The Fishpool Valley has a fascinating history of woodland industry that has provided both food and a source of income for centuries. In more recent history it became a pleasure ground and today it is home to rare and protected flora and fauna.
The name Fishpool has a long history, it was recorded as The ‘Fishpool Dingle’ in the 13th Century, when a Mill was built in the valley by the then owner Hugh de Croft.
Any evidence of there being a mill has long since gone. The Mill would have been for grinding corn but the fact that it was built in the Fishpool Dingle would indicate that a pool or pools were in use for the retention of fish, prior to the construction of the Mill.
There is no other reference to the management of fish stocks in the Fishpool Valley until 1814 when a small hand written slip of paper, possibly written by a game keeper records what appears to be a stock taking or selection of the stock held in various pools.
“Ten brace of Carp down in the lowermost pwol nine brace turned back again twelve brace of trout turned back again in the pwol twenty nine brace of Carp turned in the Lime Kiln pwol five brace of Carp turned into the stus four brace of trout turn in to the upper stue”
A stew is smaller pool and deliberately kept as clean as possible. This is where the fish were kept prior to eating. The reason for this is that carp feed at the bottom of the pools and can take on a muddy taste if they are kept in muddy water, so to purify the flesh of the muddy taste they were kept in clean water for a week or two. During this time they would only feed on insects that came to the surface of the water. The reference above seems to be fish being selected to go into the Stews in preparation for consumption.
Most owners of large estates had fishponds or Fish pools that were normally kept out of sight and no doubt were also a target for poachers.
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