Enclosure and the Church in Northampton

Professor Matthew Cragoe

16th May 2009

St Andrew's Hospital, Billing Road, Northampton

Professor Cragoe is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sussex. He is currently leading a major three-year project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, into the long-term cultural impact of enclosure in Northamptonshire, 1700-1900.

The enclosure of the common fields in the hundred years after 1750 is one of the most controversial episodes in modern British social history. Nowhere was more affected than Northamptonshire, where almost half the county underwent enclosure. The impact of this massive ‘privatisation’ of the landscape has been much debated in a range of contexts, from the productivity of agriculture to the plight of the poor. One area that has received almost no attention, however, is its impact on the Church of England: yet the Church and its clergy emerged as major winners from the process. In this lecture, the scale of these gains and their consequences for the communities over which the Church presided will be considered.

This lecture followed the Annual General Meeting of the Society.

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