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Hanging Langford,1832.

On the 12th November 1832 Francis Ingram, a solicitor from Dorchester published a notice in the Salisbury and Wiltshire Journal announcing the intention to bring before parliament a bill to inclose the open arable and common fields in the tithing of Hanging Langford in the parish of Steeple Langford.

Went to Dorchester respecting the Hanging Langford inclosure dined at the Antelope with Mr Knight at his tithe audit Slept at Burton

This is the only example of a diary entry of him about to embark on an inclosure and indeed it is the only entry concerning the inclosure. It is perhaps an indication that there was strong input from the ‘soon to be’ commissioner and surveyor in preparing the eventual bill. This was presented in the new year and passed through both houses quickly enough to be enacted at the end of March 1833. Hanging Langford was a tithing in the parish of Steeple Langford and two commissioners, Oliver Stubbs and John Baverstock Knight were appointed, the clerk to the inclosure was Francis Ingram of Dorchester with John Martin the surveyor. Kain credits ‘I Martin’ as the surveyor and the award was enrolled in 1836.

The involvement of a solicitor and commissioner from Dorset are not a great surprise because the tithing had from the time of the conquest been divided into two manors one of whom was owned by the Count de Mortain, William’s half brother. He left it to his son who was subsequently attained and eventually it was granted to the collegiate church of St Evroul in Mortain, France. Over the centuries of war with France the income of the manor would have gone from England to France and via taxation to the French king. As this was anathema to the English Kings they regularly confiscated the manor and eventually Henry VI granted it to Eton College in 1441.

The parish was about 1000 acres and appears to have been a true open field parish, the Victoria County History of Wiltshire says of the parent parish, Steeple Langford, that the arrangement of the demesne and tenants lands are all likely to have changed little between the 9th century and the mid 19th.” The same almost certainly applied to Hanging Langford. Steeple Langford was not inclosed until 1866.

The involvement of three Dorset men in a Wiltshire inclosure can at least be partly explained by the fact that Knight and Ingram had connections with Eton College. Knight owned land in Piddlehinton [owned by the college] and Ingram was the solicitor to the college. All three men were involved with the Piddlehinton inclosure which took place in the same year.

Of the Hanging Langford inclosure the history notes that the two estates belonged to Eton College and one William Wyndham. The Victoria History of Wiltshire notes that Although their manors were nearly equal, Eton College was allotted only 357 a., William Wyndham 611 a.: the discrepancy is only partly explained by Wyndham’s acquisition of a sale allotment and the inclusion of a higher proportion of down in his allotment.

In fact this can be explained readily by the fact that Down land had a lower value than the arable lands and so for two estates of equal value one estate would have had to receive a greater area of land.

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