Dorset Enclosures

Dorset Enclosures

The Acts for enclosure of arable cultivated under the ancient open-field system, and of common or waste land, date in Dorset mainly from the period after 1790. By this time the Industrial Revolution had made Eng- land a com—importing country, and the French Wars, followed by the Corn Laws, restricted imports, kept prices high, and encouraged Wider and more efficient cultivation. Long before this, however, the old system had been gradually breaking down, and compact enclosed farms and separate fields were coming in. Many later Enclosure Acts dealt with common and waste only, since all the arable open field had already been enclosed by agreement, while many other places changed over without the expense and formality of an Act and are difficult to trace.

The map of Bere Regis in 1775, seventy years before the final enclosure, shows how much had already been hedged to form farms and ‘closes’. The three open fields, in the valleys and lower slopes north of the village, survived, but were being encroached on. The common or waste was confined to bill or heath soils.

The map of the Enclosure Award of the East Field shows the roads and boundaries drawn by the commissioners in 1846 across the strips marked in the 1775 survey. The contrast between the size of the new fields and the old strips is very marked, though it is clear that some progress had already been made by 1775 in exchanging or buying up neighbouring plots to form larger units. The old strips averaged either one acre or a half.

One important, and not always recognised, result of Enclosure was that it compelled the improvement of roads and had a close connection with Turnpike developments. When roads were hedged it was no longer possible when the track was bogged to cut over the fields or heaths on either side, and an enclosed road must be given a hard surface if it was to remain passable in winter or wet weather.

Enclosure was often a slow process, and generally some ten years passed between the Act and the final Award — in one case seventeen. The dates given below refer to the Awards where these are known, i.e. to the actual year of Enclosure.

1734 Buckland Newton; Minterne Parva; Knowle

1736 West Stafford

1779 West Stour (Act)

1760 Langton Herring (Act)

1761 Combe Keynes

1761 East Lulworth

1764 Portesham

1771 Winfrith Newburgh

1785 Evershot

West Knighton

1786 Wimborne Minster

1794 Tolpuddle

1798 Gussage All Saints; Hinton Martell; Preston; Sutton Poyntz; Wyke Regis

1799 Yetminster (Act)

1800 Charlton Marshall Ceme Abbas (Act) Holnest

1802 Winterborne Stickland

1804 West Chickerell East Stour Leigh

1807 Mappowder

1808 Winterborne Monkton

1809 Beaminster; Compton Valence; Spettisbury

1810 Winterborne Abbas

1811 Broadmayne

1812 Litton Cheyney

1813 Hampreston; Shapwick

1814 Abbotsbury; Pimperne; Tarrant Keynston (Act)

1815 Corfe Mullen; Dewlish (Act)

1816 Cattistock; Gussage St Michael

1817 Piddletrenthide; Rampisham

1818 Corscombe

1819 Stalbridge

1820 Chilfrome (Act)

1821 Up Loders

1822 Canford Magna

1824 Sydling

1825 Plush

1828 Bincombe

1829 Cranbome Chase; Lytchett Minster; Lytchett Matravers; Owermoigne (Act)

1831 Piddlehinton (Act)

1834 Sturminster Newton (Act)

1835 Maiden Newton

1837 Charminster

1839 Briantspuddle; Upwey Wool

1840 Godmanstone

1845 Caundle Marsh; Chesilborne; Sturminster Marshall

1846 Bere Regis

1847 Child Okeford

1848 Winterborne Kingston

1852 Trent

1853 Beer Hackett

1854 Askerswell; Duntish; Iwerne Minster; Mosterton

1856 Church Knowle

1857 West Lulworth

1858 Haselbury Bryan

1860 Stourpaine Ashmore

1862 Marnhull

1863 Batcombe; Winterborne Steepleton

1868 Warmwell