The Cropston Enclosure Act was passed by Parliament in 1781, despite one landowner (probably Richard Burchnall) withholding his consent.
The three pre-enclosure open fields named in the documents are Bybrooke Field (to the north), Bashpool Field (to the east) and Open Dale Field (to the south).
Examples of old names of other features of the landscape are Vincent Flatt, Slate Bridge Common and, intriguingly, Windmill Lane.
Three commissioners and a surveyor were appointed to assess the various claims and re-allocate approx. 350 acres of land. The commissioners were
- Henry Walker of Thurmaston,
- John Sultzer of Burton Overy
- John Davis of Bloxham in Oxfordshire.
Davis’s role was no doubt to represent the interests of the church because the Rector of Thurcaston at the time was actually resident in Bloxham. Sultzer and Walker would have been appointed to represent the major landowners. There seems to have been a difficult relationship between them because Sultzer made a will the following year in which he referred to “that rascal Henry Walker, a bankrupt.”
- Laid out the routes of all the roads and public footpaths, much as we see them today.
- Next they allocated one-seventh of the land to the Rector to replace the system of annual tithes which landowners previously had to pay
- They then divided up the remaining land proportionately, ordered the owners to plant hawthorn hedges around the fields and decided who was responsible for their upkeep. However, any bridle gates were ordered to be left unlocked so that the Lord of the Manor (the Earl of Stamford), his friends, servants or attendants could pass through them for hunting, fishing or shooting!
The commissioners’ costs (£930 16s 4d) were shared between the landowners other than the Rector.
The decisions made by the commissioners were recorded in an Enclosure Award. It is an impressive document, hand-written on 15 large sheets of parchment, which can be inspected at the Record Office in Wigston. Sadly the map that would have accompanied it is missing but the Award contains enough detail for the map to be reconstructed with a fair degree of confidence.
The decisions made by those three men over 200 years ago had a big influence on the subsequent pattern of development and largely shaped Cropston as we see it today.
© Peter J Smith 2017