The death of a King.

In a quiet New Forest location is a monument to an incident where King William the second was killed while hunting in the Royal Hunting Forest (New Forest) in 1100. The monument inscription tells the story on its 3 sides.

Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100.

King William the Second, surnamed Rufus being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church of that city.

That the spot where an event so memorable might not hereafter be forgotten, the enclosed stone was set up by John Lord Delaware who had seen the tree growing in this place. This stone having been much mutilated, and the inscriptions on each of its three sides defaced. This more durable memorial with the original inscriptions was erected in the year 1841, by WM Sturges Bourne, Warden.

Male Stonechat.

Hunting Forest.

In 1079 when William The Conqueror named the area his ‘new hunting forest’, close to 1,000 years later his ‘New Forest’ remains as a National Park. The ancient systems established by William The Conqueror to protect and manage the woodlands and heaths are still in place today.

Hunting Deer required planning, good horsemanship and the ability to handle weapons. It was dangerous. King William’s second son, Richard, and third son, William, were killed whilst hunting in the New Forest as was his grandson, Richard. Hunting was seen at that time as a method of practising many of the skills required for battle. 

Fallow deer are today the most commonly seen deer in the New Forest. Numbers are maintained at about 1,300 on the Crown lands. Although not a native species to the UK, they have been present since Norman times and have the longest continuous lineage of any deer species in the Forest.

This time of year the Deer keep in their herds – Stags together separate from the young female deer.

D-Day remembered.

Operation Overlord was the code name for the Allied invasion of Normandy in northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944, brought together the land, air and sea forces of the allied armies in what became known as the largest invasion force in human history.

The invasion force was made up of 7,000 ships and landing craft manned by over 195,000 naval personnel from the allied countries. Some 133,000 troops from England, Canada and the United States landed on D-Day. Casualties from the three countries during the landing numbered 10,300. By June 30th, over 850,000 men, 148,000 vehicles, and 570,000 tons of supplies had landed on the Normandy shores.

Here on the South coast of England, there are many links to these operations. Today I made a visit to “The D-Day Story”. a museum on the seafront at Southsea Portsmouth.


The museum tells the story of D-Day through artefacts pictures and personal accounts from veterans.

Beach Armored Recovery Vehicle based on a Sherman tank body


On D-Day, hundreds of burlap and sand dummies with cotton parachutes were dropped across France, far from where the real paratroopers were landing in Normandy. Just a third the size of a person, the fakes nicknamed “Rupert” looked larger in the air and fooled many on the ground.

Landing Craft Tank LCT 7074

This tank landing craft was saved from Birkenhead docks where after being used as a nightclub she sank after falling into disrepair. She played a vital role in transporting men and supplies across the English Channel. On D-Day, LCT 7074 carried 10 tanks. Now restored with a Sherman Tank and a Churchill Tank in her load bay.


The Overlord Embroidery tells the story of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in 34 hand-stitched panels based on photographs taken at the time. It has a total length of 83 metres.

Lord Dulverton commissioned the embroidery in 1968.  He set up an advisory committee including retired senior officers from the army, navy and air force to help him with the project.  Together they decided what events the embroidery would represent.


Originally moored at Calshot Spit, this lightship was a floating lighthouse at the entrance to Southampton Water. It guided flying boats into their terminals and warning ships of sandbanks at the Brambles.

Six crew lived in cramped conditions keeping the light and foghorn operating. It was replaced by a buoy in the mid-1960s.

A New Forest Church.

On this dull Wednesday, we stopped off at our favourite New Forest Churches.

St Nicholas Church Brockenhurst is the oldest church in the Forest. It is positioned on a mound, on the edge of the village which may have been a sacred site since pre-Christian times. A church is recorded at Brockenhurst in Domesday but the original Christian church was quite possibly established by Augustinians who established the priory at Christchurch. This church never seems to change except with the seasons. today it looks exactly the same as it did in 1980 when we got married there.

Male and female Blackbird.

War Graves in the Churchyard.

Details re the war graves copied from Commonwealth war graves commission webpage.

“Due to its proximity to the port of Southampton, its railway connections and an abundance of large houses in the area, Brockenhurst was chosen in 1915 by the War Office to become a hospital centre. Initially, Lady Hardinge’s Hospital (named after the wife of the Viceroy of India) for the Indian troops of the Lahore and Meerut Divisions was established south of the village. This was then replaced by No.1 New Zealand General Hospital in June 1916, after the Indian Divisions were replaced by ANZAC troops. The New Zealand Hospital remained at Brockenhurst until it closed early in 1919. The churchyard contains 106 graves of the First War, of which one hundred are in the New Zealand plot. In addition to the 93 New Zealand graves, there are also three Indian and three unidentified Belgian civilians (employed at the Sopley Forestry camp). On the East side of the New Zealand plot is a memorial incorporating a Cross.”

The snake man.

Harry ‘Brusher’ Mills was a hermit, a resident of the forest, he made his living as a snake catcher.  It is said he caught around 30,000 snakes during his 18 years as a snake catcher.

He was a man of few needs who loved the simple life, in a mud hut apart from a spell in the workhouse after catching influenza.

He was a popular character in Brockenhurst, regularly enjoying a tipple at The Railway Inn which today is named The Snakecatcher in his honour.

You are never far from a Robin in the New Forest.

A town park.

A few hours in Mayflower Park Southampton this morning.

Mayflower Park is a waterfront park, in the old part of the City with views over the River Test. It is on reclaimed land near where the Mayflower left Southampton 400 years ago, Pilgrims embarked on their historic transatlantic voyage on August 15 1620. They were on two ships – the iconic Mayflower and the lesser-known Speedwell. The park is the only city centre waterside park with views across the River Test.

Feeding Gulls in the park.

There are always some shipping movements near the park.

An interesting lifeboat launch system on the bulk car transporter.

Herring Gulls, All different ages.

There were a few Oystercatchers on the grass of the park as the tide was high. One was ringed. So I sent off the details and I hope I will get some information on this bird. I will update my blog if I get any feedback.

Lepe Beach D-Day Relics.

Lepe Beach and country park has many relics that date back to WW2 and link it with D-Day and the invasion of France in June 1944.

One of many Mulberry Harbour construction and launching sites was constructed at Lepe 6 concrete Phoenix Caissons that were simultaneously built on these platforms from January 1944 so that they could be directly launched into the sea by May 1944. They were towed up Southampton water for finishing.

Mulberry harbours were temporary portable harbours following D-Day, two prefabricated harbours were taken in sections across the English Channel from the UK with the invading army and assembled off Omaha Beach (Mulberry “A”) and Gold Beach (Mulberry “B”).

Many Allied troops waited for D-Day in camps in the New Forest. Some of these embarked from Lepe, and others used embarkation sites to the east or west. The group of camps was known as Marshalling Area B. On the beach, at Lepe, there was room for four Landing Craft Tank (LCT).

Remains of the “Dolphins” part of the pierhead which was used to load landing crafts.

Large Bollards for tying up Landing craft.

Concrete blocks known as “chocolate Blocks ” were used to build a roadway over the beach for vehicles to load onto the landing craft without getting stuck on the soft sand and gravel.

Launch block blocks where the large caissons were winched into the sea.

Large contraction platforms where the caissons were constructed.

Monuments remembering D-Day and Poppy display in support of the Royal British Legion 2022 Poppy appeal.