Tudor forest

Bluebells flowering on the woodland floor

The events of the 16th century Tudor period had a lasting impact on the New Forest's landscape and heritage.  

When Henry VIII was crowned King in 1509, England was under the influence of the Catholic church. In the following years Henry became increasingly frustrated by decisions being made about England in Rome, and when he decided to end his marriage to Catherine of Aragon after 23 years because of her failure to give him a male heir, Rome refused an annulment. So Henry created the Church of England and instated himself as its head.

Henry's break with Rome incurred the threat of a large-scale French or Spanish invasion. It also put pressure on wealthy English monasteries, which did not acknowledge Henry as head of the church. In a process known as the dissolution of the monasteries, Parliament closed them down, transferred their assets into state use and sold their land. Henry used the proceeds to fund fortifications along the coast to guard against foreign invasion.

When Beaulieu Abbey finally surrendered to the government in April 1538, the abbey, church and cloistral buildings were virtually demolished. Much of its stonework and its lead roof were removed to build Calshot Castle, at the entrance to Southampton Water, and Hurst Castle – one of the most sophisticated of all of Henry’s fortifications - in the western Solent.

  1. Tudor forest (you are here)
  2. Forest law in Tudor times


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