Discover the history of New Park Manor in the New Forest
New Park Manor's history dates all the way back to the 15th century, but its roots go back further still. From prehistoric horses grazing on our greens to kings and queens roaming the woodland, there are plenty of stories to be told.
Horses graze in the New Forest
Over the years, the area's poor soil quality has prevented it from being used by farmers, but equine remains dating back to 500,000 BCE indicate its prehistoric use for grazing.
Trees recolonise the New Forest
Following the last Ice Age, trees recolonise the New Forest, which becomes a key ancient woodland.
William the Conqueror invades
Following the Norman invasion, over 2,000 horses are imported from Normandy by William the Conqueror, who breeds them with the New Forest Pony, altering their characteristics.
New Forest proclaimed a royal forest
The New Forest was a favourite hunting ground of William the Conqueror, and in 1079, he declared it a royal forest. It's thought that in the process of creating the New Forest, William cleared 36 parishes and settlements from the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Ytene. By 1086, the New Forest was the only forest mentioned in the Domesday Book.
New Park mentioned for the first time
In 1484, custody of New Park was awarded to John Huton by the Crown.
By the time of the Civil War, New Park was part of the landholdings of Sir George Cary, who sought refuge in the New Forest. He retreated to the New Forest, having been stripped of most of his other lands. Cary was also the two-times great-nephew of Jane Seymour, the third and favourite wife of King Henry VIII.
New Park becomes a favourite hunting lodge of Charles II, who expands the land in 1670 to accommodate a new herd of red deer imported from France. He is also said to have installed his mistress, the famous Nell Gwynne, at New Park, as a reward for ‘services rendered in the Royal Court.’ On the bannisters and doors of the manor, there are acorn finials, which are a reference to how Charles evaded capture by hiding in an oak tree during the Civil War. His arms still hang above the fireplace in the Stag Restaurant, and many of our rooms.
Common rights granted to residents of the New Forest
One of the unique features of the New Forest is that its residents are all conferred common rights, essentially meaning that they collectively own and have rights over the land of the New Forest, including the New Forest Ponies. This was first granted in 1698 and persists to this day. There was concern for several decades about the impact that plantations established in the 18th century to produce timber for the Royal Navy would have on these rights, and so they were reinforced in the New Forest Act of 1877.
New Park ceases to be an official residence
After a century of use by the Lord Wardens of the New Forest, the estate became a model of cutting-edge farming techniques. Over the years, it had been used as a farm, a plantation for trees which were used in shipbuilding for the Royal Navy, and as a hay farm for the winter feeding of the deer following the severe winter of 1778.
New Park Manor right now
Our house is something of an architectural hotchpotch. The original building would have comprised the restaurant, hallway and kitchen, while the lounge and sash windows were added in the 18th century. There were further small additions in the early 19th century, and the columned portico entrance that can be seen in photos in the hall was a 20th-century addition.
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