Langham Village History Group ~ © 1996 - 2022
From the earliest days, when woodland would have been cleared to create fields, agriculture was important to
the people of Langham. After the Norman Conquest, the villagers would have been tenants of the Lord of the
Manor of Oakham or of Westminster Abbey and worked on the lord’s land as well as cultivating their own strips
of land. The open field system of farming, with tenants renting strips of land, began in its simplest form in Saxon
times, became more developed after the Norman Conquest and continued until the mid 18
century. Then began
major changes in agriculture, with the enclosure of open fields; increasing demand for food for an increasing
population; the introduction of new fodder crops and improved breeds of livestock. By the mid 19
mechanisation was occurring.
As well as the cultivated land, an area would be kept as meadow for the growing of hay. The remaining land in the
parish would be common land, available to the villagers to graze their animals.
In Langham, The Pastures, to the south of Cold Overton Road, were still in use until the mid 20
century. Some of
the old record books of the Pastures Committee survive, showing the rates for mowing thistles and the payment
for fetching the cows. The Pastures was also a favourite haunt of village children who played there and hoped to
be rewarded for opening the gates.
The introduction of allotments by Richard Westbrook Baker helped to alleviate the problems caused by the
Enclosures Acts. Rented allotment plots gave the poorer villagers the opportunity to grow vegetables and corn for
the pig. They were also important during both World Wars. Langham’s first allotments were in Ashwell Road and
due to the lie of the land, were known as Allotment Hill and Allotment Hollow. The present allotment field came
into use in the 1860s.
Cottage gardens would also have produced vegetables for the table. A newspaper report from September 1915
records Langham’s first Vegetable Show. It was held on Miss Finch‘s lawn and this lady hoped that the Show
would become an annual event. It did; though it ceased in the 1940s. The Village Show’s revival took place in 1977
and now (2009) includes flowers, vegetables, cookery and junior exhibits.