Woodhouse- A Medieval Barwick Territory


from The Barwicker No.45

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The book 'Wills, Registers and Monumental Inscriptions of Barwick-in-Elmet' by G D Lumb, published in 1908, records the baptisms, marriages and burials in the periods 1631-41 and 1653-1811. In those times, the ecclesiastical parish of Barwick included Roundhay and those areas in the west such as Cross Gates and Wellington Hill, which are now part of Leeds. Lumb records 70 place names in the parish. Some are of places, large and small, where people lived, that is 'settlements', and others refer to areas of land separated from the rest of parish by a boundary drawn for some administrative purpose. These areas are called 'territories'. Early records of Barwick manor show that in medieval times, Woodhouse was such a territory. Now the name survives in the parish only in 'Woodhouse Farm', between the A64 and Rakehill Road.

There is no mention of Woodhouse in the Barwick section of the Domesday Book of 1086. The first use of the name I can find occurs in a list of tenants of Barwick manor in 1331/2, in the reign of Edward II, which is printed in Rev Colman's book 'A History of the Parish of Barwick-in-Elmet'. The list includes the name 'William de Grenefeld in Woodhouse'. The Grenefelds (Greenfields) were prominent landowners in the Barnbow area.

There was a comprehensive survey made of Barwick manor in 1341 during the reign of Edward III, when another Edward, the 3rd Earl of Lancaster, was lord of the manor. It was drawn up in the presence of a jury of prominent people in the manor. It is written in Latin but fortunately for us Colman includes in his book extensive extracts from the survey in English. These include details of money due in rents and other payments to the lord. After a survey of the rest of the manor, separate sections for Barnbow, Kiddal, Potterton and Woodhouse are given. The Woodhouse section is included in full below:

Tenants in Woodhouse (1341)
Land holding
Free Tenant
Ellen de Grenefeld of Barnebogh a messuage and 7 acres 2s.6d
Adam Batalle a messuage, a toft and two bovates 20s.0d
Robert de Wodhouse a messuage and a bovate 10s.0d
Robert, son of Adam de Halton a messuage and a half and a bovate and a half 15s.0d
Henry Red a messuage and a bovate 10s.0d
Alice Milner a messuage and a bovate 10s.0d
Richard Ried a messuage and a bovate 10s.0d
Richard Ried two messuages and two bovates 20s.0d

A 'free' tenant paid his rent in money but was free of other duties to the lord. A messuage was a house and the land on which it stood. Bondmen were tenants who paid their rent in money and also in labour services, such as helping with the ploughing and harvesting of the lord's land. They also had other manorial duties, responsibilities and restrictions imposed on them. A bovate was an area of land varying in size from manor to manor and sometimes within a manor from about 10 to 25 acres. The entry referring to 'half a messuage' seems inexplicable to us but it obviously meant something to those who drew up the survey as it was still recorded in documents 300 years later.

What does the survey tell us about Woodhouse at that time? The document describes the land holdings in Woodhouse in a separate section. This means that they were divided from those in the rest of the manor and this suggests that there was a boundary drawn around the Woodhouse lands. Woodhouse was therefore a 'territory' within the manor of Barwick at that time. The total arable land in Woodhouse was 10 bovates, a toft and 7 acres, plus perhaps some woodland, meadow and waste. This represents a total of 100-250 acres, a not inconsiderable amount of land.

There were ten 'and a half' messuages or houses in Woodhouse at that time, which means ten 'and a half' households. The size of the medieval household was about 4.5 people on average leading to a total population for Woodhouse of 45-50 people. Woodhouse was therefore at that time a place where people lived - a 'settlement'. Whether the dwellings were collected together or scattered throughout the territory we do not know. Perhaps someday, aerial photography or newly developed scientific methods of surveying will give us the answer.

The Barwick poll tax returns of 1379 (see 'The Barwicker' No.13) list 299 adults in Barwick township (the old ecclesiastical parish without Roundhay) which means there were about 600 inhabitants (men women and children) in total. The inhabitants of Woodhouse therefore made up a significant proportion of the population of Barwick township in 1341.

The land in Woodhouse would have been farmed on an open field system in which each tenant farmer cultivated a number of long narrow ploughing strips set in three large open fields. Their land might have been part of an extensive open field system or perhaps it made up one based on Woodhouse alone. Could such a open field system define the boundaries of Woodhouse? Open field farming involved much cooperation between the farmers and so the inhabitants of Woodhouse would not only be neighbours but also colleagues in an agricultural enterprise. At that time therefore Woodhouse was not only a territory and a settlement, it was also a community.

In 1355, Henry, 4th Earl and 1st Duke of Lancaster, and lord of the manor of Barwick, granted Thomas Ellis of Barwick 136 acres of new demesne land, plus some meadow and pasture as free tenants. The Ellis family acquired much more land in Barwick manor in the subsequent years.

In 1425, in the reign of Henry VI, who was lord of the manor, another survey of Barwick manor was made. This was very similar in form to the 1341 survey and was written in Latin. Fortunately for us the Thoresby Society (Vol. XXVIII) published a translation and it has been summarised in 'The Barwicker' Nos.25 and 26. Woodhouse has its own section, which is given in full below:

Tenants in Woodhouse (1425)
Land holding
Free Tenant
Thomas Elys a messuage and seven acres of land formerly Ellen de Grenefeld's 2s.6d
Free Ferm
Thomas Elys A mess. a toft and 2 bovates late Adam Battell's 20s.0d
A mess. and a bovate late Robert de Wodhouse's 10s.0d
Half a mess. and half a bovate of land late of the said Robert 5s.0d
A close called Angrom containing one acre of land late of the said Robert 6d
A mess. and a bovate late Robert son of Adam's 10s.0d
Half a mess and half a bovate late the same Robert's 5s.0d
A mess. and a bovate of land late Henry Rede's 10s.0d
A mess. and a bovate of land late Alice Milner's 10s.0d
A mess. and a bovate of land late Richard Rede's 10s.0d
2 mess. amd 2 bovates late of Richard Rede senior's 20s.0d
which parcels are demised to the said Thomas Ellis by charter and to the heirs of his body. And if the said rent shall be in arrears for forty days, then it shall be lawful for the lord to enter upon the said parcels and hold then to him and his heirs forever.

The description 'fee ferm' meant that the land was held on a long term lease. All the land and messuages in Woodhouse were then in the tenancy of Thomas Ellis, a major landowner. The parcels of land listed in the 1341 survey are included here, being identified by the name of the 1341 tenant. In addition, a close called Angram and another half messuage and half bovate are included. This information indicates that the houses and land were then occupied by tenants of the Ellis family and not as previously by those of the lord of the manor. We do not know the names of the sub-tenants or under what conditions they worked the land, although it is likely that an open field system was still used. It appears that Woodhouse remained a territory, a settlement and a community.

In the early seventeenth century the newly crowned King James I gave Barwick and several other local manors to his queen, Anna of Denmark, for her life. In 1610, she had a survey made of the manor (usually referred to as 'The Queen's Survey'). This beautifully produced manuscript is in English and is preserved in the Leeds distict archives at Sheepscar. As before Woodhouse has its own section given below:

Tenants in Woodhouse (1610)
Free Tenant John Ellys of Kiddal esq. holdeth freely one decayed messuage where sometime a messuage stood. And 7 acres sometime Ellen Greenfield's and paieth yearly 2s.6d.
Fee Farme John Ellys of Kiddal esq. holdeth in fee farme:
One place where sometime a messuage stood, one toft and two oxganges late of the land of Adam Battall.
One other place where sometime a messuage did stand and one oxgange of lande, late of the land of Robert Woodhouse.
And one place where sometime did stand half a messuage and a half oxgange of land late of the lands of the said Robert.
Ditto for Robert, son of Adam (1), Henry Reade, Alice Milner, Richard Reade and Richard Reade senior (2)

An oxgange was the English word for the Latin bovate. The survey records all the land holdings previously given, identifying each of them by the name of the 1341 tenant. As regards housing, all the entries are the same: 'where sometime a messuage stood'. This shows that there were no habitable houses in Woodhouse. No-one lived there any more; the place was deserted. Woodhouse was still a territory but it was no longer a settlement. We do not know when this loss of population occurred but it could have happened a hundred or more years before.

It is likely that Woodhouse was cleared of its tenants by the Ellis family in order to enclose the land, This meant the destruction of the old open field system of agriculture and its replacement by one based on separate 'closes'. These were parcels of land, usually of 5-10 acres enclosed by stock-proof hawthorn hedges which enabled them to be used separately from the rest of the land, perhaps as improved pasture or for growing new crops. Enclosure produced the typical English 'patchwork' landscape. Historical documents show that throughout the English countryside there are many 'deserted' villages or smaller settlements similar to Woodhouse. A survey of Barwick manor in 1678 preserved at Sheepscar contains am identical entry for the Woodhouse lands.

In Lumb's Parish Records there are no references to Woodhouse during the 17th. century and for most of the 18th. - no baptisms, marriages or burials. This confirms that the territory had been depopulated.

In 1782, when Woodhouse had perhaps been deserted for two centuries or more, Lumb records the burial of a women from Woodhouse. Then follow references to a series of tenant farmers, clearly indicating that Woodhouse Farm must have been built about this time.

The Barwick Enclosure Award of 1804 has no reference to Woodhouse confirming that it had already been enclosed. At this time the Ellis lands at Woodhouse and Kiddal were sold to the Wilkinson family of Potterton.Hall. Both these events were anticipated in the Barwick valuation book of 1803 which gives some details of the Woodhouse Farm including the extent of the land which was 118a.1r.1p. The 1861 valuation book gives the area of the land at that time as 124a.0r.7p.

In 1917, the Wilkinson land in Potterton, Kiddal and Woodhouse was put up for auction. Lot 3 was Woodhouse Farm and the total area is given as 126.14 acres. The 14 parcels of land are named and numbered as on the Ordnance Survey map of the time. The total extent of the land is given in the diagram below:

Does the land shown represent the ancient territory of Woodhouse? We do not know, as no accurate maps exist of the area at that time. However it is my opinion that it does, for the following reasons. The land shown is distinct from the other places round about - Barwick, Scholes, Kiddal, Morwick. It was part of the Ellis family lands. It is surrounded by land of other landlords. It is separate from the Ellis lands of the Kiddal estate, sharing only a short stretch of boundary in the north. For these reasons, the land of Woodhouse Farm appears to have an identity of its own, which most likely dates from a much earlier period, the time when Woodhouse was a separate territory within the manor of Barwick.

For a decade or two now, Woodhouse Farm House has been separated from its land. It is now all that remains of the once thriving territory, settlement and community of medieval Woodhouse.


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