The Charter of the Forest is a charter that re-established for free men, rights of access to the royal forest that had been eroded by William the Conqueror and his heirs. The 10-year old King Henry III originally sealed it in England in 1217. Many famous historians view this charter as the companion document to the Magna Carta.
On Sunday 5th November, over 100 people gathered around the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest to acknowledge the 800th anniversary of this hugely important charter. They listened and joined in singing olde rhymes with the performers ‘Three Acres and a Cow’. The celebration continued shortly after lunch at South Forest where about 70 people enjoyed speeches from Peter Linebaugh, an American historian. He reminded us of the importance of the Charter and how it should continue to play an important part in the management and freedom of access to land that has, over the years, been eroded. Peter explained the damage that has been inflicted on countryside in the US and many other countries from oil and gas exploration, generally known as ‘Fracking’. Guy Standing, a well-known author and British professor of development studies at London University, spoke about the need today to refine what should be in a Charter of the Commons in 2018. Several other speakers provided reinforcing evidence of the threats posed by fracking and encouraged those present to engage with others to expose the risks to our forests, water and open spaces.
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