The manor of Longhorsley came to the de Merley barons of Morpeth by marriage in the 12th century, and from them to the Greystokes, then the Dacres, and then to the Howard Earls of Carlisle.
Ronan O’Donnell, in Assembling Enclosure, 2015, identifies what he calls the “arable core” or “ancient land” in this and other parishes, as opposed to the “pastoral periphery”.
The main part of Longhorsley parish consisted of three townships — Bigge’s Quarter, Riddell’s Quarter and Freeholders’ Quarter, which met in the village.
Freeholders’ Quarter was held by small occupiers.
Hodgson says: “Besides several freeholds in the village of Long Horsley, it comprises within its circuit the hamlets or farm-steads of Black-pool, Muckley, and West-moor.”
Muckley was owned by a family called Thompson, and West Moor by one called Bell. Blackpool was owned for over 200 years by the family of Bolton, until Charles William Bigge bought them out in 1823.
Few documents have survived for Freeholders’ Quarter, but to the southeast of the village we have evidence on the ground of single strips of the open fields being enclosed, creating long, narrow field boundaries.
Adjacent strips fell variously into Bigge’s and Freeholders’ quarters. Some of these even show up as parish boundaries in our small-scale map.
In 1664, an indenture was made between the Earl of Carlisle, Sir Thomas Horsley and five other freeholders.
Longhorsley Local History Society website says: “This deed for division of the in-grounds and commons effectively ended the open field system and common pasturage of the village. The freeholders who signed the document were George Dobson, Thomas Dobson, Thomas Sopwith, William Woodman and George Bolton.”
Sir Thomas divided the unenclosed lands into closes. The Earl of Carlisle then had first choice, followed by the other freeholders.
One, James Ogle, opposed it, so his lands were not included. But a successor, William Ogle, sold them to a Mr Bulman in 1688, after which all the lands were enclosed.
All? Not quite.
The little people — tenants, cottagers and labourers — depended on the unenclosed commons for fuel, such as brushwood or turf, and for keeping a few geese or other livestock. They, too, had rights, albeit with little power of enforcing them.
They were compensated with the wide verges that line the East and West Roads, and the narrower ones on the South Road, the A697.
These are all registered as village greens, together with a large area off the West Road, called The Common.
The other concession to the poor was Longhorsley Moor, which we will look at in another article.
Riddell’s Quarter belonged to the Horsleys, who held half the manor in 1359.
Despite the Dacres' greater rank, the Horsleys had a pele tower in the village and were, in effect, the resident lords of the manor.
The estate passed by marriage to a branch of the Widdringtons, then to the Riddells. They kept all the surnames so that in 1792 the owner was one Edward Horsley Widdrington Riddell.
Bigge’s Quarter, also known as Carlisle’s or Linden Quarter, was owned by the Howards until 1807. Farm leases of 1677-1754 show their concern for agricultural improvement.
At first, the tenant only had to maintain the buildings and, if taking an away-going crop, leave the straw.
Later, they had to repair hedges, spread lime, and not sell off any hay or straw.
By 1754, the arable had to be fallowed every third or fourth year, and any dung produced on the farm was to be used there.
A lot of building went on in the 1740s, often for new tenants on the estate.
Improvement was not just for the landlord; what the tenant wanted counted as well.
By 1773, the farms in Carlisle’s Quarter became fewer and larger. Fragmented holdings were replaced by ring-fenced farms.
In 1807, the Earl of Carlisle sold his Quarter. Charles William Bigge acquired both it and the manorial rights to Freeholders’ Quarter.
Using map data, Dr O’Donnell found a further rearrangement of farm boundaries between 1773 and 1842.
Farm buildings were also rebuilt in the same period, creating C- or L-shaped farmyards, which made for more efficient working.
He cautiously attributes these improvements to Charles William Bigge. But John Hodgson, a contemporary, had no doubt whatever: “Mr Bigge found the whole estate in a wretched and worn-out condition; but by zealous and judicious management, directed by his own superintendence, it has begun to assume a new and favourable aspect.
“He has already made above eight miles of drains and eleven miles of hedges, planted considerably, fenced in the natural woods on the sides of Linden burn and Tod burn, rebuilt or repaired all his farm houses, and built from the ground the elegant and commodious mansion which he has now been tenanting since the year 1814.”