South Luffenham - The Common

The Common

From the 14th century until Enclosure in 1882, owners of land held their strips, called ‘known acres’, each owner or occupier using the same strips each year as his own, subject to rights of grazing. An area of 1,074 acres was divided into 1,238 pieces among twenty-two owners. When the crops had been gathered, the land became common pasture until wanted for the next cultivation. In South Luffenham, the tenants of the arable land alone had rights of common over the arable, whereas in Barrowden, owners of certain cottages had grazing rights. The ancient custom had been that a fixed or ‘stinted’ number of beasts used the fields, but of later years this was disregarded.

As the fog closed in on an elderly woman toiling up the common from Tixover, shrouded against the cold night air, the sound of the church bell tolling guided her back to South Luffenham. In gratitude, and for other who might become lost, she donated a field, whose income should pay the sexton to ring the bells at 5 am and 8 pm daily from the end of October to 25 March. This continued for many years until the outbreak of the Great War. The field was originally at Foster’s Bridge, but the endowment was transferred to the Bellringers Field, also known as the Feast Field and Bell Field, opposite The Coach House.

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