Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Abbots Wood

The woods here are approximately 646 acres in size.

Roger of Hereford, son of Milo Fitz Walter, the first Earl of Hereford, founded the Cistercian Monastry of Flaxley in 1146, during the reign of Stephen (1135-1154).

He chose the spot because his father had been killed here hunting in 1143.

*Milo the first Earl of Hereford had been killed accidentally by an arrow glancing off a tree in 1143.

Henry II (1154 – 1189), in return for the hospitality given at the Abbey, which he used as a hunting lodge, granted Flaxley tithes of venison and the sweet chestnuts of the Forest.

This became known as Abbot’s wood.

The monks were given permission to graze their cattle, and to take timber for repairs from the Forest.

In the 13th century, with the increase in the number of forges in the forest, the monks became extravagant in the felling of trees.

Eventually the Crown granted them a tract of land to use for this purpose and to confine their activities.

They were allowed a forge within the Forest and the Abbot had the right to fell two trees a week to ‘fire’ the forge.

In the reign of Henry III (1216-1272), this privilege was bartered for and the 870 acres of woodland at the time became Abbot’s Wood.

Following the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII (1509-1547), the land came into private ownership.

About 1870 all rights, except minerals, were bought by the owner from the crown and so the land became freehold.

It was re-purchased by the Crown in 1899 and once again became part of the Forest.

Edward Hunt