BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in August 2002We've left it here for reference.More information

31 July 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
HampshireHampshire

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Hampshire
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Hampshire

Dorset
Wiltshire

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 
tiny
Wednesday, 24 July, 2002 11:00 BST
Commoners' Rights
tiny
Horse fair
Comoners at one of the New Forest's horse fairs
tiny
The system of Commoners' Rights is one of the unique features of New Forest life. Introduced almost nine centuries ago, many of these rights for residents still exist today.
tiny
tiny
SEE ALSO
tiny
History of the New Forest
tiny
PRINT THIS PAGE
tiny
View a printable version of this page.
tiny
Get in contact
tiny Commoning dates back to the creation of the Forest -it was recognised that the restrictive Forest laws set out by William the Conqueror and his son, Rufus, were too harsh. A system of rights was established to enable Forest people to survive. These rights remain today.

A Commoner is a person occupying land to which common rights are attached. Around 800 houses and smallholdings in the forest have such rights, though only about half of the occupants exercise their rights.

There are several distinct Commoners rights. Commoners may have any combination of these, depending on where in the Forest they live.

ponies
Ponies near Brockenhurst

Common of Pasture
This is the right to graze animals on the open forest. About 5000 animals are depastured in this way, of which some 3000 are ponies.

There is no limit to the number of animals which may be depastured by a Commoner.


Common of Turbary

The right to cut peat or turf to burn as fuel. It is required that for every turf cut two are left so that the grass can regrow to cover the gap.

Common of Estovers
The right to take wood as fuel. As part of the ongoing forest maintenance Foresters cut branchwood into lengths known as cords. According to their rights Commoners may take a number of cords each year as fuel for their fires.

pig
Pigs are turned out during Pannage

Common of Mast.
The right to turn out pigs during a season known as Pannage.

The start date of Pannage is decided by the Verderers but it always lasts for 60 days.

The Verderers announce the start of pannage when the acorns begin to fall in autumn.

Pigs eat green acorns and beech nuts, which would otherwise be poisonous to ponies.

Common of Marl
Marl is a clay which can be used as a dressing for soil. It is alkaline and acts to neutralise the otherwise acidic forest topsoil. Some Commoners have the right to dig marl for this purpose.

Common of Pasture for sheep
Mainly exercised in the past by the monks at Beaulieu Abbey and at Godshill, this is the specific right to allow sheep to graze on forest land.

There are very few areas where this is allowed and it is unusual to see sheep on the open forest.

Animals depastured in the Forest are supervised by the Agisters, who are the "officers on the beat" for the Court of Verderers. The Agisters check the condition of the animals and brand them for identification. They also attend road accidents involving Commoner's stock.






 
tiny
line
tiny
Top | New Forest Index | Home
tiny
tiny
tiny
Also in features
tiny

Also in New Forest
Tiny gif
New Forest history

Tiny gif
New Forest Show 2004
Tiny gif
Webguide
Tiny gif
Wildlife in the Forest
Tiny gif
E-cards
Tiny gif
New Forest quiz
Tiny gif
Forest Life art
Tiny gif
Forest witches

Tiny gif
Brusher Mills

Tiny gif
Commoners

Tiny gif
Forest folk

Tiny gif
Hunting debate

Tiny gif
Witch chat

tiny
What's on
tiny

Films
Latest Reviews

Film festival

Film Finder


Location South


tiny
Webcams
tiny
Contact Us
BBC Southampton Website
Broadcasting House,
Havelock Road,
Southampton
SO14 7PU
(+44) 023 80 374370/1/2
southampton@bbc.co.uk



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy