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Appleby History > In Focus > 33 - Appleby Field Names and their Meanings

Chapter 33

Appleby Field Names and their Meanings

by Richard Dunmore

Down the centuries, inhabitants of Appleby, like those of many another rural village, made a living from the land.  It is not surprising that, with such a close connection with the land, men should have given a name to every piece of land under cultivation.  The main reason for this would have been the practical business of identification, to claim ownership perhaps, but there was also being able to describe where work was to be carried out on any particular day.

In this article field names of Appleby parish are presented on a large scale map.  Having collected all these names together, what do they mean?  Many of them are at first sight quite baffling.  In fact they often carry meanings which show the development of agriculture in the parish, describe geographical features or the fertility of the land often with quiet humour - 'hang dog' referring to unproductive land and 'jacks flatt' was so unproductive it was consigned to the devil (jack)!  'Sugar candy' is thought to be an ironic reference to sticky or brittle soil.  Wild plants occur: 'blobbs' are water blobbs or marsh marigolds and 'wade' (woad) is the blue dye we associate with the ancient Britons.  There are useful crops such as oats (feed for horses), rye grass (a fodder crop for sheep) and 'berrel' which was a special barley grown for brewing English ale.  'Cuthbert' and 'Charles' are not what they seem:  'cut' 'butt' (Cuthbert) refers to short land strips with deep-cut furrows for drainage; and Charles close was in fact the Churl's (peasant's) close, harking back to medieval times.  Some of the names can be traced back even further.  The first element of Crosswell, which eventually gave its name to one of the Open Fields on the Snarestone side of the parish, probably derives from the Celtic element cors meaning marsh.  The word still exists in modern Welsh, meaning a bog or a swamp.  The lists given in the glossary (pdf file) are full of such interesting derivations.

The Basic Parish Map of 1832

In 1832, the young squire George Moore, who had inherited the Appleby Parva estate five years earlier, came of age and, coincident with this, a survey of the whole village which he (or his guardian) must have put in hand was completed.  The whole parish, comprising 988 'premises' i.e. enclosed fields or domestic properties, had been carefully surveyed by Knight and Mammatt of Ashby de la Zouch, the land surveyors.  The Reference list is dated 1831 and the Map itself, 1832, drawn at a scale of 12 inches to the mile (the cross-bar on the north direction sign is marked 10 chains, or 1/8 mile).  According to the Reference, the size of the whole area of the parish surveyed amounted to 2803 acres.  We are indebted to a succession of Clerks to the Trustees of the Sir John Moore School that this map, unique in its scale and detail, has survived in their care and I am particularly grateful to the current Clerk, Mr John Crane, for providing ready access to it. 

George Moore soon made substantial changes to the properties around Appleby Hall (as it became) with the replacement of the direct public road to Austrey (through the Hall grounds) by New Road, well removed from the Hall itself.  This change which involved the demolition of several farm houses is apparent from a map of 1838, drawn on a much larger scale (probably 1:2500, about 25 inches to the mile).  The fields of the1838 map have the same numbers as the 1832 map and it was almost certainly produced by the same surveyors, but it lacks a field-name Reference.  Uniquely, the 1838 map shows details of the two counties, Leicestershire and Derbyshire, in pink and blue respectively (see Chapter 5).  This map was preserved in the care of the Ward family of Appleby Parva and I am grateful to Mrs Dorothy Ward and her son Mr Charles Ward for access.   

Using a Computer Aided Design program (TurboCAD Designer 17) I have made a copy of the 1832 map with names and numbers of all the enclosed fields added.  You can tell from the large number of fields that many of them were very small.  An estimated 1800 acres of the parish had already been enclosed as 'ancient inclosures' and the Act of Parliament of 1771 with its Award of land allotted in place of common field rights, issued the following year 1772, required the enclosure of the remainder of the parish estimated at 1000 acres (Nichols IV pt 2, p.430). The rector received a special award in lieu of tithes which were abolished.  Occupants were required to fence their newly acquired plots with quickthorn (hawthorn hedges), which they appear to have done speedily to stake their claim on the newly allotted land. The 1832 map shows evidence of the start of merger and reshaping of fields to enable them to be worked more efficiently.  By 1832, the parish fields had passed their greatest complexity and rationalisation continued thereafter within the larger new farms. 

The 1831 Reference which accompanies the 1832 map is my basic source of field names.  In addition, there are two earlier partial maps of the parish which have their origins in the 1772 Appleby Enclosure Award and give limited but important field-name information.  Regrettably the complete 1772 enclosure map is lost, but a copy of a small portion, the fields awarded to the Tunnadine family, survived in the papers of the late Mr Gordon Parker, to whom I must express my gratitude for allowing me access to it.  Although covering only a small part of the parish, the field numbers match those given in the text of the Enclosure Award which is kept in the Record Office (ROLLR) at Leicester.  This small extract, featuring the Tunnadines' fields on the northern edge of the village curtilage, provides names which are identified by reference to the Award.  The other partial map which, at 46 enclosures, is a little larger, details the Bosworth School Estate in Appleby.  The Appleby Estate Map of 1785 shows the fields located in four groups distributed across the parish.  These enclosures clearly represent the land awarded to Bosworth School in 1772, in lieu of the land derived from the earlier endowments made by the Dixies of Bosworth Hall.

The first serious attempt at collecting Appleby's Field Names was made for the Women's Institute survey of 1968.  The Leicestershire and Rutland Federation of Women's Institutes carried out a county-wide survey of Field Names at that date.  The Appleby WI survey was largely the work of Mrs Ethel K. Clark and I have incorporated her information here.  Mrs Clark used as her sources the names given in the 1888 Appleby Hall Sale catalogue; she had also found the 1785 Bosworth School Estate survey and explored 'local knowledge' (see below).  She recorded (manually) all the field names she collected on a copy of the 1888 Hall Estate sale catalogue map.  Mrs Clark's named fields are consequently larger than those of the 1832 parish map, being the result of nineteenth century field mergers.  Her results were available for public viewing at two 'Old Appleby' Exhibitions in 1974 and 1985.  Mrs Clark's information was provided by her daughter Mrs Kathleen M. Dingley.

Mrs Clark's 'local knowledge' included names supplied by local farmers and Appleby residents with whom she had talked.  Messrs Herbert Garton, Ted Lees, Harold Oakley, Gordon Parker and Bill Taylor all contributed from their knowledge of the parish farms and they were all able to contribute at the time of the later exhibitions.  Interest was such that more information came to light. In particular, Mr John Morrison of Barnes Heath Farm produced a copy of the sale map from the 1880s from his farm deeds on which were recorded other field names from Barnes Heath.  My wife Joan recorded much of this information in 1985 and I bring all of this together.  The individual sources are identifiable from the key shown on the first sheet of the map.

Old Street Names

Some old names of village streets, also marked on the map, were remembered mainly by Miss Nellie Winter:
Golden Way (Rectory Lane; this was recalled by many other people)
Heath Way (Measham Road, as far as the lane to Red Gables Farm/ the White House)
Lady Lane (part of Church Street, from Mawbys Lane to Measham Road)
Sandy Lane (Jubilee Farm to Barns Heath Farm)
Silver/ Over Street (Top Street with upper part of Black Horse Hill)
Salt Street the ancient road that runs along the southern boundary of the parish is recorded by Nichols (p.432).  The high point about 1/4 mile from No Mans Heath he names as Meg o' the Hill.  This is a reference to Will o' the Wisp, an emission of Marsh Gas which can burn spontaneously emitting an eerie flickering light.

The Map

The main map is presented in PDF format.  Because of the large size required to show the necessary detail it is divided into 16 numbered sheets arranged in a 4x4 grid covering the parish in the most efficient way, so the old 'high road' from Measham to No Mans Heath crosses the map from top to bottom. Depending on the pdf viewer used, the easiest way to view the sheets is to use thumbnail images to navigate the pages. If using Adobe reader with a Navigation Bar click the right hand symbol 'Show Adobe Reader Tool-bar'. This tool-bar then appears on the left hand side of the page.  Click the top symbol 'Page Thumbnails'.  These will also appear on the left and can be used for easy navigation of the map sheets. Other pdf viewers will have similar tools. 

A second map(Map 2) shows how the 16 sheets of the main map fit together.

The Key occupies sheet 1 and the North direction sign is shown on sheet 5, which would otherwise have been blank.  The map proper begins at No Mans Heath on sheet 2.  Because of the shape of the boundary, sheet 4 also has little on it.  From sheet 6, the map continues in an easily recognisable way to sheet 16 at the Snarestone boundary.  The River Mease and its local tributaries, including the Meadow Brook through the village, are marked in blue.

A Glossary of selected field names is presented also in pdf format

©Richard Dunmore, January 2013

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