New Forest, a triangular district of south-west Hampshire, 9 miles SW. of Southampton, bounded by the river Avon, the Solent and English Channel, and Southampton Water. It measures 14 by 16 miles, and has an area of 144 sq. m., or 92,365 acres, of which, however, only 64,232 belong to the crown demesnes. The name dates from 1079, when the Conqueror here made a 'mickle deer-frith,' and cleared away several hamlets. This afforestation, enforced by the savage 'Forest laws,' was regarded as an act of the greatest cruelty; and the violent deaths here of two of his sons, Richard and William Rufus, were looked on as special judgments. The deer were removed under an act of parliament (1851); and under another of 1877 the New Forest now is managed by the court of Verderers as a public pleasure-ground and cattle-farm. Enclosed plantations occupy one-fourth of the entire area, the rest being open woodland, bog, and heath. The chief trees are oaks and beech. The former once supplied timber for the navy; the beech-mast still feeds large herds of swine. There is also a herd of small, rough-coated ponies. The hollies, the rhododendrons, and therewith the general absence of underwood, give a beautiful park-like aspect to the forest, within which or on whose verge are Lyndhurst, Beaulieu, and Lymington.
See Gilpin's Forest Scenery (ed. by Heath, 1879); Blackmore's Cradock Nowell (1866); and J. R. Wise's New Forest (1863; 4th or' Artist'sed.,' 1883).