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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, an ancient Sherwood Forest Village recorded in Domesday

This map shows the open fields and coppices of Woodborough before Inclosure.

Also neighbouring parishes are named.

The necessity of sheep for wool, most villagers spun their own yarn, and cattle for meat, milk and cheese meant that full use had to be made of the Town Meadow and commons, and the Open Fields after the crops had been harvested. As the commons were very remote from the village, perhaps the cottagers without much other land made use of them. However, the running together of sheep or cattle in the Town Meadow or on the harvested Open Fields, with their headlands and grass baulks between the strips, was a recipe for spreading disease. Each square furlong, usually given a name in the Open Fields, was 10 acres in extent and was divided into approximately twenty strips, usually eleven yards wide and two hundred and twenty yards long, although the shapes of the fields meant that some people were allotted triangular strips known as gores or stintings.

There were a number of disadvantages in operating the Open Field system. Drainage was one, caused by the water running down the valleys of one furlong onto another, often taking the topsoil and any manure with it. Notice how the topsoil has gone from the Woodborough side of Ploughman Wood causing quite a sudden drop. No trees for timber could be grown on the Open Fields, as the cattle and sheep put on them for grazing after harvest would have damaged them. Access was difficult. If you go up Lingwood Lane and look towards Ploughman Wood, that whole area as well as the land behind the village down to Hawley House on Lowdham Lane was one enormous field. Just imagine what it would be like if you lived in the village, had a few strips up near Ploughman Wood, a few in the Moor Field over towards Grimesmoor, some in the West Field, and a small grass ley on the Town Meadow towards Woodborough Mill. Access to your strips would have been difficult as you would have had to dog-leg across the headlands of different furlongs, and often these headlands were being cropped by some less fortunate member of the community.

Pity Richard Crofts of Woodborough, a husbandman who died in 1601. He’d had wheat, rye and barley in the Westfield and Shutt Field, more barley in the East Field, peas and oats in Hawley Field as well as hay, presumably in the meadow. As no buildings were allowed on the Open Fields he would have had to cart all his seed from home and brought back all his crops to his barns and outbuildings.

Or, poor Mary Jalland in 1734 who had 20 lands in Moor Field and the grass at the end of them, 21 lands in Hawley Field and the grass at the end of them, 8 lands in Shutt Field with the headlands at the end, 6 lands in West Field with their headlands, 3 lands in Nether Field lying against the hill, 4 lands in Nether Field on the low ground with the grass, 1 grass ley on land in the meadow called Shelt Hill. No wonder she surrendered them in the Manor Court to Nicholas Carrington and James Lee, probably after being widowed.

Travelling between one’s strips in different parts of an Open Field and between the different Open Fields was extremely time-consuming and is reputed to have been a cause of indolence and the attitude that self-sufficiency was the only goal. An elderly neighbour or an inefficient or disabled one, or one who was just bone idle would allow weeds and rubbish to encroach on your strip causing the inevitable arguments. All crops had to be sown and harvested within specified time limits – if you were late in preparing your lands and sowing the crop – it might be too late to harvest it before the communal grazing began.

New crops such as turnips, which would provide food over the winter for the cattle (which had previously had to be slaughtered because of lack of food), were being introduced and the Open Field system of rotation could not always accommodate them. Grazing in the Town Meadow limited the number of animals you could keep and during March parts of the Town Meadow were closed until after the hay harvest. We know from the 1609 Sherwood Forest map that a number of the more progressive yeomen (farmers) and husbandmen, as well as the three Manors had by agreement and purchase acquired blocks of ‘lands’ and enclosed them. As the land was enclosed the pieces were known as ‘closes’ and there were about 47 in 1609, which included those belonging to the three Manors, but by the time of the Enclosure in the early 1790’s, 180 years later, the number had risen to approximately 120 so it looks as if the village had come to realize the benefits of Enclosure, or it looks as if some members had.


Readers should be aware that throughout this article and associated following documents, spelling of place names vary as do those of people. Where there is a significant change in the name this is indicated in square brackets with the most recent name inside the brackets [ ].

The Enclosure Acts, introduced at the turn of the 18th century, made a significant difference to the English countryside by encouraging the break up of the former open field system. New methods of agriculture meant that it would be more efficient to replace individual strips in a common field by larger parcels of land enclosed by hedges and farmed for a single crop.

The terms Enclosure and Inclosure are frequently encountered. Inclosure was the term most often used in legal documents although Enclosure has become the most commonly used form.

The Woodborough Enclosure Award is based on an Act of Parliament of 1795, which is stated to be “an Act for dividing, allotting and inclosing the open and common fields, commonable lands and waste grounds within the Parish of Woodborough in the County of Nottingham”. The land to be enclosed measured 1290 acres while the old enclosed land measures 620 acres giving together a total area for the Parish of 1910 acres. The land already inclosed included a large area, which was copyhold; the balance was freehold (or Tithe) as also was the new Enclosure.

Following the Enclosure there were only three large landowners and these together owned nearly 1430 acres out of a total of 1910 acres:-


Philip Storey - 690 acres or thereabouts “Clerk in respect of the estate of Elizabeth Bainbrigge (deceased) Lady of the Freehold Manor".


The Church Lands - 380 acres.


John Taylor Esq. - 360 acres of the Manor called Hertford Manor.


Only 8 other people owned more than 10 acres of land and only 3 of these owned between 30 and 50 acres.

This situation underwent a marked change in 1839 with the sale by public auction of the Woodborough Hall Estate, which was Capital Freehold and tithe-free. It included the Manor, Hall, numerous farms and other buildings together with 725 acres of meadow, arable and pasture land, which represented more than 1/3rd of the area of the village. (As a matter of interest it also included “exclusive right of fishery in the Doverbeck River”). This sale was the beginning of a series of other auctions, which followed at intervals in subsequent years.

The Woodborough story is as follows:-

With a number of Open Fields such as Hawley Field, Moor Field, Shutt Field, Netherfield (East Field), or West Field and the Town Meadow with Batholme, the yeomen, husbandmen, and cottagers were obliged to have strips and seleons, known in Woodborough as ‘lands’ in each and every field, in order to grow a variety of crops. Each field in rotation had certain types of crops on it, one field in rotation being left fallow, perhaps with some stock on it for the manure in order for the land to recover.

In order to be self-sufficient, as we see from the inventories of the inhabitants after their death, they needed wheat, rye, oats, barley, beans and peas, with a little flax and hemp. The flax was for linen cloth and the hemp for coarser sheets and pillowcases.  Because of these requirements they needed to have some ‘lands’ in each of the Open Fields.

The middle section of the 1609 map showing plot numbers and coppices

How was the Woodborough Enclosure enacted? First of all a petition from the landowners for a Parliamentary Bill was presented usually to the local MPs. The fact that it was the amount or acreage of land held by petitioners that counted, rather than the number of small landowners, worked in favour of the Lords of the Manor and the yeomen (farmers). The passage of the Bill in Parliament was usually a formality as the members of the Houses of Parliament at that time were drawn mainly from the land-owning classes. A detailed consideration of each Bill must have been minimal as between 1761 and 1844 a period of 83 years; more than 2,500 Acts were passed. After the passing of the Bill, Commissioners were appointed to implement the Bill. The Commissioners were often landowners in the county who probably already had dealt, or would deal, with the enclosure of a number of villages, and were expected to fairly represent all landowners, large or small.

The Commissioners often appointed one or more surveyors to measure up any old allotments and also the new land to be allotted under the Act. Notices were put in the local paper and on the church door calling an inaugural meeting, usually at a local inn where the Commissioners took an oath of fairness. Subsequent meetings were held where landowners could put forward their claims, and objections. According to research by Keyworth and District Local History Society there were objections by some Woodborough landowners but these may have been because of the loss of the commons and commoners rights and privileges.

Previous to the Enclosure a number of Woodborough landowners had exchanged parcels of land by mutual agreement to consolidate their holdings. There is one document where the Woods of the Middle Manor [The Manor House] had exchanged land with the Strelleys of the Upper Hall [Woodborough Hall] to the mutual benefit of both parties. This was also the aim of the commissioners, to allocate land within easy access of the landowner’s homestead. After establishing which pieces of land and how much they should allot to each claimant they had to ensure that the allocation contained a mixture of land of reasonable quality.

This well-known verse shows the antipathy by some of the objectors of the Enclosure.

They hanged the man and flogged the woman,

Who stole the goose from off the common?

But let the greater criminal loose,

Who stole the common from the goose?

In some areas serious riots occurred through opposition to Enclosures. This extracted cutting from the Daily Telegraph of a few years ago demonstrates.

Historic Theft: Thieves have stolen 14 truncheons dating from 1830 from an antique trunk in All Saints Church in Shillington, Bedfordshire. The truncheons were used by special constables on protesters during the Enclosures of the nineteenth century.

So who were the commissioners and the surveyor for the enclosure of Woodborough? I am again indebted to the Keyworth group, as they have researched one of Woodborough’s two commissioners, namely Jonas Bettison and also the surveyor John Bailey who both acted in the same capacity for the Keyworth Enclosure.

Jonas Bettison, born 1748, was a well-to-do farmer at Holme Pierrepont. He was Sheriff of Nottingham in 1795 – his appointment as Sheriff was an indication of both his standing in the County and of his personal wealth. His first appointment as an Enclosure Commissioner was in 1789 when he participated in the Enclosure of Arnold. In total he was commissioner for 24 Enclosures over a period of 20 years from 1789-1809 – from Walkeringham in the very north of Nottinghamshire to Whysall in the south, although the majority of these were in the south of the County, that is, Woodborough, Lambley and Arnold, southwards. In 1802 he acquired the mortgage of Bromley House in Nottingham for £3450, but his later life was marred by financial difficulties [negative equity]. He was buried at Holme Pierrepont in February 1825 aged 77 so that he would have been aged between 47 and 50 when he was involved in the Enclosure of Woodborough.

John Ince was the other Commissioner for Woodborough, but as he was not a Commissioner for Keyworth, I know very little about him. As well as being a Commissioner for Woodborough, he was also involved in the Calverton Enclosure of 1779/80 and of Upton in 1795/98, the same dates as the Woodborough Enclosure. On the Award he was sworn in as John Ince of Southwell, gentleman.

Incidentally, a Thomas Oldknow, also a gentleman, was a Commissioner in the Enclosures of Stapleford and Bramcote 1771/72, Sutton Bonington 1774/75, Hickling 1775/76 and Calverton 1779/80. He is mentioned in the Land Tax Assessment for Woodborough, in 1799 occupying the property or land here owned by Henry Hollins so he was probably a resident in the village at the time of its Enclosure.

Now we come to the surveyor – John Bailey. Little appears to be known about his life but he surveyed 22 Enclosures in Nottinghamshire covering 39,000 acres (Woodborough parish contains 1,916 acres according to the Award). He not only surveyed and mapped the Enclosures but was also a general surveyor.

Mathematics used in working out the areas of irregular shaped fields was extremely important to a surveyor and the main items used for this were the Gunter’s chain and the Waywiser, Who was Gunter? He was an astronomer, mathematician and inventor who lived from 1581-1626. In about 1620 he devised his measuring chain made up of 100 links with brass tags every 10 links. Each long link with its joining rings was 7.92 inches long so that the 100 links made 792 inches, which is 22 yards. My father [Mr Archer W Saunders, headmaster of Woodborough Woods School] had one at the School and as in the 1920’s and 1930’s many boys leaving school at 14 either went on the land as farm workers or into market gardening, he would teach the older boys land measurement, either in the school playground, on the school gardens or on the neighbouring field. If you had been aged 10 at Woodborough School you would have learned length and area tables which included 22 yards equals one chain. 10 chains – one furlong, 8 furlongs equals one mile and 10 square chains make 4,840 square yards or 1 acre. A chain was all right for small areas and distances but for larger ones the ‘Waywiser’ was used. You will probably have seen a trundle wheel, the modern equivalent being used by surveying teams or council workers measuring repairs that have been carried out on roads or pavements by contractors. If you go to Knaresborough Castle and look in the adjoining museum you will see a ‘Waywiser’ of the type that was probably used by the road maker and surveyor Blind Jack of Knaresborough. It’s a wheel with a diameter of 31.5 inches giving a circumference of 99 inches. Eight revolutions of the wheel give us again the magic number of 792 inches, so in effect it was a mobile chain. It had a gear driven counter so that distances could be easily measured.

In the will of Henry Alvey of Woodborough made in 1616 his land is measured in oxgangs. Shortly afterwards in 1620 Gunter’s standardized furlong of 220 yards had replaced or was replacing the ‘furrow long’ idea. Whilst the oxgang was about 13 acres, the divisions of Woodborough’s open fields into square furlongs would have been about 10 acres [an oxgang or bovate or 1/8th of a carucate of ploughed land].

Road specifications

Description: An Act for dividing, allotting and enclosing the Open and Common fields, Commonable Lands and Waste Grounds within the Parish of Woodborough in the County of Nottingham. Act of Parliament in the 35th year of the Reign of his present Majesty George the third.

Before any work was started an oath had to be taken by the Commissioners and the surveyor, signed, and written on parchment. The oath was as follows: I do swear that I will faithfully, impartially and honestly, according to the best of my skill and judgement execute the Trust reposed in me as Commissioner (or in the case of John Bailey, as surveyor) by virtue of an Act for dividing and enclosing the Open Fields in the Township and Liberty of Woodborough in the County of Nottingham without favour or affection to any person whomsoever so help me God. They were sworn on the 13th day of July, the year of our Lord one thousand, seven hundred and ninety five.

This plan shows the roads out of Woodborough with both previous and current names.

The width in feet is also shown (imperial measurement)

We do order and direct that part of the Town Street of Woodborough from the Church Yard to the west end of Woodborough being an old road which we have widened and put into repair shall be and remain of the same width the same now is and forever hereafter kept in repair in the same way the other public roads or highways of the parish are by law to be repaired. [now known as Main Street]

And we do order and direct that the public road or way called the Back Lane lying on the southward side of Woodborough and running parallel to and not far distant from the said last mentioned road from the south end of the said lane called the Church Lane to the Cross Lane called Southward Bank Lane shall for ever hereafter be stopped up and discontinued as a public or private road or way. [from Lingwood Lane, behind the Old Vicarage, the Manor and Woodborough Hall, to Bank Hill].

From Peter Saunders talk:
The next thing was to decide the location of the public roads. In our case John Bailey would seem to have done it in three main ways. The first was to choose the earlier tracks, which led to the commons, i.e. Grimesmoor Common, Southwood Bank Common and the Spindle Lane/Foxwood Gorse Commons. The second was to link up the new roads with footpaths or tracks from neighbouring villages e.g. Lingwood Lane, Roe Lane and Bank Hill and thirdly to use the tracks, which had previously been used for access to the Open Fields, which involved Netherfield/Lowdham Lane, and to a certain extent Roe Lane and Lingwood Lane. Although these were not always the most direct routes I have a sneaking feeling that he used them to avoid antagonizing the three manors by cutting through their established lands.

I’ll consider the roads in the order in which they occur in the Award:

Footpaths, bridleways & drains

Footpaths, or footways: And we do also set out and appoint one Public Horse or Bridle Road from Woodborough to Lambley of the breadth of 12 feet from the eastward end of the said town of Woodborough in a southward direction over the said field called Hawley Field to a lane in the said parish of Woodborough called Straits Lane being the public Bridle Road from Woodborough to Lambley (now called Thorpe’s Road after Roby Thorpe who later owned the Old Manor or Nether Hall).

The Town Street [Main Street] from the Church Yard of Woodborough to the west end of the Town being an old road which we have widened and put into repair shall be and remain of the same width and be kept for ever hereafter in repair (no mention of its actual width).  

That the public road or way called Back Lane lying on the southward side of the said Town of Woodborough and running parallel to and not far distant from the said last mentioned road, from the south end of Church Lane [Lingwood Lane] to the Cross Lane called Southwood Bank shall be stopped up and discontinued as a public road or private way (from the Old Vicarage Dell, near the top of what is now Park Avenue and the Upper Hall and coming out in Bank Lane near Bank Hill Farm corner).

And we do hereby award and appoint the following public Foot Ways over and through the said lands and grounds divided and enclosed (that is to say):-

1. From the West End, over Shutt Field, to a stile in the old Enclosure of Elizabeth Bainbrigge [Bainbridge] called Bonor Close on the Fox Hill Gorse Common and then into Calverton (this would have cut across the land where Thorneywood House now is, but according to the Notts County History of the 18th Century, as on 2nd October 1797 this footpath belonging to Mrs Bainbridge of Woodboro’ was diverted, Philip Story acting on Mrs. Bainbridge’s behalf).

2. From a lane called Roger Lane [Roe Lane, now Roe Hill] in a northerly  direction over the Moor Field and over Potter Hole Close being the footway from Woodborough to Oxton.

3. From the High Road between Woodborough and Epperstone at the southwest corner of the Open Meadow and near Woodborough Mill being the old footway from Woodborough to Epperstone (it used to start at a stile near the New Inn - of course the Epperstone bypass wasn’t built until the 1930’s).

4. A footway from Town Street across the land of Henry Hollins and William Raynor over the Nether Hawley Close (this was Church Walk footpath to Ploughman Wood end) and also to Thorpe’s Road.

5. From Southwood Bank in a southerly direction to the Lambley Woodborough Road (this seemed originally to come out near the entrance to Wood Barn Farm. The extension of this to Westfield Lane is not mentioned).

6. One from Woodborough to Arnold over the Westfield into two closes called the Water Close, over Stoup Hill Coppice and Meirs Coppice to Dovcott Head or Dorket Head, as it is know today. [Spelling of Dovecote has been changed over time]. This path was first considered as a possible road but the idea rejected in favour of a footpath.

7. One from a point at the junction of George’s Hill and Spindle Lane in a direct line over Meirs Coppice to join the previous path at Dovcott Head. 

Bridleways: And we do hereby set out and award the following private Carriage Drift Horse and Foot Roads or Ways in over or through the said lands and grounds described by the said Act to be divided and allotted and inclosed (that is to say):-

And we do hereby award and direct that all such or so much and such part and parts of the said private Carriage Horse and Drift Roads as are fenced out on both sides shall be formed and made and forever maintained and kept in repair by the owners and proprietors for the time being for ever of the said Lands and Grounds directed by the said Act to be divided and allotted and inclosed and that such or so much and such part and parts of the said private Carriage Horse and Drift Roads as lies within or over or upon any Allotment and Allotments and not ordered to be fenced out on both sides as aforesaid shall be forever maintained and kept in repair by the respective Owners or Occupiers for the time being of every such Allotment or Allotments (within or over or upon which as far over such Allotment or Allotments as such Roads or Ways not fenced out do respectively lie.

Drains: Dykes and watercourses to be kept open and unobstructed.

1. Grimesmoor Common (Moor Dyke) across Batholme Meadow to the Mill Pool (now diverted to the Dover Beck).

2. Town Dyke - this appears to be the one, which starts near Fishponds Close and comes into the West end of the village at the corner of West Fields.

3. From Deadman’s Close, down through the West Fields to join the Town Dyke on West Fields (this starts along Woodborough valley level with Park Farm).

Above left: Town Dyke running along Main Street 1911: Above right: The junction with Foxwood Lane and Bank Hill, shown here on the left, was known as Town End, and the dyke from Westfields can be seen as it approaches the Main Street Dyke or Town Dyke dated 1935.

And we do further award order and direct that the respective Owners or Occupiers for the time being for ever of all and every Fences and Fence Drains and Drain now made and hereafter to be made and through which all or any of the said public private and Foot ways herein before set out and awarded doth or shall pass or lie shall make and place and for ever maintain and keep in good repair good and sufficient Planks or Foot Bridges over and across every such Drain and good and sufficient Stiles and Planks or Foot Bridges in and across every such Fence such stiles not to exceed in height three feet. And with respect to the Draining and carrying the Water from off the lands intended by the said to be inclosed We the said Commissioners have caused to be made the following Drains or Water courses through several parts (that is to say) :-

Permission to coppice

The following is taken from an interesting document dated 1746 and bore the seal of “Right The Honourable Earl of Cardigan Chief Justice in Eyre of all His Majesty's Forests Chases and Parks Trent North”. It related to a request by William Edge and his wife Jane of Woodborough, (within the Chase of Thorney Woods in the Forest of Sherwood) who were owners of 8 acres of woodland ground and were asking permission to cut down and incoppice their land. Permission was granted to cut down and carry away the wood (except holly and crab trees) providing they kept out of the woodland all cattle (except deer) for the first 3 years, and for the next 6 years they only stocked the land with such cattle as are allowed by the Laws of the Chase and Forest. Also the land must be well fenced for the 9 years. Furthermore, a bond of a reasonable penalty must be given as a cover, for the conditions laid down. Even in these early days, permission was needed to do what one wished with one’s own ground.

Tithes (Tythes) & Landowners

Tithes – the first people to be allotted land in the Award were the former tithe holders. Presumably, the amount of land allotted to them bore some relation to the size of the tithes that were being discontinued. One result of the Woodborough Enclosure Award was that all tithes were extinguished and the former tithe holders received a land allotment in lieu. There were pre-Enclosure, two sorts of tithes, great tithes involving corn, hay and wood and small tithes which chiefly concerned wool and live stock. In a document dated 14th April 1704 John Wood of Woodborough leased certain lands for one year to John Plumptre and Thomas Mansfield. The tithes mentioned in the document were for corn, grain, hay, wool, lamb, hemp, flax and honey. These were probably traditional items as access to sugar was reasonably common by 1700.

The John Wood mentioned was one of six children, his three sisters Elizabeth, Catherine and Bridget died unmarried, his brother Richard was Rector of Gedling and his other brother Mountague who founded Woods Foundation School had parishes in London so John looked after the Middle Hall Estate.

The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 stated that all tithes had to be converted into cash payments but Woodborough’s Enclosure Award had preceded this.

The tithe holders were:
John Taylor – Lord of the Manor, Hertford Manor [Manor House]
The Rector of Epperstone – for small tithes
Prebend of Oxton – first part
Prebend of Oxton – second part
The Curate of Woodborough – for small tithes
Elizabeth Bainbrigge, as Lady of the Freehold Manor of Woodborough
Prebend of Woodborough – Lord of the Copyhold Manor of Woodborough

How much land was allotted to each and how was the area of each piece of land to be allotted and measured? John Bailey measured the land in acres, roods and perches, and if these measurements don’t mean a lot to you I’ll give you a quick explanation. Incidentally, the amount of enclosures prior to the Award was just under 627 acres and the acreage to be allotted and divided was 1290 acres giving a total acreage for the village 1917 acres. If you think of a professional football pitch and the grass area outside the touchlines and behind the goal, that would be about an acre. A rood was one quarter of an acre. A perch was 30¼ square yards so if you think of the floor area of a large room about 15 feet by 18 feet, that is roughly a perch. As there were 160 perches to the acre it allowed the surveyor to allot quite precise areas, even very small ones.

The Award and its map are a mine of information for local historians. The names of the various fields, closes and woodlands helped to give a pre-enclosure picture of the village. Southwood Coppice, Old Coppice, Miers Coppice, Stoup Hill Coppice and Foxwood Coppice remind us that all the village woodland was being managed as oak, ash and hazel coppicing to provide for fencing and wattle hurdles, whilst the standard trees provided timber for house building and repairs, cart, and general building timber and shafts for agricultural tools.


The Rye Close reminds us that as late as the 18th century rye bread and bread made of wheat and rye mixture were being consumed by the less affluent members of the village. The Ox Close and Calf Close were probably where the female oxen and their calves were kept, although as plough teams, oxen had been replaced by horses in Woodborough, by at least 1600. Coney Close must surely have been a rabbit warren under the care of a warriner. Fish Ponds pingle tells us that the Upper Hall supplemented their winter meat with fish, as well as with pigeons from the dovecote.

The Potter Hole Closes and Brick Kiln Close may have been the sources of earthenware and bricks before the later opening of the Bank Hill brickyard. Seventeen Lands close suggests that some early landowner had managed to acquire 17 adjoining strips and enclosed them. Tenter Close [alongside the Nag’s Head] was where the village weaver spread his cloth after washing or dyeing on frames, stretching the cloth on tenterhooks. The Hop Yard was where hops were grown as everyone made their own ale before the advent of tea and coffee.

The map and Award show the pre-enclosure commons, their position and size, the buildings at the time of the Award, together with the names of the head of each household.

The three main landowners at the Manors received the majority of the land but there is a certain amount of confusion in my mind as to the whole of the Woodborough valley, which had formerly belonged to the Upper Hall and appears to have been re-allocated, although the greater part seems to have gone back to the Upper Hall, which ended up with about 800 acres, just about double its previous acreage. They also exchanged and purchased another 25 acres from various other landowners. John Taylor at Middle Manor also more than doubled his acreage ending up with about 340 acres, whilst the Prebend’s acreage at Nether Hall [Old Manor] increased from 56 acres to 185 acres.

There were other allotments, the Earl of Chesterfield, as Warden of Thorneywood Chase, received nearly 16 acres and, in lieu of tithes, the Vicar of Southwell received 33 acres, the Curate of Woodborough, 3½ acres, part of the cemetery in Roe Lane is on it, and Oxton Overhall and Oxton Netherhall received 90 and 64 acres respectively. The surveyor of highways received 2 plus acres on Grimesmoor Common. The Parish Officers were allotted sundry houses and gardens (probably the poor houses on Field Lane) and also just over 2 acres at Foxwood, now the allotments towards Bonner Hill. The rest of the land was allotted to 27 village people, the amount of land varied widely; from as little as 1/6 of an acre up to 48 acres but in total the 27 received about 285 acres.

It is interesting to see that the total Land Tax for Woodborough, before and after Enclosure, remained the same, the total for the village being about £19. To illustrate how people who only had a little land, perhaps one or two closes, some strips in the Open Fields or as Commoners before Enclosure, I’ve taken four at random to show their allotments after Enclosure. I’ve marked their homesteads with the letter “H”. Joseph Hucknall had one close of 1½ acres and received about 11 acres more. William Cliff had 1½ acres of closes and received another 17 acres. John Hopkinson had 2 acres of closes and received another 15½ acres. Edward Buck increased his holding from 3¾ of closes to over 15 acres. The consolidating of, and better access to their holdings should have been of considerable benefit to them.

All the allotted land had to be fenced within 12 months of the Award. The big landowners, as long as their land was all together, could ring-fence the lot and sub-divide it later into suitably sized closes at their leisure. Smaller landowners had to enclose their land but were often able to share their fencing with a neighbour. A ditch had to be dug about 4 feet from the intended fence line and the earth thrown up to form a mound on which a quick-set hedge could be planted, guarded by rails on either side. An enormous amount of timber was needed for the oak posts, the elm rails and for access gates. As only the Manors had woods, and the former common wastes were now somebody’s allotment land, the fencing would have been a major cost for the small landowner. Also, quick-sets of hawthorn of white thorn would have been in considerable demand.

The big landowners would have been the major beneficiaries of the Award but the small landowners also received some benefits. The newly acquired land was usually fairly near their homestead or was in blocks with reasonable access. They could utilize their land in the way they thought best and were not bound by rules as to what, when and where they could sow their crops. If they acquired pasture they could put on as many or as few animals as they thought prudent. With having blocks of land instead of scattered strips, it was easier to carry manure on to their land and cart crops back to the homestead barn. All tithes were commuted. The following had to sign their acceptance when the Award was engrossed and stamped:

There were disadvantages to Enclosure. Those who suffered most from the Enclosure Award were those cottagers who did not own any land in the former Open Fields, but had only rented strips as tenants. When the new owners were allotted blocks of land, there was no requirement to rent any of it to former tenants who were often left landless. Those who had used the former commons for additional grazing or firewood had again lost out, but we can only hope the surveyor gave them some land in lieu. Many became labourers to those who needed the fencing, hedging and ditching to enclose their land.

The Vicar of Southwell gave Samuel Thorpe just over 5 acres of land, 3½ acres of Grimesmoor Common and 1½ acres in Southwood Bank Common to pay the expenses of enclosing the Vicar’s allotments.

With the planting of new hedges, it also enabled landowners to plant young trees along them. Ash trees were often planted at intervals to make up for the loss of timber by the enclosure of the previous wastes. Ash has many uses, as the wood is hard and elastic – suitable for axe shafts and tool handles, carts and agricultural implements. Elm and oak too were planted to make up for all those that had been used in enclosing the land. Willows were planted along watercourses like the Sycke Dyke and the Dover Beck, regularly pollarded for use as long as you stripped off the lower bark to prevent them from taking root.

With the Upper Hall now no longer having to maintain Woodborough valley as part of the Royal Forest, this land could be profitably farmed. It was after Enclosure that farms such as Wood Farm, the now lost Stoup Hill Farm, Park Farm, Bank and Bank Hill Farms, Moor Farm, Grimesmoor Farm, Shelt Hill Farm and Wood Barn Farm were built. They could then be let as self-contained farms, some with purpose built agricultural workers’ cottages. A higher rent could be charged for these farms, but this may have prevented small landowners from climbing up the agricultural ladder.

Pre-enclosure the state of Woodborough’s few tracks to the Commons and the Open Fields must have been terribly muddy in the winter hardening into rutted tracks in the summer. The village Surveyor of the Highways, chosen at random with no particular qualifications, was required to bring the post-enclosure roads up to a certain standard. This would have necessitated clearing a central track, putting in brushwood along the sides to facilitate draining, with large stones as a base, overlaid with smaller stones or gravel and levelled with sand at the surface. But where did the unfortunate Surveyor find his materials?

We know from the Award that he was allotted 2¾ acres of land on Grimesmoor Common as Surveyor. Arthur Snodin [a former Woodborough inhabitant] is know to have said many times, that Calverton land grew stones. Probably the same alluvial gravel could have been extracted from the land at Grimesmoor - all by hand of course. But there were at least two other good sources of stone. Stanley Wood owned by the Upper Hall, from where it is reputed stone was extracted for the building of Woodborough Church, could have been one source. Another was the field called the Stone Pit, immediately beyond Thorneywood House on Foxwood Lane.

In the Notts County records of the 18th century we find the following:-
At Nottingham on 9th July 1798 a certificate was ordered to be inrolled from John Morley of Woodborough, farmer, certifying that the public roads set out by the Commissioners for enclosing the Open and Common Fields in the parish of Woodborough had been made fit for the passage of travellers and carriages.

A rate was made in Woodborough for the putting of the roads into a decent state of repair and for drainage and surveying costs of the Award. The proportions in the Assessment were also to be used in future rates for repair work etc. The Assessments varied from £8. 7s.0d. for Elizabeth Bainbrigge £3. 3s.5d. for John Taylor and £1. 9s.5d. for the Prebend of Woodborough. The Parish Officers were assessed at 11½d. Joseph Wyld at 5½d. and Earl Howe at 5d. whilst Thomas Rose was assessed at 3d. as he only had about ¼ acre of land. The total assessment for the village was £19. 6s.8½d. Bill Alvey, the cobbler, told me that before the village street was tar-macadamed he remembered the water cart coming along the Main Street in the summer months with water trickling from a low bar at the back of the cart to lay the dust. Bill added that the Main Street was ideal in those days for playing marbles!

So, to sum up, what were the results of Enclosure for the people of Woodborough?  First of all, they now had well defined roadways, not just footpaths and muddy tracks. They had pieces of land, which they could enclose either as a large field or as smaller closes. They were not governed by community rules as to when and where they could grow, sow and harvest their crops, or how many stock they could keep. With better roads it was easier to bring the harvest back to the homestead. They could build a barn on their land, although few did, and Woodborough remained a nucleated village with its Main Street and open village dyke virtually unaltered until 1939.

The Upper Hall could turn what was left of the Forest and the Wastes in Woodborough valley into good agricultural land, and build self-contained farmsteads to let to tenant farmers. Likewise the Middle Hall’s Southwood, which stretched from near Bank Hill southwards to Agrams Well [stated as Hagerham Well on the O.S. map of 1835] disappeared to be replaced by land allotted to Bank Hill Farm and the new Wood Barn Farm. Land could more easily be bought and sold and the land, now in blocks instead of strips, saved the farmers and smallholders both time and energy. Many of the village properties, mainly on the north side of Main Street, retained their land and orchard extending from the Main Street to Field Lane, e.g. the Old Post Office, the Old Butcher’s shop opposite the church, Old Forge Cottage and Punch Bowl House, which reverted to a smallholding in 1909.

Whereas the new roads in many villages at Enclosure were straight, John Bailey’s roads followed the old tracks and footpaths, so although Enclosure must have come as an awful shock to many of the inhabitants, many familiar things remained. The hedgerow pattern and hedgerow trees planted at Enclosure remained a feature of the Woodborough landscape until the advent of the tractor in the 1930’s and later the coming of the combine harvester.



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Enclosure of Woodborough 1795 -

Peter Saunders interpretation