Over 800 years ago in 1217, all the rules that were contained in the Magna Carta which related to the Royal Forests were put into a separate “Charter of the Forest”.
It begins ….
Henry, by the Grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Guyan and Earl of Anjou, to all archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, justicers, FORESTERS, sheriffs, provosts, officers, and to all his bailiffs, and faithful subjects which shall see this present charter, greeting.
“Forest” to the Normans meant an enclosed area where the monarch, or sometimes another aristocrat, had exclusive rights to animals of the chase and the greenery on which they fed.
The Charter established rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs. It was originally sealed in England by the young King Henry III, acting under the regency of William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembroke.
Many of the Charters provisions were in force for centuries afterwards.
How times have changed….
Charter of the Forest. Source: British National Archives.