Medieval Fovant Village location
Perhaps St. George’s church wasn’t so isolated ‘at the other
end of the village’ when it was first built. Rumour has it that the large
mounds still to be seen in a field in the vicinity of our church, could have
been the remnants of houses abandoned during one of the periodic outbreaks of
plague in the Middle Ages. Whether this is true or not we don’t know, but
in any case this is too simplistic an answer. There were other reasons for the
abandonment of village houses during this period and all should be given equal
‘As a result of plagues, falling population, decline in arable acreage,
low corn prices, retreat from marginal lands and other farming changes of the
late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the desertion and partial desertion of
villages occurred in many parts of the region.’
J.H.Bettey – Wessex from AD 1000
Any of the following situations leading to the possible isolation of the church
could have applied to Fovant.
The effect of continuous plagues early 14th–mid 17th centuries
Death of landless peasants living in ‘hovels’ nearby
Destruction of above hovels because of infection
Ephemeral nature of such hovels, which were not built to last
Manpower shortage – which meant that survivors of a plague could more
readily dictate not only working conditions or venues, but also the location of
The production of woollen goods was a major industry in our area, therefore
sheep had priority where land use was concerned. Much of the land around the
church, Fir Hill Wood and Fovant Wood for example, was put down to pasture,
almost certainly to accommodate sheep.
Again Bettey –
‘By the thirteenth century … enormous sheep flocks were being kept
throughout the chalklands’
The earliest of our stone cottages are dated as from the beginning of the 17th
century therefore, their positions were chosen long after the church was built.
That most of our existing stone cottages are not close to the church may well
have to do with the Enclosure Awards of 1787. The rationalisation of land use
leading to the eventual demise of ‘strip’ farming left larger areas
in the hands of individuals who, now having centralised lands, built their
houses on that
It is interesting to note that the Rev. Eyre, Fovant’s rector at that
time, was given a 10 acre field, South of Touching Head Copse, in consideration
help he gave to the Enclosure Commissioners.
The Enclosure map of 1787 shows buildings on the church side of the lane, which
are undoubtedly the Rectory, the Manor House and Manor Farm House. We
don’t know as yet when these dwellings were built, but it is thought that
in each case early smaller houses have been considerably added to.
Some outbuildings associated with these dwellings, and two houses, probably
small cottages, situated NE of Turnbridge had been demolished by the 1920s.
Content last updated
15 May 2006
© 2002 Design - dingo web design. Text - Fovant History Interest Group
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