Medieval Winslow was an intensely arable landscape, with very little meadow or pasture and no significant woodland. There were three huge open fields (and three more in Shipton), divided into furlongs, which were divided into ridges and furrows. This was still the case when the Fortescue Map was produced in 1599. Many of the furlongs in Shipton are listed in a document of 1633. A document listing a holding of at least 90 acres from c.1635 shows how scattered and unconsolidated individual pieces of land still were at that date, although it shows the start of a trend away from arable farming. Some indication of the range of crops grown can be seen in this retirement agreement of 1345:

And there is a condition that the aforesaid Agnes, daughter of John Mayn, will pay annually to the aforementioned Geoffrey May between Michaelmas and Martinmas, for the term of Geoffrey's life, 5 quarters of grain with one bushel of oats: namely, one and a half quarters of wheat, one and a half quarters of barley and 2 quarters of beans and peas of the better crop growing on the aforesaid land.

This shows that, although the principle of the three field system is usually stated to be one field for wheat, one for another crop and one fallow, in practice the cropping system was considerably more complex.

Winslow was an important agricultural market centre. There was a weekly market on Thursdays, and Owen's New Book of Fairs (1813) lists these fairs: "March 20, Holy-Thursday, Aug.21., Sept. 22 cattle. 1st and 2d Thursdays after Old St. Michael, Oct. 10, for hiring servants."

After Enclosure, there was a complete change in farming practices (although the trend probably began earlier). Rev. St.John Priest, A General View of Agriculture in Buckinghamshire (1813), p.372 records the acreage in Winslow as:

This poem, written in 1878, gives some idea of what people were saying during the Victorian agricultural depression. It was found among the papers of W.N. Midgley but he can't have been the author. Another poem on a similar theme was published in the local press in 1879: click here.

The Landlord's Response

Copyright 15 April, 2020