By Joan Thirsk

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Extra resources for Agricultural Regions and Agrarian History in England, 1500-1750 (MacMillan Basis Books in Electronics)

Sample text

But even then the eastern end was not one uniform region. In his survey of the agriculture. of Berkshire for the Board of Agriculture (1809), William Mavor divided the eastern end of the vale into three regions. In the northern section, lining the Thames, more barley and turnips were grown on its lighter soils; in the vale proper, in the middle portion, wheat and beans better suited the heavier loams; the third belt to the south of these two was recognised as a frontier zone because here the vale land begins to rise up to join the chalk of the downs.

The existence of by-employments in ironworking and in cloth-making are judged important in explaining the large populations and small size of arable holdings in the region. Professor Kerridge separates the High Weald from the Low Weald, since their soils were different. He notes as one common feature of both that neither had common fields. But he differentiates them by emphasising in the Low Weald its cold clays, and its up-and-down husbandry, whereby grassland was ploughed up for two to four years, followed by six to seven years of grass.

In Sherwood 46 Forest they relied on industrial by-employments. All devoted the worst of their land to rabbit warrens, a form of profitable land use not to be despised. All these activities, however, were carried on alongside, and integrated with, the same arable system; the arable land had to be fertilised by sheep that grazed on the grasslands by day and were folded on the fields at night. The grazing was thin and poor, but for that very reason it gave the mutton a sweet taste and produced a fine wool.

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Agricultural Regions and Agrarian History in England, by Joan Thirsk
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