The New Forest
The New Forest is a new national park in Hampshire, in the south of England, UK. The forest is over 900 years old, having been created in 1079 by William I (William the Conqueror) as an area in which to hunt deer.
When William I created it as a royal hunting preserve, the Assize of Woodstock (1184) set out penalties for interfering with royal sport - poaching could mean death. These penalties were in force until 1217 when the Charter of the Forest replaced them with fines, bringing revenue to the Forest. Royal hunting in the New Forest lasted until the late 17th Century.
The 15th Century brought the conservation of larger trees for Crown timber with more areas being enclosed to stop the animals harming the trees. The first act was in 1483 with many more to follow.The port of Bucklers Hard was built on Beaulieu river by John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, to land his sugar from the West Indies. 50 ships were built there from New Forest oak for Nelson's navy, including Agamemnon in 1781.
At Beaulieu Heath, the New Forest Flying School was taken over by the military. Calshot was one of the coastal stations which helped to defend the Channel. Many pilots learned to fly at Calshot with an excellent war record.
The rising food prices of the early 19th Century saw the onset of smuggling and highway robberies. The numerous natural creeks and inlets around the coastline made life easy for the smugglers to get their contraband into the secrecy of the Forest. The most popular routes were along the glen at Chewton Bunny, near New Milton, and up the Beaulieu river. However, if caught, both smugglers and highwaymen would be hanged from the Naked Man, an oak tree , part of which still stands today at Markway on the A35.
In 1847, the railway link from Southampton to Dorchester brought the first visitors to the New Forest. It also brought Queen Victoria's army to the area, needing more room for manoeuvres. WW1 brought the harvest of many of the New Forest trees for much needed timber and areas were used for food production.
The Forest is some 93,000 acres (145 square miles) in area and is the largest unenclosed area in Southern England. The New Forest consists of a mixture of native deciduous and coniferous woodland, heaths, bogs, streams and estuaries. Ponies, cattle and pigs are allowed to roam freely, but are privately owned. The true origins of the New Forest ponies are a mystery but legends say that they swam ashore from a wrecked Spanish galleon.
The New Forest Marque: All New Forest Marque produce is fresh, truly local and distinctive. From Pannage Pork (from forest roaming pigs feeding on acorns) to local cheese, sea food, wines, beers, and of course the New Forest Breakfast. Rhubarb Cottage supports the New Forest marque which in turn helps small and unique new forest businesses thrive. So treat yourself… tuck in… you are on holiday!