulty about marking them. The hardy little ponieshowever are left to drop their foals in the Forest. Periodically they arerounded up and the foals are claimed by the owner of the mare with which theyare running, and are duly branded. Some owners, as an additional precaution,earmark their animals. It is a complicated business, this marking. TheAgisters have to mark every animal which is turned out in the Forest bycuttincr the aiiimal's tail. Under the Verderers' bye-laws, every heiferturned out on the Forest between the ages of four months and twelve months hasto be inoculated against contagious abortion, and the veterinary surgeons markthe ears of the animals so treated.

The Forestry Commissioners, who otherwise control the Forest, have nothing todo with the Commoners' animals except to keep them out of the Inclosures and tocollect the pannage fees for pigs,

The duty of regulating the exercise of common rights and looking after theCommoners' animals rests with the Verderers and their officers, the Agisters.

With the possible exception of the Coroners' Court, the Court of the Verderersis the most ancient court in the country. Its proper title is the Court ofSwainmote and Attachment, though it has come to be called the Verderers' Courtbecause the Verderers constitute it. It is one, or rather a combination of two,of the four Courts which used to administer the forest laws in all the Royalforests. These were-

(1) The Court of Regard.

(2) The Court of Attachment.

(3) The Court of Swainmote.

(4) The Justice Seat in Eyre.

The first of these Courts was not of great importance. Its function was the"lawing" of dogs, which has long ceased to be necessary. It is of interest,however, owing to the stories which have gathered round the old stirrup whichhangs over the fireplace in the Verderers' Hall in the King's House atLyndhurst and which figures in the Verderers' Crest. For the protection of thedeer no large dogs were allowed in the Forest except mastiffs, which wereallowed for personal protection against footpads and the like, provided theywere llexpeditated", that is, had the three front claws of their forefeet cutso that they could not chase the deer. The story attached to the stirrup isthat it belonged to King Rufus, and any dog which could not pass through it hadto have its claws cut off.

Actually the stirrup is of early Tudor pattern and a Peke

or Cairn terrier would be hard put to it to get through.

When a man was arrested for an offence against the forest laws he had to bebrought before the Court of Attachment. Its function was to record thedetention and commit the defendant to the Court of Swainmote. Presumablybefore committing they had to be satisfied that there was a prima faciecase against the defendant. The Court of Swainmote had to try cases sentup to theni by the Court of Attachment, and other cases whicli had been broughtdirect to them. Theirs was the duty to hear the evidence and find out whetherthe defendant was guilty or not guilty, just as a jury does. They had nopower, however, to decide the punishment; that was done at the Justice Seat bythe Justice-in-Eyre when he came round at intervals of three or more years.Above the place where the Verderers sit in the Verderers' Hall there is thehatchment or coat of arms of the last Justice-in-Eyre ever to visit the forest.He was the Earl of Oxford, who sat in 1669, in Charles the Second's reign.

Up till the New Forest Act of 1877, by which the Verderers were reconstituted,they had nothing to do with the Commoners or their animals. They had only toadminister the laws of the forest. By that Act their number was increased fromfour to seven. One, the Official Verderer, was (and still is) appointed by theKing, and six were elected by Commoners and Parliamentary Voters in the Forest.They were then given the additional duty of looking after the Commoners'rights. Under the New Forest Act of 1949, the number of Verderers wasincreased to ten, and certain changes were made in the method of theirappointment, and in their powers and duties, as described on page 42.

Apart from their judicial duties, the Verderers have certain importantadministrative duties. The general care of the Commoners' animals rests withthem. Subject to the approval of the Minister of Agriculture, they have tomake and amend bye-laws governing the turning out of animals. They also haveto judge and approve the stallions which can be turned out. By care in thisdirection they have done much to improve the breed of ponies. There are fourofficers already described as Agisters who are always on patrol. They lookafter the general health of the animals, trace animals that are lost, reportaccidents to owners and in extreme cases put animals out of their misery.

If you happen to be in the neighbourhood when the Court is sitting, it is wellworth a visit. It meets at intervals of about six weeks, in January, March,May, July and November. When the clerk calls for the Court to be opened, thesenior Agister stands up in the dock and with the right hand uplifted calls:-


All manner of persons who have any presentment or matter or thing to do at thisCourt of Swainmote let him come forward and he shall be heard!


The Court then proceeds with its duties with little formality. Anyone whofeels he has a grievance can make a presentment which the Verderers discuss andadjudicate upon. Some of these presentments, and the very quaintness of thewording of the opening summons rising above the rumble and noise of lorries andcars outside, and often the whine of an aeroplane aloft, reminds one thatwhilst everything changes round about, the Forest still remains much the same.Deep down in the forest a man with a tractor may be skilfully extracting amassive old log from amongst its standing companions. You miss the beauty of ateam of straining horses, but as you come out of the enclosures a startled foalrushes nuzzling at its mother's belly for the only comfort it can get, just ascountless thousands have done before it and as countless thousands will do inthe future.




THE charm of the New Forest as a country for the rambler lies in its wideexpanses of open heath and well-tended woodland, and the contrast that theseprovide with the enclosed farmlands that cover so much of southern England. Itis true that the grandeur of the great hills is lacking, and some may miss themore intimate views of tilled field, orchard, cottage and garden, found in moreclosely settled country; but in the their place one may traverse greatstretches of moor and many ancient woods that look today much the same as theydid in pre-Norman times. Yet the Forest is by no means merely a carefullypreserved survival or relic of bygone days; it is a busy centre of timbergrowing and cattle raising, playing an important part in the country's economy.It is indeed fortunate that neither the forester nor the Commoner has any wishto deny the rambler free access to the Forest; so long as he remembers that thetrees and the graziiig are not only part of the scenery but provide thelivelihood of the forest dwellers, he will be welcomed in their midst. The twopoints to heed most carefully are care with fire in any shape or form-picnicfires, matches, pipe tobacco, or cigarettes-and the closing of gates to preventlivestock straying into Forest Inclosures.

The map that accompanies this guide has been coloured to show the main types ofcountry through which the Forest walker may pass. The yellow zones areunenclosed heathlands, over which one may wander freely anywhere, with thepossible exception of a few areas temporarily enclosed for defence purposes, orin connection with the scheme for the improvement of forest grazing. The greenzones represent woodland in the charge of the Forestry Commission, and thiswoodland is of two kinds. The unenclosed woods form part of the "Open Forest",and access to nearly all of them is as free as to the heaths, from which theyare not divided in any way. The enclosed or fenced-in woodlands (includingcertain freehold areas and enclosable woods which may be temporarily unfenced)are reserved primarily for timber growing, and when traversing these the walkeris asked to follow the well-marked forest rides or footpaths, so as to avoidany risk of damage to young trees. He will find this no hardship, for eachwoodland enclosure is threaded with a network of grassy rides which makes iteasy to walk in any desired direction; and gates or stiles will be foundwherever these rides reach the "Open Forest" that surrounds them. That part ofthe Forest which is left uncoloured on the map represents land in privateoccupation or ownership, over which no exceptional facilities for access exist,although many charming footpaths and byways may be found and followed throughor around it.

Since this Guide is mainly concerned with Forestry Commission areas, thecolours on the map do not extend beyond the "perambulation" or legal boundaryof the New Forest. But at many points on the north and west of the Forest thecommon lands do so extend, and there is, of course, no fence between Crowncommons and adjacent common land in private ownership. Hence it is easy topass beyond the Forest boundary without realising it, and the total area ofunenclosed land available for the walker is even greater than the rnapsuggests. Over much of its course the Forest perambulation, however, coincideswith some obvious feature such as a fence or road, but it is rarely indicatedby boundary posts or other indications on the ground. In fact, the Forestmerges imperceptibly, over most of its circumference, with country of a similarcharacter, which, in days gone by, formed part of its domains.

One other feature has been emphasised on the map, and that is the principalenclosure fences, which should prove a useful guide to those who are notalready familiar with the ground. Owing to the local custom of erecting thefence itself on a high bank of turf or earth, these fencelines form permanentlandmarks and break up the area so thoroughly that it would be hard to strayfar without encountering one. It should be noted, however, that it is theearth bank itself which is mapped; here and there the fence that surmounts itmav have been moved to another line. Incidentally some of the earth banks dateback to Tudor times, and might almost be regarded as ancient monuments.

To anyone armed with a good one-inch map, way-finding across the Forestpresents few problems. Although there are few high hills or other prominentfeatures by which to set a course, the ground is thoroughly broken up by anetwork of streams, another network of roads and rides, and yet a third networkof enclosure fences, so that by following or crossing one or another of theselines the walker may check his position and head with certainty for hisdestination. Nevertheless it is possible to get lost in the New Forest, and towander out of one's way where the trees of the open woodland obscure the view,and at times a compass can be useful. But there are few obstacles to thewalker's progress ; the few railway lines and rivers are bridged at frequentintervals, and there is scarcely a stream that cannot be forded in dryweather.

The possible ways a rambler may take are so numerous that they cannot even besuggested individually here, but one of the best ways to see the Forest is toseek out some stream or old trackway and to follow its course, across widemoors or through deep woodland glades, from one village or main road toanother. Or one can strike boldly across country, setting a course by somedistant landmark, and taking the minor obstacles of brooks, bogs and woodlandsin one's stride. The soil of the higher ground in the Forest is mostly sandyand gravelly in character, giving good firm going, but elsewhere, except duringa spell of drought, it is as well to come shod for wet ground, which can rarelybe avoided on a walk of any distance. A few of the main roads carry too muchtraffic for the comfort of the walker, but he will seldom have to follow thetarmac closely for any distance. Usually there is a parallel track, made bythe Commoners or other travellers, not far away, and by taking this it is easyto keep in touch with the high road whilst avoiding its disadvantages.

Though a glance at the map will prove that no part of the New Forest is morethan a mile or so from a public road, it is easy to reach points that seemremote from the outer world, out of sight and sound of passing traffic, and todiscover glades which seem to know no intruders but grazing cattle or ponies.The best time to see the wild deer is in the early morning, when they leavetheir retreats to feed for a while in the open, but even then one must be luckyto chance upon them. The foxes, however, occasionally range the wilder areasby day, though the badgers never leave their castles until nightfall. Thelargest and most conspicuous birds that the visitor stands a fair chance ofseeing are the buzzard circling above the tree tops, the heron fishingpatiently beside some pool, or the pheasant winging its way to the cover of thetrees.

As regards distances, the farthest one can walk across the open lands of theNew Forest in one direction is the twenty miles from Godshill in the north-westto King's Copse near Blackfield in the south-cast; and from many other startingpoints a walk of only ten mites will lead right across the Forest. Though nopart of the ground is beyond the range of the walker who makes his headquartersat some central point, such as Lyndhurst, he would do well to remember thatpublic transport back to his starting point is very apt, in the Forest, tofollow an inconvenient route or to run at a time unsuited to his purpose. Thetotal extent of woodland and heath, excluding enclosed fields, within theForest is, in round figures, one hundred square miles; but it is not in termsof size that the attractions of this unique region are to be measured. One cantake the same path time and again and always find some new beauty to discover,for the changes of the seasons are made manifest by the broadleaved trees; andfor this reason the Forest is at its best when it dons its fresh green leafyfoliage in April, or sheds it in showers of gold and russet in October.


THE New Forest is traversed by the main Southern Region line from London(Waterloo) to Bournemouth, and enjoys a frequent service of fast trains. Mostexpresses stop at Southampton and also at Brockenhurst, from which points localtrains rnay be taken to other stations in or near the Forest. The journey fromLondon takes a little over two hours. Rail connections with other parts ofEngland may be made through either Bournemouth or Southampton.

For more local transport, the south and west of the Forest is well served byrail. The stations at Lyndhurst Road (two miles from Lyndhurst), Beaulieu Road(four miles from Beaulieu), Brockenhurst, Sway and Holmsley, are all convenientstarting points for rambles across the Forest heaths, whilst Ringwood, HintonAdmiral, New Milton, and Lymington stations are only a few miles from theForest boundaries. Marchwood, Hythe, and Fawley are served by a branch linefrom Totton and Southampton.

The north-western portions of the Forest, however, are not crossed or touchedupon by any railway line. The branch line from Salisbury to West Moors andBournemouth West passes within a mile of the north-west corner of the Forest atWood Green station, and Fordingbridge station is within three miles of theForest edge; but trains on this line are somewhat infrequent.


Hythe, on the eastern fringe of the Forest, is linked toSouth-

ampton by a half-hourly ferry service, the crossing taking about

ten minutes. This provides a quick and pleasant approach to the

Forest for pedestrians and cyclists.


The principal company operating motor buses in the New Forest is the Hants andDorset Motor Services, Ltd., of 8 Bath Road, Bournemouth, from whom timetables(price 6d., post free 8d.) may be obtained. Many of the New Forest routesbegin at the Civic Centre, Southampton, within a few minutes walk of theCentral Station. Services which are likely to be useful to New Forest visitorsinclude the following, those which approach but do not actually cross theForest boundary being marked with a * :-,


Southampton-Lyndhurst-Brockenhurst-Lymington, with connections to Bournemouth

Southampton Lyndhurst, with extensions at intervals to Bank,

Emery Down, Minstead and Fritham House

Southampton-Woodlands-Cadnam-Minstead-Stoney Cross

Soiithampton Cadnam-Fordingbridge

Southampton-Cadnam-Brook-No Man's Land


Southampton-Cadnam-Minstead-Stoney Cross-Long Beech



Soiithampton-Hythe-Lepe Beach


Southampton-Lyndhurst-Burley-Ringwood (certaiii days only)

Bournemouth-Christchurch-Hinton Admiral-New Milton-

Lymington', with connection to Lyndhurst and Southampton

Bournemouth-Christchurch-Bransgore-Holmsley South

Bournemouth-Christchurch-Burley-Picket Post-Ringwood

Bournemouth - Christchurch - Ringwood - Fordingbridge -


The Bournemouth Road at Bank, near Lyndhurst



Lymington-Sway-New Milton

Lymington-Portmore--Norley Wood

Lymington-New Milton-Burley-Ringwood (certain days only)

Lyndhurst-Minstead-Cadnam-Romsey (not on Sundays).

Connections for the Winchester and Portsmouth districts may be made atSouthampton, and for Dorset areas at Bournemouth.

The Wilts and Dorset Motor Services, Ltd., of Endless Street, Salisbury,operate services in the north of the New Forest, with connections to points inWiltshire. (Timetables, price 6d., post free 8d.). Their main New Forest routesare:-





They also operate the following local services which touch on

the New Forest:-

Salisbury-Wood Green-Godshill-Fordingbridge


Woodfalls-Landford-No Man's Land


The Skylark Motor Services, Ltd., of 11 Butcher Row, Salisbury

operate the following service which reaches the New Forest:-

Salisbury-Downton-Woodfalls-Fritham-Stoney Cross.

Despite the large number of services, there still remain several extensive"busless areas" within the Forest. It is, in fact, easier to reach many partsof the Forest by bus from Bournemouth or Southampton, than to travel aroundthem from the villages within the Forest borders. This is not to suggest thatthe visitor will not find many of the services of great help to him; but ratherthat he should plan his route carefully with the aid of a map and atimetable.


The New Forest is served by the Royal Blue Express Services from London toBournemouth and the West of England, which stop at Southampton, Totton,Lyndhurst, New Milton, Highcliffe, and Christchurch; certain routes also serveRomsey and Ringwood.

Messrs. Associated Motorways operate through services from Bournemouth,Salisbury and SoLithampton to many towns in the Midlands and South Wales.

Particulars of these services may be obtained from:

The Coach Station, Victoria Street, London, S.W.1.


The main roads across the Forest are well-surfaced andclearly

signposted, and are provided with drawing-in places at intervals

for those who wish to halt awhile and enjoy the scenery.There are also many attractive side-roads.

The following gravel-surfaced roads, which are not public rights

of way for wheeled traffic, are normally open to motorists.

(1) From the main Lyndhurst-Chriscchurch road at Knightwood,

three miles from Lyndhurst, north-west through Mark Ash Wood and BolderwoodGrounds to the public road from Lyndhurst to Ringwood.

(2) From the main Cadnam-Ringwood road at Bratley Inclosure due west across theopen forest to Roe Wood, joining a public road to Ringwood near Linwood farm.

Subject to existing regulations, the parking of cars on the open forest ispermitted during daylight hours, but motorists are asked to makesure that they do not obstruct the passage of others-commoners, forest workers,residents, or visitors, whose work or enjoyment leads them across the Forestland. It should be remembered, too, that the Forest soil can be a verytreacherous surface for wheeled vehicles, becoming waterlogged after verylittle rain; cars should be kept on hard gravelly or sandy ground.

The parking of cars on the open forest after dark, except as authorised by theCamping regulations (see below), is an oltence against the bye-laws.


The New Forest, with its wide expanses of unenclosed common land and shadywoodland tracks, is ideal country for the horseman. Generally speaking, thereare no restrictions on riding across the open heaths or along any of the forestrides, but particular care should be taken to see that all Inclosure gates areclosed after passing through. There are riding schools, where horses may behired, at most of the Forest villages.


Permits for camping on the unenclosed lands in the New Forest are issued, onpayment of the appropriate charge, subject to Camping Regulations. Campingwithout a permit is an offence against the New Forest Bye-Laws.

The charges for camping are:-

(a) Pedestrians and cyclists, 6d. per night or 2s. 6d. per week (fromdate of issue).

(b) Persons with vehicles, Is. per night or 5s. per week.

(c) Permits, available for week-ends only (Friday to Tuesday), 25s. perannum or part thereof.

The above charges are applicable to a camp of not exceeding six persons, andadditional persons are charged for in units of six (i.e., for 9 or 10 personsthe charge is doubled).

(d) School Camps, 2s. per head per week.


(e) Scouts and Working Lads' Clubs, no charge if application, on Scouts'official form or Club's headed paper, is signed by a District ScoutCommissioner or by a responsible official.

Permits, other than the annual permits available for week-ends only, are notissued for more than a month at a time. They may be renewed, but not for morethan a total period of three consecutive months.

The selection or reservation of sites is not undertaken by the ForestryCommission, but campers may move from place to place as desired.

Applications for permits are to be made on the official Form obtainable fromthe Deputy Surveyor of New Forest, Forestry Commission, the King's House,Lyndhurst, Hants. Permits for one night only or for so long as the DeputySuveyor's office is closed, viz., at week-ends, may be obtained from a Foresteror Keeper at:

Denny Lodge

Lodge Hill Cottage.

LYNDHURST Parkgrounds Cottage.

Boldrewood Cottage.

Holiday Hill Cottage.

Rhineficld Cottage.

BROCKENHURST Aldridge Hill Cottage.

Stockley Cottage.

BURLEY Southmead Cottage.

wilverley Cottage.

FRITHAM Coppice of Linwood Cottage.

CADNAM Shave Green Cottage.

HOLMSLEY Holmsley Cottage

WOODGREEN Godshill Wood Cottage

NOMANSLAND Bramshaw Wood Cottage.

BEAULIEU King's Hat Cottage.

BROOMY Holly Hatch Cottage.

NORLEY Norley Wood Cottage.

ASHURST Church Place Cottage.

RINGWQOD Linford Cottage.


1. No camping to be on land which is (a) fenced, (b) used forgames, (c) within 100yards of an Inclosurefence, (d)within sightof a house(other than a Keeper's or Forester's house) or (e) in Queen Bower Woodor Mark Ash.

2. The New Forest Bye-Laws, which are prominently displayed throughout theForest, are to be strictly observed.

3. The camp is to be conducted in such a way as to cause no offence toresidents in the neighbourhood, other campers or the general public.

4. The site of the camp is to be kept clean and tidy and at the termination ofthe camping all rubbish (including papers, tins, etc.) is to be removed orburied with a covering of not less than 12 inches of soil.

5. A fire may be lit, but it is to be in a place free from danger of spreadingand not less than 100 yards from a fence. It is not to be left unattended andis to be extinguished before retiring at night. If any damage is caused by thefire (as to which the Deputy Surveyor is to be the sole judge) the permittee isto pay compensation for such damage at the valuation of the Deputy Surveyor.

6. Sanitary arrangements are to be strictly in accordance with those set out inthe application form. Latrines which are dug are to be kept disinfected andinoffensive and are to be filled in at the termination of the camp withnot less than 12 inches of soil. For disposing of foul water a hole is to bedug which is to be filled in at the termination of the camp.

7. Dogs are not to be brought to camp, except with special permission.

8. Any instruction given by a Forestry Commission officer with regard to a fireis to be carried out forthwith.

9. The camp is not to be used for any purpose of trade or as a

centre for trading.

10. The number and date of the camping permit are to be shown

clearly on or within I8in. of the tent or caravan entrance and the permit is tobe produced to any Forestry Commission officer on request.

11. The permit is not transferable and is subject to immediatecancellation (without return of fee) in the event of any breach of theseRegulations or if incorrect information has been given on application.


Lamps and Stoves. If a paraffin or spirit stove is used it ismuch

safer to stand it in a tin. The kettle will also boil quicker for the

protection from the wind.

Litter. Carefully burn all combustible litter and bury the rest, butbury deeply. Foxes and dogs have a way of digging up containers which have hadfood in them. No litter fire should be lere unless it is completelyextinguished.

Valuables. Campers seldom have cause for complaints of thefts, but,when leaving camp temporarily, it is safer to lock the car or caravan, rope upthe tent and hide any valuables in a not too obvious place. A pilferer whowould not think of breaking into a tent or caravan might not be so diffidentabout helping himself to anything left lying about.

Cars. Permits at the appropriate charge include the right to park carsduring the hours of darkness, but campers would do well to see that cars arelocked and are parked on hard ground. The weather may change in the night andmake it impossible to get cars out in the morning without much cutting up ofthe surface of the ground in a disfiguring way.

Fuel. The Forest Law is that people may take wood "by hook or bycrook", which means that they may take any fallen wood which can be picked upor got without cutting. Cut material found in the Forest must not be taken.

General. If others are camping near, show consideration by avoidingnoisiness by night.


The most centrally placed Youth Hostel is that at Forest Glen, Burley, aquarter of a mile from the centre of Burley village, on the Christchurchroad.

The Norleywood hostel is in the south-east, close to the hamlet of Norleywood,which lies three miles north-cast of Lymington and four miles south-west ofBeaulieu, about a mile to the east of the main road joining those two places.

Another hostel from which the New Forest may easily be reached is at WestWellow on the Southampton-Salisbury road; this lies only two miles from theForest boundary at No Man's Land, or four from Cadnam. The Southampton hostel,reserved for women, is also a convenient centre for reaching the New Forest,seven miles distant by road.


This is ample and good. Hotels within the Forest Boundary include thefollowing:-

At Lyndhurst: Crown Hotel, Grand Hotel, Stag Hotel, Parkhill Hotel.

At Lyndhurst Road: New Forest Hotel.

At Brockenhurst: Balmer Lawn Hotel, Forest Park Hotel,

Rose and Crown Hotel, St. Cloud Hotel. At Burley: Burley Manor.

At Beaulieu: Montague Arms.

At Stoney Cross: Compton Arms Hotel, Sir Walter Tyrrell Hotel.

Besides these, there are others, too numerous for mention here, at Southampton,Hythe, Lymington, New Milton, Christchurch, Bournemouth, Ringwood,Fordingbridge, Salisbury and Romsey, within easy daily travelling distance ofthe New Forest.


A limited number of licences for shooting and fishing in the Forest are issuedeach year. Further information may be obtained from the Deputy Surveyor.

The New Forest district has its own packs of foxhounds, buckhounds, andbeagles; and otterhounds occasionally visit the area.

There is a bathing beach at Lepe, on the Solent, lying within the perambulationof the Forest, and the sea lies only a few miles beyond the Forest boundary atthe resorts of Highcliffe, Barton and Milford on Sea.

There are golf clubs with courses on the open forest at Lyndhurst, Burley andBramshaw.


Under the New Forest Bye-Laws, all wild life within the Forest is protected,and one may not dig up any plants, nor hunt, trap, or shoot any animal or bird,without the written consent of the Forestry Commission. These restrictionsapply also to fishing, the taking of birds eggs, and "sugaring" in order tocatch insects. Anyone desiring to make collections for scientific purposesshould approach the Deputy Surveyor to ascertain whether permission may begranted.


The most useful maps for the visitor are the Ordnance Survey

One-inch sheets Nos. 179, "Bournemouth", for areas west of

Lyndhurst, and 180, "The Solent", for Lyndhurst and the eastern

parts of the Forest.


The area within the perambulation of the Forest is 92,365 acres, of which27,210 acres are in private ownership. The balance of 65,155 acres-in roundfigures one hundred and two square miles, belongs to the Crown.

In 1950 these Crown lands were classified as follows..Woodland: 28,586 acres.

Open Heath: 35,591 acres.

Agricultural land and Residential properties: 978 acres.

The height of land ranges from sea level to a maximum of 414

feet on Lon.. Cross Plain, near Fritham.


THE classic work on the New Forest is that entitled The NewForest, its History and Scenery, by John R. Wise(Gibbings, London), first published in 1863. Although long out of print, itran through several editions and second-hand copies are fairly easy to find.The main text deals with the history, topography, scenery, and customs of theForest, whilst the appendices include lists of plants, birds and insects, andan interesting glossary of the local dialect.

There are many more recent works that describe and illustrate the Forest'sattractions in a more popular style, including the following:-

.... by G. E. Briscoe Eyre, 1883

The New, Forest

The New, Forest

The New, Forest

The New, Forest....

The New, Forest ....

by C. J. Cornish, 1894

by De Crespignv & Hutchinson,


by Mrs. Rawnsley, 1904 by Horace Hutchinson, 1904 by E. Godfrey, 1912

The New, Forest .. 1. . 1.. by Mrs. Rawnsley, 1904

The New, Forest by Horace Hutchinson, 1904

The New, Forest I . 1.. by E. Godfrey, 1912

Hain17sl7ii-e'.@ Glorioiis Wilderiiess by G. R. Tweedic,1925

The New, Forest Beautiful by F. E. Stevens, 1925

Walking in the New, Forest by Joan Begbie,1934

The New, Forest by John C. Moore, 1934

Remarks oii Forest S(,etiery (2 vols., 1791) is awell-known work

by the Rev. William Gilpin, sometime Vicar of Boldre, who had much to say onthe beauties of trees in the Forest landscape. An interesting record ofsporting life in the Forest is to be found in Tliirti,- . fli,eYears in the New Forest (1915) by the Hon. Gerald Lascelles, a formerDeputy Surveyor. The great authority on the Forest's archaeology was HeywoodSumner, whose published works include:

Aii(,ieiit Earthit,orks oj' the Neiv Forest, 1917.

A Mcip oj Ancient Sites iii the New Forest,1923.

Giii(le to the New, Forest, 1924.

F. ca@,atioiis iii Nei@, Forest Romaii Pottery Sites, 1927.

Local Papers, Ai.(Archaeological and Topographical, Hants,Dorset aii(l Wilts, 1931.

Dr. F. E. Kenchington has described the history and customs of the Commoners,and the war-time schemes for the improvement of the Forest grazing, very fullyin The Commoners Neit, Forest

(Hutchinson, London, 1943). Very full accounts of the Forest's history andtopography appear in the Victoria County History of Hampshire(1900, 6 vols.), which includes an informative article on forestry byLascelles and Nisbet.

The best known work of fiction having a New Forest background is probablyThe Children of the New Forest (1853) by F. Maryatt, a story of CivilWar days. R. D. Blackmore was the author of Cradock Nowell ; a Tale of theNew Forest, a three-volume work published in 1866. Mrs. Gaskell featuredthe New Forest in her North and South, 1855, as did Conan Doyle in hisThe White Company, 1891. Children of all ages will enjoy twomore modern and well-illustrated stories by Allen W. Seaby, entitledSkewbald, the New Forest Pony, and The White Hart, the latterstory being based on the life of a white deer which actually roamed theRhinefield woods a few years ago.

A useful modern guide, giving details of some thirty walking routes, isRussell's Graphic Guide to the New Forest, published at 23, CumberlandPlace, Southampton (price 2s. 3d.). Another upto-date -Iuide to theneighbourhood, entitled The New Forest, is published in Messrs. Ward,Lock & Co.'s series.

A full account of the Forest administration, together with a wealth ofinformation on the Commoner's rights and customs, and on recreation in theForest, is given in the Report of the Ne@s, Forest Committee, 1947,published by H.M. Stationery Office in 1948. (Cmd. 7245, price 3s.6d.)

A comprehensive list of books and articles dealing with the district is to befound in A Ne@i@ Forest Bibliograpliy, edited by W. F. Perkins, andpublished in 1935 (price Is.), by C. T. King of Lymington and

H. M. Gilbert & Son of Southampton.