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the history of Leyton and Leytonstone
from . dot to … dots – with plenty of spaces
Apart from the marsh meadows by the River Lea, land would probably have mainly been farmed in strips without hedges or fences. A list of the land held in Leyton by Stratford Langthorne Abbey shows that until the 16th century some fields were large : Estfelde was at least 31 acres, Broadfelde at least 42 acres, Gainersfelde 21 acres, Weefelde 23 acres, Mackingfeld 16 acres, Longfelde 16 acres, and finally the Grete Frelde for which the size is not stated 1. There would also have been an increasing number of smaller hedged fields, created out of woodland or separated from open fields that had been cultivated in strips. Woods and heathland were a resource for everyone, and like enclosure of open fields encroachment could only have been effected by a powerful landowner.
It seems as though at some period of time the Abbey of Stratford Langthorne converted to agriculture a strip on the north-western side of its hunting forest Wallwood. (This strip of land was exempted from ‘tithe’ payments to the rector of Leyton parish. The Abbey owned the rectorship, so there was no point paying money to itself. Because the remaining woodland was not being used to grow crops or raise animals on which the rectorship could claim a proportion, there was no point declaring it to be exempt from tithe.)
1 An Account of the History of the Manor of Leyton by Frederick Temple held by Vestry House Museum in the ‘Bren Kennedy’