Manuscripts and Special Collections

Activity 4: Controlling Laxton

Enquiry Question

  • How was life in Laxton controlled?


  • To understand the unique way of farming and regulations in Laxton


  • Document 1 - Regulations for grazing, 1908, with transcript (Ma B 183/697/1) Notes: Gate (grazing) rights in the open fields were reserved for those who held land there. Small tenants with no strips of land in the open fields and tenants of wholly enclosed farms had no 'gates'. The right to graze on the Commons was reserved for people who had no other land to pasture, and was stinted, i.e. the numbers of livestock were restricted.
  • Document 2 - Photograph of the Laxton Jury assembling for their annual visit to the Fallow Field, undated, possibly 1950s or 1960s (Ch Pc 1) Notes: The Jury went round the field to see that the boundary stakes marking each person’s strips were in position, and replaced those which were missing. The jury also noted whether anybody had encroached upon (ploughed up) the sikes and other patches of common grassland, and checked that ditches were clean and fences repaired. In this way each of the open fields of the village was thoroughly inspected once every three years.
  • Document 3 - Example of presentment of offenders including Ann Roos, 1809, with transcript (TL 1/55/2) Notes: Because farming took place in common and open fields, it was essential for everything to be organised and supervised. The jury reported any offences in their 'Presentment', and fines were imposed.
  • Document 4 - Suit roll, 1835-1841, with transcript (TL 2/10) Everyone who occupied land or owned common rights in Laxton and Moorhouse was eligible to attend the Laxton court. The list of these people was called the ‘suit roll’. It was annotated to show whether they appeared (‘app’), or whether they ‘essoigned’ (‘ess’), i.e. did not appear. Tenants were fined if they did not appear.
  • Laxton Jury worksheet


Outline Starter

  • Where and how do we get our food today? Open discussion of supply chain in 21st century from producer to supplier to consumer.


  • Read through the Regulations for grazing in 1908
  • Annotate the speech bubbles on the Laxton Jury worksheet with the main rules
  • Alternatively, there could be an opportunity to reconstruct the photograph, with the students given the rules to read out from their positions on the tractor!
  • Study the presentment paper and the suit rolls to see if anyone from the Rose family broke any of the rules. What might this mean? Does this help answer the overarching enquiry question?


  • How is their town or village run today? Does the Laxton Jury still exist? Find out!


Next: Activity 5: Typical, or untypical?


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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