A History of Sherwood 2

In the winter of 1222 a great storm swept England, and many trees were overthrown. Special writs were issued by the crown to the authorities throughout England directing the sale of the timber with a return of the proceeds. These special instructions were forwarded inter alia, to the verderers and foresters of the forest of Sherwood; to the verderers and forester of the enclosures or hays of Sherwood (de haiis de Shirewood); to Maud de Caux, widow, keeper of the forest of Sherwood and of Clay (a title she obtained in that year); and to Phillip Marc, keeper of the hays of Sherwood. (1) In 1215 John, by one of the articles of Magna Charta, was compelled to agree to the disafforesting of all the great tracts put under the forest law during his reign, and in 1217 the child-king, Henry III, was made to issue in return for certain grants, the Charter of the Forest, whereby good men and true were to view forests in every shire, and all that had been added since the coronation of Henry II was to be disafforested. There does not appear to be any surviving record of a perambulation of Sherwood earlier than 1232, but in that year the Clay and Hatfield districts were declared to be outside the forest, and the true bounds were set forth in a definite fashion. (2) This perambulation is identical in its main features with one taken in the year 1300; in both cases the perambulation, or setting forth of the bounds, began at the king’s ford (Conyngeswath), which was a ford over the stream of Rainworth Water between Edwinstowe and Wellow at the north-east corner of the forest, thus proceeding in both directions.

The perambulation of 17 June, 1300, was made in the presence of the foresters and verderers and the attorney of the justice of the forests, on the oath of Sir Gervais Clifton, Sir John Leeke, and six other knights and four serjeants. (3) They declared that the lord king’s forest of Sherwood begins at the ford of Conyngeswath, along the road which leads as far as the town of Wellow towards Nottingham, so that the close of the town of  Wellow is outside the forest, and so by the road which goes between Wellow and Nottingham to a certain parcel of wood called Littlehawe ; and so ascending by a certain way towards the west between the said wood and the wood of the abbot of Rufford, wich is called Brown, and extends so far as Rainworthford; and thence turning aside by a certain road towards the east between the aforesaid wood of Littlehaw and the wood of Blidworth as far as the aforesaid great road, which leads from Wellow towards Nottingham as far as Bakestanehowe on that same great road; and so by the same road as far as the place where the rivulet of Dover Beck crosses the aforesaid road; and thence as the aforesaid rivulet of Dover Beck descends into the water which is called the Trent; as so along the same water of the Trent to Nottingham bridge.

The aforesaid perambulation also begins in the same county of Nottingham at the aforesaid ford of Conyngeswath, ascending towards the west by the water which is called Meden as far as the town which is called Warsop, and from that town ascending by the same water as far as Pleasley Park; and thence ascending by the same water as far as Haytrebridge; and thence turning aside along the high road of Nottingham as far as the bridge of Milneford, and thence ascending as far as Mameshead; and thence between the fields of Hardwick and Kirkby and the moor Kirkby as far as the corner which is called Nonneker; and thence through the assart of Ywayn le Breton as far as Tarlesty; and thence as far as Stolegate; and thence along the high road as far as beneath the old castle of Annesley; and from the same castle along the high road as far as the town of Linby; and thence through the middle of the town of Linby as far as the mill of the same town on the water of the Leen; and from thence descending by the same water as far as the town of Lenton; and thence as that water was anciently wont to run as far as the water which is called the Trent, and so descending by the same water of the Trent as far as Nottingham bridge aforesaid. (4) These bounds, which were maintained until Sherwood began to be broken up at the close of the sixteenth century, embraced a district of country over twenty miles long by eight wide, and contained about 100,000 acres, or about a fifth of the whole shire. (5)

1. Pat. 7 Hen. III, m. 6.

2. Exch. Misc. Bk., No. 76.

3. There are three early MSS. of this perambulation at the Record Office, For. Proc. (Ancient) Chancery, No. 102, m. 10; ibid. No. 44, and in Misc. Bk. 76 (above). This English version is taken from Turner, Pleas of the Forest (Selden Soc.) 118, 119.

4. Edward I broke the Forest Charter in several cases throughout the kingdom under legal quibbles, but as a rule the bounds as settled in his father’s time were maintained.

5. See perambulation of Sherwood 30 Hen. VIII., Fourteenth Rep. of Woods and Forests (1793) App. ii.