Source: merl, University of Reading



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Fig 5.8 Enclosure field pattern showing both the rectangular straight-edged fields and fields with the gentle backwards S-shaped boundaries determined by the shape of the open field strips in the Ardington/Lockinge area.

Source: MERL, University of Reading


urrow pattern remained. On those lands that are particularly well adapted to permanent grass and have never been subsequently ploughed, the ridge and furrow markings remain visible in the landscape.
The enclosure award only laid down the ring fence boundaries of a holding; it was up to the owner or his tenant to decide where to place the internal boundaries. Because parliamentary enclosure involved very different land qualities and uses, there was considerable variation in field patterns. On the arable, the length of the rotation, whether it was four, five, six, or even eight or more years long, would determine the division of the fields. This, in turn, was largely governed by the type of soil available. Fields for pasturing livestock were often quite small. The large fields associated with Tudor and Stuart enclosures were found to be too large and were often divided. Livestock management, particularly disease control, along with good grassland husbandry were simpler in smaller fields. The hedges also provided shelter for the animals. Robert Bakewell from the county of Leicestershire and best known for establishing the Leicester breed of sheep, believed ‘that fifty acres of pasture ground divided into five enclosures will go as far in grazing cattle as sixty acres in one piece.’25 For these reasons, fields devoted to pasture and meadows were generally smaller than the arable fields.
Although parliamentary enclosure tended to complete the process by which all the land, apart from occasional areas of common, in a parish was held in severalty, the parish was rarely enclosure by a single means. The post-enclosure landscape contained areas newly enclosed by award along side much older ‘ancient enclosures’. While some of the small haphazard areas of piecemeal enclosure taken out of the arable or commons disappeared at the time of the parliamentary enclosure, larger areas of non-parliamentary enclosure remained untouched. For this reason a map of a parish after parliamentary enclosure often showed fields with variety of shapes and sizes. However, the shape of many fields enclosed by act of Parliament quickly identifies them. Rectangular fields with incredibly straight boundaries are quintessentially parliamentary enclosure fields. The working map for the enclosure at Ardington demonstrates the complete disregard often paid to the older field system (see fig 5.2). Many of the allotments have been laid out perpendicular to the new enclosure road in fields with slightly less than right-angled corners and straight edges. This was not always the case. In some situations, possibly determined by the road system or by geography, or even just because it was the simplest decision to take, field boundaries could follow the boundary patterns in the old fields. Most often there would be a combination of both. Aerial photographs demonstrate this well. Figure 5.8 taken in the 1960s over Lockinge and Ardington shows a combination of straight-edged and gentle reversed S-shaped boundaries in the fields created by parliamentary enclosure.




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