The New Forset
King Rufus

King Rufus and the Rufus Stone

New Forest Guide

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King Rufus - The place in the history of the New Forest of King Rufus.

King Rufus as he was known is actually King William II, the third son of William the Conqueror. It's thought he became known as Rufus due to his Ruddy complexion.

King Rufus was a very unpopular king. Firstly with the church, because when Lanfranc (Arch Bishop of Canterbury) died Rufus did not appoint a successor for many years, and used church revenues in his own. Secondly, with the people for imposing very high taxes.

According to local legend, King Rufus had an appalling nightmare . Then the next day he was out hunting in the New Forest with a group of his archers which include Sir Walter Tyrrell. There was an "accident" which resulted in King Rufus being shot in the chest with arrow, which puntured his lung and killed him. Sir Walter Tyrell fled to France on a horse with horse shoes fitted backwards to confuse anyone wanting to follow him.

The King was so unpopular no-one pursued Sir Walter. A local Charcoal Burner named Purkiss carried the Kings body to Winchester Cathedral.

The "Rufus Stone" is a monument to this event. There's an inscription on each of the 3 faces:-

"Here stood the oak tree, on which an arrow shot by Sir Walter Tyrrell at a stag, glanced and struck King William the Second, surnamed Rufus, on the breast, of which he instantly died, on the second day of August, anno 1100."

"King William the Second, surnamed Rufus being slain, as before related, was laid in a cart, belonging to one Purkis, and drawn from hence, to Winchester, and buried in the Cathedral Church of that city."

"That the spot where an event so memorable might not hereafter be forgotten, the enclosed stone was set up by John Lord Delaware who had seen the tree growing in this place. This stone having been much mutilated, and the inscriptions on each of its three sides defaced. This more durable memorial with the original inscriptions was erected in the year 1841, by WM Sturges Bourne, Warden."

There's plenty of history to see in and around the New Forest. Popular historical places to visit include :-

  • Knightswood Oak
  • The Rufus Stone
  • Beaulieu
  • Bucklers Hard

  • New Forest Guide

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