When you move to the country and have a faithful Hound to walk, fellow dog walkers immediately tell you of their preferred routes and one is quite close to me – Queen’s Inclosure.
It’s an Inclosure rather than an Enclosure so the signs tell me and was probably named in honour of Queen Victoria. It formed part of the Great Forest of Bere which used to cover huge swathes of southern England. I seem to have picked up small nuggets of information during my walks and from various sources (good old Wikipedia) – am not sure if they are 100% true (but they sound right!)
It seems that from medieval times, the Forest of Bere formed part of the 11 Royal Forests – areas created by the Norman Kings for hunting and reserved for their sole enjoyment. The former A3 – now the London Road – runs alongside one edge of the Inclosure but was once surrounded by forest and was a rough, muddy track notorious for highwaymen according to diarist Samuel Pepys – it being the sole route from the South Coast to the South Downs.
The title of Royal Forest was taken away in 1812 and much of the land was broken up for housing, farming etc. With the breakup of the forest, came the creation around 1815 of a new town – Waterlooville (named for Wellington of course).
Still, this little area formerly known as Bulls Lodge Woods remains intact for now. The sessile oak trees which proliferate were originally grown for shipbuilding and deep in the forest, you can still make out the plantation lines of trees grown systematically. There were three woodsmen who used to work the wood and they cut the lower branches off the trees to help them grow tall and strong – they needed 16 feet lengths of wood to make it viable for shipbuilding. Alongside the oaks, grow yew trees, which both helped to keep the oaks growing straight and were valuable in their own right for making longboats.
Today, there are walks laid out around the forest for the enjoyment of all and if you keep very still and are very lucky, occasionally you will spot one of the Monarch’s deer which still survive here to this day.
The Hound designates this a five paw print walk! It’s certainly one of his favourites – in all weathers.
Contributor & photographer: Sue Lowry
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