The New Forest from Norman Times

William Seymour takes us on a visit to the New Forest, stretching from Southampton Water to the Wiltshire Avon, and the favourite hunting ground of many English monarchs.

At the time of the conquest, the great forest that stretched from Southampton Water westwards to the river Avon, and northwards to the Wiltshire border, was called Ytene. In 1079 William ordered its afforestation and brought it under his forest laws; eight years later, he changed its name to the New Forest. After almost nine hundred years it remains the New Forest; and, although boundaries have shrunk a little—the present perambulation contains 144 square miles, of which 42 are in private ownership—the names of many of its woods are the same, and there are sequestered glades that have hardly changed in the centuries.

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