A New Forest Christmas Tree

The New Forest is managed as a working forest by the Forestry Commission, this includes the commercial growing and harvesting of trees. Most of this happens away from public eye, unless you happen to stumble across works happening in one of the inclosures on your walk or bike ride. However one of the times you get to personally appreciate this activity and even take a part of the New Forest home with you is at Christmas time. Picking out and decorating your very own tree can be one of the highlights of the festive season.

The tradition of having a decorated tree in your home is a rather recent adaptation for Christmas; whilst evergreen fir trees have been used to celebrate winter festivals for thousands of years, the Christmas tree in its current guise has only been popular in the UK since the nineteenth century.

The first publicly decorated Christmas tree on record was in 1510 in Riga, Latvia. The tree was put up by men wearing black hats who proceeded to first dance around the tree, and then set it on fire.

The tradition of decorated Christmas trees spread from Germany to the UK thanks to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. German born Albert had often celebrated Christmas with a tree as a youngster, and was keen to share this childhood treat with his new wife. In 1848 the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal couple with a beautifully decorated tree, and within a few years the sight was common throughout homes in Britain.

Since then the popularity of Christmas trees has reached dizzying heights. The UK goes through around eight million real trees annually according to the Forestry Commission.

British Pathe has two videos dealing with the annual New Forest Christmas tree harvest.

Land Army Girls cutting Christmas Trees in 1948

Xmas Tree Harvest in 1966

 

All about the bounds. What medieval perambulations can tell us about the New Forest – Abstract

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.

Speaker:

Richard Reeves

This paper first outlines the changes in the bounds of the New Forest using evidence from the Domesday Book, medieval and later perambulations.  It will consider the changes in and challenges to the perambulation that have occurred through the history of the Forest.  In particular, the period around the time of the designation of the Forest and subsequent reorganization of the Saxon hundredal boundaries to form the New Forest Hundred coterminous with the demesne lands of the Forest.  Also following the implementation of the Carta de Foresta of 1217 and the struggles for disafforestation surrounding it.  It will then briefly cover the formation of the Bailiwick and Walk boundaries into which the Forest was historically divided.

The second section will consider the individual bound-marks of the perambulations, particularly in reference to archaeological features, including prehistoric barrows, Roman roads and other route-ways, as well sites near contemporary with the bounds themselves, focusing on those relevant to the historic management of the Forest.

Lastly, the impact of the various bounds will be considered in terms of historic management, in particular commoning, with special reference to purlieus both outside and within the Forest, impacts on the jurisdictional history, specifically the interest of the various types of forest officers and legal history of the Forest, and what this tells us about the more widely about forest law.

In summary it will demonstrate how the designation of the Forest impacted on the development of the Forest and its hinterland, thereby creating the landscape we see today.

Ashley Walk Bombing Range Drone Tour

Discover the remains of a Second World War bombing site in the New Forest National Park from the the air.

5000 acres (equivalent to 2833 football pitches) of heathland in the North of the New Forest was  taken over by the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) to become a training and testing range for all types of munitions fired and or dropped from British aircraft during WWII, except live incendiaries due to the fire risk.

The range consisted of several different target types including air to ground attack, mock ship targets, aircraft pens, gun emplacement, bomb fragmentation areas and the Ministry of Home Security target (known locally as the Sub Pens) as well as domestic facilities for crew, two small grass airstrips, observation shelters and towers. The range was split with one area for inert ordnance only. The site was also used day and night with one, the illumination target specifically for night raid practice.

On this site the Ashley Range Overview page has links to more detailed pages about the range targets, activities and stories from the people stationed here and the locals living nearby.

Ashley Walk Bombing Range: Drone Tour

Discover the remains of a Second World War bombing site in the New Forest National Park from the the air.

5000 acres (equivalent to 2833 football pitches) of New Forest heathland was taken over by the  Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) in 1940 to become its training and testing range. All types of munitions fired and or dropped from British aircraft during WWII were tested here first, except live incendiaries due to the fire risk.

The range consisted of several different target types including air to ground attack, mock ship targets, aircraft pens, gun emplacement, bomb fragmentation areas and the Ministry of Home Security target (known locally as the Sub Pens) as well as domestic facilities for crew, two small grass airstrips, observation shelters and towers some of which survive today.

 

On this site the Ashley Range Overview page has links to detailed pages about the targets, activities, archives and stories about the range.

Avon Valley Geophysics and the LoCATE project – Abstract

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.

Speaker:

Mike Gill, Avon Valley Archaeological Society

Abstract:

The LoCATE project is a joint partnership between Bournemouth University and the New Forest National Park Authority, aimed at providing training in and access to advanced archaeological survey equipment.  AVAS members have been successful in applying this training to the investigation of a range of sites in the vicinity of the Avon Valley, with impressive results.  By describing these geophysics surveys, this talk aims to inspire local heritage groups in the New Forest area to add geophysics to their toolkit of landscape research.

Beaulieu Ice House

National park archaeologists are working with Beaulieu Estate to conserve and display an ice house that can be found on the estate grounds. As most of the structure is buried a laser scan of the ice house was commissioned creating a very detailed dataset to inform conservation work, but also provide an educational tool. You can see an animation created from the laser scanning below.

So what is an ice house? 

Brick underground ice houses can be found in the grounds of many large and not so large estates. In England, the first were constructed in the early 17th century by King James I who is credited with having one built at Greenwich in 1616. One of the earliest ice houses once existed in the grounds of the Queen’s House at Lyndhurst probably constructed before the end of the 17th century. They remained popular with wealthy landowners on their estates until the end of the 19th century when refrigeration was being introduced and ice was being produced commercially rather than being imported. Domestic refrigeration becoming more common from the 1920s onwards. The Beaulieu Ice house is a late example constructed in the 1870s.

The underground chambers provided a temperature controlled environment allowing ice cut from local fresh water supplies in winter or imported ice to be stored for long periods of time. The ice house typically contains a drain at its base that would have originally allowed waste water to drain away as ice melted. In many cases ice could remain in the ice house for anything between 12 and 18 months. The ice houses could also be used to store food at the same time as the ice thus prolonging it’s shelf life. As well as preserving food, ice could also be used to create a freezing compound in the ice house by combining it with salt. Placing a container within the freezing compound allows any liquid to be frozen and was the traditional method for producing ice cream.

The ventilator at the top of the internal dome of the Beaulieu ice house visible in the 3D animation below is an unusual feature and relates to its later use. During the Second World War the ice house became an apple store that allowed apples from the adjacent orchard to be kept many months after harvesting. Storing apples requires the space to be ventilated due to the CO2 they give off that would pool in the bottom of the ice house and be lethal.

The ice house is built from both red and also yellow (Beaulieu buff) bricks stamped ‘Beaulieu’ and made at the estate brickworks at Baileys Hard on the Beaulieu River (A similar project has been working to record the surviving kiln, which you can read about here: Beaulieu Brick Kiln). It is also worth noting that the Beaulieu ice house would have been covered by soil to increase it’s insulation, the soil has been removed at some point in the past.

Beaulieu ice house is a grade II listed building #1094424

Volunteers have been involved with cleaning and re-pointing the ice house and listed building consent will be sought to repair the break between the dome and the tunnel entrance.

Beaulieu Ice House Laser Scan Animation created by Archaeovision

Beaulieu Ice House 3D model for you to explore created by Archaeovision

 

Calshot Castle Gun Battery

Calshot Castle is a mid 16th century stone built artillery castle with 18th and 19th century alterations, lying on Calshot Spit on the southern shore of Southampton Water. The symmetrical plan of the castle centres on a three storey gun tower or keep, separated from the surrounding curtain wall by a courtyard within which lie both accommodation buildings and later searchlight emplacements.

Fears of a French Invasion at the end of the 19th century resulted in the castle undergoing substantial modification to become an artillery fort once again after a long period of use as a Coastguard base combatting smuggling in the area. In 1894 a large quick fire gun battery was built to the south east of the castle, which was completed by 1897. this was supplemented by the installation of Defence Electric Lights installed on the castle to be used in conjuction with the battery and a boom was built across Southampton Water controlled by the castle.

A set of detailed maps and colour drawings of Calshot Castle and battery completed in 1901 can be found in the National Archives WO78/4954 some of which have been reproduced for this article.

In 1907 Calshot Castle underwent its last major modification as a fortress; the roof of the keep was strengthened to permit the installation of a pair of quick fire guns to augment the adjacent battery.

Calshot Castle and its adjacent battery were stripped of their weapons before the end of the World War I.

The battery had been completely removed by the late 1920’s when aerial photos available from Historic England through the Britain From Above website show hangers built on where the battery once stood.

The full Historic England scheduling record for Calshot Castle can be found: Here

Conquest and land clearance: the Domesday account of the New Forest – Abstract

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.

Speaker:

Katherine Blayney, University of Oxford

Abstract:

Twelfth century chroniclers, such as Orderic Vitalis and John of Worcester, claimed that the creation of the New Forest led to the destruction of houses and churches, and families being driven from the land.  This paper looks at the information in Domesday Book to assess the communities that existed in the south-west of Hampshire before the creation of the New Forest, and uses ArcGIS mapping software to illustrate the transformation of the region by 1086, using the Domesday data. It draws together recent scholarship on royal forests and the New Forest in particular, and questions the extent to which the prosperity of this part of Hampshire had been affected by conquest, land clearance, and afforestation.

D-Day at Lepe – New Forest History Hit Film

Join National Park archaeologist James Brown for this New Forest History Hit on the role of Lepe Beach in D-Day.

You can find out more about the New Forest’s vital role in D-Day from Mulberry Harbour, to holding camps, road widening, advanced landing grounds, PLUTO and Embarkation by visiting our main page on D-Day in the New Forest.

History Hits

You can find and enjoy the rest of the New Forest History Hits using the following links: