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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Simmons and others were employed


In 1814 the three following extensive enclosures were made:--

A. R. P. Stapledge 943 2 17 near Cinderford. Nag's Head 809 2 4 ,, Coleford. Hill Russell's 990 0 16 ,, Park End.

The last of them, being the largest in the Forest, was not regularly planted, but left for the most part to natural growth.

It was during this year especially, but to a certain degree also in the preceding and succeeding ones, that this Forest and the New Forest were visited with an enormous number of mice. They appeared in all parts, but particularly in Haywood enclosure, destroying a very large proportion of the young trees, so much so that only four or five plants to an acre were found uninjured by them. The roots of five years old oaks and chesnuts were generally eaten through just below the surface of the ground, or wherever their runs proceeded. Sometimes they were found to have barked the young hollies round the bottom, or were seen feeding on the bark of the upper branches. These mice were of two kinds, the common long-tailed field mouse, and the short-tailed. There were about fifty of these latter sort to one of the former. The long-tailed mice had all white breasts, and the tail was about the same length as the body. {95} These were chiefly caught on the wet greens in the Forest, and the short-tailed were caught both on the wet and dry grounds.

A variety of means were resorted to for their destruction, such as cats, poisons, and traps, but with little success. A Mr. Broad, who had been employed by the Admiralty, and had been successful, in killing the rats and mice in the fleet, was sent down, and tried several plans, all of which failed. At last, a miner living on Edge Hills, named Simmons, came forward, and said that he had often, when sinking wells or pits, found mice fallen in, and dead, in consequence of their endeavours to extricate themselves, and he had little doubt that the same plan would succeed in the Forest. It was tried, and holes were dug over the enclosures about two feet deep, and the same size across, and rather hollowed out at the bottom, and at the distance of about twenty yards apart, into which the mice fell, and were unable to get out again. Simmons and others were employed, and paid by the numbers of tails which they brought in, which amounted in the whole to more than 100,000. In addition to this it may be mentioned that polecats, kites, hawks, and owls visited the holes regularly, and preyed upon the mice caught in them; and a small owl, called by Pennant, Strix passerina, never known in the Forest before or since, appeared at that time, and was particularly active in their destruction. The mice in the holes also ate each other.

Four more steam engines were allowed to be erected about the close of this year at Palmer's Flat and at Hopewell.

Proceeding to the following year, we find that in 1815 the number of plantations was increased by the addition of--

A. R. P. Leonard's 66 0 32 near Cinderford. Hill, containing Edge Hills 494 1 36 ,, Little Dean. Cock Shot 598 0 22 ,, Blakeney. Yew-tree 183 0 0 ,, Cinderford. Brake ---- -- -- 1341 3 10


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