Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/330

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


294 Ha7npshi7^e Folklore.

echoes of long-past yesterdays in nooks and corners singu- larly untouched, thanks in large measure to the configu- ration of the country.

Take, for instance, two villages near the eastern border, Hawkley and Colmore, within some four miles of two railway lines, and close to the military camps in what was Woolmer Forest. It is only four years since I stayed at Hawkley, and was told " there be folk in Colmore as have never been to Hawkley." Yet they lie but some three or four miles apart ; only the intervening country is a jumble of rough hill, rougher roads, and narrow valleys.

All this tends to isolation. Such topographical con- ditions must influence permanently the county's lore.

Most marked of all, to my thinking, has been the in- fluence of the woodlands. Hills and rivers, after all, exert mainly a negative influence. The high wood has always an active one. Hampshire ranks now among the foremost counties of England in the matter of arboreal wealth. In bygone times the afforestation was much greater. We may expect then to find abundant traces of customs possibly, probably, and in some cases obviously, due to woodland and forest surroundings.

Windsor Forest swept over the northern border towards the Forest of Chute that ran from Wiltshire down to Hare- wood Forest on the western bank of the Test ; the great Andredesweald reached within a few miles of Winchester itself; and wild forest stretched over Lymington when Vespasian, after he had subdued the Isle of Wight, landed at the Alaunian Wood. Proof this last, if proof be needed, of the animosity of the old monks who later on evolved the legend of the Norman king laying waste the smiling country-side to make a wilderness for his pleasuring. That very neighbourhood, with Setley's bare Plain and Beaulieu Heath, where even the heather wins but precarious nourish- ment from the infertile soil, must have formed part of the cultivated lands which, according to those prejudiced