St Leonard's Forest, West Sussex: A Landscape History (Paperback)
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Have you ever wondered about St Leonard's Forest as you pass it by on your bicycle, in your car, or on the bus? Maybe you have walked its footpaths, with or without a dog. Was it a royal forest? Who owned it? What about its dragon? Wasn't there something about a saint and the white and pink spring flowers, lily-of-the-valley? Wonder no more.
This is the first in depth study of St Leonard's Forest and it is clear from reading this thoroughly researched and engaging book that Maggie has a deep interest in and love of the Sussex landscape, particularly its forests. To make sense of the Forest's development, this volume is set in its earlier historical and geographical context, covering the mid-18th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Follow the Forest's journey from its early days of hunting, iron and charcoal production, stone quarries, rabbit warrens and poor heathland, through to the transformation to high value properties with attractive gardens and parks. Five estates in the centre of the Forest are considered. Inevitably too, St Leonard's dragon has his story told, along with other Forest legends and myths.
Ultimately, there is encouragement to get to know the Forest by the footpaths that were so nearly closed at the beginning of the 20th century; to give thanks to those locals who fought to keep those footpaths open and who won the day. To walk through the Forest and appreciate its history and legends; to get that restorative feeling that can only come from the sight and smell of pine, beech, oak and birch.
When Maggie came to live in Horsham in the year 2000, she was keen to know more about the lovely forest on her doorstep, so she began studying at the University of Sussex for a BA in Landscape Studies. When she retired from her work as a Probation Officer and Practice Teacher she continued studying for her doctorate under the supervision of Professor Brian Short. Maggie wrote this book to share her research more widely to St Leonard's Forest's residents, historians and those who love forests.