> History - 1700 to 2000
Latest evidence of iron working on the Forest.

Manor of Duddleswell sold to the second Duke of Dorset.

There was a Great Muster of troops at Camp Hill. Ground disturbance for horse lines and field kitchens is still visible.
The third Duke of Dorset tried to control turfing, litter collection and encroachment. He died in 1799. The Estate was settled on the Duchess for her life.

Duchess Arabella Diana attempted to restrict litter cutting by everyone (Commoner or not) and to make enclosures. This was opposed by Charles Abbott, Speaker of the House of Commons who lived at Kidbrooke. He obtained a favourable ruling from the Solicitor General.

Fourth Duke, George John Frederick, died. The fifth Earl De La Warr (West) had married Lady Elizabeth Sackville who was co-heir to the Duke of Dorset. The title of Duke of Dorset went to Charles Sackville Germaine, who was the last of the line.
The Dowager Duchess Arabella had earlier married Lord Whitworth.

Commoners in Nutley agreed to restrict litter cutting (time and place) but to continue to throw down enclosures erected by the Lord (Lady!).
In the same year the Lord of the Manor erected notices saying that trespass on the Forest by cutting bushes, turf, peat, heath, fern, furze or grass, or mining stone or mineral, would be prosecuted.

William Cobbett, on one of his Rural Rides, visited the Forest and declared it “verily the most villainously ugly spot I ever saw in England”.

Arabella Diana and Lord Whitworth died. Manor passed to Elizabeth De La Warr.
The Forest Clumps were planted as landscape features; many of the trees were destroyed by objectors!
Lady De La Warr’s inheritance includes Ashdown Forest and the Manor of Duddleswell.

The new Lord drew up a plan for better Forest management. He formed a committee of four Commoners, a nominee of the Lord of the Manor and four employed Lookers to enforce regulation. This was financed by a levy on the Commoners of 7d per acre.

1869 & 1870
5th Earl and Elizabeth died. Manor passed to Charles Richard Sackville, 6th Earl.

Charles Richard died; the title came to Reginald Windsor.
No attempt was made to interfere with the Commoners but non-Commoner activity was restricted.

De La Warr and his steward challenged whether or not the Commoners had any rights other than estovers and “herbage by bite of mouth”.

Action brought by the Earl against Commoner Bernard Hale, Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex and East Grinstead Magistrate. The Earl won.
William Augustus Raper, a Hastings solicitor, was responsible for accumulating much of the evidence on behalf of the Commoners.

The appeal failed to establish a right of common for Hale, but did allow that he had a Right by Usage (i.e. a Prescriptive Right).
In an attempt to protect the rights of all the Commoners, the committee prepared a case against the Earl. He capitulated and under the Common Lands Regulation (Ashdown Forest) Provisional Order Confirmation Act of 1885, a Board of Conservators was appointed with powers to regulate the common land usage.

Ashdown Forest Act strengthened the powers of the Conservators to enforce the new byelaws drawn up in 1935, especially in respect of digging up plants and litter cutting. It arranged for grants from local authorities in exchange for representation on the Board.

Ashdown Forest Act. This formalised and regulated the use of the Forest for army training.

Formation of the Society of Friends of Ashdown Forest.

Most recent Ashdown Forest Act.

Purchase of the Forest from Earl De La Warr by East Sussex County Council.

Purchase of sixty-nine acres of woodland at Chelwood Vachery.

Forest designated a Special Protection Area, further conserving the bird life.

1996- 1998
Phased fencing and re-introduction of grazing to 1300 acres on the south/west chases.

Forest designated a Special Area of Conservation to help conserve vulnerable habitats.

Forest entirely closed for six weeks due to Foot and Mouth Disease precautions
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