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Tithings

In medieval times farming communities were clustered together into ‘tithings’ clusters of dwellings and farm buildings, surrounded by arable fields, meadows for grazing cattle and downs on which sheep grazed. Men and women walked out each day to work in the open fields which surrounded each settlement, returning each night.

The map below shows where we believe open fields and meadows would have lain around East Meon. ‘Park’ was the Bishop’s deer park, and the Diocese farmed Court Farm in demesne.  In any valuation of the land within a parish, Meadows were the most valuable land since they nourished the indispensable oxen throughout the winter.

Conjectured Open Fields around East Meon.

Township
Tax
East Meon (Estmunes)
22s 8d
Coombe (Coumbe)
13s 6d
Oxenbourne (Oxenebourn)
31s 3d
Riplington (Rypplynton)
23s
Bordean (Bordene)
22s 9d
Ramsdean (Ramesdon)
37s 6d
Froxfield (Froxefelde)
48s 3d
Steep (Stuppe)
39s 6d
Ambersham (Ambresham)
29s 6d
Total of the hundred
£15 10s 6d

This 1327 tax list numbers ten tithings in the hundred. Froxfield and Steep were larger in area; the ‘township’ of East Meon included land farmed ‘in demesne’, on which no taxes were paid to the Crown; taxes were otherwise spread evenly across the tithings which suggests that they were comparable in size.

Oxenbourne.

A typical tithing lay to the south east of East Meon village: Oxenbourne was a cluster of dwellings surrounded by open fields; one farm (Hill Hampton, in today’s spelling) stood alone amongst its fields. (Lythe House was not built until the 17th century, and the other farms in this map replaced the original dwellings.)

The tithing of Oxenbourne is typical: the villeins and serfs lived in and around a cluster of farm houses. Hilhampton was the only farm standing in its own fields.

For a research report on the history of farming in Oxenbourne, click here