The Village and The Enclosure

1835 and the enclosure of the medieval open fields was the greatest event in the history of the village up to that date. Its effect on the fields has already been noted and this of course was very important. However, because of the physical layout of the village, the enclosure took on a more than usual significance. The enclosure of the surrounding fields and their reallotment to individual owners was to make it possible for houses to be built there for the first time. But other changes were to have an even greater visual impact in the end.

As well as ending the medieval open fields, the Act of Enclosure led to the dividing up and fencing of much of the former open meadow and pasture lands. Amongst these areas were High Green and Ashen Green. All High Green was carefully divided into long strips of land running from the houses at the edge of the Green to the Cambridge Road, and each strip was allotted to the owner of the house it fronted. This meant that all the houses and farms along the edges of the Green suddenly acquired large plots of land to use as their owners wished; but primarily it was assumed for agricultural use. These plots are of course still a basic feature of the High Green area today. The large front gardens of Malyon's shop, Crocus Cottage, Carlton House and de Freville Farm on the west side of High Green and the long narrow gardens, now largely built over, around the post office on the east side of the Green are these plots. They were all fenced or walled and within a few months the ancient High Green, a relic of the Saxon period, had almost completely disappeared. The much smaller Ashen Green at the other end of High Street was also divided and given to the adjacent landowners and this too disappeared for ever.

These new enclosures on the former High Green were mainly used merely as additional fields or gardens but quite soon some people saw that they could be used for other purposes. One was a Steven Hagger who lived in a small farm on the edge of the old Green. On being given his long narrow allotment in front of his house, he built another house on it on the edge of the main road with a workshop behind it. This house still survives as the present post office. In 1847 this was still the only building on this side of High Green near the road. Another person who made use of his new allotment on the Green was William Headley. In 1835 he was living in a farmhouse on the edge of High Green on the site of the present Browning House. The allotment which he received in front of his farm was turned into a garden and by 1847 it had a long drive leading to it from the street terminating in a large circular path at the front door. At about the same time a number of small labourers' cottages were erected on allotments on the south side of Granham's Road, formerly also part of the open High Green. Both these uses of the new allotments, the building of houses and the development of gardens were to become common later on and in the end totally change the character of this part of the village.

Page last updated October 29th 2009

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