Commoner’s Corner, New Forest rights – does your property benefit?

The New Forest was designated a national park in 2005 and is one of the most visited National Parks in the UK. 

The New Forest was originally a royal hunting forest. At that time forest rights were granted to commoners of the forest who occupied the land. These rights continue to the present day.

Anyone living in the New Forest with an interest in knowing whether they have these rights can find out from the Atlas of Forest Rights, which can be inspected by appointment at the Clerk of the Verderers. More information is available at:

Anybody buying land and property within the Forest should ask their solicitor to check if their property benefits from any Forest rights, as these rights are not recorded on the Land Registry entries.  

 Even if you have no interest in taking up your rights it is always interesting to know what they are. The following provides a summary:

  • Common of pasture: for commonable animals being ponies, cattle, donkeys and mules to graze the Forest
  • Common of pasture: for sheep 
  • Common of mast: the right to turn pigs on to the Forest in the autumn to eat acorns, which are poisonous to cattle and ponies
  • Estovers: the free supply of firewood 
  • Common of marl: the right to dig clay to improve agricultural land
  • Common of turbary: the right to cut peat turves for the Commoner’s personal use.

The right of common of pasture is the most important right and the one most frequently exercised by landowners. It is also vital in maintaining the internationally important habitats of the New Forest.  

 For more information on searches of New Forest property or buying, leasing and selling land in this area, please contact our Lymington Office.