Common Rights & Marking Fees

There are different types of ‘common rights’ in the Forest, and few properties have all of them.

‘Pasture’ is the official name given to the right to let ponies, cattle and donkeys out on the Forest. Putting your animals on the forest is known as ‘turning out’. There’s a separate right of ‘Sheep Pasture’ for turning- out sheep, but not many properties have it. Pasture is the most important right in the Forest, because the commoners\’ animals keep the Forest from becoming overgrown.

‘Turbary’ is the right to dig ‘turf’ off the Forest to burn as fuel. Nowadays it’s hard to imagine anyone bothering to go to the effort, but some elderly commoners can still remember when it was done.

‘Estovers’ is the right to get wood from the Forest to burn at home as fuel. Not many properties have the right of Estovers now, as the Forestry Commission paid many people to give up the rights. Firewood is measured in ‘cords’.  A cord is 128 cubic feet (just over 2 cubic metres). If the wood is cut in 4 foot lengths, then a cord would be a stack 4 foot high and about 8 foot wide. One or two cords might be needed to keep a fire going over the winter.

‘Mast’ is the right to turn-out pigs on the Forest. ‘Mast’ and ‘pannage’ are two old words that mean the food that pigs eat from the floor of a forest, like acorns and the nuts from beech trees. There are special rules about this- the pigs can only stay out at a certain time of year known as the ‘pannage season’.

‘Marl’ is the right to dig clay. No-one seems to use that right nowadays.

The Atlas

The ‘Atlas of Forest Rights’,  which is held at Queens House, contains detailed maps of the forest, and shows which properties have which commoning rights. There are several types of commoning rights, which include rights to have firewood from the forest, and the right to dig clay.