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Forest History

Children in vintage clothes at museumFind Out About the Past

In this section you’ll find out about the social and cultural history of this unique area.  Everything from travel and tourism to smuggling and snake catching!

Find out what life in the forest was like for the poor.  In 1815 Rebecca Sedge, a servant girl from Lyndhurst, became disabled and unable to work.  She did not improve and so the overseers of the poor paid two surgeons to amputate her leg at a cost of 10 guineas.  A nurse cost 7 shillings, and burying the amputated leg cost 2 shillings.  Rebecca survived the operation as 20 years later the records show that Lyndhurst parish paid 3s. 3d for a new shoe for her and 9d for repairing the old one!

Embroidery Others scratched a living from practicing ancient crafts such as charcoal burning.  Travelling burners lived in simple huts near their ‘clamps’ (charcoal fires) and produced much needed charcoal for anything from the production of gunpowder to fine sketching charcoal (usually willow) for artists.

Today the Forest is a much loved tourist destination but much remains of its medieval character.  Ancient systems and practices have survived and continue to shape this unique and special area.


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