Woodford Northamptonshire

A brief history of Woodford

The oldest construction in Woodford is out to the west at one of the highest points in the parish. Near the parish boundary with Great Addington are some historic barrows. There is insufficient evidence to date them properly, however, they are thought to be Neolithic (c 3000BC). Known locally as Three Hills they are easy to see from the road.

A number of Roman artifacts have been found in the area now occupied by Church Street

The name Woodford immediately suggests that the village was named after a wood and a ford. The village still has a wood and a ford. The ford however, is more than a mile from where the settlement is most likely to have started (in the area now known as Church Street), and the wood (known locally as The Shrubbery) cannot be described as ancient woodland. Records suggest that it was planted around 1700.

The village most likely was named after the wooded slopes of the valley that most probably existed 1000 years ago and possibly a ford across the river. (The Ancient Rockingham Forest extended to the River Nene at that time). The river was obviously not controlled and would have been bordered by marshland and reed beds. Anecdotal evidence suggests that even as late as the 1950s the river was quite shallow near the Church (in comparison to other parts) which could suggest there was some sort of crossing at this point. Additionally this is very close to the green lane which extends across the fields from Ringstead and stops rather abrubtly one field away from the river

During Saxon times (800-1000) a system of open fields was laid out. This later evolved into a three-field system whereby crops were grown in two fields on a three year rota enabling a different field to remain fallow. Each villager would have had strips of land in each field and some would also have had grazing rights. Some of these strips of land became a series of low ridges caused by ploughing which mounded the soil to the centre of the strip causing a dip between each strip of land. There is still evidence of this type of farming in the Leys and can be viewed if one walks across the field from Newtown to either the end of Rose Terrace or Whittlesea Terrace. A further example was evident in the field now occupied by Paddock Road and Windmill Close

Eventually it became apparent that this type of farming was inefficient and a series Enclosure Acts were passed by Parliament. This practice gained momentum during the reign of King George II (1727-60). The Woodford Enclosure took place in 1764 different areas of land were enclosed by hedges and fences and divided between 44 owners. A copy map of the field system is on display in the Church and also at the Northamptonshire Record Office. The original is at Boughton House.

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