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The Curse of the Royal New Forest

Added Tue, 07/09/2021
Дата публикации
Tue, 07/09/2021

The New Forest National Park in the English county of Hampshire can be called one of the most beautiful places in the British Isles. On its expanses there are picturesque fields, small villages, and, of course, legendary thickets with ancient trees. But still, despite the stunning panoramas, this place has been considered cursed for several centuries. It is rumored that in addition to deer and cute ponies, you can often meet monsters and ghosts in the New Forest.

The Cruel Conqueror

The curse and the name of the New forest in the south-east of Hampshire owes its unusual appearance. After all, he was planted here on a royal whim. A few years after the conquest of England, the new ruler William

The conqueror suddenly discovered that there were no suitable hunting grounds on the captured island. He solved this problem in an original and radical way. Having looked for a suitable place, the crowned Norman ordered the peasants from 36 (!) villages to be driven away from the chosen territory, their houses were destroyed and an "uncountable number" of adult (!) oaks were planted on the vacated lands. The order of the monarch was executed in record time, and, oddly enough, almost all the trees brought from different parts of England successfully took root in a new place.

Legend has it that, leaving their native lands, people exiled to nowhere cursed the king and his man-made thickets, tirelessly repeating that the new forest will certainly take revenge, if not on the ruler himself, then on his descendants. And this prophecy was exactly fulfilled several decades later.

Those peasants who managed to keep their homes near the royal lands also soon bitterly regretted it. For them, William the Conqueror developed a special draconian code of laws regulating the behavior of"vile smerds". According to these laws, the poor fellows were not only forbidden to hunt animals that lived in the forest, but also to drive away wild boars and deer that wandered into their plot. Disobedient people had their eyes gouged out or their hands cut off. In addition ,the "lucky ones" could not fence off their arable land and vegetable gardens, as they interfered with his Majesty's hunting.

The Black Prophecy

Despite all of the above royal "favors", the curse did not affect William the Conqueror. He enjoyed hunting in his man-made lands until his death, and the retribution for the atrocities fell on the heads of the descendants of the ruler.

The first victim of the New Forest was the king's son Richard, who was beaten to death by a wounded deer. It was said that this happened under very strange circumstances. The hunted beast, pierced by several arrows, lay on the ground, bleeding. But when the prince came up to him to examine his prey, the dying animal suddenly jumped up briskly and tore the hunter to pieces.

Less than a year after this tragedy, another Richard, the nephew of William the Conqueror, died in the new royal grounds. This time, the instrument of Providence was an arrow fired by the hand of an unknown archer from the thicket of the forest.

Poor Rufus

The most famous victim of the man-made royal lands was the son and heir of the Conqueror, William Rufus (Red), who replaced his father on the English throne. The death of this monarch was accompanied by ominous omens, which were well remembered by witnesses of those events. On the eve of the fatal hunt, the king saw in a dream how a scarlet stream of blood splashed into the sky from his hand and flooded the sun. But Rufus did not attach any importance to this dream, just as he did to the letter of his good friend, the Abbot Serlo. In his message, this sane old man and good shepherd implored the ruler to stay away from the New Forest in the near future, referring to the bad vision of one of the brothers of the monastery that he headed. After reading the correspondence, the king only mockingly said that he did not understand at all "why it is necessary to waste ink in order to tell what monks dream of in their dreams." After that, he went hunting.

The king was accompanied by the knight Walter Tyrrell, who witnessed the tragedy. According to his story, Rufus was chasing a big deer. Having driven the animal, the king released an arrow, but it made an unthinkable pirouette, hit the trunk of an oak tree and, bouncing off, pierced William's heart. Of course, it's hard to believe in such a fantastic "suicide", but Tyrrell, who was suspected of murder, somehow managed to prove his case and escape the royal justice. In addition, this knight, many years later, repeated the previous testimony word for word during the deathbed confession, when it was already pointless to lie and dodge.

The fatal curse was confirmed by another amazing incident.

The deceased king was buried by grieving subjects in Winchester Cathedral. And exactly a year later, one of its towers, the one under which Rufus ' body rested, collapsed for some unknown reason.

They say that even today the shadow of the murdered king can be found in the New Forest. And if you believe the stories of eyewitnesses, this red-haired ghost with an arrow sticking out of his chest sometimes leaves the place of his death and looks into the windows of pubs and houses of the surrounding villages.

Leshii, pixies and ghosts

There is another legend. The place where a New forest was planted was always considered "bad". They say that long before William the Conqueror, evil pixie creatures lived here, which caused people a lot of trouble. So, it was a pleasure for these insidious monsters to let a poisoned arrow into a person who wandered here, from which the poor fellow began to convulse or his arms and legs refused. It was possible to cure this ailment only with the help of a special drug, the secret of which was not known to every village healer.

They say that it was these inhabitants of the "bad" place who helped the oaks, brought here by order of the Conqueror, to take root, because they liked his idea.

However, the main evil of the New Forest for many centuries was considered the goblin Lawrence, the guardian of the local thicket. The favorite entertainment of this "shaggy devil" was the following joke. Taking the form of a horse or a man, Lawrence lured an unsuspecting passerby into the swamp, where he left him for certain death. Also, sometimes he turned a hunter or a woodcutter working in the forest into an invisible person, after which he laughed loudly, looking at the sufferings of the unfortunate.

In Hampshire, the name of the hooligan-leshy, whose pranks did not please the local peasants at all, even became a household name. So, about a person laughing for no apparent reason, they say:

"He's been possessed by Lawrence."

And yet the main attraction of the New Forest is its ghosts. People believe that there are a great many of them living here among the ancient trees. On stormy nights, ghostly entities get out of the forest thicket, laugh terribly, rage, swing on the branches of trees, and then fly all over the neighborhood.

But, unlike King Rufus, basically all the ghosts are nameless, and only one of them is well known to the locals. Or rather, one is the witch Mary Dor, who at the end of the XVII century lived near the village of Bewley, located next to the forest. They say that this lady so spoiled relations with her neighbors that none of them wanted to pay for the funeral of the sorceress when she died. Since then, she has been wandering through the forest as a disembodied ghost, guessing the case to take revenge on the offenders.

Since the end of the XVI century, on moonlit nights in the New Forest, you can see a procession of ghostly monks coming out of the trees, moving towards the cemetery of the town of Brimora, located nearby. After wandering here for some time among the graves, the humble monks return back. Locals believe that this frightening walk is made by the brothers of the Abbey of Beauly, who died during the Reformation.

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