These pages will help you find out more about research into enclosure, and about the documents digitised for this website. They offer suggestions to get you started, and to encourage familiarity with the some of the documents and sources available.
Parliamentary enclosure has been the subject of lively debate for well over a hundred years, and the debate is continuing. Research has focussed on the causes, processes and impact of enclosure in terms of economic and agricultural development, social impact and landscape change.
An important recent work on enclosure in Berkshire, outlining the chronology of enclosure in the county, is Ross Wordie’s Enclosure in Berkshire, 1485-1885 (2000). Attached to this website are two other pieces of work:
The documents on this website, the maps and awards produced as a result of the process of Parliamentary enclosure, are central to any study of the subject. But to explore the subject fully you will need to read widely and explore many other sources as well, both in the Royal Berkshire Archives and elsewhere.
The maps and awards are supplemented by additional descriptive material. Looking at them will help you find out
Pre- and post-enclosure maps are not available on this site. Most are available in the Royal Berkshire Archives, or in the case of modern maps, from local booksellers. The main documents to look for are:
By comparing enclosure maps with other maps you can see
By surveying the landscape itself together with the maps and awards, you can find out
Parliamentary enclosures typically generated a number of records other than the maps and awards. The Royal Berkshire Archives holds a number of such documents which can be studied in the searchroom. These include enclosure Acts, commissioners’ minutes and commissioners’ working papers. Reading Local Studies Library holds copies of local newspapers, which contain notices inserted by the commissioners and sometimes reports of significant events. Other sources, such as parish registers, and (for the later period) census returns and directories, can help us find out about the people involved.
Use this route to discover
The main issues are well covered in Michael Turner, Enclosures in Britain, 1750-1830 (1984) and G E Mingay, Parliamentary Enclosure in England, 1750-1850 (1997). In addition to summarising recent writing on enclosure, these books also offer useful pointers for further research.
For other books on enclosure, see the bibliography