Campden's Changing Landscape

How has Campden's landscape changed over the centuries?  How did our forebears farm the land and what effect did this have on land and buildings and the people themselves?

CCHS has a project group which is, for example, mapping "ridge and furrow" fields, the extent and effect of enclosures in general and the Campden Inclosure Act and Award in particular.

Workshop - What has been done and what to do in the future?

Ten CCHS members attended this workshop on 15th July 2013 and, together with our President, Professor Christopher Dyer, University of Leicester, we heard about the work that has been done so far by the project group and discussed what our priorities should be for the future with the expert guidance of Prof. Dyer.

Jill Wilson took us through a whistlestop tour of the geology of the area and how this affected the settlement.  This neatly led us on to the origins of the introduction of sheep and the development of the wool industry and the effect this had on the landscape.

"Ridge and Furrow"

The main focus of work recently has been mapping the existence of ridge and furrow in the fields around Campden. This involves physically walking the fields and noting which still have visible ridge and furrow, but also studying aerial photographs taken just after the Second World War and held in the National Photographic Archive.  This work continues.

The Inclosure Act 1799

There is evidence from an estate map of 1722 that many fields around Campden were already enclosed before the main enclosures which took place across the country later in the century, but by 1799 local landowners were keen to consolidate their land holdings and got a local Inclosure Act passed in 1799. 

Within a year the area had been surveyed and Awards or "allotments" made.  It will come as no surprise that the Noels and the Northwicks got the lion's share of the land, with a few other local landowners - after all, the appointed Commissioners all had a vested interest in the Noel family. 

Members present at the workshop are interested in finding out how the enclosure of land might have affected the non-landowning class.  Is the image of the poor, downtrodden working-class man being deprived of the use of "common" land accurate?  We hope to find out.

Topics for future study

Inevitably the problem is how to narrow down the area of study.  So many different topics and issues arose during the day  that we needed Chris Dyer to rein us back and suggest that we concentrate on trying to re-construct the parish landscape before enclosure, to discover where there were areas of woodland, where there was permanent pasture and meadown and the remaining ridge and furrow fields.

If you are interested in getting involved with this project contact Stephen Nixon via the CCHS enquiry page or send us an email.