The lake at Highams was only granted permission if the forest deer outside the park could be allowed to drink from it

The lake at Highams was only granted permission if the forest deer outside the park could be allowed to drink from it

Mr E is an old acquaintance, a blustery pipe-smoking man, who swims with his big hands wheeling like paddles and puts me in mind of an old smoke-stack rust-bucket as he battles his way out of the sea. At any rate, he has written from Cromer to say that there’s no point in a park that doesn’t have deer in it.

My dear fellow, sit yourself down and try not to spill the ginger beer. Contemplate Hallingbury, creation of the excellent Capability Brown, where a deep deer-proof ha-ha and sunk fence look to me as though they were made to keep deer out of the pleasure ground and parkland, and inside the forest. This forest land was dressed in Brown`s day with the groups of thorn and oak that survive around Woodside Green and Home Farm – giving the appearance of an enclosed park without any need to make one.

Mr E’s puzzlement prompts me to wonder why anyone would want a deer park of their own abutting a forest or chase. Timothy Thomas gave one reason for Clumber in 1725: ‘we turned off … into the Forest of Merry Sherwood, and after riding about a mile in it, saw some red Deer, which were the first stags I ever set my Eyes on … We passed through a New Enclosed Park, which was taken out of ye Forest by the late Duke … this the duke designed as the chief Nursery for his Stag-Chase…’ So Thomas reckoned that the park was to function as a paddock, deer being carted or released from it into the forest for hunting or coursing – this probably explains what the paddocks at Moccas, Chilham and Belvoir were used for.