Friday 8 April 2011

F is for Forest – that’s what F is for ...

The view north towards Ross-on-Wye from
Symonds Yat Rock, a popular tourist destination
in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Forests the lifeblood of the British nations – from where each successive Age utilised them and their wood to the full.  Early man used fire to cook and heat, then the Iron Age turned ore into metal and so man spread his wings.

The wealth of forest life was then exploited as each successive era passed ...  animals, game, crops, timber ... our land of forest became denuded to provide income from timber, then farmland was required for grazing and crops, the Industrial Revolution and subsequent industrialisation of the country required more and more timber.

The term ‘forest’ derives from “forestem silvam”, a Medieval Latin phrase introduced by the Normans meaning wood outside ... beyond the estates of the palaces, castles, manors and religious houses of the period.

The New Forest in Hampshire, decreed as a Royal Forest by William the Conqueror in 1079, survives to this day.  William a great lover of hunting, established the system of forest law; this operated outside of the common law, and served to protect game animals and their forest habitat from destruction ...

... hunting in the forests and timber activities arising from it were all the prerogative of the King.  Subsequently whenever the royal purse needed a budgetary top-up forests were sold off; the wealthy landowning buyers felled the wood and turned the land over to farming ... as food became necessary.

A 14th-century manuscript shows
King John in the New Forest.
Once a royal hunting ground.  It is
the largest surviving medieval forest.
Church and the nobility became richer as they were decreed lands, or purchased them as their wealth had increased.  In the Middle Ages, forest dominated the lives of the British common people.  It surrounded them, occupying more than one third of the land; it provided their livelihood; and its myths and legends haunted their imaginations.

By the 19th Century these expanses of forest had been reduced to a mere 5% of Britain’s land area – the dangers were obvious and becoming appreciated through a greater understanding brought about by ‘new education’ – exploration, botany, science and enlightenment.

In the 21st Century we are even more aware that diversity of all natural things is essential to our future – we need to continue to protect our wildlife and its environs for the next generations, realising the bounty it provides mother earth on which we too inhabit as part of that wildlife.

That is Forest – that’s what F is for ..

Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

PS - must have caught a bug from the forests .. hence my lateness!  Getting better now - thankfully.



Hope you're feeling better Hilary,

I have been to The New Forest many times as Bournemouth is not that far away, It is a beautiful place, to see the animals roaming freely is a wonderful sight,
I also noticed many whitch craft shops there which was interesting to say the least, I resisted buying a broomstick though.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Yvonne .. not not completely - but at least I can see the screen without feeling sick .. yesterday was a right write off!

Yes - it must be wonderful to be able to get across to the New Forest and either drive through - which I've done occasionally (avoiding the main routes - on my way to Cornwall) .. or to go for a stroll or walk through the lands.

I didn't see a good photo of the NF .. but the highpoint across the Forest of Dean is a remarkable photo - so that went in!

Really - witch-craft shops springing up .. there's a lot more people becoming interested in the old ways .. and finding out more - so I suppose it makes sense.

Except if you'd brought a broomstick you could have whizzed up here and ministered to me!!

Cheers and thanks for being my first visitor once again - a pleasure ... Hilary

Anonymous said...

Another excellent blog. Forests can be scary, especially when you're a kid and its getting dark. I can see how folklore stroies can use forests as a setting.

Ann said...

And the most popular forest legend, Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest was born. I have never been to the New Forest. Another destination to add to the growing list over this challenge.

Sheila Deeth said...

Hope your bug's getting better Hilary. I've caught my son's Texas cold and, as he keeps telling me, everything's bigger in Texas--even the colds. Think I'll go hide under the blankets somewhere. I'm glad you were able to meet Xavier Leret on my blog. I really enjoyed his post, and his book.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Love the reference. I look out across Cluculz Lake to a rough beach bordered in forest. It's not the great forest of my youth, but the trees are standing tall and evergreen. Your post reminds me how grateful I am for our trees. Thanks, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Stephen .. yes - many a story comes out of those tall dark woods .. with their dark, damp tresses reaching up, or hanging down, brushing past us - as you say definitely a setting for folklore tales. Good to see you.

@ Ann - I could and should have brought a lot more in - this post slightly overwhelmed me in its enormity of subject! Robin Hood - how could I forget .. one of my favourite stories and tv programmes as a child & even now - perhaps?!

@ Sheila .. thanks .. & you're ill too - well at least it's not my bug! I did exactly that yesterday .. and that is very unusual.

I hope Xavier will be doing a post for me .. seems like it - it'll be fun ...and your review of his book Heaven Sent - was really enticing.

@ Joylene .. you have the most glorious place to live .. with that wonderful name .. Cluculz .. I just have to type it often! Your forest paths and glades must be just beautiful .. with many wonders to behold ...

Thanks everyone - lovely having you here .. Hilary

J.D. Meier said...

I'm a fan of the forest.

Maybe it stems from the fact I always enjoyed watching Robin Hood in action.

nutschell said...

Hi Hilary
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving those wonderful comments.
I wish I could visit the New Forest one day. Will be going to the UK for a holiday this May (that rhymes!) but unfortunately I don't think I'll have time to drop by Hampshire. I'll have to make it a point to visit again and again!

nutschell said...

Hi HIlary!
I'll be staying mostly in London, but I'll also be staying three nights in Salisbury. My book is based there and I wanted to walk the streets my characters walk:P I'm so excited!

Jayne said...

Hope you are feeling better. I love forests, although I don't live near any. The closest to me is one of the last remanents of once mighty Middlesex Forest - Hampstead Heath!

Laura Eno said...

Hope you're feeling better!
Wow...I didn't realize how little forest Britain had left. I suppose because everything seems so green over there.

Unknown said...

Wow. I learned something new today. Thank you. My world and my perspective are both broadened.


Unknown said...

I love forests. It's sad that forests are shrinking all over the world. Nice tribute.

Angela Ackerman said...

Just scrolling through your posts for the A to Z challenge--very nicely done! Have a great weekend!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

FilmMattic said...

Great post. First I've seen that highlights nature. So good job! Forests are just full of inspiration.

And nice blog!

Vered said...

Glad you're feeling better!

... Paige said...

I love the smell of a cool and damp forest

Jannie Funster said...

5% so little, compared to what it was. Hopefully the percentage has been bumped back up a bit now?

Canada can send you some forest!! They've lots and lots!!

Must've been nice to be the king, eh? Gee, selling forests on a whim.

I love forests to romp in.

And Hilary's posts.

Love to all.

Glad you're feeling better from the bug. Please take good care.


Empty Nest Insider said...

Hilary, you're not feeling well and you still took the time to comment on my blog?! If I were an artist, I would try to give you a special award for that alone! As always, beautifully done. Feel better soon. Julie

Al said...

I love forests.
Shame they are under such pressure worldwide :-(

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ JD .. I second you in that thought - loved Robin Hood - but trees and forests are so important.

@ Nutschell - how lovely .. enjoy London - so much to see and do!! Three nights in Salisbury - there's lots of history there & Old Sarum - as you'll know from your book. Enjoy the visit - I'm sure you will .. and you must be so excited ...

@ Jayne - it's not going away .. but better than Thursday - thank you! We forget that England was covered in woods and forests, til man came along .. Hampstead Heath was still forested 200 years ago - bandits ruled ... interesting how much change has happened in 1,000 years ..

@ Laura .. not completely, which is frustrating! It is increasing and now we're 'actively' protecting it - and eventually bringing our native trees back in: so important to diversity.

@ Lucy - good to see you - thank you .. just a little bit of Britain on view.

@ Clarissa - you're right and they must be essential for your stories - but more important probably the forests elsewhere are of much greater concern.

@ Angela .. delighted you enjoyed the posts - many thanks - I'll be over - you too enjoy the weekend.

@ Matthew - good to meet you ..and glad you enjoyed the theme .. lots within forests. Thanks for the compliment re the blog.

@ Vered - thank you .. not completely .. which is very unusual .. hope it goes completely soon! Good to see you here.

@ Paige .. yes the smell of the earth is different in the cool damp of the forest isn't it .. so right to bring that up - thank you.

@ Jannie .. it is increasing ..but only slowly - better management now though. Yes - we could have some of yours - you're right -thanks for the generous offer!!

If you were at the top of the pile - life would be fantastic .. even in those austere times. Forests to walk, horse-ride, hike, cycle in are just so lovely ..

Jannie - you're a star .. thank you!!

Thank you .. I hope Hardwick's been looking after my Mama really well and keeping her close .. I hope to get back today - not sure though. I will take good care .. this is unusual. You too .. xoxoxox

@ Julie .. the headache wasn't hitting yesterday, though it hangs around, so I did a little visiting!

Thanks - and lovely that you noticed! Much appreciated .. glad you enjoyed the post - me too .. I hope I feel better soon!!

@ Al - you've got lovely bluegum groves and woods around Melbourne that you show us .. we really do need to protect them.

Cheers everyone ..thanks for your thoughts .. still not completely out of the woods yet - soon I hope!

Enjoy the weekend .. it's lovely here .... Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dierdra .. that's incredibly generous and I'm absolutely delighted .. many thanks I've popped on by to collect .. say Hi, Follow and Subscribe - delighted to come along with you on your blogging journey ..

Delighted you've enjoyed what you've seen so far .. thanks & enjoy your weekend .. Hilary

Amy @ Soul Dipper said...

Sorry you've been unwell, Hilary. I so agree - we must protect every living aspect of our forests. Our lives depend upon that stewardship.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Amy .. it's being frustrating - hope it clears up completely soon.

Our lives depends on stewardship of our earth .. we're not very good at looking after it at the moment. Our home forests are a start ... you're so right. Thanks - good to see you here .. Hilary

DEZMOND said...

I always like the historical info in your posts, Hilary! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dezmond .. those are the snippets I enjoy too .. really wasn't happy about history at school, as with most things ... catching up now! Have a good week .. Hilary