History of Frithy Wood
Frithy Wood has been in use for many centuries. Early documentation refers to it as the ‘great’ wood and described at this time as of ‘great antiquity’. The current thinking of ‘ancient woodland’ is that if a wood was in existence by 1600 that it was probably a remnant of a medieval working wood. The wood was originally estimated at 42 acres*, today it is 37 acres. Research also confirmed that a survey of the hedges in the village states that Lawshall is a typical ‘Ancient Countryside Parish’ and about five-sixths of the hedges surviving in 1986 are older than 1612. In 1987 Frithy Wood was registered as a SSSI woodland meaning a Site of Special Scientific Interest notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The Manor of Lawshall, and the Frithy Wood site was held by the Abbot of Ramsey from 972 until 4th March 1539/40. At the time of Domesday in 1086 the Abbot of Ramsey owned 8 hides or caracutes of land in Lawshall c. 960 acres. There are all the usual Domesday references but the most significant is note of 30 pigs which could imply that there was woodland to support 30 pigs.
Through the years the Manor of Lawshall and Frithy Wood had many owners. After the Abbot of Ramsey it was ‘granted’ to Richard Williams and then to John Rither in 1546 and onto Sir William Drury in 1547. Until recently Frithy Wood has been part of the land owned by Lawshall Hall and now is part owned by Green Light Trust.
Frithy Wood has had a huge impact on the village of Lawshall and until very recent times, the wood and its products, were vital to the life of the parishioners. The previous owner of the wood, Mr Waspe was a farmer and had fencing and posts around his flocks of sheep and other stock. He has also recorded how he aimed to ensure that anything that may grow into a tree was left when he was cutting poles. This clearly shows his intention to maintain and manage Frithy Wood and also how vital the wood was to his livelihood.
Evidence from 1550 to 1912 indicates a prime use of timber for house building and there are some houses in the village dating from the 17th century, which would no doubt, have used wood from the most local source possible. Among the trades of interest mentioned are wheelwright, collarmaker, sawyer, carpenter, cordwainer (who would use wooden lasts), cooper, timber master, rake maker and hurdle maker.
There is no doubt that this wood has survived to this day because of management that took place when the Manor of Lawshall and the villagers were dependent on the products extracted from the wood. The Restoring The Repertoire project now hopes to maintain and restore the woodland for the future generations.