TIMSBURY Lake is now owned by Solent University and used for ship handling training.

Archaeologists investigating the dam considered it to be 13th century but there is a reference to ‘the great fishpond’ already in existence in 1201. When William Briwere founded Mottisfont Priory he gave it all his land in Michelmersh and Timsbury except ‘the great fishpond’. William Briwere’s grandfather had been put in charge of the newly created Royal Forest of West Bere, with its Headquarters at Ashley near King’s Somborne. Ashley manor was inherited through the Briwere family, along with the hereditary office of head forester or warden of West Bere. The first William Briwere probably built the Norman motte and bailey castle at Ashley and the parish church which sits within the outer bailey. His grandson was an important servant of the crown in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. He served kings, Henry II, Richard, John and Henry III. He was one of the justiciars appointed to administer the kingdom while King Richard was on Crusade.The barons who forced John to sign Magna Carta regarded Briwere as one of John’s ‘evil advisors’. He was sheriff of a number of counties including Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and was so disliked that the men of those counties paid John to let them have a different sheriff! Briwere was also sheriff of Nottingham and may well be the original wicked Sheriff of Nottingham of the Robin Hood stories. William Briwere played host to both Richard and John at Ashley when they came to enjoy the hunting in the Forest of West Bere. Briwere would have needed to supply a good range of high class food. Creating a fish pond to provide a source of fresh fish would have been very useful. At Ashley, on the chalk, there would have been no opportunity. The site at Timsbury was probably the nearest suitable site. This fish pond was created by the construction of a large dam near the present site of Brook Farm. If supplying royalty with fish was the purpose of the lake it explains why Briwere retained the fishpond when he gave the rest of the lands around to Mottisfont Priory. Within a generation, the Briwerre family was no longer hosting royalty at Ashley and we find Mottisfont Priory in possession of the Fishpond which would have provided good fresh fish for the prior and canons, much needed during Lent and other times of fasting.