The area now known as the "New Forest" was once dense woodland but during the Bronze age, trees were cleared and heathland began to form. Stones heated by fires were dropped into earth pits full of water in order to boil the water for cooking. Several of these "boiling mounds" can still be seen in the forest, including one at Cockley hill. In the first century AD the Romans arrived and by 300AD the New Forest had become host to a thriving Roman pottery industry. Pottery from the forest was used all over southern England examples can be seen at the New Forest Museum in Lyndhurst. Much evidence exists of the Roman occupation, including the remains of a villa at Rockbourne, and pottery is still made in the forest today. By the Iron Age agriculture had developed the landscape which now included fields, banks and ditches. An Iron Age fort can be found at Castle Hill near Burley. In 1079 AD William I who was fond of hunting deer, decided to create a specific area for his sport. He created his "New" Forest from a land that consisted of relatively infertile woodland and a few scattered farms and homesteads. The Act of afforestation in Norman times transformed the whole area into a Royal hunting preserve and some 150 square miles was declared a royal hunting ground. With the Act came the curtailment of liberty and drastic punishment for any of the unfortunate peasants who happened to live in the forest, should they interfere with the beasts of the chase or any vegetation that provided their food or shelter. Any dog over a certain size had part of its foot cut off to stop it from being able to run fast enough to catch the deer, and fencing was not allowed should it interfere with the free run of the deer. The domestic animals were allowed to graze by "Common Right", but during the winter months they had to be removed to avoid any competition with the deer for the winter feed; this was known as "winter heyning". During the early summer in the month known as the "fence month", the domestic animals were removed again, as this is the time when the young deer fawns are born. In 1100 William's son King Rufus was killed by an arrow while hunting in the forest. A stone now marks the spot where King Rufus body was found. King Rufus had introduced harsh penalties for breaking forest law and was very unpopular and It is thought that he was murdered. In King Rufus's days the punishment for poaching or taking wood from the forest was sometimes mutilation or death. Eventually, after much discontent, it was recognised that the forest folk had to be allowed some use of the forest in order to survive. Forest courts were established and officials were appointed to manage the Forest and administer the initially harsh and extreme new laws. The Court of Swainmote and Attachment, often known as the Verderers Court, still exists today. The brutal discipline soon gave way to fines as more areas of the country fell under Forest Law, thus developing a large source of income for the King. During the Middle Ages there was an enormous increases in the consumption of wood (the principal raw material at the time), and the scarcity of new trees became a serious problem. Enactment's were made to enable large areas in the Forest to be enclosed for the purpose of establishing woodlands, which could later to be thrown open when the trees were mature enough not to be damaged by any grazing animals. This process became known as the "rolling power of enclosure". In 1483 the first tree-growing Act was passed and others followed. The 1698 Act allowed the total enclosure area to be 6000 acres but as the Crown assumed rolling powers, the area of woodland could be increases beyond that. As time progressed the royal hunting rights became less important; there is no record of any sovereign hunting in the New Forest after James II. As a result, in 1851 the Deer Removal Act was passed under which the deer were ordered to be destroyed. In addition, because of uncertainty over numbers, it required all common rights to be registered. It subsequently proved impossible to remove all of the deer from the Forest, but the deer numbers were reduced to a point where they were of little consequence to the Crown or the commoner. In return the Crown were to enclose and plant a further 10,000 acres. Planting started in earnest and an even greater area of the Forest disappeared under a blanket of trees, but these new enclosures aroused considerable opposition from the commoners, fuelled to some extent by registration of Rights. Almost a third of the applications for Rights were disallowed, and to make things worse, it was announced that the fence month and winter heyning were to be enforced. The situation lead to fewer commoners in the Forest, with less of the Forest to use and only half the year to use it in. There was major opposition from commoners and influential local landowners alike. The forest has experienced considerable deforestation at different times. An important use of the forest was to provide wood for shipbuilding. During the 17th Century, the Royal Navy built many galleons from New Forest timber. Buckler's Hard was the birthplace of many British naval vessels, including many of Admiral Nelson's fleet, using the timber of the New Forest. The Hard, under the control of Master shipbuilder Henry Adams was responsible for building many famous ships during the late 18th century and early 19th centuries. These included HMS Euryalus, HMS Swiftsure and HMS Agamemnon, all of which fought at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The forest wildlife has changed over the years. Wild boar were hunted to extinction, and red squirrels were driven out by the more aggressive continental grey squirrels. With the spread of the railways the delights of the Forest became widely recognised, together with the fact that many other Forests around the country had been destroyed. As a result a Select Committee was established and the outcome was the 1877 Act under which the Crown gave up its rolling powers and no more land could be enclosed the court of Verderers was established. The ten Verderers together with six Agisters act as a regulatory body to monitor and control activities in the forest. 17,600 acres were to remain with an area behind the fences limited to 16,000 acres at any one time (other than the enclosure of Crown freehold land). Despite initial conflict as the Verderers and Crown sought to establish their respective rights and powers, nothing much happened over the next fifty years until 1923 when the Forestry Commission took over the management of the Forest. The two World Wars left their mark on the Forest with heavy timber felling, the construction of twelve airfields, bomb testing ranges, and even a top secret Armaments Research Department. WWII Bouncing Bomb Tests took place at Ashley Walk, New Forest in 1943 Code named 'Highball'. A type of 'Bouncing Bomb' designed by Dr Barnes Wallis spherical (ball like) in shape was designed to be used against large ships. Two of these could be carried and deployed by a single De Havilland Mosquito aircraft. In 1943 the Ashley Walk Bombing Range in the north of the New Forest near Godshill was used as a test and training range for inert versions of the bomb. A target, No.3 Wall Target, was specifically constructed on the range for these tests. Camera and observation positions were installed to observe and record the tests. Ashley Walk was controlled by the Armaments Squadron of the A&AEE located at Boscombe Down. Every type of device designed for airborne delivery was dropped or fired into Ashley Walk between 1940 and 1946. The ordnance ranged from small anti personnel bombs of a few pounds, up to the heaviest bombs of the war. There was a multitude of targets which included wall targets, air to ground, a line target (designed to simulate a railway), a ship target, a submarine pen, fragmentation targets and a range of custom targets. Many target markers were marked by chalk which is alien to the New Forest and had to be imported in.   The whole range was used extensively throughout the war, creating many bomb craters and  and even an aircraft crash site. The range was cleared in 1948 and now most of the targets and facilities have been removed, although various features such as the concrete illuminated target arrow and the various chalk marks can still be found. The chalk restricts the growth of the native plants, hence why the target markers can still be seen. The Ministry of Home Security target was covered over with an earth mound and remains visible today near to one of the surviving observation shelters. Some craters were filled, but many can still be seen to this day. The only surviving WWII structure on the range is a brick built observation shelter (see photo above). WE SAY; It was a sad day when a decision was made a few years ago to remove the war time concrete from leaden Hall and the rest of the New Forest, thus removing what was our history! In 1947 a committee was set up by Parliament to look into ways of modernising the Forest. Today the Verderers work in conjunction with English Nature and the Forestry Commission, who administer and maintain the land on behalf of the nation. In 1990 a 40mph speed limit was introduced to limit the number of animals killed on roads each year. After years of lobbying by environmentalists, In 1999 it was announced that the New Forest, along with the South Downs would become National Parks. Did you know that Alice Hargreaves was buried in The New Forest? Do you even know who Alice Hargreaves is? She was the inspiration behind Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Alice was born in 1852, the forth of the ten children of Henry Liddell and his wife Lorina. She had two older brothers, Harry (born 1847) and Arthur (born 1850), an older sister Lorina (born 1849). She also had six younger siblings, including her sister Edith (born 1854) and her brother Frederick (born 1865). On 4 July 1862, a small group boarded a rowing boat setting out from Oxford to the nearby town of Godstow, where the group was to have tea on the river bank. The party consisted of Charles Dodgson, his friend Reverend Robinson Duckworth, and the three little sisters of Charles Dodgson’s good friend Harry Liddell, Edith (age 8), Alice (age 10), and Lorina (age 13). On the way Alice asked Charles Dodgson (who wrote under the pen name Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and her sisters with a story. Dodgson told the girls a story that Alice would remember for the rest of her life of a girl named Alice and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit hole.  She begged him to write the story down for her  and this he did, gradually expanding the text and illustrating the manuscript with his own drawings. It was his Christmas present to her in 1864 and the following year was published but with a new title suggested by her father, "Alice in Wonderland", and illustrations by Sir John Tenniel, who used another child as his model. Alice married wealthy Reginald Hargreaves a Hampshire cricketer who had inherited the Cuffnells country estate near Lyndhurst.  She died on the 15th November 1934 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, her ashes interred in the family grave in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels Church (where her sons were christened) in Lyndhurst. A stone marks her grave with the writing: "The grave of Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, The "Alice" in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" pictured below. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Doyle was one of the earliest motorists in Britain. He reportedly bought a car without ever having driven one before. In 1911, he took part in the Prince Henry Tour, an international road competition organised by Prince Henry of Prussia to pit British cars against German ones. Doyle paired up with his second wife, Jean, as one of the British driving teams. Conan is not part of his surname. It is, in fact, only one of his two middle names. He is Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle. Shortly after he graduated from high school he began using Conan as part of his surname. He helped to popularise skiing.  He not only liked cricket and football, but Doyle helped to popularise the winter sport. Following a move to Davros, Switzerland in 1893 (the mountain air was prescribe to aid his wife’s health), he mastered the basics with the help of the Brangger brothers, two locals who had taken to practising the sport after dark to avoid being teased by the townsfolk. Together, they were the first people to make the 8,000ft pass through the Maienfelder Furka, which separated Davos from the neighbouring town of Arosa. Doyle was also the first Englishman to document the thrill of skiing: “You let yourself go,” he said. “Getting as near to flying as any earthbound man can. In that glorious air it is a delightful experience.” Doyle correctly predicted that in the future hundreds of Englishmen would come to Switzerland for the “skiing season”. He believed in fairies. Sherlock might have been a sceptic but Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies. Well, he was convinced by the Cottingley Fairy photographs, the famous 1917 hoax. He even spent a million dollars promoting them and wrote a book, The Coming of the Fairies (1921), on their authenticity. Why he killed off his most famous creation? Sherlock Holmes was far from being Doyle’s own favourite character and was killed off in 1893, only to be resurrected 10 years later after public demand and monetary persuasion. He had earlier told a friend: "I couldn't revive him if I would, at least not for years, for I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards pâté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day." However, there may have been other reasons for the writer killing off his famous creation, as it happened in the same year that Doyle’s alcoholic father died in an asylum.   Doyle died on July 7, 1930. He collapsed in his garden, clutching his heart with one hand and holding a flower in the other. His last words were to his wife. He whispered to her: “You are wonderful.” Arthur Conan Doyle is buried in All Saints Church, Minstead but he was not buried there until 1955. As he was a devoted Spiritualist, he was first buried in an upright position in the garden of his home at Crowborough in East Sussex. When the house was sold early in 1955 he and his wife were moved to Minstead. Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism was a mild embarrassment to the Church. Ever prepared to compromise, the Church of England agreed he could come to the churchyard - but buried his remains by the far boundary. Following his death, a séance was conducted at the Royal Albert Hall. Thousands attended, including his wife and children. A row of chairs were arranged on the stage for the family, with one left empty for Sir Arthur. Even though he did not appear, there were many people in the audience who claimed they had felt his presence among them. References: Telegraph and Geograph
Roman Pottery Roman Coins The Grave of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Bucklers Hard Shipbuilding Pitts Wood

A brief history of The New Forest

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