THE BCH ARCHIVE

LOCAL HISTORY FOR

BIRTSMORTON

CASTLEMORTON

HOLLYBUSH

And The Surrounding District

CASTLEMORTON COMMON GUIDEBOOK

5a. Commoners and Commoners Rights. Part 2

For Castlemorton Common there were 13h claimed

registrations, which amounted to numbers of animals

shown below:


sheep 10023 !      poultry 2397     cattle 1572 geese 731

horses 212           ducks 52          sows 295 donkeys 22

goats 54               mules  4


Besides grazing rights of this order, individuals

claimed the other rights:


RIGHT NO. OF CLAIMANTS


Estovers 77     Pescary 70     Pannage 50     Turbary 15



The Castlemorton Commoners Association was asked by the QC in charge of the hearing to draw up a sensible

sliding scale for grazing rights, which he accepted at

the second session. These were related to the acreage

of holdings


ACRES OF HOLDING NO OF SHEEP (OR EQUIVALENT) ALLOWED ON THE COMMON

less than half 5 sheep half - 15 acres 7 sheep per acre

15 - 25 acres 5 sheep per acre

over 25 acres 3 sheep per acre

Equivalents = 1 goat = 1 sheep, 1 cow 95 horse = 5

sheep (or 1 donkey/mule)

It was decided that poultry would not be counted. This

meant that someone who bought a cottage with only a

small piece of ground could still have a pony for their

daughter, or keep a few sheep for interest, as well as

ducks and chickens. Some claims were not allowed

because the holdings did not have land either adjacent

to the common, or connected to it by a 'grcen'1nne, and

some people claimed for more than they should have.

However,_the final number of registrations allowed, and

made law, amounted to ll3, and these were granted in

terms of sheep or equivalents as shown. Of these, 31

are ‘cottage’ rights, the others relating to small

holdings and farms varying in size from 1 acre to 200

acres.

The total number of sheep allowed for in this way, over

the whole common, is 4,787, rather different from the

original claims.

Of course the number of animals actually on the common

at any one time depends on the time of year, and the

weather of the day, but at the moment (1986) the number

varies from about 1,000 to l,4O0 sheep and 100 to 150

cattle — giving a total number in terms of grazing

rights, of about 2150 sheep maximum.

This is a good indication of how the common is becoming

under-grazed, and when it is seen that only about l5

holdings use their rights as a real part of their

farming economy, the social change around the common

becomes obvious. This decline in the ‘working’ nature

of the common presents the MHC with some problems as we

shall see.