The New Forest

William the Conqueror (c.1028-87) did not make any friends when he ordered dozens of Hampshire and Wiltshire villages and farmsteads to remove their boundary fences to facilitate royal hunting activities in his ‘nova foresta’. The ruthless tyrant may even have wiped some places off the map in outlining the 140,000-acre expanse of The New Forest in 1079, including 40 miles of coastline facing the Isle of Wight. He died in his native France but two of his sons and a grandson were variously killed in the Forest.

Most of the New Forest is still Crown-owned. It was designated a National Park in 2005 and much of it is a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’. It is home, for instance, to all six of our native reptiles. There are around 4,500 New Forest Ponies, a breed derived from a mixture of at least four others. The ponies roam freely but are owned by ‘commoners’ ~ a traditional term for residents with grazing rights for their animals, including cattle. Visitors must not feed or interfere with them, but sadly some are killed or injured by traffic.

Millions of holidaymakers visit the New Forest each year, some staying at campsites. This video was taken by one such camper:-

(Top image: Sue Turner at / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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