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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Most of the lesser oaks which have become timber

[Picture: The "Newland Oak."]

There are other trees approaching in age to the above, viz. an oak in Sallow Vallets Enclosure near the Drive, of the Quercus sessiliflora kind, its leaves growing on long stalks, and the acorns clustering together on short stalks, and perhaps 200 years old, being 13 feet round at 6 feet from the ground, and still in a very flourishing condition. Another oak-tree, near York Lodge, measuring 21 feet round, formed apparently of two trees which grew together for ages, but not long since threatened to fall asunder, necessitating their being cramped up across the head by a transverse iron bar. At the Brookhall Ditches also there is an oak entirely variegated, containing 100 feet of timber; besides several other fine trees near. There are five very large beech-trees growing about two miles from Coleford on the road to Mitcheldean, and others likewise, almost as large, on the Blaize Bailey, besides several more near Danby Lodge; but the finest of all the beeches in the Forest is near the entrance to Whitemead Park, near York Lodge, measuring 17 feet at 6 feet from the ground. Most of the lesser oaks which have become timber, and have not been removed by the recent "falls," are probably the remains of the plantations made in 1670, such as the various flourishing oaks which may be noticed near the Speech House, on the Lea Bailey, the Lining Wood, and in a few other places. Many of the old hollies

seem to belong to the same date, being either indigenous, or planted about this time to serve as food for the deer. One of the largest of those growing near the Speech House measures 9 feet in girth at 4 feet from the ground.

[Picture: An Oak, near York Lodge]

During the earlier half of the last century the devastations were so rapid as to necessitate re-enclosing and re-planting various parts, about the year 1760; but the effort to restock the whole of the Forest as it now appears was reserved to 1810 and the thirty subsequent years. Its present aspect, with very few exceptions, is such as to afford the best hopes that by the close of the present century a large proportion of the woods will be yielding profitable timber, provided the crops be duly protected from injury, which otherwise the rapidly increasing population of the neighbourhood will too surely occasion. Nine-tenths of the present stock are oaks; the rest are Spanish chesnuts, Scotch fir, larch, spruce, beech, and a few elms, sycamores, and horse-chesnuts; birch grows spontaneously in most parts of the Forest.

The following Table exhibits the quantity of timber growing at different times in the Forest within the last two hundred years.

A.D. Tons. Cords. Loads fit for the Navy. 1635 61,928 153,209 14,350 The trees generally decayed; about 500 past their full growth. 1662 25,929 Oak 121,500 11,335 4,204 Beech ------- 30,133 (30,000 old trees.) 1764 27,302 1783 90,382 Oak 95,043 17,982 Beech ------- 108,364 1788 48,000 1808 22,882 1857 10,000 About 5,000 trees, 7,500 having been felled since 1845.

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