Laxton's Court Leet, NottinghamshireEvery autumn a committee of farmers meets in the Nottinghamshire village of Laxton, with other officials, to settle disputes and queries about certain farm land in the area. Not much that sounds exciting in that, perhaps. But when you consider that this gathering has been taking place in one form or another since medieval times, it becomes more intriguing.
Laxton, in fact, has the only open field system left in operation in Britain, pre-dating the enclosures. Only three such open fields remain today - Mill Field, South Field, and West Field, land within them allocated by the Court Leet at its annual meeting. In past times the individual strips would have served as a decent part of a farmer's holding, but today they have been consolidated to facilitate use of modern agricultural technology.
Additional rights are linked to the system, in Laxton certain farmers having 'gait right', that is the right to graze animals on the open land at specific periods of the year.
This is not a revival or a museum preservation; it is a living piece of history, the land in practical economic use, its court and its very existence strange survivals of ancient times. And how wonderfully fitting that the meeting of the Leet Court should take place in the village pub, The Dovecote .
More British Folk Customs?
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