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1789 - Open Fields Survey

The Open or Great Field system involved large fields divided into strips. A landowner held a number of strips spread through all the fields. To avoid the land becoming overused, the field use was rotated to include a fallow or rest year. The use of distributed strips meant that no one landowner suffered due to all their land being in fallow in any year (i.e. part of their land was always in a field bearing crops). The ploughing of the strips created the traditional ridge and furrow field landscape that can still be seen in parts of the Midlands.

The Duchy of Lancaster land survey records of 1789 show that Chelveston and Caldecott had their own field systems, with the church sited on the boundary between the two.

Caldecott operated a three field system (each field rotated through wheat, peas & beans and fallow in successive years)

Home Field = 59 acres

Middle Field = 69.25 acres

Higham Meer Field = 91.25 acres.

There was also about 100 acres of common ground known as Water Leys, which was apparently poor clay soil to the east.

Chelveston operated a two field system (each field alternated crop and fallow) back in 1330 (Victorian County History of Northamptonshire Volume IV), but had changed to the three field system before the 1789 survey. There were actually 4 great fields, but the two smaller ones appear to have operated together.

Church Field = 20.25 acres

Caldecott Meer Field = 79.25 acres

Hedge Field = 126.25 acres

Ridgeway Field = 105.25 acres

The total arable area was therefore 550.5 acres out of approx 1,700 acres. The remainder was either permanent pasture, common land, Inclosures (known as Closes) or non-agricultural land.