BRIEF HISTORY
OF THE
SPEECH HOUSE
The Speech House was built in 1676 as a
hunting lodge for Charles II (his arms can still
be seen in the stonework above the exit door to
the Verders Court).  It soon was recognized as
the administrative center of the forest and the
largest room became the Verders' Court.  It
became the place one went to talk or to make a
Speech-hence the "Speech House".

The office of the Verder is usually understood to
have been instituted by King Canute I in the
early 11th century.  There were four to each
Royal Forest and their chief duty was the
guarding of the 'vert' and the 'venison' on behalf
of the King.

The Verder's Court of attachment is still
scheduled to be held every 40 days at The
Speech House.  If there is no business to be
dealt with the court is formally adjourned for
another 40 days.  In actual fact the court now
sits on an average of four times a year when
matters concerning the forest are discussed in
the Verderer's Court.

The Verderer's are still appointed by the crown
and are paid a doe and a buck a year (although
none of the present Verderers have claimed
their "salary" since taking office).  Few deer are
now in the main area of the forest, so offences
concerning venison are rare.  Since 1924 such
offences have been dealt with by the local
magistrates court.
Speech House in the Forest of Dean, built in 1676 as a
hunting lodge for Charles II.  The Verderer of the Forest
of Dean held Court here as early as 1216.
The Court Room is on the ground floor still with
much of its original decoration.  Three massive
beams support the entire length of the ceiling.  
The death penalty can still be imposed for
making off with the Forest's royal deer, but
there's a condition to its imposition: the
sentence must be carried out on the gibbet
outside the hotel.  The gibbet, however, has
been mislaid.  Therefore, no gibbet...no
hanging, enabling peace and quiet to be
maintained.

The Verder's also have eratin administration
functions and continue to act as intermediaries
between the local public and the Forestry
Commission, and they manifest a great
concern regarding beauty and amenities of the
Forest.

The earliest allusion to the office of Verderer in
the Forest of Dean is in 1216.  From that year
practically unbroken records have been
maintained.  The present Senior Verderer is Dr.
C. Hart.  The Speech House is now a tiny 14
bedroomed hotel...
Extracted from the  leaflet broshure form The
Speech House Hotel, Forest of Dean
Gloucestershire, England