Evidence from the 13th century indicates that the Verderers were originally a court within the Forest, authorised by the Crown and elected by the County. They sat to hear cases of offences within the Sovereign’s Forest. They could deal with minor offences directly (by fines) but more serious cases were referred to higher courts – ultimately the Forest Eyre.
Verderers’ powers were extended in the 17th & 18th centuries to address offences undermining the planting and preservation of oak for ship-building (such as breaking Inclosure fences, encroachments on Crown land). Powers to deal with trespassers and abuses by Forest officers were also strengthened.
In 1877, the Verderers’ Court was reconstituted by a New Forest Act of Parliament. The Act abolished the former oath of allegiance to the Crown. The Act required the appointment by the monarch of the Official Verderer and (originally) five Verderers to be chosen by the Commoners and Parliamentary voters in the New Forest parishes. They were to be the guardians of Commoners, common rights, and the Forest landscape.
The New Forest Act of 1949 increased the number of Verderers to comprise five elected, an Official Verderer, and four appointed members. The Act also gave the Verderers additional powers to make and amend byelaws.
Members Of The Court
The members of the Verderers' Court and their Declarations of Interest (DoI) are:
|Lord Manners||Official Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. Richard Deakin||Elected Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. Robert Stride||Elected Verderer||DoI|
|Dr Graham Ferris||Co-opted Elected Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. Anthory Pasmore||Elected Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. David Readhead||Elected Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. Richard Manley||Appointed DEFRA Verderer||DoI|
|Mr. Barry Dowsett||Appointed Forestry Commission Verderer||DoI|
|Miss Ann Sevier MBE||Appointed National Park Verderer||DoI|
|Mrs. Diana Westerhoff||Appointed Natural England Verderer||DoI|
The Court meets in ‘Open Court’ normally on the third Wednesday of each month, except in January when the Court will meet on Thursday 20th (and Committee-only in December). The public may address the Verderers on any matter relevant to the management of the New Forest and subject to the Court Regulations listed below.
The Court meets in the Verderers’ Hall, The Queen’s House, Lyndhurst initially at 9:30 a.m. in closed Committee, then from 10:00 a.m. there is the Open Court, and after Open Court, back to closed Committee. Members of the public should aim to arrive before 10:00 a.m. for the Open Court. Court dates for 2022 are:
|20 January||Open Court|
|16 February||Open Court|
|16 March||Open Court|
|20 April||Open Court|
|18 May||Open Court|
|15 June||Open Court|
|20 July||Open Court|
|21 September||Open Court|
|19 October||Open Court|
|16 November||Open Court|
|21 December||Committee Only|
Members of the public may address the Court on any matter relevant to the management of the New Forest and subject to the Court Regulations listed below.
The Agisters are employees of the Verderers. Their work is to assist in the management of Commoners' stock in the Forest. Specifically, they:
- Watch over the Forest to ensure that the owners of depastured stock, and others, meet the requirements of the Verderers in respect of stock welfare, payment of marking fees, etc.;
- Inform the Verderers of any possible breaches of the Verderers' byelaws;
- Attend road accidents and other incidents involving commoners' animals; deal with injured animals at the scene and humanely destroying animals if necessary;
- Organise the construction and ongoing maintenance of stock pounds within their area;
- Arrange and manage the rounding up of ponies and cattle in the Autumn and at other times as required;
- by regular inspection on foot, vehicle and horseback, an Agister will acquire, and maintain, a thorough and up to date knowledge of depastured stock and of ground conditions.
- There are five Agisters, including a Head Agister, each covering a particular area within the Forest. Their contact details are;
- Mr. Jonathan Gerrelli Head Agister 07836602163
- Mr. Mike Lovell 07836757579
- Mr. Robert Maton 07836500106
- Mr. Michael Maton 07836203883
- Mr. Peter Rix 07721 409755
Memorandum of Understanding Between Forestry Commissioners & Verderers
In carrying out their statutory role as managers of the New Forest, the Forestry Commissioners are constrained by the existence of rights of common. However, these rights are subject to the Forestry Commissioners’ statutory powers. The Commissioners have power, amongst other things, to authorise the use of land in the New Forest for the purpose of recreation and the appropriation of land in the New Forest for car parking and for camping sites. They also have powers to provide tourist, recreational or sporting facilities. The powers in the various New Forest Acts and those in the Countryside Act are only exercisable with the agreement of the Verderers.
In the context of the day-to-day management of the New Forest, it is necessary to decide how particular activities or other items which the Forestry Commissioners propose to permit, fall to be treated in the light of the legal rights and obligations outlined above. In particular, the parties have not always been able to agree whether particular items legally require the agreement of the Verderers. The purpose of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to set out the parties’ intended approach in respect of specific items which the Forestry Commissioners are likely to wish to permit in the New Forest in the future.