Author Archives: New Forest Trust
Verderers are the people who set the Forest byelaws and regulate the use of common rights in the Forest. The name comes from the French word ‘vert’, which means green. There are ten Verderers- half are appointed by the government, and half are elected by people with commoning rights.
The five elected Verderers serve six year terms. The elections are staggered; two places will be up for the vote at one election, and three at the next, the elections being held three years apart.
In law, the Verderers have a similar status to magistrates. The ‘Verderers Court’ meets every month, except in August, at The Queen’s House in Lyndhust. The public can attend, and can raise issues for the Verderers to consider- that’s known as ‘making a presentment’ to the Court.
The Verderers set the marking fees, which are part of their byelaws. Verderers also have the power to block certain types of planning applications on Crown lands within the Forest. The Verderers have often acted as guardians of the Forest, protecting it from outside pressures.
The chairman of the Verderers is known as ‘The Official Verderer’, and is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen.
Unsafe driving causes accidents. Don’t forget that the animals have right of way on the Forest roads. The number of animal accidents in the Forest tends to get worse in the winter when there are more people driving in the dark. At night, unless you are driving slowly, it can be really hard to see animals in the road until you are too close to them to stop, so you must keep your speed down. If you are blinded by lights from oncoming cars slow right down to well under 20 mph.
Turbary is the common right to cut turf for fuel. Turf isn’t much used now, but there are still commoners who remember collecting it. The turf was cut into small slabs, and pairs of slabs would be stood up- one leaning against the other- so that air could pass between them and help them to dry out.
There were special rules about how and where the turf could be cut, which were to prevent the land from being completely stripped bare. A commoner wanting turf would have to apply to the local keeper for permission, and would get a ‘ticket’ to cut turf from a particular part of the Forest. The Verderers (see V) could set charges for turf cutting. Under the New Forest Act of 1877, the maximum charge was sixpence for every thousand turves.
Stock means the animals that commoners turn out on the Forest. The number of animals varies from year to year, but nowadays averages around 7,000. More than half of the animals are ponies, and about a third are cattle. Most of the rest are pigs, with just a hundred or so donkeys and sheep.
Stallions. Special rules apply to stallions on the Forest. They are only let out in late spring, so their foals are born in the following spring when there is more grass available. The rules are part of the ‘Stallion Scheme’ which was set-up to improve the quality of the ponies and to cut-down the number of unwanted foals. The stallions have to be approved before they are let-out, to check that they will pass-on good characteristics to their young. The number of stallions let out on the Forest is reviewed every year.
Ponies that are born to stallions on the Forest are said to be ‘Forest bred’. Ponies are the only domestic animals that breed on the Forest- the byelaws don’t allow commoners to turn out bulls, boars or rams.