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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

And there called Little Stapledge


Fordyce's fourth and final report appeared on the 6th of April, 1809, but it only speaks of the Forest so far as related to the lands called "Whitemead Park," hitherto in the occupation of Lord Berkeley, but whose lease would expire in January, 1808, and was sought to be renewed. The Surveyor-General declined complying with the request for renewal, upon the ground that the Park was unfavourably situated for farming purposes, and that the buildings on it were in very bad repair; whereas a large quantity of very fine timber, valued at 11,736 pounds, had grown up on the land, proving the excellence of the soil for that purpose; besides which, it was situated in the midst of the Forest, and Mr. Fordyce determined to plant the whole of it with oak at the earliest opportunity. This circumstance appears to have stimulated the Government to commence in good earnest the forming of plantations, in accordance with the suggestions made in the Commissioners' Report of 1788, {89} which had been kept in view ever since, and as authorized by the old Acts of the 20th of Charles II. c. 3, and 9 and 10 William III. c. 36.

The propriety, however, of acting upon these old enactments was now doubted, as they had been so long overlooked or irregularly executed; and hence the declaratory Act of the 48th of George III., c. 72, was passed in 1808, confirming the original power to enclose 11,000 acres, as well as legalizing the enclosures of Buckholt, Stapledge, Birchwood,

and Acorn Patch, formed a few years previously, containing altogether 676 acres, and making it felony to persist in breaking down any of the fences belonging to the same. The above-named enclosures were the only ones then existing. The Buckholt principally contained beech; Stapledge was thinly stocked with oak, except on the north side, and there called Little Stapledge, on which there was plenty; and Birchwood had some clusters of natural young oaks scattered about it. The Acorn Patch was well filled with thriving young oaks about 25 years old. The same Act likewise directed that the contemplated plantations should be marked out under the supervision of not less than six Commissioners, who were named as follows:--

Lord Glenbervie, Surveyor General of Woods, &c. R. Fanshaw, Esq., of Plymouth Dockyard.

Right Hon. C. Bathurst, Lydney } Park, The Rev. Thomas Birt, Newland, } Magistrates The Rev. Richard Wetherell, } Westbury,

Sir William Guise, Highnam, } Joseph Pyrke, Esq., Little Dean, } Verderers Edmund Probyn, Esq., Newland, } Roynon Jones, Esq., Hay Hill, }

Edward Kent, Esq., Itinerant Deputy Surveyor. Edward Machen, Esq., Deputy Surveyor.

The connexion with the Forest of two of these gentlemen, viz. Lord Glenbervie as Surveyor-General, and Mr. Machen as Deputy-Surveyor, dates from this period; and to their joint exertions, aided by the official labours of Mr. Milne, his Lordship's excellent secretary, and at length one of the three Commissioners of Woods, &c., the existing enclosures owe their formation as well as their present promising condition; but especially to Mr. Machen is the credit due, as being the result of his able and conscientious management of the Forest for well nigh half a century.

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