Medieval parks and forests

Langley Park, a medieval parkland


There were three forests that included parts of Buckinghamshire in the medieval period. There was Windsor forest in the south, Whittlewood in the north and Bernwood in the west of the Vale of Aylesbury. Forests were not completely wooded areas, as we would expect today. Forests were areas of wood and open land where the king’s deer and boar would roam. Harsh laws protected the deer. Get to know about forest law from the the attached report on documents relating to Bernwood Forest.  Section 3 of the report has copies of court records when people were accused of breaking forest law. After looking at those records, write down three laws of the forest you have found and the punishments for breaking them: 






Medieval parks and forests

There were villages and hamlets within forests and the villagers would have found their land often ridden over by nobles and royals whilst hunting, or had deer and boar ruin their crops without being able to do anything about it.


There did not tend to be settlements within parks. Parks were smaller areas of land that were often enclosed to keep herds of deer in for hunting. Unlike forests, which belonged to the king, parks mainly belonged to noblemen. They usually had to get permission of the king to impark their land, which meant evicting villagers who had lived there to make way for deer. Living in a forest was difficult but living in a park was impossible!


There are several parks in Buckinghamshire. Mark the map of medieval parks attached to this page with names after doing a search on Buckinghamshire's Heritage Portal. List five here:





Do a search for deserted medieval villages and match up those villages that were in an area that was later imparked:


Park                                                                       Village


Quarrendon medieval village, deserted when the landlord wanted a parkOne of these was Quarrendon. Historians think that the people in a medieval village in Quarrendon (see right) were evicted from their houses by Sir Henry Lee, the lord of the manor, to make way for a deer park, rabbit warrens and sheep grazing.






Parks and forests were for the king and his courtiers to hunt. What do you think the normal people thought of that? Discuss how the designation of land as park or forest affects the inhabitants. Do a hot-seat activity where one person is the king or queen or a noble person and the rest of the class are the people who live there. The class have to try and convince the landowner to disafforest or disimpark.


Go back to find more Changes in the landscape.