A History of Sherwood 5

The roll for 1317 shows that twenty-two attachment courts were held that year, six each at Mansfield and Edwinstowe, and five each at Linby and Calverton. These attachment courts took jurisdiction of beasts trespassing as well as of vert offences. In April 1309, the sheriff of Nottingham was ordered to assemble all the regarders and foresters of Sherwood to make regard or survey before the coming of the justices of the forest, and to cause regarders to be elected in the place of those who were dead or infirm, so that there be twelve in number. The foresters were to swear that they would lead these twelve knights throughout their whole bailiwicks to view all the trespasses, and to set out the same in writing under the headings that were forwarded. These twelve headings dealt with all purprestures old and new, assarts, wastes, eyries of hawks and falcons, forges and mines, honey, those who had bows and arrows and greyhounds ect., in accordance with the usual ‘charter of the regard.’

Sherwood was from the early days a treasury for kingly gifts of both wood and venison. Royal grants of timber from this forest were frequent throughout the reign of Henry III. In 1227-8 four oaks were given to William Avenel, who is described in the grant as waiting on the king of Scotland; two to the leper hospital of Chesterfield; six to the priory of Blyth ; six to the canons of Newark; and three to the priory of Thurgarton. (1) Such gifts to religious houses often specify that the trees were for works then in progress on their churches or conventual buildings. Henry III also gave generously of the deer in Sherwood Forest, his gifts being chiefly from the fallow deer. Some of the royal gifts of deer from different parts of Sherwood from 1231 to 1234 included three does to Robert de Lexinton; three bucks and four does to the earl of Huntingdon; five bucks and twenty does to the bishop of Carlisle  for his park at Melbourne, and three bucks to the dean of St. Martin’s, London. The royal warrants for Sherwood venison, or of deer for park-stocking, are fairly frequent. The king kept Easter, 1276, at Lincoln, and orders were issued on 13 March for fifteen Sherwood does to be supplied at that season for royal use, in addition to twelve bucks from Galtres Forest. In September 1277, Adam de Everingham was ordered to supply Richard Folyot with two live bucks and ten live does towards stocking his park at Grimeston. The custom of making royal warrant grants of timber or venison died out with very few exceptions, with the reign of Edward II.

When the Parliament was held at Lincoln at the beginning of 1316, there was great provision of wood made from Sherwood. The archbishopric of York was then vacant and in the king’s hands, and Edward II ordered the keeper of the forest to deliver to the sheriff of Nottingham fifty leafless oaks from the archbishop’s wood of Blidworth, to be used for charcoal and for boards for dressers (tabulis ad dressoria) ; also thirty oaks from the king’s woods in the forest near the Trent  for firewood for the king’s hall, and thirty more for the king’s chamber, against the ensuing Parliament. The wood was to be felled by the sheriff, carried to Lincoln, and there delivered to the clerk of the king’s scullery. The owners of woods within a royal forest had no power of felling timber or cutting underwood, except under direct warrant. In 1316 Edward II permitted Ralph de Crumbwell to fell and sell, whither he will, twenty acres of his wood of Lambley, within the bounds of Sherwood Forest, in compensation for the losses sustained by him in the king’s service in Scotland.

The oaks of Sherwood were in demand when choice timber was required. When Edward II was preparing for the expedition into the duchy of Aquitaine at the close of 1324, the sheriff of Nottingham was ordered to supply nine springalds and a thousand quarels. Springalds were a mechanical artillery device which discharged heavy arrows or quarels with iron heads. The justice of the forest south of the Trent was ordered to instruct the sheriff and his carpenters to have as many oaks and other trees out of Sherwood as deemed necessary for the construction of these devices.

1. Close, 12 Hen. III, m. 14.