Slindon Park and Arundel Hunting Forest

The archbishops established a deer park on the Slindon estate, which can still be seen today. It seems that the main purpose was to be a source of Venison for the landowners. Deer parks began to spread across after the Norman conquest of 1066 and were stocked with Fallow deer, which were introduced at this time. Rabbits were only just introduced to Britain from the continent in the early 1200s.There is written evidence of there being an artificial rabbit warren at Slindon by 1344 but there is no evidence whether this was within the Park or further out on the estate.
Slindon Park seen today. It has gone through changes of landscape and land use since the time of the archbishops. Photo: Bob Epsom

The area of the park was marked out by a bank and ditch known as a Park Pale, which would have had a wooden fence running along the top of it. This would have been designed to have kept the deer inside the park but also allow for deer from the outside to jump in to keep the stock numbers up. Teams of tenants on the estate were responsible for constructing sections of the Pale. Most of the Pale can be seen clearly today as there are numerous paths running alongside it.
The Park Pale today. Photo: Katie Archer

In medieval times this whole area was part of the Arundel Forest. Forest at this time did not necessary mean it was covered in trees but was reserved for the hunting of beasts. It is known to have been managed in a similar way to that of the Royal Forests like the New Forest.

There was a dispute between the archbishops and the earl of Arundel about hunting rights, which eventually went to court. It was agreed that the archbishop could hunt once a year, taking only one beast when returning from his manor of Slindon by giving notice to the constable or foresters of Arundel. Also they could only hunt using six greyhounds and without a bow.