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Characters, Creatures, Plants and PlacesCharcoal The Dog

Why not become one of Charcoal's chums and he will send you regular tales from the New Forest? If you want to become a friend of Charcoal, sign up for Charcoal's Newsletter.

Charcoal is a dog who finds himself living in paradise. If you were going to design an adventure playground for dogs, the New Forest would probably be it. Streams, mud, puddles, woods, thickets and wide open spaces. All drenched in a hundred million different scents, sounds and sensations. A dog has many, many times the olfactory capability of a human (or in other words can smell much better and make more sense of what he smells).

We may think that a dog isn’t as brainy as we are but dogs have a huge talent for understanding things about which we haven’t the slightest inkling! Charcoal is no exception. He also shares that other mysterious ability that non-human creatures seem to take for granted – we call it ‘sixth sense’. They probably just call it survival.

Seren: The Christmas Foal


Seren is a beautiful black foal born in the New Forest at Christmas time, which is pretty unusual for a foal around here. He is playful, adventurous and full of fun but before long, he has to learn to be brave as well.


Tess lives in a cottage in the New Forest with Charcoal. She has become used to Charcoal reading her mind and sometimes she even finds she knows what he is thinking. When she isn’t walking with Charcoal, Tess spends most of her time making animals out of wood, clay and stone.Tess


Ghost is Seren’s mother. She is a light dapple grey mare with a dark mane and tail that makes her look very striking. She has lived on the New Forest all her life and had several foals.

Tom Maddock

Tom Maddock owned Ghost for a long time. He used to work in the forest and when he was younger, he used a team of heavy horses to haul the timber he cut.

The Yew Tree

The Yew Tree that stands by Tess and Charcoal’s cottage is a very special one. It shelters many different types of bird including siskin, thrush, collared doves, blackbirds and a robin. The bats seem to love it too.

The Agisters

The Agisters keep an eye out for the ponies, donkeys, cattle, sheep and pigs that live on the open forest. They have to go out in all weathers to find animals that are in trouble or have been involved in accidents. The Agisters are also in charge of rounding up the ponies in the autumn to check that they are healthy. This is when they collect the fees from the owners (or Commoners). When the fee has been paid, the Agister cuts the hair of the pony’s tail in a special pattern for their district. The Agisters work for the Verderers.

The Keepers

The Keepers work for the Forestry Commission. They live in a cottage in the area of the forest that they look after. This means they are almost always at work because it is their job to make sure that people obey the byelaws of the forest and don’t light fires, let their dogs run out of control or do anything else that would cause danger or damage. Keepers also control the numbers of deer, squirrels, rabbits and foxes. Although they don’t work for the same people, most Keepers work closely with the Agisters to take good care of the forest, its landscape, animals and plants.

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