Sunday, 5 August 2012

Lyndhurst Wood- the 'chief wood of Sherwood'

Medieval Sherwood Forest was not one giant wood, but had a mixed landscape of villages with their arable fields, pasture and meadows. The forest however was chosen because it had a large amount of woodland and heath.

There were many different woods across the forest- most had names of their own.

A huge area of woodland stretched north-eastwards from Nottingham along the clay ridge now known as Mapperley tops. This wood was divided into many separately named woods belonging to all the different villages nearby (more of that later).

In the northern High forest there were also many woods such as the mighty Mansfield Wood, Kirkby wood, Haywood Oaks, and the woods of Clipstone and Edwinstowe. (these will be discussed in turn at some point).

The crown also held the two great woods of Birklands and Bilhaugh (now the Sherwood Forest National nature Reserve).

Alongside all of these was a wood described as the ‘chief wood of Sherwood’ in the Forest Book; Lyndhurst Wood (spelt Lindhurst in modern times).

Lyndhurst means ‘lime-tree wood’ suggesting that species was dominant at one time. In the medieval period it was mainly oak- used for the upkeep of Nottingham castle.
‘During the extensive works that took place at the castle between 1358 and 1368, when Stephen Romylowe was constable, a great deal of timber was taken from Lindhurst. The surviving accounts give details of the employment of carpenters and sawyers there and of the expenses of carting the timber to Nottingham.’ (Crook 1981 in bibliography). 

Lyndhurst was originally all the 'wode growing on the eesh parte (east part) of the grete (great) way that leedeth betwxyt Notynhham (Nottingham), and Maunsfeild (Mansfield) unto Sothwell rode (Southwell road) in lengith (length), and the syke (stream) of Rayewath (Rainworth Water) on the southe parte, and the valey where a syke called oulde Idle (foulevil brook- see below) hathe the course of the northe parte in lengith, is called the chieffe wode of the foresh of Shirewood (the chief Wood of Sherwood Forest)'  
As stated above the wood was defined by Rainworth Water (a tributary of the River Maun) to the south, and on its northeastern side by a stream called ‘foulevil brook’ (a tributary of Rainworth Water)- the name does not suggest it formed a natural beauty spot at the time.

The Wood was positioned to the south of the manor of Mansfield and to the north of the manor of Blidworth. The Manor of Mansfield belonged to the King, and Blidworth to the Arch-Bishop of York.

Lyndhurst was a jealously guarded property of the crown and was separate to the Manor of Mansfield.

It had its own keeper: in the 13th and early 14th century its keeper was Ralph Clere who lived in a lodge called the ‘new repair’ on its south side.

A rectangular moated site survives – sometimes called ‘Friar Tuck’s Island’ (where Robin Hood was reputedly thrown in the river in the 'Curtal Friar) at this location known as Fountain Dale, Lyndhurst. It is on the opposite side of Rainworth Water to the spring known as Friar Tuck's Well.
The site can be visited from the A60 near Harlow Wood and Thieves Wood on the road to Mansfield. 

This keeper of Lyndhurst as well as looking after the wood had the job of collecting the tax of Cheminage, a toll on carts passing through the forest, payable to his master the Keeper of Sherwood Forest (see Road Tax entry) Robert D'Everingham.




 

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