Farm with its own pub and 17 homes on the market but buyer must commit to medieval farming methods
A country estate that makes £230,000 per year and comes complete with 17 homes, 1,845 acres and a village pub, has come on the market in Nottinghamshire.
But there’s a catch: whoever buys it must commit to perpetually maintaining its medieval strip-farming system.
Laxton Estate is a historical gem, and is the last remaining example in Europe of the open-field system, the medieval style of farming.
It is administered by a Court Leet, an ancient manorial court with a jury appointed to keep common areas of the fields in good condition. The tenant farmers operate “in common”, using a three-year crop rotation.
While strip farming can be found elsewhere in the country, Laxton is a unique historical artefact. This is due to “the survival of the manorial court, which regulates cultivation and inspect the fields, imposing fines for manorial offences, much as they have done for hundreds of years,” says Briony McDonagh, a historian at the University of Hull.
The estate is farmed in the same manner as it was in medieval times, albeit with modern machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters. In this kind of farming, each family would be given a strip of land in three fields, ploughing two strips a year, while leaving the other fallow.
Laxton “survived” the agricultural revolution: when large swathes of the countryside were enclosed under Parliamentary Enclosure Acts in the century after about 1740, it escaped these changes.
It was sold to the government in 1951 so it could be preserved for the nation, and was then to the Crown Estate in 1981.