Open Field System

The evidence for open fields in Wold Newton is scant, but their former existence is suggested by the following.

  • The name “Stock Furlow” and possibibly the shape of Stock Furlow wood which may, perhaps, represent the shape of a former furlong in an open field.

  • The shape of the hedge line on the western parish boundary which would appear to follow the line of the furlongs at the western edge of an open field.

  • The names “West Field” and “East Field” which may be remnants of larger and open fields.

  • Ridge and furrow in the southerly end of “Eddy Piece” and in “Stock Furlow” wood.

Inside the cover of one of the parish record books, now deposited at the Lincolnshire Archive in Lincoln, is a fascinating inventory (terrier) of the lands which went with the parsonage in the reign of King James I, compiled by the then rector, Thomas Pilkington. It is scarcely legible, but for what it is worth a copy can be accessed under the Land Ownership section together with our best attempt at a transcript. (If you can offer any insights which might improve our translation, please click on the Contact tab.) It paints a picture of land tenure scattered amongst the furlongs of the open fields, in a manner typical of the open field system pre-enclosure. Interestingly, some of the furlong names coincide with field names which exist today.

Field Names

The following is a transcript of six pages of hand written notes made by William Maurice Wright. You will find a pdf of the original notes below and also a rough map showing the fields as they were then and broadly as they are now. The Football Field has gone, absorbed into Near Bottom. Long Platt subsumed Fifty Acre when the hedge between them was removed in the 1970s. Nine Acre disappeared when the ditch separating it from Randall Piece was culverted in the 1980s.

“Old field names of the North farm. Wold Newton.

Beginning from the northern boundary of the parish the first name that occurs is the “Petterhills.” This was probably the Potter hills. There is still excellent clay here for the potter or the brick maker. In former times most parishes made their own rough bricks if they could possibly find the material to hand. The brickworks over the Ravendale boundary had to be abandoned 30 years ago owing to the bed of clay having been worked out. The present Petterhills cover was known as “The Osier Holt.” The fox cover itself extended eastwards for another 13 acres and beyond it was another small field of 7 acres running up to where the present boundary fence marks a sharp turn southwards. This cover and field were thrown into the present 60 acre field known as “Far Petterhills” by the late Squire when he made ‘The Scallows’ fox cover. The next field is known as “Near Petterhills” 67 acres. It may have been called “The Upper Heanings” which name occurs in a will of 1558. The Anglo Saxon ‘Hean’ - high may be the derivation.

The next field still known as “The Micklemoor” is 81 acres. It probably is a form of “The Mickle Moore” or the large field. It has also been suggested that it might mean “The Milking Moore.” The name occurs in other parishes. It might also be connected with ‘Michael’ as Michaelmas was the time when half year’s rents were paid. The small field on the extreme eastern boundary now known as ‘The East field’ was perhaps ‘The Littlemore’ which is mentioned in 1558. The present eastern boundary fence from here to Stock furlong was rectified and straightened out by an agreement with Hawerby in 1851. The long narrow field 62 acres runningdown nearly the whole of the Hawerby lane was known as ‘The Langmore.’ This once included the grass paddock 9 acres in which the modern ‘Langmore’ house now stands. The line of grand old elms westward of the house marks the western hedge of the old Langmore or long field. Below this stands ‘The Hill Close’ 4.5 acres near the Blacksmith’s shop. This is probably ‘The Brame hills’ or Bramble hills mentioned in 1595. The Hawerby Lane itself is ‘The East gate.’ The word gate always meant way in olden days. ‘The Mill gate’ also mentioned seems to mark the presence of a windmill at a time when nearly every parish ground its own corn.

To return to the north west boundary. The large field called “Randles” 89 acres preserves the old name of Ravendale. The field above is “The old Sainfoin close” 60 acres now unfortunately called ‘The Grimsby field.’ ‘The Top Barn’ stands in ‘Thorganby Walk’ 98 acres the largest field in the parish. The two fields eastwards known as ‘Top Pastures’ 36 acres and “Bottom Pastures’ 47 acres were ploughed up without permission during the wars of Napolean when corn was as scarce as it is now. It cost John Walesby his farm. His parents were John and Sarah Walesby who died 1797 whose much worn tomb slabs lie in the porch. It was John Walesby the elder who planted the fine line of elms in the ‘Double hedge’ and those on the Ravendale road. The Top pastures may be “The Green Cliff” mentioned in 1834. There is an excellent and abundant supply of good spring water in the pond which lies between the ‘Top’ and ‘Bottom’ pastures. ‘Swinhope Walk’ 76 acres contains the remains, now nearly ploughed level, of an ancient British Tumulus or burial place. It was unearthed in 1828 when 20 urns containing the ashes of British chieftains were discovered. The curate in charge of Grimsby (then quite a small place) took them away and they have been apparently lost.

The small field 21 acres opposite the ‘Top Barn’ is still known as ‘The Tranmore.’ This is probably derived from the Anglo Saxon word Trum which means heavy or strong. The land here is the strongest and heaviest in the parish.

“The Slater Cliff” 46 acres has a soil partly very light and partly very stiff. The bracken grows in its northern hedge marking the presence of gravel. The word Slater may be derived from the Anglo Saxon “Slaed” - open country. The two remaining arable fields are ‘The Church field’ 35 acres possibly “The cow lanes” of old time though this curious name may refer to ‘The Near Bottom’ and “Far Church field” 45 acres. This was certainly called ‘Swinhope Bottom.’ The three grass meadows stretching from the Petterhills to the village are ‘The Far Bottom’ 10 acres, ‘The Middle Bottom’ 28 acres lately added to, and The Near Bottom 27 acres. (W.M.W. to be continued)”

“Old field names South Farm. Wold Newton.

Beginning with the Hawerby Lane which marks the north eastern boundary of the farmthe first field is ‘The Cow Walk’ 70 acres probably so called because in the days before the infamous ‘Enclosure Acts’ nearly every cottager had a cow. These cows would be driven up a lane which once ran through the fields of ‘The Cow Walk’ to the common pastures now represented by the Mushroom Close or Hawerby Field 61 acres. There is a tradition that the common land was situated here. The present pasture was laid down 50 years ago. The old name was “The Upper Brintle” possibly a form of Brinkhill or brow of the hill. This is one of the highest points (nearly 400 feet) in the district. It has a superb view stretching from the hills beyond Hessle in the northwest down the coast beyond Saltfleetby in the south east. Twenty or more church spires can be seen on a clear day including the famous spire of Patrington, “The Queen of Holderness.” It is said that this site was nearly chosen for the wireless telegraph station now at Humberstone. The eastern extremity of the parish is marked by Stock Furlong a landmark for miles round on sea or land and could be seen it was said from the towers of Beverley Minster. The soil is clay and the larch trees with which the wood was replanted have in consequence proved a complete failure. ‘Barley Walk’ or ‘Stockfurlong piece’ 52 acres which adjoins the wood has a staff heavy soil. The black gate in the south east corner (and for years it was the only black gate in the parish) marks the scene of the murder of Enoch Goldy by two poachers on Whitsunday 1869. He was Squire Thorold’s young gardener and was shot by the men as he went through the gate in their pursuit.

Between “The Cow Walk” and the village is the pretty grass slope called “The Clay pits hills”, or “Eddy piece” or “Sandhole”. The remains of what is probably a large sand pit accounts for the name. The foxes here have thrown out good sand from their earths above Smith’s cottage.

The small paddock above the school now included in “Claypit hills” was the Parsonage Garth as it adjoined the Glebe farm buildings and the old Parsonage house. The latter still stands converted into two picturesque double cottages. The grass field to the south of the Claypit hills known as the four acre really 6 acres is the old Grange Garth. The line of ancient ashes on the top of the hill marks the original western hedge of ‘The Hundred Acres’ actually 88 acres. The Valley nearly 20 acres was planted 50 years ago. The name of “Bowdale” is derived probably from the bow. Either it is its curved shape, or from the fact that yew trees were grown there for supplying bows, or it was used for shooting practice with the bow. A place was often set apart for this purpose and was usually called “The Butts.” Geologists say the curious formation of ‘The Valley’ is the work of glaciers in the Ice Age.

The majestic Beech trees in the old garden of The Grange together with the valley marks one of the beauty spots of the district. The fine Cedar of Lebanon was planted 150 years ago by .... John Wright. The ‘Chalk or Calk pit plats’ 49 acres and ‘Far calk pit plats 55 acres were ‘The Furze hills’. The soil is thin with gravel and sand or chalk near the surface and it is probably the poorest land in the parish.”

Although the notes relating to the north farm end “to be continued” they appear to be complete and yet those relating to the south farm are clearly not so, as no mention is made of the fields in the south western corner of the parish. All is not lost though as since transcribing the notes above we have tracked down three more pages of notes, transcribed below, which complete the jigsaw. They appear to have been written in the mid 20th century. Since then, sometime in the 1970s, the hedge between Long Plat and Fifty Acres was removed.

"Old Field Names of the South Farm Wold Newton

'The Fox Cover' 83 acres has been so called for certainly 150 years. That part of the field lying between the Louth and the Scallows roads was once known as 'The Coney Hills'.

The old fox cover was situated exactly opposite 'The Scallows Hall' entrance gates. This was 45 years ago when the present cover was planted in the extreme south west corner of the parish. These four acres have not been a success & the sooner they are thrown again into the field the better. This corner which once adjoined a cover on the Swinhope side was anciently called "The Brats Corner" . This old Norse word which often occurred in the district means steeply sloping ground.

The word Scallows which occurs at Messingham in the county is also an old Norse name & signifies a little shelter or hut used for shooting game, in fact the most primitive form of shooting box.

'The Fox Cover' is bounded on the North by 'The Long Plat' 51 acres & 'The Shepherd Hills' 18 acres. This is the steep grass slope with the regular terrace which runs along parallel with the Louth road.

The remarkable terrace on the slope may be the remains of glacial action. (There is much the same thing to be seen in Beesby Valley.) On the other hand its great regularity seems to point to artificial formation. It is probably Roman work made at a time when this district was almost as an important agricultural centre as it is now.

Terraces were sometimes made for Vineyards. The Vine was cultivated in England up to the 16th century.

Part of Shepherd Hills was called Scotgate. This probably preserves the memory of the time when cattle was largely imported from Scotland. On the west of 'The Shepherd Hills' lies the Fifty Acres actually 51 acres & beyond it 'The Thorn tree Plat' 77 acres with the scant remains of the sobbing Thorn tree which tradition relates was the scene of some far off tragedy. The old name for the field of "The Victim Furlong" seems to corroborate the story. The Thorn tree is said to be haunted & there have been ghostly stories told by those walking home late from Binbrook.

'The Far West Field' 87 acres was known as Binbrook Gate the boundary hedge between the field & Swinhope is 'The Bull Bank'.

'Mesdames' 15 acres was for years included in the south farm though actually in the Parish of Swinhope. It owns its peculiar name to Miss Betty Burrill commonly known as 'Madame' or 'Lady Betty'. The field formed part of the estate of Grainsby & Waythe which belonged to this lady & to which her niece succeeded, the grandmother of the present squire of Grainsby. 'The Top Church Field' 87 acres has large disused gravel pits which at one time were of considerable repute and supplied gravel even to Grimsby.

'The Church Field' 46 acres includes 8 acres of the Glebe.

'The Stackyard Piece' 48 acres is one of the best wheat growing fields on the Parish.

Either this field, or the small grass meadow below it known as 'The Pump close' 7 acres was anciently called 'The Summer Hills'. This pretty old name has been revived for the new plantation in 'The Cow Walk'. 'The Pump Close' was also known as 'Rape Garth'. There was an old well here which never ran dry within living memory. The present deep well, 270 feet including the base, was sunk in the north east corner at great difficulty & with considerable cost.

(To be continued)

The following is a transcript of a mid 13th century "enfeoffment' (lease) from the Holywell Collection (H87/34) which demonstrates some continuity in field names from that era to the time of the 17th century terrier referred to above and attached in the Land Ownership section.

"Enfeoffment by Matilda de Sutton of John Cook (Cocus) of Lichfield, of 4 acres of arable in Waldneuton, an acre and a half in the western field, in the southern part called Kirkwang, half an acre at Crakhoustigtes, half an acre in Sandholes in the eastern field and one and a half acres in Thorndale.

Rent two silver pennies

Witnesses Alan de Besebi, John his son, Geoffrey de Aula, Wm son of Geoffrey, Robt de Racebi, Walter son of Robt, Rudon North, Richard Cocus"

Click here for a plan of field names.