His father King William I may have created the Forest, but William II, known as William Rufus will be remembered for his merciless rule of it. William the Conqueror, who designated this area in the south of England as his “Nova Foresta” or New Forest in 1079 when William Rufus was 23 years old.
This cast iron hoop was known as the Rufus Stirrup. Only dogs small enough to crawl through would be allowed out onto the King’s forest. If the poor canine was too large he would be ‘lawed’ and have his front claws clipped.
This ensured that only dogs which could not bring down the royal venison would be allowed to run on the New Forest. Only the sovereign’s hounds would be exempt from this maiming.
The Death of King William Rufus in the New Forest
William Rufus was killed while hunting in the New Forest on the 2nd of August 1100. Today it is still argued wether he was murdered or it was just a hunting accident. Killed by the wayward arrow of Sir Walter Tyrell who fleed for fear of reprisals; or he was assassinated to benefit his brother and the Clare family.
The Rufus Stone
Not even the ancient forest trees can remember. One oak in the north of the Forest was said to have been the one which poor Walter’s arrow was deflected off before hitting his monarch. Today there is a stone which marked the original site of the tree built to commenorate the scene of this royal tragedy. However even the scene of his death is debated. Some argue that William II died in Througham, near Beaulieu many miles from the Rufus Stone.