Wychwood

Last updated
Wychwood
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Forest Trail, Wychwood Forest - geograph.org.uk - 1440049.jpg
Area of Search Oxfordshire
Grid reference SP 337 170 [1]
InterestBiological
Area501.7 hectares (1,240 acres) [1]
Notification 1988 [1]
Location map Magic Map

Wychwood or Wychwood Forest is a 501.7-hectare (1,240-acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest north of Witney in Oxfordshire. [1] [2] It is also a Nature Conservation Review site, Grade 1, [3] and an area of 263.4 hectares (651 acres) is a national nature reserve [4] [5] The site contains a long barrow dating to the Neolithic period, which is a scheduled monument [6]

Contents

In past centuries the forest covered a much larger area, since cleared in favour of agriculture, villages and towns. However, the forest's area has fluctuated. Parts cleared for agriculture during Britain's centuries under Roman rule later reverted to forest. [7] The existence of the ancient Wychwood is recognised by the authoritative Victoria County History, but the planned Volume XIX has yet to be completed. [8]

Etymology

Wychwood is derived from an Old English name Huiccewudu meaning 'wood of a tribe called the Hwicce. [9] The Hwicce were the Anglo-Saxon people living in the area from some time in the 6th century until the assimilation of the Old English peoples into the wider Middle English society. [10]

Toponymy

Three villages take part of their name from Wychwood Forest: Milton-under-Wychwood, Shipton-under-Wychwood and Ascott-under-Wychwood. These villages, commonly referred to as The Wychwoods, used to be part of the Royal Forest of Wychwood.

History

Foresters of Wychwood

Arms of de Langley: Gules, two bars or in chief two buck's heads cabossed of the second, hereditary Foresters of Wychwood until 1361 LangleyArms.svg
Arms of de Langley: Gules, two bars or in chief two buck's heads cabossed of the second, hereditary Foresters of Wychwood until 1361

While Wychwood was a designated Royal Forest, royalty entrusted the management of the forest to loyal servants. The men in charge of the forest were called Foresters of Wychwood and, in later years, Keepers of Wychwood. Foresters were tasked with supplying the king with deer, wood, timber and charcoal. They were also charged with upholding the king's law by protecting the forest with the assistance of under-foresters, riding foresters and walking foresters. Foresters, together with verderers (judicial officers) could hold court and try offenders for both minor and major offences. The office of Forester of Wychwood was until 1361 held by the family of de Langley, seated at the manor of Langley in the parish of Shipton-under-Wychwood. [12] They were followed by the Earls of Warwick until 1499. Management was then given by the kings as favors to courtiers for life, among them were Robert Dudley (Earl of Leicester), Sir John Fortescue (Chancellor), Lord Clarendon (Chancellor) and George Spencer, the 4th Duke of Marlborough. [13]

Modern Wychwood

Some of the land that had been cleared for agricultural use was purchased by the Woodland Trust, and re-planted with native English deciduous trees creating Shillbrook Wood, a 9-acre (3.6 ha) site near Bampton, and Eynsham Wood, a 13.37-acre (5.41 ha) site near Eynsham. [14] [15]

Since the late 1990s there has been a resurgence of interest in the history and identity of the Wychwood, exemplified by the founding of the Wychwood Project. [16] Since 2000 'Forest Fairs' have been held at a variety of locations within the old Wychwood boundary. These are a better-behaved revival of traditional Fairs that were closed down in 1856 because of rowdy behaviour.

The modern Fairs are centred on rural communities and crafts. They attract a large number of visitors even in bad weather.

Crowds at a Wychwood Fair Wychwood Fair Panorama Cornbury Park 2009.jpg
Crowds at a Wychwood Fair

The Oxford University Historical Re-Enactment Society, also known as the Wychwood Warriors, is a reenactment group that recreates aspects of Saxon life in Wychwood during the Dark Ages. [17]

Fragments of the ancient forest survive, one on the Cornbury Estate near Charlbury retaining the name 'Wychwood'. [18]

Wychwood in art

Paintings

Literature

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Designated Sites View: Wychwood". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  2. "Map of Wychwood". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  3. Ratcliffe, Derek, ed. (1977). A Nature Conservation Review. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 51, 170, 302. ISBN   0521 21403 3.
  4. "Designated Sites View: Wychwood". National Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  5. "Map of Wychwood". National Nature Reverses. Natural England. Retrieved 30 March 2020.
  6. Historic England. "Long barrow 150m west of Churchill Copse in Wychwood Forest (1011216)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 26 February 2020.
  7. Rackham 1976, p. 50.
  8. "Wychwood and Cornbury" (PDF). Victoria County History. University of London. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  9. Mills, A. D. Oxford Dictionary of Place-names. Oxford University Press. ISBN   978-0-19-852758-9.
  10. Miller, George (2000). "The forging of an English aristocracy". On fairness and efficiency : the privatisation of the public income during the past millennium. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. p.  201. ISBN   9781861342218.
  11. http://www.wychwoodproject.org/cms/content/history-wychwood-forest
  12. Macnamara, Francis Nottidge (1895). Memorials of the Danvers Family. London: Hardy and Page. p. 198
  13. Discovering Wychwood - Management of the forest - pages 22-23
  14. "Shillbrook Wood". Directory of Woods. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  15. "Eynsham Wood". Directory of Woods. The Woodland Trust. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  16. "The Wychwood Project". The Wychwood Project.
  17. "Wychwood Warriors". University of Oxford.
  18. "Cornbury Park - Forest School". Cornbury Park Estate.
  19. https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O134629/wychwood-forest-oxfordshire-watercolour-turner-william-of/
  20. ISBN   9781783294091

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References

Further reading

Red leather book spine of Cornbury and the Forest of Wychwood by Vernon J. Watney.jpg

Coordinates: 51°51′04″N1°30′47″W / 51.851°N 1.513°W / 51.851; -1.513