At this time of year, people go to enjoy the delights of the New Forest - our smallest and most recent National Park.

The New Forest was a private hunting forest created by William the Conqueror in 1079.

Here are some stories that you may not know and want to investigate further as you drive, cycle or walk in the forest:

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Fordingbridge

In the town of Fordingbridge, on the riverbank, there is a statue of bohemian Welsh artist Augustus John who is said to have fathered more than 100 children.

At St Mary’s Church in Fordingbridge is a memorial to James Seton.

James was the last British man to die in a duel on English soil in 1845.

It was over the wife of Lieutenant Henry Hawkey with whom Seton was involved.

New Forest Post:

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Barack Obama’s grandfather

President Obama’s maternal grandfather Sgt Stanley Armour Dunham is believed to have served at RAF Ibsley and RAF Stoney Cross during the Second World War.

In the 1970s, Mr Dunham and his wife Madelyn cared for Barack after his parents’ marriage broke up.

New Forest Post:

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Children of the New Forest

The popular Children of the New Forest book, published in 1847, tells the story of four children who are orphaned during the English Civil War of the 1640s.

New Forest Post:

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Last beheading in England

The Alice Lisle pub at Rockford Green recalls the last woman to have been beheaded in England in 1685 after a trial by the infamous Judge Jeffreys.

She was said to have harboured fugitives from the Monmouth Rebellion.

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Trees

New Forest Post:

The Knightwood Oak, on the Bolderwood Ornamental Drive is over 500 years old.

It has a 7.4-metre girth and is an example of the art of ‘pollarding', the traditional way of harvesting wood without killing the tree.

The Naked Man tree, near Wilvery Enclosure, is the name given to the remains of an old oak tree once used to hang highwaymen and smugglers.

New Forest Post:

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Ghosts of the forest

Ghosts of the New Forest, include Charles I, who is said to haunt Hurst Castle.

He is thought to have met his rival, Oliver Cromwell, in the lodge at Rhinefield House, on his way to his execution in London in 1649.

The Rufus Stone, which marks the place where King William II, nicknamed Rufus due to his red hair, was killed accidentally by Sir Walter Tyrrell.

It is claimed that on a summer’s evening you may still see William’s ghost.

During the 1950’s ‘white witch’ Sybil Leek lived in Burley and walked around in her long black cloak with her pet jackdaw sitting on her shoulder.

One of the shops in Burley (A Coven of Witches) was not only named by Sybil but you can also find a portrait of her hanging above the Jacobean fireplace.

New Forest Post:

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The Portuguese Fireplace

The Portuguese Fireplace, near Bolderwood, is a war memorial.

It is on the site of a First World War camp of a Portuguese army unit that helped produce timber for the war effort.

New Forest Post:

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Pannage

Pannage is when pigs are turned out each autumn across the New Forest They snuffle the acorns on the forest floors, which can be poisonous to cattle and ponies but do not harm the pigs.

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Eyeworth Pond

New Forest Post:

Eyeworth Pond, near Fritham, was originally created as a reservoir for the nearby Schultze factory which made smokeless gunpowder.

By 1895, it was the world's largest supplier of sporting gunpowder and the New Forest’s biggest employer.

New Forest Post:

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Alice in Wonderland

In, St. Michael and All Angels, Lyndhurst is the grave of Mrs Alice Hargreaves nee Lidell. As a girl, Alice is said to have been the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s novel Alice in Wonderland.

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Bolton’s Bench

New Forest Post:

Bolton’s Bench in Lyndhurst marks the legend of the The Bisterne Dragon.

In the sixteenth century, the dragon was said to fly to Bisterne village near Ringwood from Burley and be given milk.

Sir Maurice Berkeley, a knight, lay in wait with his two dogs.

A fight raged throughout the forest with the dragon finally dying outside Lyndhurst. Its body turned into a big hill now known as Bolton’s Bench.

The Knight later died on top of the mound, his body turning into the yew tree that is there today.

There is a Green Dragon pub at nearby Brook.

Martin Brisland is a tour guide with SeeSouthampton.co.uk .