Mount Bures Community Web Site



Footpaths and their History

Ian Woodman (01787 227689) or Jana Colchester (01787 228159)

Essex County Council Definitive Map of the Parish


The suggestion has been put to the local Parish Council that extra footpath signs should include brief descriptions of what the immediate landscape contains in the way of known history.
For example, the recorded position of the ancient "Common Fields" and also the "Common Meadow",
Common Field.
Rectangular outline South East of Josselyns House.

Piotts Tye adjoins to the east with Common Field Lane to the South
Site of the the Common Meadow lying south of the River Stour.

The former lie South East of Josselyns House and border the large area of old Piotts Tye, perhaps the original common expanse.
The undulating extent of the Tye, now drained, was once the site of marshy spring-heads which would have furnished easy water access for villagers who worked the Common Field arable strips (selions)
The "Common Field Lane" led due east towards Wellhouse Farm, but apart from this evidence no Court Rolls dating from 1393-1870 included any mention of common strip use or allocation.
The Black Death probably allowed remaining survivors to incorporate the strips into their own land holdings. The area of Piotts Tye was undoubtedly the centre of Mount Bures in the late medieval period. Existing timber framed houses and the records of old houses now gone, confirm this belief.
The "Common Meadow" with its allocated hay strips was a different matter however. Detailed maps of the hay strips appear on numerous deeds up until the end of the 19th century when the Garrard family purchased the last remaining strips. The "Common Meadow" lay between Long Gardens cottage and Bures St Mary Mill and was enclosed within the great loop of the River Stour on the Essex bank. It is now featureless arable land, attached to the field to the south. From this point southeast towards Wormingford, aerial photography has shown considerable Bronze Age/Neolithic activity evinced by crop marks in the cereal growing fields. There are several other historical areas for our proposed footpath sign additions.
Mount Bures has been classified as an "Ancient Countryside Landscape". It was always characterized as having dispersed farmsteads and was never a nucleated type village. meaning cottages alongside a straight length of street.

The Manor area mainly corresponded with the boundaries of the village while the Hall (termed on deeds as capital messuage) with its demense fields (the Lord of the Manor`s own private farm land) remained constant in acreage over centuries; except where specific deeds showed small land sales, usually on the boundaries of the village.
Additional Freeholders and Tenants also held their lands within the Manor boundaries.In 1863 the ancient Manor came to an end, when the lands were sold in lots and the title `Lord of the Manor` sold as Lot No1.

Ida McMaster 11/09/03

General Explanation of Common Field & Common Meadow:-

field map The map shows a large area of narrow strip fields, we call this area the "Common Field".
In medieval times arable land was divided up into narrow strips and divided up between the villagers. Each villager got the same number of strips, and these were spread out so that everyone got a share of the better and poorer land. Villagers could also graze their animals on the open common pasture.
The map shows this ancient system. The strips are coloured so you can see the different land users.

field map The "Common Meadow" :-The Lord of the Manor often kept about a third of the land in the manor for their own use (the demesne). Another large area was given to the knight who looked after the manor. The rest was divided up between the church (the glebe land) and the peasants who lived in the village.
Those peasants who were freeman would rent the land for an agreed fee. However, the vast majority of the peasants were unfree. These unfree peasants, who were called villeins or serfs, had to provide a whole range of services in exchange for the land that they used. The main requirement of the serf was to supply labour service. This involved working on the demesne without pay for several days a week. As well as free labour, serfs also had to provide the oxen plough-team or any equipment that was needed.

Author - Ida McMaster