A New Commoning Archive

Fascinating accounts of commoning life have been brought together in a new collection of memories and photographs.

Through Our Ancestors’ Eyes features the stories of 20 families and hundreds of photographs depicting commoning, forestry and agriculture in the Forest.

The project was part of Our Past, Our Future, a £4.4 million Landscape Partnership Scheme for the New Forest supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Led by the New Forest National Park Authority in partnership with 10 other organisations, the scheme has undertaken 21 projects to restore lost habitats, develop skills and inspire a new generation to champion and care for the New Forest. 

The archive, which includes audio clips plus transcriptions, was created by the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) with help from the New Forest Heritage Centre. Volunteer Patrick Keane, with the help of Kerry Barrass, spent many hours preparing the records for publication on the web.

Hear members of well-known commoning families talk about their ancestors and life in the forest.

All the photographs, audio files and transcripts are stored at the Christopher Tower Library at the New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst, and are available on the New Forest Knowledge website. https://nfknowledge.org/groups/through-our-ancestors-eyes/

A new look at Home Farm Hillfort

In 2018, as part of a management programme undertaken by the New Forest National Park Authority and Forestry England, a team of archaeologists undertook a series of systematic geophysical surveys, exploratory excavations and restoration works across Home Farm Iron Age Hillfort.

You can read more about the background to the scheduled monument here: Hillfort 400m south of Home Farm – Scheduled Monument #1017019

The work was undertaken with the aim to improve our knowledge of the site as well as the condition of the scheduled monument and help remove it off the Monuments at Risk Register. The results of the work have proven rather interesting; they have dramatically improved our understating of this prehistoric landscape and challenged the perceived interpretation of the “Iron Age” site by revealing a much earlier, Neolithic date through carbon dating.

The reports produced for from this work can be found below:

Geophysics Results

Excavation Report

Ancient discovery begins to rewrite Forest’s history

Help and tips on New Forest Knowledge

Need some help getting to grips with the New Forest Knowledge website?

This website searches multiple online archives as well as the material held at the New Forest Heritage Centre. It also has hundreds of contributions uploaded by groups, New Forest projects and much much more.

Here are some short films to help you get around this online interactive archive. We will produce more in the future and add them here.

Making the most out of the Map. Map navigation and map layers:

Navigating the contributions. Digital resources via the NFK website.

If you’re having trouble using the site do have a read of our Guide Articles, but if you can’t find the answer then do add a comment below and we will try to help.

Lyndhurst Church Gravestone Steps – Improving Access Project

St Michaels & All Angels Church Lyndhurst: Churchyard Improving Access Project

Following the installation of a new safe accessible route to school from the main Lyndhurst carpark through the St Michael’s and All Angels churchyard avoiding the footpath along the main road the old stepped path through the churchyard was fenced off and was slowly disappearing under vegetation. If you looked closely at this old path you would have seen that it was made out of old gravestones. The gravestones have been moved to create the path from elsewhere in the graveyard and they do not contain burials under them.

As part of the original planning approval for the new path a requirement was that the old steps made from old gravestones was to be removed.

The programme of work is being managed by the New Forest National Park Authority, and has been given formal approval by Winchester Diocese and the Planning Authority. It will improve access to the churchyard’s important heritage features and is funded by the New Forest LEADER local action group through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The churchyard is maintained by New Forest District Council as a closed burial ground and the monuments are technically heirlooms. The church and the District Council responsibilities only require that the moments are safe for public access to the churchyard.

As part of the project the gravestones will all be cleaned and recorded using RTI photography to read the faded inscriptions to help reveal the names of the people they memorialised. The hope is that the names will then be linked back to the burial registers and potentially their original burial location. It will also allow families to re-link their family histories with the headstones in the churchyard. The removed headstones will be used to create benches in the churchyard, but they will all be logged so if you are searching for a specific one we can show you where they have ended up.

Further work has seen the footpath extended to allow easy access to Alice Liddell’s memorial behind the church.

RTI Recording

During July 2019, Archaeovision undertook a Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) survey of the 43 headstones that were removed from the old path as well as another 37 headstones and other engraved stones recovered from the ditch running parallel to the footpath. The 80 headstones were all photographed and processed to reveal the inscriptions and identify some of the lost names and families originally buried in St Michael’s.

Some of the highlights are included in the images above.

You can read a low resolution version of the report here: Lyndhurst RTI Report (warning still large file size 10Mb) or you can request a high resolution version from the New Forest National Park Authority or New Forest Heritage Centre Library.

Alternatively all of the photography results from RTI work undertaken in the graveyard along with the transcriptions can be found hereLyndhurst St Michaels & All Angels RTI

All of the results will be inputted into the spreadsheet of monuments in St Michael’s and All Angels allowing the public to find out who is buried in the churchyard.

Further Work and Information

Three of the monuments in the churchyard are listed and are dealt with as Listed Buildings. These were recently repaired as part of National Lottery Heritage Funding managed by the New Forest National Park and have been removed from the Historic England Buildings at Risk register.

You can find out more about the St Michael’s & All Angels via one of the New Forest History Hit Films


St Michael & All Angels Church Lyndhurst: Churchyard Improving Access Project

Is part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development


Leader LogoEU LogoNew Forest Leader - Local Action Group Logo

Example of one of the Graves following RTI

Grave LSMAA171

Here lieth the body of Charles Newbolt who Departed this life on the 20 day of August 1745 Aged 65 years

Also Catherine the wife of John H who died The 7th day of October 1766 Aged 70 years