Area Guides

Why is the New Forest called the ‘New’ Forest?

The New Forest is an area of outstanding natural beauty well-known for its ancient trees, roaming wild ponies, pannage pigs and quaint villages but what of the royal history of this National Park?

Today it’s rare and unique to find such a vast area of lowland heath. In fact, the New Forest is the largest area of its kind remaining in the UK or Western Europe, so how does this beautiful landscape, that’s been shaped by man and animal over many centuries, with evidence of settlements dating back to the Bronze Age, inherit the title of ‘New’ Forest?

The New Forest National Park has a rich and fascinating history but it’s ‘new’ title was all thanks to William the Conqueror who, after invading the south of England in 1066 and claiming the crown, began to assert his influence over the country. Claiming great areas as his very own hunting grounds, his favourite of those being in the south, which he named ‘Nova Foresta’ or ‘New Hunting Forest’.

At the time, the word ‘forest’ did not refer to areas of woodland as it does today, but rather it highlighted land or areas subject to Forest Law that were preserved for hunting exclusively for the Crown and nobility.

The Forest Laws, which were detested at the time, prohibited local ‘commoners’ from enclosing their land as this would prevent the “beasts of the chase” like boar and deer from running freely, and so commoners were given the rights for their animals to graze freely throughout the forest. It’s an ancient practice but one that still stands today, with much of the New Forest land still owned by the Crown; now managed by the Forestry Commission, Verderers, Agisters and commoners work hard to protect the heathlands and woodlands that are home to an abundance of wildlife.

Despite being the largest remaining royal hunting forest, James II was the last to hunt here in the 1600s, but it is no wonder that this area has been treasured and frequented by monarchs over the centuries. Boasting both the beauty of coast and countryside, it’s just a short drive away from the historic capital of England, the picturesque city of Winchester, its Cathedral built during the same year that William the Conqueror took the throne, its Great Hall home to the legendary King Arthur’s Round Table.

But this year, the entire country, including villages throughout the New Forest will be enjoying royal celebrations in honour of the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III & Queen Camilla over the long weekend of 6, 7 and 8 May.

Where better to celebrate this historical occasion than in an 18th century manor house hotel in the heart of an ancient royal hunting ground… Perhaps a weekend break away to relax and unwind is just what you need or maybe it’s the perfect excuse to get away. Whatever your reason, spring time in the New Forest is a beautiful sight to behold; alive with colour, new life and the joy of spring and summer to come. And whilst you are here don’t forget to book your wonderfully indulgent and traditional Afternoon Tea – made fashionable during the 1840s by Lady Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies in waiting -unsurprisingly, one of our guests’ favourite traditions!


With a multi-award winning Thai spa, 3 onsite restaurants and 77 bedrooms and suites, make Careys Manor & SenSpa your base to explore the New Forest this Spring. View our seasonal special offers and start planning your weekend break in the New Forest.