Our Shared Forest – a strategy for the Forest of Dean for future generations

Over the past several months here in the Dean, the Forestry Commission has been working with various stakeholder groups on a project aimed at setting a new direction for the way in which our Forest is managed. This is an exciting initiative, which has partly arisen from the Heritage funded Foresters' Forest project but is being undertaken by our local Forestry Commission as a separate but very much related initiative.
A draft strategy for consultation is now available and your input is being sought to help shape the next step. The Society's committee will write formally to the Commission to comment on the draft from the history society's perspective, but everyone has this opportunity to have a say in what our Forest will look like and how it will be managed to the benefit of all for generations to come. Please respond!
The draft strategy is attached below
Then this link to complete the survey
This link takes you to the overall FC site about this initiative, for further information.

pdf icon FCE_Our-Shared-Forest_Consultation-Draft_2019v2.pdf

Nicholas Orme on Walter Map’s ‘The Trifles of Courtiers’

 At Westbury on Severn Parish Hall on 22nd March 7.30 pm
Nicholas Orme, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Exeter, will talk about Walter Map, the first known rector of Westbury. Walter Map, born in the early 1130s, was a scholar, a cleric, a member of Henry II’s court, a humorist and and author of ‘The Trifles of Courtiers’, a delightful collection of stories, anecdotes, and personal reminiscences that deserves to be better known.  Professor Orme has also carried out research on the importance of Westbury Church as an early minster.
Tickets are available from Alison Edginton  alisonj.stafford@gmail.com and Alison can supply further information if needed. 
See the attached flyer for full details. 

pdf icon Walter-Map-notice.pdf

Childhood Memories of a Journey through the Soudley Valley by James A Bevan

How much has changed, and how little! In this book, James
Bevan of the Bevan Coaches family takes the reader – by bus of course – on a
memorable journey from his maternal grandparents’ village of Blakeney, up the
Cinderford Road past Brains Green to his own village of Soudley, overlooking
Ayleford and Two Bridges along the way, then on through Ruspidge and finally
into his local town, Cinderford. James’s memories span the early post war years
to about 1960 and every stop is packed with James’s own stories and those of
his parents and grandparents of the families who lived in the houses and ran
the shops, of the annual carnivals, of the churches and youth clubs and the
ways in which people earned their livings in the first half of the twentieth
century. Today, the ‘bus wars’ of the pre-war period are over, there are few
shops, many of the churches and all the chapels have closed, and the days when
a train brought the Soudley school teacher from Newnham are well past. But the
places remain highly and delightfully recognisable. To anybody with any
familiarity with the Soudley Valley, this book is a ‘must read’, but anyone
knowing the Forest will feel instantly at home with it also.

The book will be launched on Saturday Feb 9th (12.00
noon -2.00pm) at the Dean Heritage Centre in Soudley where it will be on sale.
It is also available direct: Tel 01594 842859 or
at James Bevan, Unit 1 Mead Lane Industrial Estate Lydney GL15 5DA.

All profits go to Marie Curie    

Bevan Book cover.jpg

Two events of interest

Information below about English Bicknor history group's next meeting on 17th January, which will be an entertaining talk on Lydney Park Estate followed by their annual festive quiz with mulled wine and stolen.
In addition (unfortunately on the same night), for those with a literary historical bent, see the poster attached for an event at Newnham Library with Doug McLean, former owner of The Forest Bookshop, talking about his various encounters with past literary greats from the Forest of Dean. 
And happy new year!
Cheryl Mayo
Membership Secretary


Lydney Park Estate – Working for 3 Viscounts

humorous history of 40 years working at Lydney Park from Sally James



by our traditional quiz with mulled wine and stolen.


Thursday 17 January 2019

English Bicknor Village Hall

Entry: £2.50, FREE for EBLHG members
– join on the door

Contact: Claire Scales 01594 836191  info@rocklodge.co.uk

What else our members do…

Glyn Ford, a member of the Society since 2014, is Director of the NGO Track2Asia, an elected Constituency Representative on Labour’s National Policy Forum and a member of the Labour Party’s International Committee. He is regarded as one of the top European experts on the Korean Peninsula, with 50 visits under his belt. Glyn has recently published a new book entitled Talking to North Korea Ending the Nuclear Standoff. 

Read more about Glyn’s book in the poster attached.  Ford Flyer

Tradition, Reformation and Reaction in the Forest of Dean, 1450-1603

This new book by local historian and author Joyce Moss looks at the impact of the Reformation in this Gloucestershire Deanery. Available from Lightmoor Press, follow this link.

Joyce will talk to the history society on this topic at our next meeting, Sat 19th January, 3 pm at the West Dean Centre Bream. More details here.  All welcome,  non-members £2.



Christmas 1948

Well, that was fun!  Thanks to the efforts of many people, the Society ended its 70th birthday year with a 1948-style Christmas, including handmade decorations,  an exhibition of period toys, some beautiful Christmas lights and tree decorations and a ration-based afternoon tea. Apparently, some of these morsels were considered tasty enough for the recipes to be asked for, so here they are (click on the Festive ration recipes link below), together with some photos of the exhibits.

Members gave generously to the Forest food bank in memory of rationing and post war food parcels.



IMG_1437IMG_1439IMG_1443Festive ration recipes

‘Christmas 1948’ Sat 8 Dec 3 pm West Dean Centre

The Society’s last meeting of the year goes back to Christmas 1948, as the last in our series of 70th birthday celebrations. Exhibits of toys and decorations, a tree, display and reminisces … all welcome £2 non-members.

To commemorate the days of rationing, and in memory of WW2 CARE packages and food parcels from the colonies generally, we are asking for non-perishable festive fare to go under the tree, which will be donated to a local food bank. Be generous as others were to the British!

A CARE assistant for England and Wales delivers a package to a family in 1948 Photo CARE

A day at the races!

IMG_4174On Sunday 18 November, the Society was part of a big event at Cheltenham Racecourse to commemorate the WW1 Armistice.
Our display, with a number of images taken from the Society’s book, The Forest at War, was one of many interesting exhibits showing different aspects of wartime Gloucestershire – including a half scale model of a Sopwith Camel. Sue Middleton, Mary Sullivan, Cecile Hunt and Cheryl Mayo represented the Society.
The idea was that of Dame Janet Trotter, who spoke at our 70th anniversary dinner in June and who has recently retired as Lord Lieutenant of the County. The Society’s Vice Chair Roger Deeks was one of the primary organisers. Our display attracted a great deal of attention with a number of people telling us about their connections to the Forest. Jo Durrant, a BBC Glos radio broadcaster, interviewed authors of WW1 themed books, including Cecile Hunt, the Society’s Treasurer and main driver behind The Forest at War.  Princess Ann visited the exhibition and chatted to us about the Forest and the war, and Chair Mary Sullivan presented her with a copy of the book.IMG_0599
If you haven’t yet bought your copy of The Forest at War, there was an order form in the latest newsletter (if you are a member) or go here to purchase online. Don’t forget to use the password in the newsletter to get your member discount. Great Christmas present!