Farming in Swannington

Swannington Field system

Swannington's field system. Click on the image to enlarge.

The village is situated at the confluence of two streams that are located at the bottom of shallow valleys and the land adjacent to these streams has provided good grazing for many generations.

The earliest records show an ordered division of lands in strips carrying such names as Godebarte's Ryding, Whetewong and Whetecroft and mention is made of plough teams, using oxen and horses. In medieval times the fertile land was organized into three fields called Hill Field, Middle field and Whitwick Field and strips were allocated in each field to a few men. The fields were still not enclosed in 1697 when a Terrier shows details of the strip allocation. Since a major part of the village was owned by Wyggeston Hospital, enclosure was carried out informally by agreement. Many of the shapes of the medieval land divisions survive and old sites, such as Mutton, Beefsteak, Bearflats, Woodman Hole, Breaches and Broadarse, still carry their narnes. Waste was carried from the village to fertilize the three fields of the manor via green tracks, which still survive, unlike the ancient farms.

At a later date the land seems to have been divided between five ancient farms: four of these, Elm Farm, Willow Farm, Centre Farm, Manor Farm can be seen in the air photograph taken in 1983 but Willow Farm was demolished to make way for modern housing and the other three have been converted as dwellings. Breach Farrn was lost many years ago. Extensive shallow mining carried out on the ancient common in the northwestern part of the village had considerably disturbed the already poor quality land, rendering it of use only for grazing. The Gorse field, part of this old common heathland, is owned by the Trust and is managed as a nature reserve which displays landscape evidence of centuries of mining operations.