Tyne and Wear HER(6970): Chopwell Woods - Details
Agriculture and Subsistence
The earliest reference to the woods appears to be C12. Chopwell oaks were used at the castles of Norham, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh, and by the navy for shipbuilding. Large quantities of bark were supplied to the tanneries of Newcastle. Chopwell Woods were described by Ryan in his "History of Shotley Spa" as Crown lands, meaning land which was taken over by the Crown on the dissolution of the monasteries during the 1530s. Bourne suggested that the popular Ryton Ferry which ran from The Willows, originated from Cistercians at Morpeth who needed a crossing to administer their land at Chopwell. There was a monastic grange at Chopwell (HER 496). This valuable woodland was ministered for a time by the capable forester William Billington whose book "A Series of Facts, Hints and Observations and Experiments on Raising Young Plantations from Acorn Seedlings and Larger Plants", 1825, was no doubt extremely influential as it was subscribed to by many landowners such as Surtees who resided nearby at Hamsterley Hall. The woodland was deciduous at that time but is now mostly planted with conifers. The woods remain accessible through permission of the Forestry Authority.
F. Green, 1995, A Guide to the Historic Parks and Gardens of Tyne and Wear, p 1; W. Bourn, 1896, History of the Parish of Ryton; AH Reed, 1993, New Sewage Pipeline Ebchester to Blackhall Mill, watching brief report; History of King's Works, Vol 4, Pt 2, 1982