GENERAL DESCRIPTION. 3
other between Mudbrook, Dallingridge and Plawhatch. Between thirty and forty persons were named as possessing these rights and they were allowed to turn out 445 head of cattle. On April 1st, 1662, the Forest was leased to the Earl of Bristol for 99 years, at £200 a year, but it is doubtful if he made much use of his tenancy. The rent was made part of the Queen Dowager's jointure, but the Earl did not pay it, made no profit from the grant and allowed it to become void. In 1678 the Forest was granted to Charles, Earl of Dorset, and his heirs for ever, and in his descendants it is still vested.
The open part of the Forest, to be preserved for ever for public enjoyment, is now managed by a Board of Conservators, the first election of whom took place on August 18th, 1885. How its present name was derived is unknown, certainly not from the number of ash-trees, for of such scarcely any traces can be found. The present name may be a corruption of the word " Archedown." The ordinary acceptation of the word " Forest" must not be taken as applying to that wild tract which formerly surrounded East Grinstead. In mediaeval times a forest meant an extensive territory of uncultivated ground, not necessarily a thickly wooded portion of country. It was regulated by special laws and guarded by special officers. Dr. Cox, in his book on parochial histories, says:
A forest included within its boundaries, not only the King's land, but often also many manors belonging to private lords, whose rights, however, were much restricted, for they could not change their land from pasture to arable, nor cut down their woods, nor make enclosures such as would prevent the free access of the larger game. Though a forest was unenclosed, it frequently had, within its limits, several parks, which were always enclosed by a wall or pale.
The Royal properties in East Grinstead were not confined to the Forest area, but extended into the town itself. In 1650 a survey was made of certain lands and tenements in East Grinstead, " late pcell of the possessions of Charles Stewart, late King of England, as pte and pcell of the Dutchy of Lancaster," and though the Earls of Dorset had sold or leased those properties,