Charnwood Forest : Population, land ownership and environmental perception, c1775-1914


Focusing on a district of northeast Leicestershire known as Charnwood Forest, an area of semi-upland which, until enclosure, formed the common waste of surrounding parishes, the study uses data from a county rate evaluation survey of 1837, the Lloyd George land survey of 1910 and the census enumerators' books to analyse landownership, land occupation and land use in the post-enclosure landscape on a comparative basis and relates these findings to certain aspects of social structure during the nineteenth century.;The area was enclosed during the early part of the nineteenth century. Using the records of a local landowning family, it is demonstrated that the usual explanations of the late enclosure of heaths and moors are not necessarily universally applicable, and costs, practicalities and the presence of squatters could also affect the timing.;The opportunity is taken to examine the concept of 'open' and 'close' parishes and the determination made that this is not a simple causal relationship, but the spatial expression of conflicting ideological stances. In an investigation of family structure in selected parishes it is demonstrated that occupation impacted on such variables as nuptiality and the degree of geographically endogamous/exogamous marriage.;A constant theme is the concentration on the ideological motivation for individual actin and its modification by local circumstances - particularly relevant in explaining how Charnwood became defined and identified as a 'place' imbued with Romantic ideals by a local urban elite. The conclusion is reached that abstracted national 'explanations' of social change are not always helpful when studying reality 'on the ground', and that nineteenth century Charnwood should be understood as the dynamic outcome of ideological conflict expressed by competing individuals and modified by the local environment.





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Davis, Vernon Edward Lloyd, “Charnwood Forest : Population, land ownership and environmental perception, c1775-1914,” Centre for English Local History Theses and Papers, accessed December 7, 2022,