The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 4: British Gardens (1100-1830)

History of Forestry in England

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683. Till the beginning of the seventeenth century, the subject of planting for timber and fuel seems not to have attracted much attention as an important part of the rural economy of England. Sir John Norden, in his Surveyor's Dialogue, published in 1607, notices the subject; as had been done before by Benese in 1538, and Fitzherbert in 1523. In 1612 was published, Of planting and preserving of Timber and Fuel, an old Thrift newly revived, by R. C.; and in the following year, Directions for planting of Timber and Fire Wood, by Arthur Standish. Planting for timber and copse is noticed in Googe's Husbandry, published in 1578; and is the express subject of Manwood's Treatise on Forests, and their Original and Beginning, published in 1598; and of Rathborne's Surveyor, in 1616. It is singular that so many books on this subject should have been published so near together at so early a period. The reason seems to be, as Professor Martyn has observed, that a material attack was made on the forests in the 27th year of the reign of Henry VIII., when that monarch seized on the church lands; and from this time the consumption of oak timber was continually increasing, not only in consequence of the extension of commerce, and of great additions to the royal navy, but because it was made more use of in building houses. This alarmed both government and individuals. Holingshed, who lived in the reign of Elizabeth, says, 'that in times past men were contented to live in houses built of sallow, willow, &c.; so that the use of oak was, in a manner, dedicated wholly unto churches, religious houses, princes' palaces, navigation, &c.; but now nothing but oak is any where regarded.'