Upton Inclosure Award

The Upton Inclosure Award (PDF) for the village of Upton, Berkshire is amongst the earliest in the country; having been made in the thirty second year of the reign of George II (1759). Most Awards were made in the reign of George III (1760 – 1820). It was authorised by Act of Parliament and is still a legal document.

Only two fair copies were made. At the time of writing both copies are held by the County Archivist, Reading, Berkshire1. One copy was originally held by the Villagers and the other by the Clerk of the Peace for the County.

It is written in English, on both sides of-twenty five skins of Parchment which are sewn together to form a roll approximately 14 inches (305 mm) wide by 18 ft. (5½m) long. No punctuation was used; not even a full stop. Use was made of capital letters and letters of enlarged size to indicate the start of a new topic or to lay emphasis to a point. Spelling differed from time to time.

The Editors have kept as near to the original layout as possible; but some punctuation has been used in the transcript to make certain sections more readable.

The Surveyor and Clerk was William Burgess (Senior) of Great Hasely, Oxfordshire. He died whilst holding office. He was assisted by Edward Cadwell of Harwell, Richard Neal and Johnathan Martin. They took almost a whole year to do the work (between 19th December 1758 and 8th December 1759) and were paid £56.14.6d, as a group for their labours.

Meetings were held at The Sign of the Crown in Upton – the house of Mary Watkins, widow. The cost of refreshments consumed during their meetings amounted to £108.10.8d. (Beer was 1d. to 2d. a pint)2

The Church building is not mentioned in the survey, but Tythes of Corn and Grain are specifically mentioned for use by the Governors of Charity for the relief of the poor, or widows and children of clergymen. Three lives were currently being supported by this means at the time of the Award.

There is no map with the Award. From the acreage and description given however, it has been possible to reconstruct the layout of the new fields. Comparison of such a map with the modern Ordnance Survey shows that 80% of the hedges planted to mark the boundaries of the new fields are still intact.

The enclosure by hedges and ditches of the open commons and downs by the tenant farmers was an attempt to improve the methods of agriculture. It was an abandonment of the feudal method of strip farming in open fields for the more efficient method of having fields exclusively for their own use in which winter crops such as winter wheat or beans could be sown, or in which sheep could be folded, without the risk of spoiling their neighbours’ lands.

Some private enclosures had taken place before the Award. Mr. Smallbone had an orchard close by the side of a lane called Stream. Then there was Saffron Close, off what is now called Frogalley. Was Saffron grown? If so what did the villagers do with it?

A number of new roads were surveyed and created by the Award. They were not given names in the Award, but can be recognised from their descriptions. Common Way and Meadow Way in the lower meadows and Downs Way on the Downs came in this category. They are all forty links, or 26 ft. 8 ins., in breadth; as the Award states the Surveyor used a measuring chain with 8 ins. links.

Roads which were in existence before the Award were retained and used as boundaries. Examples are Reading Way, Lynchway, Hagbourne Way and Abingdon Way. Some roads have changed names:- Beechway is now known as Chilton Road and Newbury Way as the Old Compton Road.

Other place names which have passed out of use are:-

Pokeshill – Eastside Berkshire Downs by Gore Hill.
The Banks – The rising land south of the Lynchway.
The Common – Land east of Frogalley Farm.
The Village Pub, ‘The Sign of the Crown’ – The Cottage at the junction of High Street and Church Lane.

Size and Location of Allotments

Tabular transcript of the size and location of allotments (PDF)

Units of measure

1 Yardland = approx 30 acres
100 acre = 1 hide
40 hides = barony
16½ ft. (5½ yds) = 1 rod, pole or perch
272¼ sq. ft. (30¼ sq. yds) = 1 sq. perch
40 sq. perch = 1 rood
160 sq. perch (4 roods) = 1 acre
2.471 acres = 1 hectare

1. Berkshire County Council Archives Ref Q/RDc3.
2. London Life in the 18th Century by M. Dorothy George