The New Forest is home to the largest un-enclosed area in Southern England. 93,000 acres of wild open heathlands and ancient forests provide home and shelter to an incredible array of wildlife and plant life. From giant oak trees and impressive silver birches through to perfumed violets, tasty fungi and butchers broom, the fertile lands showcase mother nature at its finest.
Donkeys, pigs, cattle and over 3,000 New Forest ponies roam freely through the charming villages and towns here, and a wealth of stunning waterside and forest views set the scene just as it would have been centuries ago.
Granted National Park status in 2004, the New Forest provides a naturally abundant recreational area for walking, cycling, riding, sailing, fishing and bird watching to name only a few!
With stunning vistas in every direction, the rich and colourful tapestry of the coastal and country living that the New Forest offers makes this an unmissable destination at any time of the year.
William I (William the Conqueror), the Saxon King of England, created the New Forest in 1079 when he laid claim to thousands of acres of plentiful pastures and crofts, grouping them together to create a royal hunting ground ‘for pursuit of beasts of the chase’. Only privileged nobility and their chosen few would be invited to catch the wild deer and boar that roamed the land, making it a very prestigious place to be.
To preserve these bountiful pastures, William introduced Forest Law, and prohibited residents from freely using the land as they had done so before. Severe punishments were introduced, including the death sentence, if breached.
Although centuries have passed since its founding days, the New Forest remains fit for royalty, protected and nurtured with its magnificent scenery and old-world charm much as you would have found all of those centuries ago!
Verderers and their Agisters have played a vital role in helping to maintain the New Forest’s un-spoilt ancient woodlands, and have been holding court from the same Hall in Lyndhurst since 1388! 'Commoners’ have been grazing their livestock on the land-since the 16th Century.
In 2004 the New Forest was granted National Park status, and verderers still manage the forest together with the Forestry Commission today.