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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Which contained 350 acres 2 roods 34 poles


particulars bearing upon the two former heads have been as fully stated in the preceding pages of this work as circumstances permitted: under the last head, the suggestions of the commissioners amounted briefly to this,--that, agreeably to the plan begun about the year 1638, under the supervision of Sir Baynham Throckmorton, a commission should be created to superintend the enclosing of about 18,000 acres. The most wooded parts of the Forest were to be selected, and where the soil was best fitted for the growth of timber, avoiding the coalworks, and leaving out all necessary roads to be made and kept in repair by turnpikes, unless required for the carriage of timber only; the rights of commoners were to be discharged by allotting an equitable extent of land suitable for pasture, and the colliers to pay for all pit timber; the deer were to be disposed of, as demoralizing the inhabitants and injuring the young wood; and lastly, the commissioners recommended ejecting the cottagers who had established themselves in the Forest, as often before, in defiance of authority, and who numbered upwards of 2,000, occupying 589 cottages, besides 1,798 small enclosures containing 1,385 acres. As to defraying the cost of executing the above works, the commissioners recommended the sale of about 440 acres of detached pieces of Crown land adjoining the Forest, and if necessary dotard and decayed trees, or such as would never become fit for naval use.

The surveyors,

Messrs. A. and W. Driver, calculated the fencing, planting, and keeping up the contemplated enclosures, for the whole of the ensuing 100 years, at 564,330 pounds, by which time the timber would probably be worth 10,680,473 pounds, and yield an annual net revenue of 52,052 pounds. According to the Report of these gentlemen, the Forest then contained about 24,000 oak-trees averaging one and a half loads each, and 24,000 oak-trees measuring about half a load each, not including unsound trees, of which there were many, besides a considerable number of fine large beech as well as young growing trees. The principal stock of young timber, from which any expectation could be formed, was in the Lea Bailey and Lining Woods, which were in general well stocked, and would produce a considerable quantity of fine timber, if properly fenced and protected from the depredations of plunderers. As to the names, extent, and character of the plantations then existing, they report as follows:--

"_The Great Enclosure_, which contained 743 acres 35 poles, was begun to be made about twelve years ago, with post and rail; but before the whole was completed, a great part was taken away, and nothing now remains but the bank; there are no young trees of any kind."

"_Stonedge Enclosure_ was made about twelve years ago; it contained 125 acres 1 rood 10 poles, and was fenced with a dry stone wall, which is, for the most part, destroyed; there are a great many thorns and hollies, with some very fine large oaks, but no young timber of any kind coming up."

"_Coverham Enclosure_, which contained 350 acres 2 roods 34 poles, was made about fifteen years ago, part with a dry stone wall, and part post and rails; nothing but the bank now remains. There was a great quantity of young timber, particularly birch, in this enclosure, which is nearly all destroyed in consequence of the fences being pulled down."

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