Thursday, 4 June 2009

By Hook and By Crook

From Trevelyan's Social History of England:

On some manors the heaths and woods had shrunk to small proportions before the encroachments of the ‘assart’ farms [Private farmland formed by the clearance of part of a wood, common, or forest] enclosed for agriculture. In others, particularly in west and north, the waste [uncultivated land] was essential to the life of many families. Lonely squatters, with or without leave, built their huts and fed their beasts on some outlying bit of land. And every lawful villager required timber from the trees on the waste, to build his cottage, to warm his hearth and cook his food, to make his carts, ploughs, farm tools, and household furniture. The rights of the customary tenants different from manor to manor, but often they had the privilege of cutting wood for building and carpentry, and of taking sticks for fuel by ‘hook and crook’, that is by pulling branches from standing trees.

Useful knowledge to have when one's mangetout plants need some branches for support and one happens to have a walking cane in the cupboard under the stairs and a copper beach tree in the front garden...

No comments: