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Town Field – winter barley stubble

November 26, 2010

The 26 acre field behind the cottage, known as the Town Field, has taken on a distinctly tawny hue. The colour a combination of the natural decay of the barley stubble remaining from August’s harvest and an autumn application of herbicide. The field is by no means barren.

The Town field was presumably the main Open Field for the village. A Tithe map of 1837, which seem to record the tidying up of some ancient areas of strip cultivation, shows four distinct hedged enclosures. This same map shows the bisecting route of the new railway in an authoritative Victorian pencil stroke.

Before the railway was built through the middle of the Town Field in about 1879, these four fields ran with three more enclosures in a continuous group to the Aylsham / Buxton Road. Mrs Vincent reminded me once that a farm track led from Lower Farm all the way across to the Buxton Road and you can see the route on the old plans.  

Now the embanked railway line alters the lie of the land so radically to make this appear unlikely – but it is true, and what a change must have been felt in the village at that time.

The field today is more reminiscent of the ancient open field than it was in the 19th and 20th centuries. This morning flocks of a dozen or so Skylarks continue to glean seeds from the field.

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