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The word has a French origin and was brought here by the Normans. It is now associated with recreational facilities and industrial complexes but it was originally an enclosed tract of land reserved for beasts of the chase, and held by royal grant. It was distinct from a ‘forest’, not least because it was enclosed by a deer-proof pale, and Blansby Park which lies within Pickering Forest is an example of that distinction. The place-name Blansby is evidence of a Scandinavian settlement but in the Domesday survey it already had the status of a ‘berewick’, as a demesne farm attached to Pickering. That relationship continued after the Conquest, when the castle was built and the surrounding district converted into Royal Forest. A memorandum in the records of the Duchy of Lancaster states that A Parke taken out of a Forrest may ly within and bee surrounded by the Forrest … and yet be no part of the forest. Blansby was probably a separate reserve from the early twelfth century, and an inquisition of 1251-2 details its links with Pickering, touching on the customs and rights that tenants had in the Forest in the time of King John: it was expressly stated that the haya de Blaundeby, that is the territory within the enclosure, did not belong to the manor, and the men of Pickering were not even allowed ‘housbote’ there. It is referred to as le Parkes de Blandesby in a petition in the reign of Henry III and an extent of the king’s lands in Pickering in 1297-8 listed ‘the park of Blaundebi’, with agistment worth 100s p.a. and meadow 40s. Income from what was essentially a deer park clearly included profits from the sale of hay and grazing rights for live-stock. Parks remained a landscape feature for centuries and are regularly mentioned in manorial documents: 1584 a few old doted trees which are good for nothing except it be for the fire, which underwood and old doted trees do grow within her Majesty’s park of Almonburie
1599 all that great Close of land Wood and pasture Commonlye called Roydes hall parke ... parcel of the landes belongeinge to the Capitall Messuage called Rodes hall, North Bierley.