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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 73 - 1959  pages 119
Late-Continued Demesne Farming at Otford. By F. R. H. Du Boulay, M.A., F.R.Hist.S. Continued

Of the thirteenth-century demesne fields, only four can be readily identified in 1515. Of these, the Combe and Wickham remain much the same, but North field and East field have been to a greater or lesser extent split up. The entirely changed nomenclature of the other fields cannot disguise the fact that some further splitting up has taken
place. Names of demesne fields sown with various crops in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are given, in the serjeants’ accounts, and some of these do not appear in either of the lists printed here.
From an inspection of all these sources, one must conclude that North field, East field, the Combe and Wickham had a continued identity from Edward I’s day to that of Henry VIII, and that the field of 50-60 acres at Shoreham lasted through the fourteenth century, though all of these were liable to a certain morcellation while retaining their names. But the other parcels changed their names, and probably their boundaries, much more freely. In addition, meadow land and park land could in the later middle ages be cropped, while portions of supposedly arable land seem to pass out of cultivation altogether.
   It is hard to calculate the nominal size of the demesne in 1515, but it seems a little smaller than it had been in 1284. A very different question is how much of the demesnes were actually laid under crop during the period of the archbishop’s demesne exploitation. The situation is set out concisely in the Table. This shows that even in the thirteenth

and early fourteenth century a much smaller proportion of the demesne was cultivated than can be accounted for by fallow, and that even this amount contracts strikingly in the second quarter of the fourteenth century. From the middle of the fourteenth century to the middle of the fifteenth the contraction of the cropped area goes on, with ups and downs in particular years. From 1419 onwards the serjeant even seems to become self-conscious about the total area cropped, for he develops the habit of comparing the current acreage with that of the previous year.
Parallel with the contraction of the cropped acreage went the reduction in the number of full-time ploughmen employed by the lord. Domesday said there were six ploughs on the demesne, and six famuli caruce we find in the accounts until about 1393. Thereafter the number is four.
   The Table also shows the relative importance of the different crops. Wheat production was predominant, and of this a high proportion was sold on the local market or delivered to the archbishop’s household. Production of oats declined steadily from 1418, but the stability of spring barley cultivation is remarkable. The sowing of legumes was of minor importance, and by 1432 had almost ceased. The whole picture is one of an attenuated but viable economy lasting out the near-century 1355 to 1444, and kept going more to supply the

Page 119 

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