Fallow Deer

All that remains of a once vast, wild and ancient forest that stretched from Kent to Hampshire. Pre-historic man hunted deer and swine. The Romans built a road through it to Londinium and exploited the mineral wealth with a highly organised iron industry. The Saxons and Normans were happy to remain outside the Essendoun Forest but there have always been those who have used the forest for their own purposes: encroaching farmers, smugglers, commoners and enclosers.

In 1372 Edward III granted Assedoun Forest to his son John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and it remained as a Royal Forest for 300 years.  In 1672, Charles ll granted it to the Earl of Dorset.  In 1693, after a lawsuit between the Earl and the Commoners, it was decreed that 6400 acres, in the vicinity of the farms and villages (mostly around the perimeter), were subject to rights of common while the remaining 13,991 acres could be enclosed by the landowners.

On the eastern perimeter are the Parishes of Withyham and Rotherfield and it is there that my roots are set down. Even as late as 1851 the census shows the location for Thomas Ashdown's dwelling as edge of forest.