Cranborne Chase, Dorset, was the long southern slope of the chalk massif that straddled the Wiltshire-Dorset boundary between Shatesbury and Saltisbury, encompassing over 100 square miles. Fallow deer and red deer were the most often hunted species, while red deer were imported but did not appreciate the chalk fields.
The hunting rights went from the Earls of Gloucester to King John in the Middle Ages, and were retained by the majority of kings between him and James I, when they passed to the Earls of Salisbury, the Earls of Shaftesbury, and finally the Pitt-Rivers line. In 1830, an Act of Parliament repealed a system that had sterilised this huge tract, making it a haven for smugglers and other criminals. Poachers and game keepers had regular clashes, which were often violent.
It is currently undulating grassland with fine beech forests dotted throughout. A typical and stunning view of it may be found on the route from Shatesbury to Sixpenny Handley. It is crossed by the Ackling Dyke, one of Britain's finest Roman highways, which runs from Badbury Rmcs to Old Sarum. This is clearly seen where it crosses the Sixpenny Handley road approximately a quarter of a mile south of the A354. The Dorset Cursus may also be traced near here using an Ordnance Survey map. It's about 6 metres long and runs nearly parallel to the A354, and it's thought to have been a Neolithic processional path.
Chettle House, erected c. 1710-15 by Vanbrugh's pupil Thomas Archer in the village of Chettle, approximately four and a half miles south west. It is now flats, but it is still beautiful from the exterior and boasts an intricate double staircase within.
- CranborneGeolocation Latitude 50.9194° N Longitude -1.9212° W
- CranbornePostcode BH21
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