Manuscripts and Special Collections
   
   
  

Lands and furlongs

Detail from 1635 map showing strips

The words strip, selion and land were often usually used interchangeably to mean the same thing - a ridge, formed by the action of ploughing over many years. However, a strip could be made up of more than one land or selion, all in the occupation of the same farmer. The more lands in a strip, the wider it was.

'Lands' were the basic unit of arable farming, and a farmer would work a variety of lands scattered across each of the open fields. He would bring his crops, machinery and animals back to his farmhouse in the centre of the village at the end of the working day. The plots on which the farmhouses were built extended a long way back from the street, and the farmhouses were often built 'gable-end', or side-on to the street. This allowed the farmer access to barns, stables and other buildings at the back of the house.

Ideally a farmer would want to have his holdings divided evenly between the open fields, to take advantage of the varying conditions in each location, but in practice this was almost never so. Even within one field they might be very fragmented, with each individual land very small. Each of the landholdings formed part of a named 'furlong'. A furlong was a group of strips or lands all oriented in the same direction. Document 2, Document 3 and Document 4 are all examples of lands and furlongs.

One of the farmers living and working in Laxton in 1862 was Joseph Rose. Document 5 is an extract from a survey of Laxton, and describes his holding of 28 acres and 39 perches.

 

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