Enclosure Awards 1787
Much of England had been enclosed – that is, divided into separate fields – since medieval times, but in the eighteenth century, enclosure by agreement began to give way to enclosure by act of Parliament. The enclosures in Fovant and the neighbouring villages were described in the Enclosure Awards of 1787.
The Enclosure Awards not only defined the boundaries of the fields in the Parish, but also the roads, carriage ways and bridle paths. The former are described here, and the latter descriptions are to be found under the heading of “Geography / Roads & Paths” (See the Navigation panel to the left).
Parliament appointed surveyors to establish the enclosures and they first met at Fovant Hut on 19th September 1785. By the time of their thirteenth meeting at ‘the House of Morris Coward, known by the sign of the Greyhound in Wilton’, they were hearing objections from Fovant residents concerning roads and paths. Their decisions were published on the 7th August 1786 in the Salisbury & Winchester Journal. William Corfield was appointed Surveyor, but died in 1787 and Francis Webb was appointed in this place.
Some indication of the use of the land and the practices thereon were also considered in their deliberations.
“And whereas it was by the same act enacted that the same commissioners should, and they were by the same act required, to deduct from any allotment or allotments to be made to the Provost and scholars, prebendary, subcharter, rectors, vicars and masters of St. Nicholas and St. John’s Hospital”.
Two acres of downland lying north of the old turnpike road and in line with Limbway were given to the parish of Fovant as a poor furze allotment, in which the poor of the parish might gather furze for firewood.
A smaller plot of about an acre in extent ran west of Limbway into the Common allotment ground about 200 yards north of the foot of the downs. This was also for the use of the poor.
It was decided that grass growing on, or on the sides of, the private carriage roads, by, or in the common fields, belonged to the tenants of the land bordering these roads.
The rotation of crops on the allotments was to be properly regulated. Each year one portion was to be sown with wheat, one to barley or other “Lenten” crops and one to clover or other seed grass. The remainder were to lie fallow or summer-fields and should be fed and depastured – “the sheep in such numbers as shall be specified”.
There was to be a common flock of sheep, consisting of a few sheep from each allotment holder. Each allotment holder was to contribute to the wages of the shepherd.
“Fallow fields to be broke or depastured yearly, and every year on the 4th day of May they may be stocked and depastured until the 10th day of October and no longer be penned until the 11th day of November.”
In June they might prepare the ground for the following wheat crop.
Sheep might be put on the stubble on the 20th day of September or sooner according as to whether the harvest had been gathered in.
Landshards or Boundaries were to be left between the several allotments.
A ten acre field lying south of Touching Head Copse was given to the Rev Eyre in return for his assistance to the surveyor in framing the enclosure awards. (although this piece of land was afterwards exchanged for another, probably on Moor Hill).
The Enclosure Map of 1787.
The Enclosure Map of 1787 differs in several details from the present-day map. Several houses, now vanished, then stood and details of these (largely as described by Dr Clay in the 1920s) can be found by selecting Buildings / Street maps on the Navigation Panel to the left.
This is a topic on which research is on-going.
Bowling Alley was the name of the field between Clap Gate Plantation and the southern end of the allotments. Lower Heathery Down was a pasture.
Dean Coppice ran along the south side of Hole Lane and occupied the upper half of Dean Mead.
Much of Fir Hill Wood, and that part of Fovant Wood which is on the west of Catherine’s Ford Hill was down to pasture.
The names of the enclosures can be seen on the following map.