Charter of the Forest

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On 6 November 1217 King Henry III put his seal on the Charter of the Forest.

Under the reign of the previous monarch, King John, about a third of the country was royal forest, with any fines imposed for forest offences taken for the royal purse. However the Charter of the Forest legislation aimed to address this by reducing the amount of land under royal control.

The charter banned capital punishments for forest offences such as poaching and hunting deer.

Only two original copies of the charter still exist – one is housed at Lincoln Castle alongside Lincoln Cathedral’s Magna Carta, with the other at Durham Cathedral. A later version is housed at the British Library.

On the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest a new forest charter was launched at Lincoln Castle. The Woodland Trust’s Charter for Trees, Woods and People aims to put trees and woods back at the heart of people’s lives – to protect existing woodland and encourage the planting of more trees.

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