Tudor forest

Mushrooms grow on the woodland floor

Forest law in Tudor times

The Order and Rules of the New Forest of 1537 gave detailed instructions for dealing with people who broke forest law. They were held in the King’s Prison at Bartley and then transferred to the King’s Gaol at Lyndhurst to await trial.

Those charged with ‘vert and venison’ – offences against trees or deer – were tried by two Verderers in the Court of Swainmote. If found guilty they were sent to a prison in Lyndhurst called the Blindhouse.

The Verderers’ Hall, which is attached to Queen’s House in Lyndhurst, has some remaining sections of Tudor architecture. It still serves as the meeting place of the Verderers and is open to the public.

The court contains an ancient wooden prisoner’s dock where people can make ‘presentments’ to the court. Nearby can be seen Rufus’s Stirrup, a large Tudor stirrup used for measuring dogs: those that were too large to fit through it had their paws cruelly mutilated to prevent them chasing deer.

Today the Verderers’ Court is more of an open forum while the Court of Swainmote has not been in session for many years.

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

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