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Field Names

The following categories of field name appear to be relevant to the fields in Elsfield:

Location or Size

Size names are common. The 40 acre field which appears on the 1919 map in Clark’s The Manor of Elsfield is in 1703 known as either the 40 acre or by the alternative name ‘Wide Winslows’ and in 2008 has become part of Hill Ground.

‘Hanging’ means ‘on a slope’ and we have The Hangers, which are sloping, and Hanging Char Hill which is on a much steeper slope and maintains its name from 1703 to the present day. The Hangers is one of the oldest names in the parish, appearing in 1273 as Le hangynde.

‘Hamm’ often refers to land in the bend of a river. We have ‘The Ham’ in 2008 but it appears to be what in 1703 was called Middle Ground. It is not even near the Bayswater Brook. However, it is next to Shivery Sham, a name still in use which must be a corruption of Sheepridgeham, which appears in 1703, so perhaps the name the Ham has become detached from the longer name and moved slightly to the north.

‘Close’ refers to a narrow field near the village or next to a house. It is linked either to a crop or a person. There are no closes mentioned before 1703 but by then there is Barley Close, Clover Close, Oate Close, Hall Close, Steven’s Close, Keeper’s Close and Little Close.

In 2008 Barley Close is still so named. Crops such as wheat, barley, and oats were much improved from the 16th century onwards and in the 17th century a very influential book by Walter Blith suggested ploughing up pasture and sowing sainfoin and clover. ‘Sainfoin piece’ is a common term and dates from this time. There is no mention of sainfoin in either the 1703 map or the 2008 one, but it does appear in Keith Bradford’s farming diaries and is opposite Lyme Hill next to Ridings Wood.

Oate Close has become Oak Close, understandable since there are oak trees growing there. Clover Close has become the Home Close on the opposite side of the road from Burnhams , part of which now belongs to the house known as Home Close.

Keeper’s Close has become Vicar’s Field. It is next to what was the Vicarage but is now Glebe House and was rented in the 19th century by the Reverend Gordon from the then landowners, the North family. Steven’s Close has become Barn Close, because this is where the large barn accommodating Hill Farm was situated and the barn has been converted to a house - Barn House.


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