History of Herbert Plantation
Herbert Plantation was originally part of the Adbury Park Estate and was named after Herbert Fox, who owned the Estate until his death during World War II , and was not as is often mistakenly believed named after the Herbert family of nearby Highclere Castle.
The western half of the Plantation was once part of Fulverd (Fulford) Shard Common, which was enclosed in 1757. It is shown as arable farmland on the c1800 Highclere Estate ‘Free Warrens’ map and the 1878 Ordnance Survey map.
The Estate map also shows a small cottage and garden in the Plantation. Marsh Copse to the north-eastern corner is most probably ancient woodland, also shown on the c1800 Highclere map. In fact Marsh Copse was the only woodland shown on this map, the remainder being arable or meadow.
By 1910 the OS map shows it as mainly conifer plantation. This was felled and replanted with European larch in the early 1920’s - or perhaps during the First World War, when so much timber was used in the trenches. The larch was mostly felled, for pit props, in the mid 1930‘s, leaving a 2 hectare plot, which blew down in the January 1990 storm.
With no replanting after the 1930s, the western half became known locally as "The Desert", while the eastern half, being larch and overgrown rhododendron Ponticum, was called "The Wilderness". A 2.24 hectare plot of mixed Scots Pine and Norway Spruce were planted in the mid 1950s, and then in 1958 the Adbury Park Estate was broken up and sold, Herbert Plantation being bought by a local landowner, in order to prevent development.
After his death, the Plantation was again put up for auction, and bought by Hampshire County Council.
Photos: Neill Bruce