Customs and traditions

Piebald pony with racing harness cart

Customs and traditions form an essential part of the distinctiveness of the cultural heritage of the New Forest.

A number of Victorian and more recent writers have published accounts of the lives of gypsy families. Much has been written about special characters of the Forest.

The New Forest has been the home of a number of industries, from ship building and rope making, to brick making, salt manufacture and charcoal burning. Recreational activities include hunting, horse and pony racing and the Bartlett’s steam fair.

There is folklore and legend, from the death of King Rufus to tales of smugglers who planned their operations at pubs like the Royal Oak at Fritham, and stories about poaching and the Burley witches.

There is a strong artistic and literary tradition associated with the Forest, for example Heyward Sumner the artist and archaeologist who produced a series of carefully observed Forest landscapes.

The place names of the Forest reveal a living picture of its history. Almost every wood, heath, field and pond has its own name which is remembered recorded and used.

Local skills and crafts survive such as thatching, sculpture, pottery and painting.

For more information about New Forest customs and traditions, see:


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