Manuscripts and Special Collections

Laxton open field Village - lesson plans and activities for teachers

Detail from the 1862 hand-drawn plan of Earl Manvers’ estate in Laxton (Ma 5420)
Is it possible to find out why Joseph Rose sold his possessions in 1849?

This series of lessons and activities aims to look at Laxton village, the last surviving open field village in England.

The evidence has been chosen from a larger selection of documents available on the Laxton: Living in an Open Field Village website created by Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham. The activity plans were created by Fiona Berry, History teacher at Kirk Hallam School, Derbyshire, and Gary Mills of the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, and published in August 2008.

The project was supported by the Strategic Commissioning programme funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). Your feedback on these activity plans would be appreciated and will help to inform future developments.

The focus is on one individual (Joseph Rose), the wider Rose family, and how they lived in Laxton throughout the generations. What changed and what stayed the same? How typical was their experience on an individual, local and national level?

Learning outcomes

  • There will be a focus on using the evidence available to answer, if possible, the key question.
  • One of the main aims is for students to work with archive material and appreciate what we can learn as historians from this material, but also to note the possible problems and gaps in the resources These activities are only suggested outlines and each teacher will still need to fully plan their lessons accordingly.
  • There are many other resources such as maps, schedules and other documents which can be found on the main Laxton website. They can be added to the suggested activities at the individual teacher's discretion.
  • A significant challenge is to get students to engage with the different documents; the teacher will need to facilitate the learning to ensure this occurs.


  • Hopefully, the activities will promote interest and enthusiasm in using archive material in the classroom for both teachers and students alike. It is challenging and useful to perhaps be unable to answer the overarching enquiry question - but that really is the point!  


Target age: 11-14 (KS3)

Number of activities: 5 or 6

Period: 18th and 19th centuries

Keywords: Agricultural revolution, open field, arable, pasture, strip, acre, furlong, freeholders, enclosure, fallow, crop rotation










Next: Activity 1: Life in Laxton


Manuscripts and Special Collections

Kings Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 4565
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 8651