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Title: Enclosure in Leicestershire, 1485-1607
Author: Parker, L. A.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3470 731X
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 1948
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Leicestershire, a county of slightly over half a million acres, forms a part of the east Midlands and, was the very heart of open-field England. Its geographical position alone, therefore, gives it particular significance in agrarian history. Leicestershire, indeed, became a key county in the movement for the destruction of the communal tillage of the open-fields by enclosure for pasture which swept across the Midlands with especial violence throughout the Tudor and early Stuart periods. Before, however, we enter into a detailed. enquiry into the enclosure movement in Leicestershire during the period 1485 to 1607, let us first survey the main features of the county and. its society as they would. have Impressed themselves upon an observant contemporary In the year of Bosworth Field. Leicestershire is divided into two roughly equal parts by the river Soar which flows from south to north to join the Trent, two halves which are broadly contrasted in many ways. The country west of the Soar is composed. largely of gently undulating Keuper marls with outcrops of hard volcanic rock In the hilly region of Charnwood and with extensive areas of glacial sands and gravels in the south-west, and it remained largely under arable cultivation long after the eastern half of the county had been largely turned over to sheep and cattle pastures. The eastern half of the county is cut into three regions by the river Wreak (which joins the Soar a few miles north of Leicester) and by the valleys of the Sence and, the Eye-brook. The Sence runs into the river Soar about four miles south of Leicester and the Eye-brook, separated from the Sence by a small watershed, flows in the opposite direction to meet the Welland which forms the south-eastern boundary of the county. North of the Wreak - the Wolds - we find heavy soils covered with lighter top-soils. The middle region between the Wreak and the Sence-Eye-brook contains the eastern uplands which, rising some six or seven hundred. feet above sea-level, are formed out of heavy liassic clays with patches of lighter soils. In the area south of the Sence-Eye-brook we again find lighter soils covering heavier clays. The valleys of the Wreak and the Welland form the only extensive lowlands In the eastern half of the county. The settlement of Leicestershire was virtually complete by the time of the Domesday Survey at the close of the eleventh century. Although there were some Roman settlements, the colonisation of the county was the work of the Angles and the Danes roughly between 500 and, 919 with a few Norse settlers In the mid-tenth century. The eastern half of the county was more heavily settled than the western; the areas with the greatest concentration of settlements were the valleys of the Soar and the Wreak, the Wolds and. the light soil regions of the eastern uplands. For centuries, too, the eastern half of the county remained more densely peopled and richer in all respects than the west, certainly up to the end of the seventeenth century and, perhaps very nearly to the end of the eighteenth when the spread of the framework-knitting industry over the western townships and villages had redressed the balance.
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Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available