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St Peter’s and Highfields:
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Woodlands Past and Present

ISBN 1-871344-03-4     Price: UK £.9.95    International £11.95

Leicestershire and Rutland
Natural History

Key Subjects:
Trees and Woodland
Ecology & Wildlife
English Countryside
English History

Anthony Squires & Michael Jeeves
Leicestershire and Rutland WOODLANDS Past and Present

The history of woodland distribution and management in Leicestershire and Rutland

Publication date:1994
Size: 160 pages 182 x 240mm
54 illustrations, 29 maps
format: paperback

The content of this book was well summarised by Andrew Shaw in ‘Tree News’:– “Excellent detailed account of how the woodlands evolved ... Chapters describing the wildlife and classification of woodland enable the reader to understand the interaction between geology, soil type, and plants and animals ... comprehensive maps and diagrams showing how woodland boundaries have altered ... recommended to anyone interested in woodland and trees.”

Derek Lott of Leicestershire Museums, in a review in Trans. Leics. Lit & Phil, No 89:– “The appearance of such a scholarly and stimulating book which concentrates on the local scene has to be welcomed ... readers will see our woodland heritage in a new light. I strongly recommend it to all those with an interest in the countryside.”

Price including UK Postage: £9.95

Price including International Postage: £11.95

(NB: We shall be on holiday until Sept 4th 2005. Please accept our apologies if this delays your orders. If you are ready to order now, we will deal with it promptly on our return.)

1 Introduction to Woodland
2 Woodland from Pre-history to the End of the Roman Occupation
3 Anglo Saxon and Viking Woodland
4 Domesday Woodland
5 Medieval Woodland Areas
6 Leicestershire and Rutland in the Middle Ages
7 The Three Forests
Leicester Forest
Leighfield Forest
Charnwood Forest
8 Woodland from 1530 to 1720
9 Woodland from 1720 to 1914
10. Woodland 1914 to the Present Day
11. Woodland Wildlife
12. Classifying Woodlands
13. Six Woodlands
Cloud, Pasture and Asplin Woods, Breedon
Buddon Wood
Burbage and Sheepy Woods
Prior's Coppice
Skeffington and Tilton Woods
14. Modern Woodland Management
15. Evaluating Woodlands
16. The Future of Leicestershire and Rutland Woodland

Appendix One: Access to the Woods
Appendix Two: National Vegetation Classification
Appendix three: Names of plants mentioned in the text

List of Figures

Page Figure
8 `Cornard Wood' by Gainsborough
9 1.1 Oak Poles being split.
9 1.2 Gate made from split oak timbers
10 1.3 IPMs of William de Ferrers.
11 1.4 Changes between five elements of the medieval landscape
12 1.5 Ridges and furrows crossing a woodland path
13 1.6 Coppice and pollard growth patterns
14 1.7 Ancient coppiced ash tree at Stockerston.
14 1.8 Timber framed house at Diseworth
15 1.9 The result of 25 years of natural regeneration at
16 1.10 Pale Sedge: Carex pallescens
17 2.1 Neolithic stone axes
18 2.2 Crop marks of Bronze age features
19 2.3 Iron age hill fort at Borough Hill: aerial photo.
20 2.4 Map of Roman sites in LeicS and Rutland
22 3.1 Map: Anglo-Saxon & Viking place names
23 3.2 Map: an Anglo-Saxon estate at Market Bosworth
24 3.3 Map of Leofric's wood, Claybrooke
25 3.4 Swithland Wood: aerial photograph
27 4.1 Map of woodland in Domesday Book: 1086
28 4.2 The Outwoods, Loughborough: aerial photo.
29 4.3 Domesday Entry for Oakham
31 5.1 The Forest: Manwood's definition
32 5.2 Medieval hunt: 14th C. picture
33 5.3 Beasts of the Forest
34 5.4 Resources of a medieval wood
37 6.1 Launde, (Big & Park Woods): aerial photo.
38 6.2 An early coal pit in Southwood
39 6.3 Site of former village of Hamilton: aerial photo.
40 6.4 Map of medieval woods in documentary sources
42 6.5 Boundary pollard
43 7.1 Ancient oak at the Gynsills, Anstey
44 7.2 Grant of woodland to Abbey of Leicester, 1252
45 7.3 Woods belonging to Dutchy of Lancaster, 1606
45 7.4 Spoil and waste in Leicester Forest, 1606
46 7.5 Map of the medieval woodlands of Leic Forest
49 7.6 Henry Hastings, Forester of Leighfield
50 7.7 Map of Leighfield Forest woodland in 1566
52 7.8 Speed's map of Rutland, 1611
53 7.9 Of the extortion of Peter Neville, 1269
56 7.10 Map of the colonisation of Charnwood
59 7.11 Map: medieval woodlands of Charnwood Forest
60 7.12 Gisborne's Gorse, Charnwood Lodge
61 7.13 Bradgate Park aerial photograph
63 8.1 Thomas Grey's purchase of Langley Priory, 1543
64 8.2 Ancient oak at Groby
65 8.3 Survey of his majesty's woods and timber, 1608
66 8.4 Leicestershire Crown woods and forests, 1608
67 8.5 Pit prop unearthed at Coleorton
69 9.1 Graph of inclosures in Leicestershire, 1730-1849
70 9.2 The great landowners of Leics and Rutland
71 9.3 Map of Keythorpe Hall and Park in 1884
72 9.4 Belvoir Castle and Woods: aerial photograph
72 9.5 Tree planting in Charnwood by Greys of Groby
73 9.6 Charges for work at Staunton Harold, 1726
74 9.7 Burley Wood, Rutland: aerial photograph
75 9.8 Map of the Monday Country of the Quorn Hunt


78 10.1 Opencast mining, Coleorton, 1989: aerial photo.
79 10.2 Woodland in Leics and Rutland, 1947-49
81 10.3 Conifer plantation at Burley Wood.
82 10.4 Motorway in Leicestershire
83 10.5 Elm tree suffering from Dutch elm desease.
84 10.6 Derelict coppice woodland
85 10.7 Leics woods managed for nature conservation
86 10.8 Map of the National Forest
89 11.1 Woodland flowers
90 11.2 Flowering plants ass. with ancient woodland
91 11.3 Woodland Animals
92 11.4 Mammals & birds killed at Burley, 1807-16
93 11.5 Burley Wood: different species identified
94 11.6 The threat from deer
95 11.7 Map: distr. of bird species within Prior's Coppice
96 11.8 Lost butterflies
97 11.9 Scolytus bark beetle
98 11.10 Incidence of spider species
99 12.1 Map of woodland types in Leics and Rutland
100 12.2 Ash woodland
102 12.3 Oak woodland
103 12.4 Alder woodland
105 13.1 Maps: Cloud, Pasture & Asplin Woods, Breedon
107 13.2 Wood anemones in Pasture Wood, Breedon
108 13.3 Breedon Quarry and Cloud Wood aerial photo.
110 13.4 Buddon Wood before quarrying commenced
111 13.5 Map of Buddon Wood and Barrow Park
112 13.6 The battle for Buddon Wood
112 13.7 Buddon Wood in 1978 aerial photograph
113 13.8 Buddon Wood in 1989 aerial photograph
116 13.9 Map of Sheepy Wood and Burbage Wood
118 13.10 Map of Prior's Coppice in its historical context
120 13.11 Map of woodland in Skeffington Parish, c.1600
120 13.12 Map: woodland in Skeffington & Tilton c.1840
121 13.13 Map of woodland in Skeffington and Tilton 1990
122 13.14 Skeffington and Tilton Woods: aerial photograph
123 13.15 Skeffington Wood after coppicing in 1981
124 13.16 Southwood - aerial photograph
126 13.17 Map of Southwood in 1735
127 13.18 Map of Southwood
128 13.19 Map of woodland types in Southwood.
129 14.1 A ride in Skeffington Wood
130 14.2 Prior's Coppice, medieval woodland m’ment
131 14.3 Hard shield-fern
132 15.1 Ancient perimeter wood bank at Oakley Wood
133 15.2 Leics woods in order of importance for nat.cons.
134 15.3 Flora scores of Cambridgeshire and
Leicestershire woods
134 15.4 Discovering woodlands
135 15.5 Woodland archaeology
136 15.6 Woodland names
139 16.1 Woodland at Cathill, Charnwood
140 16.2 Woodlands which are Sites of Special Scientific
160 Map of adminstrative areas and OS grid areas.


It would be difficult to over-emphasize the importance of woodland in the lives of our ancestors. To the communities of pre-Industrial times woodland and its many products were a basic need in the struggle for survival. Moreover, our rich cultural heritage owes much to the presence of woodland, even if in many cases this is rooted in thefolklore of the distant past.
Since the middle of the 18th century, a mere 250 years or so ago, there has taken place a fundamental change in the role of wood. Coal, oil and gas have all but replaced it as a source of heat. Cheap metals and a huge range of oil-based, `man-made' materials have become dominant in the construction industries. Plastics have been developed which both look and feel like wood and very often are designed to hide the fact that what lies beneath is no longer real wood.
The economics which lie behind these changes can readily be detected on the local landscape. Some Leicestershire woods have occupied all or part of their present sites continuously for long periods. A few have survived in spite of change rather than because of it. In such cases successive generations of owners who found their woods unprofitable, put them to other purposes or simply neglected them. But by and large the development of the woodlands of Leicestershire and Rutland has reflected accurately the changing economic effects of supply and demand, grants and subsidies, import and export policies, investment, taxation, technological innovation and the like.
At the same time woodland has had to compete with other forms of land use which have been subject to much the same forces. In Leicestershire and Rutland one thinks particularly of water supply, mining and quarrying, road building, railway construction and urban growth. Clearly the underlying geology, the nature of the topography and the soils together with the central position of the two counties in the island of Britain, are also major factors in the development of the landscape, especially in modern times.
Yet the role of woodland in the lives of the people in the second half of the 20th century is still changing. Very few indeed make a living from growing, processing or selling wood, especially locally produced wood, but more and more of us have come to value local woodlands for other reasons. As the area of countryside yearly shrinks under a carpet of tarmac and concrete, so demand


for access to what remains grows. Landowners and local people are called upon to share their local woodlands with ramblers, sportsmen, naturalists and others escaping from urban areas.
However one may view other aspects of our rapidly changing local landscape, the authors see the position of wildlife habitats, especially woodlands, as at crisis point. There is an urgent need for radical re-assessment of what remains of our woodland heritage if future generations are to enjoy the legacy received by the present one.
We have written this book as a modest contribution to the debate by offering an introduction to an understanding of the development and state of our present woodlands. The aims have been to produce a broad outline against which detailed studies may be seen in better perspective. We have not attempted to comment on all aspects of the subject. The reader will find no references to trees in gardens, in private collections, or in municipal parks. We hope these omissions will be seized upon and developed by others.
Although the scope of this book includes all parts of the present (1994) county of Leicestershire we are very aware that coverage for Rutland, which at the time of writing, is a district within Leicestershire, may be considered less than satisfactory. Throughout the text when we speak of Leicestershire or of Rutland we are referring to the two counties as they existed on the eve of the 1974 local government boundary changes. References to the contrary are, we hope, clearly indicated.
Common names of plant species have followed Stace's New Flora of the Britsh Isles (1991) throughout the book. The scientific names and some of the more familiar local names are included in appendix three.
This book is intended for anyone with a concern for the countryside and its wildlife. Those who find the paraphernalia of notes and references annoying or unnecessary may have little need to consult the information on the last few pages. However, we have thought it worthwhile to give details of our sources and amplifications of certain points by providing the necessary sections at the close. In so doing we hope others may feel moved to continue or expand our efforts with their own research.

Anthony Squire & Michael Jeeves

Anthony Squires is a local history tutor with the University of Leicester, specialising in landscape history.

Michael Jeeves is head of Conservation with the Wildlife Trust for Leicestershire and Rutland, and is the local plant recorder for the botanical society of the British Isles



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