Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for FOREST (New)

FOREST (New), a forest, a district, and a hundred in Hants. The forest is a triangular tract in the SW of the county; bounded on the E by Southampton water, on the S by the Solent and the English channel, on the W by the river Avon, and on the N or NW by Wilts. It seems to have been covered with wood, and thinly peopled, in very early times. It probably was the Natan Leaga of the Saxon chronicle, which took name from a victory over the British chief Natanleod, by Cerdic and Cynric, in 508; it was the Ytene or Ythene of the later Saxons, -a name probably corrupted from the previous one; and it got its present designation of New Forest in the time of William the Conqueror. It was regularly afforested at some time between the end of Edward the Confessor's reign, and the date of the compilation of Domesday-book; but it then included very many manors; and though thirty of these in its central part ceased to be cultivated after the afforestation, the great majority of them continued to be cultivated as before, and retained their serfs and villains. William the Conqueror is affirmed, by the monkish writers, to have destroyed churches, villages, and towns throughout it, and to have driven away its inhabitants, in order to "convert it to the use of wild beasts and the sport of his dogs;" but he probably did little else than reduce it to better forest order than it previously had, or at least inflicted no greater injury upon it than subject it to the Norman forest law. Its limits, as ascertained or fixed in the time of Charles II., comprehend about 92, 365 acres; but these include manors, estates, and enclosed lands belonging to private individuals, amounting to about 28, 133 acres; so that the actual forest has an area of no more than about 64, 232 acres. The Crown is the proprietor of all this area, subject to rights of commonage and other ancient claims; and has also certain but various interests in all the manors and other enclosed lands within the full limits. The forest is divided into 9 bailiwicks, and subdivided into 15 walks; and is managed by the surveyor-general of woods and forests, a purveyor for the navy, and a number of subordinate officers. Its chief value hitherto has consisted in its produce of timber for the navy. Its principal trees are oak and beech, with undergrowths of holly; and the oaks, for the most part, have a peculiar character, seldom rising into lofty stems, usnally twisting their branches into picturesque forms, and serving well for what ship-builders call knees and elbows. All round its coast, the forest both presents and commands a profusion of rich scenery; in its northern division, it affords striking examples of noble glades and grand forest-scenes; and throughout most of its interior, it abounds in the thrilling harmonies of wildness and woodland. Deer, both red and fallow, were formerly preserved in it; but all have been either destroyed or sent away. Rabbits abound; squirrels are plentiful; foxes are numerous; badgers are becoming scarce; ponies, of a peculiar breed, occur in herds of twenty or thirty; pigs, of a peculiar breed, the parents of the sort which yield the famous Hampshire bacon, run wild in herds; and great numbers of swine, from the surrounding country, are sent into the forest, during six weeks in autumn, to fatten on acorns and beech-mast.

The district comprehends the sub-district of Eling, containing the parish of Eling, and parts of the extra-parochial tracts of Denny-Lodge-Walk, Ashurst-Walk, and Irons-Hill-Walk; the sub-district of Fawley, containing the parishes of Fawley, Beaulieu, Exbury, and Dibden, the extra-parochial tracts of Roughdown, Ipersbridge, and Calshot-Castle, and part of the extra-parochial tract of Denny-Lodge-Walk-; and the sub-district of Lyndhurst, containing the parishes of Lyndhurst, Minstead, and Bramshaw-the last partly in Wilts electorally and parts of the extra-parochial tracts of Denny-Lodge-Walk, Lady-Cross-Walk, Whitley-Ridge-Walk, Rhinefield-Walk, and Bramble-Hill-Walk, the last including No Man's Land, electorally in Wilts. Acres, 85, 532. Poor-rates in 1862, £7, 009. Pop. in 1851, 13, 540; in 1861, 13, 509. Houses, 2, 741. Marriages in 1860, 83; births, 369, -of which 31 were illegitimate; deaths, 202, -of which 50 were at ages under 5 years, and 8 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 757; births, 3, 950; deaths, 2, 319. The places of worship, in 1851, were 11 of the Church of England, with 3, 886 sittings; 5 of Independents, with 750 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 475 s.; 3 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 407 s.; and 3 of Primitive Methodists, with 250 s. The schools were 18 public day schools, with 1,855 scholars; 23 private day schools, with 468 s.; and 22 Sunday schools, with 1, 787 s. The workhouse is in Eling. -The hundred is part of Lymington division. Acres, 15, 737. Pop., 5, 439-Houses, 1, 098.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a forest, a district, and a hundred"   (ADL Feature Type: "forests")
Administrative units: New Forest PLU/RegD       Hampshire AncC
Place names: FOREST     |     FOREST NEW     |     NEW FOREST
Place: New Forest

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