(February 1994) Sibford before the Enclosure

Sibford before the Enclosure (in 1790 for Sibford Ferris) was a very different place. There were few houses beyond the immediate village and most outlying farms were not built until the 19th century. There were closes (small fields) and orchards, belonging to houses in the village, which were enclosed, but beyond these were the common fields, which were farmed in strips. The whole of any one area of common land would be arable one year, and all the strip-holders would have to comply, while other common fields would be leys or pasture.

A list of Benjamin Lamb’s half yard land (about 15 acres) in 1750 includes 43 separate pieces, examples of which are:

  • One yard of greensward above Whitemore (Jos. Harris west & Thos. Walford east).
  • One acre at Mill Hill (Thos. Walford east, The Hill west).
  • One butt at Bromswell Head (Thos. Walford north & south).
  • One land in Wagborough (Thos. Walford east).
  • One hadland at Long Oathill (Thos. Walford east).

(In each case. the persons farming the adjoining strips are named.)

In 1776 John Lamb had corn crops on 14 of his own strips and on 7 of Jonothan Farden’s, which he appears to have farmed with his own. He recorded the number of shooks and sheaves harvested on each strip, presumably all to be carted back to the village for threshing with flails.

To visit all his strips, a Sibford strip-holder might, for example, have had to walk to Debrook Leys (by the bridge on the way to Shutford), or to Between Churchways (the field between the Shipston – Banbury road and the road to Sibford Ferris) or to Longmans Pool & Lower Dick (bordering the Hook Norton parish) or Mill Hill & Hide Furlong (towards Temple Mill). He must, surely, have been ready for his home-cured bacon, home-produced vegetables and home-baked. bread. on his return.

Ina Lamb