Forest once stretched over most of Berkshire. The 'Stag & Hounds'
pub at Binfield, near Bracknell, marks its centre.
The Kings of
England liked to hunt deer there. In Medieval times,
Henry III put a big fence around part of the Forest. This is called
'Windsor Great Park'. It is just south of Windsor.
Hunting was easier there. Deer could not get out and poachers couldn't
lots of criminals and outlaws hiding in Windsor Forest, a bit like
Robin Hood. The most famous was Fulk FitzWarin, a nobleman who had
fallen out with King John and had his lands taken away. He eventually
tricked the King into returning them.
King Edward I
built a big manor house in the park for his children to live in. It
was more comfy than a draughty castle!
He liked to hold
tournaments in the Park. All the lords and
come and joust in a big competition. It was good practice for war.
II kept ostriches at the Royal manor in the park! His
favourite huntsman was 'Herne the Hunter'.
His ghost still haunts the Forest. Spooky!
times, the King or Queen was sometimes too lazy to go hunting
themselves. They would watch their friends from a big grandstand
called a 'standing'.
During the Civil
War between King Charles I and Parliament, Oliver Cromwell trained
his 'New Model Army' in the Park.
some of the park and a big mansion was built there. King Charles II
got it back. He gave the house to his 'Ranger'. His job is to look
after the Park. This is now called Cumberland
built lots of 'Rides' across the Park and the Forest. She was too fat
to ride a horse. She needed the rides to follow the hunt in her
carriage. George III later built more. The most famous one is the 'Nine Mile Ride'.
times, the Duke of Cumberland made lots of gardens in the Park and a
big lake called 'Virginia Water'.
Cranbourne Tower stands in the Park. This is all that is left of
Cranbourne Lodge. The diarist, Samuel
Pepys, used to visit his boss there. Later, King George IV locked up his
daughter in the tower. She had refused to marry the man he had chosen
also built the 'Royal Lodge' and had lots of wild parties there. He
kept his private zoo at the Sandpit Gate, including his pet giraffe.
Park is kept open for the public to enjoy.